Selecting a best reloading kit is a bit trickier than making selections among other kinds of firearm accessories. Some users might prefer holster WX to YZ, but at the end of the day, that product serves one function, no matter how many brands are offered. While reloading kits ostensibly serve just one purpose as well, “self-rolled” ammunition, because of all of the tricks, techniques, secrets, and “science” reloaders employ in using these kits, many of them bring personal biases to their evaluation of them. Therefore, to produce as fair a comparison as possible of these products and their merits, we looked at four things:
- the price of the product
- what purchasers got for that price
- clarity of instructions provided
- results of using product*
*It should be noted that the last criteria is only concerned with whether or not purchasers could produce live ammunition using a kit, not the ammunition amount or quality. With all of that in mind:
While there is some debate about what a “complete” reloading kit should include, there are some essential items all should contain, and veteran reloaders put the cost of such a kit at around $400. While a cheaper kit is not necessarily a bad one, a purchaser should expect that in purchasing such a kit, multiple items will have to be acquired separately. While such kits might not be worth an experienced reloader’s time, for a newer one, these less expensive and moderately priced ones can be a cost effective way to see if reloading is an endeavor they truly wish to pursue.
5 Top Reloading Kits
Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Kit
The best reloading kit is the most complete one. When one does one’s own ammo reloading, “less is more” is not necessarily the best mantra to follow. On the other hand, “you get what you pay for”, and some dedicated reloaders have complained that this economically priced kit may lack the quality to produce optimally packed ammunition. Users who have been dissatisfied with this product point to the kit’s plastic powder dispenser, which some feel do not dispense powder accurately, and has numbers which quickly wear off, in addition to a scale that has to be reset with every use and is difficult to calibrate. Users looking for the best reloading kit should also be aware that its press and hand priming tool are made of aluminum as opposed to iron, however, there have been few complaints concerning the quality of these components regarding the lightness of the metal. The single largest complaint is that the press’s arm disengages from the press without warning, although the press works well once this design “quirk” is compensated for. Most users feel that this is the best reloading kit for novice users wanting to save money and just starting out. This kit retails between $120-$130, and is suitable for reloading both pistols and rifles. While a good starter kit, this particular model is not recommended for those shooting hundreds of rounds of ammunition a week.
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit
Another best reloading kit candidate, this package comes with all essential kit components, but lacks a tumbler and a pair of calipers. While not essential, if preparing large amounts of ammunition, such accessories are suggested, to avoid fatigue and insure accuracy. Users should be aware that this kit does not come with a stand for the powder measure, meaning that unless a stand is ordered from RCBS optionally, the powder stand must be placed at the very edge of a shelf or work table. This is certainly an acceptable option, but doing so incurs an increased risk of spills. The press is a well-made, highly accurate one, but a number of purchasers have complained about “bait-and-switch” tactics concerning this kit. In addition to tumblers and calipers, many users have found that this kit lacks essential tools such as brushes, though the company certainly carries these “missing” accessories, forcing buyers in some cases to purchase them for an additional $100. There have also been complaints about kits lacking the supposedly enclosed instructional DVD, and a difficult to understand written manual. The Rock Chucker is limited to handgun and rifle ammunition production, and retails for around $369. However, given this price, and all of the components that it is lacking, this may not be the best reloading kit for your money.
Hornady Lock N Load Classic Deluxe Reloading Kit
Widely considered the best reloading kit for its price among reloaders, this Hornady is lacking a few items that regular and dedicated reloaders will want in their kits. These items consist of such accessories as brushes and the like, and can wait until individuals get deeper into reloading practices and are better able to determine their long term needs. In the interim, this best reloading kit nominee certainly fits the bill. While users have been pleased with the sturdiness and reliability of this kit’s components, there have been complaints about its scale (digital but small, with an adapter not compatible with all outlets) and its calipers (dial, not digital). Some purchasers have also complained that items shown online are actually not included with the actual kit, but there is some question as to whether or not purchasers understood what was offered with it. Components are easy to install and use, and this Hornady model provides ammunition for a wide range of calibers. This kit retails on the higher end of the spectrum, at around $420.
Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit
Reloaders looking for the best reloading kit in terms of a complete, reliable kit that produces ammunition for a range of calibers and firearm makes, could do worse than this Lee model. Purchasers should be warned that a mounting system prominently featured in advertising actually has to be purchased separately. Dies also must be purchased separately from Lee. Otherwise, this is a very complete kit in terms of components. Unlike other kits described here, unless it’s a matter of personal preference, reloaders seem to feel it contains everything needed for their purposes. The single biggest issue with this reloading kit concerns the primer, and its tendency to “drop”. This may have more to do with reloaders’ expertise as opposed to a design problem however, as even those complaining about this issue had fewer priming problems the more that they used this kit. This Lee model is priced in the middle range, and generally retails at about $215.
Lyman T-Mag Expert Kit Deluxe with 1500 Micro-Touch Scale
Another of the more expensive best reloading kit nominees, this Lyman product might not actually win our best reloading kit award if we were basing it simply on what it lacks, given its price. For example, this kit lacks a mounting system, tumblers, shell holders, dies, and calipers. There have also been multiple complaints about its scale and primer, specifically the primer measure. However, this is an extremely easy kit to use, especially for beginners, and comes with one of the better and more complete instructional manuals that we have seen in comparing these products. Overall quality of the kit is sturdy and durable. Its turret is well-machined, though users should be cautioned that turret plates can loosen with use. This should be rechecked and adjusted as needed before each use. The T-Mag retails on the upper end of the kit scale, and generally sells for around $390.
Our Choice For Best Reloading Kit
Keeping the criteria for selecting the best reloading kit we specified at the start of this article in mind, the Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Kit is a good beginner’s kit for getting one’s feet wet in reloading. Given equipment durability and powder measuring and weighing issues, it’s not a good kit for producing large amounts of consistently firing ammunition. Still reasonably priced and much more durable, is the company’s Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit. There have been calibration complaints from some users, but there is some question as to whether this is a product or operator issue. Results seem to be much better with this product than the Lee Challenger, so the extra hundred or so dollars may well be worth spending.
On the higher end of the cost scale, while RCBS has a good industry reputation, there have been a number of complaints about missing or misleading components with its RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit. The kit itself produces several types of perfectly functional ammunition. Users will have to decide if its price and brand name justify the extra shopping. The similarly priced Lyman T-Mag Expert Kit Deluxe with 1500 Micro-Touch Scale also offers disappointingly few components given its price. But it is also the easiest of all the reviewed kits to set up and use, and also boasts the best user’s manual. And while it is the most expensive of all of the reviewed models, the Hornady Lock N Load Classic Deluxe Reloading Kit is probably also the most complete of them, especially for those just getting started with reloading. This kit has a well-earned reputation for durability as well.
Which reloading kit would we buy?
If looking for a relatively inexpensive kit to get started with reloading, than a user would do well to select the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit. However, the best reloading kit in terms of our criteria stated above is the Hornady Lock N Load Classic Deluxe Reloading Kit. It offers equipment that will reliably produce functional and accurate ammunition over many years.
What Do You Think – What Is The Best Reloading Kit?
Different folks will have an opinion on what they think the best reloading kit is. That is because we all have different needs and different tastes. So if you have some thoughts on the topic, please share them on the comments section below and tell us which reloading kit you believe is in fact the best reloading kit. We would love to hear from you!