Best Progressive Reloading Presses For The Money: Reviews (2018)
If you search the phrase best progressive press, you will realize that there are many brands that dominate this market.
More than that, there are thousands of options to choose from. This makes it difficult to identify what suits your specific needs.
Some progressive presses are specially designed for reloading specific ammunition while others have the ability to cover different types.
At the end of the day, you want a product that produces reliable cartridges to save you time and money.
The focus of our post is to help you identify a progressive press that not only achieves the above goal, but also satisfies your shooting needs.
Keep reading to discover more…
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What is a Progressive Reloading Press?
If you are just starting out and are worried that your new hobby will eat lots of ammo in the long run, fear not. Today’s technology has made it possible to make your own ammunition through a process called reloading.
A progressive reloading press is specially designed to assemble gun cartridges from scratch. You will need gun powder, bullet, primer and casing to get started.
A progressive press uses a lever to compress all of the above materials into what you know simply as ammunition. While it can be a little difficult to operate at first, you can produce up to more than 400 bullets an hour once you get the hang of it.
There is a little hand operation but most progressive presses are equipped with accessories that do most of the hard work.
You can also use a progressive press for other functions like powder measurement and deburring.
Best Progressive Reloading Press Reviews:
1. Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press:
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One of the top sellers is the Hardy Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press, a highly coveted tool that boasts amazing features and qualities. What we love most is its EZJect System since it allows speedy production of ammunition without requiring special adjustments.
This progressive press is also capable of releasing up to 600 rounds per hour, which is quite the advantage for an avid shooter. It is also one of the easiest presses to use in terms of operation.
There are five auto indexing stations that allow faster reloading without any difficulties. The change of dies is quick, and you can change all kinds of calibers from .45 to .223 in less than five minutes. We love the strategically fitted collecting tray, particularly since it isn’t easily available in other reloading presses.
There is a Case-Activated Powder Drop feature that ensures the gun powder dropped into the cartridge is of the right amount. Of course, you have to make sure that the cartridge is in the right position during the reloading process. The above feature also helps prevent accidental spillage.
The universal case retainer spring makes it easy to quickly remove and insert a case at any point during the reloading process. Our main concern is that the brushing on the powder station is susceptible to unseating and twisting.
2. Lee Precision Load Master 223 Remington Reloading Rifle Kit:
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If you are shopping for a budget progressive press that does its job well, the Lee Precision Load Master may be for you. It has many features you’d expect to get at a higher price, with our favorite being that it contains everything you need to get started loading .223 ammunition. In addition, you can purchase this kit in other configurations.
The Lee Precision Load Master is sturdily constructed using cast aluminum, which is lighter and cheaper than other materials.
It also indexes automatically and manually, a great feature when you need to set up everything and get ready to go. You can slow down and give each stage the appropriate attention or switch to automatic when you need to speed things up.
This progressive press boasts five stations, allowing you to perform 5 functions simultaneously. While you will not always need this feature, it is good to know you have that option when loading labor intensive cartridges.
It has a few quality issues that you wouldn’t notice with more expensive models. For instance, it is more susceptible to jamming and a little difficult to clear. Some customers also had complaints about the priming process, but they can be resolved by starting the reloading process with clean and swaged primer packets.
3. Dillon Precision 16944 XL 650 9mm Progressive Auto Indexing Reloading Machine:
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The Dillon Precision 16944 XL 650 is a high-end auto indexing reloading machine that offers everything you need to enjoy your hobby. It is the monster of all progressive presses on the market and boasts pretty great features for effective reloading of ammo.
Highlights include five stations for accurate reloading of your ammunition. The first station resizes the brass to its original shape and de-primes it at the same time.
The second step involves pulling the lever to place the new primer in the right position so that it can get the right amount of gunpowder.
This is followed by powder checking then manually seating the bullet. In the last stage, the bullet is crimped before being injected into the collection tray.
What makes this machine more effective than most is that operates on multiple stations and allows for automatic indexing. This means less contact with progressive press while in the reloading process. The only thing you have to do is set the bullet on the powder filled brass.
There is a case feed tube that lines up empty brass as well as a priming system that allows the machine to do the priming automatically. You get a conversion kit for 9mm caliber for increased versatility.
4. RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive Press:
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RCBS is little known brand but their Pro 2000 is a very popular progressive press among shooters. It is a five station automatic indexing press that offers high grade functionality and ease of use. All you have to do is insert a bullet and case then cycle the handle and a complete round will drop out.
What we love most about the five station design is that it allows one to use a powder checker or lock-out die. You can also crimp cases and seat bullets in different operations.
The Pro 2000 also comes with APS Priming System, which automatically loads the primers. The system includes a strip loading tool and priming strips for added convenience.
Also included is a quick change removable die plate that allows quick cartridge changeover, hence more time for reloading more ammo. The die plates accept 7/8-14 inch threaded dies.
The Uniflow Powder Measure feature works with the Case-Activated Linkage System to ensure that powder charges are dispensed accurately. This press has a rugged cast iron frame with a large working window that allows for easy insertion and removal of cases.
You also get a loaded ammo bin, empty case bin and bullet tray to streamline the entire reloading process. There is a probe rod you can use to confirm whether the case is properly charged before seating bullets.
5. RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Reloading Press:
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Any seasoned reloader who knows the importance of a solid mounting arrangement when it comes to reloading will fall in love with the RCBS Pro Chucker 7. It is a seven station progressive press that takes reloading to the elite level. It also offers automatic indexing for optimal production, and has a load rate of 600 rounds per hour.
You get a quick change die plate that allows for faster caliber change and increased efficiency. The machine uses a safety shielded priming system for the priming process and has standard primer pick up tubes. It drops spent primers from the bottom of the press before they are captured in a trash receptacle.
The quick change powder measure has a large capacity and helps reduce the number of times you need to fill the powder hopper. Additionally, the quick change drain tube eliminates the need to remove the powder measure from the press when draining it.
The Pro Chucker 7 has QC metering assemblies for shortened set up times when you need to switch powders. Its seven station design allows you progressively load however you want i.e. seat bullets and crimp separately. You can use a powder checker or lock-out die or a bullet feeder.
6. RCBS 88910 Pro Chucker 5 Progressive Reloading Press:
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The RCBS 88910 Pro Chucker 5 Progressive Reloading Press is a five station auto indexing machine that offers a high level of customization and efficiency. Its five station design allows for maximum production, and allows for a load rate of 600 rounds per hour.
Like other progressive presses by RCBS, this one is sturdily made with die cast aluminum. It also comes with a quick change die plate that allows for easy and fast caliber change.
There are standard primer pickup tubes that work with the safety shielded priming system to provide increased efficiency.
Like the Pro Chucker 7, this model drops the spent primers from the bottom of the press before being captured in a trash receptacle.
Its powder measure is retrofitted with quick change metering components. This eradicates the need to remove the measure from the press when draining powder. Additionally, one can swap out metering screws when dispensing new powder.
While impressive in its own way, nothing beats the fact that the Pro Chucker 5 can be converted from five- to seven station operation. This means increased efficiency and versatility, making it a great choice for someone who wants to upgrade with time.
7. Dillon Precision RL550 40/10 Progressive Reloading Machine:
Every beginner needs a good progressive reloading press and the Dillon Precision RL550 is an excellent match. Its simplicity and practicality make it easy for one to master the reloading process.
This machine utilizes a 4 stage design and caters to more than 120 calibers for different firearms. It has a manual indexing system that can produce up to 400-600 rounds of ammunition in an hour, which is more than one can hope for at the price range.
While advanced progressive presses boast automatic indexing to speed up the reloading process, the manual indexing of this model allows you to master every stage.
It operates all of the four stations simultaneously. The first stage is for resizing, de-priming as well as priming. The powder is loaded into the cartridge during the second stage. In the thirst station, the bullet is set into the brass and the fourth station is for crimping and ejection of the finished ammunition.
Customers cited their appreciation for the removable tool head, which comes handy when swapping calibers. It saves a lot of time as it allows the dies to stay in place and well adjusted. Swapping the shell plates, tool head, and recalibrating the powder takes less than five minutes.
While a great progressive press, the shell plates included in the package are set only in one caliber.
8. Dillon Precision 16940 XL 650 223 Progressive Auto Indexing Reloading Machine:
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If the goal is to produce as many rounds as possible and aren’t afraid to drop some serious bucks, the Dillon Precision 16940 XL 650 is worth considering. It is a high quality progressive press that is popular among professional reloaders looking to sell their manufactured ammunition.
Highlights include unparalleled quality, customer service and warranty. It comes with quick change tool heads as well as automatic indexing to speed up the production process. As a result, you don’t have to worry about manually turn the shell plates.
You also get an assortment of component feeders and accessories to make the tougher tasks easier.
This reloading machine has 5 different stations that complete an equal number of steps simultaneously. The whole process is semi automatic and the only thing you have to do is set the bullet on the cartridge.
This reloading press offers a hassle free experience because you don’t have to adjust the dies. The removable tool head ensures they stay in perfect adjustment.
The main selling point of the Dillon Precision 16940 XL 650 has to do with its potential round count. This machine can produce up to 500-800 rounds per hour. What’s even better is that one can get after market accessories for the machine to improve the round count.
Buying Guide: Things to Look for
Completed round production
This is the most important feature to look at when comparing different progressive reloading machines. Not all progressive reloaders are created equal and their completed round production varies from one model to the next. Some are faster, while others can make different caliber rounds with varying levels of production.
Look for an auto-indexing feature as it goes a long way towards improving production. Keep in mind that some presses require manual indexing of the shell plate between each pull of the lever.
There are a few disadvantages that come with increased round production. For starters, presses with the auto-indexing feature have more moving parts that make them susceptible to malfunctions. It also reduces reliability.
The amount of time it takes to change the caliber also has an impact on round production. You will undoubtedly find yourself changing out dies and tooling. This can prove a daunting and time-consuming. Consider choosing a model that makes this easier if you will be changing caliber configurations regularly.
Quality of materials
You want a reloading press that will last a long time, hence the importance of purchasing a model made with quality materials. Models made from solid blocks of steel are quite expensive. Die cast aluminum is lighter and more affordable.
Quality becomes more complicated when comparing different models. This is because some have more moving parts and as such, are more prone to malfunctions and breakage.
While cost to quality ratio is something you have to decide for yourself, you are better off spending a chunk of money on a model that offers lasting reliability.
These are a huge part of what a particular press better than another, and every brand offers a myriad of accessories to make the reloading process easier and increase round production.
Many brands offer component feeders for cases, powder, primers and bullets to automate as much of the process as possible. Some component feeders orient the components and do everything except filling up the hopper.
Look for machines with speed adjustment as this will allow you to load as many rounds per hour as possible. Coupled with the right equipment, such machines can produce thousands of rounds per hour. However, they are quite expensive and only recommended for high volume of completed ammunition.
Some brands offer a case trimmer for converting brass to another caliber or making wildcat rounds. This accessory also comes handy when you need to increase the accuracy of hand-loaded cartridges.
How a Progressive Reloading Press Works
Unlike a turret press that can only handle one case at a time, a progressive reloader keeps the tool head fixed and holds cases in a rotating case holder disk. The case holder disk holds the same number of dies as in the tool head.
This means that every time you pull the lever, a progressive reloading press handles a series of tasks equal to the number of stations are performed simultaneously. The average round production rate is higher than for turret or single stage presses.
Progressive reloading presses have a varying number of stations, usually 3 to 8. The higher the number of stations, the more tasks that can be performed at the same time.
Why Get Progressive Presses?
The main reason for purchasing a progressive press is that it performs several tasks simultaneously.
Additionally, an auto indexing press advances the shell plate on its own with each pull of the handle. This means less effort on your part.
Most progressive reloaders are offered with a myriad of accessories like component feeders and speed adjustment to make your work easier. These accessories also go a long way towards increasing production of ammunition.
Unlike other types of reloading presses, progressive presses offer plenty of room for adjustability. They are also easy to maintain and changing calibers is a walk in the park.
There you have it – everything you need to know about choosing the best progressive reloading press. The most important factors to consider during purchase is production rate.
The Lock N Load from Hornady is our favorite pick as it offers all of the right features at an affordable price.
Now that you have all the information you need, getting started on your new hobby of making custom ammunition that meets your standards should be easy.
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