Single-stage reloading presses are a cheap and long-lasting way to get your cases reloaded. They don’t have the sort of multifaceted utility of a turret style press, but that doesn’t’ mean they’re any bit less useful. As long as your go into your production with a plan and move in stages, a single-stage reloading press is just as quick and easy as any of the more complicated presses out on the market right now.
You’re also buying reliability when you get yourself a single stage reloading press. The amount of moving parts is relatively minimal. You’re not going to be tinkering with rotating bullet seating or realigning anything to get your case lined up with your bushings.
The single-stage reloading press is the kind of tool a serious reloader will add to their workshop arsenal when they’re looking to buckle down and knock out some of the most daunting piles of spent casings imaginable. If you’re ready to get down to business, but the research portion seems untenable, we’ve picked five of our favorite single-stage reloading presses and tested them out just for you!
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
5 Best Single Stage Reloading Presses in 2020 - Overview
1. Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic Reloading Press Kits
The Hornady Lock-N-Load press kit is the exact kit you should be looking at if you’re an old pro or a greenhorn looking to save a chunk of change. It comes with everything you need to get started and keep your reloading process quick and easy. We mean everything. The classic kit includes:
- A Reloading Handbook
- Digital Scale
- Primer Catcher
- Positive Priming System
- Handheld Priming Tool
- Universal Reloading Block
- Chamfer & Deburr Tool
- Lock-N-Load Powder Measure
- Lock-N-Load Die Bushings (3)
- Powder Trickler
- Powder Funnel
- One-Shot Case Lube
They’re not trying to cut any corners here. If you need it to get your bullets reloaded, they’ve got it here. Every single part of the process is represented in this kit.
The kit isn’t the only reason to pick this press up. It’s precise, easy to use, and dependable. This is a sturdy cast frame that’ll last you as long as you need to. If you’ve been burned by cheap presses in the past breaking on you halfway through your tenth bullet, then rest easy knowing this Hornady press is here for you.
It’s not just a tough piece of reloading equipment. Using this is smooth and pleasing. The ball handle accommodates any grip, and you’re not going to be fighting with the mechanisms of this press. It’s well machined, and popping out primers is like slicing through room temperature butter.
The stand here is the unsung hero of the whole operation. If you’re used to holding onto your casings while you reload them like on some turret press style reloading presses, say goodbye to that pain in the butt process. This press fits your casings nice and snug. It’s a small detail, but it makes all of the difference in the world. The Hornady Lock-N-Load is, hands down, one of the best presses for enthusiasts and enthusiastic learners alike.
2. LEE PRECISION 90685 Reloading Hand Press
This Lee press is a little different from the other single stage reloading presses you might find out on the market. Instead of attaching this one to your workbench, you’ll be able to do every step of the reloading process right from the palm of your hand. It’s a light alternative to the heavy-duty presses you’re more likely to find during your search.
Don’t write this one-off, though. It may be much lighter than the cast iron presses you’re used to, but it’s every bit as capable as the big guns. It’s about a tenth of the size and weight of the heavier full-sized presses, and you don’t lose out on functionality. The die bushings accept the same die sets that you’ll find in any other press that accepts 7/8"-14 threaded dies. Loading cases onto this press is a breeze, and operation is similar to a mounted single stage press. Instead of pulling a lever, you’ve just got to make a crimping motion, and you’re on your way.
They save on weight here by making the press out of cast aluminum instead of cast iron and sheering away all of the levers and pistons you need when you’re mounting a machine to a table and operating it with a large lever. The lighter design makes for a practically feather-light press. It weighs in at a little over a pound. Using this handheld press is so low impact that you’ll find yourself heading out to the range just to come home with more casings.
This is an excellent purchase for someone not willing to dedicate an entire corner of their home to a reloading station. You’ll be able to pack things back up whenever you’re done, and when it’s in use, you only need the space that your hands and your casings require. It’s also great for someone looking to downsize. If you’re already the owner of a larger single stage press, you’ll likely be able to transfer the reloading dies from your larger press to this handheld press. Because you won’t have to sacrifice any of your previous functionality.
3. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press
Most single-stage reloading presses are versatile because of the interchangeable dies, and for the Rock Chucker Supreme Press that still holds true. This press, however, adds a little more versatility than other presses.
The ambidextrous design makes it easy to switch hands if you’re in the middle of a long reloading session. The O-frame here gives your hands a good amount of room to work in. Fitting your rifle cases into the stage of this press is easy with this O-frame press. The ball handle is great for long reloading sessions. It’s comfortable and serviceable. The mechanisms of the entire press are smooth and snappy.
This press is a powerful reloader. It’s chunky and powerful. They’ve designed it to take on the tasks of heavy-duty reloading, case forming, and bullet swaging. No matter what load you’re expecting to throw at this press, it’s ready.
It’s also modular. Their Piggyback-4 conversion kit will change this press into a progressive loader if you ever feel the need to ramp up your production. This adds so much value to the Rock Chucker. The Piggyback-4 turns the Rock Chucker into a 5-station manual indexing progressive press. There’s a separate star wheel you can slot into this upgrade to upgrade it further. The modularity of this press is incredible. As long as you’ve got the gumption and space, you can expand this humble single stage press into larger and more complicated forms as you become more accustomed to reloading your cases.
If you’re getting started and you think you’re going to ramp production up, or you’re looking for a press that you’re not going to have to replace if you find the single state press a little restrictive.
4. RCBS Rebel Single Stage Press 9353
- Heavy Duty cast iron frame with wide base for extra stability
If you liked the Rock Chucker Supreme, but you feel a little intimidated by either the price point, the range of features, or the size, then consider their slightly smaller offering, the Rebel Single Stage. This press is also compatible with the Hornady Lock-n-Load conversion kits should you decide to up your arsenal over time in search of faster reloading times.
This press has fewer features than the Rock Chucker Supreme. You won’t find a catch for your primers here, but a little ingenuity will solve that deficit. We’re sure you’ve got a bucket of some kind in the workshop, and if you really want to catch your primers and save a few bucks, then you’ll be served just as well by establishing an easy method of cleanup. The primer ejection is right through the bottom of the ram, so you’re not going to be flinging them all over the place. The lever mechanism is slightly different, mostly it’s just adjusted to make for a lighter press. The O-frame is one of the widest on any of RCBS’s standard presses. You’ll have lots of room for your hands when you’re setting up your casings.
This press also accommodates a range of standard die bushings, so if you’re upgrading to this or downsizing to save some room, you won’t have to pick up any new bushings or dispose of your old ones. The solid cast iron frame is machined for precision. The tolerances here are minimal, ensuring a smooth and exact reloading process.
There’s nothing worse than lining up your casings on the shell holder after meticulously trimming them down and weighing out your powder only to have the press fail you in the final moments as the casing approaches the top of the press. This is a tight press, it’ll grant you peace of mind like no others will when the chips are down. The ambidextrous design is great for southpaws and long reloading sessions. Whatever your needs, this press will never leave you out in the cold.
5. LEE PRECISION Breech Lock Challenger Press
- Has an all steel linkage with adjustable length lever
This press is a striking piece of equipment. Just the welcoming sight of its firetruck iron eagerly waiting in your workshop for the next round of hungry casings is enough to feel like this is a fulfilling purchase. Other reloaders are bulky looking and overly industrial, but this Lee Precision press is a nice change of pace. It’s great for beginners and experts alike. The minimal look of the press belies the kind of power and precision this press is capable of putting out. If you’re looking for a press that looks good, then this press will scratch fill in a beautiful void.
Aesthetics aside, this is a wonderful press. The sturdy no-frills construction places zero obstacles between your casings and a smooth reloading process. The frame is wide and it’s a bastion of durability, loading casing into the ram is simple thanks to how much space you’re granted by the frame. This is another O-frame reloader, but the amount of space they crammed into this press is impressive. The simple design makes for a pleasing experience from start to finish. Gone are the days of jiggling casings into place, your hands have full clearance and your field of view is unobstructed.
The handle on the Breech Lock Challenger is one of its top selling points. The ball handle is pretty standard among single stage reloading presses. The choice to go with a wooden ball, however, is a great little accent with this bright and enticing press. Looks alone aren’t what makes this a special press. The adjustable length here means that you’ll be able to grant yourself more leverage if you’re having trouble, although the smooth operation and the excellent machining here means you’re unlikely to need extra leverage. It’s great for shops of all sizes and people of all heights. Sometimes a lever is just a touch too high up for a comfortable pressing experience, and this press eliminates that issue. Once you get your lever up or down to the perfect height, you’ll be pumping out reloads like there’s no tomorrow.
The Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic Reloading Press Kit is the press we’re going to crowning champion this time around. As a package, it’s a little on the expensive side, but the money you’ll be saving, in the long run, is more than worth the cost.
There’s a lot to be said about getting all of the parts you need for case reloading in one place. When you pick up this kit, you’ll have not only one of the best presses out there but every single accessory you could possibly need to draw the most utility from it. From manuals to scales, you’ll be ready for any roadblock you might run into when you’re taking your first steps into the world of reloading. You’ll be ready to hit the ground running with the kit, and you’ll be running for a long time with one of the best presses you can grab at this price point.
It’s a simple yet effective press. The O-frame is forgiving and comfortable without taking up too much room in your workspace, and the high-quality of this press is spectacular. You’ll be keeping this press around for years of excursions. If you ever find yourself replacing this press, you’re most likely doing so because you’ve so thoroughly exhausted all of the lessons it can teach you that you’ve decided to move on to bigger and more involved presses. If you don’t decide to upgrade to a larger setup, then this press is going to last you years and years over hundreds and thousands of reloaded cases.
What’s Right For You?
If you’ve been shooting for a while, you know that ammo can add up. It will start to feel silly that you’re leaving all of those perfectly decent casings unrecycled. Picking out the best single stage reloading press is daunting. What’s the best primer arm? Do you need a solid steel frame? Can this press reload my handgun ammunition?
Single-stage presses are great for narrowing that all down. A single-stage press does one action per lever pull. The top of the press usually allows you to switch between different die bushings. One lever pull can be for resizing your cases one at a time, and switching out your bushings suddenly turns your press into a de-priming machine. Switching out die sets is an excellent function of single-stage reloading presses. It makes the incredibly versatile. If you start reloading different calibers the only thing you’ll really have to replace is the bushing on your press.
Amazon is a shockingly robust place to find the perfect reloading press. It’s easy to compare the wide array of press brands. You can also find any kind of die bushing that you could ever need quickly and easily, making your reloading endeavors simple, and squeezing the most out of your single-stage presses without having to dash out to the store a dozen times a month.
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a first-hand exhibition of proficient reloading, then check out this video!