No matter you’re a seasoned hunter or a competitive shooter, if you’re often having missed shots, your ammo surely isn’t working right. We faced that problem long ago and ended up spending too much money on defective cartridges.
Quality calibrated cartridges certainly don’t come cheap and not many people have enough money to buy them in bulk. So what would be the best solution? Obviously, making your own cartridges.
Since we bought our primer progressive reloading press, our problems with defective ammo ended forever. Now we can control the quality of the cartridges we use. Also, we can reuse our old casings.
However, before choosing the best progressive reloading press, you should consider some important factors. Today, we'll explain you each of these factors in a detailed buying guide. We'll also give you a top 10 list with the best-selling models on the market.
Progressive Reloading Press: Buying Guide
To choose the best progressive reloading press it’s recommended to have a certain level of experience. It’s also important to know the parts that make up a single cartridge. That way, you'll get more familiar with the reloading process.
Cast iron and cast aluminum are the most common materials for progressive reloading presses. Among these two, cast iron is far better, due to its high resistance and stiffness. If you’re a frequent shooter, you’ll certainly need to reload your ammo with the same frequency. So, choosing cheaper and less resistant materials won’t be a good idea.
However, cast iron is prone to rust. So, it isn’t recommended to expose cast iron presses to humid environments because the moving parts may get stuck. In this case, it’s recommended that iron is protected by a layer of waterproof paint or thermoplastic.
On the other hand, cast aluminum is more resistant to rust and can be exposed to high humidity without problems. Also, it's much lighter than cast iron. So, you can easily carry an aluminum press without effort.
In conclusion, the final decision is up to you. If you’re looking for high pressure resistance and durability, choose cast iron. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something lighter, cheaper and rust-resistant, choose aluminum.
In the case of dies, make sure they're made of tungsten carbide. This material has twice the stiffness of steel. So, it won't scratch or wear with friction.
Fortunately, cartridges aren’t a problem for dies because they’re made of lead, copper and brass. However, friction with cast iron may be a risk if the dies are made of steel or a less resistant material.
2. Number of stations
Many people believe that the number of stations affects the performance. In simple words, the more stations, the more reloaded cartridges. However, they’re wrong. Performance depends on other factors such as ease of use and user experience.
In fact, having more stations will help you have better quality control. For example, some models include an additional station to seat the projectile on the loaded casing. That way, the human error is eliminated.
Other models include an extra station to check if the quantity of dosed gunpowder is correct. Usually, models with more stages can perform the following actions:
- Filling with gunpowder
- Checking powder level
- Seating the projectile
3. Type of ammo
Not all progressive reloading presses are compatible with all ammo types. For example, most presses on the market are designed to reload solid brass casings. On the other hand, a little group of presses (like the MEC 9000GN) are designed to reload shotgun shells.
It’s also important to consider the caliber of the cartridge. All presses have a range of compatible calibers. If the one you use isn't on that list, you'll have to consider other options.
Also remember that you'll have to buy additional shell plates and dies to adapt your progressive reloading press to different calibers.
4. Included Accessories
In this case, the rule is simple: The more accessories, the better. For example, best models include the necessary dies to reload your ammo. This is a great advantage because buying dies separately could be more expensive than you think.
Things like a casings tray, a gunpowder scale and a funnel are other items that add extra value to your purchase.
The price is perhaps the factor that most concerns buyers. More than $400 dollars for a press is an expense that not many could afford. So, if your budget is limited, it’s convenient to look for offers on shopping websites and hunting stores.
If your budget is less than $200, you should consider a second-hand reloading press. On the Internet you can find hundreds of them. Some are in such good condition that it’s difficult to note the difference.
If you want to reduce expenses to a minimum, it’s convenient to look for different options to buy. Then, choose the device with the price closest to your money limit. Never choose the cheapest product if you don't want to regret after buying.
6. Differences among the types of reloading presses
In general, there are three main types of reloading presses:
a) Single stage press
The single stage press is the most basic model of all. It can hold a single cartridge at a time. Also, you need to change the die every time you need to perform a different action. It has very few moving parts, so it doesn’t require too much maintenance. Also, it’s cheaper than a turret or progressive reloading press.
b) Turret press
As single stage presses, a turret press can handle a single cartridge at a time. However, you don't need to change the dies. In this case, the cartridge rotates on a circular plate, passing through a different die each time the user pulls the lever.
c) Progressive Reloading Press
A progressive reloading press can handle multiple cartridges at the same time. Usually, the number of stations (or dies) is equal to the number of casing holders. Several cartridges rotate on a circular plate, passing through the different stations. Usually, the cartridge is ejected once the process ends.
Why Do You Need a Progressive Reloading Press?
Certainly, you can get many benefits from using a reloading press. Bellow, you'll find a list with some of them:
a) They help you save money
Buying factory-loaded ammo is much more expensive than making your own cartridges. So, using a progressive reloading press can help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.
b) Easy to use
To use a progressive reloading press you don't need to be an expert. Usually the instructions are clear and easy to understand. You just need a little common sense and some practice to become an expert.
c) Easy to maintain
Keeping a progressive reloading press in good condition isn’t so difficult. You only need to lubricate the mobile parts periodically or replace them when necessary. In addition, the spare parts aren’t expensive.
d) They help replenish your ammo inventory
If you’re a professional shooter, you can’t run out of ammo. Fortunately, a progressive reloading press is all you need to replenish your ammo inventory.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Certainly, your progressive reloading press requires frequent maintenance in order to keep operative. Here are some maintenance tips that you can't never forget:
- Lubricate the moving parts periodically. If you wait too long, the moving parts will rub between each other.
- Use a soft bristle brush to remove dust from the surface. Abrasive particles in the powder tend to scratch the surface.
- Remove all gunpowder residues from the working area. Static energy and heat could accidentally ignite those residues.
- Replace damaged parts with new ones. Defective parts make the press less efficient.
It's Time to Wrap Up
As you can see, there are many things to think about before making the final decision. Never forget to consider your kind of ammo and available budget before choosing a certain model. Make sure of carefully follow all the tips in our buying guide. That way you’ll avoid a big disappointment after buying.
If you don’t want to take risks, choose any model in our top 10 list!
- How accurate is a progressive reloading press?
Ans. Progressive reloading presses are partially accurate. So, getting the perfect ammo size, weight and powder quantity isn’t a permanent guarantee.
- How do I use a progressive reloading press?
Ans. To use a progressive reloading press you have to place the casing in the holder. Then, you have to pull the lever so the casing passes through the different stations. Once the cycle ends, the reloaded cartridge is ejected.
- How does a progressive press reload ammo?
Ans. On a reloading press, the casings rotate on a circular plate. While the casings rotate, they go through the different stations. Each station performs a different action.
- What is the limit of times you can reload brass?
Ans. You can reload a brass casing as many times as possible. Just make sure the casing is still in good conditions.
- Is it necessary to tumble brass before reloading?
Ans. If the brass wasn't fired by a stranger, you don't need to tumble it.
- How many times can I reload 556 brass?
Ans. As many times as possible as long as the brass shows no visible damage.
- How many times can I reload 9mm brass?
Ans. Usually 9mm casings are more prone to damage. In this case, 5-6 times is enough.
- How much money can I save by reloading 223?
Ans. A reloaded 223 cartridge is 10 cents cheaper than a single factory-loaded cartridge. If you use to shoot thousands of bullets every year, that means saving several hundreds or thousands of dollars.