been introduced to the components used in the reloading process,
the next thing to consider is the equipment necessary to assemble
them into a loaded cartridge. The following pages are by no means
a complete listing of all the reloading equipment and tools available.
Rather, it is merely an introduction to some of the more commonly
used and useful tools available for basic reloading operations.
the most basic piece of any reloaders equipment is a good
reloading manual, which should serve to answer questions and aid
in component selection. Despite the best efforts of component manufacturers,
Sierra included, it must be realized that reloading manuals are
dated. Reloading is in a state of constant change. Components are
added to product lines while older products are altered or deleted.
New calibers appear, while others fade into obsolescence. Some appear
and disappear so fast that they make their inclusion in a manual
a practical impossibility. Undoubtedly, some of the cartridges that
are listed in this edition of the Sierra manual will be long gone
by the time our next edition is published. By the same token, there
will be new developments, in cartridges, powders and bullets available
for the next manual. The point; manuals change. For this reason
alone, you should try to use the most up to date information available
every time you reload. Sierra has chosen the three-ring binder format
for our manuals, so they can be updated with new information as
it becomes available. Should you have any questions regarding current
information, please call our toll-free tech-line at (800) 223-8799.
We welcome your questions, suggestions and comments, as they help
us provide the best and most versatile reloading manuals available.
reloading press serves as the platform from which almost all reloading
operations are conducted. Reloading presses come in a bewildering
variety of sizes, shapes and designs. Each design has certain advantages,
and possibly some disadvantages, which must be carefully weighed
before selecting a press for a specific task. Today, there are three
main types in widespread use; the single stage, the turret, and
stage models probably comprise the largest number of presses in
use today. Most designs utilize either a cast iron or aluminum alloy
C or O type frame. This, incidentally, refers
to the shape of the frame, and is not a model designation. Presses
are available from Redding, Lyman, RCBS, and most of the other major
reloading tool manufacturers. Single stage presses range from lightweight
units like the RCBS Partner or Lyman AccuPress, to the massive Redding
Ultramag. Depending on the uses to which the press will be put,
any of these will give satisfactory service. Lighter presses will
handle standard reloading quite well, but are not well suited to
heavy tasks like case reforming and large scale production. Since
they cannot generate the incredible leverage of the larger framed
units, they require more force to operate. On the other hand, their
light weight makes them easily portable. This has made them quite
popular with shooters who do their reloading and load development
at the range. The true heavyweight presses like the Forster Co-Ax
B-2 and Redding Ultramag, are well suited to the toughest reloading
operations. Developing a tremendous amount of leverage, heavy-duty
presses like these can perform the toughest full-length resizing
chores with ease. Even heavy-duty case reforming and even case head
swagging can be handled without difficulty. As the name implies,
single stage presses use a single ram and a single die station.
In using a single stage press, all cases are processed through one
phase of the reloading operation. With that completed, the die is
replaced with the next die required, and the next step is begun.
This step by step process is followed from resizing, priming, powder
charging, and bullet seating in turn, to produce a single loaded
presses are, in essence, a variation on the single stage press.
The difference here is that this style of press is equipped with
a rotating turret that holds six or more dies and is already adjusted
for the cartridge being reloaded. This configuration allows for
two or more die sets to be adjusted once, and then left in place
for the next reloading session. When reloading on a turret press,
the same procedure as a single stage press is used. Instead of removing
the dies after an operation is completed, the tool head is merely
rotated to the appropriate die for the next step, and the next phase
is begun. Turret presses offer a moderate improvement in speed and
convenience, but may lack the precision and rigid lock up of a single
presses were once the exclusive domain of commercial reloaders.
In the past decade, largely through the efforts of Mike Dillon,
progressive presses have taken a prominent place in the reloading
tool market. With the surge in popularity of such high volume shooting
sports as IPSC and handgun silhouette competition, progressive presses
have become a commonplace tool for the average reloader. More than
any other type of press, progressives vary widely in design, speed,
function, and price. In general, progressive presses used by the
average reloader start at around $200 (as of this writing), and
go to a bit over $1,000 for top of the line models like the Dillon
RL1050. Primary differences will include ease of operation, strength
and durability, and of course, rate of production. Accessories such
as automatic case feeders, self indexing shell plates, quick-change
tool heads, etc., will determine both price range and production
rates. Most of the basic progressive presses will turn out at least
300-400 rounds an hour, while the high end models are capable of
producing 1,000 to 1,200 rounds an hour. Today, progressive presses
are offered by Lee, RCBS, Dillon, and a host of others.
next step up from this level are the fully automated commercial
grade reloading machines, such as the Camdex or Ammo Load. These
machines, and other comparable models, can produce as many as 5,000
rounds an hour. At around $10,000, they are used almost exclusively
by commercial reloaders, police departments, and other extremely
high volume users. These are mentioned only as a matter of interest
as they are rarely, if ever, used by individual reloaders.
a reloading press is a very personal choice and one that should
be based on the types of reloading operations being considered.
Heavy usage such as high volume reloading or case reforming will
call for a stronger, more rigid press. Occasional reloading of some
hunting ammunition can be accomplished with a less expensive light
duty singe stage model. For the beginning reloader, we would suggest
one of the smaller single stage units to start with, and upgrading
as needs and requirements increase. If chosen carefully and well
maintained, a good reloading press is a long term investment that
will give many years of service.