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Thread: Brass Prep and progressive presses

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
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    I think you should see of you can find someone local that loads on a progressive. You may or may not do things like they do, but you’ll see that you can produce the ammunition you want in less time.

    The one issue I see is with the quantities you load. I do some on a single stage, only setting up a progressive when I want to load hundreds or thousands. It’d be a pain to setup and load 100 of one caliber and then change the setup to load 100 of another. Might be faster than just loading on the single stage, but not by much.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain*Kirk View Post
    That’s the question or questions.

    What are you loading for?

    .380ACP, 7mmRM, .45/70 Gov't, .44RM, .44-40 (smokeless), .35 Remington

    What are the components you are using?

    Pretty wide variance. From cast bullets, to SJFP, to SPBT, and plated bullets. Powders, same. Unique, RE22, 4320 and others. Brass; factory stuff or Starline. Primers, CCI, Remington, Winchester

    What are your expectations in time spent and accuracy?

    I will generally try to reload what I've shot in the past month...usually 50-200 rounds but generally not more than that.Range fodder I'm not concerned with accuracy as much as function. Rifle/hunting ammo, yeah.

    What are your current results?

    Some loads are very, very good (7mm) Others...meh. Worst load ever was a .45-70 using Speer 400gr SJSP bullets. I ended up pulling all the bullets and starting over.
    The only round I see that you load that could be somewhat critical, if you were shooting long range, is the 7mmRM.

    The rest are all low volume, low precision cartridges for you, so going to a progressive is not going to pay you back in any real amount due to the changeover time necessary to set the machine up to do the next cartridge. IE: for you and your needs a progressive machine is a complete waste of time, and money. A progressive machine only really pays for itself if you are loading hundreds of rounds of the same caliber often.

    For example I use a Dillon 550B for loading all my .223's, .40 S&W and .45 acp's. I load hundreds of those every year and it keeps me in ammo for the year and then I do it again as needed. For most all of my other cartridges, IE: .44 Spec/Mag 50-100 per sitting, .303 British 50/sitting, .308/.30-06 50/sitting, and .45-70's 50/ sitting, I use my BPM Hand Press at the kitchen table.

    It is a portable single stage press that is small and compact and has the Hornaday LNL quick change die system so change over to a different caliber is as fast as pulling the already set up dies from their box and resetting the RCBS Powder Measure to just below the desired charge and then trickling to dead on with the "Trickler in the drop tube" which works so well it is criminal.

    You could do the same thing with any single stage press. Mine just doesn't require it to be bolted to a table or bench. It can be clamped in place with a simple bar clamp ($5.)

    What you need to understand about loading ammunition is that is all comes down to how many times you must handle each individual round. The more times you handle any given round, the longer it takes, times the number of rounds you are loading. Also the less human hands touch each case the better off it will be !!! and I can't stress that enough!!!!

    So if you handle a case 6 times from beginning to end,,, times 100 rounds,,, then you touched cases 600 times.!

    What a Turret Press does for you is reduce the number of times you handle each case. IE: after case prep is done and each case is inserted into the machine it will not be touched again until it is fully loaded and removed from the machine and put in the box. You will pull on the handle as many times as is necessary to do all the operations required to complete that round.

    With a Progressive Press as soon as all the stations are occupied, everytime you pull on the handle a loaded round drops off the end into the basket. So it is the difference of say 4 pulls for each round versus 1 pull for each round. IE less handling.

    The trade off is in the set up time and unless you are going to load more than a few rounds of a given caliber it is not worth the setup time to change the machine over. It is called "Amortizing your time" over the number of rounds you are completing.

    Even so a Dillon 550C can be changed over in a matter of a few minutes and can load anything from .25 acp to .458 Win Mags. The difference being in the cost of the tooling necessary to make this happen in the most efficient manner.

    Another way to save time during the reloading process is to not be so anal with case prep which is where you are spending most of your time. I seldom diddle with Primer Pockets, I tumble brass to clean it, and load it. Mine looks as nice as yours do but I spent 1/3-1/2 less time doing it.

    In closing,,, figure out where you can eliminate steps and it will make your process more efficient. A decent Turret Press or a C&H 444 (shown below) is all the farther you need to go until you are shooting more ammo. Then when you need to load 1000 rounds for a contest you can buy a Dillon SDB for the caliber you need to load for,,, and be done with it.

    Hope this helps you figure this out.

    Randy
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  3. #23
    Boolit Master


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    Part of the answer depends on how you charge the powder in your cases. If you weigh each charge then there will be little time saved over a single stage.
    Speaking of a Dillon 550, the folowing would apply. You can re-size and deprime on your single stage. You can then do whatever you need to do to the brass.... clean,swage/clean primer pockets,trim
    With the Dillon you could then return the brass to the progressive and start to reload. On the first stage you would just seat the primer. On the second stage the powder would be 1.)thrown from the Dillon powder measure, 2.) Thrown from another brand powder measure by hand or, 3.) Weight your charge on scale and pour the charge through a dillon funnel. The third stage would be seat the bullet.
    Some add a light and mirror and visually check the powder level before seating the bullet. A powder check may be available .
    The only thing where you can get in trouble is the powder into the case. With stick powders they meter poorly and can bridge in the powder funnel. A ball powder may work best.
    If you change calibers, loads ,and seating depths then you may be just a good with a single stage.
    Progressives become attractive if you loads lots of the same caliber,bullet and powder in quantity. Another solution is to have enough brass to load a years supply of he same before changing the press.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain*Kirk View Post
    Tell me more.
    This is a decent read on the subject.

    http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/...ening-results/

    This is a thread on the one I built that photo bucket ruined. I am out of space here or would repost the photos. If you are interested it seeing them PM me with your email and Iíll send them to you.

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...tainless+steel

    I also built some really big ones for a manufacturer, and a crane to load and unload them, they tumbled 15 gallons per drum x 6 to keep their camdex machines going.



    For your pistol rounds, you are likely just wasting time with a bunch of prep, if it makes you feel good though itís not wasted.

    What are you going to do with the extra time you save if you get a progressive. If itís sit in front of the TV and drink, you are likely better off sticking with a single stage anyway. If you have other productive stuff to do, then youíll get to do more of it, with a progressive press.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master 44magLeo's Avatar
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    I don't own a case tumbler. Had one but didn't like the mess.
    Clean brass is good. bright and shiny like new is not any better as far as the way it goes through a guns action or how well it performs.
    If you think your bright and shiny ammo shoots better than my not so bright and shiny, then you better keep doing it. Confidence in your ammo is a good thing.
    Me, I found mine shoots just as good without all the effort.
    I use a Lee's case lube on those that get FL sized so it's easy to clean with hot soapy water, then air dry. This leaves the brass clean but not bright and shiny. On the ones I run through the Lee neck size dies don't get lubed but if dirty get the soapy water wash.
    Once it's dry I store it in boxes. I keep the brass in the same lots I got it in. Weather it comes from factory ammo, new cases or once fired brass. Range brass is sorted by head stamp and case weight.
    When I want to load I just pull out how ever many boxes of cases I want to load then and load them.
    I don't shoot as much as I used to so loading o a SS press is fine. I like thus way because I can pay more attention to the details of powder charge and bullet seating depth.
    Leo

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
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    Another thing to remember is that many case prep operations are a one time op and others can be every 5-10 loads worth. Examples: Trim to length first time, then after 5-10 loads; chamfer only after trimming; most cases can be loaded 3-5 time before needing tumbling again without getting too dirty. Bright polished brass is easier to find in grass but if it is clean brightness doesn't matter for loading and using.
    Spell check doesn't work in Chrome, so if something is spelled wrong, it's just a typo that I missed.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master
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    I use an old single stage to de-prime using a Lee de-capping die. I don't like the dirt,etc. in my good presses, not even the single stages. (I just bought a new Lee APP press for de-capping and bulge busting).

    Next, they go in the stainless pin tumbler. No dirty cases ever go in my size dies. I hate cleaning primer pockets and that's why I use the pin tumbler, plus I like the way they look when finished.

    From stainless tumbling, pistol cases get dried in the sun. .40 S&W's get bulge busted every time. Same with 9mm. Stainless pins do the primer pocket so I don't have to do them individually. .38's and .45's go directly to the progressive. All rifle brass gets checked for length and trimmed as necessary after tumbling. Some get finished on a single stage, but
    .223 goes in the Dillon 750. Pistol cases go to the SDB.Other than .223, every bottleneck case get the charge weighed and trickled within a tenth of a grain. Just the way I do things.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master


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    I like handloading as much as shooting so Everything is done one at a time. The ammo I produce is the absolute best I can do.

  9. #29
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain*Kirk View Post
    I currently am loading using my tried and true RCBS Rock Chucker single stage press. I've watched a whole bunch of videos on other presses available, including turret and progressive presses but not sure if I'm ready to take the leap forward.
    First of all, I'm meticulous with my brass prep. Almost ADD, actually. My cases get tumbled, de-primed and sized, have the primer pockets cleaned and primer holes checked and de-burred, case length checked and trimmed if necessary, and case mouths chamfered and de-burred long before the brass ever hits the loading sequence. My used brass looks like factory new brass when I start reloading, bagged and tagged just like new brass. So, I know I could never do like the guys in the videos claiming 3-500 rounds an hour who are shoveling buckets full of dirty brass fresh off the range into the decapping die on a progressive or turret press, without a mental makeover. It goes against my nature...
    I'm also pretty A/R when it comes to charging cases...rifle cases especially...with regard to checking and double checking load weight, and viewing the charged cases for uniformity before bullet seating. And yet I watch these guys cranking round after round off their Dillon or RCBS Pro 7 progressives with barely a glance at the actual process. (too much information happening at once to be able to watch everything)
    I realize this (progressive method) is probably identical to the method used at the ammo factories, ammo I would shoot without a second thought. So, am I going too far in my meticulousness (is that even a word?) and do I need to chill out, upgrade to a faster, more efficient press, and quit wasting time on mundane tasks that may or may not actually be buying anything? Or keep on keepin' on, slow and steady, but confident in my finished product that looks and chambers like factory-new ammo?
    Not that I shoot thousands of rounds a year...most shooting sessions only have me firing off a couple hundred rounds max, and I can easily load that single stage in an hour or so.
    What do you guys do, and are you confident in the finished product? Have you encountered any issues when really cranking out ammo?
    I think the Lee app press could speed up your production without giving up the cleanliness and quality that you getting on your rock chucker. Still didnít get mine but there are a bunch of videos that look like case prepping is a snap.

  10. #30
    Boolit Master
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    Only you can answer your question but do a test. Load some without any prep work other than cleaning the brass and see if it makes any difference in the way it works. If it works better it may be worth it. If not, maybe looks are important enough to you for the extra time and effort. I'm not a good enough shot nor do I have equipment good enough to notice a difference in accuracy. I get a 5/8" group at 100yds with my best hunting rifle with or without all the fancy prep work so other than cleaning the brass good enough to remove abrasives I don't get to carried away.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master
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    You may notice, if you ain't looking at your nice shiny rounds, that the guys whooping your butt at the match have not so shiny rounds and spent their gained time shooting instead of polishing. I shot against a national champ that loaded for 3 individuals guns on a Dillon he'd automated. Most times he beat me by a shot or 2. I tried backing off on my "necessary" reloading routine and the groups didn't get any bigger. You got to find for yourself what is "necessary" and what ain't. The guys that shoot the smallest groups in the world don't have a tumbler and primer pocket cleaner at the bench as they reload while they shoot.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master Burnt Fingers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain*Kirk View Post
    Which press?
    Dillon 650s.
    NRA Benefactor.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    If loading 50 to 200 rounds a month combined of 5 or 6 different cartridges and you already have a good single stage press , and you want to give your full attention to each stage of the process and still speed it up my suggestion would be the Lee Classic turret They are about the most efficient press made for small runs of loading . The LCT could be used for any of the cartridges in your list as a manual or auto index , you can switch calibers including primer size faster than any press I am familiar with.
    You can charge your cases with powder on the press with one of the Lee measures , or weigh and tickle and pour through the powder charge die , your choice. I like and use the priming on the press it has good feel feedback when seating primers. When decaping brass it is one of the better presses at catching the spent primers and waste. You can combine your current process or any parts of it and still save time in setup and the amount of times you have to handle the case.
    I have basically settled on 3 presses my single stage , the Lee Classic Turret , and a progressive that is used for sessions of 500 or more rounds . The LCT is the the one I would keep if I could just have one it is a neat press , that it is also cheap is just icing on the cake.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master


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    I'm quite a bit like you.
    I tumble only the same caliber cases together. Then sort and rebox them.
    Decap and clean primer pockets.
    Check length, trim as needed.
    I have a powered Lyman trimmer and a Case Express behind it. So I can process a lot of sized/decapped cases pretty fast.
    Then into the sonic cleaner. When dry, reboxed and ready to load.
    Hand primed, loaded in lots of 20, 50, 60 or 100. Just depends on cartridge and box size.

    All rifle ammo is loaded on a single-stage and powder charged by a Electronic Powder Measeure scale.
    Exceptions are .44-40, .38-40 & .32-20. They get charged in a loading block with an RCBS Lil' Dandy and their powder levels checked by eye under a very good light. Then bullets seated & crimped on the RC.

    The other exceptions are 5.56, .308 & .30-06 to be fired in a Military-Style Semi-Auto Rifles. They get prepped like ever other Rifle Cartridge, then charged and a bullet seated/crimped on a Hornady L-N-L Progressive. The Hornady L-N-L Drum type Powder Measure is very consistent.
    I also watch the Drum/Arm of the PM move thru it's cycle EVERY time.

    I Shot Cowboy for over 20yrs. I would
    watch fellow Shooters at the loading table spin their Revolver cylinders to check for high primers. And more then one Rifle jam while shooting a stage because of a split case that bulges and then jammed going into the chamber.
    These Shooters using dillon with no prior experience just had no Concept of case inspection or cleaning primer pockets.

    Even when My Kids were young and Shooting 5-6 times a month, 1500rds a months. I still did case inspection and cleaned primer pockets.

    Just raised by a Very Fine Bullseye Shooter.
    To him every variable had to be minimized.

    Still a good way to be.
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

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  15. #35
    Boolit Buddy Lagamor's Avatar
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    A wet tumbler would get you the brass finish you like with a lot less effort.
    You can stay on the Single Stage if you like. I like progressive for plinking ammo, it turns out respectible stuff.

  16. #36
    Boolit Buddy Captain*Kirk's Avatar
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    Some really great and informative replies here...thanks to all of you for your input and suggestions!
    I have realized that for the moment, a progressive press is probably outside the envelope of my present needs and requirements, although a turret press like the RCBS Turret would very likely speed up production if brass prep was treated as a separate operation. I could possibly use a cheaper progressive for .380ACP and .44 mag ammo, but I seldom shoot more than 100 rounds of .44 in a session as it beats you up pretty good after 100 rounds. With my CF rifle cartridges I would still prefer to weigh each charge individually so the advantage of charging on the press becomes null and void in that case; a turret press would fill the void quite well (although there's nothing wrong with my Rock Chucker for that purpose).
    Any horror stories I should be aware of from the major manufacturer's turret presses out there? (RCBS, Lyman, Redding, Lee, etc?) I do have a preference for RCBS gear and their turret is on sale right now at MidwayUSA.
    I also intend to explore the wet tumbler/steel pins approach that was recommended for brass prep. Sounds like it would save me a bunch of time and brass handling?
    "Are you gonna pull those pistols, or whistle Dixie?"

  17. #37
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I have realized that for the moment, a progressive press is probably outside the envelope of my present needs and requirements, although a turret press like the RCBS Turret would very likely speed up production..
    The only thing a turret press is going to do is keep all the dies together and set. You are still going to have to stroke the press once for every operation. 3 dies =3 strokes + a powder charge and priming, same as a single stage. Once the shell plate on a progressive is full, you get one loaded round with every stroke of the handle and powder charge and priming are included.

  18. #38
    Boolit Buddy Captain*Kirk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
    Once the shell plate on a progressive is full, you get one loaded round with every stroke of the handle and powder charge and priming are included.
    Good point.

    Right now, on average, it takes me roughly an hour to load a box of 50 pistol rounds using my single stage press. It can get fairly tedious; after an hour or so I'm ready to quit, so loading a couple hundred rounds s generally done over the course of several evenings. Since I load in batches of 50, that means swapping dies on a single stage several times per batch, and two or three batches means swapping dies x two or three. I can see where a turret press might help in that regard. But it would sure be nice to pop a loaded round with every pull of the handle, if I could assure QC with regard to primer seating and powder charge.
    Rifle rounds take longer due to meticulous weighing of each and every powder charge. I have the Chargemaster scale and powder measure and it takes longer for that to dump a charge than using my old 505.
    Last edited by Captain*Kirk; 02-12-2020 at 03:46 PM.
    "Are you gonna pull those pistols, or whistle Dixie?"

  19. #39
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
    The only thing a turret press is going to do is keep all the dies together and set. You are still going to have to stroke the press once for every operation. 3 dies =3 strokes + a powder charge and priming, same as a single stage. Once the shell plate on a progressive is full, you get one loaded round with every stroke of the handle and powder charge and priming are included.
    You are absolutely right about 3 or 4 strokes on a turret but if one chooses to you can prime and dispense powder on turrets depending on your process you can load 50 44s and 50 9mm in 40 to 60 min total on a turret with out rushing watching each stage of the process carefully ,I could not come any where near that on a single stage.
    That is slow compared to a progressive but really fast compared to a single stage.
    And probably close to as fast as most progressives could be when you include the time to change from 44 to 9

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    Like jmorris, my rifle ammo takes two passes through the presses. One for sizing, the other for loading. I have sized a few thousand rifle cases on the progressive, but love the very consistent shoulder bump from the Rock Chucker.

    I can say affirmatively that very straight ammo can be loaded progressively, as indicated by bullet runout.

    In my case, total cartridge changeovers require about 150 seconds for the worst case. RCBS Pro 2000 is the press, and 10 cartridges are loaded on it.
    "There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something."
    ~Thorin Oakenshield

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check