5 Must-Have Universal Reloading Tools For Beginners | Reload all Calibers With Frankford Arsenal

With the ever-increasing price of ammo, it’s hard to imagine how many gun enthusiasts can afford to keep shooting.

At the start of the pandemic, it was only rifle ammo that increased in price, but that quickly changed with the lockdowns. Regardless of your political stance, ammo has reached a price for a lot of gun owners to make some hard decisions on their hobby. 

There are 3 choices we’ve had to make in the past couple of years.

First, you can just put your guns down and save money until manufacturing and distribution catch up.

Second, you can continue to pay the inflated prices on ammo and take the financial hit (this is for all the men and women with an unlimited expendable income).

Third, you can learn to reload your own ammo and save 60-80% on ammo after the first couple of reloads. 

5 Must-Have Universal Reloading Tools For Beginners

I will not put my guns down and stop shooting and I don’t have an unlimited expendable income, so my only choice is to reload. Keep reading to find out the 5 best reloading tools for all of your gun calibers

Best Reloading Bench

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Reloading Stand

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Best Reloading Press For Beginners

There is no doubt in my mind that the Frankford Arsenal M-Press is the easiest reloading press to operate and learn on. The MSRP is $299.99 for the Frankford reloading press, and Amazon is selling it for $171.58. 

The best part about the M-Press is the versatility to reload almost any bullet made from a .17 Remington to a .338 Lapua. I reload .38 Special, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 10mm, 30-06, .308 Winchester, and my 7mm Rem Mag for my Bergara. 

Another outstanding feature is the automatic de-primer of the M-Press that has a tray to catch your spent primers so you can toss them without worrying about losing them all over your floor.

The M-Press comes with 3 separate Die Blocks to practice with so you learn how to transition from resizing, seating, and crimping. Developing these skills will only help you become a better reloader and shooter. 

Watch the video above and read other reloading blogs, such as our The Best Universal Bullet Seating Die Kit | Make Reloading easier With Frankford Arsenal blog. I couldn’t be happier with my purchase and find the M-Press from Frankford Arsenal to be a great tool to learn from and hone my skills as a reloader. 

Frankford Arsenal Universal Bullet Seating Die

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

What Is The Most Accurate Reloading Press?

Frankford uses a unique floating die system that eliminates a lot of guesswork with the bullet seating by keeping the bullet firm, but flexible as the bullet finds its perfect spot in the case. Most single-stage reloading presses have a fixed die system that is more rigid and has a higher chance of not seating the bullet correctly (runout). 

I think the M-Press is the most accurate single-stage press because the universal shell plate system locks onto any sized case and uses 2 parallel guige rods to ensure the powder doesn’t tip out while pressing the bullet.  

A lot of things have to come together to get the best out of multiple calibers, but the adaptability of the M-Press to accept both small pistol and large magnum cases and primers makes it universally accepted.


Progressive Reloading Press Vs Single Stage Reloading Press

Progressive Reloading Press

Single Stage Reloading Press

A progressive reloading press is an ammo reloading machine that can reload multiple bullets at the same time.A single-stage reloading press has one base shell plate with a single station.
Can hold both large and small primers at the same time.Can only hold one primer at a time.
 A progressive press can automatically rotate (index) the shell holder and shell plate to accommodate multiple rounds. Single-Stage presses only hold one die at a time, therefore it can’t make multiple bullets on the same shell plate. 
Built-in Swages. Single-Stage presses are more affordable.
Added safety features.Most Single Stage Presses don’t prime cases
You can reload twice as fast with a Progressive press. 


What Are Calipers For Reloading?

One of my biggest hesitations in reloading was the amount of precision that it takes to ensure a bullet fires properly and safely. We measure bullet weights in grains because a single grain of powder can affect accuracy and reliability. To add to the stress, once your bullet is once we have our bullets weighed properly, we have to ensure the bullet length is under SAAMI specs for each caliber. 

A caliper is a tool that helps us measure (in millimeters) our case length, neck and base diameters, overall length, primer pocket depth, etc. I bought the analog calipers, but I highly recommend the electronic calipers from Frankford Arsenal instead. 

All the anxiety that I originally felt during my first reloads went away once I just bit the bullet (pun intended) and bought the electronic calipers. I’m terrible at math and running any calculations in mm is not something that I like to do if I don’t have to do it.

The FA electronic calipers measure in mm with the measurement display on the digital screen for easy and quick readings. The best part is Frankford calibrated these calipers to be within 0.001" of the target measurement. This is one of the most precise measurement tools that I’ve worked with. 

Frankford Arsenal Electric Calipers

at Natchez Shooting Supplies
Prices accurate at time of writing

What is a Powder Dispenser?

A powder dispenser for reloading can hold gun powder and properly dispense the calibrated amount of powder granules into a bullet case. There are many kinds of powder measure tools and machines, including the bench-top powder measure tool, electronic powder measurer (Intellidropper), and powder trickle measurer. 

All 3 types of powder pleasure tools work, but only one (electronic powder measurer) can automatically measure any size charge, from magnum to 9mm, within 0.1+/- gun powder weight. 

If you’re just starting out and don’t want to commit to the Intellidropper yet, you can use the powder trickler tool to manually drop powder into a tray for measurement. This will save you money on the front end and as long as you got a good scale, this is an effective way to measure powder. 

There is nothing wrong with using a trickler, but it will take you forever to do a batch of 1,000 bullets without automatically measuring and dispensing the grain. 

Frankford Arsenal Powder Trickler

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

What is the Best Electronic Powder Dispenser?

The Frankford Intellidropper features the most up-to-date interface of any electronic powder measurer that I’ve seen online, including the RCBS ChargeMaster. If you haven’t heard of the Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper APP, it’s one of the main reasons I recommend this product as much as I do. The app is free to download, and it allows me to set my load-outs from my phone. 

The Intellidropper can not only measure and dispense gunpowder, but it can also store your data for future use. Many other electronic powder measures hold 1 lb of powder, but the Intellidropper has a faster trickle rate and boasts an accuracy of 0.1+/- grain variable, instead of the standard 0.5 +/-.

The scale is easy to calibrate, and the Intellidropper alerts your phone and the machine once you hit the desired weight for each caliber. Once the trickle stops, I’m confident that every bullet is loaded to within 0.1 grain of my intended weight. 

Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper
Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper W/ 1lb of Hodgdon gunpowder.

The Intellidropper APP will give you an estimated cost to build each bullet you load. This is really helpful when starting because it gives you an idea of what each caliber will cost will specific components (ballpoint, hollow-point, etc…).

As a new reloader, learning to trust my tools was the biggest source of anxiety during the entire process. As weird as it may sound, I didn’t learn a ton about bullets during my time in the military. I knew the names of each bullet (M196) and what each bullet was meant for (Red Tracer), but that was the overall extent of my knowledge.

I knew when we were given green-tip bullets (M855); that it meant the Army wanted us to have more power and the ability to shoot through vehicles, drywall, and light personal armor. However, I never really learned phrases like crimping, bullet seating, or what makes a bullet armor-piercing. I’m sure my former NCOs would be upset to hear that, but until I started reloading, the exact weight of a bullet didn’t benefit me (or so I thought). 

By reloading with Frankford Arsenal tools, they have opened my eyes to the possibility of reloading my ammo with more precision than much of the commercial ammo I shoot. It may not seem like a lot to some gun owners, but the difference in precision from the Intellidropper to its competitors is around 0.4 grain +/-. If you’re reloading .30 caliber bullets and shooting out past 300 yards, a .4 grain weight advantage is the difference between a hit and a miss. 

Frankford Arsenal Intellidropper

at Frankford Arsenal
Prices accurate at time of writing

What is a Rotary Tumbler?

When reloading my ammo, I need to either buy fresh cases from a place like Natchez Shooting Supplies or recycle spent cases from commercial companies. When recycling cases, it’s important to clean the cases properly before you try to use them again with fresh components. Cleaning cases is the first step in reloading and is instrumental in your future success as a reloader. 

Frankford Arsenal Tumbler Callouts
Frankford Arsenal 4 Step Process For Cleaning Bullets With Rotary tumbler

If you’re interested in how to reload your ammo from start to finish, read Hands-On Beginner’s Guide to Reloading.

Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Lite

at Amazon
Prices accurate at time of writing

Why Did I Choose The Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler 7L?

There are 2 models of the Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler, including the Lite and 7L models. The FA Lite model is more affordable and does a great job for new shooters that don’t shoot more than once a month and only shoot a couple of calibers. However, if you shoot over 1,000 rounds per month in different calibers, then you’ll want the 7L drum. 

  1. The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler with a 7-Liter Capacity can hold over 2,000 rounds of my .38 Special and 9mm cases. 
  2. The average price for 5.56mm ammo is around $1.25 per bullet for 1,000 bullets is $1,250 for commercial ammo. I can clean 1,000 5.56mm cases in one 3-hour cleaning. 
  3. The FA rotary tumbler is a set-it-and-forget-it machine that doesn’t need to be babysat all day. 
  4. Uses wet or dry media for added versatility, such as the stainless steel media cleaner, corncob, or walnut media. Personally, I’d use nothing other than stainless steel due to how messy walnut and corncob can be.

How Much Brass Can Fit Into the Frankford Arsenal Tumbler 7L?

How Much Brass Can Fit Into The Frankford Arsenal Tumbler 7L? 
.45 ACP1,500+
.223 (5.56mmx45mm)1,000
7mm Rem Mag650

Is Reloading Worth it Right Now?

Yes! There are a ton of reasons to reload your own ammo, but I’ll give you 3 main reasons that every beginner should reload their own ammo. 

  1. You can save up to 60% reloading your own ammo. Each handgun caliber bullet can normally handle about 8-12 reloads before you need to discard the casing. The more you reload each case, the more money you save. I look at it like the more I customize my ammo, the more money I save and the more bullets I get to shoot.
  2. As a former high school history teacher, I have a good understanding of the importance of education. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also learn a lot about ammo and become better each time you reload. As I continue to learn, I become a more efficient and safe reloader.
  3. As I learn more about bullet weight and components, I learned how much better of a shooter I’ve become by customizing my ammo. I’ve learned that each weapon shoots differently and reacts better/worse with different bullet components and weights than other guns. Reloading allows me to dial in the perfect bullet for each weapon I have, increasing my effectiveness, accuracy, and range.

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Table of Contents

  • Best Reloading Bench
  • Best Reloading Press For Beginners
  • What Is The Most Accurate Reloading Press?
  • Progressive Reloading Press Vs Single Stage Reloading Press
  • What Are Calipers For Reloading?
  • What is a Powder Dispenser?
  • What is the Best Electronic Powder Dispenser?
  • What is a Rotary Tumbler?
  • Why Did I Choose The Frankford Arsenal Rotary Tumbler 7L?
  • How Much Brass Can Fit Into the Frankford Arsenal Tumbler 7L?
  • Is Reloading Worth it Right Now?

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