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Every shooter or hunter who’s paying for factory ammo has, at one point, paused to eyeball a reloading kit on their way to the cash register. Perhaps that is the answer to all your ammunition woes.  It certainly won’t remedy all your problems, but reloading is fun, rewarding, and economical. Handloading requires some upfront investment, and it employs specialized tools and equipment. In addition to bread-and-butter components like primers, powder, and projectiles, the tools and process can seem daunting to a beginner. 

Whether you’re wanting to load cheap plinking ammo with second hand range brass, develop fine-tuned match loads for your precision shooting iron, or simply want to load your own hunting ammo, a reloading kit is a great way to get started. They aren’t intended to be a be-all-end-all ticket to ammunition bliss, but they are one of the most economical and simple ways to get started. I’ve loaded thousands of rounds of ammo with these reloading kits and the tools they come with so you know exactly what you’re getting. 

How I Tested The Best Reloading Kits

To test these reloading kits, I loaded several hundred rounds of ammo through each. I started with small cartridges like 9mm, .30 Carbine, and .223. I also loaded medium-sized rifle cartridges like .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor, and finally used each kit to resize and load large magnum cartridges such as .300 Win. Mag., .375 Ruger, and .338 Lapua Mag. Resizing and loading a variety of cartridges like this demonstrates how well the kit handles various types of powders, how well the press runs, and how convenient everything is to use. I’ve previously loaded hundreds of .30/06  rounds through my Lee Classic Loader and used all components of the Redding kit with my Redding T7 press to load over 20,000 rounds of ammo.

A reloading kit gives you the primary tools you need for loading your own ammunition. Tyler Freel

The Best Reloading Kits: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Hornady Lock-N-Load Iron Press Kit

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Key Features

  • Press: Hornady Iron, single stage
  • Lock-N-Load quick-change die bushings
  • Auto-priming system
  • Powder measure
  • Powder funnel
  • Lock-N-Load bench scale
  • Unique case lube
  • Shell holder kit
  • Digital calipers
  • Chamfer and deburring tools, case cleaning brushes
  • Bullet comparator set
  • Hornady reloading manual
  • Price: $730

Pros

  • Strong press and easy-loading shell holder retaining plate
  • Quick-changing die bushings
  • Accurate Scale and quality powder dispenser
  • Good digital calipers

Cons

  • Priming system is a little finicky
  • Instructions aren’t clear for first-time reloaders

The Hornady Lock-N-Load Iron Press Kit is well rounded and has some great components and features. It comes with almost everything you need to reload a variety of ammo. Like most other kits, it doesn’t include dies or a case trimmer. The press itself is a strong, monolithic, single-stage design that can be fitted with the included die and accessory caddy. Unlike many presses that use simple spring retention for shell holders, the Iron press uses a small plate that slides over the shell holder when it’s installed in the ram. This plate secures the shell holder and provides a flush, smooth surface on which you can slide cases easily into the shell holder. The only downside is that some other brands of shell holders don’t fit. The kit also includes an automatic priming system that works well with both small and large primers—but I found it to be a little finicky. It takes some tuning and existing reloading knowledge to keep it running smoothly. Better clarity in the instruction manual would help.

Hornady Iron press
Hornady’s Iron Press Kit includes an auto-priming tool and the quick-change die collets. Tyler Freel

The Lock-N-Load die bushings make it a snap to quickly change dies, but they only offer a real advantage if you equip all your dies with them—otherwise you’ll have to change them out each time you change dies anyway. Also, they don’t allow your dies to fit in their factory boxes when installed. They are, however, compatible with any brand of standard-sized reloading die. Other quality accessories include a tall powder measure and digital scale. I found the powder measure to be as accurate as other quality measures, varying by only about a tenth of a grain with larger extruded and flake powders—and even more accurate with ball powders. The scale is easy to calibrate and use, and when compared to my RCBS scale, gives accurate charge weights. I noticed that the displayed zero drifts slightly with the empty pan sitting on the scale, but when double-checking charge weights, they were always displayed accurately to the tenth of a grain. The powder measure mounting bracket is functional and versatile, but I’d prefer an above-table mount like many other powder measures. 

Hornady Iron Press shell holder
The shell holder retaining plate on the Hornady Iron press allows smooth loading and unloading. Tyler Freel

All-around, this is my favorite kit tested. The Unique case lube works really well and you’re given an ample supply. The digital calipers and bullet comparators allow precise cartridge measurements, especially if you’re aiming for a specific bullet seating depth. The variety and quality of the press and components make this kit a great option.

Best Value:  Frankford Arsenal Essentials Reloading Kit

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Key Features

  • Press: Frankford Arsenal F1 single stage
  • Perfect Seat hand priming tool
  • Powder measure
  • Aluminum powder funnel kit
  • DS-750 Digital Powder Scale
  • Digital calipers
  • 50-round reloading tray
  • Powder trickler
  • Price: $430

Pros

  • Simple, smooth-running press
  • Quality powder measure
  • Great universal hand priming tool
  • Good digital calipers

Cons

  • LED light on press requires a cord to be powered on
  • No case prep tools

The Essentials Reloading Kit from Frankford Arsenal is far-and-above the best value in reloading kits that I’ve seen. I’ve bought and used several Frankford Arsenal reloading tools like the Platinum Case Trim and Prep Center for years, and those items have always seemed to be of good quality. This kit is no exception. 

The F1 single-stage press is the centerpiece of this kit and it’s a simple and smooth-running press. Unlike many presses that have a body cast in one piece, the F1 features two pillars that connect the base and the top portion which houses the die. I particularly like the spent primer catch that threads onto the bottom of the ram. You can choose to use the bottle catch or the hose adapter with which you can direct spent primers directly into the garbage or another container. The press is simple and easy to operate, and features a small LED light to illuminate the area—though it unfortunately lacks a rechargeable battery and requires a USB cord be plugged in to operate. 

Frankford Arsenal F1 Press
The F1 press is a simple single-stage design that catches spent primers at the bottom of the ram. Tyler Freel

The most impressive parts of this kit are its components, which are high quality and built to last. The aluminum powder funnel kit rests securely atop cartridge cases and isn’t subject to static charge and sticking powder like many plastic funnels are. The hand priming tool comes with adapters for a wide variety of cartridges, features a very simple system for swapping between small and large primers, and a nice storage case. You can even adjust the primer seating depth precisely. This kid doesn’t include any brass prep tools, but things like the digital calipers and a quality powder trickler make up for it. 

The powder measure is large and features a sturdy stand. I found it dropped accurate charges, varying by about a tenth of a grain depending on the composition of the particular powder. It comes with a micrometer measure intended for rifle charge weights. A pistol micrometer is available, but I had no trouble dropping small charges with the rifle micrometer—though fine ball powder like H110 did seem to gum up the moving parts a bit. The DS-750 powder scale is a cheap, rebranded scale that falls short of the rest of the kit’s quality, but it did record accurate charge weights when compared to my RCBS chargemaster scale. 

The Classic Kit:  RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit

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Key Features

  • Press: RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
  • Press priming tool
  • Universal hand primer
  • Uniflow-3 powder measure
  • Powder funnel
  • Universal case loading block
  • M500 mechanical powder scale
  • RCBS case lube and lube pad
  • Deburring & chamfer tool
  • Accessory handle & case neck brushes
  • Hex key set
  • Speer reloading manual
  • Price: $499

Pros

  • Rock Chucker is a strong, classic single-stage press
  • Consistent powder measure
  • Hand primer is universal—uses shell holders for each cartridge
  • Simple, easy-to-use components

Cons

  • Balance scale is slower to use than digital

The first cartridges I ever saw reloaded were on a Rock Chucker press, and the Rock Chucker reloading kit has been one of the best reloading kits in the industry for decades. If you think it’s lost its relevance, you’re wrong. The Rock Chucker Supreme kit is built around one of the most simple and dependable single-stage presses on the market. It features a loading window tall enough to accommodate magnum cartridges and has an ambidextrous handle. The press holds a single die at a time and shell holders snap securely into the top of the ram. Spent primers are caught by a plastic tray.

RCBS rock chucker supreme press
The Rock Chucker is a classic design that will serve any reloader well. Tyler Freel

This kit includes a Uniflow-3 powder measure that RCBS brags as its most accurate manual powder dispenser yet. It’s easy to assemble and clean, though the volume adjustment is a bit more crude than the micrometers on the Frankford and Redding powder measures. However, the RCBS Uniflow-3 holds good consistency, and varies by only about 0.1 grains with larger extruded powders. The mounting plate can be screwed or clamped to a bench, or fastened to the top of the press with a reloading die. The balance powder scale is accurate but tedious. If you’re going to weigh every charge, this analog scale will slow you down. 

Though the Rock Chucker press comes with a flip-over manual priming tool, the RCBS hand primer that comes with the kit will save you lots of time and minimize your direct handling of primers. I’ve used these for years, and this model includes parts for seating both large and small primers, and the tool uses standard reloading shell holders to grab the casing rather than shell holders that are specific to that tool only. Other accessories like the loading block and case prep tools are great additions. The only thing this kit really lacks for a new reloader is a case trimmer, and it doesn’t come with anything you won’t use.

Best Bugout Kit: Lee Loader Classic Reloading Kit

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Key Features

  • Neck sizing die
  • Decapping base and rod
  • Adjustable seating depth
  • Priming rod and base
  • Powder scoop
  • Price: $40

Pros

  • Simple and effective way to reload a single caliber/cartridge
  • Affordable
  • Compact/portable
  • Great way to get started

Cons

  • Can only reload for a single caliber
  • Neck sizing only
  • Doesn’t include case prep tools

The first piece of reloading equipment I purchased as a teenager was a Lee Loader in .30/06. It’s what I learned to reload with, and what my dad did too. The Lee Loader is an incredibly simple kit that includes all you need for decapping, neck-sizing, priming, and loading ammunition for a single cartridge. 

After decapping, use a plastic mallet to hammer the case into the die, which sizes the neck. Then, the die and priming base are used with a priming rod to gently tap a new primer into place. A powder charge is added, a bullet dropped into the die, and it’s seated with the seating stem by tapping with the mallet. Seating depth is adjustable, and this kit can be used to produce accurate handloads. Since the die neck sizes only, it’s best to only use brass fired from the same gun.

The Lee Classic Loader is kind of a “bugout” reloading kit, but it’s also great for teaching the principles of handloading or for someone who wants to load at low volume and cost. It doesn’t come with any case prep tools, but Lee does have a pretty cool case trimming system that uses caliber-specific rods that thread into a cutter, and a base which can be chucked into an electric drill. You’ll want to get a quality powder scale, though Lee does provide a reference chart for powder types and charge weights using the included yellow powder scoop.

Pick Your Press: Redding Versa Pak Pro Kit

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Key Features

  • Press not included
  • Model 2 powder scale
  • Redding 3BR powder Measure
  • Redding 2400 Match case trimmer
  • Powder Trickler
  • Chamfer/Deburring tool
  • Powder funnel
  • Model 18 case prep kit (neck brushes and primer pocket cleaner)
  • Case Lube and pad
  • Imperial sizing die wax
  • Redding case neck lube kit
  • Advanced handloading DVD and Hodgdon manual
  • Price: $654

Pros

  • Excellent quality components
  • Good case prep tools
  • Great powder trickler
  • Accurate micrometer powder measure

Cons

  • Doesn’t include press
  • Balance scale is slower than digital

What’s a reloading kit without a press? That’s a fair question, but when Redding developed its Versa Pak Pro reloading kit, they wanted to give the customer the freedom to choose their own press rather than pigeon-hole them into one option. The Versa Pak Pro is intended to include almost everything a serious reloader needs, and will complement any press you choose. The components of this kit are all top-notch, and it includes the often neglected case trimmer—a good one at that. 

The powder measure works well with a wide variety of powders, and features a micrometer for precise adjustments. It uses a table-top mounting base, but edge-of-bench mounts are available too. This kid includes an accurate balance powder scale, which is a bit slower than digital options. 

You’ve got everything you need for case prep, and the kit comes with both the older style case lube pad and a tin of Imperial Sizing Die Wax—my case lube of choice. It also includes Redding dry neck lubricant which can be very handy for sizing large magnum cases.

I think a good digital powder scale and loading block are the only accessories this kit lacks, and it’s a great option for someone who wants to pick out a particular press that isn’t available with a kit.

Frankford Arsenal Case trimmer
Most reloading kits don’t include a case trimmer, and a motorized trimmer like this one from Frankford Arsenal is a great addition to your reloading kit. Tyler Freel

How to Choose A Reloading Kit

Every reloading kit is a little different, and your personal needs and tastes will dictate which is the best choice for you. Almost any single-stage press kit is capable of loading just about any ammo you might need, but as you learn to reload, you’ll develop your own preferences. If you want to buy a particular press that doesn’t come with a kit, Redding’s Versa Pak Pro would be a good choice. If you want something ultra simple and strong, the Rock Chucker is hard to beat. Frankford’s kit has a lower-end press, but has some of the highest quality components. When buying a kit, keep in mind that they all have shortcomings. There will always be a piece of equipment such as a scale, powder measure, or a case trimmer that you’ll need in addition. 

FAQ

Who makes the best reloading equipment?

Several companies make excellent reloading equipment, including Hornady, RCBS, Redding, Frankford Arsenal, and others.

Is reloading really worth it?

If you only shoot a couple boxes of ammo per year, reloading probably isn’t worth it, but if you shoot a lot, you can save some money and produce excellent ammo.

Is ammo reloading easy?

Reloading is a very simple, easy process, but it does require some specialized tools and great attention to detail.

How many dies are needed for reloading?

Generally, most cartridges only require a resizing die and a bullet seating die. Many straight-wall cartridges use an expanding die, and sometimes a specialized crimp die is handy.

Final Thoughts on The Best Reloading Kits

The biggest takeaway when it comes to sorting through the best reloading kits is that they are intended to be a starting point. None of the kits include everything you’ll ever want or need, but many of them include quality components that will serve you well for years to come. I started reloading on a Lee Classic loader, and loaded thousands of rounds with cheap reloading kits. If you invest in a quality reloading kit, you’ll use most of those components for years. I’ve found that although the cheap reloading kits work, you’ll eventually replace or upgrade virtually every part and component. 

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