Is it worth the cash to buy big

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  • MDRifles

    Member
    Mar 9, 2017
    90
    I haven’t brought a gun since the pandemic and never hunted before. All of my guns are 9mm, 7.62, .22, and .223/556. Never felt I had a reason to reload till now. These larger calibers are expensive and I need to practice shooting at long distances. I work between 65-70 hours a week, work on my homes, and the kids. So limited time is something to consider. I’m buying either a browning or tikka in 30 06, a savage axis or American in 270, and a sfar 308. Single stage/turret/progressive for a beginner should I just shoot for the progressive and take the time to learn it or start small. For my handgun rounds I would need to do atleast 200 rounds an hour since I usually take friends and family to the range with me. And for my hunting rounds I need bare minimum 100 rounds an hour.
     

    erwos

    The Hebrew Hammer
    MDS Supporter
    Mar 25, 2009
    13,836
    Rockville, MD
    Thoughts:

    I think the problem is less "single stage vs progressive" and more "pistol vs rifle". Loading pistol is relatively easy. Loading rifle is somewhat more complex due to the need for more involved case prep (trimming). I don't think starting out with a Dillon 750 and loading pistol is a bad idea. BUT...

    I am also curious what your total round expenditure is per year per caliber. Between my kid and myself, I typically shoot 7500-10k rounds of 9mm a year. If you are not shooting in volume and don't have any particular ammunition needs that can't be met by commercial ammo, why bother reloading?

    In the end, it won't hurt to grab a Lee Turret press and mess around with reloading, except for your pocket book. I think it's just harder to justify the time cost, and it doesn't sound like you have a lot of time.
     

    sbowers

    Active Member
    Jun 15, 2012
    225
    I haven’t brought a gun since the pandemic and never hunted before. All of my guns are 9mm, 7.62, .22, and .223/556. Never felt I had a reason to reload till now. These larger calibers are expensive and I need to practice shooting at long distances. I work between 65-70 hours a week, work on my homes, and the kids. So limited time is something to consider. I’m buying either a browning or tikka in 30 06, a savage axis or American in 270, and a sfar 308. Single stage/turret/progressive for a beginner should I just shoot for the progressive and take the time to learn it or start small. For my handgun rounds I would need to do atleast 200 rounds an hour since I usually take friends and family to the range with me. And for my hunting rounds I need bare minimum 100 rounds an hour.
    Why do you feel you need to crank out 100 hunting rounds an hour?

    it is my opinion you have unrealistic expectations. With my reloading, hunting rounds only, I spend a lot of time on load development: Various charge weights, different bullets and bullet weights to maximize accuracy. I’m looking for 1/2 MOA in my rifles but will settle for .75 MOA before I drive myself nuts trying to squeeze the last drop of accuracy out of a load.

    Once you find a load that is suitable you can start cranking them out, but I’ve never loaded 100 an hour nor needed 100/ year for hunting purposes.

    Regarding your rifle. I’d pick the rifle that I like the most and then choose the caliber. Why not a browning/Tikka in 270? If I were you, I’d just get a 30-06 in my choice of rifle.

    I hunt with a browning in 300 WSM, a browning in 30.06, a cooper in 6.5-284, or a Sako in 270. I have others but those are what shoot the best.
     
    Thoughts:

    I think the problem is less "single stage vs progressive" and more "pistol vs rifle". Loading pistol is relatively easy. Loading rifle is somewhat more complex due to the need for more involved case prep (trimming). I don't think starting out with a Dillon 750 and loading pistol is a bad idea. BUT...

    I am also curious what your total round expenditure is per year per caliber. Between my kid and myself, I typically shoot 7500-10k rounds of 9mm a year. If you are not shooting in volume and don't have any particular ammunition needs that can't be met by commercial ammo, why bother reloading?

    In the end, it won't hurt to grab a Lee Turret press and mess around with reloading, except for your pocket book. I think it's just harder to justify the time cost, and it doesn't sound like you have a lot of time.
    Erwos brings up a very valid point about volume. I currently have a Dillon XL750 on loan from a buddy. It is leaps and bounds better than my Lee progressive, turret and single stage. That being said, the negative is the price...
    The Dillon, as configured, cost ~$2500. With early 2023 prices, the following needs to be considered (using 9mm as an example)
    1000 primers- $90
    1000 bullets- $110
    1000rds worth of powder- $40
    1000 pieces of brass- free from the range + prep time
    To load 1000rds of 9mm it will cost ~$240 in components. A 1000rd case of commercial 9mm can be had for under $300. So, let's say the cost savings is $60 per 1000rds loaded. It would take ~7000rds to "be ahead" loading on a Lee progressive. However, it would require roughly 50,000rds before "being ahead" on the Dillon XL750.
    None of the numbers above are exact, and only accounts for 9mm- which can be purchased for less than most other rounds on the market. That being said, switch to something 357 Sig and the reloading cost only jumps to say, $275/1000 but the retail case jumps to $450/1000. Your "break even" point drops by a huge margin.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 22, 2008
    14,469
    Glen Burnie
    Here are just a few of my thoughts from the fringe - I've loaded both single stage and progressive, but my situation is different than yours so take it for what it's worth.

    I agree with sbowers about 100 rounds an hour for hunting ammo. That's not really realistic, and it's not the approach to take for that (IMO) because rifle ammo, and specifically tailored hunting ammo, has different demands than say 9mm, 223/5.56 or 308/7.62 range fodder.

    When I was reloading single stage, at best I could do 100 rounds an hour, and those were handgun rounds - I wasn't trimming cases, and I certainly wasn't trickling powder.

    I see reloading as a multi-faceted thing. I don't do it to save money and I certainly don't do it to save time. I do it because I enjoy the process, and I like having the ability to decide and control the outcome.

    With that said, I LOVE the ability to rip out quality ammo on my Dillon 550 progressive press. It's precise enough that I have no qualms about using it for my AR range ammo, my 223 varminting ammo, and any other handgun ammo, but I actually have plans to tool up with a better single stage press than my Lee Challenger press for when I start doing larger rifle rounds like 25-06, 30-06 and 35 Whelen.

    Also, reloading is one of those endeavors that has a lot of peripheral tools and accessories - it's not only about buying a press. Other tools and accessories that I have that are reloading specific:

    Calipers
    Case trays
    Powder trickler
    Vibratory tumbler for cleaning brass
    --- media separator
    --- media polish/additive
    --- media - I use 20/40 crushed corn cob, but others use crushed walnut lizard litter
    Power measure
    Powder scale
    --- scale check weights for calibration
    Primer flip tray
    Case prep tools:
    --- case trimmer
    --- deburring tools
    --- primer pocket swaging tools
    --- primer pocket go/no-go gauge

    Something to consider - if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't have started with a single stage press, and I wouldn't have gone cheap. I'd have gotten the Dillon 550 from the jump. It's easy enough to learn on, particularly because it doesn't auto-index, so you can go really slow to learn your process. However, it's a rock-solid setup - a person could quite feasibly produce VERY consistent ammo with it - even hunting rounds, with some minor modifications where you are doing powder drops and trickling off the press for precisely measured powder charges.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 22, 2008
    14,469
    Glen Burnie
    Erwos brings up a very valid point about volume. I currently have a Dillon XL750 on loan from a buddy. It is leaps and bounds better than my Lee progressive, turret and single stage. That being said, the negative is the price...
    The Dillon, as configured, cost ~$2500. With early 2023 prices, the following needs to be considered (using 9mm as an example)
    1000 primers- $90
    1000 bullets- $110
    1000rds worth of powder- $40
    1000 pieces of brass- free from the range + prep time
    To load 1000rds of 9mm it will cost ~$240 in components. A 1000rd case of commercial 9mm can be had for under $300. So, let's say the cost savings is $60 per 1000rds loaded. It would take ~7000rds to "be ahead" loading on a Lee progressive. However, it would require roughly 50,000rds before "being ahead" on the Dillon XL750.
    None of the numbers above are exact, and only accounts for 9mm- which can be purchased for less than most other rounds on the market. That being said, switch to something 357 Sig and the reloading cost only jumps to say, $275/1000 but the retail case jumps to $450/1000. Your "break even" point drops by a huge margin.
    Years ago before components became insanely priced, I did a cost-savings analysis thread where I talked about the difference between factory ammo prices, and what I was reloading for.


    Keep in mind the fact that I shoot a fair amount of things like 357, 41 and 44 magnum, and it doesn't take much, even at today's component prices, to save a fair bit when loading for more expensive calibers. I also reload a lot of 45 auto.

    This doesn't help our OP - he shoots stuff that's commercially pretty readily available where the cost savings isn't nearly as much, but having reloading gear opens up the door to a lot of other possibilities.

    You mention price being a negative with the Dillon. I see that as the price of admission to a higher level of quality. I've got the 550 Dillon setup, but I've also got a number of add-ons and upgrades:

    Roller handle
    Inline Fabrication Ultra-Mount
    Dillon mounted tool kit
    Dillon bullet tray
    A number of Entirely Crimson upgrades:
    --- EC powder measure quick disconnect
    --- EC primer tube holder
    --- EC failsafe quick disconnect nut
    --- EC Aluminum Powder strainer for powder measure hopper
    Additional Powder measure so I can have one set for pistol and one set for rifle (some guys do one per caliber)

    At this point I've got a couple of grand into my reloading setup and I don't regret one penny of it. I'm tooled up for about 9 calibers, and each caliber has its own tool head, powder die and "conversion kit" - roughly $100 per caliber. I've put this together over time tough - I started with just a single tool head and single caliber.

    That's just the Dillon setup though - I have multitude of other tools and reloading related gear - it takes a while to put it all together.
     

    erwos

    The Hebrew Hammer
    MDS Supporter
    Mar 25, 2009
    13,836
    Rockville, MD
    Erwos brings up a very valid point about volume. I currently have a Dillon XL750 on loan from a buddy. It is leaps and bounds better than my Lee progressive, turret and single stage. That being said, the negative is the price...
    The Dillon, as configured, cost ~$2500. With early 2023 prices, the following needs to be considered (using 9mm as an example)
    1000 primers- $90
    1000 bullets- $110
    1000rds worth of powder- $40
    1000 pieces of brass- free from the range + prep time
    To load 1000rds of 9mm it will cost ~$240 in components. A 1000rd case of commercial 9mm can be had for under $300. So, let's say the cost savings is $60 per 1000rds loaded. It would take ~7000rds to "be ahead" loading on a Lee progressive. However, it would require roughly 50,000rds before "being ahead" on the Dillon XL750.
    None of the numbers above are exact, and only accounts for 9mm- which can be purchased for less than most other rounds on the market. That being said, switch to something 357 Sig and the reloading cost only jumps to say, $275/1000 but the retail case jumps to $450/1000. Your "break even" point drops by a huge margin.
    Where you get ahead is in ammo shortages, when the price of ammo spikes to absurd levels. Generally speaking, as long as you lay in deep-ish on primers (it's a lot cheaper to buy 20k primers than 20k rounds of 9mm or 223), you will still be able to load cheaply even in bad times. I paid for 650XL #1 in like a year of loading 9mm back in 2020. 650XL #2 is still paying itself off in terms of loading 45 and 308, but it's getting there. My Mark7 Evo is way behind on the power curve, but that's because I shot a lot less 223 than I expected.

    One other consideration for loading your own is that you can keep producing the same ammo. Buying whatever's cheapest sounds great right up until you're re-zeroing your stuff every couple cases of ammo.

    I personally don't understand the value proposition for loading up 50-100 rounds of hunting ammo. I just don't see how that saves you a worthwhile amount of money, or is going to produce substantially better terminal results than factory ammo.
     

    chilipeppermaniac

    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    Erwos brings up a very valid point about volume. I currently have a Dillon XL750 on loan from a buddy. It is leaps and bounds better than my Lee progressive, turret and single stage. That being said, the negative is the price...
    The Dillon, as configured, cost ~$2500. With early 2023 prices, the following needs to be considered (using 9mm as an example)
    1000 primers- $90
    1000 bullets- $110
    1000rds worth of powder- $40
    1000 pieces of brass- free from the range + prep time
    To load 1000rds of 9mm it will cost ~$240 in components. A 1000rd case of commercial 9mm can be had for under $300. So, let's say the cost savings is $60 per 1000rds loaded. It would take ~7000rds to "be ahead" loading on a Lee progressive. However, it would require roughly 50,000rds before "being ahead" on the Dillon XL750.
    None of the numbers above are exact, and only accounts for 9mm- which can be purchased for less than most other rounds on the market. That being said, switch to something 357 Sig and the reloading cost only jumps to say, $275/1000 but the retail case jumps to $450/1000. Your "break even" point drops by a huge margin.

    Squaregrouper,

    I sure do appreciate MATH. You sir, do a fine breakdown. Sadly, with the exorbitant costs of EVERYTHING in America today, including components and NEW factory ammo costs, the break-even figures help.

    BUT, there is also that factor of time, which was also mentioned. The cost of time is always a factor unaccounted for in $$$ amounts. However, when time is spent on a thing, there is also a $$$$$ RETURN on investment that is not a part of a numerical equation either. The value of doing a thing for one's self, showing kids how to do it, actually learning things while doing it yourself, such as different bullet types, tweaks to powders, primer types, case prep, and the discipline to be focused and safe while reloading. Knowing that if one is in need of a certain amount of ammo, one can go to their supplies and make from 1 round to as many as desired and not need to deal with outages at stores, traffic to get there, gangland shootouts, sticker shock ( as I faced when seeing the insane prices for ONE box of 38 SPL ) @ 3-4X what it should be.

    If one asks me which I prefer in almost all things even when factoring in the cost of time, I opt for doing it myself.
     

    linkstate

    Ultimate Member
    Jan 26, 2013
    1,389
    Howard County
    Lots of experienced replies so far.

    I would pick one caliber, get a quality single stage and see if you even like reloading.

    Also look up “batch reloading” and see if that would meet your time needs as well.

    Reloading is a huge time sink selecting and gathering components, setting up dies, researching and testing loads, etc.

    Once you have a pet load and have things setup, then it’s just repetition.
     

    Uncle Duke

    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    Feb 2, 2013
    11,544
    Not Far Enough from the City
    I haven’t brought a gun since the pandemic and never hunted before. All of my guns are 9mm, 7.62, .22, and .223/556. Never felt I had a reason to reload till now. These larger calibers are expensive and I need to practice shooting at long distances. I work between 65-70 hours a week, work on my homes, and the kids. So limited time is something to consider. I’m buying either a browning or tikka in 30 06, a savage axis or American in 270, and a sfar 308. Single stage/turret/progressive for a beginner should I just shoot for the progressive and take the time to learn it or start small. For my handgun rounds I would need to do atleast 200 rounds an hour since I usually take friends and family to the range with me. And for my hunting rounds I need bare minimum 100 rounds an hour.

    Try to quantify your expected usage by cartridge in annual terms. Its one thing to anticipate shooting large volume when you have time to get to the range. The optics change considerably if those trips are 3 per year, versus every other weekend, or some number in between.

    I likewise question your need for producing 100 "hunting rounds" per hour. "Hunting rounds" are rarely volume rounds. If you find yourself shooting 40 "hunting rounds" a range session, you likely won't typically want to extend that count to 60. You'll likely shoot fewer, and leave your rifle higher volume to .223.
     

    erwos

    The Hebrew Hammer
    MDS Supporter
    Mar 25, 2009
    13,836
    Rockville, MD
    I just don't see how low volume reloading makes any whatsoever sense if you're regularly working 70 hour weeks. You're gonna regularly take hours of your precious free time to go load some ammo instead of going shooting or spending it with your family?

    I would not load a single round of ammo if I thought buying it would fulfill my needs. I know that's a heck of a thing to say as someone who's been shooting their own reloads exclusively for a while now, but it's the truth. I get no particular joy out of reloading. It is a thing I do so I can shoot in the way I want to shoot. If it saves money, that's great, but it's not the primary driver for me.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 22, 2008
    14,469
    Glen Burnie
    I would pick one caliber, get a quality single stage and see if you even like reloading.
    To comment on just this part, although the Lee Challenger setup is a budget setup, I made some wonderful ammo with that single stage press and the accompanying tools that came with the kit. With that in mind, there came a point where I just simply wanted to produce more for my time. There are two ways to do that - turret press, which is better and a bit faster - or progressive.

    You say to get a quality single stage press. That can mean a couple of different things, but let's take a quick look at that, starting lower and working our way up: (Prices are from Midway USA - there may be better deals here and there)

    $190 - Lee Challenger Press Kit (the Anniversary kit is $20 cheaper, but I believe the next step has some essential tools)

    $185 - Hornady Lock-N-Load
    $190 - Lee Classic Cast
    $170 - RCBS Rock Chucker (seems to be on sale - typically $210)
    $185 - RCBS Rebel - some claim this is a better press than the legendary Rock Chucker
    $190 - Redding Boss
    $230 - Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial
    $379 - Forster Co-Ax

    $590 - Dillon RL550C

    Keep in mind, those prices, with the exception of the Lee kit, are just the bare bones press - there's no case prep tools, no powder measure, no dies, no shell holders....

    Having been down the road of starting with a single stage and moving to progressive, I'm always going to be an advocate for starting with a Dillon progressive out of the gate, every single day of the week and twice on Sunday. Yes, it costs more - a lot more. But you GET more. A LOT more. You get all of the precision of any of the lower priced single stage presses, but you also have the capability of producing ammo in greater volumes in much less time. I can comfortably produce 400 rounds an hour on my Dillon. I've said it over and over - I wish I had gotten the Dillon from the jump.
     

    lazarus

    Ultimate Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    13,630
    Why do you feel you need to crank out 100 hunting rounds an hour?

    it is my opinion you have unrealistic expectations. With my reloading, hunting rounds only, I spend a lot of time on load development: Various charge weights, different bullets and bullet weights to maximize accuracy. I’m looking for 1/2 MOA in my rifles but will settle for .75 MOA before I drive myself nuts trying to squeeze the last drop of accuracy out of a load.

    Once you find a load that is suitable you can start cranking them out, but I’ve never loaded 100 an hour nor needed 100/ year for hunting purposes.

    Regarding your rifle. I’d pick the rifle that I like the most and then choose the caliber. Why not a browning/Tikka in 270? If I were you, I’d just get a 30-06 in my choice of rifle.

    I hunt with a browning in 300 WSM, a browning in 30.06, a cooper in 6.5-284, or a Sako in 270. I have others but those are what shoot the best.
    This. 223 once I have prepped brass, I can crank out about 200 rounds an hour in my Lee classic turret press if I factor in maybe 10 minutes of break time and loading new primers, occasional screw up. Straight wall pistol about 220-250 an hour.

    More leisurely pace is maybe 200 for pistol, 150 for 223. Slower going. More break.

    But if you add in prep time, ALL time? It is really slow.

    I probably spend around an hour per 1000 9mm or 223 in sorting out brass from range trips. Maybe an hour collecting brass too. Mine or others scattering the ground, checking buckets. Something a lot less common and the time factor is worse. If I stuck to just reloading my own brass it would save a ton of time. Of course no extra brass to load.

    Pistol is spent maybe 10 minutes of time per 1000 for tumbling brass. That isn’t time tumbling, just time throwing it in the tumbler, dumping and separating. About 3 minutes times 3, about 300-350 cases at a time.

    Rifle? No trimming needed is around 3 hours per thousand to size, including lube and dry time to size. If I need to trim, that’s about 3 hours for 1000 rounds. Which is maybe every 3-4 firings at a guess.

    So that 200 an hour really comes down to maybe 60-100 an hour once you factor in all of the prep time. Pistol is maybe 200 an hour if you factor the little bit of prep.

    If you include range gleaning, sorting and picking up my own brass halve it again. 30-50 cases an hour all up for 223. About 100 for 9mm.

    BUT I’ve also invested many hours working up loads and testing them. Maybe 5-8hrs for 223 and 2-3 for 9mm. Yeah that includes fun range time, but just the time testing those loads. That gets amortized over a lot, but so far I’ve loaded maybe only 400 rounds of 223. So now we are talking like 15-20 rounds an hour. 9mm I’ve probably loaded 1500 rounds over a couple of years. So that’s maybe 80 an hour once you calculate all my time invested.

    Do. Not. Reload. If. You. Don’t. Have. A. Lot. Of. Spare. Time.

    Even if you go to a progressive and double you reloading speed, you’ll be spending lots of hours collecting and sorting brass. With rifle, lubing and sizing and maybe trimming. You can add stuff to do some of that stuff on press. But you are now taking thousands invested in to your setup. But you still need to calculate in the time you are spending working up loads. And you mention long range shooting, OP. You’ll want to eke out accuracy. Which is not loading it on a progressive. So that’s going to be way slower. Progressives are great for stuff you just need moderate accuracy with. Not saying you can’t get nice accurate ammo. Maybe not match. Heck, you might be able to tweak and get it dialed in with the best components and get 1 MOA ammo. But careful loading with measured charges that you are trickling and individually weighing, weighing bullets, etc. is going to be a lot more accurate still.

    It’s like crack, once you realize you can do it, man you keep going back. Hunting and match, I can’t just bang out a bunch of rounds. Yeah I want to careful measure things. And the improvement is there. Sure, each accuracy thing only improves things a little.

    But OP, reading the 70+hrs a week working, working on houses, kids, I’d imagine you can rarely get to the range as is. I’d just pay for commercial ammo. I’ve been working 55hrs a week for a few weeks now because of some screw ups at work (by someone else) and will be for a couple more weeks.

    I sure as heck between work, three teen/tween kids, big house I have a couple of projects with that I could reload. I mean, yes, there are the hours in the day I could squeeze in an hour or two a week. The time to develop a lot, including a range trip? Heck no. If I could shoot off my deck, sure. But even then, you are still talking an hour two if you can walk over and shoot what you are loading to probably work up a lot. And you have to learn how to load. Which is hours of work to get your process figured out and somewhat smoothly. These days I can get setup and load a couple of hundred pistol rounds in a little over an hour. Because I know exactly what I am doing. A year or two ago? Figure add 15-30 extra minutes because setup and take down took longer. More likely to mess up something in there. Less muscle memory on each step. Etc.
     

    lazarus

    Ultimate Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    13,630
    I just don't see how low volume reloading makes any whatsoever sense if you're regularly working 70 hour weeks. You're gonna regularly take hours of your precious free time to go load some ammo instead of going shooting or spending it with your family?

    I would not load a single round of ammo if I thought buying it would fulfill my needs. I know that's a heck of a thing to say as someone who's been shooting their own reloads exclusively for a while now, but it's the truth. I get no particular joy out of reloading. It is a thing I do so I can shoot in the way I want to shoot. If it saves money, that's great, but it's not the primary driver for me.
    I get a LOT of joy out of reloading. I mention above I am at around 55hrs a week, 6 days a week of work. Just for another couple of weeks. Heck no I wouldn’t load if I had to keep this up all the time. Too little time for family quality activities. Or any other hobbies. Like actually getting out and shooting or hunting.

    I do the cooking in the family. And an equal share of cleaning. And it’s all me for homework and about 75% me for school projects too. My wife works about 11am-7pm most days. So right now I squeeze in checking what the kids have for homework and double check for a minute they did it once they say they are done. It’s all of 5 minutes stepping away from work (I mostly work from home, which also saves 5-8hrs a week not needing to commute and being home on my lunchtime). But once my day is done working, I am helping with any homework or school projects they were able to get done on their own. Then getting dinner started. Then feed the kids. Most days I have between 30-90 minutes from the time I wake up until the time the kids are in bed by 9pm to do other things. Laundry, cleaning, maybe a nap because I am stupid tired, cut or split firewood, a bit of work on a house project, read a book, watch part of a TV show, post on MDS.

    Saturdays I have a bit more time because the kids need less school related. Sundays are the get everything else done and maybe take a real nap and kick my feet up 2 or 3 hours. Rinse and repeat.

    Even a quick reloading session would mean half an hour. I can do that. But work up a load? Even 20 rounds can take half an hour. Or more. Not sure I’d want to do that. Learn to reload? Hell no.
     

    lazarus

    Ultimate Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    13,630
    To comment on just this part, although the Lee Challenger setup is a budget setup, I made some wonderful ammo with that single stage press and the accompanying tools that came with the kit. With that in mind, there came a point where I just simply wanted to produce more for my time. There are two ways to do that - turret press, which is better and a bit faster - or progressive.

    You say to get a quality single stage press. That can mean a couple of different things, but let's take a quick look at that, starting lower and working our way up: (Prices are from Midway USA - there may be better deals here and there)

    $190 - Lee Challenger Press Kit (the Anniversary kit is $20 cheaper, but I believe the next step has some essential tools)

    $185 - Hornady Lock-N-Load
    $190 - Lee Classic Cast
    $170 - RCBS Rock Chucker (seems to be on sale - typically $210)
    $185 - RCBS Rebel - some claim this is a better press than the legendary Rock Chucker
    $190 - Redding Boss
    $230 - Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial
    $379 - Forster Co-Ax

    $590 - Dillon RL550C

    Keep in mind, those prices, with the exception of the Lee kit, are just the bare bones press - there's no case prep tools, no powder measure, no dies, no shell holders....

    Having been down the road of starting with a single stage and moving to progressive, I'm always going to be an advocate for starting with a Dillon progressive out of the gate, every single day of the week and twice on Sunday. Yes, it costs more - a lot more. But you GET more. A LOT more. You get all of the precision of any of the lower priced single stage presses, but you also have the capability of producing ammo in greater volumes in much less time. I can comfortably produce 400 rounds an hour on my Dillon. I've said it over and over - I wish I had gotten the Dillon from the jump.
    Having used a Dillon, I partially agree. The Lee Classic is a HECK of a budget option that gets you about half the reloading speed of the Dillon supposing you aren’t also getting the case and bullet feeders for the Dillon. If you do, it’s about 3x the speed of the Lee classic.

    A Lee classic turret is $13. Some die sets come from the shell holder. At worse it’s $10 for a die holder. $13-23 per caliber. The Dillon is around what, $60 for the head and shell plate?

    It’s a lot of time saved, but my 14 calibers would be in for around $1000 to quickly change between them. Versus about $200 for my less classic.

    Obviously not including dies.

    That extra speed very well may be worth it. This is a case where at the point in life I am, and the fact I love to reload, the $1300-1500 extra wouldn’t be worth it over the Lee classic turret. Especially not when the Lee is already a solid 3-4x speed up for using a single stage press. If reloading is a chore or you are shooting 10k rounds a year. Get the fastest progressive you can. I shoot maybe 2000 a year. I could reload the entire volume I shoot in a weekend between pistol and rifle and all the various calibers on my Lee classic. Instead I break it up an hour or so a month generally.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 22, 2008
    14,469
    Glen Burnie
    ^^ To comment a bit on Lazarus' post above, (the big one) while there are small things I disagree with, I 100% agree with the idea that reloading is a hobby that takes time, but it's time that I enjoy putting towards the endeavor.

    On the surface, the OP talks about working the 65-70 hours per week and I think that reloading wouldn't be a good use of time. However, reloading equipment and components are a lot like guns themselves. They won't go bad sitting on a shelf unused.

    I once had nearly a 5-year gap in reloading - didn't think I'd end up doing it again. I went from October of 2014 to June of 2019, and never once sat down to do any reloading. I wasn't doing much shooting during that period either. But that equipment and those components didn't go bad - they sat there ready to go until I was ready to go.

    2022 was my most productive year at the press. According to my ledger I reloaded 39 different sessions across 7 different calibers for 3,864 rounds loaded - not every batch was an even number.

    2023 has started off with a bang - we're just into March and I've already done 1,732 rounds, but one of the entries in the ledger is for a batch of 502 rounds of 223 on February 20th - I was loading up for the winter camping trip to make sure I had enough AR ammo, and that was in one evening - the box of 55 gr FMJ bullets had 2 extra. I think that was about 90 minutes at the press.

    I didn't have to do any brass prep - that had all been done at another point, so this was just a matter of dumping brass out of a bucket of prepped brass, adding case lube, and getting rolling. I set up all of my primer tubes ahead of time so that all I had to do was make sure my hopper was full and that it was dropping consistently - spot checking every now and again.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 22, 2008
    14,469
    Glen Burnie
    A note on my post above - 2022 was the first full year of my membership at AGC, which seems to coincide with how much effort I put into reloading. I was shooting more, so therefore I was reloading more.
     

    chilipeppermaniac

    Ultimate Member
    MDS Supporter
    To comment on just this part, although the Lee Challenger setup is a budget setup, I made some wonderful ammo with that single stage press and the accompanying tools that came with the kit. With that in mind, there came a point where I just simply wanted to produce more for my time. There are two ways to do that - turret press, which is better and a bit faster - or progressive.

    You say to get a quality single stage press. That can mean a couple of different things, but let's take a quick look at that, starting lower and working our way up: (Prices are from Midway USA - there may be better deals here and there)

    $190 - Lee Challenger Press Kit (the Anniversary kit is $20 cheaper, but I believe the next step has some essential tools)

    $185 - Hornady Lock-N-Load
    $190 - Lee Classic Cast
    $170 - RCBS Rock Chucker (seems to be on sale - typically $210)
    $185 - RCBS Rebel - some claim this is a better press than the legendary Rock Chucker
    $190 - Redding Boss
    $230 - Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial
    $379 - Forster Co-Ax

    $590 - Dillon RL550C

    Keep in mind, those prices, with the exception of the Lee kit, are just the bare bones press - there's no case prep tools, no powder measure, no dies, no shell holders....

    Having been down the road of starting with a single stage and moving to progressive, I'm always going to be an advocate for starting with a Dillon progressive out of the gate, every single day of the week and twice on Sunday. Yes, it costs more - a lot more. But you GET more. A LOT more. You get all of the precision of any of the lower priced single stage presses, but you also have the capability of producing ammo in greater volumes in much less time. I can comfortably produce 400 rounds an hour on my Dillon. I've said it over and over - I wish I had gotten the Dillon from the jump.

    trickg and anyone else.
    Feel free to comment on why I am wrong or not. Sometimes it can be advantageous to owning a single stage/turret press and/or a Progressive.

    I have 0 actual experience with the Dillon 550 except for personally knowing owners of this press.
    I do have a small amount of hours on my Hornady Lock N Load Classic Kit, where I did my first trial runs of reloading .270 ammo.

    In respect to my friends' Dillon presses, they primarily load handgun ammo and can do many rounds efficiently with their setups.

    Hunting ammo was my main goal in reloading. With the Lock and Load Classic press, I learned how to do this and at a relatively low cost. The price paid was well worth all I learned.

    If a few extra bucks for a dedicated rifle reloading setup is not a financial hardship in addition to the initial outlay on a Dillon or Equivalent Progressive for handgun type rounds, then I propose a good idea is to have one of each.

    I guess I am saying, especially for the OP, but others too. If you have determined that reloading will work within your budget and time available, ask yourself what type ammo you are going to reload the most. Gear your choice of press toward that. If it is progressive for Pistol ammo, then get your best choice of progressive.
    If you foresee loading mostly pistol and the occasional rifle, get the parts needed for your progressive to do rifle as well.

    Or do like I did in reverse, add the press you didn't buy first if you find an advantage to doing so.
     
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