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The issue of choosing a reloading press is probably the most vital choice you will make in your journey of making your own bullets. That’s because your reloading press will very much determine the accessories you use which go a long way if you take a little more time into seeing which one works best for you. And on top of that, you might not find yourself enjoy switching between one press to another.
If you’ve watched videos or been to the garage of a reloader, you will notice that they more often than note own more than one press. You are probably questioning why would anyone do that and why shouldn’t you just go for the most expensive press ever to get all the fancy features.
Find out what you need to know about reloading press kits, how they will affect your experience in the long run and the best types to get if you are planning to buy one this year. We’ll begin with the essentials of owning the right reloading press to be mounted on your bench.
Importance of a Good Reloading Press Kit
If you are only getting started with reloading, you might notice that there are a lot of things you need to get before you can start reloading your own bullets. That is why beginners find getting kits instead of purchasing the tools and accessories separately as a better choice. The kits typically come with the press, various dies for different functions and purposes and depending on the kit, might come with a digital scale, powder measure or even a tumbler.
Why is a reloading press kit great, especially for newbies? Because you are not sure where you should start. That is the main issue most beginners are stuck with, not sure which they should start with and choosing your own accessories can really be scary. Once you see your Amazon cart filled with 8-10 different items, you begin to wonder if you made a mistake.
Here are several things to remember when you buy a reloading press kit to choosing them separately:
- They are made to be compatible with each other. A kit is usually sold with everything coming from the same brand and best thing about that is you won’t have to bother with compatibility issues. For example, if you got Lee’s 50th Anniversary Reloading Kit, it’ll come with dies and a press that supports quick-change bushing system. Being a beginner, you probably know theoretically what it is, but instead of risking yourself in purchasing dies that might not work, here’s a kit with compatible dies to boot.
- Less hassle in thinking what else you should get. Like we pointed out, 8-10 items in your cart can look and sound scary. They may seem like they’ll work just fine theoretically in your mind, but when you have less than a day of experience in reloading, a kit will eliminate your worries by far.
- They’re not a one-stop solution to everything. A good kit comes with generally everything you need for reloading your first few rounds of bullets. But soon enough, you will realize they are not everything you need in the long run. Switching between different guns and powder, you find the need to crimp or expand your die. Picking up used bullets, you need to decap, clean and reprime them, so expect yourself to visit the store again for more.
- It’s full of trial and error. The journey of reloading your own bullets can sometimes drive you crazy because not everything will always work, the way you want them to. Some people end up with multiple hand-primers in search of that Netflix and prime tool. Others realize that an accurate, consistent and durable digital scale can cost 2 to 10 times a cheap one. It’s about finding what works best for you and waiting until the next time you need to visit the store again.
- Fancy does not mean good. When you see that kit that seems to stand out from the others in terms of press and price, hold your horses. We know that being ‘exclusively pricey’ is a bait that makes many think it’s of quality, fast and precise. The only problem is that you might find yourself using that thing once every three months. Find something that suits your needs, not your fancy!
Three Best Reloading Kit in 2021
We finally chose three different brands of reloading kits of different level and price. We’ll start with what’s included in the kit of each of them, what they do, the pros and cons of each and pricing of them. There’s no one perfect kit, so we do include suggestions of additional things you might want to add to your cart aside from the kit.
Lee Precision does produce several kits such as Classic Lee Loader which is the most economical, Reloading Press Kits, Lee Value Turret Press Kit and Classic Turret Press Kit. What we’re reviewing right now is the Reloading Press Kit which includes the Anniversary and Challenger kit.
In the box, you will find the following items:
- A single O-frame press that has been booted with a larger opening for hand clearance as well as easier leverage for sizing even magnum cases. Comes with a built-in prime catcher.
- One Perfect Powder Measure.
- Case preparation tools which include a cutter and lock stud for trimming, a chamfer tool, a primer pocket cleaner and a tube of sizing lube.
- Lee Safety Primer feeds in both small and large sizes for pistols to large magnum cases.
- One Lee Safety Powder Scale.
- One Breech Lock Quick Change Bushing which basically reduces the amount of time necessary to adjust your dies. Instead of turning, all you need to do is literally snap the die in place. (We’ve heard about people getting various numbers of bushings from one to three).
A few things to note which are important things it does NOT come with:
- A tumbler for brass cleaning.
- Reloading manual.
- The case-holder or shell-length gauge which has to be purchased depending on the bullets you’re working with.
- A neck brush to keep your press and the area around it clean.
- Lee Bench Block for mounting your press on (alternatively, you can choose other types of mounting or simply drill them directly to your table).
A quick look into this and you know you’ve got everything basic covered for you. The press that comes with it is a single type, which means you can only use one die at a time, although the press does come with a built-in prime catcher. It’s an affordable kit for all-rounder reloaders from large magnum cases to .50 caliber pistol rounds.
A little inconsistency in the bushings number doesn’t mean much as you will need to buy more. One is definitely not enough, three is fair so what we suggest upon purchasing this set is to get one or two additional packs of Breech Lock Bushings along with the things that are not included. Lee’s popular brand has everything covered and we do suggest you stick to one brand for your first-time reloading.
The lube will last you a few years, so you don’t have to worry about that. But we highly recommend that you weigh every load for at least your first round since the powder measure isn’t always accurate. It’s especially tricky with stick and flake powders. You might want to flush a few rounds before you begin to measure.
And most importantly, don’t forget to get the right shell holders for your need.
If Lee is your affordable, entry-level reloading kit, this is your durable kit for those who handle their equipment roughly. Yes, you all know who among yourselves are such people. As far as reviews and tests go, RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press is known for its solid construction and durability.
And RCBS does come with a number of kits for single stage press alone; outside that, RCBS also has kits for the turret and progressive presses. Yes, they do have kits with even more complete accessories, but as we said, for entry-level worry-free purchase, it’s about getting enough just to taste what reloading by yourself feels like.
Inside the box of the RCBS 9354 RC Supreme Master Kit, you will get:
- A Rock Chucker Supreme Press which is a single, ambidextrous press. Very popular for its particularly durable and strong construction.
- An M500 Mechanical Scale which will require time to master, but typically gives more accurate, consistent results compared to digital scales.
- A hand priming tool which is very sturdy, easy and consistent.
- A Uniflow Powder Measure.
- A Universal Case Load Block to store your cartridges.
- One .17-.60 deburr tool.
- A hex key set.
- A case lube kit.
- A powder funnel.
- One Nosler Reloading Manual.
Let’s start with pointing out the solidness of this whole kit. Most people we find who end up with this kit loved the fact that they did – it was a durable set with truly useful items included. In fact, we recommend you make use of everything provided except for the reloading manual. We’ll get back on the book in a little bit.
One thing to point is that they lack case prepping tools except for the deburring tool. Be sure to get everything else in your carts such as the deprimer, bullet seater, and expander. Pistol bullet reloaders also won’t find themselves in need of adjusting their cartridges as much which explains the lack of dies in the kit. And most importantly, don’t forget your shell holders!
As for the book, we recommend something that is specific to the caliber you work with. The Nosler is limited in terms of powder type, bullets and very little types of pistol load. The manual scale can be tedious to work with, but its accuracy is a beast compared to digitals.
The Hornady’s Classic Deluxe Reloading Kit helps beginners experiencing the best of reloading through convenient tools and accessories. It has got everything a beginner will ever need in their journey of reloading covered.
Look at what you get when unboxing the deluxe kit:
- A Lock-N-Load Classic single press with the built-in prime catcher as well as Positive Priming System or PPS. The PPS purpose is to reduce the need of a handheld primer and turn it into a sort of progressive turret where you can size your brass and prime them at the same time.
- Six Sure-Loc Lock Rings and Six Die Bushings which reduces the time you need to set up your dies if you regularly reload a certain caliber. You only need to set them up once and the next, you just need to fit them in place without tediously turning the dials again.
- One of Hornady’s Reloading handbook which is pretty good and decent for beginners.
- A digital scale.
- A handheld priming tool for those who like to stay manual (and you will find this a better way to Netflix while priming on your free time).
- One universal reloading block.
- A chamfer and deburr tool, a Pistol Rotor & Metering Assembly, A Straight OAL Gauge and a Kinetic Bullet Puller for all your needs to prepare your cases.
- A Powder Measure Stand.
- A steel dial caliper.
- Shellholders of popular sizes from 1, 2, 5, 16, and 35.
- And a decorative tin sign!
It’s got the most things covered out of the three kits we reviewed. Hornady Classic Deluxe Kit is not as affordable as the others, but considering the fact that you will end up purchasing many of them anyway down the road, might as well get this kit! The single press alone is so worth it since it helps reduces the processing time and getting things done much quicker.
The book itself is at least decent for many – it has all the necessary information beginners can definitely benefit from. Not to mention it also comes with shellholders of popular calibers as well as case prep tools such as a chamfer & deburr tool, a kinetic bullet puller, an OAL gauge, and a powder measure stand. It also comes with a digital scale, which is often the weakest point of the kit.
Add to the fact you can actually rebate for 500 free bullets from Hornady. That is worth at least $25 to $100 for popular bullet sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It’s not easy to choose what are the items you will need for your first-time reloading. It can be confusing to choose what kind of reloading press you need along with what accessories that can work with it. The kits we recommend can help cut the time needed to research which works with which and get you going with where to start. Remember: getting a kit isn’t the end of the journey as you will always end up hoarding more to add to your reloading equipment.
We’ve reviewed only quality equipment – Lee Precision’s Anniversary Challenger Kit II is good for those who don’t want to spend too much on something they are not yet sure about. RCBS is great for people who tend to be rough with their stuff and durable, ambidextrous press. Hornady is great for those who don’t to be bothered to keep returning to add more to their reloading equipment.