I bought my first reloading press back in 1967 from a small shop in Knoxville, Tenn. I settled for a RCBS press and dies for one caliber, which was for the 7.7 Japanese cartridges. The press was a single stage press, which I still use today, and it shows no signs of any problems. It still loads ammo just like it did when I first purchased it. I have always loaded mainly as a hobby. I have loaded my own ammo for deer hunting ever since I bought it. In the years that I have been loading, I have bought very little factory ammo for personal use.
Have you been thinking about buying your own reloading equipment? If so there are several questions you need to answer before going out and purchasing your first reloading press. If you get into a big hurry, you may purchase equipment that you find out later will not do the kind of reloading that you want to do. I would decide if I am loading for myself, and just how much shooting I would be doing. If you are going to shoot about 100 rounds a month, you do not need a progressive press and a lot of expensive tools. If you shoot a lot of pistol ammo every week at your local gun club, you may want to look into a progressive loader.
I think now is the time to look at the presses themselves. I mention a single stage press, and it simply uses one die at a time, which is generally the resizing die. In this step, the once-fired case is inserted into the die and resized to its original size. It also punches the old primer out. The next step is to put a new primer in. If you are loading a rifle case, the next step is to slightly bell the mouth of the case open. In using some boat-tail bullets, there is no need to bell the mouth of the case. The next step is to drop a powder charge into the case. The case is now ready to have the bullet seated in. This is basically how a loaded round is made new again and ready to use. There are many ways that you can reload shells, but the final result is the same, that is, if you do everything properly. I always tell new reloading folks to purchase a good loading book and follow the directions to the letter. I am aware that different books can show a difference in powder charges and powder types, but this is something that has to be learned by the new reloader as time goes on.
The progressive press is a press where you can install several dies and perform all of the steps without removing a die every time you go to the next step. These presses, when operating correctly, will load several rounds an hour that the single stage press cannot. I know that Dillon advertises a model that will load about 1,000 rounds an hour. I have to emphasize that loading at this speed takes considerable practice.
There are many companies that produce reloading presses and supplies. I have used only the RCBS single stage and have used Dillon’s 650 and 1050 presses. I would recommend both manufacturers. Concerning the fast loading progressive loaders, even those made by Dillon, these units are great whenever they are kept in like-new shape, but whenever they start showing any signs of wear, they can be a nightmare to operate. Just remember, that with speed, things break more frequently. Whenever you are loading at around 800-1,000 rounds an hour, it takes an awful lot of powder, bullets, primers and brass.
I hope this has helped a little in deciding to reload or not to reload. I always try to make it as enjoyable as possible. Reloading is a great hobby; so get started and have a great time doing it.
Roger Sherrill lives in Ringgold. He can be reached at email@example.com.