The first reloading press I ever used (as I recall) was a Lyman “C” type press, mounted in the tiny closet of a family friend. I was trained by him (Ken) to resize and deprime cases, chamfer necks and clean primer pockets, prime and seat bullets mostly on the same press. Powder charges were thrown by a powder measure brand I don't recall but seemed to wander after a few dozen throws.
Since then I have learned to appreciate the qualities of several presses. The first reloading press I bought was a Pacific 07 which is virtually identical to the current Hornady Lock n Load press. the 07 was cast alloy and was threaded to accept standard 7/8 dies. The press would “cam over” at the top. Cam over means that the mechanical advantage peaks at some point before complete actuation of the lever physically stops (before the handle of the press completes the downward motion).
I feel that this “cam over” concept needs some clarification. “Cam over” refers to the point where the press ram achieves the highest point in its travel regardless of the handle travel. On compound linkage presses (like many), the ram extends up as the lever (handle) proceeds down. At some point the downward movement of the handle results in no further vertical movement of the ram even if the handle proceeds downward past this point – this is the “cam over” point and is the the spot of the highest mechanical advantage the press is capable of. any further movement of the handle actually makes the ram move backwards (down). This point is most relevant if you are using any collet style dies like the Lee Collet Neck dies or the Lee Factory Crimp Dies.
Many presses “cam over” but this is not particularly important to choosing a press. It is simply a physical property of presses that should be understood to evaluate that press for a particular use.
“C” type, “O” type etc. don't make significant difference in ammo quality unless we talk about the extremes of reloading. The more force a shell requires for the reloading steps, the more physically strong a press needs to be and “O” type are the strongest.
I also have a Lee hand press which is sort of a “C” press but is not a viable option for precision ammo making in my opinion (it has its uses and is well made).
Ok, all that bla…bla… bla about types is done. The best press you can buy is the one that is most comfortable for you to use that is in your budget. That usually means a solid feeling, heavy press that fits your particular reloading goals. I use a Forster Co-Ax single stage press for 90% of my loading because I do mostly precision rifle loading. If I was advising a new loader with interests in both rifle and pistol loading I would recommend Lee's classic cast turret press since it has great single stage characteristics with competent turret abilities at 1/3 the price of a Co-Ax.
Following is a quick review of the presses I have:
1 Pacific 07 (Hornady lock N load). I love this press as a basic press with decent primer handling abilities. the ejected spent primers usually land in the cup and it is straightforward and simple using standard shell holders. I don't have experience with the “locknload” aspect of this press. It is similar to the Lee breach lock idea. I don't care for the locknload idea in general since I like to use precise washers to fine tune my die settings on this type of single stage press.
2 Forster Co-AX This is the “cadilac” of single stage presses. It uses a spring loaded shell holder that “floats” with the floating die. This is not a beginners press. It takes understanding and adjustment, but is ultimately my favorite press.
3 Lee classic cast turret, this is my next press. It incorporates all the features of a single stage with the option to produce ammo at near progressive rates. As I hinted, I don't own one yet but this press is high on my “to do” list. If I was starting out and reasonably mechanically handy, this is the press I would start with.
Anyone care to comment on their favorite press?
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