Let’s Get Progressive...Making Ammunition by the Hundreds
Date: May 07 2020
Eventually you will find a handgun or a rifle you just love to shoot and find that the common “C” type or turret press is much too slow for your thirst for copious amounts of ammunition. Yes, it can be done, but why stress yourself out with one stage at a time when you can rely on today’s progressive type press for all your shooting needs. Modern progressive presses now on the market offer quantity handloads with quality standards to please the most discriminating shooter.
Certainly, the assembling of a few choice loads in your gunroom for a trek in the woods or casual shooting at the range is no big deal. For here is it just a simple matter of going through the drill of sizing, flaring, priming, charging and seating bullets. For this, the common press is more than adequate. It is when you get to “manufacturing” upwards of 500 to 1000 rounds that the single stage press gets laborious.
Now, enter the progressive loader. Depending upon your budget and need for ammunition, presses from the likes of Hornady, Lee Precision, Dillon, RCBS fill the bill handily. While I can’t cover all the precise details of each, the best thing is to look each up on the web, your gun store or send for a catalog. They all vary in price, features, accessories and output capacity. Briefly, the Hornady Lock-N-Load press is a five-stage machine with a rotating shell plate. The advantage with this press is that you can set your specific cartridge die, and once locked in can be installed on the press without any further adjustments. You can change out primers easy; add a powder measure or a pistol case feeder. (Hornady.com)
Dillion makes some robust machines ready to take on large quantities of ammunition in the widest range of calibers from the one of the smallest .32 ACP pistol to up to the .460 Weatherby. Once set up this machine will turn out around 500 loaded rounds per hour. Another upgrade is what Dillion lists as their Model XL750 and will produce upwards of 700 to 800 rounds per hour. If you have deep pockets, adding all the goodies like an electric case feeder, bullet tray and a low powder sensor will set you back over a grand. (dillonprecision.com)
With economy always in mind, Lee Precision has the Pro 1000 and the Load Master. The Pro 1000 is made for handgun calibers with some of the smaller rifles calibers available. It is a three-station turret press with only modest range of accessories. However, the Load Master adds two more stations to its shell holder, is much heavier and will work with the largest magnum cartridges. (leeprecison.com)
With a household name like RCBS, you know they will have at least a couple of progressive presses to help with your handloading chores. For the most part, most of us would be interested in the Pro Chucker 5 and 7 both new entries in the line. Both presses are capable of around 600 rounds per hour with varying features that separate them by about $200.00. While the Model 5 features a five-stage loading platform, the Model 7 offers a seven-station shell press, which according to RCBS, allows the use of a powder checker die and bullet feeder. In any event, these two models also include standard primer pickup tubes, easy interchangeable die plates, a quick-change powder measure feature that allows you to drain powder from the press without removing the measure.
Over the years, I’ve had a RCBS 4X4 in my room and never had any problems that were not accountable to being my fault --- trying to go too fast, missing a powder drop or primer station --- and when I was into the IPSC circuit, the investment in this press was both worth my money and time. (rcbs.com)
If you are serious about mass production of ammunition, a look at any of these precision machines might be a good idea.