At a Glance: Best Progressive Reloading Press
Comparison of the Best Progressive Reloading Press
Our Top Pick
|Hornady – Lock-n-Load Auto Progressive Press||View Latest Price|
Our Best Budget
|Lee Precision – Pro 1000 Progressive Presses||View Latest Price|
|RCBS – Grand Progressive Shotshell Reloading Press w/ Auto Indexing||View Latest Price|
Once you graduate from simply shooting down at the range for some thrills to hunting and sport shooting, you’ll start thinking about loading your own ammo. To do this, you’ll need a reloading press. For the shooter who goes through large amounts of ammo in a single session, a progressive reloading press is an essential part of your reloading bench.
Top 7 progressive reloading presses in 2020
A progressive reloading press enables you to quickly load large amounts of ammo and achieve consistent results while doing so. If you’ve owned a single-stage reloading press and now you’re looking for something with more oomph to it, then fear not. We’ve reviewed the top 7 progressive reloading presses in 2020 to take you out of the dark before making your final purchasing decision.
Hornady – Lock-n-Load Auto Progressive Press
The Lock-n-Load Auto Progressive Press from Hornady will make reloading a breeze. The five-station automatic press allows you to change your reloading dies by simply twisting them out of their stations, meaning you can replace them easily without ever having to change the entire tool head. The Lock-n-Load Auto Progressive Press is one of the easiest ones on the market to operate for beginners and pros alike.
Another stand out feature of this incredible piece of engineering from Hornady is the lock-n-load powder changer system which allows you to swap over different powder chargers with the press of a button. This means that you can store preset measurement inserts with your dies and then change them quickly to make sure you’re getting your ideal measure of powder in each cartridge.
In line with the rest of the best ammo presses, the Hornady Lock-n-Load has automatic indexing that automatically moves the cases to the next position in the line, making for a seamless reloading experience. This also ensures that you’ll never double charge a cartridge and wind up blowing your rifle into smithereens when shooting.
The rotations of this press take place at the half stroke point to ensure faster and more efficient movements that will lead to fewer powder spillages and smoother indexing.
- Ease of use – even for beginners
- Twist off mechanism makes changing dies quick and easy
- Auto-indexing ensures safety and efficiency
- Powder only drops when the case is in place
- Powder measure system allows for easily changing powder measurements
- Built-in primer system
- Built to last
- Relatively expensive
- Dies and are sold separately meaning costs could quickly stack up
Lee Precision – Pro 1000 Progressive Presses
The Pro 1000 Progressive Press from Lee Precision is one of the most affordable reloading presses on the market today, so you can start making your own ammo without throwing a metaphysical hand grenade into your bank account.
The Pro 1000 Progressive Press is relatively small compared to other options on the market, which makes it ideal for those of you with limited space on your bench. It’s also pretty easy to set up and begin using. In short, this is an ideal press for someone living in the city who still wants to reload their own ammunition in large batches for those longed-for trips out to the country.
With a specialized case feeder and primer feeder included in the purchase, the Lee Precision Pro 1000 will have you on your way in no time. One of the major selling points of this reloading press is that it’s easy for beginners to get their heads around.
While the Lee Precision Pro 1000 Progressive Presses aren’t going to go head-to-head with the more premium models on this list, if you’re looking for something affordable that will get the job done with occasional maintenance and upkeep, then this is a relatively safe bet.
- Dies are included
- Easy to set up and use – even for beginners
- Compact design can be set up even if you have limited space
- Powder will only drop when a case is present, which prevents mess
- Powder and primer feeders included
- Low cost means that some compromise has been made with efficiency and reliability
- Case feeder is prone to blocking
- Shell plate stop device is a spring-loaded detent that is prone to knocking powder out of cartridges making for occasional uneven fills – and a messy bench
RCBS – Grand Progressive Shotshell Reloading Press w/ Auto Indexing
This large eight-stage progressive reloading press from RCBS has been designed specifically for turning out high-quality shotgun shells at the pull of a lever. The ease of use of this beast of an ammo press ensures that you won’t waste time trying to figure it out and can instead get on with producing a high volume of safe and accurate shotgun shells. It’s perfect for the dedicated hunter or clay shooter who wants consistent accuracy without having to pay the high prices of buying ammo in a store.
The RCBS Grand Progressive Shotshell Reloading Press has an auto-indexing system that ensures a reliable mechanical process and consistent results every time. On top of this, each station features a universal case holder that fits 12 and 20 gauge shells and there are large openings in the frame so that you can easily reach each station.
A handy ‘no hull, no powder or shot’ mechanism that ensures minimal waste when feeding powder and shot into your cartridges and saves you from having to clean up your bench after using it. Another stand-out feature of this reloading press is the steel resizing ring that allows you to resize low and high hulls. There is also a very useful spring-loaded wad feeder, a truly efficient addition to an already clever design.
If you’re on the market for an ammo press to make shotgun shells, then the Grand Progressive Shotshell Reloading Press with auto indexing is certainly worthy of consideration.
- Purpose-built and sturdy, will last a very long time
- Auto indexing makes for a seamless reloading process
- Fits 12 and 20 gauge shells
- Minimizes waste
- Smooth automated process
- Very expensive
- Takes up a lot of space
RCBS – Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press
If you’re really committed to reloading your own ammo, then the Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press is one of the best presses that money can buy. It’s the first 7-stage reloading press to hit the market and can produce up to 600 rounds per hour. The Pro Chucker 7 is by no means one of the more affordable ammo presses, but then, you get what you pay for.
The seven stations on the Pro Chucker 7 allow you to add more dies when reloading ammo, including the RCBS powder checker that ensures the right amount of powder has been fed into each cartridge. You can also install RCBS Lock-Out die that will shut down the entire press in the event that a cartridge has been under or over-loaded.
The Pro Chucker 7 also features a quick-change die plate that lets you change calibers quickly and easily. The powder feed has a huge capacity, meaning you won’t have to filling the powder so often and can instead focus on making more ammo!
- 7 stations meaning you can install various add-ons
- 600 rounds per hour
- Solid construction
- Powder measure and lock-out die ensure new levels of safety
- Easy to drain the powder measure without removing it
- Large capacity powder filler means you don’t need to mess around refilling it
- Not for beginners
Lee Precision – Breech Lock Pro Progressive Press
The Lee Precision Breech Lock Pro Progressive Press is a completely new concept that costs even less than the average single reloading press. The reloading press comes with a four-station shell plate that fits the standard Lee Precision four-die set and is relatively easy to use.
A simpler progressive reloading press than most, the Lee Precision Breech Lock Pro is designed to last and is ideal for beginners.
The Breech Lock Pro press is a solid construction when considering the price. The whole thing is held together tightly and is skeletonized inside to save weight. The press has auto-indexing, but you can also manually override it, giving you more flexibility in how you reload your ammo.
While the Breech Lock Pro is very cheap, it is worth noting that you’ll need to buy various add-ons for the press. You’ll want to buy the case feeder, the dies, the powder measure, and so on. The press does come with a decent tool rack included, as well as a box to catch you finished rounds.
- Very cheap, especially if you already have Lee gear to use with it
- Solid construction
- Easy to use
- Comes with a sturdy tool holder and box for finished rounds
- As little or as much automation as you want
- Not as high-quality as other entries on this list
- You’ll need to buy add-ons
Lee Precision – Pro 4000 Progressive Press Kits
Another affordable reloading press from Lee, the Pro 4000 Progressive Press costs less than what you’d pay for a top-of-the-range single press, making it an ideal choice for your first progressive press. If you’re new to progressive presses, then this is a doubly good option considering how easy it is to set up and use.
This kit comes with everything you need to get started with loading your own ammo, including four dies, a shell plate, a universal case feeder, a powder feeder and powder measure, and a safety primer.
You can change the cartridges over quickly, and you can change the primer size without having to take the whole thing apart. The modular construction of the Lee Precision Pro 4000 Progressive Press kits allows you to manually turn your cartridge through each stage of reloading or to simply rely on the auto-indexing.
One of the more low key features of this reloading press is the wooden roller handle. Using the press feels smooth and comfortable – something that isn’t generally expected for a press with such an affordable price tag.
- Affordable price
- Includes everything you need to get up and running
- As much or little automation as you want
- Solid construction
- Can change primer sizes quickly without making adjustments
- Comfortable handle and a tool kit included
- Limited to four stations
- Less premium than others on this list
Lee Precision – Load Master Reloading Press
The Lee Load Master has been built to last – in short, Lee wants this to be the last reloading press you ever have to buy. It’s more premium than the other Lee reloading presses on this list and the price is more in the mid-range as a reflection of this.
This is a five-station press that can make rifle and handgun rounds with ease – it even has room for the largest Magnum rifle rounds. The sturdy build and smooth handling make this a great reloading press to invest in if you’re looking to make several hundred rounds at a time.
The press supports auto-indexing or you can use it as a single-stage press. Furthermore, dies are held in place by a detachable turret, so you can easily change them over without having to tinker with the press.
The wedge lock mechanism has been designed to hold up to a ton of weight, so you won’t have to worry about it falling apart. In short, this is a rhino of a reloading press and is ideally suited to anyone who wants something that they could drop an anvil on and still use after..
- Extremely durable
- Easy to change dies without making adjustments
- Sturdy and reliable wedge mechanism
- Room for largest rifle rounds
- Can use as a single-stage press if you’d prefer
- Weighs a lot
- Takes up a fair bit of room
What is a progressive reloading press?
A progressive reloading press is essential for anyone who wants to produce large amounts of their own ammo. Progressive reloading presses allow you to complete one stage on several rounds simultaneously with the pull of a level, for example, fill black powder into one cartridge while inserting the bullet into another. This is in contrast to the single press, which will perform one task on a single round with the pull of the handle. This means that once you get going, you’re completing one round of ammunition each time you pull the lever.
A progressive reloading press is made up of a shell plate that holds several rounds and indexes (turns) each time you pull the lever. This allows different stages of the reloading process to be completed on each round on the shell plate. Once a round is completed, it’s then ejected into a bin and a new cartridge is fed into the freed up position on the shell plate.
In short, a progressive reloading press is about as allows for more automation in the reloading process, which means you can churn out more rounds per hour than with any other type of press. People generally purchase add-ons for their press such as a case feeder to speed up the process even more – some presses can produce up to 600 rounds per hour with these add-ons!
A progressive reloading press is ideal for high-volume pistol, shotgun and rifle shooters who want the ability to make hundreds of rounds per hour. While you can simply buy your ammo from the store ready-made, this is more expensive in the long run and you lose the ability to customize your ammo to your desired specifications.
Reasons to use a progressive reloading press
To get straight to the point: if you’re looking to be able to produce hundreds of rounds of ammo per hour, then you’ll want a progressive reloading press. That being said, there are plenty of other reasons to choose such a press.
- You’ll save money
- You’ll save time
- You can customize your ammo
- It’s fun to use
You’ll save money
Using a progressive reloading press is a sure-fire way to save money when it comes to shooting. You’ll be able to recycle your brass and reload your ammunition to save a huge amount compared to if you purchased your rounds in a store or online. Buying different components in bulk and then putting them all together in a press will give you a fatter wallet. Period.
You’ll save time
Compared to single-stage presses and turret presses, the progressive press produces completed rounds at a much higher volume in a much shorter time. If you were trying to make hundreds of rounds on a single-stage press, you’d be up all night doing it.
You can customize your ammo
One of the top reasons why shooters opt to reload their own ammo – other than the financial benefits – is that doing so allows you to customize your ammo. You can produce the perfect ‘recipe’ for your firearm. All guns shoot a little differently and you might find that making minor tweaks to your bullets will actually give you a lot more accuracy. This is especially important for hunters and competitive shooters.
It’s fun to use
Loading your own ammo is a lot of fun – especially for the budding hobbyist. Using a progressive reloading press is sort of like having an ammo factory in your garage. Watching the whole mechanical process play out in front of you at each pull of the lever is deeply satisfying – as is watching your chute fill up with completed rounds. If you’re a serious shooter, then you’ll certainly take a lot of pride in having a progressive reloading press in your arsenal.
What to look for in a progressive reloading press
There are a few key players in the game when it comes to ammo presses and you’ll find more than just a little crossover between the different products out there. The most important thing to look out for in a progressive reloading press is construction and that it’s suited to your type of ammo. For example, some presses aren’t big enough to support the largest Magnum rifle rounds.
When buying a progressive reloading press, make sure that:
- It’s built to last
- It has a good warranty
- Supports your ammo type
- You can change caliber without any hassle
- It has as many stations as possible to add more safety dies
- Check whether extras are included (dies, shell plate, case feeder, and so on)
Note: You should get some experience reloading before using a progressive reloading press. This is to ensure that you’re paying attention to any minor adjustments that may happen during operation and which could result in a case being over-filled with powder. This could result in injury or damage to your firearm.
Progressive reloading presses, single-stage presses, and turret presses compared
To fully understand the benefits of using a progressive reloading press, it’s important to understand how it differs from single-stage and turret presses.
The single-stage reloading press is the most basic and easiest to use of the three varieties mentioned above. A single-stage press performs one action each time the lever is pulled and you’ll have to manually change the die for each action. As you can imagine, this makes the single-stage press very time consuming.
While it will eat up a large chunk of your day, the single-stage reloading press is generally the one that people start out with thanks to its simplicity. It also offers the most reliability and accuracy out of the three because you’re in control of each stage of the reloading process.
A single-stage reloading press:
- Performs one function with each pull of the lever
- Is the cheapest type of press
- Is very easy to use
- Is very time consuming
- Offers the best accuracy and reliability
- Ideal for rifle shooters
A turret press is technically a single-stage press given that it still only performs one action with each pull of the lever. That being said, a turret press can have several dies set up at the same time and you can manually turn the shell plate to move your round between each stage. The main benefit of this is that you don’t have to spend time setting up the different dies. Overall, you will still need to pull the lever several times to complete a single round.
A turret reloading press:
- Performs one function with each pull of the lever
- Is more expensive than a single-stage press but cheaper than a progressive press
- Is still relatively easy to use
- Produces more rounds per hour than a single-stage press but less than a progressive press
- Is ideal for rifle and pistol shooters who need to reload more ammo than a hunter
A progressive reloading press is the most complex of the three types of reloading press. A progressive press will perform several actions with each pull of the lever and it will automatically index (turn) the shell plate to move your rounds to the next position. This means that you will produce one completed round with each pull of the lever.
A progressive press can produce hundreds of rounds per hour – especially if you have add-ons like a case feeder to speed up the reloading process. You will trade off a little reliability due to the high rate of production, but this generally isn’t an issue – especially if you have a powder checker installed to ensure none of your rounds are over or under-filled with powder.
A progressive reloading press:
- Performs multiple functions with each pull of the lever, completing one round with each pull
- Is generally the most expensive type of press
- Is the most complex type of press and isn’t recommended for beginners
- Can produce hundreds of rounds per hour
- Is less accurate than a single-stage press
- Is ideal for high-volume rifle and pistol shooters, such as shooters performing in shooting sports games
How to use a progressive reloading press
Given the complex nature of progressive reloading presses, it’s best that you have some prior experience with reloading before using one. Having an understanding of what actions are being performed in each station is important.
While progressive presses are more difficult to set up, the actual operation of the press is as simple as pulling the lever as many times as you can per hour. The main difficulty you’ll have is with maintenance. Given that there are so many tasks being performed at once automatically, the potential for mishaps is much higher.
Your press will come with a guide from the manufacturer, and it’s recommended that you read it because it’ll give you information specific to your model. How you use your press will depend on the model. For example, if you don’t have a case feeder then you’ll need to manually insert all your cases, whereas by adding a case feeder, you’ll save yourself time on this exercise.
One of the most important things to do when using a progressive reloading press is to take your time and make sure that each function is being performed correctly. You’re saving a lot of time by opting to use a progressive press, so you can afford to sacrifice a little time to ensure a smooth and problem-free reloading process.
You can find many videos on YouTube to give you specific tutorials on using your model of progressive press.
How to take care of your progressive reloading press
As mentioned above, taking good care of your progressive reloading press is essential to prevent jams and other issues. Reloading ammo takes a certain amount of care due to the very real risk of injury if it is performed incorrectly.
First of all, it’s important to keep your reloading bench neat and to not store primers close to your powder. This will prevent unnecessary explosions…
Keep the ram lubed
The ram is the central component of the press that moves the shell plate. Over time, the ram will wear and this can be easily prevented by simply rubbing some lubricant on it every month or so.
Maintain the priming system
This is usually the part of the press that will cause the most bother. Many presses will automatically feed primers into cases. This is a handy feature, but it’s also one that requires a lot of maintenance. You’ll want to take the primer system apart after every thousand rounds or so and clean it, then apply some lubricant to keep it running smoothly. This may sound like hassle, but it’ll ensure that your press continues to work smoothly.
Watch for spilled powder
Another common mishap is that a couple of flakes of powder will spill out of a case during the reloading process. This isn’t common, but if you’re making a thousand rounds and even a few of them spill, then you can risk building up spilled powder on your shell plate. This gets into nooks and crannies and causes problems, so keep an eye on it and clean your press often to prevent build-up.
Prep your brass carefully
Ensuring that your brass cases are clean and void of insufficiencies is an important part of reloading. You wouldn’t cook with rotten food, so you shouldn’t reload with dodgy brass. Deep cleaning your brass is recommended, as is inspecting it for any imperfections. You’ll also want to ensure that it’s the right length and resize if necessary.
Buying a progressive reloading press will change your reloading experience in ways that you can’t even imagine. The sheer speed and efficiency that a progressive reloading press affords you makes it a great investment for high-volume shooters.
Consider your specific needs – and your budget – and then make an informed choice. Progressive presses are often expensive, and you’ll find yourself ‘married’ to the brand you choose when buying extra dies and add-ons, so carefully consider the overall quality of the brand you’re choosing – and what equipment you already have.
Once you’ve got your progressive reloading press, you’ll no doubt become very attached to it – especially after watching it churn out hundreds of rounds in a single session! We do hope that this guide has helped you to make an informed decision on which press is right for you. Happy shooting!