Lee Classic Turret or Dillon 550B?


February 6, 2008, 12:26 AM
Trying to make a buying decision here. I thought I wanted the Lee, but I read so many posts about people "upgrading" to a progressive press. I'm confused. The Dillon doesn't seem to be a true progressive, since you still have to load the cases and the bullets. Except for automatically loading the primers, the Lee does the same functions, although its not labeled a "progressive." Some other thoughts:

Cheaper overall setup
Seems easier to control whats going on at each stage

I like the no bs policy (lifetime guarantee)

I'll be loading .38sp and .45acp. I shoot maybe 500 rounds / month.

Help!! What do you guys think?

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February 6, 2008, 12:34 AM
Mods - please delete. Duplicate post.

Grandpa Shooter
February 6, 2008, 01:53 AM
I have three presses. A RCBS rockchucker I use to resize all of my rifle brass. A Lee 3 hole turret press I can use either as a manual indexing machine or an automatic by setting up the indexing rod. And a Dillon 550B progressive which also requires hand indexing. They all have their own place in my workup of reloads. If I am building just few pistol or rifle for trial, I generally use the rockchucker or Lee. If I know what pistol round I want to build, I set up the Dillon and crank out close to 500 in 2 hours.

If I were just starting reloading, I would put my money into a Lee 4 hole turret press so that I could nave depriming/resizing for the first station, belling and powder charging for the second, bullet seating the third and crimping on the fourth. The start up is less expensive, will help you learn a great deal about reloading, and give you the little you need. If and when you graduate to 2,000 to 3,000 a month you could then upgrade to a truly progressive press.

February 6, 2008, 02:10 AM
The Dillon uses all of the dies at once.most turrets use 1 at a time,no?

In today's vernacular,I think that is the difference when using the term 'progresive.'

February 6, 2008, 05:27 AM
I'm not sure a "no BS" warranty is vital with a press that costs less than a hundred bucks. If you wear it out after 100K rounds or so throw it away and get a new one. I recently "graduated" from the cast turret to a progressive, and sometimes miss the old Lee. The turret is actually superior to progressives in some ways. Drastically faster caliber and primer changes. More control over each step of the loading process. Easier to use for small batches and load development. Ammo quality is as high as any progressive. It's easy to turn out 100rds in a little over 1/2 hour. On the downside, pulling that handle four times for each completed round gets old. The turret advance, in my experience at least, seldom works right. You'll drop the occasional primer, and chasing those things around the floor isn't my idea of an exciting hunt. Still, if you load less than about 10K a year, especially in multiple calibers, you can't go wrong with the Lee. And, as you noted, the price is right.

February 6, 2008, 07:15 AM
Base your decison on how many rounds you want to load per week or per month. Typically, you can get 200 rounds an hour without too much drama (and up to 300 if you work at it.) out of the Lee Classic Turret setup with a Safety Prime system and a Pro Auto Disk Powder Measure. The Dillon is capable of 550 if you work at it, though most folks take their time and turn out around 350 an hour.

There's a significant cost different between the two, especially with caliber conversions. I own a Lee Classic Turret and a Hornady LnL progressive. I used to own a 550. Here's my take, based on reloading on all three:

1. If I were going to load a bunch of different calibers in fairly low volumes (50 of this, 200 of that), I'd get the Lee Classic Turret.

2. If I were going to load a lot of ammo, in the thousands of rounds per month, I'd go with the Hornady LnL, as it's about the same price (sans casefeeder) as the 550 and performs as well or better (particularly with rifle) than the 650.

A final thought. BEFORE you buy any progressive with it's significantly higher caliber conversion costs, make sure your round count justifies it. A buddy of mine has competed for years in IPSC and IDPA. He loaded most of those years with his Dillon 450, a press capable of 200 rounds per hour at best with it's manual primer loading and manual powder dispensing. (leastwise, that's what his had) In most cases, a single stage press like the Lee Classic cast single stage and a Lee Classic Turret press is an ideal set up for most shooters out there. If I had bought those two presses years ago, I probably would never bought another press and I shot IPSC and High Power back when on a really regular basis. That's how handy, affordable and versatile the Lee Classic Turret is.

Now if you're trying to crank out 2000 rounds a week of one caliber, you probably want to go progressive. In any case, both presses you list will do a good job of reloading.



February 6, 2008, 09:26 AM
You cant go wrong with the Lee Turret. I have been loading a lot of ammo on mine for years and it works every time. The Dillon is nice if you only load one cartridge type. I just seems to me the ease of changing calibers with the Lee is a big selling point. If, however, you are going to be loading large volumes of rounds, then the Dillon Progressive would be worth a look. Me, I like to load for many different calibers and am constantly changing dies. With the Lee that is as easy as changing the turret plate with preset dies already installed and adjusted. In my opinion, the Lee is hard to beat, and then only if you are loading in large volume.

good shooting

February 6, 2008, 09:52 AM
Pinkymingeo: Since you longer use the Classic Cast and it has paid for itself, I'll take it off your hands (for free)--but I'll pay the shipping.:D

Jim H.

February 6, 2008, 04:24 PM
I already sold it. Hated to, but I have about zero storage space and my loading bench makes a breadbox look big. I believe the turret is the perfect press for the vast majority of handloaders, probably including me. If R. Lee & Co. would just do a better job with that miserable indexing setup, it would be tough to fault the press in any way.

February 6, 2008, 07:33 PM
I've been trying real hard to limit myself to somewhere near 100 to 150 rounds a weekend of .45acp.

That's at most 800 rounds a month.

Of course I can add. I said I was trying to limit myself to near 100 to 150 rounds a week. I didn't say I was successful. :p

Frankly, with my routine, I do just fine with a Classic Cast single stage.

Into the tumbler the day I return from the range.

Decap and size the next day, let's say Monday.

Prime in a hand primer the next day, Tuesday.

Powder and load the next day, Wednesday.

Three days and I'm ready to go the next weekend.

February 6, 2008, 08:28 PM
I have never used a Dillon 550 press but am sure it's a great press. I bought the Lee Classic Turret and it has been a great press for me. I can load around 200 RPH. It is inexpensive to add calibers. I load four calibers and have no problem keeping up with my ammo needs for IDPA, GSSF and rifle competition. The classic is very easy to setup and operate.

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