Lee Presses Update - MP-Pistol Forum

Lee Presses Update

This is a discussion on Lee Presses Update within the MP Reloading forums, part of the Smith & Wesson MP Forum category; Finally returning after losing my PW and neglecting my 9mm M&P after buying S&W AR-15 Sport (too much fun!) This is an update on my ...


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Old March 11th, 2015, 04:41 PM   #1
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Lee Presses Update

Finally returning after losing my PW and neglecting my 9mm M&P after buying S&W AR-15 Sport (too much fun!) This is an update on my experiences with (now) two Lee reloading presses to provide new reloaders with some info. I have two progressive presses: the Pro 1000 for 9mm and the Load Master for .223. I bought the LM specifically for the rifle as the turret carries up to 5 dies: resize/de-prime, primer seat (I use a de-priming die minus the rod prior to the primer seating die to align the case), powder die, bullet seat, and crimp. The Pro 1000 carries 3 dies: resize/de-prime, primer seat/powder, and bullet seat. Total cost for both presses under $800 and they do the job. Set up is not easy on either press. I ran into the same issues (broke the chain right off on both) even though they were assembled at different times so thought I could avoid the earlier issues. I did not. The most trouble I've experienced on both is the primer feed & seating. I can buzz right along for 10-15 cases maybe more then have seating issues with the primers on both presses. I started paying more attention to the primer pockets (cleaning) and that helped. But I still am reluctant to go full-progressive-I load manually one at a time. Check out all online videos-they help! Dillons run what-$1500?
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Old March 11th, 2015, 04:50 PM   #2
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Dillons work, Lee is a pain when it comes to working the priming system. I have a pro1000 and a load master, and a 650, stopped using the the lee no need for the frustration.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 04:58 PM   #3
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Hate to say it, but you could have bought a Dillon 550 for less than you spent on the cheap stuff. Dillon costs a bit more up front but it just keeps going and going, and their warranty can't be beat.

As an example of warranty, when I bought my Dillon in 1985 it was a plain RL550, before the B model, the B model brought several improvements which I added maybe 3 years later. One of those improvements was a low primer warning system, a buzzer to let you know you are almost out of primers, last summer I went to load and the primer warning system had crapped out after about 26 years, since it was an electronic part I guessed it wouldn't be covered, but when I called Dillon to order one they replaced it at no charge! Buying a Dillon paid off again.

BTW, cleaning primer pockets is a waste of time, it doesn't do anything except waste time, I haven't cleaned a primer pocket since 1985 and over 100,000 reloads.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 05:09 AM   #4
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A Dillon Square Deal B, is less than $400.00. Only handles pistol cases tho.
I torn between getting the SD, or the 550B. I only plan on loading 9mm & .40,
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Old March 12th, 2015, 10:11 AM   #5
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A Dillon Square Deal B, is less than $400.00. Only handles pistol cases tho.
I torn between getting the SD, or the 550B. I only plan on loading 9mm & .40,
The problem with the Square Deal B is that it only loads pistol calibers, while you might not be interested in loading rifle now, what about in 5 years? I HIGHLY recommend going ahead and getting the 550B at the least, the versatility is worth the difference. I've been through all the beginner mistakes, my first Lee press was so frustrating that I almost quit reloading entirely, luckily for me I came back and bought better equipment. The Dillon was the fourth press I bought, and the only reloading press I've bought since then was a Mec for shotgun, I never expected to be reloading shotgun shells, but eventually I did. I should add that all that learning experience was in the late 60's to early 70's and the Dillon came along in 1985, so all this learning experience was pre internet.

Lee was first, and almost last, then a Lyman Spartan, RCBS Rockchucker, Dillon RL550, and then the Mec. The Dillon, the Rockchucker and the Mec are all currently set up on my bench. The Rockchucker is there because I reload a few calibers in very small quantities, too small to be worth setting up on the Dillon.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 01:08 PM   #6
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The more I use the Lee's the more I think about a Dillon (650). Wondering if you load multiple calibers? If so, what's the change-out like?
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Old March 12th, 2015, 01:16 PM   #7
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Yeah, and my Lee expense (& frustration) doesn't include all the peripheral Lee gear I've also bought over time. I haven't looked at the 550-was leaning toward the 650 to be able to change out dies, etc for rifle. What's the system change-out on the Dillon like? Would be great if I could downsize to one WORKING press!
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Old March 12th, 2015, 02:33 PM   #8
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you can get extra bases for other calibers. Switching out only takes a couple min with no adjustments to the dies. Lots of videos on you tube.

I'm pretty much sold on the Square Deal. If I need to load rifle, ill dig out my old rockchucker.
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Old March 12th, 2015, 03:41 PM   #9
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I load 38 special, 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 acp, 44 magnum pistol calibers, all on the Dillon, plus 223/5.56 and 300 Blackout on the Dillon. There are different methods to changing calibers depending on how much you want to spend, spend a little more and the change over is quicker.

Start with an interchangeable tool head, the cheapest way is to have one tool head and change dies out, possible but a pain since you would need to do a lot of adjustment, so you have a tool head for each caliber, you have a pre adjusted powder die and move the powder measure to each tool head as you change, more expensive but more convenient is to have a separate powder measure for each caliber, it all depend on how much you want to spend. It only takes a few seconds to change the tool head to a different caliber. The advantage of extra powder measures is they are already adjusted to the particular charge.

Then there is the shell holder, a multi cartridge shell holder that rotates as you load, this takes a little adjustment when you change it, but its not too much.

Its a bit more complicated when you change between large and small primers, more cartridges use small primers these days, 45 acp has always been large primers, but is in the process of changing over to small primers.

I haven't used a 650 but the changeover is similar, but the 650 is more complicated than the 550 I have, it takes me about 10 minutes to change calibers, adding about another 5 minutes to change primer sizes, again on a 550.

The photo below is before the Mec shotshell loader.
Attached Images
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Old March 13th, 2015, 06:49 AM   #10
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I recently went through the same quandry on whether the 550b was better suited to my reloads or the SDB. I only load pistol with no plans for rifle at all so the SDB would have been a great choice. Two considerations eventually moved me away from the SDB. One is that its resale value doesn't hold up as well as a more versatile press and secondly, I believe the SDB uses proprietary dies - you can't just buy the dies you prefer.

But that said, many people are extremely happy with their SDB and it really cranks out the ammo.
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Old March 13th, 2015, 07:55 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sacshooter48 View Post
The more I use the Lee's the more I think about a Dillon (650). Wondering if you load multiple calibers? If so, what's the change-out like?
Most of the guys I know who have Lee progressive presses swear at them, not by them. Dillon owners are just the opposite and are vocally in love with their machines. I'm a 650 owner and in the "in-love" category.

I have a 650 set up for both 38 Special and 9 mm and the change over is about a 10 to 15 minute job. I have separate tool heads with mounted die sets and powder measures so that's fast to change but I need to change the shell plate, case feed parts and case feed shell plate. Both use small primers so I don't have to change the primer feed.
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Old March 13th, 2015, 01:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sacshooter48 View Post
Yeah, and my Lee expense (& frustration) doesn't include all the peripheral Lee gear I've also bought over time. I haven't looked at the 550-was leaning toward the 650 to be able to change out dies, etc for rifle. What's the system change-out on the Dillon like? Would be great if I could downsize to one WORKING press!
For the extra money the 650 is the way to go, nothing wrong with the 550, the 650 just has a few more features and well worth the money.
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Old March 13th, 2015, 02:42 PM   #13
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Done with Lee

Thank you all for the feedback! Ordering a 650 right now and will update use and results later. Look for two Lee presses on Craig's List soon.
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Old March 16th, 2015, 02:28 PM   #14
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It's nice to have the money for a Dillon but, as yet, I haven't justified it. Lee presses work fine but most people don't/won't tune them to do so. For most of my reloads, I deprime, tumble, lube, resize and prime off the press. Almost all the issues people run into on the Loadmaster are priming, and this process eliminates that.

If you're running 1,000 or more rounds of a single handgun cartridge through the press each week, a Dillon makes sense. If you're running a few hundred of a a half-dozen calibers a month, it really doesn't. And there are any number of options in between, for all needs and all budgets.

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Old March 17th, 2015, 01:43 PM   #15
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More Lee Presses

Thanks for the comments Weaselfire, confirms that this is a great and responsive forum! I also went off-press to deprime and manually cleaned primer pockets prior (see G56 above) to tumbling which helped the primer seating issue somewhat. I'll be cranking out 15-20 rounds then a primer tips or just doesn't feed. I can't tell you how many times I've hit a snag and disassembled the primer system (in both presses) inorder to get started again. Really takes fun out of reloading! I get what you're saying but here's the thing: both of my Lee presses (Loadmaster .223 & Pro 1000 9mm) are "progressive" presses. So I should be able to clean/tumble then lube; then deprime/resize; seat primer and powder; seat bullet and crimp all on the same press, load after load after load...
For whatever reason, Lee is not up to par-at least mine aren't. Having said that, I do like my two Lee presses except for the priming system. All the other stages work fine and all my finished cartridges have worked to perfection (except the one in 400 with a tipped primer that escaped my post-inspection and made it to the range!). The Lee's actually fit on my bench where the Dillon's height will not and the Lee price is reasonable, the Dillon not so much. So with my 3-4 yr use of the Pro 1000 and about a yr on the LM, if it wasn't for the primer seating issue I'd be a happy reloader. As it stands today, I'm looking forward to seeing what the Dillon can do and will update what I find. Thanks all and look for my Lee presses on eBay-shooting stuff is a no-no on Craigs List.
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