How to choose a press…
“How do I choose the “right” press for me?”
Joe Jones, Everytown, MO
Joe, that’s a great question. First of all, there is no exact correct answer to this. More than anything, it depends on where you are in your reloading journey. If you are brand new, you absolutely should limit your choices to single stage presses. It’s extremely important that you learn every detail of every step you do. If you automate any of the functions too soon, you will miss that opportunity and increase your risks of an accident.
If you anticipate increasing your volume (that is, you’re committed to learning reloading and this isn’t a pure experiment where you want to save every dollar possible), one alternative would be to consider purchasing a turret press. The “advancing” or “indexing” function can be disabled, and what you have in essence is an extremely convenient single-stage press where all your dies are installed at one time and can be exchanged easily for another set of dies when you change calibers. This is, in fact, what I do and I started reloading in the 1960s!
If you are a professional and/or high volume shooter for any reason, you could consider a progressive press. There is no practical way of turning out thousands of rounds per week. But even if you shoot volumes such as this and intend to reload at this volume level, you should still limit your choices to a single-stage or disabled turret press initially. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you learn intimately how every stage of the process looks, feels, and sounds before you automate anything. In fact, the reloader on our team here at “Reloading A to Z” who is one of the most accurate shooters on the planet – Jason Ray – to this day still uses a single stage press and weighs every powder charge by hand with a simple balance beam scale! And he can shoot a 430 yard group of 0.186!”
While we’re at it, I’ll touch on a related subject you didn’t really reference – brand and pricing. All of the major brands make great single stage presses. Yes, some brands have devoted – some would say rabid – followers. But Jason Ray and I to this day still own and use Lee Precision equipment, some of the least expensive on the market. They cost less than $100 new. And look at Jason’s accuracy! (I won’t brag about mine!) Can you spend more? Absolutely. Might you get more “bells and whistles?” Perhaps. But it’s simply not necessary unless there is a specific characteristic, feature, or specification of a specific piece of equipment you need.
Joel Guerin, Versailles, Kentucky