Rifle Load Press Recommendation and General Reloading Setup

Discussion in 'Caliber Talk: Ammunition, Reloading, and Shooting ' started by Olympus, May 13, 2019.

  1. Olympus

    Olympus Grip Maker and FFL Dealer

    Oct 7, 2011
    Guys, I'm really looking to get a dedicated press for my rifle reloading. Currently I have a Dillon 550C and while I really like it for pistols, I don't think I want to use it for reloading rifle calibers. For one, the conversion kits for all of my various rifle calibers would cost more than several dedicated presses themselves!

    I'm really looking to get away from the Lee stuff that I've been using and get a better quality press with a better quality quick change bushing setup for the dies. I'm in the mindset now that I need to spend a little time and maybe a little cash and upgrade some of my stuff and streamline my process and really get my reloading area more organized. I have turrets from my Lee Classic Turret, I have boxes of various dies, quick trim dies, etc. It's just looking very junky and disorganized and I need some help.

    Here's what I would like to do: I'd like to get a dedicated rifle reloading press, a good quality one. I also need a dedicated hand priming tool. Aside from the Dillon, what I've found is that on-press priming generally sucks, has quirks, or isn't reliable. So I want to eliminate that little problem altogether and just use a good hand priming tool. For the press, I would like something like the Hornady LnL Bushing System or some way to keep my dies setup correctly so I can quickly change without having to set the die up each time I change out dies. I've tried the Lee Breech Lock system and definitely did not like them. Also, I would like a good quality brass trimmer. I've been using the Lee Quick Trim dies and I suppose they are ok, but that's just another die I have to keep track of and keep together with the rest of the dies. And lastly, I'd like to find some kind of small box that I can use to keep all the dies of one caliber together and so I can throw away the Lee die boxes that are just sitting empty and taking up room. So hit me up with everyone's recommendations.

    1. Rifle Press
    2. Hand Priming Tool
    3. Some kind of quick change die system
    4. Storage ideas for dies and quick change system
  2. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2018
    I prefer Dillon equipment ...and the 650 is my choice ...because it auto indexes and has the powder check system ( that the 550 C does not have ).../ I think it will give you everything you need.

    Yes caliber conversions cost money ...but you'll have them for a lifetime. I like ...and use Dillons quick change kits ..so you have each calibers dies setup in a tool head, powder measure & powder check system all setup & ready to go. You'll see some quick change kits on 2nd shelf ...at left ( I only load 7 calibers & 4 shotgun gagues..)...

    Organization --- My gun / reloading room is in my basement....storage is a steel rack system inside a closet with french doors on it. Plenty of room for quick change kits, components, etc. Presses are on other wall..on benches. LED recessed can lights, good halogen work lights, dedicated area for cleaning - etc at end of shop. Roll around tool cart ...holds all kind pf peripheral tools for presses, etc...my safe at other end...




    I have used the electric case trimmer from Dillon, a buddy has one ...and it works great for a large volume of cases....but the manual trimmers work too for smaller volume...depends on what you need.

    I'm retired...have lots of time...but I would never hand prime ....its tedious / and a good progressive press will do it for you....

    I don't shoot much rifle anymore.....black rifles bore me ...so I only load a little .30-06 & .308 ...( no .223 or 556 )...but my setup would be the same.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    Dub, john_anch_ak, rmac and 3 others like this.

  3. simonp

    simonp Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2016
    Amazing set up @BigJimP

    I have a 650 for pistol calibers and I’m thinking of also eventually using it for semi auto rifle.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Dub likes this.
  4. Heavyopp

    Heavyopp Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    I've been hand priming for almost 30 years -- Still using the same lee hand priming tool I started with -- Its seen 20000+ cycles and still runs as it did on day 1 -- I just never liked the priming process on any press

    As for your press -- What calibers are you loading for? Precision rifle stuff or bulk ammo for the AR?

    I use 2 presses for rifle -- the Hornady LNL progressive handles powder charge, bullet seating, and crimp for bulk .223 ammo for the AR -- also de-priming as I pop the primers before wet tumbling in stainless steel media

    All other rifle calibers I Load are done on my single stage rock chucker -- I did adapt the rock chucker over to the Hornady quick change bushing system

    I do have a dillon 650 also -- I generally use that for .45 acp only -- I prefer the hornady press over the dillon for most everything though -- I don't prime on either of them

    I always think I would like a redding T7 turret press for rifle -- I've never seen one in person but I think it would be just about perfect for most all rifle needs -- And I would probably set up different turrets for each caliber that I reload


    DRYHUMOR Well-Known Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Forster co-ax. I still use an RCBS for small primer stuff, but the co-ax does everything else.
    Still using the rcbs primer tool I started with, and would buy another if I came across one at a good price.
    I have 3 Dillons, two 550s and a 650, but thinking about paring down to just the 650.
    When space gets more available, I’ll retire the rcbs and set up another coax.
    Look on Inline Fabrication website for accessories.
    Dub likes this.
  6. Mike0251

    Mike0251 Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Mar 25, 2016
    As asked above, what caliber and intended use? I think that is a driving factor to some degree.

    For myself I use a 550 for 223 rounds with a twist, cases are sized on a single stage Lee cast iron and trimmed prior to going to the 550 due to the required use of lube for sizing. Then they are cleaned again of course. Station 1 on the 550 only has a Lee primer remover die just in case I missed a primer along the way. Primers are set at station 1 as well. This allows me to process in batches, clean, resize, trim, clean, load. The 550 does a great job using it this way and great accuracy at 300 yards with the 223. Note this is just a fun round.

    Now for precision rifle cartridges, specifically 6.5 CM, I use a Forster Coax and I'm in no hurry loading these. I account and sort for the number of shots for each piece and the primers are removed before wet cleaning. I do not do this for the AR cartridges. Each primer pocket also gets brush cleaned and the flash hole deburred as well after cleaning. Sizing is done with Forster die (lubed and cleaned prior), brass trimmed to 1.910, a Sinclair ball expander die with a neck tension of .002" used, and bullet seating with a Forster micrometer die. The primers are set on the Forster which is very accurate on seating depth and powder is loaded by hand individually long the way. Die changes are quick and accurate. (I'm getting 1/4" MOA at 100 yards/one hole with these reloads) I process 20 at a time and love this machine as much as the 550.

    The Lee and Dillon mounted to a Harbor Freight work bench. It was built with better screws than it came with, also carpenters glue, rear braced, and screwed to the wall. Great bench for $145. Has 4 drawers for storage of whatever.
    For the Forster Coax, that is mounted to a Husky small all steel work bench (Home Depot) with added LED lights. It provides storage for all the bullets in the cabinet part and a drawer for the precision dies and accessories. This thing worked out great too. Has outlets on the side that are built in too!

    In closing I revert back to your intended caliber and use. Plan accordingly.
  7. Olympus

    Olympus Grip Maker and FFL Dealer

    Oct 7, 2011
    Sorry guys, I should have specified. I’m a low volume precision rifle loader. I load 50-100 rounds at a sitting max. I weigh each charge individually and use a manual trickler to get the exact charge every single time.

    I load for 270, 243, 6.8 SPC, and 257 Roberts currently. But 270 and 243 are my main calibers.

    I really think hand priming is a must for me. I get tired of changing press priming from large to small because I do it so frequently. It would be handier to just have 2 dedicated hand priming tools. Because the way I load, I either neck size or full length size first. Then I trim if necessary. Then I tumble. Then I go back to the bench where I charge each case. Then I seat a bullet. Then I factory crimp. A progressive would not help me much and would be in the way more.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
    wrmiller and simonp like this.
  8. Gordy

    Gordy Active Member

    Jul 10, 2015
    Olympus I've been using an RCBS rock-chucker for years. Have the RCBS hand-priming tool as well. Works very well for both rifle and pistol rounds.

    You mentioned that you are doing low-volume loading, so I don't see why this would not work very well for you.
  9. Jim w.

    Jim w. Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2016
    I load rifle ammo single stage on my 1971 Rockchucker. You could take the frame bushing out and put in Hornady QC bits... or just get the Hornady press.
    These days I would look hard at the Redding single stages.

    I wore out my first Lee hand primer, I don't know what I would do if the current one failed, the later models and other brands seem overcomplicated.
    A LR and PRS friend uses the RCBS bench primer. They get the best reviews on the Sinclair www.
    Benchrest shooters use things like the Sinclair single shot primer.

    I have the Lyman hand crank trimmer. I have nothing to compare against it.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
  10. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2018
    ok, for low volume rifle loads.... I would probably go back to a rockchucker also ...especially if you are content with priming off the press.

    I used a RockChucker for many years ...( back in the early 70's ...it was state of the art then ...and they still do a good consistent job ).

    But the issue you will have on any single stage...is you can't do much on setup prep on your dies..
    Dub likes this.
  11. Olympus

    Olympus Grip Maker and FFL Dealer

    Oct 7, 2011
    Thanks guys. I’m really liking that Hornady Iron Press. I think that might be what I start saving my coins for.

    I still need to figure out a good trimmer, a hand priming tool, and some way to store all my dies.
  12. Heavyopp

    Heavyopp Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    For that kind of precision reloading a single stage press is best
    I never saw that Iron press before -- looks well built, I don't like the case accessories on top -- too much dirt on the press after doing whatever -- who would want primer pocket residue or brass shavings all over their press? -- Also your not going to use the priming system - why pay for it?

    The rock chucker can be converted over to the hornady bushing system -- I did it and it works well

    My hand crank trimmer is a forstner -- My and priming tool is lyman -- I actually store my dies adjusted in the hornady bushings, in used Ibeji heads bullet boxes folded inside out - you can see then in the picture I posted above -- 1 box per caliber -- I just started doing this, I only have a few calibers set up this way, mostly pistol stuff and with the progressive shell plate in the box too

    Remember mostly all my reloading tools are 3 decades old -- quality today isn't what it used to be...
  13. simonp

    simonp Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2016
    As an aside I’d be interested in knowing what components and recipe you’re using for 6.8 SPC as I need to start loading it, haven’t decided yet whether to handload with Forster or set up the 650 for it

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  14. Olympus

    Olympus Grip Maker and FFL Dealer

    Oct 7, 2011
    The Iron Press you’re looking at is a kit I think. The one I’ve been looking at does not have any of that case prep stuff on top. It also does not have the automatic priming. It just had the manual prime option which I would not use. I can get one for $180 which is about in line with other single stage presses or slightly cheaper.
  15. Olympus

    Olympus Grip Maker and FFL Dealer

    Oct 7, 2011
    My 6.8 is actually a single shot TC Contender Carbine and last year was my first year loading for it. I haven’t had time to devote to developing a load for it. I just used what I had on hand last year to get some reasonably accurate rounds ready for deer season. They were just ok. I need to spend more time with it.
    simonp likes this.
  16. Heavyopp

    Heavyopp Well-Known Member

    Apr 25, 2013
    Didn’t realize that — I don’t see any reason not to buy the bare bones press — sure looks well built
  17. pistolpete

    pistolpete Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2016
    For your use and the quick change dies, I'd prolly go with the Forster Co-AX. If you're into bench rest look at Sinclair or some of the other bench rest stuff. Google benchrest and see what comes up.
    I use a Lyman turret press but for pure accuracy loading I'd prolly get an O press of some kind. I don't know if I'd want a quick change die set up either.
  18. Olympus

    Olympus Grip Maker and FFL Dealer

    Oct 7, 2011
    I’m loading for hunting rifles, so benchrest accuracy is not of high importance. But I do a lot of load development for different rifles and different bullets. So I load up a lot of rounds in 3-round groups using different powder charges. Then I go out and try the loads and see what shoots best in that particular gun.

    I was able to get 1/2” groups with an old tang safety Ruger M77 270 from the mid ‘70s. That’s what I enjoy doing with my reloading.

  19. Dave Jessee

    Dave Jessee Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Dec 31, 2014
    You might want to look at a Redding T7. It's a pretty duty heavy hunk of iron. Precise enough for rifle for me. I reload pistol on a 550 but not rifle.
  20. Bully

    Bully Is that so...

    May 12, 2016
    Forster Co-Ax.
    Changing dies is a breeze. Makes great ammo.

    RCBS hand primer.

    RCBS ChargeMaster
    Dub and simonp like this.

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