Many people have turned to the best reloading presses. Whether you are a hunter, target shooter, or marksman, the need for copious amounts of ammunition generally runs through all uses of a firearm.
Of course, purchasing ammunition can get fairly expensive, especially if you fire a rare or powerful type of ammunition.
Reloading presses allow you to take new or spent casings and load them for use. This is far less expensive than purchasing ammunition new and pre-loaded. But it also requires precise tools and a bit of knowledge to properly accomplish.
Top Best Reloading Presses
Figuring out which model is the easiest to use and most effective can be confusing. That is why we have put together a list of the 10 best reloading presses. And highlighted what each press does best or who would benefit most from it. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the right product for you.
#1. Hornady Lock-N-Load – Best Auto Progressive Reloading Press
In that time they have established themselves as one of the premier manufacturers of reloading presses with special attention on the progressive reloading press.
While it may not be the absolute best progressive reloading press on our list, the Hornady does have one thing that no other we reviewed does: automation.
On top of that, the Hornady also makes it a point to produce a progressive reloading press that is one of the easiest to use as well. For instance, switching out meters, calibers, and dies is a fairly simple process. On top of that, it also has an EZ eject system and a universal case spring. This means that both putting the case on the retainer as well as removing it requires little to no effort at all.
I’ve had no issues with the completed rounds I’ve loaded, and just two difficulties with the reloading process. One problem is that the lead noses of Hornady’s “Varmint” .223 caliber bullets are soft enough that if you don’t keep the bullet oriented properly as you press it into the seating die, it can turn sideways and get trapped inside the seating die, crushing the brass casing in the process.
It’s tough to determine if the bullet has moved until it’s far too late, and the case has been crushed. This occurred only three times while I loaded 250 rounds with those bullets, but I figured I should raise the issue. It’s debatable whether or not it’s a problem with those particular bullets rather than the press.
Another issue concerns the powder station’s Lock N Load bushing, which (and usually does) twist and fall out after time. This never happened during the first 100-150 rounds I loaded; however, it now happens at least once every 50 rounds. The reason this is dangerous is because it allows the powder station to rise above the press instead of pushing the bullet down into the case to activate the powder drop and produce a (good) charge in the cartridge.
If you don’t realize it, when you move to the next station and seat the bullet, you’ve just made a squib load. Squib loads are dangerous since, when inserted into your rifle, the primer might have enough power to fire the bullet into your barrel; but there isn’t enough powder in the charge to propel it. You may believe that the round has been fired properly if you hear a “pop” and/or see that the round has ejected (or rack your bolt to clear it).
If you fire the next round without first clearing the barrel (i.e., not realizing that you just fired a squib load), the pressure of the subsequent shot in a blocked barrel may (almost certainly WILL) blow up your barrel and, potentially, harm you. So keep an eye out for it! To resolve this issue, buy a thin rubber O-ring from the hardware store and install it just beneath the lip/rim of the Lock N Load bushing.
Then after that, I’d tighten down the plunger with a wrench. This allows you to put more tension on the O-ring and ensure that it’s locked in extra tight. Squib loads are always a greater danger on a progressive press, of course, but I just wanted to point out that–due to the powder station’s propensity to free the LnL bushing—they’re considerably more dangerous when using an Hornady LnL AP.
I ADORE this press. It creates ammunition that is extremely fine, very precise, and quite consistent in the .223/5.56 caliber I’ve been loading exclusively thus far. Don’t be distracted while reloading.
Pay close attention to the FEEL of the primers as they enter the case (you can tell when you miss a primer, although that has only happened when a stray grain of powder clogs the primer loading tray); pay attention to the feel of the bullet as you guide it into the bullet seating die; and concentrate on how well and securely your powder station throws a charge. You may avoid most of the problematic or dangerous problems that may occur with a press if you keep an eye on those details, and your ammunition will be excellent if your components are good.
Last but not least, I leave an open station between the powder station and the bullet seating die so that I may visibly check and verify each case’s powder level before seating a bullet. You could perhaps install a powder check station, but I feel more secure seeing the powders for myself (and it’s great to see them throwing consistently!). I hope this information/advice is useful!
#2. Dillon Precision RL550C – Best Progressive Reloading Press
For the enthusiast, the Precision RL550C is by far the best performing progressive reloading press that we saw.
While this is actually one of the younger companies on our list, Dillon is widely known as one of the most precise brands and even manufactures commercial-grade products for large-scale operations.
While this press only has 4 stages, it accomplishes the tasks of those 4 stages better than any other hat we saw. In practice, this model can reload about 400 rounds of ammunition per hour, which while not the best, is still fairly quick compared to most of the other products we reviewed. Moreover, it is actually pretty easy to change calibers.
#3. Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit – Best Turret Reloading Press Kit
This is because this press kit comes with pretty much everything you need to begin reloading ammunition outside of the different types of dies that you need–though that is standard for reloading presses.
#4. Lyman Reloading Press – Best Turret Reloading Press
Founded in the late 1800s, Lyman products have been specialized in gun accessories for over a century.
That time has allowed the company to identify what makes this model better than another, and that specialization has paid off in dividends.
As such, it should come as little surprise that the Lyman is ranked the best turret reloading press on our list.
However, the best quality about the Lyman by far has to be the sheer attention to detail paid to its design and construction. For one, this press features a flat machined base so it is easy to install and one of the most stable that we found. On top of that, it features an iron frame and a handle that doubles as a wrench. Oh, did we forget to mention that the handle is ambidextrous too?
#5. Lee Precision Classic Turret Press – Best Budget Turret Reloading Press
It is also the turret type that is included in Lee Precision’s turret reloading press kit.
This is because this model does pretty much everything well but clocks in at a significantly lower price than most of its competitors.
That said, there are some points with this model that fails to impress and does not necessarily live up to the Lee Precision name. For one, the sizing die stage of the turret press often does not line up with the index forcing you to manually adjust it. On top of that, extended use can cause the handle to come off of the lever.
#6. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press – Best Single Stage Reloading Press
In fact, this company is so dedicated to providing the very good products possible that they have a standing open invitation for innovators to submit ideas and patents.
Because of the legal issues, that type of approach is all but unheard of in today’s corporate structure. Still, they must be doing something right, because RCBS provides by far the best single stage reloading press that we encountered.
Because single-stage presses are not the most complex type of machinery, it actually takes small details to truly set one apart from another. In this case, the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press accomplishes this with construction.
Specifically, this is one of the most durable and reliable models that we encountered.
#7. Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit II – Best Single Stage Reloading Press Kit
In this case, they have provided the best single-stage reloading press kit that we saw.
One thing to keep in mind is that this kit may not be as expansive as some of the others, but it provides pretty much everything you need.
For instance, this kit comes with the Breech Lock Challenger single stage press which features the o-ring design that can generate some of the most precise results. On top of that, the various parts are made from steel to ensure long-term viability and durability. This kit also features a fairly easy-to-change die system that does not require constant adjustments.
#8. Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA Load All – Best Shotgun Reloading Press
Of course, shotguns are actually the most popular type of firearm purchased and used, so it only makes sense that reloaders would want to save money and provide custom quality to that market as well. That is where the Lee Precision II Shotshell comes into play.
Keep in mind, this is a dedicated shotshell reloading press.
There are other types that can reload rifle and pistol ammunition that can also reload shotshells with an adapter or accessory. However, this model only reloads shotshells–though it does it exceptionally and for every size and buck of the shot. It can even reload slugs if you want.
#9. Lee Reloading Press Md: 90045 – Best Budget Single Stage Reloading Press
For these products, the ability to reload any kind of ammunition without having to worry about many moving parts is the only thing that matters.
And for others, they might simply want the least expensive press that they can find. For both parties, the Lee Precision Breech Lock Reloader Press is the tool for the job.
On top of that, this is also a fairly easy press to convert for use with reloading shotshells. It is one of the lighter products which also makes mounting it easier, though it is a bit smaller and has a more limited caliber range than some.
#10. Lee Precision Cast Iron Reloading Hand Press Only – Best Portable Reloading Press
Sometimes you are not in a situation where that is a viable approach but still need to reload your ammunition. In this case, you will want to look for a hand model.
Unlike the other products we reviewed, this reloader is not mounted to anything.
Made out of cast iron, you do not need to worry about this press breaking as the different components are made out of steel. The design also features Lee Precision’s Quick-Change die system, so you do not have to constantly worry about adjusting the dies. Finally, it is still large enough to reload even MAG cartridges.
Best Reloading Press – Buyer’s Guide
Technically, the type of reloader will not necessarily affect how effective it is at reloading ammunition. Instead, the type of press will play a far more important role in determining the speed of the process as well as the ease of use. Though, this is a bit of a double-edged sword in that the quicker reloaders are generally a bit more complicated. That said, none of the different types of models are all that difficult to use once you understand their mechanism.
Single Stage Reloading Press
This is the most basic type of reloading press available. This is also the type that is most recommended for beginners as it will inherently teach you the different stages of ammunition reloading. On top of that, single-stage reloading presses require far fewer adjustments to calibrate properly. And are ultimately some of the easiest products to use. Especially when compared to progressive reloading presses.
On the downside, because they can only accomplish a single stage of the process at one time, this type is generally the slowest and will reload fewer rounds of ammunition per hour than any other type. That said, single-stage reloading presses are generally the most durable due in a large part because they have the fewest moving parts. On top of that, they are often significantly less expensive than the other types.
Turret Reloading Press
The turret reloading press is the “middle child” of press types. This type is generally for intermediate users who are comfortable with the various stages of reloading ammunition. And would like to increase their reloading speed. And it will generally be able to reload around 200 rounds of ammunition per hour.
The primary benefit of the turret type is that it can either reload multiple types of ammunition at one time. Or it can complete different stages on different rounds with each press. The only element that really holds this type back in terms of speed is that you will manually need to turn and line up the press itself. Still, in terms of working on different types of ammunition quickly or in larger batches, this is a solid type of reloading press.
Progressive Reloading Press
The progressive type of reloading press is for the most advanced and experienced reloaders that also require the most amount of ammunition. Keep in mind, unless you need to reload hundreds or thousands of rounds of ammunition a day, then there is a good chance that this is more press than you actually need. That said, if you need to be able to reload a good number of rounds in a relatively short period of time, you may want to opt for the most expensive type of reloading press.
One thing to keep in mind is that progressive presses have by far the most moving parts out of any other type. This means that you will need to make sure that the different stages of the progressive reloading press are accurate and that you conduct regular maintenance on them.
Because progressive reloading presses are designed to complete a single stage at every step, they are not designed to reload different calibers at the same time and will be a bit more complicated when changing calibers. Though it is still a fairly easy process for many of the better reloading presses.
This type of press is technically a type of single-stage reloading press. But because it functions somewhat differently, it deserves its own mention. Specifically, a single-stage reloader will be mounted to a bench or some other stable surface. A hand press is not mounted and instead relies on your to generate the force required to reload ammunition. The advantage of this is that you can take a hand press anywhere–which is especially useful for hunters. The big downside is that if you cannot consistently generate the force required, and hand press is pretty much worthless.
While it would be nice if every single reloading press made were able to reload every single type of ammunition available, that is simply not the case. For instance, shotgun shells often require either a particular type of press or mounting to be able to properly reload them. Beyond the mounting itself, the shape and size of the reloader will also play an important factor in which types of ammunition the reloading press is actually best for.
For instance, the O-ring style of single stage reloading press in one of the more popular arrangements for a single stage reloading press. This is because the O-ring style allows for both a stable action and durable construction. At the same time, the O-ring style will inherently place an upper limit on the size of the ammunition that can be used–specifically in regards to the length of the casing.
While this may not often be too much of an issue for the most common types of ammunition used, it can be more of an issue if you are reloading some of the less common and more powerful types of ammunition. MAG rifle rounds, as well as 50 caliber rounds, will often be too large for many of the single-stage and even many of the turret type of presses.
This consideration applies far more to progressive reloaders than it does for single-stage or turret types of reloaders. This is because single-stage reloaders do not include a power system as part of their mechanism and few turret reloading presses do. That said, there are plenty of turret and single-stage models that come in kits.
Whether you are using a progressive reloading press or a reloading press kit, it is important that the powder system used is accurate. This is because putting both too much or too little powder into your casing can result in different types of misfires which can damage the gun and potentially injure the shooter.
When it comes to kits, the main thing you want to look out for is an accurate set of scales. Because calibers are weighted in grains, the difference between an appropriate amount of powder and too little can differ by an amount too small to truly determine by simply looking. Moreover, different types of powder will be more or less powerful than others which can also lead to issues without proper scales.
For progressive reloading presses, this issue is compounded by the fact that many models have a powder stage to their mechanism. As the round rotates from one stage to the next, it is vital that the power distribution is exact. Or else you could very well end uploading hundreds of rounds of ammunition with too much or too little powder before realizing it.
Ultimately, the best reloading press for you will hinge on a number of factors. If you find yourself either needing copious amounts of ammunition or have scant, precious time to reload your ammunition, then a progressive model is probably right for you.
In that instance, we recommend either the Hornady Lock-N-Load or the Dillon Precision RL550B. The Hornady is actually a little bit quicker than the Dillon due to its additional stage, but the Dillon is far more versatile in terms of what calibers it can reload. Both of them are excellent in terms of construction, features, and precision.
If you do not have such high-volume needs, then you will either want to go with a turret or a single-stage reloading press. For the former, we recommend the Lyman Reloading Press due to its six-station turret head. If you want custom control combined with an amazingly sturdy, durable, and precise single-stage reloading press, we recommend the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press.
Hopefully, it covers everything you need to know to buy the best reloading press. Don’t forget to share!