Progressive reloading presses are reloading presses (the main tool to assemble and load your own ammunition at home) that allow you to perform more than one loading operations per stroke of the machine’s handle.
For example, a progressive reloading press has multiple “stations” where old brass casings are de-primed and resized, a new primer is installed, gun powder is filled, a bullet is seated, and, in some cases, crimped in place. All of these operations happen simultaneously on a progressive press.
Progressive presses are contrasted with single-stage reloading presses wherein only one operation is performed for every pull of the handle.
Which progressive reloading press is best?
Dillon, Hornady, RCBS, and Lee Precision make some of the best progressive reloading presses. Having so many options available can make it hard to decide which progressive reloading press is best for you.
In this article, we’re covering the 5 best progressive reloading presses available to help you make the right choice as you make your way through online reloading press reviews.
We want to take the guesswork out of reloading – especially when it comes to the upfront cost of getting a reloading machine.
Table of contents
- Progressive Reloading Press Reviews
- Who needs a progressive reloading press?
- Progressive Press vs. Turret Press vs. Single Stage
- Are progressive reloading presses accurate?
- Do you need a progressive reloading press?
5 Best Progressive Reloading Presses
DILLON PRECISION XL750
HORNADY LOCK N LOAD PROGRESSIVE
MEC 9000 Shotgun Press
LEE LOADMASTER PROGRESSIVE
Progressive Reloading Press Reviews
The hard part may be choosing the best progressive reloading press for your needs. But there are plenty of options available.
If you’re looking to advance to the next level of reloading solutions for your handgun, rifle, or shotgun, the following are 5 options for you to choose from.
In my opinion and experience, Dillon reloading machines are the best options, hands down, for reloading ammunition.
The relatively new Dillon Precision XL750 can give you the efficiency you need while offering a high level of consistency. This press has replaced my previous favorite, the Dillon XL650.
If you’d like to save some money and don’t mind manually rotating the shell plate each time, you should check out the Dillon RL550.
The stations provided on the Dillon progressive reloading press allow you to size and prime cases, load your powder, and set and crimp ammunition. This is effectively the same as any other progressive press, however, Dillon includes an extra location for a powder sensor if you choose to have one.
A powder sensor is handy because the powder drop may not place the correct amount of powder in a case. Dillon’s case-activated powder drop is the best available, in my opinion, but there’s still a chance that a case may not get powder (especially if you allow yourself to get distracted while loading and come back from a break and forget which part of the process you were in).
You can upgrade the xl750 (or the previous xl650) with an automatic bullet feeder but I don’t think this is necessary nor worth the extra cost. Even in a high-volume loading situation, I’ve never had an issue manually placing each bullet on the case.
If you’re low on primers, an alarm will notify you to prevent surprise interruptions when reloading – this is super handy. Loading the primer system and performing other essential tasks is clear and easy to do if you get some extra primer loading tubes.
In fact, if you have enough primer tubes prepped and ready to go, you can easily load over 1,000 rounds per hour on this machine.
This progressive reloading press may cost a little more, but you can expect a versatile machine with the heavy-duty durability gun owners want — all backed by the best warranty we’ve ever seen. Trust me, I’ve used this warranty more than once…
I’ve stuck a piece of rifle brass in a die (my fault), brought it into the Dillon retail store in Arizona to see if they knew of a trick to get the brass out, and Dillon tossed me a new die with no questions asked.
I’ve literally blown up my machine by squishing a primer and setting the rest of the primer stack off (wear safety glasses when reloading). I called Dillon and told them that the machine was damaged – they sent me an entirely new machine with no questions asked.
And recently, I noticed some signs of wear (after 15 years and many many thousands of rounds reloaded) so I took it in for service. Dillon said it’d just be easier to give me a new machine than it would to replace the worn parts. Again, no questions asked.
I’ve never had such a good experience with any product or any company in any industry.
Dillon Precision XL750 Pros and Cons
- High production rate
- Shell plate design exceeds other models
- You can integrate a bullet and case feeder
- Switching between calibers takes some time
- Higher cost
The Hornady Lock-N-Load is a five-station progressive reloading press that’s easy to use and lets you work on multiple calibers. This press is an EXCELLENT option if you’re looking for a good value.
The Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive (Lock N Load AP) reloading press has 5 stations and an auto-indexing feature to make reloading efficient. Its EZject System ejects each cartridge to ensure that you keep production rates high.
Changing dies is simple with the Hornady Lock-N-Load system, which streamlines reloading when working on different calibers. Additional features like a case feeder and priming system make the Hornady Lock-N-Load an excellent choice for your reloading needs.
While it isn’t in the same class as the Dillon above, the Hornady press is a solid press and a great value for the hobbyist shooter. Similar to Dillon, Hornady is a great company and they stand behind their products.
For more on the Hornady Lock N Load, be sure to check out our review here.
Hornady Lock-N-Load Pros and Cons
- Easy set-up and use
- 5 stations
- Accurate powder measurement
- Fast reloading process
- Higher cost
- Additional accessories require purchase
- Lock-N-Load bushing can become unseated easily
For shooters looking for a solid machine with a decent production rate and plenty of options for dies and accessories, the RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press has 7 stations you can work with — more than any other press on this list.
This machine lets users press approximately 600 rounds in an hour and features an automatic indexing system. You can change calibers quickly using its quick-change die plate.
The RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press features a large capacity Quick Change powder measure. This minimizes how often you have to fill the hopper. The machine’s drain tube makes it easy to remove the powder.
Having more stations allows you to load the press, set, crimp bullets, and perform other tasks with huge efficiency. Its cast-iron frame means a longer lifespan and more stability.
The RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press is easy to set up and use, making it an excellent choice for shooters transitioning to progressive reloading presses.
Be sure to read our RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Review here.
RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Pros and Cons
- 7 stations to work with
- Accurate powder measure
- Priming system
- Plastic components may not be as durable as other models
If you want to reload your shotgun shell hulls quickly, this MEC 9000GN is really the only way to go.
Please note: this is ONLY for shotgun shells and will not load handgun (pistol or revolver) nor rifle ammunition like the other progressive machines on this list.
Unfortunately, I have no first-hand experience with shotshell reloading (nor this machine), however, I have a couple of friends who load their own shotgun shells and they tell me that this is the way to go.
For more, check out the MEC 9000GN review here.
MEC 9000 PROS AND CONS
- Quality construction
- Only recommended press for shotguns
- Good aftermarket support
- Shotshell Only
The Lee Precision Loadmaster is a budget-friendly solution that offers many features you would expect in other more expensive models.
This makes it an excellent choice for less experienced users transitioning to a progressive reloading press from a single-stage or turret press.
Its cast aluminum construction makes it a lighter machine. and you can switch calibers easily due to the attached dies and quick-change tool head.
You can perform indexing tasks manually or automatically. If you’re just starting out using a progressive reloading press, manual indexing lets you spend more time setting the stages up correctly before using the automatic indexing option.
Reported users who have experienced jamming were able to prevent this issue by making sure they cleaned their small primer pockets before use.
The number of stations in a reloading press affects the speed and efficiency it can provide. The Lee Precision LoadMaster kit has 5 stations that allow users to reload around 400 rounds in an hour.
This reloading press kit features an oversized diameter ram plated with chrome, allowing you to work with larger rifle cartridges, such as magnum loads.
This progressive reloading press’ Pro-Auto Disc Powder Measure feature prevents gunpowder spillage.
This reloading kit is the ideal choice if you’re looking for an affordable press that delivers durability and reliability.
Lee Precision Load Master Pros and Cons
- Quality construction
- 5 stations
- Easy set-up
- Fast reloading
- Some additional accessories require purchase
Who needs a progressive reloading press?
Progressive reloading equipment is ideal for anyone looking to produce and reload more ammunition in less time. It may not be suitable for everyone, though, because of its higher upfront cost and it is a slightly more complicated reloading system.
Progressive presses are great for speed and high volume. They’re not as great on upfront cost nor simplicity.
What is the best reloading press for beginners? Single-stage reloading presses are the most basic reloading machines recommended for the novice. They’re also the least expensive.
With a single stage press, users choose a single die to complete a particular step in the reloading process with each pull of the machine’s handle. The reader must then change the die to the next step in the process and continue on.
Progressive Press vs. Turret Press vs. Single Stage
Before picking up a new reloading press, you need to remember that progressive presses are not the end-all solution to reloading. You may want to consider another style of press such as a turret reloading press or a single stage.
What is the difference between a turret press and a progressive press?
- Turret presses handle one cartridge at a time but hold multiple reloading dies to switch between for a quicker experience than a single-stage press. A progressive press can hold and operate multiple reloading dies and doesn’t need you to switch between them manually. Progressive presses are typically more expensive.
What is the difference between a progressive reloading press and a single-stage reloading press?
- The single-stage press is much slower than a progressive reloading press, with fewer moving parts. You perform a single step of the process, change die sets, and start another step. This drastically reduces production rates. However, more attention and care can be given to each step.
What is the best progressive reloading press?
- The Dillon XL750 Press might be the best progressive reloading press. Its extremely high production rate makes it easy for you to reload more ammunition in a shorter amount of time.
What’s the best single-stage reloading press?
- The RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press offers high-quality construction and a press frame that gives you rigid support and strength.
A single-stage reloading press might be better for beginners or riflemen who want more accurate long-distance rounds. They’re cheaper and slightly more accurate than progressive presses. On the other hand, a progressive reloading press is meant for high-efficiency volume reloading.
Are progressive reloading presses accurate?
Yes, progressive reloading presses are pretty accurate, though not generally as accurate as single stage presses or turret reloading presses. This is not because of the press itself but rather how it is used – time and care is not generally given to each individual round of ammunition on a progressive machine.
A progressive reloading press has multiple dies. Each one plays a specific role, including removing spent primers, bullet seating, resizing casings, crimping, decapping, and inserting powder into casings. A single pull of the press handle simultaneously progresses multiple rounds through the process.
Speed and volume are really what progressive presses offer. A progressive reloader can offer 3 to 8 stations, which allows you to achieve the production rate you’re looking for.
What is the most accurate reloading press?
The single-stage press has fewer moving parts compared to the progressive reloading press and takes advantage of the operator’s attention to detail. This increases its accuracy but doesn’t provide the quick production rate you can achieve with a progressive reloading machine.
Do you need a progressive reloading press?
Finding the best progressive reloading press comes down to the features that each model provides. If you’re looking to make your own ammunition or increase your current reloading production rate, the above 5 options have all the features you could ever need.
Comment below if you agree, or if you disagree! We love to hear our readers’ thoughts.
If you would like to learn more about reloading presses, firearm safety, training courses, accessories, and other topics, start with our Gun 101 – Getting Started With Firearms article.
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