Choosing your press.
So how do you choose? Well, there is no easy answer to that one my friend, but I will say the LCT is a great first press. Itís inexpensive and easy to learn. It makes some acceptable tradeoffs in the name of price. The Dillon 550 is simple for a ďprogressiveĒ (one pull of handle gives you one cartridge). Itís probably the easiest to setup and use for the newbie reloader. It does everything it tries to do well but does not try to do everything. Simplicity and reliability are its strengths. LnL is a tough press to classify. Itís cheaper than the 550. Itís on par with the 650 in some ways and some will argue its better than the 650 in others.
Once you set it up as a real 5 station press itís a smoking good deal for the money. But people have had issues with that PTX die so be aware it may not function as well as a 5 Station Press. It too has a lifetime warranty. Many people (including myself) are loyal to Dillon and continue to pay a premium for Dillon products. More USPSA shooters use Dillon Presses by a HUGE margin but Hornady is gaining ground. These are tough calls. Wise people have said ďA press is a lifetime investmentĒ so therefore cost should not a factor when obtaining your press.
Let us briefly talk about what a ďstationĒ is on a press. You will hear me and others talk about ďItís a 3,4,5 station pressĒ. First letís review the basics of the press and what functions it performs.
1) Resizes and de-primes the case
2) Primes case
3) Flares the neck to allow easy bullet insertion
4) Inserts powder in case
5) Seats the bullet
6) Crimps the Bullet (removes flare and adds the required pressure against the bullet) is a better way to think about it).
Most 4 station presses operate in the same way. 5 station presses can be configured a variety of ways. The primary reason for a 5 station press is a Powder Check Die to insure every case has powder. Itís still important to look in every case even with the powder check die. Here is the standard process of a 4 station press:
Station 1. Resize/de-prime case on the down stroke, prime case at the end of the upstroke
Station 2. Flare the case and insert powder
Station 3. Seat bullet
Station 4. Crimp/Remove flare
Some 5 station press will give you an extra station after the flaring/powder drop for a powder check die. The LnL does not come configured like this from the start but itís easy to set it up to work as a traditional 5 station press. For the record the Lee Load Master does not have room for a powder check die if you seat and crimp in separate stations.
All right now the fun part. Letís talk about presses. I am only going to list the presses that most owners have expressed good results. Iím so sorry, if your favorite press is not listed but thatís the breaks big guy (suck it up! LOL). This thread is meant to help the newbie get into reloading without a lot of hassle. Iím trying to be objective but at the same time list the differences and issues so you can make a wise choice.
Single Stage Presses.
Nearly everyone makes a good single stage. Hornady, Lyman, RCBs, Lee and Redding all have kits assembled with all the stuff you need to start reloading (reloading blocks, scales, etc). The only major draw back when using a single stage press is its slow.. But itís a GREAT!!! way to start out in reloading. If you are going to reload on a single stage I would strongly recommend you get the Lyman Reloading Manual. Read it and then choose your kit based on your needs. Low volume rifle shooters should really consider the single stage as their first press.
Lee Classic Turret. (LCT)
Itís considered an ďauto indexing turretĒ press. You have to pull the handle 4 times to get one completed round. Lee is the only maker who does this type of press. Itís a lot faster then a normal turret and cheaper on top of it all. You can expect to load about 200rds an hour once you get in the groove. You can get a nice LCT kit from Home - Kempf Gun Shop. Be aware that others sell a kit but the kit includes the dreaded Lee Scale. Avoid them. Kempfís kit includes:
ē Lee Classic Turret Press
ē Lee Deluxe 4-Die Set for the pistol caliber of your choice. (3 Die set in 380)
ē Lee Auto Disk Powder Measure
ē Lee Safety Prime System (Large or Small)
ē Lee Auto Disk Riser (Required for the Safety Prime System)
ē Six MTM 50 round Plastic Ammo Boxes
I would recommend you upgrade the kit to the Pro Auto Disc Powder Measure. Not only does it give you the better powder measure but you also get the Large and Small primer setup. Itís worth it for the powder measure alone. With this kit you do not need a primer turning tray. The Auto Disc powder measure does not have the ability to adjust powder to very small increments like most measures. You simply change ďdiscsĒ with different size holes to get the charge you want. This gets you pretty close and it works fine. You can add an adjustable charge bar but it does not work well with small charges and some powders. People say it works better with larger volume charges. Lee even warns you about this on their instructions. The priming system is workable. Some people have had to add a washer under the primer mounting location to get it 100% dialed in. Most people donít have any trouble doing this slight mod. The LCT is a great, low cost, relatively quick entry into reloading. Once you get it dialed in itís amazing how much ammo it can make. Caliber changes are so easy itís unbelievable. You can also easily disable the auto-indexing and convert it to a single stage press. Itís brilliant in its simplicity and function.