Reloading your own ammunition is a good way to make custom rounds for your firearms and, in the long run, save money. However, before you can do that, you will need various types of reloading equipment.
Many people prefer to start out by purchasing a kit that contains most of what they will need. This article will cover the best reloading kits for beginners to start on. I’ll also go over my picks for the best standalone presses in case you want to build your kit piece by piece or upgrade your press later on.
Best Reloading Kit for a Beginner: RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit
If you are new to reloading, the best way to get started is to get a kit that has most of the tools and equipment that you need. The kit that I started with was the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit. You can find it by clicking here.
The heart of any reloading kit is the press, and this particular kit includes one of the best single-stage presses on the market, the RCBS Rock Chucker. The Rock Chucker has been around for decades and is built to last a lifetime.
Related: Essential Reloading Equipment: Tools for Handloading
The M500 scale is an easy-to-use balance beam-style scale similar to what you used in science class. It can measure powder charges up to 505 grains with +/-0.1 grain accuracy. This means that you can use it to create ammo for small handgun cartridges, large magnum rifle cartridges and everything in between.
The Uniflow Powder Measure is capable of measuring the three most common types of smokeless gunpowder: ball, flake, and cylindrical. Like the M500 scale, it is suitable for both small handgun and large rifle cartridges.
The hand primer that comes with the Supreme Master Kit works extremely well. The only downside to it is that you may have to buy separate RCBS shell holders if you use dies from another company. I have a couple of sets of Lee dies that came with shell holders that aren’t compatible with RCBS’s hand primer.
The Rock Chucker Supreme Master Kit also includes many small accessories that you will need as well. They include:
- Universal Case Load Block
- Chamfer and Deburr Tool
- Hex Key Set
- Case Lube Kit (Includes case lube and a lube pad)
- Powder Funnel
- Case Brushes
- Powder Drop Tubes (To be used with the Uniflow Powder Measure)
Best Budget Reloading Kit: Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Kit
Reloading can be an expensive hobby, especially when you are first getting started. If you want to start reloading but are short on cash, the best kit is the Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Kit. You can find it by clicking here.
The Lee Breech Lock Challenger Single Stage Press is a durable “O” Frame design similar to the Rock Chucker. Its breech lock feature allows you to change dies faster than other presses by using a special bushing. The kit comes with one bushing, however, you can purchase additional ones separately to take full advantage of this feature.
The Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Kit includes Lee’s Auto Prime tool and 8 shell holders for it. The Auto Prime is a hand priming tool that features an ergonomic handle as well as an elevator safety pin.
The safety pin separates the primer being loaded into a case from the others in the tool. This could help prevent the other primers from going off if the one being loaded detonated.
The kit includes the Lee Perfect Powder Measure which comes with a few unique features. The first is that it includes a bottle adapter. This allows it to attach directly to the bottles that some types of reloading powder come in. It also has a special wiper system that helps prevent the measure from cutting grains of powder.
The kit also includes the Lee Safety Powder Scale. It has a 100 grain capacity which is plenty for what most people should need.
The Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Kit also includes the following:
- Powder Funnel
- Primer Pocket Cleaner
- Resizing Lubricant
- Quick Trim Tool
- Chamfer Tool
Best Single Stage Reloading Press: RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
Many consider the RCBS Rock Chucker to be the quintessential reloading press. It features a sturdy “O” Frame design and is made of cast iron, making it a perfect choice if you want a heavy-duty reloading press.
I have owned my Rock Chucker for several years and have always been impressed with how solid it is, especially after handling other reloading presses. It is also made in the United States, which is a plus.
The press mounts to your workbench using two large bolts. Once mounted properly, it can handle almost any caliber you want to reload. I have used mine to reload everything from 9mm to 7mm Remington Magnum. It will work with even larger calibers than this, however, you will probably need a separate press if you plan on loading for 50 BMG.
The RCBS features an excellent handle design. The handle itself is long enough to provide the leverage you need. This is very helpful when you are working with tough brass or larger cases. The press is designed so the handle can be installed for both right and left-handed users.
The Rock Chucker Supreme can also be set up to prime cases as well. I haven’t used this feature, however, it could be very useful, especially if you have arthritis or a similar condition. Hand primers can be difficult to use and being able to use the press for this purpose would be beneficial. You will need to purchase the Auto Priming Unit separately, which you can find here.
The only gripe that I have with this press is the primer catching tray. Sometimes the primers miss the tray and end up on the floor. It can also be a little difficult to remove which can, if you’re not careful, result in primers going everywhere. I solve the second problem by just using a vacuum to suck out the spent primers.
(Note: Do not attempt to vacuum live primers. They could detonate. I know this because my uncle sucked a primer into a shop vac by accident. I would have loved to have been in that room…at a safe distance, of course.)
Best Budget Reloading Press: Lee Breech Lock Reloader Single Stage Press
If you are on a tight budget, the Lee Breech Lock Reloader single stage press may be worth a look. Lee is well-known for producing high-quality but low-cost reloading equipment. This press is a good example of that.
The Lee Breech Lock Reloader gets its name from its breech lock quick-change system. This allows the user to change dies more quickly and reduce how much time they need to spend calibrating dies.
Dies are installed in special bushings that are then installed into the press. The press comes with one of these bushings, so you will need to purchase additional ones to take full advantage of this feature.
The Lee Breech Lock Reloader features a C-frame design and a balanced lever. The balanced lever is designed to reduce the chance of the user’s fingers being pinched by the press.
The press can be used to prime cases through the use of the Lee Ram Prime Priming Unit.
Best Turret Press: Redding T-7
A turret press has a head with multiple stations that allow the user to install multiple dies on the press at one time. This allows you to change dies without having to remove them which can be a big time saver.
The best turret press on the market is probably the Redding T-7. It has a 7-station turret head. Having that many stations can make your life a lot easier. It is enough to hold two 2-die sets and a 3-die set without having to ever remove a die.
Even better, you can purchase additional turret heads to accommodate even more calibers. This would save you the trouble of readjusting your dies to the proper depth every time you need to switch calibers. Simply swap out the turret heads and you’re done.
What sets the T-7 apart from other turret presses is its precision and solid design. It is made of cast iron and features compound linkage between the press body, the handle, and ram. This allows it to handle magnum cartridges such as 7mm Remington Magnum without a problem.
The press is also capable of priming cases when used with the included smart primer arm. Automatic priming can be achieved when Redding’s Auto Primer Feeding System is installed on the press.
Best Progressive Press: Dillon Precision RL 550C
If you need to reload hundreds or even thousands of rounds at a time, then you need a progressive reloading press. The best progressive presses are produced by Dillon Precision.
Out of all of Dillon’s presses, I would recommend purchasing the RL 550C. The reason for this is that it is capable of reloading small pistol cartridges such as the 32 ACP all the way to large rifle cartridges such as 338 Lapua.
It is also a good choice if you have different calibers that you plan on loading a lot of rounds for. Dillon’s caliber conversion kits allow the RL 550c to be set up for different calibers, however, these will need to be purchased separately.
For example, if you wanted to reload 9mm Luger and .223 Remington you would need a caliber conversion kit for each. Purchasing an additional toolhead for each caliber would make the process even easier since it would allow you to keep your dies set.