Reloading Tools: How to Find the Best Progressive Reloading Press

Best Progressive Reloading Press

For those who are looking to manufacture a high volume of ammunition, there is no more impressive tool than a progressive reloading press. This style of press will allow you to perform several operations at once in order to streamline the manufacture of ammunition, and many people find them invaluable. If you’re looking to find the best progressive reloading press on the market, read on and we’ll show you how to pick the perfect press.

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

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What to Look for in a Progressive Reloading Press

There are a lot of these kinds of presses on the market, and for the person who doesn’t know what to look for it can be a serious pain to make sure that you’re getting the right one. Before we get into showing what goes into making a truly great press, you need to think about the following:

  • How much ammunition are you planning on producing?
  • What are you using the cartridges for?
  • What’s your budget?

If you’re looking for supreme precision and consistency, you may want be better served by a single stage press, although the speed trade-off is going to be pretty taxing. For plinking, self-defense training, and short range shots, however, a progressive press is what you’re looking for.

Many a shooter has found themselves making a whole lot of handgun or semi-automatic rifle ammunition with a progressive press, but they’re a bit trickier to work with. If you’ve got some experience loading, however, and you’re ready to take things to the next step then read on and we’ll help you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Number of Stations

The amount of stations a progressive reloading press has is the amount of functions it can perform at the same time. A lot of people prefer to use as separate press for their powder if they’re making .223 rounds, for instance, since accuracy is a product of consistency.

If you’re looking into buying a progressive press, it’s likely that you’ll already know what you want in this area. We’ll be sure to point out how many each has in our reviews of the best.

In general, those reloading pistol rounds will want four or five stations while those who are reloading rifle rounds in bulk are going to want six or more depending on what exactly needs to be done.

Quality Construction

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Quality, in this instance, isn’t just a matter of convenience. It’s a matter of safety. With a sketchy press you’ll have to constantly stop to make sure all of the tools are properly in place and nothing has moved, if you don’t you’re risking things big time.

A quality press will hold the tools firmly for hundreds of rounds. This is one area you should not make short cuts. A bad round can seriously ruin your day, damaging you and your firearm. This is one of the main reasons progressive presses aren’t recommended for beginners, there’s simply too much going on for them to keep track of.

Industry Standard Die Sizes

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As a general rule, any reloading press which has room to expand will utilize 7/8” 14 TPI dies. This is important to look for, lacking it means that it’s either a.) a knock off brand and not worth your money, or b.) you’ll be extremely limited in the tools you can use.

Go with the standard and you’ll have a much wider range of usage out of your press.

Extra Stuff

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If you go with a known brand, there’s a ton of different accessories which can be added to further streamline your ammunition production. These include powder feeders, primer punches, and a whole host of different things. By utilizing these after you get some experience, you’ll be surprised at just how automatic things can get.

You’ll also want to make sure that the press in question can fit the ammunition types that you’re planning on working with. Most presses will allow you to work with up to .30-06 without problems, but for super specialized larger rounds you’ll have to do some extra research.

Kits

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If you don’t already have dies and other tools from a previous press, you definitely want to take a look at kits. These can reduce the overall cost of your operation by quite a bit and allow you to get the most bang for your buck.

We’ll point out all of the extras that you’ll get with ours in the reviews shortly.

The Five Best Progressive Reloading Presses Reviews On The Market

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

We’ve dug up four of the best readily available progressive reloading presses for you to take a look at. It can be confusing to break them down simply, so let’s take a closer look at each and help you figure out which one is best suited for your needs.

Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press

Via: Amazon.com

The Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press is an impressive piece of machinery.

The coolest thing about this five station press is the fact that it will allow you to quickly and easily change the parts out for switching calibers. A lot of us like to take our AR-15s and sidearm to the range, and it can be done in about five minutes thanks to the unique bushings on the Lock N Load.

The versatility of this progressive reloading press can’t be beat for those who are planning on loading a variety of different calibers in each reloading sessions. It’s rather time consuming to change out all the pieces on most other high-end progressive presses.

It’s pretty bare bones out of the box, so make sure that you get all the pieces you’ll need to go with it at the same time for the best experience.

When reloading presses are brought up, there’s a reason that you’ll find this one on the tip of the tongue of a lot of people who really know their stuff.


Pros

  • 5 stations
  • Quick change bushings
  • High-quality build
  • Auto-indexing moves halfway on the up and downstroke of the press lever

Cons

  • Have to find separate dies
  • Included instructions aren’t very good

Last update on 2017-06-23 PST - Details

Dillon Precision RL550B Progressive Reloading Machine 4 Stage Manual Index 14261

Via: Amazon.com

The Dillon Precision RL550B Progressive Reloading Machine is definitely a machine that lives up to the Dillon name. As one of the most famous of the different companies which produce presses and accessories, that’s no small feat.

This four station reloading press is one of the best around, and it’s sure to become a fast favorite for anyone who’s planning on loading a whole lot of pistol ammunition or semiautomatic rifle ammunition.

You’ll need to buy separate conversion dies for each caliber, but that’s hardly a knock against the machine itself. This one comes ready to go for .223, however, which makes it optimal for those who are looking to keep their AR-15s fed.

If you’ve got the brass and powder, this one is pretty much ready out of the box.

Once you get the hang of it, you might have just found your new best friend.


Pros

  • Smooth and easy action
  • 4 stations
  • Ability to use a huge array of accessories
  • Comes with everything needed for .223 reloading except materials

Cons

  • High priced
  • A bit finicky for beginners

Lyman Reloading Press T-Mag Turret Press

Via: Amazon.com

If you’re trying to find the perfect balance between accuracy and speed, this turret press from Lyman has you covered. While it’s definitely the slowest of the presses on this list, it’s no slouch and you’ll be able to spend the additional care to each step of filling the cartridge that’s needed to make for a consistent ammunition.

The turrets rotate quickly, allowing you to make rounds much more quickly than you’d be able to dream of with a single stage press. It also has an impressive six stations. Think of it as a progressive press with a manual index… except you turn the turret instead of the shell holders.

It uses industry standard die sizes and additional turrets can be purchased. All you’ll need to do to switch out calibers is change the shell holder and turret and you can reload a wide variety of ammo in a single session.

That said, it’s still a bit slower than a true progressive reloading press, but it’s a true next step for those who are looking to make match grade ammunition.


Pros

  • Innovative turret allows for quick caliber changes
  • Turret moves smoothly and easily
  • Six stations for nearly any operation
  • Industry standard dies allow for you to use almost any caliber

Cons

  • Not a true progressive turret
  • Most accessories will have to be bought later
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Last update on 2017-06-23 PST - Details

Dillon Precision 16940 XL 650

Via: Amazon.com

Another fantastic option from Dillon, the XL 650 comes with everything needed to make .223 rounds except for the dies. This makes it ideal for those who go through a lot of semi-auto rounds and aren’t particularly concerned with being match grade after the fact.

It has five stations as well, allowing for a wider variety of operations than some of the smaller machines.

The whole machine is high-quality and comes with most of what you’ll need to start reloading with it, but remember to purchase some dies alongside the machine or you’ll be disappointed.

It does lack some of the quick changing features which seem typical of reloading presses aimed at the eclectic shooters of modern times, but if you’re focusing on cranking out one round type, real quick, then all you’ll need are the dies, conversion kits, and this press and you’ll be good to go.

It’s capable of loading five hundred to eight hundred rounds in about an hour once you get smooth with it, which is enough for a good shooting session. The same process could take an entire day with a lesser machine.


Pros

  • 5 station
  • Included .223 conversion kit
  • High-speed
  • Comes with most of what you need

Cons

  • Dies purchased separately
  • High priced

Lee Precision Load Master 45 Reloading Pistol Kit

Via: Amazon.com

The .45 is one of the most lauded rounds in the world and a favored sidearm of any hunter who knows they might run into a big critter in the brush. The Lee Precision Load Master is an impressive progressive reloading press. It’s fitting they’d meet, allowing you to make sure you never run out of ammunition.

The Lee Precision Load Master might not have the same name backing as a Dillon, but it’s a solid piece of work. Even better, it comes with everything you need to load for your chosen caliber right out of the box and they make one for a wide variety of cartridges.

There are some problems with it, but if you’re mechanically inclined the truth is you’re unlikely to run into anything you can’t fix with a surprising amount of ease. This means it’s a machine that’s probably best for those who don’t mind having to tinker a bit.

It’s not perfect, but by going with one of the Lee Precision Load Master options you can rest assured that all you need is the materials and the initial purchase in order to get started stuffing rounds for your next day at the range.


Pros

  • Comes with everything needed for .45 ammunition
  • Simple and smooth
  • Can be used as a single stage press
  • Interchangeable turrets for changing calibers quickly

Cons

  • Only for mechanically inclined users
  • Long setup time

Last update on 2017-06-23 PST - Details

Our Recommendation

Of the above, we can strongly recommend the Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press. It’s simple to use, comes with almost everything you need right out of the box and has a long and vaunted history among hand loaders.

It’s simply the best value you’ll be able to get for your dollar without getting into industrial sized presses.

Conclusion

Finding the best progressive reloading press can be downright confusing, but we hope we’ve cleared things up for you a little bit. Like any art, reloading takes some time to get down so start slow and simply and you’ll be going in the right direction.

Did we leave off your favorite press? Have any questions? Let us know and we’ll shoot you an answer.

Kevin Steffey

    Kevin Steffey

    I am Kevin who is a founder of deerhuntingfield.com; Here at Deer Hunting Field, we want to teach and educate. Hunting is a passion which has existed in mankind since almost the beginning, and with the advent of the internet, we can now share information, tips, and more with each other faster than ever before. This is a crucial part of our philosophy.

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