Best Ammo Reloading Kits Reviewed and Rated
Whether you’re a hunter or just someone that likes to go target shooting, the world of guns and ammo is easily one of the most exciting and interesting ones out there. There are so many different factors and things to take into consideration, and the options that you have at hand can almost seem mind boggling at times.
Buying new bullets every time you want to go shooting can get quite costly rather quickly, so by reloading bullets you already own, you can cut down on costs quite dramatically. This is why we rounded up the best ammo reloading kits available today.
Our Top 3 Picks
Along with saving money, reloading your own ammo can also be a rather rewarding and interesting process that can be just as interesting as the act of shooting a gun itself. Reloading ammo can help give you a deeper and more intimate understanding of just how bullets and ammo work, and getting yourself a good reloading kit is the first step of the process.
First and foremost, you need to ensure that you’ve got an ammo reloading kit. However, there’s a tremendous amount of choice and selection out there that can make the buying process considerably difficult and challenging if you don’t know what to look for. We understand that this is a rather big issue for a lot of people out there, and we wanted to do something about it.
In this guide you’ll find everything that you’ve ever wanted to know about the best kits. We’ve got a list of the top 10 ones out there that you can buy, names of the most popular brands that currently exist, frequently asked questions, and so much more. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so without any further ado, here’s our complete guide for finding the best ammo reloading kit that money can buy!
- Lee Precision
- Redding Reloading
2 Key Factors to Consider
Type of bullet/ammo
When looking for a new reloading kit, one of the most important factors to keep in mind is the kind of ammo/bullets the kit is meant to be used with. Many reloading kits can be used to reload a wide variety of bullets, but others are meant to only reload one specific type of bullet or ammo. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a reloading kit that isn’t capable of reloading the type of ammo you most often use, so make sure that this is the factor you keep in consideration above all else. To find out more about this issue make sure to read our “Compatibility” section.
When choosing a kit, you want to ensure that it’s made out of quality materials. Most reloading kits are made out of either steel or some sort of aluminum, and this is what you want to stick with. These materials help keep reloading kits sturdy, durable, and lasting for as many years of use as possible.
1. Lee Precision II Shotshell 12 GA Load All
Incredibly easy to use
High-quality reloading kit
Has been rated to be one of the best shotgun shell reloading kits
Exclusively made to be used for reloading 12-guage shotgun shells
2. RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master
Added durability and quality of extras
Long lasting product
A lot of satisfied costumers
Mounting bolts not included
3. Lee Precision 50th Anniversary Kit
This kit comes with the Lee Safety Scale
One of the most affordable starter kits
Low price for a great quality
Might need to be upgraded after using it for a longer period time
4. Hornady 85003 Lock N Load Classic
A lot of extras included
Multi-tool started pack
One of the best options for a beginner
May not be the most robust system
5. Lee Precision Load Master 233 Remington Rifle Kit
Made out from incredibly durable cast aluminum construction
Lighter than traditional steel
Comes with pace setter dies, a turret, and a #4s shell plate
Made exclusively for reloading ammo for Remington rifles
Can be a bit tricky to start using right off the bat
6. Lyman T-Mag Master
Comes with its very own digital scale
Additional tools, accessories and extras
7. Lee Precision Load Master 45 Pistol Kit
Made up out of cast aluminum
Expandable and durable
Low price for such a high-quality kit
It can be a bit tricky to operate at first
8. RCBS R S-5 Starter Kit
Full-featured starter kit
Affordable and quality packaging
May not be of the utmost quality
9. Redding Reloading – BIG Boss Pro-Pak
When it comes to the reloading process, the included primer catcher helps to make sure that your reloading station stays as neat and clean as possible. Many other reloading kits come with this feature as well, but few work good as Redding’s one does.
This is a big, powerful, and expensive kit. If money isn’t any sort of concern, then this is going to be one of the best options that you’ve got. It’s one of the most durable and heavy-duty reloading kits on the market, and it’s got a lot of impressive features to boot as well. The cost is easily the biggest downside here, but despite being so much more expensive than other options, the price is well-justified when you take into consideration everything that's included in this kit.
Comes with a lot of additional tools
10. SmartReloader Omega 800 Pro
Made up out of a heavy steel material
Long lasting product
Ability to reload bullets all the way up to the caliber of .357 H&H
Some have complained about the customer service that SmartReloader offers
Finding The Right Quality
The best brands listed are Redding Reloading, Lee Precision, SmartReloader and RCBS. Yet brands like Hornady and Lyman still rank high on the list for their quality and ease of use. Quality is never a concern when buying a mainstream ammo reloading kit, since safety would be compromised with low quality. That means every product on the list has met or exceeded average industry guidelines for an ammo reloading kit (see criteria for evaluation).
How To Clean An Ammo Reloading Kit
The correct way to clean one of the kits is to never get them get too dirty in the first place. A well-maintained kit will only take a few seconds to dust off and clean, so preventive maintenance is the best weapon here. Leftover gunpowder is the biggest culprit to a dirty kit and is something that can be easily remedied by properly storing or discarding the leftover powder. With a little bit of care aftercare, there is very little cleanup involved when using an ammo reloading kit. But neglecting the cleanup duties even one time can add a lot of extra annoyances to your schedule when it’s time to clean it again.
What Decreases The Durability Your Kit?
Besides the lack of proper cleaning, the #1 cause of broken kits is using them wrong. This isn’t an issue with beginners and covers all levels of users. Not reading the included manual is a mistake, even if you’re an experienced user. Companies change features all the time, so even if you’ve previously owned A Lee Precision product, the new one may have different operating options. With new features being added all the time, there is a good chance that a user that throws away the manual will end up abusing the unit right out of the box. Safety features, comfort features, and even the warranty can be in danger if you don’t follow the instructions in the manual.
Finding The Differences Between A Beginning And A Professional Unit
Professionals will often have their eye on something that they have full faith in. An ammo reloading kit for a professional has all of the necessary features they will use, even the advanced options that won’t be used upfront. They are also aware of the importance of extras and if their choice comes with everything needed. For a beginner, the road is a lot less rosy when it comes to choosing their first kit. A good choice for beginners would be choosing kits that offer a lot of extras right out of the box. They don’t have to be anniversary kits, and they don’t have to be a top tier brand name. For a beginner, the difference between what they want and what the professional gets will come down to a kit that carries a lot of starter items. These are the accessories that professionals have by the boatload lying around their workspace, and are the same accessories that a beginner would probably have to go to the store for.
When you get used to using a reloading kit, modifications may become an important step in the process. This can include modifying the machine itself or the accessories that are used with the machine. A good example of a useful modification is with the dipper, where some users have found an inexpensive way to not only measure powder but to also combine them into one with a scale reader. This is a time-saving modification that the industry has caught onto, and in turns has led to them making their own options. For buyers that have the knowledge, this is a great way to improve your ammo reloading kit without hurting the warranty.
Criteria For Evaluation
Ammo loading kits are not for the faint of heart, and requires a little bit of knowhow in order to achieve maximum execution. Beyond the technical stuff, little things like bullet compatibility will go a long way in determining the usefulness of a ammo loading kit in daily routine.
Ammo loading kits are not universal bullet makers, so there will be calibers that just can’t be made. When compiling the top ten list, high compatibility was important since it also means saving money and space. No one wants to purchase a separate ammo kit for each caliber, as it would defeat the purpose of buying an ammo kit. Buyers want to save money and make the most of what they have, not spend more. Of the many choices on the list, when there is low compatibility from the start, the company tends to offer a conversion kit to enhance the usefulness of the equipment. These conversion kits can transform a 22 caliber ammo reloading kit to also take on 30 caliber bullets. These conversion kits played a big role in the inclusion of the brands on the list. Not only are the prices reasonable, but they fall in line with the rest of the optional accessories offered by manufacturers.
We took great care in finding kits that used the most popular ammo on the market. The more obscure ones are better suited for a different list, as this list is for users that plan on using their ammo reloading kits at least weekly. The high use of the product goes together with the use of popular ammo, so most of the kits on the list will equally favor single stage and progressive press kits. Both of these have kept up with using the most popular ammo, with the latter being the best for quick operation. So as an absolute must for all the brands on the list, they handle both 22 and 30 caliber without issues. This includes out of the box or with the addition of an optional converter.
Ease of Use
When choosing an ammo reloading kit, most users will default to looking at the price of the product. We took it in a different direction and prioritized ease of use. Even with the addition of a recipe cookbook with most ammo reloading kits, new users will often run into the problem of grasping it all at once and getting overwhelmed. This can be troublesome, so by choosing ammo reloading kits that had most of the core accessories right out of the box, we eliminated one of the most intimidating factors about using one. There is nothing more frustrating than having to line up all the extra stuff that is needed to get started after you’ve spent a lot of money upfront. The items in our top ten list are ready to go out of the box, with the amount of extras needed at a minimum.
Ammo reloading kits aren’t cheap toys, so buying one that can stand the test of time will be of great benefit. The repetitive mechanical nature of an ammo reloading kit has to resist user error and bad materials being pushed through it. High quality materials can’t be guaranteed from the users end when they’re making their own ammo, so we took it a step further and looked at ammo reloading kits that were built to take punishment. That also meant looking closely at warranties, and overall customer support. All of the ten items on the list are at the top of their class when it comes to durability. So if longevity has been an issue with a past ammo reloading kit you’ve owned, then it is time to update it with one from this list.
The quality of the bullets that come from your kit aren’t just tied to what materials you use, but to the instructions provided. As it was touched on before about the recipe books, their inclusion was important on this list. Companies that provide either a physical or digital copy of their recipe book have a higher buy rate than companies that offer thin books. The result of a well thought out book leads to much better bullet quality, which is the ultimate goal of ammo reloading kits. With the list focusing on high quality kits, there was also a priority on the results of the ammo for beginners, intermediates and professionals. We found it necessary that the kits should not favor one group, but be balanced in their advanced language in the book so that everyone can understand it. Lumping beginners and intermediates into the same group as professionals will only cause confusion when going through the recipe book. Think of it as a way to please all levels without compromising on the output of the ammo that is created.
Cleaning an ammo reloading kit is as simple as dusting it off. The only thing that is required of the products on the list is general upkeep and cleanliness of the area. There is a higher importance on keeping the area clean of the dies, powders and other materials that will accumulate during the bullet making process. Generally, any ammo loading kit is prepped for use each time you make a bullet.
The key to keeping the area safe is to prep afterwards for the next time you are going to use it. Leaving materials lying around can cause dirty and other debris to accumulate in areas and degrade the quality of your ammo. Ammo kits are not so sensitive that a little mess will bother them, but their safety protocols will take a nosedive if you don’t take care of them. Most of the brands on the list even provide a maintenance kit as a separate purchase. It is worth investing in one of these to help with the pre/after prep of your ammo reloading kit. Not only will it keep the machine running longer, it will also help your case if you ever need to call in the warranty.
Q. Do all reloading kits work with all types of bullets?
Absolutely not. When buying a reloading kit, one of the most important factors to take into consideration is the type of bullet that the kit is rated to be used with. Some kits can be used with a variety of bullets, whereas others are created to only reload one certain kind of ammo. This is usually clearly outlined when shopping around for a reloading kit, but still make sure that you ensure the kit you’re looking at is rated to be used with the kind of ammo you frequently use and reload.
Q. Are all the accessories I’ll ever need included with a starter kit?
Not necessarily. Each starter kit is different in regards to what included accessories it comes equipped with, and some have more added goodies than others. However, even the fullest and most well equipped starter kit is still likely to omit an accessory or two that you’ll find yourself needing later on down the road. Starter kits for reloading usually come with everything you need to get things started at first, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself having to run to the store to pick up something extra at some point in the future.
Q. Who manufactures the best reloading kit for beginners?
For buyers that have never owned a reloading kit, the first time opening the package can be a daunting experience. That’s why choosing the proper reloading kit for your level is important, as the wrong one could leave a bad taste in your mouth. RCBS and Lee Precision seem to be the best choices for a beginner that is just starting out. Besides having some of the best materials out of the box, they also include the most thorough instructions. Videos are plentiful with all of their models online, so there will always be visual instructions to follow.
Q. How much money should be set aside for accessories?
Some reloading kits have everything you need right out of the box while others will only have the bare essentials. Pay close attention to the extras when purchasing a reloading kit so that the extra costs afterwards don’t sneak up on you. It’s a matter of knowing what you need upfront so that the actual cost of owning a reloading kit doesn’t go beyond your budget. And it also serves as a helpful way of learning how much you have to invest into your reloading kit in the long term.
Q. Are special anniversary edition kits worth it?
Some companies offer special anniversary kits that come bundled with loads of accessories, with some of those accessories only being available from the anniversary kit. There is also a one of a kind design and some other extras thrown in, notably a redone manual and documents. All levels of users can benefit from an anniversary reloading kit since the value will far exceed that of a regular kit. The only bad thing about this option is that anniversary kits are in limited quantity and may not always be available.
Q. Are self-made reloading kits worth the trouble?
There are guides available on how to make your own reloading kit. This includes versions for a .410 gauge, 12 gauge and more. One of the books, in particular, has been in circulation for over three years and is also available at libraries. There are books even older than this one, many that beat it by a couple of decades. Making your own reloading kit is not only time consuming, but dangerous. The only pro to doing this over buying one is that you learn the ins and outs of the machinery.
Q. Is it safe to use a reloading kit?
Safety is a big concern to all of the companies involved with this type of machine, and especially for any machine dealing with ammunition. The first step to safety has to do with the evolving technologies related to gunpowder. With the smokeless powders of today, users don’t have to worry about accidentally igniting them. Smokeless powders and other technological advancements in the industry have helped out the overall safety measures needed when using a reloading kit. Even first time users will find that it’s hard to misuse one of these units.
Q. What mistake should a user never make?
Ammo reloading kits aren’t finicky products, but they do require a bit of know-how with the components. With the various things that go into making the kit a well-oiled machine, there are just as many mechanisms at work to keep the entire process safe. Something that the machine can’t safeguard against is powder abuse, which includes mixing different powders, using old powders or using incompatible powders. Avoiding this type of powder abuse will not only make the device last longer but will keep its safety measures intact over the multiple times it’s used.
When it comes to reloading kits, there are a lot of different options and selections to choose from. Spending a heap of money can land you a truly impressive and beast of a reloading kit, but it’s also very possible to save a bit of money and still get a full-featured kit that will help you get started in the world of ammo reloading.
Sticking with the options on our list will help to ensure that you get one of the best ones that money can buy and your investment will be well worth it.