Lee Classic Turret or Dillon 550B?


February 6, 2008, 12:27 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, 12:31 AM
I wanted this to be a poll, but it didn't come out that way. Oh well, I appreciate all your comments. Thanks.

February 6, 2008, 08:25 AM
For most of your reloading, you will be well served by the Classic Cast Turret Press. If you should opt for progressive loading, take the time to save the money and get the RL 1050.

My 2 cents.

February 6, 2008, 08:48 AM
I faced the same question when I started last summer. I shoot about the same amount as you and I went with the Lee Classic Turret Press. I couldn't justify the cost of a Dillon with the small amount I shoot and I wasn't sure if I was going to really get into the hobby. By the time I got everything I "needed" or wanted to get started, I'm a little over the cost of a Dillon but that includes a tumbler and Chrony and components for a few thousand rounds.

I'm loading 9mm, .223 and have fallen in love with the hobby. I'll be adding .45 and .38's to my list shortly. I have no regrets in my purchase.

As far as "upgrading to a progressive" goes...I removed the stem that turns the turret. So I guess you could say I "downgraded to a single stage". I may go progressive someday but I need to watch everything at this point.


February 6, 2008, 09:38 AM
I use both a Turret and a Progressive--both Lees, BTW, but the brand is irrelevant, I think.

IMO, the issue in considering "multi-die-type presses" is the kind of workflow one wants in 'the long run.' For handguns and semiauto sport / HD rifles) , once one has learned the process, production becomes a very real factor--as opposed to say, the lovingly-crafted hunting or accuracy round associated with many long guns, or with specialty handgun sport niches like silhouette shooting.

If you're going to produce ammunition in some sort of 'production' workflow, then I think auto-indexing is a must. The kind of workflow associated with producing higher volumes of ammo should not require the user to "prevent" the possibility of double-charged cases by having to manually index the cartridge: that is a disaster waiting to happen, for we all have had brain farts.

So, to the point at hand--the Lee Turret (original or Cast) provides for auto-indexing in its 'default' configuration. The auto-indexing can be easily removed--it's a 10-second operation, and the press can be used as a SS (while you are learning) or even manually indexed, as the 550B is used.

Since you are starting with two pistol calibers, I think you are a natural for the Lee Classic Cast--once you have sorted out the process with the press in its SS mode, you can go to manual indexing (a la 550B) or simply go to auto indexing. In auto-indexing mode, one can easily produce about 180 rounds per hour with a Lee 4-die setup.

So that's one opinion. The other I'll offer is that there does seem to be a fuzzy split of "personality types" for which type buys which brand. To that end, my observation is that Lee users tend to be process-oriented and enjoy problem-solving in their goal-seeking; Dillon users tend to be end goal-oriented and find intermediate problem-solving a frustrating experience. I think you need to consider carefully which type you are--as threads about press brands here have shown, there is nothing more frustrating to a goal-seeking user than having to deal with details along the way.

Other factors, such as "quality" cost, warranty, etc., etc. are not considered in this analysis.

And, I will point out that an argument can be constructed for seeing the manual indexing of 'multi-die presses' as a positive. A loader can successfully and safely operate either auto- or manual-indexing machines. However, I don't think that characteristic obviates the benefit of auto-indexing for production-type reloading.

BTW, be glad this did not turn out to be a poll. That feature seems to me to motivate button-pushers and the discussion degenerates into a culture-wars thread, typically carried on between the brand-loyalty posters. In this type of thread, a Dillon advocate has to respond thoughtfully--as the Lee advocates here have done.

Jim H.

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