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Thread: Progressive vs Single Stage

  1. #1

    Default Progressive vs Single Stage

    Which is your favorite, a single stage press or Progressive? What is your favorite brand and what do you reload?

  2. #2
    Member Whelenator's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Anchorage, AK

    Default Single stage/Progressive

    That's not a fair question. I have both, and love both. Right now I am getting my new Redding T-7 turret press set up for use. I just got it a couple weeks ago, and so far, it's quite a machine. I load my pistol rounds and 223 on a Dillon RL-550 progressive. With the Dillon, I have loaded rounds for my AR-15 that have grouped well under a quarter inch. This is out of a Bushmaster 16 inch plain old AR, not a target barrel or anything. The darn thing shoots far better than I can ever hold it to be sure. Now does it shoot quarter inch groups every time at the range? I am afraid not. That would be my fault..but it does shoot darn good, my bad eyesight be danged.
    I load all my rifle loads on a single stage, or the turret (now).
    I load for 7 rem Mag, 7 Wby Mag, 358 Win, 35 Whelen, 308, 375 H&H, and have loaded for the 280, 30-06, 308, 338 Win Mag, 30-30, 243, 22-250, etc.. I load the 9 mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 44 Mag, 45 Colt, 38/357 Mag.
    I don't have all these calibers presently and not loading them, but have worked on all these before. I gotta say, that Dillon has been a real blessing to my loading process. i really do like it and would be glad to do a commercial for them. Those things are built extremely well, and their service is just not to be beat.

  3. #3
    Member Alangaq's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Hey! If I look thru this empty beer bottle, I think I can see Russia from here!!!


    I have no experience with progressive presses other than having watched a friend load a pile of 45ACP with a nice Dillon press. I guess if I did a whole bunch of loading for one or two cartridges I would seriously consider a progressive press. But to tell you the truth, I kind of dink around working up loads for this or that throughout the year, and only after I settle on a particular loading do I sit down and crank out a couple hundred rounds. I have an old Lyman Turret press that has all of my 45 colt dies in it as well as the Lee lead hardness tester and a couple of RCBS little dandy powder dispensers. It just kind of sits there, and other than the Lee hardness tester, only gets used about once every other year to load up a fresh supply of 45 colt. I also have two of the RCBS single stage ďOĒ presses on my bench and these by far and away get the most use.
    As I am unable to devote large lots of time to my reloading, I tend to do things in stages or batches if you will. I will save up all my brass until I am almost out of loaded ammo and then spend one evening re-sizing and de-priming cases. I generally throw them all in the tumbler for about an hour before I start in on them just to remove all the heavy gunk and crud, and then I toss them back into the tumbler after they have been re-sized to get the lube off of them. When it comes time to actually load up some rounds I will prime everything with an RCBS had primer and it works fine for me, but I have no doubt that there are better methods for this task as the RCBS unit is a bit of a pain to change out the shell holder and occasionally the primers will hang up half way into the ram. But itís not a big enough hassle to get me to go out and try something new.
    I then set up one of the RCBS presses with the bullet seating die and the other press with a Lee factory crimp die (for most cartridges) and pour my powder out of a Lyman DSPIII electronic powder dispenser. It actually works pretty well for me, as the time it takes for the DSPIII to throw a powder charge is just about as long as it takes to seat a bullet and crimp the case. I am sure that a progressive would be much faster but I just donít load enough quantity of any one cartridge to really make it cost effective. And most importantly, I donít have any room left on my bench for another press!

    I have dies for the following cartridges but in truth have not loaded for some of them in years. The ones marked with an asterisk see the most use.

    223 Rem
    243 Win
    260 Rem
    30/30 Win *
    308 Win
    30-06 Spring *
    338 Win Mag
    375 Win *
    375 H&H *
    45/70 Gov *
    45 Colt

    If you are just getting started in the re-loading game there is a wealth of information contained in the past threads on this forum. But in my opinion it is really hard to go wrong with equipment. I have never ran across any particular brand that was what I would consider to be ďjunkĒ. I think it often boils down to how much money you can spend on equipment and how much time you can allot to re-loading. If you plan to load for one or two pistol cartridges and do a bunch of shooting then I would say a progressive is definitely the way to go. If your setting up to load hunting rounds for your 30-06 and only plan to shoot one or two hundred rounds per year then a single stage press will work just fine. Itís obviously a personal preference kind of thing. Keep watching the for sale section of this forum and also check the gun shows for reasonably priced used equipment. If you donít like it, you can always sell it for what you got into it.
    ďYouíve gotten soft. Youíre like one of those police dogs whoís released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.Ē Bill McNeal of News Radio

  4. #4


    For me I started with a progressive press. A dillon 650. It was a bit to figure out at first, but I did it that way because I knew I wanted to shoot a lot of ammo per session. It was still fun getting it all figured out. I had help from the folks on the forum and from the folks at Dillon.

    I also have Redding t7 turret press. I'm glad I didn't get a single stage. With the t7 I leave the two sets of dies in the tool head and I'm ready to load those two calibers at any time. I plan on adding new tool heads in the future to keep die adjustment to a minimum.

    I load lots and lots of rounds on the progressive for 45acp, 9mm, and 38 special. With the new case feeder I can comfortably load 700 rounds per hour.

    I use the turret press for my s&w 500, 300 win mag, and for small batches of the above handgun calibers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005


    There are some calibers you just aen't going to be able to load with a progeressive. I've loaded many thousands of rounds of handgun and 223 on a Dillon progressive B550 and the 1050 model. Nothing quicker. I will also put in a plug for the Redding T-7 press. I loads most of my ammo with one now and theyhave about the best of everything for a bench mounted press. I load well over 100 rounds per hour with it with a great deal of precision.

    It is a good idea to find a good brand of dies and stay with that brand. This gives you total familiarity with them and a commonality of parts for minor repairs. Redding is top notch and the company has many specialty dies for different applications. Good strong bench presses would include the RCBS Rockchucker, the Big Boss Redding and others made strong and heavy. if you are looking to get into the game study what's out there and weigh it against your present as well as anticipated needs. Invest in good quality equipment and it will serve you well.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Between two lakes in Alaska


    I do all my reloading on a RCBS RockChucker. Reloading is a pleasurable way to spend my free time so I don't mind the "slow" pace of the single stage press. I also like being able to check each and every step for each and every round...I'm not saying it's better, I just feel better about it.

    Rifle Dies; I started out with RCBS and most of mine are those. I picked up a Redding Comp. seating die for .223 and was very impressed. When I got my .338 I bought Redding dies for it. I like them a lot. My future rifle dies will most likely be Redding.

    Handgun Dies: Again most of mine are RCBS. I bought some Lyman Muilti Deluxe carbide dies and like them better.

    Crimp. On those rounds I crimp, I like to do it as a seperate step and like the Lee Factory Crimp dies.

  7. #7
    Member Big Al's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007


    [quote=Murphy;245946]There are some calibers you just aen't going to be able to load with a progeressive.

    I have two Dillion RL 1000, they will load up to .378 Weatherby. I would no more think of setting them up to load even .308 Win with them.

    When Mike dropped the RL-1000, it was because it was a machine made for the commercial loaders. A market he could not compete in, any longer. The RL-1050 is a little faster machine. Shorter stroke. I like the 1050 more for this reason.

    Unless you are a volume loader, you sure as heck don't need it. I had a 550B that started life as a 400, It went through each upgrade (for free) about four changes. Until the only thing that was still original was the handle. After all thors years loading on that machine, I swapped it off. My son was loading 9mm and double charged a case. Resulting in a 190.00 new barrel for his FS-92. No more worries when that machine was gone. I gave him an RCBS partner press, and slept better.

    When I look around my shop and see a dozen or more presses, I see the need for each. But for the newer guy just starting out, I always suggest going to the gun shows and looking for a used RCBS Rock chucker. It will get you along way down the road.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  8. #8

    Default Presses

    The first press I ever used was an RCBS Junior. It was overall the best press I ever owned (long since discontinued). One day in my infinite wisdom I sold it and bought a Rockchucker, a qualty press which I still have. I always seem to enjoy loading more on a single stage press. It allows for set-ups for short runs and specialty ammo. Gets me in the loading room more often and keeps me out of the wifes hair longer.
    Yep, I've used the Green Machine, Dillions, and worked using commercial electric presses,which required pouring bulk cases in a hopper and, installing bullet tubes in in the feeder, primers were poured in bulk.
    I've now amassed seven single stage presses, all RCBS (2 Partners and 5 Rockchuckers). I'm considering another Junior, if I find one that's in really good shape.
    Juniors are cast iron, shorter lever throw than Rockchuckers, and last forever. They do have less leverage and don't form magnum wildcats as well though. I'll probably never own another progressive press, just a personal quirk.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  9. #9


    I have to join the Rock Chucker crowd, Haven't done all that much reloading and never used a progressive. I figure for the amount of handloading I do the Rock Chucker works great and has been an old standby for years. And I only need one

  10. #10

    Default Why limit to one?

    I run bot a RCBS Rockchucker and a Lee Loadmaster, (what can I say, I am a handloader, hence a cheapskate). I use the progressive exclusively for straight wall pistol cases as it is pretty good with these cartridges and ball powder, (45 acp, 9mm, 38spl, 44spl, 44 mag for plinking, 45 colt, etc). I do most of my high end and all of my bottleneck cartridge loads on the single stage because it is plain and simply more accurate. I like to precisely control each and every stage. It may take a bit longer, but it is worth it.

    The Lee Loadmaster does pretty well. As my roomate says their slogan should be: "Hey... it works!?" I did have one major primer malfunction from which I now carry the scars on my forearm, (GO SAFETY GLASSES), but that is a different story.

    Bottom line.. If you are going to load high accuracy/high pressure (bear) loads - use a single stage. If you are going to load masses of ammo for plinking or general target - use a progressive (spend the money and get a Dillon if able).

  11. #11
    Member frankd4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Miami, Florida

    Default Dillon 550B for me

    Dillon 550B for me I shoot IDPA and IPSEC go through about 1000 to 1500 rounds
    Of pistol ammo and about 500 to 600 rounds of 223 at three gun matches for me the Dillon 550B gives me the best of both worlds with some fine tuning I do my 308 on it as well, I pay attention to what Iím doing and have had a lot of fun doing it saved a ton of money doing it.
    Dillions no bull life time warranty has been a big factor for me to stick with them.

  12. #12
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Default Both!

    I recently upgraded my RS-5 single-stage press to a new Rockchucker IV. The new, larger press better handles the big ultra mag cases.

    I like to use a single stage, when I work with rifle calibers and extruded powders. Extruded powders usually don't meter all that well, so I like to weigh each charge. For this type of loading, a progressive machine isn't really necessary or all that helpful.

    That being said, I own a Dillon 550 and a 650. I load all my pistol ammo and my high volume rifle ammo (mainly .223 and .22-250) on the progressive machines. I deliberately chose ball-type powders for working with these particular rifle calibers, because I wanted to load them progressively.

    I have been hearing good things about Alliant's Reloader-series rifle powders, and how well these extruded powders meter through a measure. Because of this news, I may consider reassigning more and more of my rifle loading duties to my Dillon machines.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007


    Anyone have experience with Forester's press? I've heard it produces the most concentric ammo of all bench mounted presses.


  14. #14
    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Homer Alaska


    Started out reloading with the Lee O press and now have a few presses that have their own place in my reloading room .
    Lyman T mag with five plates for many calibers , RCBS Rockchucker and a Walnut hill Too many Calibers to list .

    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


  15. #15
    Member Big Al's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by okbowman View Post
    Anyone have experience with Forester's press? I've heard it produces the most concentric ammo of all bench mounted presses.

    I've had two, no they are not the best for concentricty. The cheap old Partner press is better than most, but the secret to giving you the lowest possible TIR, is to use good dies and let the die float in the press.

    This is easily proven if you spin your loaded rounds on a good concentricty gage.

    I gave up on the Forester for two reasons. One is that I got tired of extracting cases from dies the the shell head had been ripped off by the auto shell holder.

    And two, I just felt uncomfortable with the soft underside of my forearm exposed to the mouth of a ctg case being primed. What have you saved with the auto shell holder. You still have to have a standard shell holder if you prime on that press.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  16. #16
    bullshop junior


    I like single and turret. I like RCBS
    I reload
    every thing else
    BIC/Daniel/BS Jr.

  17. #17

    Default You can't have just one...

    I have a Rockchucker for the rifle stuff and a Dillon 650 for the pistols.
    I use both ball and flake powders in the Dillon, and to it's credit, I have found it very consistent with a full or nearly empty measure. I experimented with it and weighed a lot of charges from it before it earned my trust.
    The 650 gets the pistol work because I don't have the lifespan to single stage that many rounds. I have turned out 1100 357s in an hour whilst drinking coffee..under 20 seconds a round average starting flat footed loading primer tubes, finding my bullets.......
    When I do my rifle stuff, I still use the Rockchucker. It's slow, but I don't do that much compared to the pistols. I will eventually try the 300 Win Mag in the Dillon, just haven't got to it. Seems to me it would have to be sized, pulled out then trimmed as usual anyhow. I would like to hear from others on large rifle in the progressive, too. I did a bunch of 223 through it in a hot hurry though, no trouble. I think it depends on how much you shoot, how much time you have, I still haven't departed from the maximum accuracy camp which is gathered around a single stage press, and can you afford to build and feed an ammunition factory? Look at the money I am saving...but now I buy bullets by the crate and powder by the keg......I m saving so much it is driving me to the poor house.
    My calibers: 32 S&W Long
    45 ACP
    454 Casull
    300 Win Mag
    348 Winchester
    and 223
    Last edited by snowshooze; 04-16-2008 at 17:21. Reason: Clarification

  18. #18


    Quote Originally Posted by okbowman View Post
    Anyone have experience with Forester's press? I've heard it produces the most concentric ammo of all bench mounted presses.

    I am new to reloading and started out with a Lee single stage press. Wasn't happy with it and looked around some. Ended up getting an old Bonanza (now Forester) single stage press off Ebay. I really like the 'floating' die setup as well as the quick die changes you can do with it. I have read some pretty good reports on the Forester but I do not have concentricity gauge so have not been able to check it out. I really like it so far. I think it will work for me.


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