Best Reloading Presses of 2019: Top Options for Beginners and Hardcore Enthusiasts

Reloading as a Hobby 

Shooting is an amazing hobby. It’s also an expensive one. A day at the range with something like an AR, you can visualize, literally, throwing quarters down the range every time you press the trigger. With ammo costs being what they are, a lot of folks in the hobby turn to reloading for more bangs for their buck. Commercial ammunition is often expensive to the point that, if you do a lot of shooting, it can seem like you’re throwing money away by not re-using the brass. With that in mind, one way to recoup a lot of your costs is to start making your own in order to save money. While presses are often expensive, if you do a little number crunching, you’ll see that, over a year or so, a good press will more than pay for itself. And you may well find yourself becoming a go-to person among range buddies when they want to use your tools! Reloading is another aspect of the shooting sports world that more and more folks are getting into and with good reason.

Aside from price, a lot of people get into reloading for another reason. Manufactured ammo is made by machines. Machines, sometimes, make mistakes. A lot of us have had a squib load, a dud, or a bad box of ammo to prove this. If you’re looking for accuracy and consistency of ammunition tuned to your specific firearm, the only way to really do that is to make it yourself. It’s also therapeutic, setting up in the garage and making a few boxes of ammo.


What all is Involved? 

At the heart of the reloading process is a press: presses seat the bullet in the already primed and powdered case: getting a press that will work for you will make, or break, your reloading process. Today we’ll be looking at eight presses that should get you making precision, and affordable, ammo in no time flat. There’s a lot to learn about reloading. Just go slowly, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and soon you’ll be collecting brass at the range and saving tons of cash, which means more shooting!

Keep in mind that a press is only part of the reloading process. You’ll also need bullets, powder, and brass. The latter, you can often source from your own shooting, but matching powder and bullets to your needs will take a little digging on your own time. Additionally, I recommend having a surplus of ammo boxes around, with labels, to store and track the rounds that you make. With that said, a good press is a major help in getting good results. A decent press will help you get your brass straight, seat primers properly, and make sure that bullets are seated squarely and solidly. For the brass itself, a tumbler, either premade or homemade, will save you a lot of time cleaning up spent brass from the range.


RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker

Product

RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press

Top Overall Pick

  • Hunting reloading presses
  • Rock Chucker press frame provides a full four inches of...
  • Handle is made of solid steel and features a comfortable...
  • Outstanding strength and versatility, the Rock Chucker Supreme is...
  • Can also be upgraded to a progressive loader with the addition of...
  • Specifically for heavy-duty reloading, case forming, and bullet...

Our rating

Details

  • Hunting reloading presses
  • Rock Chucker press frame provides a full four inches of...
  • Handle is made of solid steel and features a comfortable...
  • Outstanding strength and versatility, the Rock Chucker Supreme is...
  • Can also be upgraded to a progressive loader with the addition of...
  • Specifically for heavy-duty reloading, case forming, and bullet...

Kicking things off, we have the RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press. This press is a single stage press: that means that it accommodates one die at a time. This design is a simple one, and that makes it a great press to learn on, or if you need a press that will last you for the rest of your shooting career. The press is made of cast iron, meaning it’s heavy-duty and will mount securely to a bench. The large loading window makes this press suited to larger rifle calibers, and the generous handle is well-suited for consistent application of pressure. This one also comes with a manual, which will help you get things set up properly.


Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Press

Product

LEE PRECISION Breech Lock Challenger Press (Red)

Top Pick

  • Has an all steel linkage with adjustable length lever
  • One Breech Lock quick change bushing also included
  • It's durable and will last for a long time

Our rating

Details

  • Has an all steel linkage with adjustable length lever
  • One Breech Lock quick change bushing also included
  • It's durable and will last for a long time

Another popular option for people looking for a beginner press that will stand the test of time is the LEE PRECISION Breech Lock Challenger Press (Red). This press, another single-stage, is built to last out of solid steel. Additionally, this press comes in multiple sizes that will fit basically any reloading needs. To assist in that reloading, the large window will fit most brass and bullet combinations. A feature of this one that helps it stand out is the quick-change die feature: this means you can switch between calibers quickly if you’re devoting an evening to reload for your various firearms. The primer catcher is well designed and is extremely positive in its action. Overall, the Lee Breach Challenger is a great first press that should last you for years to come and allow you to get a feel for reloading without breaking the bank.


Hornady 095100

Product

Hornady 095100 Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press

Top Pick

  • Auto-progressive reloading press for quickly switching dies and...
  • 5-station bushing system lets you change from 223 to 45 in less...
  • EZject system reliably ejects every cartridge, every time,...
  • Quick-change metering inserts; universal case retainer spring;...
  • Built-in priming system; case-activated powder drop;...

Our rating

Details

  • Auto-progressive reloading press for quickly switching dies and...
  • 5-station bushing system lets you change from 223 to 45 in less...
  • EZject system reliably ejects every cartridge, every time,...
  • Quick-change metering inserts; universal case retainer spring;...
  • Built-in priming system; case-activated powder drop;...

If you’re willing to invest a little more into reloading or know more specifically what you want, the Hornady 095100 is an excellent choice. This is an example of a progressive press: you can rotate between dies to go through the whole process, from straightening brass to seating the bullet in no time flat. This particular one features a few things that are of note. First, there’s powder storage right on top of the press to keep things self-contained. There’s also a built-in primer system: this is an all in one press that really does do it all. Indexing is automatic, as is an ejection. A press of this quality will help you make really consistent ammo and save you time when compared to buying each piece of equipment separately. Finally, there’s a quick-change die system for those of us who plan on reloading multiple calibers.


Lyman All American 8 Turret Press

Product

Lyman All American 8 Turret Press for Reloading

Top Pick

  • Heavy duty cast iron frame and turret.
  • Extra-large 8 station turret is easily removed to make swapping...
  • Holds two complete 4 die sets or up to four 2 die sets.
  • Durable powder coat finish.
  • Comes with straight line primer feed with large and small primer...

Our rating

Details

  • Heavy duty cast iron frame and turret.
  • Extra-large 8 station turret is easily removed to make swapping...
  • Holds two complete 4 die sets or up to four 2 die sets.
  • Durable powder coat finish.
  • Comes with straight line primer feed with large and small primer...

Next up on our list is the Lyman All American 8 Turret Press for Reloading. This one is a turret press with eight die slots, meaning that you can have eight different dies for either different steps in the reloading process, or different calibers, on the press without having to stop and change out dies. The Layman All American is a seriously well-built press. The controls for swapping the station, adding primers, and operating the press itself are built super solid and should last you a lifetime. The frame is large, allowing for the use of even the longest, full-power rifle cartridges.  This is one of the largest presses that Layman offers, and the deft and build quality make this a lifetime tool. They even sell it in multiples in case you’re setting up a serious reloading shop!


Lee Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Press

Product

Lee Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Press with Auto Index Md:...

Top Pick

  • Turret Press W/Auto Index
  • Cast Aluminum
  • 4-Hole

Our rating

Details

  • Turret Press W/Auto Index
  • Cast Aluminum
  • 4-Hole

If you’re not setting up a professional shop, but are instead simply an interested hobbyist, you may want to consider another turret press, such as the Lee Cast Aluminum 4 hole turret press. This press, as the name indicates, has four positions for dies, meaning you can do most steps of the reloading process without having to change a die. There’s a large and clearance, making reloading of larger round possible. While this isn’t the biggest of the bunch on this list, this press, made in the USA with a solid wood handle, should last you a lifetime. Additionally, you can buy separate turrets, allowing you to change out whole die sets to switch calibers instead of fiddling with individual dies to accomplish the same thing.


Mayville Engineering Marksman Reloader

Product

MAYVILLE ENGINEERING 0820431 CO Marksman Metallic Reloader,...

Top Pick

  • 1311080 marksman
  • Series metallic reloaded
  • Type reloading press

Our rating

Details

  • 1311080 marksman
  • Series metallic reloaded
  • Type reloading press

Going back to single stage presses for a moment, we have the Mayville Engineering 0820431CO Marksman Metallic Reloader. This is a no-frills,  extremely high-quality press. Basically, if you’re looking for a press to be the heart of a quality reloading setup, this one is a great start. This company and others make accessories to go with this press, allowing you to add anything you might need, such as accessory trays, storage, etc. to make your reloading process go more and more smoothly. This kit is made of steel, with a quality handle and consistent pressure for consistent seating of the bullets.


Dillion XL650 Blue Dream

Product

Dillon XL650 Blue Dream Machine Only 223

Top Pick

  • Fully Loaded Machine
  • 223 Steel Dies Included
  • Casefeeder with small rifle plate.

Our rating

Details

  • Fully Loaded Machine
  • 223 Steel Dies Included
  • Casefeeder with small rifle plate.

Usually, we try to keep things a little more practical around here. But, in some cases, it’s fun to take a look, not at the most practical, but the total, absolute best in a particular series. If for some reason, you wanted to make industrial quantities of .223 ammo, the Dillion XL650 blue dream is the reloading setup for you. This floor-mounted unit as listed here comes with everything you need a case feeder, bullet feeder, and primer seating mechanism. All you have to do is make sure everything is topped up and pull the handle to watch professional-quality ammo spit out of the conveyor. There are also optionally available caliber conversions. While this might be a bit much for reloading for a single person, if you find yourself running an ammunition cooperative among a few shooters who all want to pitch in on the costs, this press will work wonders.


Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial Reloading Press 

Product

Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial Reloading Press with...

Top Pick

  • DIMENSIONS: 20" L x 9" W x 6. 5" D and weighs 21 lbs
  • EASE OF USE: Integral floating shell-holder plate system allows...
  • VERSATILITY: Loads small - magnum caliber pistol or rifle cases...
  • RELIABLE: Features 2 parallel guide rods for stability, spent...
  • DURABLE: Heavy-duty, robust die-cast construction

Our rating

Details

  • DIMENSIONS: 20" L x 9" W x 6. 5" D and weighs 21 lbs
  • EASE OF USE: Integral floating shell-holder plate system allows...
  • VERSATILITY: Loads small - magnum caliber pistol or rifle cases...
  • RELIABLE: Features 2 parallel guide rods for stability, spent...
  • DURABLE: Heavy-duty, robust die-cast construction

Back to a little more practical choice, we have the Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial Reloading Press with Heavy-Duty Design, Adjustable Alignment, and Primer Catcher for Reloading and Gunsmithing. This single-stage press, coming in at 21 pounds, is a bench mounted press that will take care of most of your reloading needs. The press boasts a floating shell holder, making alignment easier without a separate shell holder. Additionally, the size is large enough for almost any caliber you might need to reload. There are also two guide rods to keep things consistent, and it takes standard dies in quick-change setup.


Parting Shots

A press, really, is at the heart of the reloading process. Whether it’s a single-stage, a turret, or a rotating type press, a good one will help you achieve consistency and quality reloads. With that said, you should be able to get something that fits your needs from our list. But, it’s important to keep in mind that a press is not a silver bullet. If you want to get serious about reloading, you’re going to need a few more things that we’ll close out with detailing here.

gun hats

First and foremost, a good setup is important for speed. While it might sound like a good idea to you (the wife, less so) to reload ammunition at the kitchen table, a dedicated bench, with a spot for each step along the way, from raw materials to finished rounds, will speed things up. That way you can put on some music or turn on the TV, and just make ammo: some people find this really relaxing.

Once you get the organization down, you can consult our list to get some of the quality tools you need. From there, you’ll need to do a little homework and experimentation to find out what kind of bullet weights, powder loads, and brass work best for you, in your firearms, for your applications.  With commercial ammo, you generally don’t get to pick with such fine detail. Now, you’ll have the chance to do so.

Quality powder and the correct bullets can help you achieve really impressive performance results, and brass can often be recycled several times before it needs to be finally scrapped. With one of the presses from our list, you should be able to get the ammunition you want at much more reasonable prices than can be found if you were to stay with commercial ammo. There’s a ton to learn here, and we hope that our list helps you pick a press that will work for you.

By

Chris Frenchak has over 20 years of firearms experience between sporting and responsible concealed carry applications. Chris is a member of multiple pro-second amendment organizations including USCCA, NRA, and just as importantly, his local range. Chris is continuing a legacy of support for our rights by working with his family to increase firearms education and awareness as the lead editor of GunBacker.

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The latest firearms reviews, gear reviews and safe shooting tips for responsible gun owners.

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