Handloading Presses You'll Want to Stock

Get familiar with a few different reloading presses to help your customers select the right one for their needs.

Handloading Presses You'll Want to Stock

While most hunters and shooters likely are aware that if you have the proper equipment you can save money by making your own handloaded cartridges, most don’t realize the many other advantages handloading provides — especially to avid shooters who go through a lot of rounds.

While the economic factor is, indeed, important, handloading also allows those who put in some time and effort to make even more accurate ammunition than they can purchase from large ammo companies, as well as to tailor loads for velocity, recoil and other factors. And when ammo shortages come along, handloaders who have stocked up on plenty of components are still able to shoot as much as they want, while many of their friends who rely on retail ammo supplies have their shooting activities drastically curtailed.

To be sure, handloading — also called reloading — is a very broad topic. With the correct equipment, handloaders can load shotshells tailored to their specific uses. At the same time, rifle and pistol shooters can use a simple single-stage press to load cartridges one at a time, a turret press to load cartridges one at a time in a more rapid manner, or a progressive press to load them much more rapidly and in greater numbers.

Of course, there are many components required to handload a round of ammo. You must have a case (brass for centerfire rifle and pistol ammo, plastic with a brass base for shotshells) along with a primer for detonation, gun powder for a propellent, a way to measure powder, and a projectile (shot for shotguns, bullets for rifles and pistols).

One quick note on safety: Handloading can be extremely dangerous if the person doing the loading doesn’t follow specific instructions and pay strict attention to every step of the process. Tell your customers to always use recipes from well-known reloading manuals and never vary from the specifications listed in the manual. 

For the purpose of this column, we’ll focus on simple single-stage and turret presses that can be used for handloading a wide range of different rifle and pistol cartridges.

Hornady Lok-N-Load Classic Single-Stage

The Lock-N-Load Classic from Hornady — a top name in both reloading and factory ammunition — delivers both dependability and precision with its uniquely angled, solid cast frame that offers greater visibility and easier access to the cartridge. Designed to ensure perfect die and shell holder alignment, its Lock-N-Load quick-change bushing system makes the process quick and easy.

Lock-N-Load bushings let the user switch from one die to another in a matter of seconds, plus they offer one of the quickest and easiest die setups on the market. Just set the die and tighten the Sure-Loc ring onto the Lock-N-Load bushing. Then quickly remove and reinstall without the need to readjust the die or keep a separate seater die for each of your pet loads.

The tough press also features an arm that rotates on steel pins that run completely through the cast frame. The Power-Pac linkage design multiplies the leverage the user applies to the handle, making it easier to size cases and reducing user fatigue.

The Lock-N-Load’s Positive Priming System is another noteworthy advantage of this press. Once the spent primer ejects at the top of the stroke, the user can add a new primer to the PPS and it self-aligns to feed and insert the primer at the bottom of the stroke where leverage is best. Hornady’s self-aligning primer arm also allows for easy manual inserting of primers without having to raise the handle. All the work is done at the bottom of the stroke. The press’s high-strength alloy frame offers the rigidity and stability needed for precision reloading, and it is guaranteed never to break or fail. Lastly, the Lock-N-Load’s large, ball-style grip reduces fatigue, while the long handle increases leverage and reduces the amount of effort required for use.

RCBS Summit 

RCBS was founded way back in 1943 in Oroville, California, and has been providing avid handloaders with the equipment they need ever since. The company, now part of Vista Outdoor, makes and markets handloading gear of the highest quality, including their presses.

The Summit Single-Stage features a 2-inch offset ram and die holder that are precision fit for the best ammunition concentricity and accuracy potential. The offset ram is not exposed to de-capping debris, allowing smooth and precise operation, as well as less maintenance downtime.

The press has an open design that is completely ambidextrous, allowing the user to customize his or her bench setup for optimum workflow and comfort. The shell holder is stationary on the base, making visual confirmation of the powder charge easy, thereby helping to avoid charging mistakes.

The Summit is easy to set up and use, even for beginning handloaders. The press’s steel and cast iron construction provides the tough rigidity needed to produce consistent handloads, thereby maximizing accuracy. 

This press will work with standard 7/8"-14 threaded dies, and 1-inch die bodies with adaptors, which are sold separately, and has enough leverage to handle any difficult sizing task. The innovative design mounts the entire press to the top of the bench and actually lowers the die down to the case.

For those wanting to save a little space, the Summit Single-Stage press is also available with a short handle. The shorter 8.125-inch length provides the user with a higher degree of “feel” while performing operations that can benefit from more tactile feel such as bullet seating and case crimping.

Redding T-7 Turret

Redding has been manufacturing and marketing top-quality handloading equipment for more than 75 years. And the T-7 turret press has been one of the hottest selling presses in Redding’s lineup for quite some time, and for a number of reasons.

“Users like the overall strength of the T-7 and its accuracy, as seen by the very solid detents when the turret is rotated,” said Robin Sharpless, executive vice president of Redding Reloading Equipment. “Amazingly, many benchrest records have been set using the T-7 over the years. The ability to leave dies ‘set up’ in the turret head leads to better repeatability. And with the Turret Stacker, multiple Turrets can remain set up for future use.”

When Redding set out to design the T-7, the goal was to create the ultimate turret press. To accomplish that, their engineering team started with their time-proven cast iron construction and turret support that are among the best in the industry. 

The T-7 has a seven-station turret head that is easily turned to set the next die in place. With additional turret heads, which are sold separately, the user can switch between calibers without readjusting depth. Also, the cast iron construction and stout compound linkage allow for reloading magnum cartridges with ease.

The press is easily mounted to the user’s loading bench via a four-hole system. It also features a spent primer collection system, a 3.81-inch stroke of the 1-inch diameter ram, and a lower right-hand handle location, and it accepts standard 7/8”-14 threaded dies.

For those customers looking to jump into handloading with both feet, Redding also offers all the dies and other equipment a hunter who is new to handloading might need.


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