Last update on 2020-04-09 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Gentlemen, bullets are expensive. They’re getting more pricey by the day as we utilize the natural resources required to produce them.
That’s going to leave us in an eventual ammunition shortage. If you don’t want to be caught on the bum side of that, you should consider an ammunition reloading press.
Save money, save time, and have the ability to create your own ammunition in a SHTF scenario.
It’s a win-win for everyone involved. For your wallet, for your family, and to upkeep your favorite thing in the world: shooting.
If you’re looking to save money on rounds and be as self-sufficient as possible when it comes to ammunition, then the best reloading press is right here for you.
Comb through our top five picks on the market, determine what’s best for you, and start reloading by this weekend.
It’s time to save money on ammo, the right way.
Our Reviews Of The Best Reloading Press
#1 Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press
As the best progressive reloading press on our list, Hornady is simply the most efficient to use with the highest amount of ammunition that you can create in a single hour.
Load up five shells into the 100% accurate shell plate, and use the primer to quickly size your casings.
Since you’ll be using Hornady dies (which are included), you’ll be able to carry out everything you need all in one place.
With a large capacity gunpowder hopper, refilling is a breeze, and barely needed throughout 200+ reloads.
The real star of the show here is Hornady’s EZject system, which takes all the guesswork out of reloading your own ammunition. No more struggling to retrieve rounds.
This allows the shell plate to pop out your bullet once it’s completely done, and drop it into the completion bin.
It’s the best progressive reloader on the market, hands down. Take advantage of a high hourly output of reloaded rounds, and get back to the range.
#2 RCBS 9354 RC Supreme Master Kit
As one of the best progressive reloaders we’ve used to date, RCBS does something a bit unorthodox, but saves you a ton of money while doing it.
Instead of including everything as one sautered unit, you actually get each piece separately in your package. This allows you to attach things as you see fit.
It’s actually a pretty good compromise. If you/re not a fan of the gunpowder loader (as some aren’t), you don’t have to include it.
This also means you can use other RCBS pieces to sort of Frankenstein your own reloading press.
Apart from that, you’ll get plenty of extras in your purchase, including a shell casing tray, multitool and lubricant.
The most impressive part of this entire system isn’t just that it’s wildly inexpensive, but that the construction is all steel, and built to last.
Use it time and time again, and it’s not going to fail you. Minimal maintenance, maximum ammunition output without forking over additional costs for repairs.
To put it plainly, it’s the last reloading press you’ll ever need.
#3 RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
RCBS is known for having top-of-the-line reloading presses, among other products.
This single stage unit caught our eye because it comes with their legendary durability, but it also comes with a slew of upgradable features.
Let’s say you’re just getting into reloading. You want to start out with a single stage, but you don’t want to spend money on one in case you need a multi stage later.
Bingo—problem solved. RCBS offers this wildly inexpensive model that comes with room for a gunpowder hopper, augments, and additional accessories.
You can use a single stage now, and a multi stage later without having to buy an entirely new system.
So, what’s so good about the base model?
It’s built to withstand anything you throw at it.
With a specific design that was built for heavy duty rounds and use, the last thing you’ll ever associate an RCBS product with is the word “quit.”
#4 LEE PRECISION 90685 Cast Iron Reloading Hand Press
We’ve seen the progressive reloading press reviews, but now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
Hand presses are perfect for many of us who want to keep this reloading habit low-budget and high efficiency.
Hand loading is terrible, but using a hand press simplifies the process, especially when you do a hundred bullets stage by stage.
The LEE PRECISION cast iron unit has a convenient handle located near the bottom center of the unit, allowing you to keep you to press down practically anywhere, and still have it line up properly.
When you come down from progressives, you’re coming down from steel as well. LEE uses a high grade aluminum for this handheld unit to keep it lightweight and easy on your hands.
As a little added bonus, you can use this press with standard dies—you don’t have to buy brand-specific ones.
This frees you up to test out anything you want, so you can know what works best for the various calibers of ammunition that you can make with the LEE PRECISION hand press.
#5 LEE PRECISION Classic Turret Press
LEE is a solid brand, and one that demands your attention. They took it a step up with their turret press, without making the cost jump up too much.
Affordable priced and loaded for bear, this press is made of heavy duty aluminum so you can rely on it for the decades ahead.
There’s a little picadillo when it comes to the auto disk plate. It requires an additional purchase depending on the caliber of bullet, otherwise there isn’t enough clearance.
It’s something to think about while venturing into this press for sure.
The linkage system is made out of solid steel, and the entire unit is adaptable to fit a gunpowder hopper in the future.
It was designed to be augmented. You can get this press for now, load over a hundred rounds per hour, and add onto it in the future to amp it up even more.
Reloading Press Buying Guide and FAQ
How To Use Reloading Press?
There are single and multi stage reloading press models, so we’re going to approach both of them.
How to Use: Single Stage Reloading Press
- Step 1: Clean your bullet casings. They’re going to be warped from the previous explosions, but as long as they aren’t split, they’re usable. When you are done cleaning soot and debris from them (especially if you picked up empty casings at a local range), it’s time to prime them with lubricant.
- Step 2: Now comes resizing. Place your resizing die on the top of your reloading press, and the shell in its proper place. You have to use the lever to resize the shells (and pop off the old primers) so that they can hold the appropriate amount of powder, as well as accept the new primer at a later stage. Once you’ve resized the casing, you’re going to relubricate them for the next step.
- Step 3: Reseat your primers (your new ones). You’ll need to switch out to the primer die in order to pull this off properly.
- Step 4: Measure and weigh your powder charges before dropping them into the casing. Once you’ve completed charged the casing, it’s time to load your bullet it. During this stage, keep clear of being directly over the reloader for safety precaution.
- Step 5: The most important stage is crimping the bullet. If you don’t crimp it properly, it’s going to get jammed when you go to fire, fall apart, or leave gunpowder all in your gun barrel. You don’t want any of those things to happen. Switch out your die, crimp the bullet, and you’re good to go.
That’s it—that’s all there is to it. It’s an egregious process just to pop out a single shot, but done properly, you’ll be able to speed it up with a few hours of practice.
These presses have a steeper learning curve, but once you surpass it, you’ll build up your speed. It’s not as fast as a multi stage reloading press, but it gets the job done.
How to Use: Multi Stage Reloading Press
- Step 1: Load up your dies. A multi stage reloading press will have enough spots for all those that you need. This will allow you to size, prime, and fully load the bullets before crimping them. On some models, you might have a separate priming rod.
- Step 2: Check and load your casing hopper. This allows you to automatically feed shells, hopefully in the right direction, down the hopper and appear on the casing spots. At this time, you should also check and load your powder measure, as well as your completion bin to ensure that there are no jams.
- Step 3: Once everything is in place, load up your cases. The shell plate will rotate when you turn the lever to help with reloading. Once shells are in every spot on the line, it’s time to prime them. Using your separate priming rod or priming die, size the casings.
- Step 4: Using a die, you will pop off the old primers (usually done during the case sizing phase) and seat them for new primers.
- Step 5: Use the gunpowder measure to charge the case. This is done fairly simply by operating the simple lever or latch on the bottom of your measure.
- Step 6: Seat the bullets properly, and then crimp them with the appropriate die. A multi stage or progressive reloading press will almost always make a perfect round. It’s still important to inspect them as they come down into the completion bin though. Better safe than sorry.
Multi stage reloading presses are always faster than single stage models.
They can generally produce safer rounds that are less likely to fall apart from inexperience, and it doesn’t take a long time to learn how to use them.
The downside is the bigger upfront cost, and that there are more components that could break.
How Many Times Can A Bullet Be Reloaded?
Reloading your own ammunition is almost an exact science.
We know to use a specific number of gunpowder grains, but the quality, ignition temperature and smoke/smokeless powder design will also factor into that.
There are a lot of variables. That’s my point.
You can predict most of them and know how to reload your ammo accordingly, but some brass casings just aren’t able to withstand another firing.
If you fire a hundred rounds, there’s a very good chance that all that brass will be intact. No splits, perfectly acceptable to reuse.
Brass comes in different grades, and it usually depends on the manufacturer when it really comes down to it.
Higher caliber bullets, although withstanding larger explosions, will have thicker casings (by the millimeter), which could make all the difference.
If you browse some online gun forums, you can find tons of shooters are reusing the same casings that they first fired over three years ago.
Then, you find some guys who shot a round twice and it cracked like an egg. There’s no way to perfectly predict how much use you’re going to get out of a single case.
You hope for the best, you keep cleaning them properly after every single use, and you should be good to go.
Bottom line: you could reload the same case for a long time, and save tons of money, or it might go sideways. Take it as it comes.
Is Reloading Ammo Dangerous?
Automated reloading isn’t dangerous. Shooting reloads comes with a very slight chance of something going wrong, but the act of reloading ammunition isn’t dangerous.
At least, when you have a press.
Hand loading bullets is not only more dangerous, but it’s going to run your thumbs ragged. Reloading by hand poses far more possibilities for injury, and improper reloading to boot.
Hand reloading is ultimately less expensive than using a press, we’ll give it that.
There’s no upfront machinery cost, but you will spend a lot of time, which is something you can’t get back. I’d front the cost of a reloading press over hand reloading any day.
Reloading ammunition with a press is less dangerous, but you’re still working with gunpowder.
Nobody ever worked closely with a known explosive and didn’t consider it dangerous to some extent.
Handling your materials for reloading is everything. Among them, gunpowder is the only one that you really need to worry about. It has an ignition temperature of around 801° F.
That is, for standard gunpowder. If you use smokeless gunpowder, for example, it can have a slightly lower ignition temperature.
It depends on the variant, but on average, it can alter it by about 120° F, making it ignite at 681° F.
If you’re reloading ammunition in the garage, then you have a good storage option available (so long as you keep it dehumidified par manufacturer recommendations).
Store that gunpowder away from anything flammable, and keep it out of direct sunlight.
Fire can start at around 500° F on wood, and if you have plenty of exposed wood in your garage (like most of us do), then you’re looking at an accelerated fire hazard.
If a house fire were to break out, the garage would be reduced to rubble rather quickly, if you’re actually storing enough gunpowder to load multiple bullets.
Are Reloads Safe To Shoot?
There’s a possibility that it won’t be safe, sure, but that’s up to you and how you reload ammo. Some reloads can be unsafe if they’re not created properly.
Reloads are safe when you make them right, and with a reloading press, it’s really hard to mess up the process.
Get the Best reloading press for the money, or the highest quality (and cost) one you can find, and you’re still going to be able to make quality, safe reloads.
This question comes from numerous people who see “No Reloaded Ammo” imprinted on guns, manufacturer catalogs, gun information, and even in gun safety classes from time to time (this varies by state education programs).
Because something could happen, manufacturers place that everywhere that they can so you don’t sue them for firing a reload, and hurting yourself or someone else.
It’s the same thing as seeing “Caution: This beverage is hot” on a cup of hot coffee.
You already know that, but some Americans can be sue-happy, and manufacturers are trying to protect themselves.
The only way that a reload can be “unsafe” is if you load the gunpowder in incorrectly, or if you’re using lead bullets when you really shouldn’t be.
What Bullet Calibers Can I Reload?
Any. If the case is intact, you can reload any bullet caliber, so long as your press supports it.
Online reviews would have people believe that it’s unsafe to shoot reloaded bullets from a glock or a simple 9mm, but that’s based on absolutely nothing.
Nobody has a good reason to not shoot a glock with reloads.
That being said, the casings on 9mm bullets are more prone to splitting or complete expansion.
They’re still made out of brass, but they’re also a little bit thinner than the casing on a .45 caliber bullet, as you might have imagined.
That means reloading might be a pain in the ass, but it could still be doable.
To find out if your press supports the right caliber of bullet, you can visit the manufacturer website, even if you plan on purchasing it from a cheaper source like the ones we’ve provided. They usually have PDFs available for each individual reloading press.
Consider downloading and printing that PDF for later use. Print it out, put it by your press, and you’ll be good to go moving forward.
Reloading Your Arsenal, One Shot At A Time
Rebuilding your own ammunition cache isn’t exactly easy, but it’s worthwhile for cost efficiency and self-sufficiency.
We never know what’s around the corner, but we can be prepared for it with a proper stockade.
To reload your own ammunition, you need a press to make it as time efficient as possible.
The goal is to save money when you attribute costs of materials, like gunpowder and primers, versus the time that it costs you to actually reload everything.
Be smart about how you spend and rebuild your ammo, and you’ll never be left with a dry homestead barracks again.
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