4 Progressive Presses For Experienced Reloaders

So you need to produce a large volume of ammunition in a short amount of time.  You can get all the best digital scales, case prep centers and powder measures, but without a progressive reloading press you’re going nowhere.

You will quickly quadruple the amount of bullets you can make in a sitting, over even the best single stage press or turret press.  The only downside about progressives is the cost, but there are a few reasonably priced options.

You deserve to spend more time shooting, so why don’t you sit back and buy the best progressive reloading press you can afford.

What Is The Best Progressive Reloading Press?

There are a few different types of progressive reloading presses. The major difference that you will see between the different press’ are the number of die holes that they feature.

Different Types of Progressive Press

This is an important decision to make while purchasing a progressive press. If you have more die holes you will have additional opportunities to add specialty dies.

Another major difference that you will see is the indexing features. Some presses will be manual indexing while others are auto indexing. An auto indexing press will automatically move the brass to the next position with every pull of the handle.

1) Dillon Precision XL 650 9mm Progressive Auto Indexing Reloading Machine

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When it comes to reloading you can’t find anything better than a Dillon press. Dillon is known for two things quality and a high price. The Dillon XL650 is no exception to that statement.

Dillon XL650 is the workhorse in the Dillon Family of presses. If you need to reload a large amount of ammo with minimal hassles this is the press for you. The Dillon XL650 is an auto indexing press that can easily load 500-800 rounds per hour.

You won’t have any trouble with setup and shouldn’t have to fool around tinkering with it to work. If you really want to speed up your reloading you can buy the optional case feeder and bullet feeder. These two optional upgrades will turn your press into a bullet making factory.

This press is a 5 station auto indexing progressive press. This will allow you to use 4 die sets as well as a powder check die. The case feeding system is a significant improvement over the competition.

The only downside of this press is the caliber conversion kits. They are very expensive compared to some of the other brands. Dillon is known for quality and you won’t be dissapointed in any of their presses. If you are dissapointed Dillon has a lifetime warranty for any problems with your press.

If you are a commercial reloader check out the Dillon 1050.

2) Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press

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In my opinion the Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive press is the best bang for your buck you’re going to find.  The Hornady press gives you all the features and dependability of the more established brands at a fraction of the cost.

Hornady’s AP press, like the Dillon, can load more than 500 rounds per hour. I would recommend purchasing a couple extra primer tubes to speed up the process. You can load even more ammo if you purchase the Hornady Ammo Plant. The ammo plant includes an additional case feeder and bullet feeder. They can be purchased separately as well.

The Hornady Lock N Load Ap is another 5 station progressive press that has an auto-indexing feature. The best part about Hornady products is their Lock N Load system. With the Lock N Load System you can quickly switch calibers without having to readjust your dies.

The only adjustment that needs to be made between calibers is the shell plate sold separately and the powder measure. The  Hornady Micrometer makes changing your powder charge quick and easy.

The difference in price between this press and the Dillon Xl650 might make this press worth purchasing. The only downside to the Hornady is with minor adjustments.

The primer feed system in particular gives a lot of people issues. If done improperly you will break a plastic piece which Hornady customer service will replace at no charge. They actually sent me multiple replacements in case I break it again. This is a great press at a hard to pass up price point.

3) Dillon Precision RL550C 4 Stage Manually Indexed Progressive Reloading Press

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The Dillon RL550c is a newly designed product that replaces the RL550b. This press is the younger brother to the Dillon XL650. There are two major differences between this press and the dillon xl650.

This press only has 4 holes for your dies. The 4 hole system means that you either have to use a 3 die kit with a powder die, or you can use a 4 die kit without one.

The other major difference is that this progressive press is manual indexing. Some people think that manual indexing is a benefit. I personally believe that you are more likely to make a mistake with a manual indexing press.

If those two features aren’t deal breakers for you than this press is an excellent choice. Like the Xl650 you are also able to purchase an optional case feeder and bullet feeder You can’t beat Dillons no bs lifetime warranty. You shouldn’t have to use it because they make some of the most sturdy presses on the market.

4) Lee Precision Load Master Reloading Kit

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The Lee Loadmaster is a budget minded progressive press. This press is actually an amazing press for the price. In this instance you actually get way more than you pay for.

The Lee Loadmaster press is a 5 die auto indexing press. These sets have everything that you need for your chosen caliber including the dies. I actually use a lee loadmaster as a dedicated 45acp press. For the price it’s a cheap solution for a dedicated press. This reloading press definitely isn’t for the beginner reloader.

I wouldn’t recommend the Lee Loadmaster for the beginning reloader or someone that isn’t mechanically inclined. This press will work well when properly setup.

The problem is that the setup is actually very difficult. It takes a decent amount of tinkering to make the press work smoothly. There are good directions available online to get this press running smoothly.

One of the coolest features this press has is the automatic case feeder. There is a manual funnel style case feeder that is actually an impressive design. I wish my Hornady ap included this feature. For the price the Lee Loadmaster is a hard press to beat. Check out the following caliber specific Lee Loadmaster kits that include dies.

What’s The Advantage of A Progressive Reloading Press?

The main advantage of a progressive press is the speed. You can quickly produce a large amount of ammo in a short amount of time. If you’re an experience reloader you can easily reload 500 or more rounds per hour.

The only thing that normally slows you down is the primer station. Most primer stations can only hold a box of 100 primers at a time. You can get around this by having extra primer tubes/trays ready to go, or having a helper quickly refill the primers while you’re loading.

You have to perform a lot less work with a progressive press. As a result you get a lot more reward for your time. Most people that reload would rather spend their precious time shooting guns rather than reloading.

I personally enjoy the hobby especially in the winter when I can’t get outside to shot everyday. One day on a progressive reloading press will result in more bullets than I can shoot in a month. Anyone who shoots regularly needs to step up and purchase a progressive press.

Disadvantages of Progressive Reloading Press

Like everything in life there are always some disadvantages to a product. One of the main disadvantages to a progressive press is the cost. No matter what you purchase it will almost always cost more than a single stage press.

A lot of time the difference is smaller than you would expect. You don’t have to buy the most expensive progressive Dillon has to offer. Yes they do make an amazing press, but the barrier to entry is extremely high for most people. Plus the majority of reloaders will never reload enough rounds to cover the cost of a Dillon press. There’s a progressive press for every reloaders budget.

Due to the increase of moving parts a progressive press is simply more challenging to setup. You will have to setup all of your dies in the first stage before you start. For a lot of people that are just learning how to reload this can be a challenging first step. If you aren’t careful you can quickly get yourself in some trouble and reload a large batch of unsafe ammo. The initial learning curve is a little steeper versus a single stage press.

Can Beginners Use a Progressive Press?

Almost everyone who starts reloading hears that they should start out on a single stage press. In a lot of ways this is actually pretty good advice. A single stage press is much easier to learn the different steps in the reloading process.

A progressive press has a lot going on at once which is difficult for most beginners. There are also more moving parts which adds to the technical issues you will have. There are a lot of minor adjustments and maintenance that has to be done with a progressive press. If you are set on purchasing a progressive press, it really isn’t that difficult to learn how to use one.

Armed with a quality reloading manual beginners can learn everything they need to know to use a progressive press. Yes it will be more difficult, and they will need to double check all of their safety standards.

Check every bullet and powder drop to ensure that they are working properly. I actually taught my father how to reload on a hornady lock n load ap that he purchased. He is also a mechanically inclined man that is very safety cautious.

The biggest downside to a beginner using a progressive press is the speed of operation. Someone who doesn’t know what they are doing can very easily produce a lot of dangerous ammo.

A beginner should only load small batches of bullets at a time, and check powder weight frequently. It’s also normally a lot easier to learn while loading a revolver round. That way you don’t have difficulties with ejection issues on your first large batch.

In the end the majority of reloaders get into the hobby to save on the cost of ammo. It just doesn’t make sense to buy a single stage press if you are going to quickly outgrow it. If you are reloading and shooting a lot of ammo you will quickly outgrow a single stage press.

What’s The Best Progressive Press?

Everybody has a different opinion, but you can never go wrong with the Dillon XL650. You just can’t beat the quality that Dillon offers. I know that I’m in the minority but my personal favorite reloading press is the Hornady Lock N Load AP.

The Hornady progressive press gives you the most features at a very reasonable price point. It’s hard to beat the quality for the price of the Hornady progressive press. If you are on a tight budget the Lee Load Master is an excellent press. You will have to properly fine tune the press for it to work. At such a low price it’s definitely worth the hassle.

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