Press upgrade dilemma 338lm

Wide Glide

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This is going to be real long winded sorry

Ive been reloading since about 08-09 and in that time i started with a lee hand press loading for my first ar15 build and got hooked on reloading immediately and upgraded to a lee breech lock challenger (not classic cast) and added a hornady LNL AP for a short while. Since then ive spent thousands and thousands on reloading tools and components. Loading/shooting 500+ rifle rounds per month at minimum but ive never considered a press upgrade untill getting frustrated with some 338lm dies.

Usually anytime i buy a new rifle i buy a new lee ultimate 4 die set and a redding body die and enough lee bushings for them. Each rifle gets their own even if i own multiple rifles in that caliber.

I ran into a problem when i got my 338 a couple of years back. Lee doest make a normal sized collet neck die for 338lm and my press doesnt accept the large series dies so i bought a lyman set just so i had something and sadly its kept me from shooting the 338 much. I finally decided to get them out and go to work loading some 338 and ran into problem after problem and destroyed quite a few peices of brass trying to troubleshoot.

I decided it was probably time to throw some money at the problem and my first thought was maybe it was time to finally give bushing dies a try. I have extreme ADHD with a touch of OCD though and I absolutely hate change. Within 5 minutes of thinking maybe I should give bushing dies a try I started thinking about the possible need to neck turn and everything else that could come along with that and although I haven't completely written it off I keep going in circles thinking about it until I end up with a headache.

After a few days of this I came to the conclusion that to switch over to bushing dies and get a good set for just the 338 I would probably end up spending about the same amount of money that it would cost me to buy a new press capable of using the Lee large series collet neck die along with the new Lee die set and a Redding body die. At first I was only really considering the Lee classic cast press and the Rock chucker Supreme. But while trying to decide I stumbled across that video comparing 14 different reloading presses and got my mind spinning out of control

After watching that video and seeing that the Press I have used for the last 10 years is literally the worst press of all of them I started looking at the features of all of them in the video and I went from just considering the two presses to also realizing I really liked the Redding Big Boss 2, and a couple of the Lyman brass Smith series. And since I was already stumbling down the rabbit hole a few videos later I was looking at the reading Ultra Mag, Dillon 550, RCBS Summit, and new RCBS Rebel,

This was the night before last and I was off last night so I spent literally the whole day and night last night looking at presses and videos trying to make a decision. While I was doing that I came to another realization that I hadn't thought much about and that was that one of my pet peeves I've always had was having to hold the bullet tip in the mouth of the case and slide it up into the seating die before sliding it into the shell holder.

That had me rethinking everything because up until that point I was really leaning toward getting the Redding Big Boss 2 but it has the exact same usable opening size that my current press does although it will accept the large series die. I did a whole bunch of thanking and searching on Google and it seems that everybody else loading 338 either just deals with it or buys either a Redding ultramag or Forster co-ax press. They are a little more money than I wanted to spend on the Press and although the coax seems pretty awesome it is such a different concept than I am used to that I don't think I could ever bring myself to pull the trigger

If I eliminate the coax and Ultra Mag and only consider presses that will accept the large series die and have at least a half inch larger opening than my current press it pretty much limits me to either the RCBS Rebel, the RCBS Rock chucker Supreme, or the Lee classic cast press. The only thing appealing about either of the RCBS presses to me is the current rebate but the last two times I have tried to take advantage of an RCBS rebate I ended up getting screwed out of it anyway.


I guess the real dilemma is...

1. settle for one of the presses I'm not really into because they check both boxes both accepting the large series dies and having the extra height

2. try to get past the annoyance of having two partially put the bullet up into the seating die to get it into the Press ( or limit myself to using the RCBS matchmaster die with the bullet window) and get a press that actually seems like something I would really want rather than just something I absolutely need at bare minimum (big boss 2 ect...)

3. Splurge on either the ultramag or coax

If I stick with option 1 or 2 I can buy everything needed right now and any one of those presses will be a major upgrade from what I am used to.
Option 3 will mean I will need to wait a paycheck or two to buy the new dies, ultramount plate, and anything else needed to switch.

Option 1 or 2 would also mean that I wouldn't have to set aside money a couple weeks later just to get started so I could be possibly getting a second press like the brass Smith American 8 turret press or one of the brass Smith single stages to complement the first press like a brass Smith victory with the longer stroke I would like to seat bullet to compliment the big boss 2 that I would like to have for the extra leverage of resizing the bigger cases like 300 Win Mag and 338 and has the capability to run the large series Lee neck die..

Thoughts?

I'm going to hit post before I lose this since I need to get back to work but there's a good chance I'll be back to ramble some more
 

cape cove

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Mar 17, 2016
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I use a Lee CC and really like it. It has great primer catching in a tube, lots of hand space( I load for a 300 RUM and 30/378 Wea) and great leaverage. The price is also good as well as accepting both die sizes. It loads good concentric ammo. JMO
 

Buck Fever

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Mar 10, 2020
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The bad bush
The Lee Classic Cast is a solid press. The Rock Chucker is a good one too.

The UltraMag looks nice but I feel like the linkage arms might get in the way. I don't think it solves the bullet seating issue either.

The Co-ax is supposed to be self aligning. I wonder if it does that any better than a press with a sloppy ram?

For me, I went simple and bought a good Rock Chucker from a friend.

For the bullet issue, I like the Hornady seater dies that have a sliding sleeve to align the bullet with the neck during seating. I have heard some not so great things about those Matchmaster seaters...

At the end of the day, a press is pretty simple and I like the "O" style for stiffness in the press frame. Cast iron is better than die cast aluminum. A large ram is better than small and it should have a nice and smooth but tight bushing.

The Lee Classic Cast and Rock Chucker are the two value standouts to me. They have everything I need.
 

J E Custom

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My opinion for you at this time is keep it simple and first buy a large heavy duty press. There are several that will gave enough gap to except large cartridges and a standard set of dies (No frills).
A good choice would be standard RCBS two die set dies and the Rock Chucker Supreme. for price and function. (There are other presses and dies but these will last a lifetime and give good results.

As you learn more about reloading you can safely branch out to more expensive equipment as you learn, but the end results will be almost the same. I have both the RCBS and the foster coax and for the larger cartridges the rock Chucker Supreme has the most power for sizing and on the smaller cartridges the forester has the most fineness.

The Lapua is very easy to load with a strong press and the standard RCBS dies and I feel there isn't
any reason to spend extra money at this time. (Keep it simple and don't over think it)

Just my advice

J E CUSTOM
 

Wide Glide

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The Lee Classic Cast is a solid press. The Rock Chucker is a good one too.

The UltraMag looks nice but I feel like the linkage arms might get in the way. I don't think it solves the bullet seating issue either.

The Co-ax is supposed to be self aligning. I wonder if it does that any better than a press with a sloppy ram?

For me, I went simple and bought a good Rock Chucker from a friend.

For the bullet issue, I like the Hornady seater dies that have a sliding sleeve to align the bullet with the neck during seating. I have heard some not so great things about those Matchmaster seaters...

At the end of the day, a press is pretty simple and I like the "O" style for stiffness in the press frame. Cast iron is better than die cast aluminum. A large ram is better than small and it should have a nice and smooth but tight bushing.

The Lee Classic Cast and Rock Chucker are the two value standouts to me. They have everything I need.
The linkage location was one thing I didn't like about the Big Boss 2 going on looks alone. I tend to sit with my chargemaster to my left, my gem Pro and trickler right in front of me, and my press to my right and load the Press from the side.

I haven't seen much on the Hornady dies I was actually considering the full length match set with bushing and seater but when I tried to Google more info on them all I found was a post or two with what may have been the same guy in both mentioning that the seating die added quite a bit of run out to his normal loads. Do you measure run out? I'm guessing you would disagree with it adding run out? Do you have an opinion on full length bushing Sizer die from them? I don't have any experience with Hornady dies I have only used RCBS Lyman Redding and Lee and I have been less than impressed with RCBS and Lyman dies.

My opinion for you at this time is keep it simple and first buy a large heavy duty press. There are several that will gave enough gap to except large cartridges and a standard set of dies (No frills).
A good choice would be standard RCBS two die set dies and the Rock Chucker Supreme. for price and function. (There are other presses and dies but these will last a lifetime and give good results.

As you learn more about reloading you can safely branch out to more expensive equipment as you learn, but the end results will be almost the same. I have both the RCBS and the foster coax and for the larger cartridges the rock Chucker Supreme has the most power for sizing and on the smaller cartridges the forester has the most fineness.

The Lapua is very easy to load with a strong press and the standard RCBS dies and I feel there isn't
any reason to spend extra money at this time. (Keep it simple and don't over think it)

Just my advice

J E CUSTOM
I am leaning towards the RCBS Rock chucker Supreme because it checked both boxes and it is cheaper with a great reputation. As for waiting until I learn more about reloading before spending any money to upgrade I'm not sure I can agree with you there. I have been using this same press for 10 years and I already have a normal set of dies for the 338 I just don't like them. They are the Lyman Deluxe Set with the carbide expander. I tried the cheap rcbs set and gave them to a friend but I've never tried any of their premium sets..

I have no issue admitting I'm not an expert by any means, and I am always willing to take advice but I think 10 years of loading on this press using dies from four different manufacturers to load tens of thousands of rounds should be enough experience to know that I am ready to upgrade. The thing I am not sure about is what I want to upgrade to. I've actually been pretty happy with my results with the exception of this 338 Lapua. The rifle will shoot but the dies seem too finicky and I spend way too much time trying to get them set up to achieve only acceptable results. I would rather spend some more money on upgrades then keep spending close to three dollars every time I Mangle another case trying to set these dies up. I don’t have to mess up many more cases to surpass how much I’ve spent on the dies. Between that and the cost of components and short barrel life I don’t want to waste anymore time or money trying to milk a little bit more out of those dies. For what I’ve spent already On this rifle and related components it would be A shame to let the cost of a set of dies keep me from enjoying any of it.
 

Buck Fever

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The bad bush
I need to buy a run out measuring tool.

For now I just set a case in a v-block and rotate it. The bullets seem to have minimal wobble but I don't have a test indicator on them.

I have one Hornady set with the bushing die but it's for a caliber I have not started reloading yet so I haven't figured out my neck thickness or bushing size.
 

Howland

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Nov 19, 2017
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Upstate SC
I have the Hornady Match dies and use a little RCBS Partner press. I'm happy with the dies for under $100, they feel very smooth and slick while sizing. While I'd love to have a big, heavy duty press (I regret letting the Rockchucker go), the Partner does fine. It doesn't take much force to full length size because I've adjusted the dies so I'm not resizing very much. Any more than just enough to chamber is over sizing. Yeah, I have to tip the bullet tip into and up into the seating die to get the bullet base onto the case mouth. It's only a minor niusiance.

I did remove the elliptical expander and use mandrels from 21st Century. 0.3350" gives me noticably better groups than more or less interference fit. They come in 0.0005" increments. I think I have seven different size bushings. Different brands of brass have different neck thickness. I don't want to overwork the necks. I only want to use enough bushing to ensure the mandrel opens the neck.

I did pick up a concentricity tester. I measured in the middle of the neck and halfway between the ogive and tip. Middle of the neck showed maximum 0.0015" TIR, about the same variation in neck thickness I measured. No worries there. It won't ever get less than neck thickness variation.

Halfway between the ogive and tip showed some very good, others up to 0.0045" TIR. I figured something in the seating step was the cause. I sorted a batch and got 0.6 MOA with the best concentricity, 0.54 MOA with the worst. The concentricity tester can stay on the shelf, but at least now I know.

I haven't gone down the neck turning road yet. I'm not sure I will. I will eventually start annealing but I'm pretty sure the next incremental improvement in accuracy will come from improving my shooting fundamentals and skills.
 

MagnumManiac

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I have the RCBS Rockchucker Supreme, I load for 505 Gibbs (parent of the CheyTac) on this press, 500 Nitro, 416 Rigby, STW’s, RUM’s & belted mags. Never have I ever had to place a bullet in my case prior to putting a case in the shell holder on this press.
I also have the RCBS Turret press, it has ample room but will not accept 1” or larger die sets.
I had a Redding Big Boss 2, RCBS AmmoMaster as well, both presses are just too large in handle throw for me.

Cheers.
 

Deputy819

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one of my pet peeves I've always had was having to hold the bullet tip in the mouth of the case and slide it up into the seating die before sliding it into the shell holder.
I have a Rock Chucker Supreme as wellI and don’t have to do what you describe. The window opening & ram stroke are VERY accommodating. I DO have to do that when I use my Redding Big Boss press. You’ll be very happy with the RC Supreme should you decide to buy that one.
 

Wide Glide

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I have a Rock Chucker Supreme as wellI and don’t have to do what you describe. The window opening & ram stroke are VERY accommodating. I DO have to do that when I use my Redding Big Boss press. You’ll be very happy with the RC Supreme should you decide to buy that one.
If you were regularly loading 300wm and 338lm and had to choose between the two?

What I am getting at is I have always had to tilt the larger cartridges with bullets already sitting on brass so I do not know if having a press that I don't have to do that is actually going to be worth making it a deciding factor or if I have just been making that a bigger more annoying problem in my head than it really is.
 

Wide Glide

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. I sorted a batch and got 0.6 MOA with the best concentricity, 0.54 MOA with the worst. The concentricity tester can stay on the shelf, but at least now I know.

I haven't gone down the neck turning road yet. I'm not sure I will. I will eventually start annealing but I'm pretty sure the next incremental improvement in accuracy will come from improving my shooting fundamentals and skills.
Ive never measured runout and I don't plan to start. I just didn't want to consider buying a product if it was known to cause run out. I obsess over enough weird stuff that probably doesn't matter to end up going down that rabbit hole on purpose lol

Before not being able to find much feedback on them I was really considering buying a set of the Hornady match dies if I didn't end up going the route of the large series Lee collet die/redding body combo. Not only did they look good on paper but the price is really good and I figured they should be able to make a good seating die for the 285gr ELD match bullets. Depending on availability I usually switch back and forth between those and 300 grain Nosler custom competition
 

J E Custom

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Reloading is an evolving process, the more you do the, more you learn and the more you learn the more weakness you find in your procedure. Reloading is not instant success just because you buy the latest and greatest components/tools. When I started, (Over 50 Years ago) I bought the basic tools and began reading and loading ammo that was better than Factory ammo and was very happy with sub 1 MOA accuracy. As I became a better shooter, I tried to improve on the ammo quality and Started keeping a closer eye on every step of the procedure using records to track it.

There was not a lot of precision dies and equipment back then and not as many powder selections as now so I had to take advantage of every possible improvement. Soon I was loading sub 1/2 MOA ammo. Never being satisfied, I tried every new thing that came along and any tricks/tips from more experienced re loaders.

I also Made many of the needed tools that could improve the quality/consistency of my re loads. As my shooting improved the demand for even better ammo became even greater. 1/4 MOA ammo became necessary to be competitive, so I started working on every step to improve the quality and trying new ways to improve the consistency of the ammo.

Now with all of the quality tools (And many not so quality) you have to test each one to see if it really improves quality or is just another way of doing it. With all of this said, I finally have a procedure that alerts me to the quality of each step and any improvements because each step is tested for quality/accuracy before proceeding to the next step. I have changed equipment and components to find the weaknesses in each step, and isolated the problem, making it possible to correct or improve it and found more improvements in my Ammo. Now on occasion and with better shooting days I can load 1/10th MOA ammo. that will out shoot me. (Now I am the weak link).

Of all the weaknesses of loading I have found, Bullet seating has been the greatest, and is the main flaw that I am still working on. I now turn the necks true before firing the first time, test the concentricity. Size the case and test for concentricity, Trim and prep the cases, recheck for concentricity (Again) Charging and bullet seating are next, and the greatest runout has been found at this stage because with checking runout at every stage and finding no runout until seating is done I have reduced it from .003 to .006 average, to .000 to .0015 average by trying different seating processes and techniques

The point is that you have to find each individual problem and work on eliminating it to load the best ammo. I still have not been able to load perfect ammo and probably never will so I just keep trying. Just like shooting, to load really good ammo you have to follow the best procedure to get the best quality ammo and the type of presses and dies has less to do with it than the way it is used. Perfection does not come easy.

J E CUSTOM
 

woolecox

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Jun 28, 2009
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136
I highly recommend the Redding Big Boss II and all Redding dies. Also have the Forster Co-Ax and their dies as well. Both are excellent and very precise. My pistol ammo is loaded on a Dillon RL550B that I have had for 15 years. I will never need another press the rest of my life.

I had two different Lee presses and one point but ended up giving them away. I started out on a Rock Chucker (USA made) in 1987. It was a great press as well. I gave it to my son so he could get started in reloading.

I would forget about neck turning unless you are shooting bench rest and have an undersized neck chamber that requires it. Don't overthink it. Load up some ammo. If it shoots well, that is the true litmus test.
 

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