Best Reloading Kits for Beginners
Reloading your own ammunition is one of the best ways to customize your rifle or handgun build, though no reloading process can begin without an excellent kit. Finding the most suitable reloading kits, especially for beginners, can be tricky without the proper research.
Fortunately, we’ve already done all the necessary research, so you don’t have to. In our guide, we’ll show you the best reloading kits for beginners. We’ll also explain how reloading works and what you need in a great kit so that you can get your money’s worth. Let’s begin!
Our Top Picks
In a hurry? Check out the table below to see a helpful overview of each of our favorite products. Keep scrolling down to see a more in-depth review of each item.
Our Top Pick
|RCBS 9345 RC Supreme Master Kit|
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|Hornady 85003 Lock N Load Classic Reloading Press Kit|
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|Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit|
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|Lyman T-Mag Master Reloading Kit|
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The RCBS reloading kit is an excellent starter choice, due to the reloading press that is included in the kit. It uses a specialized “Supreme” press that is lengthened to allow for easy loading of longer cartridges: a critical advantage that beginners will really appreciate. It’s super easy to operate and has an ambidextrous handle, meaning both right and left-handed bullet reloaders can use it effectively.
All the basic tools you need to reload to your heart’s content are accounted for in this kit: a set of reloading dies, crimps, and other tools that you can use to prepare different cartridges and load them easily with powder. Several tools for priming and powder measurements are also included. There’s even a case lubricant in the kit, which provides the necessary oil to keep everything running smoothly.
In a nutshell, this reloading kit is a great choice if you want to learn more about the reloading process and improve your skills over time. All of the pieces are made with durability and long lifespans in mind, therefore it’s not likely you’ll need to purchase another kit anytime soon. This is a good thing since it’s not the cheapest reloading kit on the market, although, it’s far from being the most expensive either.
- Easy to use
- Good for left or right-handed reloaders
- All materials are made to be durable
- Has several great accessories
- Includes reloading manual
- Some tools aren’t necessary, might be a bit much for occasional reloaders
The equipment in the Hornady kit includes a classic single stage reloading press, as well as a powder measure, electronic scale, and other accessories needed to perfect the reloading process. You will also find a beginner’s manual in this kit to help you reload all sizes of cartridges, which boosts its value for money even further. To make things even better, it’s an affordable choice for most.
This kit’s single stage reloading press has been specifically designed for increased precision, speed, and efficiency. While it can only handle one cartridge at a time, you should be able to snap these in and out relatively quickly once you get the hang of things.
The only downside is that it doesn’t come with any shell holders, which you have to buy separately. Still, the overall cost shouldn’t be too high when all is said and done.
- Affordable compared to other kits
- Comes with an additional electronic scale for powder measurement
- Press is simple to use and feels great
- Have to purchase shell holders separately
The Lee Precision reloading kit is incredibly affordable and has both a reloading press and a set of excellent dies of their own brand. In other words, everything you need to start reloading right out of the box is included with the purchase. All of the components are made in the USA too, so you know that the quality will be high, along with excellent durability.
In addition to the press and dies, the kit comes with an auto drum powder measure and riser. This is a perfect tool for handgun or small rifle cartridges, and they combine well with the turret press.
While the turret press isn’t the best choice for most beginners, it is great if you have a little experience reloading your own ammunition and want to get more cartridges out in rapid succession. Even if you are a true beginner, you’ll likely pick things up fast enough with the reloading manual included in the kit, and can potentially get a lot of use out of the turret press.
- Affordable compared to most other kits
- Has educational manual for beginners
- Can reload lots of cartridges quickly
- Specifically sized for smaller cartridges
- Not the best for larger cartridges
- Doesn’t have a single stage press
The Lyman T-Mag kit is economical and provides a beginner with everything they need in terms of both tools and learning materials. It has a reloading handbook and an electronic scale, along with a six-station turret press and plenty of excellent tools and accessories. You’ll be able to use all of these items in conjunction to learn and perfect your reloading technique. Oddly, this kit also doesn’t have any reloading dies, thus you’ll need to purchase these separately.
Nevertheless, it does come with a cartridge case multitool to help you customize your brass casings farther. The Lyman kit also includes a bottle of case lubricant, which can protect your casings and keep them from being fractured by the press.
Overall, it contains most of the essentials a beginner needs and uses a turret press that can be easily learned. It’s faster than a single-stage press and almost as user-friendly, particularly if you use the reloading handbook.
- Affordable price
- Has electronic scale
- Has multi-tool
- Six-station press for multiple casings at once
- No included dies or shellholder
How Reloading Works: A Basic Overview
Before we get into whether a reloading kit is a great investment for your needs, let’s go over what exactly the reloading process entails and how it works.
Reloading is the process of refilling spent bullets or cartridges and/or shaping them to be the right type or shape necessary to be fired again. It’s primarily used for target shooters or for gunsmiths that like to customize their ammunition to attain even greater performance with their favorite rifles, or to save money.
Reloading kits commonly include the following items: bullets, brass, primers, powder, shell folders, reloading dies, and a reloading bench. All of these components put together will allow you to recover spent cartridges and fire them just like new without having to purchase new ammunition from a gun store.
In addition, a reloading press will be needed to complete the reloading process. This press lets you load powder into different ammunition casings and seal the primer shut, as well as bolting everything tightly together and finalizing around. Some reloading presses are relatively simple to use. Others are more complex and are better for even greater amounts of customization.
Some presses are also distinguished based on the type of cartridges they work for (some are better for pistols or rifles, as an example). Others might be more generalist and can be used for just about any ammunition you want to reload.
Is a Reloading Kit Right for You?
Now that you know what a reloading kit is, all you have to ask is whether it’s worth it for your needs. There are two main reasons why you should reload your own ammunition: you want to improve your accuracy at the gun range, or you want to save money in the long run.
The accuracy aspect is well proven by many marksmen and hobbyist gun owners. A reloading kit will allow you to customize your own ammunition and load different types of powders or casings into the same rifle over seasons. As an example, you can use the same rifle to hunt smaller critters during the spring, then load it with different ammunition created from your reloading kit and use it to hunt larger animals in the fall, like deer or elk.
This sometimes enables hunters to save money in another way because they don’t have to purchase as many rifles if they want to partake in several types of hunting activities.
The accuracy benefits you gain from reloading come with experience and time spent with the same rifle on the range. As you fire a rifle and become used to the unique way that it kicks and expels rounds, you’ll eventually get a feel for the types of cartridges and powder that will work best with its receiver and materials. Basically, you’ll be able to tell whether stock ammunition is providing the best performance possible from the weapon platform.
Chances are that custom ammunition will provide better overall results. Fine-tuning the actual powder and brass casing shape of each round you fire from your rifle will enable you to affect the overall accuracy, power, drift, and sound your rifle makes. Right off the bat, this is an attractive ability for anyone who likes to tinker with their weapons.
Granted, you’ll need to use lots of ammunition to eventually find the perfect custom cartridge or bullet for your weapon. This leads us into the second main supposed benefit of reloading kits: saving money.
What to Look For in a Reloading Kit
The best reloading kits aren’t all alike, so you’ll need to consider a few major factors before finalizing a purchase. Let’s go over the major aspects you should look for as you browse reloading kits, so you can find something perfect for your needs on the first try.
What’s included in the reloading kit
While all reloading kits will at least have several items to warrant their asking prices, you should always double-check to see what exactly is included in a given kit. Some kits are more complete than others and will include practically everything you’ll need to start reloading right out of the box. Others are more bare-bones and may only have a few accessories or tools, requiring you to purchase additional kits or separate pieces.
Generally speaking, reloading kits that have more accessories or tools are better than simpler kits that don’t have as much to offer. Even if they cost more upfront, it’s usually cheaper in the long run to purchase everything in a bundle than it is to build your own ammo reloading kit by picking up individual tools or pieces.
One of the absolute necessities every reloading kit you look at should have is a reloading press. This tool is a requirement for the reloading process and any kits that don’t include a press are practically useless without it.
Other staples include primer trays, reloading dies, and powder funnels.
Speaking of dies, you should pay attention to what kinds of dies come with a given reloading kit. The dies dictate your brass shaping capabilities and what types of ammunition the kit will be best used for. Naturally, this affects the quality and type of ammunition you can produce.
Unlike most of the other pieces, we would recommend that you browse other die kits or collections if the dies that come with an otherwise excellent reloading kit, don’t fit your needs. You can find dies for just about any type of ammunition on the market. Several custom dies or individual pieces are better than the ones included within kits.
Reloading dies are another staple part of a reloading kit and should always be high-quality and easy to use. Look for dies that are made with durable materials or pieces that have adjustable shaping increments down to the micrometer, for extra customization options and better control over the end result.
What Rounds Will You Load?
The vast majority of reloading kits will let you load the pistol rounds as a standard. Yet others will be further customized for reloading rifle rounds into M16 or AR 15 rifle platforms, along with other rifle builds.
The point here is that you should double-check to see which kits are compatible with what sizes of casing or cartridge types you require. Some reloading kits are better for smaller rounds, while others are suitable for larger. Just be sure that you pick up a kit necessary for your needs, so you don’t waste cash on a kit that can’t reload the right sized casings.
Like with dies, figuring out what kind of press is included in a reloading kit is critical. There are a few main types of reloading presses you can find in kits on the market.
Single-stage presses are the easiest and least complicated to use. They only do one operation at a time throughout the reloading process. Because there’s only one place where you can thread a die, it’s difficult to mess up the operation of these machines. A single-stage press is a great choice for beginners since it’s so easy to use.
Turret presses are a little more complicated than single-stage models. These presses have a special turret plate that can rotate with 4 to 5 dies threaded into the relevant slots. This lets you complete more than one step for a casing at a time. In essence, it lets you reload more cartridges more quickly than the single-stage press. These choices are great for precision reloading and for increasing your speed.
Progressive presses are the third major variety, and they are primarily used for those who need to make large batches of ammunition all at once. It comes with extra attachments for threading multiple dies and performing several functions all at once. You can crank out many rounds in rapid succession using these types of tools.
Overall, beginners will probably want to go with a single-stage press until they get more experience. In this case, you can then purchase a more advanced press once you have some bullet reloading experience under your belt.
When Do You Begin to Save Money?
You can theoretically start saving money almost as soon as you start using the reloading kit exclusively. A standard 300 Winchester magazine ammunition box will cost around $20 or so depending on where you find it. On the flip side, you can reload the same number of cartridges for around $10 a box once you purchase the necessary supplies.
This isn’t an immediate saving deal, however. It takes time for you to build up the bullets necessary to offset the initial cost for the supplies like the kit, the included amount of gunpowder, a box of brass casings and other stuff.
In this way, a reloading kit is a long-term way to save money on ammunition, though it costs a little more cash upfront to get going. For our 300 Winchester example, you’d have to create three or four boxes of your own ammunition to eventually start saving a few cents per cartridge.
Still, all of these benefits aren’t to say that there aren’t a few downsides to the reloading kit hobby. For starters, reloading your own ammunition is really only feasible for marksmen or for cartridges you fire at the gun range. It’s a lot more difficult to recover your cartridges in an actual hunting environment, therefore, reloading kits are best used for gun hobbyists rather than serious hunters.
In addition, reloading takes time out of your day and requires you to spend a significant chunk of time over the following weeks or months experimenting with different powder and brass combinations. Every rifle is unique and fires in a slightly different way, thus you’ll need to try out hundreds of rounds before you find the fabled ideal cartridge that provides the best performance for your platform.
So, are reloading kits right for you? It all depends on how much time you have on your hands and how dedicated you are to finding the perfect ammo for your favorite rifle.
- Saves money in the long run
- Can potentially boost accuracy with custom powder and brass
- Better for the environment as casings are salvaged
- Can let you use the same rifle for multiple hunting activities
- Costs a bundle upfront
- Not great for actual hunting ammo needs
- Takes a lot of time to consistently do
Overall, the right reloading kit for your needs will balance budget, include tools and accessories, and will be easy to use. We would highly recommend going for one of the kits that has a single-stage press if you’ve never even considered reloading before and want to start off simplistically. Otherwise, go for one of the more complex kits if you have a little experience and want to maximize your productivity. Whatever you choose, good hunting!