When I was in your shoes, about 2 mo ago. All thinking pointed at the need for a lathe.
My neighbor and shooting buddy has a larger one, size enough to do about anything with a rifle. I spent an afternoon with him machining a simple straight forward idea that I have. Set up time was the killer. Once rolling things went smoothly. But it was his lathe and his time. This was the factor that tipped the scales to purchasing my own.
My first attempts to find a used lather were futile.
I then searched all the mini-lathe forums I could find. This was an eye opener. Each lathe had some sort of down side. Most were made in the same city in china. Only colors differed.
I finally settled on the Harbor Freight model 93212-9VGA. (7 x 10) Its the same as models from other outlets but is red in color vs blue.
I went to the HF place and looked and studied, kicked and prodded and dinked around then got the idea to talk to the Man.
We wrangled a bit and I ended up with the 44859-4VGA
(8 x 12) actual (8 x14) I figured that was a plus.
The next size down weights about 84#. This one weight about 254#. That must be a plus also.
Got it for the same $ out lay as I would have got the smaller version.
It seems that each store can make their own deals on some thing.
Freight was 0.00 as it was shipped to the HF store on the weekly delivery.
All in all it is working nearly perfectly for my needs which are prototype bullet/jacket development.
It runs quite true though centering the tail stock was a learning curve. My first project was to turn a bushing to hold bullets in the 3-Jaw head stock. It turned out very well but I have to learn how to polish the inside.
I have no previous machining experience or education. And know nothing about different types of metals other than copper and brass.
I've started the slow methodical acquisition of additional parts and pieces to make things a little more useful. Most things can be made DIY. Such as follow rests etc, and other innovations.
BTW, this model is not related to the smaller minis. Much more robust tail stock and is not made in Sieg(sic) China....but probably just down the road.
I can now add some much coveted letters after my name. Such as PPPM. (Pretty Piss Poor Machinist)