click the logo for the home page

Frequently Asked Questions

This is page is a work in progress. Please visit often to check for updates. If you have suggestions or wish to participate on the forums, many topics find their way here after sufficient discussion.

Where can I purchase parts for Star reloading tools?

Please visit the Want To Buy / Want to Sell discussion forum.

Star Machine Works of San Diego is no longer in business. The company was sold and the original production machines and company assets sold.

Many members prefer only original parts made by Star Machine Works of San Diego and sell them through listings in our forum. Other members make parts and accessories that have been out of production for years or are new and original designs. Used parts and reloading tools turn up on auctions too. cannot make recommendations or endorse companies. We are not in the business to evaluate or test products, but we do offer a means to locate companies and for individual members to provide feedback and report their experiences with a particular vendor.

If you are looking for anything Star related please register on the discussion forum and post an inquiry. Our helpful members have just what you need or can point you in the right direction with advice and assistance.

What's the difference between a Progressive and
Universal Star reloading tool?

The Progressive reloading tool was the original design intended to load .38 caliber ammunition only. It was later adapted to support loading .357 Magnum ammunition by installation of a larger powder slide and housing. A Progressive Star is not able to be converted to load any other caliber.

The Universal reloading tool was designed to allow loading of handgun caliber ammunition. The design of the Progressive tool was updated to include larger powder charge bars and housings as well as caliber conversion kits.

A caliber conversion required a shell plate, a set of dies for the caliber to load, a primer magazine/pickup tube/slide/bushing/punch (large or small), a powder slide for the specific charge to load. Many individuals chose to purchase a separate tool head for each caliber to maintain their accurate setup when changing calibers.

The major parts difference for the Universal tool is the inclusion of #79U Shell Plate Locating Straps (see picture below, #79U is in the lower left) to adjust for each shell plate and caliber. They are only found on the Universal model.

Why are Star Reloading tools so great?

Many ask this question. Some intend to justify owning something else, others to understand why so many desire to own and use a reloader designed almost 70 years ago. The fact is that they produce consistently accurate ammunition of the highest quality and Stars hold their value. They oulasted the original company, weathered copy-cat products, and still offer production capacity on par with most newer product designs that substitute warranties for the confidence of old school quality and workmanship that are Star's hallmarks.

The progressive type reloading tool was made successful with Star's design for a commercial volume reloading tool. It was the tool used by police departments and armories. Previous to this design, the options were complex and expensive straight-line or single stage reloading tools.

Many companies envy Star Machine Works of San Diego for it's reputation of lifetime quality. A successful company producing reloaders from the 1930s until the late 1990s with an efficient design and high quality gets attention. There was a waiting list as long as 18 months, similar to today's wait for a custom firearm with hand-fit precision craftsmanship. Elard Mock worked for Star over 57 years to assure the quality standards and design integrity.

Many improvements were suggested to enable Star design to increase output from hundreds of rounds per hour to upwards of a thousand rounds per hour. This is close to the same maximum output today's most expensive commercial progressives produce when fully outfitted with automatic case feeders, indexers, bullet feeders, etc. The Star reloading tool developed an industry for accessories including case feeders, case tube fillers, automatic indexers, bullet feeders, and many other innovations.

Immitation is often considered a sincere form of flattery. It is also a formal endorsement for the viability of the original idea. Star's design was copied by many companies over the years and we can point to similarities with today's reloading tools. Star is the originator of the design and inspired many others. Is it any wonder that Star is still a great product as wonderfully reliable today as it was over half a century ago.

Do the numbers stamped on part of my Star identify a serial number or the year it was produced?

Unfortunately, no. The numbers you find on Star parts are assembly numbers. They were used at the factory to track sub-assemblies that were hand-fitted together during manufacture of each reloading press. The tool head, shell plate, and dies will will interchange with other Stars. Some sub-assembly parts and several major parts were uniquely hand fit and do not interchange as they were fit to last a lifetime. Most of the factory fit parts are noted on the parts list as replacement at the factory or sold as completed parts.

If you are interested to date your Star, the only suggestion we can offer is to look at various factors and options on your Star and ask questions of our forum members. They can make some guestimations based on early or later production features. Keep in mind that with interchangeable tool heads, upgraded carbide dies, and factory replacement parts, it can be difficult or impossible unless you can ask the original owner or have the original sales receipt.

More to follow...

All rights reserved by and it's members*

* Notes & Legal Disclaimers: Star Machine Works logo and original materials are from the former Star Machine Works Company, San Diego, CA. This website is not affiliated in any way with the former Star Machine Works.

We do not claim to be experts. Some of our members have years of experience with the Star Machine Works Co. and their products. CAUTION: Reloading can be dangerous and any content, suggestions, or opinions offered by members, guests, or owners of this site are just that -- opinions. Check any advice carefully and proceed with caution. Always follow safety precautions or ask someone with more experience for assistance.

Click to go back to top of page

click star to go to top of page