January 4th, 2019

Single-Stage Reloading Presses — Product Video Showcase

RCBS Rock Chucker MEC Marksman Lyman Brass smith ideal Frankford co-ax forster Hornady iron Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock Press

Hand-loaders have never had so many great choices in single-stage presses, with many different configurations and features. There are classic O-Frame presses, Coax-style presses, Open-front presses, Pyramid presses, and compact C-Frame presses. Here is our 2019 Single Stage Press Showcase with products from Forster, Frankford Arsenal, Hornady, Lee, Lyman, MEC, and RCBS. We’ve included short videos showing the features of these reloading presses.

If you are shopping for a new press you should look at the various features of each. You may prefer something classic like a Rock Chucker, or the innovative open-front MEC. If you are looking for a compact press to use at the range, the new Lyman C-Frame is very impressive for the price. And the Forster Co-Ax remains a great addition to any loading room.

MEC Marksman Single-Stage Press

If you are looking for a new, full-size single-stage reloading press, definitely consider the MEC Marksman. Created by the makers of the popular MEC shotshell reloading systems, the MEC Marksman combines a sturdy cast-iron frame with a modern open-front design. With a $189.99 street price the Marksman press cost roughly $20 more than an RCBS Rock Chucker, but the MEC offers some distinct advantages — such as an open front plus a floating shell-holder system.

MEC Marksman Press Gavin Gear single stage open front press die caddy accessories

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com got his hands on a MEC Marksman press and put it through its paces. He came away impressed with the product, saying it delivers excellent performance, and has many impressive features. Gavin tells us: “Cast iron tools and machines are a lifetime investment. The made-in-USA MEC Marksman features ductile cast-iron construction, an open-front frame design for easy cartridge access, a new floating shell-holder design with a unique retention system, and ambidextrous handle setup.” MEC also offers a wide selection of accessories for the Marksman press, including a press riser/mount, shell-holder caddy, and die trays.

Frankford Arsenal M-Press Coaxial Reloading Press

Frankford Arsenal M-Press co-ax coaxial new reloading press die caddy accessories

Sorry, this new Frankford Arsenal coaxial M-Press has not started shipping yet so we don’t have a video. But MidwayUSA says it should arrive by mid-February 2019. We think this new M-Press should interest Forster Co-Ax fans. While the operation is similar to the Forster Co-Ax, there are some important differences. The new M-Press mounts on a flat surface, with nothing protruding below. That is significantly different than the Forster Co-Ax. The die block is different. It also appears that the shell-holder system is different. But this still self-aligns like a Forster Co-Ax. “A free-floating design allows the die and shellplate to move on two axis, so the case is always perfectly centered in the die, minimizing bullet runout.” The way the arms move is also different. In the Forster Co-Ax, the rods slide within the press frame and the part that holds the shell is fixed to them. In this design the rods are stationary and the part that holds the shell slides on them. However, the overhead handle certainly does copy the distinctive Forster design. NOTE: According to MidwayUSA, this M-Press does NOT have priming capability, unlike the Forster Co-Ax. Credit Boyd Allen for design analysis.

Forster Co-Ax Press

co-ax forster Hornady reloading single-stage  PressIf you are not yet familiar with the many unique features of the Forster Co-Ax, we recommend you watch the video above, a very thorough video review by Rex Roach. This shows how the press operates and highlights the design elements which set the Co-Ax apart from every other reloading press on the market. This 14-minute video shows the key Co-Ax features, explaining how the floating case-holder jaws work (3:30 time-mark), how the dies are held in place (4:40 time-mark), how spent primers are captured (6:10 time-mark), and how to set the primer seating depth (10:00 time-mark). We’ve used a Co-Ax for years and we still learned a few new things by watching this detailed video. If you are considering purchasing a Co-Ax, definitely watch this video start to finish.

In recent years, Forster Co-Ax® presses have been somewhat hard to find, as demand has out-stripped supply. The Co-Ax has many dedicated fans, given its unique features, such as the floating case-holder jaws, and easy, rapid slide-in/slide-out die placement. We’ve also found that Co-Ax presses load very straight ammo and we like the ability to switch between short handle (good for bullet seating) and long handle (ideal for heavy case-sizing tasks). We also think the Forster Co-Ax has one of the best spent primer capture systems on the market — a straight drop into a removable plastic cup. Simple and it works.

Lyman Brass Smith Victory Single-Stage Press

Lyman Brass Smith Victory Single stage press video

Lyman’s New Victory Single-stage Press competes with the RCBS Rock Chucker Press. With beefy cast iron construction, the Victory’s strength and leverage rivals the Rock Chucker. If you like to prime on a press, this Victory has a priming system that’s much easier to use than the Rock Chucker system. The priming tube is right up front. Simply push the shuttle at the button of the tube to advance the primer into place. The entire primer-loading system can also be removed so it doesn’t interfere with case and bullet-handling operations. We generally prefer to prime cases separately using a dedicated hand- or bench-mounted tool, but the Victory press does the job nicely. Overall, the Victory is a great value in a full-size “O-Frame” press. It’s on sale now for $154.99 at Midsouth.

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Single-Stage Press

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Supreme Single Stage reloading press Bruno Shooters Nearly every serious hand-loader has owned or used the RCBS Rock Chucker press. This Editor still uses a Rock Chucker passed down by his brother 20 years ago. And yes, it is still going strong. The latest Rock Chucker Supreme single-stage press features an improved “upside-down Y-path” dual-bin spent primer catcher. Otherwise the Rock Chucker Supreme remains big, strong, versatile and sturdy. It has very strong linkages, with a compound leverage system providing plenty of power — FL-sizing is a breeze even with large, magnum cases. The 1″-diameter ram has 12.5 sq. inches of ram-bearing surface.

Some people may not know that the Rock Chucker offers a secondary 1 1/4″ x 12 thread for shotshell reloading dies and Piggyback 3 upgrade. The Rock Chucker Supreme retails for under $180.00 ($167.50 now at Bruno’s). The RCBS Rock Chucker is definitely a quality product that can last a lifetime. For heavy-duty sizing chores this remains one of the best choices in single-stage presses. We do recommend shopping around. You can sometimes get a pretty big discount on Rock Chuckers and RCBS has regular rebate programs.

Lyman Brass Smith Ideal C-Frame Compact Press

The Lyman Brass Smith Ideal Press is a very affordable, cast iron C-Frame reloading press. We think it is the new “class leader” in compact presses. This works great as a secondary press for your reloading room or a small press you can take to the range. The large front opening allows you to access the shell holder without hitting the support bar on other types of presses. Unlike other compact presses made from aluminum, Lyman’s Ideal press is cast iron so it is rigid and strong. The high-quality steel ram is one inch in diameter. The Brass Smith is a true ambidextrous press that can be accessed from either side and mounted the same. This is a great choice for a second, auxiliary press for depriming and bullet seating.

Lyman Ideal C frame iron press midsouth shooters

Hornady Iron Single Stage (Open-front) Press

In this “Reloading with Rosie” video, the attractive female host loads some ammo using the Hornady Iron Press. With a beefy, pyramid-style cast-iron frame with an open front, this press offers some advantages over a traditional “O-Frame” type press. Access is considerably easier, for one thing. And the top of the press includes slots to hold dies and tools — that’s really a very nice feature that saves time. Also an optional “automatic” priming system shuttles primers from a vertical tube in the back to the shell-holder in the front. That’s clever. Over all the Iron Press is a nice piece of engineering — good job Hornady.

Hornady Iron Press video

Lee Classic Cast (Iron) Breech Lock Press

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock PressThe Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock Press offers excellent value for the money ($112.00 at Midsouth). Based on the proven design of the Classic Cast press, the updated Breech Lock series adds the quick-change die bushing and an improved primer drop system. This press is strong, with cast iron frame, all-steel linkage, and 12 square inches of ram bearing surface.

Lee says this press has the “largest opening and the longest stroke in the industry” among O-frame type presses. The handle can be mounted on either side. We love the fact that the handle angle can be adjusted, as well as the lever arm length — that allows you to adjust travel and leverage to suit your preference. Smart engineering.

The new spent primer drop features a large-diameter hollow ram with clear hose that drops primers straight to a bin — that’s simple and effective. The press is very rigid and the base is wide enough for good stability. We have one of these Classic Cast Breech Lock Presses in our reloading room and it works well.

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September 4th, 2018

MEC Marksman — Impressive, Strong Single-Stage Press

MEC Reloading Press Marksman Gavin Gear UltimateReloader

If you are looking for a new, full-size single-stage reloading press, definitely consider the MEC Marksman. Created by the makers of the popular MEC shotshell reloading systems, the MEC Marksman combines a sturdy cast-iron frame with a modern open-front design. With a $189.99 street price the Marksman press cost roughly $30 more than an RCBS Rock Chucker, but the MEC offers some distinct advantages — such as an open front plus a floating shell-holder system.

Our friend Gavin Gear got his hands on a MEC Marksman press and put it through its paces. He came away impressed with the product, saying it delivers excellent performance, and has many impressive features. Gavin tells us: “Cast iron tools and machines are a lifetime investment. The made-in-USA MEC Marksman features ductile cast-iron construction, an open-front frame design for easy cartridge access, a new floating shell-holder design with a unique retention system, and ambidextrous handle setup.”

CLICK HERE for REVIEW of MEC Marksman Single-Stage Press on UltimateReloader.com.

Gavin liked the Marksman’s system for holding spent primers. A tray sits behind the ram to catch spent primers exiting from a hole near the bottom of the ram. This is more foolproof than the plastic primer cups on some other single-stage presses. Expect less spent primer “spillage”.

MEC Marksman Relodading press

The Marksman is sold as a stand-alone unit. However MEC also offers a very nice steel mount/riser for the Marksman. Gavin tested the Marksman with this riser, and he says it was sturdy and well-built. Gavin liked the riser. He said that elevating the Markman press up above the benchtop made it easier to handle cases and to operate the handle. The riser also has “wings” on the left and right, providing a pair of handy die-holders on each side.

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January 11th, 2018

Heavy Metal — New Cast-Iron Presses from Lyman for 2018

Lyman Cast Iron 0-Ring Victory Press single-stage All-American Turret 8-stage

Lyman is introducing three new Brass Smith series reloading presses for 2018. Here we focus on the two full-size Brass Smith presses, the O-Frame Victory Single Stage and the new 8-Station All-American Turret Press. Both these sturdy presses feature an innovative “straight line” priming system with shielded primer tube.

New Cast-Iron Victory O-Frame Single-Stage Press

Lyman’s new Victory™ Press is built on a heavy duty cast iron “O” frame with 1-inch diameter ram and compound linkage. It looks strong and Lyman claims the “Victory Press is one of the most rugged and rigid available on the market.” The Victory Press features a simple, reliable straight-line primer feed. It’s easy to prime a case — simply push the priming arm forward to position a primer beneath the shell holder. As an added safety feature, the primer feed comes with a heavy steel shield surrounding the primer tube. The large 5-inch frame opening can take long magnum cases. MSRP is $199.45. We expect initial “street price” to be around $160.00, less expensive than an RCBS RockChucker, but more pricey than a Lee Classic Cast Press.

Lyman Cast Iron 0-Ring Victory Press single-stage All-American Turret 8-stage

“It has been a while since Lyman Products introduced new presses, for the very simple reason that our presses are built to be so durable that they actually end up being handed down in families”, explained Trevor Mullen, Lyman’s VP of Marketing and Business Development. “But for 2018, we decided we needed to add certain features that make these new presses even better than their former models.”

New Cast-Iron 8-Station All-American Turret Press

Along with its new Victory Single-Stage Press, Lyman is releasing a beefy All-American Turret Press with eight (8) stations. That’s one more than the Redding T-7 Turret Press, and two more stations than the six-station RCBS Turret Press. With the Lyman’s EIGHT stations you can hold sizing AND seating dies for four different rifle cartridges. Or, if you seat bullets with an arbor press, you could have sizers for six cartridges, plus a dedicated decapping die and a factory crimp die. With eight stations available — there are countless options.

Lyman Cast Iron 0-Ring Victory Press single-stage All-American Turret 8-stage

Rigidity is very important with a turret press — if you have too much “give” of flex with the turret head you may get inconsistent results when bumping shoulders using full-length dies. With a heavy cast-iron frame and turret head, Lyman says its new Turret Press is “the most rugged” on the market. We like the front-mount priming system which can easily be operated with your free hand, whether you mount the press arm on the left or the right. MSRP is $249.95. We expect “street price” to be around $220.00, quite a bit less than the six-station RCBS Turret Press.

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September 9th, 2017

Reloading Gear Review: Lee Classic Cast Breech-Lock Press

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock Press

The Lee Classic Cast “O”-style press has always been an excellent value — it works as well as some other presses costing twice as much. And now Lee has improved on its Classic Cast Press design by adding a breech-lock fitting in the top. This allows you to swap dies in and out in seconds, once your dies are equipped with breech-lock quick-change bushings. The Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock press is available for under $120.00. That makes it a bargain compared to other heavy-duty single-stage presses. MidwayUSA offers this press (item #824144) for $105.29, while Natchez Shooters Supplies sells the press (item #LEE90999) for $110.49.

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock PressBreech-Lock System Allows Fast Die Exchanges
With the Lee Breech-Lock Press system, the die drops straight in from the top. Then, with a quick 1/6th (60°) turn, the die locks firmly in place (like the breech on an artillery canon). The interrupted three-start thread assures dies return and lock into the exact same position each time. Bushings cost $7.43 each at Midsouth. If you prefer, you can leave a bushing in the press, and screw your dies in normally. But consider that it normally takes a dozen or more turns to screw in a normally threaded die. The Breech-lock system is way faster.

The Lee Classic Cast press features a strong, cast-iron frame and all-steel linkage. The large 1 1/8″-diameter ram is guided by over twelve square inches of ram bearing surface. We like the fact that you can mount the handle on either side, and adjust handle angle and length. As Lee explains: “The start and stop position is adjustable with a 48-tooth, ratchet-type handle clamp. In addition, the handle length is completely adjustable. Shorten [it] when you’re loading handgun and short rifle cases.”

Lock-Ring Eliminator Quick-Change Bushings
With Lee’s basic quick-lock bushings, you control vertical die position with the normal locking ring that seats against the top of the bushing. That works fine, but Lee also offers a handy Lock-Ring Eliminator Bushing (Lee SKU 90063). This clever design combines bushing and lock-ring into a single part. The Eliminator is turned from a solid piece of steel and the lock ring is integrated into the design of the part. With the Eliminator you’ll get the most repeatable and precise die positioning because lock ring and bushing are all one piece. Moreover, some guys say the Eliminator Bushings are easier to grab and remove than the standard Lee Breech-Lock Bushings.

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock Press

Press owners have praised their Lee Classic Cast Breech-Lock units. Here are reports from two MidwayUSA customers:

Five Stars: Perfect single stage press. Loads accurately 6mm BR and 308 Win for competition. Large clearance is also great for my 460 Wby and 30-378 Wby. Pistol rounds in 44 mag and 45 ACP also load easy. The press has a lot of leverage for full-length rifle case sizing. Nice primer disposal system. Lowest price for its class. This unit beats my Lyman press by several miles…. ” — J. Davidson, California

Five Stars: This thing is outstanding and better than my old RCBS partner press. Once you get the sweet setting of the die, lock it in place and next time you load, you need not fumble to find the best setting. Breech lock is the key. I load a lot of .308 Win and .223 Rem for my ARs and this requires full-length sizing. Lee meets the challenge with no flex and excellent ram/die fit and alignment. Another nice feature is that the breech-lock inserts have a lock preventing [them] from unlocking. [T]he spent primer disposal is perfect vs. RCBS where primers can miss the primer catcher. The handle can also be placed left or right as needed and shortened for small cases or pistol to reduce the handle travel.” — E. Stanley, Rockford, IL

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May 13th, 2017

Forster Co-Ax Press — Unique Operation Showcased in Video

Forster Co-Ax Coax Reloading Press Grafs Grafs.com Sale Co-Axial rockchucker

In recent years, Forster Co-Ax® presses have been somewhat hard to find, as demand has out-stripped supply. However, right now Grafs.com has Co-Ax presses in stock, at just $299.99 — that’s six percent off the regular price. This sale price includes a set of jaws, and includes ground shipping (in the lower 48), after a single $7.95 (per order) handling fee. If you’ve been hankering for a Co-Ax press, now is definitely a good time to buy.

If you are not yet familiar with the many unique features of the Forster Co-Ax, we recommend you watch the video embedded below. This shows how the press operates and highlights the design elements which set the Co-Ax apart from every other reloading press on the market.

Video Shows Special Features of Forster Co-Ax Reloading Press

Forster Co-Ax Press Video Review
This is a very thorough review of the Forster Co-Ax done by Rex Roach. This 14-minute video shows the key Co-Ax features, explaining how the floating case-holder jaws work (3:30 time-mark), how the dies are held in place (4:40 time-mark), how spent primers are captured (6:10 time-mark), and how to set the primer seating depth (10:00 time-mark). We’ve used a Co-Ax for years and we still learned a few new things by watching this detailed video. If you are considering purchasing a Co-Ax, definitely watch this video start to finish.

Forster Co-Ax Coax Reloading Press Grafs Grafs.com Sale Co-Axial rockchucker

The Co-Ax case-holder features spring-loaded, floating jaws. These jaws have two sets of openings, small and large. This allows the system to adapt to various rim diameters. The jaw plates can simply be reversed to switch from small jaw to large jaw. In the photo above, the Co-Ax is configured with the large jaw openings in the center.

Photos are screen shots from Forster Co-Ax Review by Rex Roach on YouTube.

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