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Beginner - Start with a hand press?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by benji, Apr 11, 2014.

  1. benji


    Sep 23, 2003
    I'm looking to get started reloading with a Lee Hand Press, set of dies, dippers, scale, etc. to see if I will enjoy it. I figure I could move up to a single stage press (or start with that also and mount it to a board clamped to the table in my office). I will probably start reloading 357, 32 S&W Long, maybe 10mm. Has anybody else started with a hand press and progressed from there or am I just asking to start out with something that I'm not going to enjoy at all? My 10mm and 32 are expensive to shoot and both would lend themselves to reloading. Any tips for a new guy? I have a couple of friends that are encouraging me. One has a single stage press. My uncle has a RCBS progressive kit. His is impressive but more than I want to spend right now.
  2. uzimon

    uzimon team ftp

    Jul 11, 2007
    I have a lee classic single stage. Im making fine ammo.
    Later you can always get a progressive and use the ss for tasks like decapping or any of the other stages you wish.
    Or put a helper on it.

  3. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    In my view, the hand press is a joke. There is no way to make ammo at any kind of a reasonable rate.

    I don't care for the single stage approach either. They are great for making a few precision rifle reloads but for any volume at all, they are too painful to endure.

    Great presses do cost a bunch of money. However, the Lee Classic Turret might be in your price range if you reflect on volume versus time. The Kempf version is preferred because it omits the Lee scale. Buy a Dillon beam or electronic scale because they will be with you forever. It's worth getting it right.

    Select the Pro Autodisk upgrade.

    This is a useful press that will make some kind of volume without breaking the bank. Sure, it's a LOT more than a hand press but that hand press will be a PITA.

    Anyway, that's the way I see it. Other opinions will vary but most everyone will suggest you get a Dillon 550. I agree but I know that the cost is substantially higher than the LCT.

  4. benji


    Sep 23, 2003

    My uncle is using his single stage for de priming only now.
  5. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    BTW, we have this discussion just about every month. You might search the forum for words like 'beginner' 'press', 'single' and so on.

    There is also a most excellent 'sticky' or two at the top of the forum. You should read through them.

    The answers never really vary but if you do the search, it will save everyone a lot of typing.

    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014
  6. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    I think if I started out with a hand press I would not be reloading today. I would get the Lee LCT press and a good scale. If you decided you don’t like reloading it would be a lot easier to get rid of the LCT than a hand loader.
  7. uzimon

    uzimon team ftp

    Jul 11, 2007
    Its a good buy for someone with more time than disposable funds.
    A good progressive, it'll take a while to pay for itself.
    I'd avoid low end progressives like the pro 1k
    Ive had a couple. They're a pita
  8. RWBlue


    Jan 24, 2004
    Unless you are a body builder don't get the hand press.

    I suggest the single stage when people first start because:
    1. It costs less, you may not get into it.
    2. It is simple, you should see when you screw up.
    3. You will find a use for it, if you move up to something more automated.
  9. tom mac

    tom mac

    Jan 10, 2014
    For a starter.... but one above a single press is the Lee Classic Turret.
    Not alot , works well.
  10. vaughnmr


    Mar 9, 2014
    Denison, TX
    I too am new at reloading, and got the Lee hand press for 9mm, I think it's fine for starting out (but it is a workout). Skip the dippers and get a Lee Perfect Powder measure at the least, when you try to work up loads the dippers will not work. There's a lot to learn, and the hand press or single stage is great for learning. You won't be making a lot of rounds at one time, but it's more important for beginners to learn all the fundamentals and get them right. I got the Lee Auto Prime, FA digital scales, some digital calipers, and I'm pretty much good to go. Not fancy, not high production, but I'm learning and I have some confidence in what I'm doing, and if I want to keep doing this I'll get better equipment later.
  11. benji


    Sep 23, 2003
    Vaughnmr - about how many rounds do you make at once and how long does it take?
  12. vaughnmr


    Mar 9, 2014
    Denison, TX
    Well, like I said, I'm just in the learning stage. I usually deprime/resize 300 rounds at one time, then tumble. Then prime 200 in about 30 min. at one setting. Then bell the cases and weigh charges (I'm checking each one right now), set the bullets, and taper crimp, about an hour for 100. Yea it's slow but I'm paying real attention to each step until I learn. Once I get all this stuff down pat I'll probably get a turrent press or whatever to speed up, but at least I know the rounds are right. And I'm having fun!!

    LASTRESORT20 LongTerm-Guy

    Aug 10, 2010
    The hand press works good enough....and good to have....*Portable for special times...JMO
  14. vaughnmr


    Mar 9, 2014
    Denison, TX
    For me the longest part is weighing powder, I just don't have the confidence in the powder measure/digital scale yet and I want to weigh each one. Belling cases / setting the bullets / taper crimp probably takes the same amount of time whether hand press or single stage.
  15. jmorris


    Apr 13, 2006
    I'll be another vote for the Lee turret press. You will even find use for a bench mounted single stage. The hand press would be much more likely to collect dust than the others.
  16. IndyGunFreak


    Jan 26, 2001
    Totally agree. I think that hand press would turn me OFF of reloading... It might be cool for someone who had no interest in being serious about reloading... but with components hard to come by (especially powder).. if you're not really willing to make at least a minimum investment to try... don't waste your time.

    I started and used an LCT for a while (still use it for a couple of calibers I don't shoot much of)... 140rds/hr is a very easy pace once you have the nuances of the press figured out. Once you're really comfortable, you can probably hit close to 200.
  17. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    The other posts here are very valid, but Bob's is the clincher. Get the LCT or other single stage press. Don't go the hand press route. If you decide its not a hobby for you, you can sell it for a minimum of 60% of cost. I doubt you'd get close to that for the hand press.

    Then again, the hand press may only cost half of what the LCT would cost, so if you only got 40% of cost if you sold it, you'd still be out less overall.

    Decisions, decisions. Best advice, get a 550 'cause we all know you're going to enjoy it.
  18. Aquagear


    Aug 29, 2010
    Sparks Nv.
    When I first got into shooting a long time ago, my brother gave me a Lee loader to get me started. I rapidly moved to a good single stage press and have been hooked on reloading ever since. A single stage press is always handy to have for working up loads, and small lots of calibers you do not shoot that much. The LCT or a good economical single stage would be a good place to start. The hand presses work well, but you will out grow it pretty fast. I have been loading on a progressive press for about 18 years now, and still have an old redding single stage that I use from time to time.:wavey:
  19. Taterhead

    Taterhead Counting Beans

    Dec 13, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    I started with a Rock Chucker. Loaded a lot of pistol and rifle ammo on it. About 100 pistol rounds per hour when you get your routine down. I now load pistol and 223 ammo on a progressive.

    If I had to do it over again, I'd do it the same way: get a single stage first and add a progressive press later. Even though I have a progressive, I still use my Rock Chucker a lot and wouldn't want to be without it.

    The RCBS master reloading kit is worth a look. It has probably the best manual (Speer) for "how to reload," a top notch scale, priming tool, and a great Uniflow powder dispenser. Plus the RC press is great. You see the kits on sale often, and RCBS is always running a rebate program. They have several different kits, but the "Master Reloading Kit" is the one that you want.

    The hand press is not appealing to me in the least.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014
  20. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Starting with the worst tool for the job is not going to give you a good feel for what reloading is all about. In fact it could sour you on the process altogether like Bob said. It's not a lot of extra money to get a better press. But your going to do whet you want, good luck.