5 Best Reloading Kit For Both Beginners And Pros in 2021

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If you’ve never done any reloading before, and don’t really know much about it, let me start with this: beginners need to do a lot of homework before they start reloading, even if they’ve been a gun owner for a long time, and even if they are familiar with the equipment. This article will not prep you to reload ammo for your rifle or pistol calibers.

This article is to help you find the best reloading kit for you. There are other reloading kits out there that can help with reloading ammo besides these, but if you’re just trying to go from shooting to being a reloader and save money, these are a great place to start. There are some reloading kits for beginners and some for more experienced reloaders.

Reloading ammunition, pistol rounds, and shotgun shells can be greatly rewarding. Components like bullets are a lot cheaper than buying completed rounds, especially when you’re blazing through rounds at the range. The features you can design your rounds with are also a great advantage here.

Basics Of Reloading

Again, this section is just a basic overview to help you make a decision on which of the best reloading kits to buy. Most beginners who are picking up this new hobby need to go through a steep learning curve to figure all this out. It’s critical that you are precise and accurate when loading your own rifle or pistol rounds, because it can be dangerous to shoot improperly loaded ammunition.

To start reloading, just about everyone recommends starting with a basic single stage press so you can get a strong grasp of the process and what all the steps are to loading your own ammunition.

What Is Caliber Specific and What Is Not

This is a key thing to know when you’re looking for a reloading kit for beginners. Most of the equipment you buy will work for most different calibers, but there are a few components and accessories that won’t. Each die you buy will be not only for a specific caliber, but also for a specific cartridge and a specific purpose like seating the bullets.

For each cartridge you’ll need at least three different die. Each die will perform a different function.

The press, the powder measure, trickler, and most other things won’t be specific to a certain size.

The Equipment You’ll Need To Get Started

The best reloading kit will come with everything you need to go through the reloading process. Along with the reloading kit, you will also need a reloading manual to get the load information you need for specific rounds. Depending on what the kit includes, you may need to purchase other accessories along with it like a hex key set, primer catcher, or digital scale.

You’ll want to pay close attention to the materials that are used to make the press kit and other components. Solid steel is an excellent choice for most things. Very few high quality reloading kits are made of anything besides steel.

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

BEST FOR STABILITY

Hornady Lock N’ Load Classic

Hornady Lock N’ Load Classic

  • Material: Solid Steel
  • Weight: 12.25 Lbs
BEST FOR QUALITY

Lee Precision Classic Turret Press

Lee Precision Classic Turret Press

  • Material: Cast Iron
  • Weight: 13.45 lbs
BEST FOR STRENGTH

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit

  • MaterialMetal
  • Weight35.2 lbs
BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme

  • MaterialCast Iron
  • Weight66.13 lbs
BEST FOR SMOOTHNESS

Hornady 3-in-1 Lock N’ Load

Hornady 3-in-1 Lock N’ Load

  • MaterialMetal
  • Weight60.35 lbs

Different Press Options

If you’ve done reloading already and are looking to up your game, you can go ahead and skip this section because you most likely already know everything I’m about to say. For beginners, there are three basic types of press, and they’re easy enough to understand.

The most basic kind, called a single stage press, is a press that performs one function each time you pull the handle. The function that is performed depends on the die that is inserted. The three basic tasks that a press performs are to remove a spent primer, reshape the brass to correct proportions, and to insert a bullet into the brass.

A fairly common fourth function is called factory crimping, and increases the consistency of each round. I am not an expert reloader, but my understanding is that the factory crimping step is not required, but if you’re reloading for the purpose of anything besides plinking, it’s probably worth the time and effort.

A Turret Press

These are like a single stage press, except you can insert all the reloading dies into different turrets at the same time, which saves you a lot of time messing with your reloading equipment. All you have to do is move the casing from one turret to the next after each pull, and you can even have a casing in all the turrets at the same time, which greatly speeds things up.

A Progressive Reloading Press

A progress press is like a turret press, but it actually moves the casings from station to station for you as well. It can be a fantastic tool for getting accurate reloads that are exactly what you’re looking for but getting 3-4 done in the same amount of time that it took to get 1 with a single stage reloading machine.

Upfront Investment

There is a not-insignificant upfront investment when it comes to making your own cartridges. The most affordable option on this list to get everything you need is going to come in north of $500, and that’s without even buying the consumables like powder and projectiles to do your first rounds.

Depending on what you’re reloading, you can buy anywhere between 200-800 rounds of factory ammunition for the price of just getting started with a basic setup that will then take you hours of your time to actually go through the process of reloading the bullets and casings. A practiced hand with a single stage press can get through a maximum of 100 rounds per hour.

For a beginner, you may not get a single round done properly in your first hour, and even after a bit of tinkering and practice, it still takes a long time. 

I’m not trying to talk you out of getting into this, just trying to manage your expectations that this might only make sense in a handful of situations.

When Reloading Makes The Most Sense

There are four basic situations when reloading bullets and casings can make the most sense. First, when you really like to shoot, you shoot a lot, and you want to save money. Using the numbers above, you’d have to burn through between 1000-2000 rounds of reloaded ammo to break even. A lot of casual shooters go through less than 200 rounds of each cartridge per year.

If you go to the range a lot, then this starts to make a lot of sense. Shooting at the range is when most folks use up a lot, so this can help a lot to ease the burden on your checkbook.

Second, when you get enough into precision shooting that you begin to notice things that bother you about factory ammunition. At this point, you only have two choices: match-grade ammo, or load your own to make it exactly the way you want it. If you’re not shooting out beyond 600 yards or competing in more than one or two matches per year, this probably doesn’t describe you.

And third, when you live in a place where it can take just as long to drive out to a gun shop to purchase your ammo as it would to just walk out to your workshop and load them yourself. This has become more common in the last few years as ammo shortages have made it so that each trip to the gun store only nets you a box or two.

And fourth, when you’re worried about the government in some way, whether that they’ll be restricting access to ammunition in the future or that they’ll track you down using your bullets if they’re factory loaded.

Alrighty, with that let’s get into the best reloading kits out there now.

1. Hornady Lock N’ Load Classic

best reloading kit

Hornady has a lot of products in the reloading industry, and is generally very supportive of reloaders. The Classic kit comes with their classic single stage press, a powder measure, three die bushings, their Positive Priming system, a universal reloading block, a powder trickler, some case lube, a reloading handbook, digital scale, primer catcher, handheld priming tool, a deburr tool, and a powder funnel.

As you can see, it comes with just about everything you need besides consumables. You’ll also need calipers, a micrometer, or something similar to measure the width of the brass and height of the final cartridge when you’re calibrating the press for a specific cartridge.

You can buy just the press by itself, but then you’ll have to find everything else a la carte as well, so our recommendation is just to get the whole kit. The price on the kit is the lowest on this list so if you’re looking to get in at the budget level, here’s your best choice.

Hornady Lock N’ Load Classic

The price of Hornady Lock N’ Load Classic varies, so check the latest price at

2. Lee Precision Classic Turret Press

reloading kits

The Lee Precision presses are a great option if you’re looking for a turret press. The press kit itself is only one part of a full reloading kit, so you can grab this and combine it with a lot of the tools from the Lock-N-Load or RCBS kits. The Lee Precision has solid steel linkage and heavy duty construction.

If you like the simplicity of a kit but want a turret press, you can pick up a full kit and then use the single stage press for cartridges that you don’t do as frequently and keep the Lee Precision turret press with the dies set for the most common load that you have need of. 

Considering that this turret press from Lee is about the same price as the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme single stage, it can be a great way to go. It’s not a progressive press, but it’s going to be faster than the Hornady Lock N’ Load single stage for reloading ammunition.

Lee also sells the Lee resizing case lube, which is great for making sure your casings don’t get stuck in the dies.

Lee Precision Classic Turret Press

The price of Lee Precision Classic Turret Press varies, so check the latest price at

3. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit

best reloading press

This kit is comparable to the Hornady one we discussed earlier, but the press kit portion is a bit of a different style, and it comes with some measurement tools that the Hornady kit does not come with. It comes with the reloading press (of course), but it also comes with a debur tool to fit everything from .17 to .60, an accessory handle with 2 case neck brushes, and more.

It has a mechanical scale, a powder measure, a hand priming tool, a universal case loading block, a hex key set, a case lube kit, powder funnel, and a Speer reloading manual. If you happen to want to reload Speer ammunition, you’ll be saved the trouble of getting the optimal load information and other instructions.

The RCBS kit here is the one I’ve seen used the most frequently by hobbyists and people who reload regularly for personal reasons like those I discussed above.

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master

The price of RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master varies, so check the latest price at

4. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme

reloading starter kit

This is the press that comes in the kit above, but it’s worth including on its own because it’s such a good press kit that a lot of reloaders will get this press and combine it with other pieces from other manufacturers. It’s fast, straightforward, and reliable.

The warranty on RCBS products is also top-of-the-line. With a purely mechanical beast like this, for the most part you shouldn’t run into too many issues, but there is absolutely the possibility of a defect or a part getting worn out, and that warranty is a great thing to have in place.

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme

The price of RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme varies, so check the latest price at

5. Hornady 3-in-1 Lock N’ Load 

reloading kits for beginners

Now, you can get some very expensive reloading equipment, and a lot of it is far more expensive and advanced than this one from Hornady, but I wanted to include this because it’s a great way to get going with something a bit more involved than the other options on the list. If you’re prepared to drop more money, you can get a much faster and more easily repeated process.

It’s got a lot of features including a priming system and a case activated powder drop, along with a lot of the accessories you need to get started, but it’s not a complete kit like the Lock N’ Load Classic kit or the RCBS kit options. You’ll need to get a powder measure and other pieces that come with a full reloading press kit in order to begin reloading.

You can think of this option as a Lee precision turret press on steroids, since it does even more of the process for you. It’s an excellent reloading press among presses to get precision rounds loaded for your rifle no matter the caliber.

Hornady 3-in-1 Lock N’ Load

The price of Hornady 3-in-1 Lock N’ Load varies, so check the latest price at

Buying Guide

Common Questions

Why Do You Need a Reloading Kit?

Most people get reloading kits because if you shoot a lot it’s a lot cheaper to load or reload your own ammunition than it is to buy them at market prices. The other side of this though, is that by making your own ammo you can actually get more accurate ammunition of the highest quality because you can control every variable of the loading process.

Factory ammunition can be high quality ammunition, and typically match-grade ammo is subject to some serious quality control, but by hand loading you can get consistent to the exact grain of gun powder and the position of the bullet in the brass to a thousandth of an inch.

What To Consider When Buying A Reloading Kit

You really need to ask yourself how much you’re going to reload. Reloading and hand loading in general is an entire world of manufacturing that you need to familiarize yourself with, so don’t be afraid to buy novice equipment if you’re a novice. A lot of folks are reluctant to buy a press that they’ll just outgrow and have to replace later, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Reloading is like any other hobby or activity - unless it’s a necessity then you can’t know for sure that you’re really going to stick with it. So, if you’re wanting to get into it, give yourself a chance to prove that you’re going to keep going beyond the first few hundred rounds. At least you’re not out too much cash if you only end up making half the rounds you need to break even.

In the reloading world, it’s best to try and match brands with pieces that work together like the shell holders you use with your press. For example, there may be a slight difference between a Lee single stage press and an RCBS shell holder. Also, make sure to get the details on the turret presses or other presses you’re looking at because you may need a caliber conversion kit.

Keep in mind you’ll need space for a reloading station. As a beginning reloader, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking you don’t have to mount the classic turret press or other press securely to reload. This isn’t true - if you want the cartridges that go through your reloader to be quality after they’ve been reloaded, you need to expect to have some space set aside.

You’re going to use a lot of consumables during this process that you’ll need to purchase whenever you run out. These include bullets, powder, and primers. If you’re handloading new rounds, then in addition to bullets, powder, and primers, you’ll also need brass. You can get these components from a lot of different companies, and bullets come in a lot of flavors.

How Does a Reloading Press Work?

Reloading presses work because many of the tasks that need to be done when reloading ammo require squeezing to get done. One of the first thing you need to do when reloading ammo is remove the old primer, which can be squeezed out using reloading dies. Then you use a hand priming tool to put a new primer in.

The order of operations depends on your workflow, but you also need to reshape the brass because it will be too wide for a bullet to slide in with tension after being shot. The reloading dies you buy should include one for reshaping the brass. You may also need to cut the brass, after which you’ll need a deburring tool to smooth out the edge.

You use a powder measure to get the exact amount of powder to put into the casing, and use a powder funnel like the Uniflow Powder Measure to get it all in there without spilling. The process is the same whether you’re using a progressive press or something more basic, and even if you’re making shotgun shells. A powder scale can help you be even more precise.

Final Thoughts On The Best Reloading Kit

Reloading presses are broken up into three categories: a single stage, turret press, and progressive press. The progressive ones are the best reloading kit presses, but they are also the most expensive. 

The best reloading kit for you will depend on how much money you are willing to spend, the precision and quality you require from your reloader, the features and accessories you want included in the kit, and what specific calibers you want a reloader for.

I would consider myself a beginning reloader, so if you’ve got a higher skill level in this area, feel free to let us know what features people should look for, how much money they should spend (and can save), and any other information you can think of that would be useful.

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