Lee Pro 1000 - Product Review?


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toecutter
October 27, 2006, 06:21 AM
So, a few weeks ago I took the plunge on a Lee Pro 1000 that they had on thier surplus page. It came configured for 9mm (not a caliber I shoot, but I have friends who wanted me to reload it) I planned on using it mostly for .223 reloading. I ordered most of the conversion adapters for this that and the other thing.

I originally bought it in the interest of using it to prep brass for a dillon 650 I plan on buying later this year. But I figured I would make full use of it until I got the dillon.

A few thoughts on the press:

The press itself isn't bad. It suffers from the inadequacies I normally find in Lee presses, the base is made of cast aluminum (possibly cast zinc), the primers dump into a hole in the bottom, requiring either a large hole be drilled in the table, or unbolting the press every time you want to clean out the primer area. For the most part, it seems this is a lee turret press to which some modifications were performed to turn it into a budget progressive.

It has some pretty goofy features, but over all it's not a bad unit seeing as how I paid under $100 for it.

So far I've set it up and used it to do my case prep work (sizing die, dillon case trimmer etc), and for the most part it's done a bang up job. For this work I have never been happier.

But tonight I was going to set it up to use it what it was meant for, loading ammo. So I plugged another turret thinger (I believe that's the technical term) into the top, screwed in the charging die, attached the powder measure, put in my seating die and assumed all was right with the world. The powder measure is set up with a lee micrometer charging bar. (this is an after-market accessory, but I'm of the opinion that being stuck with someone elses idea of "everything I need" is the quickest route to disappointment).

I sit down, pour powder into the measure (I'm a big fan of hodgdon's varget) and buckle up to reload a bunch of .223. So I throw a test charge and pour it into the scale, I do this a few times always finding my charges to be quite short. It isn't long before the screw is maxed out, and I'm still only dumping about 20-21 grains (24.8 behind a 62gr M855 bullet is my load for this).

At this point I'm confused, so I look at the directions, I'm still confused, so I read the directions again. I finally dig through the table that discusses how much each powder disk will dispense. Varget isn't even listed, and the closest I can get with H335 (another powder I used to load a lot) is 24 grains.

There are directions for stacking the disks and doing all kinds of other voodoo that will get me to my end goal of being able to charge my cases with the right volume of powder but I'm awestruck as to what a kludge this thing is. How is it that every other manufacturer can sell you a powder measure that can reliably dispense 3 grains of bullseye or 250 grains of H50BMG without this much hassle?

I think tomorrow I'm going to spend some time on the lathe and work out a connecting rod and adapter so I can just attach my RCBS powder measure to it and call it a day. I'm not surprised about the disks not being able to dump enough powder, but thier micrometer tool only being able to dump 20 grains is stupid.

Conclusions:

I chose several categories upon which to judge this press. Cost, Ease of use, and MTBF.

The press itself is pretty neat, it's fairly strong, it has a lot of compound leverage for those tough sizing chores, the quick change system is well thought-out and for the thousand or so cases I've sized on it it works pretty well. However, the best part of this is definately the price.

The ease of use was pretty good, pull the handle and a prepped case/live round popped out, it took a bit of doing to set it up properly, and required several re-orders to Lee for more/different parts but that's mostly my own damn fault. The powder measure thing still has me pretty bent so I'm lowering the score somewhat based on that.

One of the places where this press suffered somewhat was the MTBF, I could more or less count on the case feeder jamming, not feeding about 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 times, and a major failure which resulted in the press having to be partially disassembled about 1 in 500.

If it were not for the issues with the powder measure I would give this tool a B+ (due to the price and relative ease of use) however, because of the rather poor MTBF and the powder measure issues, I'm giving this tool a strong C.
It's not a bad tool, and it's not a great tool. But it is a tool, and consequently is welcome on my reloading bench.

Lee gets some stuff right, and some stuff wrong. This is the first time I've been able to experience both at the same time.

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Forestarius
October 27, 2006, 07:43 PM
One of these $10 kits should get your powder measure up to rifle specs.

Lee Double Disk Kit:
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=870920

Hazzard
October 27, 2006, 09:43 PM
Forestarius
I have 2 sets of charge disks for the auto disk measure. Is there anything in that kit that I would need other than a couple of longer 1/4-20 screws? I'm thinking about reloading some .223 with my pro1000. Sorry if I thread jacked, but this may be good info for the OP as well.

Forestarius
October 28, 2006, 12:08 AM
Sorry I don't know. I've only used the Lee powder measure for pistol so far. I was planning on trying it on on rifle rounds soon, but so far have just measured the powder off press with an RCBS powder measure when loading rifle rounds on the Lee.

The "risers" might be something you can only get in the kit.

toecutter
October 28, 2006, 05:06 AM
I took a look, the risers are $15 on leeprecision.com. So far, with all the extras for this stupid kit I'm into it the same amount as the dillon powder measure. I'm returning the lee powder measure accessories I've bought and buying a dillon powder measure, it uses the same system to insure you don't get a drop when there is no case present, and IMHO is much cleaner than this stupid thing. I will keep the auto-disk-powder-measure for doing pistol, but I'm putting a dillon on this thing and being done with it, the dillon powder kit is about $70, but having used it on my friend's press I am sure it will not require repeated orders to lee for parts that it should include in the first place. The thought of paying $15 for two pieces of sheet metal, and some #6-2" machine screws really frosts me.

I suppose once again, the cheap option may be more expensive than the right option.

abarth
October 28, 2006, 05:16 AM
Deleted

1911user
October 28, 2006, 02:00 PM
On a dillon measure, you will need the caliber specific inserts that operate/activate the powder measure. They're about $8-9 each and normally come with a caliber conversion kit for a dillon 550 or 650 press, but they can be purchased seperately from dillon (watch out for the S&H charges on small orders). The other issue you will have is the current design dillon measure uses a rod that is attached to a bracket on the press to pull the charge bar back (instead of a spring). You can mod it to use 2 long springs (in place of the return bar) like the older dillon measures.

I've used the Lee and Dillon parts you are talking about and I'd recommend just getting the double disk kit for $10 and be done with it unless you want to upgrade to a better press and the powder measure that comes with it. It'll be easier/cheaper in the long run and you won't have to mod the dillon measure to work. If you are thinking about an upgrade, Hornady has an incredible free bullet offer starting Nov. 15 with purchase of a new press.

For ordering lee parts, you'll save quite a bit ordering from anywhere besides lee. Lee reloading parts normally sell at a huge discount compared to the MSRP (except from Lee directly). Most reloading brands (except dillon) sell at some discount from MSRP, but the Lee difference is much larger. Check midwayusa.com and compare prices.

toecutter
October 28, 2006, 06:46 PM
The end goal here is to buy a dillon 650, I bought this thing as a stop gap before I got the 650. (Horray low income!) Right now I'm just so frustrated that everytime I order something from lee, I then have to make 3 more orders for things I forgot, or didn't know about until the stuff got here. For the most part, I'm just beyond pissed off with thier powder measuring system and with lee's way of doing things. I already spent some time last night with the die grinder and a pair of tin snips and made my own two disk kit, but I'm still pissed off. So far most of the issues were my fault for things I forgot. But this is just idiotic.

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