If you’re new to reloading you might not yet know what a turret press is. A turret press falls between the single stage and progressive reloading press. The turret press is more complex and efficient than a single stage press, but not as complex or efficient as a progressive reloading press.
While using a turret press you completely finish loading the bullet in one series of lever pulls without taking the bullet out of the shell holder. How many lever pulls that is will depend on the die set that you choose.
If the turret press is auto-indexing the press will automatically go to the next die on every pull of the lever. A progressive press finishes one bullet for every lever pull whereas a turret press finishes one bullet every four or five pulls.
What is The Best Turret Press For Reloading?
The Lee Classic Turret Press is an excellent turret press. This press is great for anyone that is on a budget or is buying a turret press as a means to learn before purchasing a progressive. You may also want to buy their cheaper turret press. Either one of these presses are going to last for a very long time with minimal upkeep. The only difference between the classic turret press and the standard 4 hole turret press is their strength. The Lee Classic turret press is has a base that’s made of cast iron vs aluminum. You more than likely wouldn’t notice a difference between the two but the classic should last longer. Another difference between these two presses is that the Classic has a stronger ram and linkage.
Where the Lee turret press really shines is the usage cost. Not only is this press significantly cheaper than the competition all of the accessories are also cheaper. You can purchase enough additional turrets to cover all your dies without going over the cost of the competition. The ability to buy additional Turrets cheaply is one of the best features on this press. You can buy an additional turret for every one of your dies and never have to adjust your dies between caliber changes.
The Lee turret press is the only turret press that offers auto-indexing. In my opinion auto-indexing is a must have feature if you want to go fast. Auto-indexing means that for every stroke of the ram the bullet will automatically go to the next die. With a manual indexing press you have to flick the turret over to the next die with your hand. The only problem with lees auto indexing feature is it occasionally is slightly off. To fix this all you have to do is touch the turret and move it into the correct spot.
The only real issue I have found with the Lee Classic Turret press is the priming system. The priming system uses a plastic tray and piece to put your primers on the priming ram. This plastic piece seems very flimsy and I can’t see it lasting as long as the press will. The priming system is also slow and hard to use but you will eventually figure out how to use it. I would definitely recommend purchasing a hand priming tool if you are going to purchase this press.
The only other turret press that I can recommend instead of the Lee is the RCBS Turret Press. There are two main differences between the Lee and the RCBS turret press. The RCBS turret press is manual indexing, which means that between each stage you have to push the turret over to the next die. Honestly I think this is a pain and that’s why I don’t own this press.
The other main difference that the RCBS Turret press has is that it has a 5 hole turret. You can purchase additional RCBS turret heads separately but they are significantly more expensive than Lees turret heads. The main advantage of owning a 5 hole turret is that it gives you the ability to add a Hornady powder cop die or RCBS Lock-Out Die. A powder cop die essentially checks your case to make sure you don’t have a double charge. If you accidentally throw a double charge the powder checker will let you know. You can also do this with 3 die sets but it’s nice to have the option to use a crimping die with the powder cop.
Like all RCBS products this turret press is made to last. This press is a solid chunk of steel and it should last multiple generations. RCBS reloading equipment has been around for close to 60 years and you still see some of their early presses at flea markets and garage sales that are in near perfect condition. If you don’t think you’re ever going to purchase a progressive press this press is definitely the one to buy.
I might be the only one who thinks this but I’m really not a fan of the RCBS priming ram. Not only is the design wonky, I’ve had issues with inconsistencies with primer placement. A lot of the primers weren’t fully seating and were seating crooked. Luckily RCBS has excellent customer service and they promptly resolved my issues.
The Turret Press is Great for a Beginner
When most people start reloading everyone tells them that they should start off with a single stage press. It is hard to argue with this recommendation since yes a single stage press is easier to learn on, but a turret press offers much of the same functionality as a single stage press. On almost every turret press you can easily convert it into a single stage press by removing the auto-indexing rod. Removing this rod stops the press from progressing to the next die on the upstroke. I would definitely recommend removing this rod for the first so many times you start to reload. Using the press in single stage mode will allow you to focus longer on each step. This will not only teach you how the bullet should look in each stage it will reduce the risk of mistakes.
While reloading it is very easy to make accidental mistakes as a beginner. This is exasperated by the fact that you will more than likely have to read a reloading manual while you are operating the press. While learning it is very easy to accidentally double stroke the ram causing a double powder charge. At least if you are operating the press in single stage mode you will be able to look over your bullets for consistency.
Purchasing a turret press from the start gives you a longer chance to learn without feeling like you need to move up to a progressive press. If you are loading a decent quantity of bullets you will eventually need to upgrade. It is better to learn on a turret in single stage mode so that when you feel like you are ready there is room to work with. You will see a significant increase in bullets per hour when jumping from a single stage to turret. This will give you more room to learn before jumping into a progressive press.
Is a Turret Press Really that Much Faster Than a Single Stage Press?
You are probably wondering whether or not a turret press is actually worth upgrading over a single stage press. Honestly if I were to do it over again my first press would have been a turret press. I would have still eventually bought a single stage press because they are very useful, but I wouldn’t have had the confusion that comes from jumping from a single stage to a progressive. Anyone that has the patience required to reload will eventually learn how to use a progressive press if they jump from a single stage. So realistically I find it hard to recommend a turret press if you already have a single stage.
Now to get to what this section is all about the speed of operation. A turret press will be a significant increase in production over a single stage press. With a single stage press I load a relaxed 100 rounds or so an hour. If I am really focused and my primers and everything are ready this number will go up a bit. With a turret press I am able to easily load 200-250 bullets. So if you think about it what you can do in 8 hours with a single stage press a turret press will take you about three. So unless you are shooting everyday a turret press will typically be enough for the casual shooter. Below I will review all the different turret presses that I have used.
Determining if You Need a Turret Press
Depending on your budget and how frequently you shoot a turret press can be an excellent choice over a single stage or progressive press. The main question you need to ask yourself is how many bullets do you really need to reload at one time. If you are shooting enough that you need 1000 bullets per week than I would definitely get a progressive press. If loading a few hundred bullets in a sitting is enough for you to shoot for a month a turret press would be a better option.
What’s The Best Turret Press For Reloading?
If you like the idea of a 4 hole turret press make sure you check out the Lyman Turret Press and Redding Turret Press. I can’t justify recommending them over the Lee Classic Turret Press because of the cost difference between the three presses. They might be stronger than the Lee but I don’t see where you’re getting that much more for your money.
If you want to buy a 5 hole turret press than your only real option is the RCBS Turret Press. You can’t go wrong with an RCBS product since they’re made to last. My recommendation for the best turret press is the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press. You can’t go wrong with this press I would argue that this is the overall best reloading press for the price.