The easiest and cheapest way of keeping a full ammunition inventory is by reloading your bullets. This allows you to reuse old brass and relieves you from having to buy a new box of ammo each time you want to prepare for a shooting game.
Investing in reloading presses makes hunting and shooting sports less expensive. Single-stage presses are affordable, yet they can help you enhance the overall quality, precision, and performance of your bullets.
In this post, I’ll help you find the best single stage reloading press that has the features and configurations to suit your needs. Dive right in, and I’ll also equip you with tips for choosing the most accurate equipment.
What Is a Single Stage Reloading Press?
There are two main types of reloading presses, which include the progressive reloading press and single-stage reloading press. Progressive presses are technical, expensive, and able to produce several rounds of ammo with each pull of the lever.
On the other hand, single-stage ammo reloaders are cheaper and less technical, but only able to produce a single round of bullets with each pull of the lever.
If you are just getting started on ammo reloading, it will make better sense to invest in a single-stage unit. Such equipment is also appropriate for anyone who does not shoot very often and does not need to reload too many bullets.
The main difference between the progressive and single-stage press is the speed of ammo production. If you only reload ammunition for personal use, the chances are that a single-stage unit will suffice.
5 Best Single Stage Reloading Press
Reloading your ammo is both economical and practical. In case you are not a volume shooter or you are still new to reloading bullets, it is best to settle for a single-stage reloading press. We have done the research for you and listed down the top 5 units that are reliable and easy to operate.
1. RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press
- The solid steel handle offers a comfortable grip
- Ambidextrous handle
- Designed for heavy-duty operations
- Easy to use and ideal for beginners
- Allows upgrading into a progressive press
- Quality construction for enhanced durability
- The ram control may need improvement
This is one of the most accurate units in the current markets, and it is designed for heavy-duty operations. It comes equipped with a compound leverage mechanism that allows frequent case reloads.
Also, the machine is best for beginners because operating it is simple. If you are searching for a reloading press that offers the perfect balance between usability and versatility, this is an excellent option to consider.
The device has a 4″ ram that provides sturdy support for the main 1″ ram. Even though the rams align correctly without a problem and also help in reloading all types of calibers, adjusting them poses some challenges.
On the bright side, the Rock chucker has a sturdy steel handle that has an ambidextrous design to accommodate right and left-hand users. The ball provides a comfortable grip, and you are not likely to suffer from hand fatigue when reloading ammo for extended hours.
This is a sturdy and durable machine with an in-built primer. Apart from handling long cartridges, it can also be used to reload a 300 Win or a 338 Lapua.
The shell holders do not need extensive setup, and it is worth mentioning that the operations of the primer catch are smooth. This is a well-made press, and all components seem to work as intended.
Moreover, this is a machine that can serve you for a while. This unit can create hundreds of rounds with each hour.
It also allows the option of adding an automatic primer feeder to enhance your overall production speed and performance. The best part is that you can upgrade the machine into a progressive reloader.
2. Lee Precision 90998 Classic Cast Press (Red)
- Adjustable handle for better comfort and grip
- Rigid cast-iron frame design
- Classic “O” frame
- 2 mechanical primer arms included
- This machine has the biggest ram opening in the market
- Press accepts die sets from all major manufacturers
- The baked powder coating tends to chip off a little after a while
This reloading press has several major bragging points, and it’s no surprise that it is a top seller.
First, it is the best reloading press for a precision rifle. It also happens to have the biggest ram opening in the market, not to mention the longest stroke for better precision and less force when reloading ammunition.
This is a heavy-duty press with a rigid cast iron O frame. Before we began testing the device, we had to find a stable workbench that can carry the weight and also hold up to the lever forces the press generates.
The adjustable handle is another feature you are likely to love. I like operating with a longer handle, although users can make it shorter to suit their preferences.
Most people find it more comfortable to use a short handle when working with handgun cartridges. There are also two automatic primer arms, one for smaller primers and the other for larger ones.
The die compatibility of this press is impressive. It is quite convenient that this device can accept die sets from Hornady, Lee, Lyman, and other major manufacturers.
This machine comes with a die reducer bushing that accepts the standard 7/8-14 thread dies. You have the option of removing this bushing for your press to take larger 1 1/4×12 thread dies like the ones used with .50 BMG Dies.
3. Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic Reloading Press Kits
- Sturdy press with cast iron construction
- Easy setup and operations
- Lock-N-Load Technology to ensure quick changing dies
- Lock-N-Load Powder Measure for precise bullet powder charge
- Works on most calibers
- Compatible with standard dies from other brands
- 3-pieces Lock-N-Load Die bushing included
- Hornady 9th edition reloading manual included
- You need to buy the dies separately
Hornady is a well-reputed brand known for producing top-quality presses. The 85003 Lock-N-Load Classic press comes with the bells and whistles typical of high-end Hornady machines.
It has a durable cast iron construction and comes with the complete set of accessories needed to start reloading as soon as you receive your package.
The Lock-N-Load technology makes this one of the most versatile single stage reloaders in the markets. You can work on a range of calibers as long as you have the appropriate die sets.
Also, the machine allows you to change die sets in mere seconds. Just fit your die in place and turn the lock. The Lock-N-Load feature promotes consistent reloading, irrespective of the caliber you want.
Moreover, this is a perfect single stage press for beginners and experienced reloaders alike. It offers you complete control over the whole reloading process. The uniquely angled cast iron frame enhances the precision of the machine by ensuring the correct alignment of dies and shell holders.
This unit comes with a positive priming system (PPS) for enhanced ease of work. The spent primer ejects smoothly, allowing you to add a new primer to the PPS that automatically aligns itself. This self-aligning primer arm makes it easy and quick to insert primers without raising the handle manually.
For the price, you get a range of accessories, including a debarring tool, 3-pieces of Lock-N-Load Die bushings, chamfering device, and an electronic powder scale. Irrespective of your reloading skill level, you will appreciate the detailed 9th edition Hornady reloading handbook that comes with the package.
4. LEE PRECISION Breech Lock Challenger Press (Red)
- Versatile and affordable press
- User-friendly design and ideal for beginners
- Quick change bushing
- Complete kit with a range of accessories
- 11 auto-prime shell holders
- Dies are sold separately
Here is another LEE precision press that had to be on our list. This is a versatile and sturdy machine with numerous bragging points.
First, it has the classic “O” shaped frame design that helps to create more workspace even when working with different calibers. This product is designed to simplify the reloading process and is hence ideal for beginners.
The Breech Lock Quick tool ensures easy and fast die changes. Even if you want to change it into a different caliber, the hassle of making endless adjustments is eliminated.
This further increases the chances of producing accurate ammo that has consistent quality. With this Breech Lock Quick system, it’s as though the die adjustments are preset.
Making sure you put the right amount of powder in each casing depending on its caliber is both tedious and time-consuming. If the powder is too little, the overall quality of your ammo will be compromised.
On the other hand, too much powder can put you and those around you in harm’s way. With this unit, it is not challenging to ensure correct powder measurements, thanks to the perfect powder measure feature.
Another feature that cannot go without mentioning is the safety primer feed. The majority of single stage presses require you to manually put primer to the primer arm that pushes it into the brass.
This machine, on the other hand, has primer feeds of different sizes. It eliminates the hassle of manually measuring your powder, and this makes the whole process safer.
5. RCBS Summit Single Stage Reloading Press
- Press holds brass firmly for a smooth and straight finish
- Rigid cast-iron frame design
- Compact and portable
- Designed to allow full frontal access
- Easy to set up and operate
- Ambidextrous handle
- Short handle for preparing handgun cartridges is sold separately
- Only allows manual powder loading
The RCBS single stage press is an innovatively designed machine that makes an excellent accessory for all kinds of gun users. It is practical and easy to operate, making it an ideal tool that even amateur reloaders can safely use.
This state-of-the-art unit has quality construction. Yet, it has a compact design and is easy to move from one workspace to another.
To ensure precise reloading, the equipment should be mounted on a workbench before use. Fortunately, the robust design and cast iron construction naturally allow efficient and effortless reloads.
Unlike most presses which bring the die to the shell, this one brings the shell to the die. This is a unique design that ensures the creation of straighter ammo, quicker die changes, and easier removal of complete rounds.
The RCBS brand commands a grand following mainly because its product designs make the comfort of users a top priority. This unit comes with an interchangeable handle to accommodate both right and left-hand users.
Moreover, you can work on different brass types, thanks to the large 4.5 inches frame opening that promotes convenient and efficient seating and resizing of ammo.
Another remarkable feature is the 2-inch ram that enhances the sturdiness of this device. It supports the weight of the equipment during reloading projects to make each process flawless and stress-free. We loved the spent primer catcher that helps to save time and generally keeps the workspace tidy.
The only noteworthy downside is that even though the handle of this press has a comfortable grip, it is too long. You have to purchase a shorter handle separately if you often work on handgun cartridges.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Single Stage Reloading Press
Several vital aspects must not escape your attention when searching for the best single stage press. Let me guide you through the most relevant factors to consider if you’re searching for reliable and efficient reloading equipment.
Style of Press
Typically, the style of the press of a machine will also determine its construction material. O frame presses completely encase the ram and die, providing adequate support for the front and back of the die. This ensures the frame is sturdy enough to support a flawless reloading process.
Because O frame presses are naturally sturdy, this means the construction material of a press is not essential.
The C frame presses, on the other hand, only provide support for the die in a C shape. In other words, the front and back of the die are not adequately supported.
In case you choose a C frame press, you must pay special attention to the design of a unit as well as its construction materials. This is more so the case if you intend to reload magnum rifle rounds.
From my very qualified viewpoint, I recommend the O frame cast iron presses. This seems like overkill when reloading small pistol rounds, although the press style and solid construction simplify the whole reloading process.
Getting a firm grip on the handle is crucial. Then again, you need a machine whose handle is adequately heavy, yet manageable. Make sure it’s smooth and comfortable to keep you going during long reloading sessions.
A well-designed handle will minimize hand fatigue and will even have an ambidextrous design to accommodate users of both right and left-hand preferences.
Let’s face it; single-stage reloading presses have their perks, although they do not lack a few significant limitations. Progressive presses have the edge over them for their ability to accelerate the ammo reloading process.
If your aim is to get comfortable with the reloading of your ammo first and then increase your production, you may want to choose a unit that allows upgrading. Some single stage reloading presses like the RCBS 9356 Rock Chucker Supreme Press can be upgraded into progressive presses.
And if you are not a volume shooter, but a prolific reloader, the production rate of a single-stage press must be considered. At the very least, select a device that reloads not less than 100 rounds per hour.
Ease of Use
A good machine will have enough clearance, and its stability will also be beyond reproach. Most importantly, the unit will allow easy and smooth operations. Whether you are a newbie or skilled reloader, nothing is as frustrating as having a technical and almost impossible to use the device.
Standalone presses are inexpensive, although the number of operations you can handle is limited. If you want to reload different types of bullets and calibers, make sure your device of choice comes with a decent number of accessories.
Getting a whole kit ensures you can hit the ground running as soon as you receive your box.
Die Changing System
The die changing system is an integral part of any shotshell reloader press. It contributes towards ensuring work efficiency and facilitates resizing or decapping of dies.
This system comes in handy in case you need additional resizing. To be on the safe side, choose a simple system that only requires minimal adjustments, and delivers convenient pressing.
How to Use a Single Stage Press?
Single-stage reloading presses are ideal for beginners. They have an easy setup, and it’s also stress-free to tinker with various features and adjustments. Even though some units allow modifications to enhance time efficiency, they typically work in the same way.
- Step 1: Case Preparation and Resizing
We can all agree that reloading using a single stage press is tedious and time-intensive. However, the process is easy, and you can produce as much as 100 rounds of ammo with each passing hour. Start by lubricating the cases and push them into the decapping/resizing die.
- Step 2: Case Cleaning and Primer Seating
It is essential to clean the cases and give them a good shine before you proceed to the next step. Once this is done, seat the new primers in the cases and switch out the bullet seating die.
Even though there are various ways of priming the cases, you can save more time if you choose a single-stage press that has a priming feature.
- Step 3: Powder Charging and Bullet Seating
Arguably, this is the most intricate yet important step of the entire ammo reloading process. Fortunately, the single-stage press allows slow operations. This will enable beginners to take their time to individually weigh each powder charge and then drop it inside the case.
You need to be extra careful when powder charging. After all, getting this step right will help enhance the accuracy and quality of your rounds. And after the cases are charged, put them back in your press and push it through the bullet seating die.
- Step 4: Crimping
Whether this is an optional or necessary step will highly depend on the type of bullets you are reloading. Crimping helps in enhancing chamber pressure and ammo accuracy, although this will not necessarily alter the functionality of your cartridges.
Insert the crimping die into the press and push the completed round into the die. This will close the brass at the neck and tighten it around the bullet.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I use excessive force to prime the case?
No. you only need to use minimal force to press the primer inside the case. Too much force may push the primer too deep in the case, and this will negatively impact the effectiveness of charging.
- Which is the best charging to use?
Well, this will all depend on the type of bullets that need reloading, so you will need to depend on your ammo manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Are long handles safe?
A good number of experienced reloaders find long handles to be quite comfortable to use. However, it is safer for beginners to use presses with short or at least medium-sized handles.
- What makes the best single-stage press for beginners?
If you want to start reloading ammunition, make sure you use a user-friendly unit. Aspects such as the reloading speed of a machine or even its durability do not mean much if you cannot use the press in the first place.
Reloading ammunition is very rewarding. You can save a lot of money and, at the same time, enhance the quality and accuracy of your ammo.
Our list is made up of units that vary in price and functions, so it should be easy for you to choose the best single stage reloading press for your needs. These are quality presses that make the reloading process both safe and enjoyable.