There are countless reasons that people need ammunition. Some people need ammunition for hunting, while others simply enjoy firing off a few rounds at the local range. Regardless of your motivation, there is one thing that every gun owner can agree on: ammunition gets expensive.
While a case of 9mm rounds may not break the bank, a day of teaching targets a lesson will still set you back a considerable amount. The problem only worsens with larger calibers. Luckily, reloading your own bullets is an excellent method of saving money and becoming more attuned to your ammunition.
Unfortunately, the wide variety of reloaders and often dizzying prizes can become confusing and discouraging. Luckily, finding the right progressive reloading press isn’t hard. Here’s what you need to know.
Last update on 2020-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- 1 Best Progressive Reloading Press Reviews
- 2 RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
- 3 Lee Precision Load Master Reloading Rifle Kit
- 4 KMS Squared Universal Reloading Press LED Light Kit
- 5 KMS Squared UFO Reloading Press Light Kit
- 6 Mayville Engineering Company (MEC) 0813989 Progressive 9000N Grabber Shotshell Reloader
- 7 Buyer’s Guide and What to Look For in a Reloader
- 8 Conclusion
Best Progressive Reloading Press Reviews
One of the most common mistakes I see people make when starting a new hobby is spending too much money too quickly. Certainly, we all want the best equipment. However, buying the highest-end gear can cause a financial strain that takes a hobby from fun to frustrating. While reloading bullets can be an excellent and relaxing pastime that allows you much more granular control over your ammunition, the ultimate goal is typically to save money. Thus, I typically suggest more basic reloaders to newcomers. If you ultimately decide that this aspect of the hobby isn’t for you, it is better to have spent a little less. That is the niche that the RCCBS 9356 Rock Chucker fulfills so well.
Although the RCBS 9356 is not the cheapest single-stage reloader on the market, it represents a remarkable value. It lacks the bells and whistles of many of the higher-end progressive reloaders, but it provides an incredibly solid base that provides efficient and predictable reloading. Many low-end reloaders will have flimsy aluminum frames that make it almost impossible to accurately reload ammunition. In this realm, having a stable platform for reloading is not just a matter of convenience, it’s a matter of safety.
Of course, the primary downside to any single-stage reloader is the time it takes to batch-load ammunition. Because it lacks the multiple tool-heads of a progressive or turret loader, you will have to quickly become adept at swapping dies between brass resizing and bullet seating operations. And that’s not to mention the matter of priming. However, despite these time disadvantages, the RCBS 9353 is still an efficient machine.
Better yet, it provides an extensive amount of flexibility. If you decide that bullet reloading is worthwhile but you crave more speed, this model can be converted into a progressive reloading press with just a single accessory.
In short, this is a fantastic entry-level reloader that provides reliable service and can adapt to your changing needs. If you’re seeking quality on a budget, this one is hard to beat.
- Great value
- Very solid
- Single-stage slowness
- No priming function
Many aspiring bullet reloaders desire the speed and efficiency of a progressive reloader but still want to be conscious of budgetary concerns. For that market, the Lee Precision Load Master is an excellent choice. Considering its extremely approachable price point, this is an impressively full-featured device. The multi-die arrangement of this loader means that the speed at which you reload ammunition can be significantly higher. Once you have the proper dies in for a given caliber, you can resize and seat with minimal disruption.
Yet, one of the primary issues with progressive reloaders is that their inherent complexity can make them temperamental to set up. Reloading ammunition is a precise operation, so if a component is slightly out of square, or a mechanism wobbles, the operation can fail. This process of “dialing in” a reloading press can be incredibly frustrating, especially to a relatively inexperienced user. That is why I was so impressed with the construction of the Lee. Once it was set up for the first reloading session, it needed almost no adjustment to work properly. The brass edge was flared the proper amount, and the bullets seated squarely. Having spent hours tuning other presses, it was a relief to see this was ready to go out of the box.
There was no shortage of accessories included, either. The Lee Precision Load Master comes with a very accurate powder dispenser, a feature which many models overlook or require to be purchased separately. Further, the stand that this unit includes is surprisingly sturdy. I’m sure many people will opt to bench-mount it, but having a more portable option is a nice touch.
Of course, this is not the highest end, expensive, or best progressive press. Nor is it the fastest reloading press I’ve ever used. That said, to find a model that compares, expect to spend many times the cost of this machine. As a mid-level progressive press at an incredibly affordable price, I was legitimately impressed by the performance and precision of the Lee.
- Great value
- Included powder dispenser
- Very secure
- Directions are minimal
Whenever someone is looking to increase the ease or efficiency with which they reload ammunition, their first instinct is often to buy a higher-end reloading press or to buy some new cure-all gadget. However, there is a much simpler method that countless people overlook: getting better lighting. Beyond having a dimensionally stable press, having proper lighting is the single most important component to reloading ammunition. While reloading can become a routine or habitual process, it is nonetheless work that requires precision. Thus, you have to be able to see what you’re doing.
Regarding the KMS LED lighting kit, I will first say that any light is better than no light. However, there are several aspects of this kit that could be improved. From a positive perspective, this is a very complete kit. The light, mounting hardware, power supply, and switch are all included. Further, this is a universal kit that will fit neatly on almost any reloading press. However, it is not without its issues.
My primary grievance with this light kit is that it only illuminates one side of the work area. This is a single-strip light, so you will have to choose whether to mount it on the left or right side of your press. While it is sufficiently bright, the biased mounting of it is prone to create shadows that can make delicate operations more difficult. For example, while resizing the brass, I found it difficult to tell if both edges were flaredevenly. In total, this is a great idea with sub-optimal execution.
- Complete kit
- Universal mounting
- Uni-directional lighting
Given that this lighting kit is also made by KMS, the bulk of my experience was similar to the above set. It is a complete kit that includes everything you need to one-up your illumination game. As with anything made by KMS, the quality is excellent. A lot of lighting kits cut corners by requiring additional pieces or providing sub-par components. Not so here. The switch, plugs, and light assembly are all excellent.
However, there are a few small tweaks that make this kit a much more usable choice. KMS calls this their “UFO” kit. Looking at the shape, it is clear why. Rather than being a single strand of lights like their other model, this light includes a loop that surrounds the head of the press. Thus, the light projected by this array will evenly illuminate your work area, preventing shadows, and making sure you have a clear perspective. The only downside to this approach is that this kit is not technically universal. However, it fits the vast majority of presses in my experience. As long as there is enough surface around the head to attach the adhesive, you should not have an issue.
Using a properly illuminated reloading press is truly a game changer. Once you install this kit and hit the switch, you will instantly wonder how you ever worked without it. Your eyes will thank you.
- Even Light
- Excellent Quality
- Fits most, but not all, presses
One of the things that they don’t tell you when you first get into this hobby is that it can start as a cost-savings measure and quickly turn into somewhat of an obsession. The truth is, once you’ve learned the basics, reloading can become downright fun. However, with that enthusiasm often comes a desire for faster equipment that can handle larger calibers of ammunition. When that day comes, the MEC 9000N is a great place to be.
Dealing with larger ammunition requires special equipment. As the sizes increase, the dimensional stability and leverage needed to accurately reload increases as well. MEC has been around for decades, and anyone in the community will tell you that their reputation is unmatched. Are they the cheapest? No. But they’re arguably the best progressive reloader. Because of the high manufacturing tolerances of MEC products, their progressive reloaders are ready to use immediately. No longer will you have to fumble with tuning a lesser machine. Further, there is effectively no limit to the size of ammunition you can reload with this machine. As long as you have the proper set of dies for resizing and seating, this machine will do the rest.
There is a certain joy in operating a machine made to this high of a standard. Every action seems to be just as precise as the guns they are supporting. There is no question that a reloader of this caliber is a significant expenditure. However, given the savings that it can provide, it still presents a compelling argument. If you want the best progressive reloading press money can buy, you cannot go wrong.
- Incredible quality
- Unmatched rigidity
- Takes Up a lot of bench space
Buyer’s Guide and What to Look For in a Reloader
If you spend any time reading progressive reloading press reviews, you will know that it can become confusing to separate the gimmicks from the facts. Luckily, there are only a few key points you need to know to find the best progressive ammo reloader.
Reloading ammunition is a fun pastime, but it is also a precise multi-step operation. To properly reload ammunition, you have to ensure that the brass is properly resized, the edge is properly flared, and the bullet is properly seated.
In short, you have to make sure that the press is square and stable. The list of features offered by cheaper presses is often quite impressive. Yet, they often choose the chassis of the press as a means of cutting costs. This can have a significant impact on the quality of your ammunition.
Avoid presses that have flimsy sheet-metal frames or that lack a method for firm mounting. A proper press should be a solid affair.
Is Speed a Priority?
In choosing a press, there is an inherent trade off between speed and cost. Although everyone wants the ability to reload ammunition at a hundred rounds an hour, not everyone needs that capacity. If you only need to reload a small amount, consider choosing a single-stage press.
Although swapping components can make the process more tedious, you can also buy a much more affordable press. However, if speed is a priority, a progressive press is the right choice.
Be Mindful of the Cost of Accessories
Barebones presses often look like great value, but the cost of accessories can become a burden quickly. When looking at progressive reloader reviews, always account for the total cost of operation.
Some machines will include dies, while others will not. Some will include powder dispensers and others won’t. In short, make sure to assess the true cost of any setup.
Consider Your Future Ammunition
Although I do not recommend buying the nicest press on the market from the get-go, it is nonetheless a good idea to build in some room to grow. As you move to larger ammunition, the demands on your press increase. Virtually every press will be able to cope with the likes of a 9mm or .22 round. However, once you get past a .308, you may need to look for a beefier press.
Thus, if you anticipate reloading larger ammo down the line, it might be worthwhile to invest more upfront in a press that will grow with you.
Purchasing a reloading press is a fantastic way to advance your hobby and make it more affordable. Among the best progressive reloaders, there can appear to be a lot of options. The best choice for you will depend on numerous factors including your needs, budget, and patience.
However, for a beginner, a high-quality and adaptable progressive press is a fantastic place to start.
In this progressive reloading press comparison, the Lee Precision Load Master truly impressed. Although it was not the cheapest model we tested, its impressive build quality and comprehensive nature made it a fantastic value, and a great choice for any marksman.
- Load Master Reloading Pistol Kit
- Cast Aluminum
- 7/8"x 14
Last update on 2020-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API