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Thread: Thoughts/comments on next step beyond single stage press

  1. #1
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    Default Thoughts/comments on next step beyond single stage press

    Getting back into both pistol & long gun shooting after my exile in durance vile.

    Didn't remember how long it took to run a bunch of cartridges through the old RCBS Rockchucker.


    I don't anticipate more than 200-400 rounds per month of handgun ammo; maybe 100 rounds per month of long gun (across 2 different calibers) and, based on my apparent inability to handle even moderately cool weather, most shooting will be done in March - October.

    Would appreciate your thoughts on going with a turret setup or progressive and what brand. I recognize there is a strong contingent that will justifiably recommend "Just get a Dillon", but I want to consider every viable possibility. Don't want to spend $$ unnecessarily, but that's not the only consideration.

    Any thoughts appreciated.

  2. #2

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    For that comparatively "light" reloading schedule, I'm not sure I'd bother with a progressive. I've got a Dillon, but seldom resort to it for handgun any more. Instead I just load in stages, an hour or so at a session. I throw all the cases into a bin on one side of the press and have an empty bin on the other. Size as many or few as I want at one time until they're all done. Then swap the bins so the empty is on the other side of the press again, and repeat for depriming and belling. I might do all that in an evening or over several.

    I prime cases from the bin into loading blocks of 50 rounds, but at that point tend to go ahead and finish the loading block in one sitting- prime, charge, and seat the bullets. As before I can do as many or as few lots of 50 as I want.

    Time really "flies" when I reload in batches like that, mostly because I can do as much or as little as I want. By the time I get the Dillon all set up and adjusted, it doesn't really feel like I've saved any time for only loading 300-400 rounds. Just a "head space" thing, I guess, with the head space between my shoulder blades being the bigger deal than the head space in the firearm.

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    I use a Redding Turret. You'll like it. Nice to be able to just turn it to the die you need. I load about 100-200 handgun and 50 rifle loads a week. For working up loads it's real nice. It'll take 7 dies. I keep a turret head with 30/06, .243 & 45/70 all setup. That covers my most used rifles. I keep another turret head full of 45colt/.454 casull dies. And another with .44 mag. That covers my most used handguns. I use the 4th turret head for the less used dies.
    It's fast to switch from one turret head to the next.
    There are less expensive turrets out there, and I'm sure they would work good for you too. But I really like my Redding, money well spent.
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    Member marshall's Avatar
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    I'm very pleased with my Dillon 550. I keep my dies adjusted for each rifle or hand gun on their own removable head. Several cartridges that I load for use the same shell plate and primer bar so no change is required. Heads can be swapped in about 4 seconds and another 30 seconds will get the powder measure mounted on the powder die. If the shell plate needs to be swapped you can do it in about 1 minute. Changing the primer system is the most time consuming, about 90 seconds including the primer tube. I have four powder bars that meter different ranges of charge. Changing them takes about 30 seconds.

    I leave the small pistol primer bar in place and prime all rifle cases by hand while watching TV. That means I can go from magnum rifle to 40S&W in about 2 minutes by changing the shell plate, tool head and powder bar. I consider my speed and efficiency about average.

    I've seen the Redding in use, seems to be pretty good too. Not sure about the cost of it and it's related components.

  5. #5
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    Welcome back and thanks for asking our advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa12drvr View Post
    Getting back into both pistol & long gun shooting after my exile in durance vile.

    Didn't remember how long it took to run a bunch of cartridges through the old RCBS Rockchucker.


    I don't anticipate more than 200-400 rounds per month of handgun ammo; maybe 100 rounds per month of long gun (across 2 different calibers) and, based on my apparent inability to handle even moderately cool weather, most shooting will be done in March - October.

    Would appreciate your thoughts on going with a turret setup or progressive and what brand. I recognize there is a strong contingent that will justifiably recommend "Just get a Dillon", but I want to consider every viable possibility. Don't want to spend $$ unnecessarily, but that's not the only consideration.

    Any thoughts appreciated.
    Lee Classic Turret. Here's my reasoning:

    I started loading with an RCBS Jr and switched to a RockChucker within a few months. Then I got a pair of Lee Pro-1000 progressives. USed those for decades, but the constant tuning up and watching multiple operations was tiresome, so this Spring, I started shopping around for a better setup.

    Originally, I was just going to replace the press, possibly with a Dillon, but I learned more about Turrets. I looked at all I could find and settled on the Lee Classic Turret.

    The Lee is smaller than the others. Since I put mine away after each loading session, that degree of compactness is nice.

    The Lee turrets (both the Deluxe and the Classic) are the only turrets that rotate the head automatically with each stroke of the ram (or not, depending on operator preference). Auto-rotation allows the user to load in batch mode like a single-stage or regular turret

    Batch mode:

    size/deprime 50 cases, rotate head,
    flare/reprime/charge 50 cases, rotate head,
    bullet seat 50 cases, rotate head
    crimp bullet in 50 cases
    inserting and removing each case after each operation
    That's 200 insertion/removal cycles and 200 cycles or the ram.

    or straight through-put

    Size/deprime one case, rotate head
    flare/reprime/charge the same case, rotate head
    bullet seat the same cartridge, rotate head
    crimp bullet the same cartridge, rotate head
    insert fresh case.
    That is 50 insertion/removal cycles and 200 cycles of the ram.

    The throughput method requires insertion/removal of the cartridge cases only once. The batch method requires insertion/removal 3 times. This is not so important if you prime off-press and do other steps that require removal of the case during processing, but if you want to pass the case through each die and can leave it on the press continuously throughout the operations, the Auto-Advancing Turret can produce ammunition nearly as fast as the slowest progressives and much faster than any single-stage. The second batch of ammo I ran through my Lee Turret took 47 minutes to load 100 rounds. (not counting setup, filling the powder hopper and primer tray, none of which takes much time)

    The turret is simpler to operate and any progressive and does not require special shell plates to switch calibers. Indeed, it is as easy to operate as a single stage.

    For production in the quantities you mentioned, I think the Lee Classic Turret is the best choice, bar none.

    Lost Sheep

  6. #6
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    I really like my dillon 550 and you can't beat the no bs customer service.

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    I too just went down this road. I load primarily handgun but couldnt get myself to drop 5-600 on a Dylan full progressive. A couple months ago I bought a Lee CLASSIC Turret Press kit from Cabellas that was on sale for 185.00 shipped to my door. I really like it a lot. I,ve loaded several hundred rounds of 38, 45Colt and 454 Casull. I decap (no resize) all my brass then tumble and clean primer pockets. I then use the press to size, prime, etc. At a leisurely pace I can load 50 rounds in 30 minutes. The auto disk powder measure is amazingly consistent with Unique and H110 which are my two main powders. I already had Lee 4 die sets.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    For that comparatively "light" reloading schedule, I'm not sure I'd bother with a progressive. I've got a Dillon, but seldom resort to it for handgun any more. Instead I just load in stages, an hour or so at a session. I throw all the cases into a bin on one side of the press and have an empty bin on the other. Size as many or few as I want at one time until they're all done. Then swap the bins so the empty is on the other side of the press again, and repeat for depriming and belling. I might do all that in an evening or over several.

    I prime cases from the bin into loading blocks of 50 rounds, but at that point tend to go ahead and finish the loading block in one sitting- prime, charge, and seat the bullets. As before I can do as many or as few lots of 50 as I want.

    Time really "flies" when I reload in batches like that, mostly because I can do as much or as little as I want. By the time I get the Dillon all set up and adjusted, it doesn't really feel like I've saved any time for only loading 300-400 rounds. Just a "head space" thing, I guess, with the head space between my shoulder blades being the bigger deal than the head space in the firearm.
    BB, must be an old guy thing. I had a Dillon and used it very little.....same Rock Chucker for 34 years. I do it like you and have a couple thousand empties that I need to get started on.

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    Here you go. Cheap but effective..... http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/produ...link&cmCat=CRR

  10. #10
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    Here you go. Cheap but effective..... http://www.cabelas.com/catalog/produ...link&cmCat=CRR
    For a few bucks more you can get a 550 Basic that you can use as a turret press. If you decide later to upgrade to a fully progressive machine, you can add the primer and power features to make it a complete 550B.

    I am not a Lee basher, but I don't know a single Dillon owner that would trade their machine for a Lee. I am the 3rd owner of my particular Dillon 550. It's over 20 years old, and it still loads quality ammo and runs like a top. It's not often, but when I call Dillon for anything, they treat me like I have a family member that works there. Their customer service is second to none!

    I often see good deals on used 550's at the various gun shows or classifieds. A friend picked up a used 550 (complete) for $250 a while back. I'd rather have a used Dillon than a brand new Lee.

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    Thanks for the read folks, I'm within shouting distance of the same boat. I've been using my Lee single stage press for years now, but I can see that I'd save a lot of time by upgrading my equipment. I've been VERY happy with all of my Lee equipment so far, so I think the Lee classic press will be the most logical next step for me. Snyd - I'd rep ya for the link, but it seems I gave you some too recently.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

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    I found that I only used my powder measure for handgun loads. I weigh each rifle load and currently have several hundred rounds loaded up so I'm good to go for a while. I had a bench mounted RCBS primer tool also. After trying out the Lee I was happy with the primer system. The primer loaders work great and seating the primer on the down stroke has great feel. I sold my Hornady powder measure and primer tool and recouped 3/4 of the cost of the Lee. I still have my Lee Classic Cast single stage. I'll hang onto it. At least for a while. This Classic Turret can be used single stage as well.

    I did buy an extra extra turret for another set of dies and a double disk kit for the powder dropper. I think I'm in the whole setup a couple hundred bucks. Less the stuff I sold.

    Time to put it to use. Gonna break out the H110 and the 355gr .452's for the 45 Colt

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    Thanks for all the replys, y'all.

    Will give this some serious thinking. Really appreciate the insight on what works, pricing, etc.

    Will have to go generate some empty cases while I ponder.

    thanks again.

  14. #14
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    There are different ways of looking at this. Why you reload will make a big difference in how you load. What you load also will make a difference as well as what powders you use. I have 5 loading presses set up for different things and am not saying any are the best. I use an old single stage CH press for misc puttering with a case or two that I want to deprime or resize to see if it will straighten from being bent. I use a Lyman Spar-T 6 hole for small runs of something I'm testing. I use a Lyman All American 4 hole turret press for most of my rifle loading and load work up. I have a Dillon 550b that I use mostly for pistol loading once a load has been decided on. I also have a rockchucker that I use for heavier projects like case forming, bullet swaging and making gas checks. If you are loading for fun and relaxation then a good single stage will work just fine. If you are loading so you can shoot a lot of pistol rounds then one of the progressive presses will definately save you a lot of time for more shooting. It is no real problem to load 500 rounds per hour with the 550. However that is doing everything on the press without cleaning primer pockets or weighing powder. If all you are expecting is normal factory accuracy/quality this works fine. This requires a powder that meters well, usually ball type. I also will use the dillon for rifle rounds that I'm not expecting MOA such as 7.62x39, 454casull, 25/20, 32/20 and other open sighted rifles. When loading for accuracy, cases are prepped and then loaded on the All American one at a time and powder is weighed for each. If I were shooting 50/100 rounds per week, I would get a progressive that is known to work well and set it up for the pistol. Depending on what rifle I was loading for and what powder it uses, I might try loading on a progressive for it as well. An hour of loading a month should keep you shooting without spending all your time at the loading bench. I've heard the Dillon warrenty is very good but in 15yrs of using mine, nothing has needed fixed.

  15. #15

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    No comments on the Forester/Bonanza single stage!!
    I really like the slide in/out of the dies and 'floating' of the case for better alignment. Switching dies could not be easier or faster.
    I do not have a runout gauge yet but I have had good 'eyeball' results and have read good reports.
    Great for my limited operation.

    I do have a hand-me-down pro 1000 that I was planning on setting up the 45. Maybe I shouldn't bother?

  16. #16
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    Someone beat me to mentioning the co-ax. I started with a lee press, then got a lyman turret, then the co-ax. Both the lee and lyman presses were sold. You can slide dies in and out of the co-ax as fast as you can turn a turret, but you don't have to buy additional turrets, or change out turrets if you load many different chamberings. IMHO the co-ax is the finest single stage you can buy.

    Now if you really want to crank out ammo,








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