Looking for Progressive Press


November 6, 2008, 12:34 AM
Well I have the Lee Classic Turret Press and it has done well. I just think its time to go to progressive (for handguns at least). This is what I have:

Lee Classic Turret Press
Lee Deluxe 4-Die Set for the pistol caliber .40 and 9mm
Lee Auto Disk Powder Measure
Lee Safety Prime System (Small)
Lee Auto Disk Riser (Required for the Safety Prime System)

My question is: Should I stick with lee or go to the dillon? I want to use as many of the parts and make the transition as smooth and cheap as possible.(Cheap may be a bad term, but would not want to buy EVERYTHING over again).

Insight is needed. Thanks!

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evan price
November 6, 2008, 12:54 AM
If your press uses three-hole turrets, the Lee Pro-1000 press is practically a drop in.

If not, the Loadmaster may be your press is you use the FCD in a 4th station.

I've loaded tens of thousands of rounds in a Pro-1000; the Dillon stuff is good but you pay for it, and my Lee-made ammo seems to work as well as my friend's Dillon-made ammo.

Claude Clay
November 6, 2008, 01:00 AM
lee 4 hole 380--150 average/ hour [ 180 is pushing hard]
SD-B 380--500/hour [600 pushing hard].

i use the lee for calibers i don't shoot a lot of [eg:32 colt/32 S&W/ 38 S&W]and some rifle
the dillon for those calibers i shoot a lot [ eg:38/357/9/40S&W/45acp/45lc]

November 6, 2008, 09:50 AM
Since you have the Classic Cast Turret (4-die), it seems to me that

1. You would find the P1000 (3-die) a major PITA--but it would produce good ammo for you once you got it set up properly.

2. The logical step up for you would be the Load-Master--i.e., you get the benefits of a 5-die turret. However, the LM is a persnickety machine, and there is a real learning curve to it. (I speak from experience here.)

My bench is set up with 1) a 'standard' Turret updated with 4-die turrets and Safety Prime, and 2) a Load-Master. FWIW, the Turret cannot be beat for load development, and I run about 200 rph when building a single recipe. The Load-Master easily runs about 500 rph when I'm organized to do it--i.e., multiple primer trays ready, the case feeder and collator set up, etc., etc.

3. Unless you are really needing the increased volume / rph, you might want to wait--I have it straight from the Horse's mouth, so to speak, that a "Classic Cast Progressive" has been prototyped, but they are too swamped with orders to get it going. Note that I have currently have no idea about when it will actually come out.

Claude Clay's advice points to the Dillon-version of the solution--and it is a good one, save for the fact that the SDB uses a proprietary die head and is more expensive to change calibers on.

You should probably consider looking at the Hornady L-n-L, which many people find quite satisfactory as an alternative to the Load-Master.

For me, I've weighed it out this way: 1) at my volume of shooting (about 12,000 rounds per year), I can live with the output from my Turret--but 2) I also have a 'sore shoulder' that encourages me to use a progressive. One stroke versus four strokes is a real desirable feature, IOW.

But, before I change anything, I think I will wait for the "classic cast progressive."

Jim H.

November 6, 2008, 10:21 AM
Gun Tests magazine reviewed the Dillon 550B, the Hornady Lock N Load, and the Lee Loadmaster in March of 2000. I think you can get a reprint from their website (if you are not a subscriber):




November 6, 2008, 12:23 PM
If I was to go with the dillon 550B, are the dies proprietary? Or could I use my Lee dies?

Looks like the temperamental Load master may be a pain. I wish I knew when the cast progressive was to be released.

Im not in a "rush" but I do shoot about 10k per year and loading ~100 per hour on the turret is tedious some times!

November 6, 2008, 01:02 PM
If you are 'only' doing 100 rph with your Lee turret, you might want to revise your workflow.

An SDB owner has to check in for sure, but IIRC the SD dies are proprietary.

Jim H.

November 6, 2008, 01:29 PM
I mean from Start to finish. 1 Hour. This includes filling the powder hopper, loading the primer disk and setting up my "stations."

Add in a change of caliber and in a 2 hour period I can do a bit more. But typically I only load what I am going to shoot that day or the next. I know, I would be more time effective to load for a few hours and stockpile ammo, but it never works that way. I have a bad habit of shooting until I have no more ammo.

November 6, 2008, 02:02 PM
The only thing you can use on a P1000 or Loadmaster are the dies and the disks for the powder measure. Absolutely everything else is different.
Dillon Square Deal press uses proprietary dies. Dillon 550/650, Hornady LnL AP and RCBS Pro 2000 use standard dies, you can use your existing dies.

November 6, 2008, 02:07 PM
Doing a caliber change on any press takes a little time. Your Lee Classic Turret is one of the simplest ones, so don't think that a progressive will suddenly change calibers faster. It won't.

A progressive will probably increase your productivity, but if it now takes you 1 hour to load 100 rounds on a Lee Turret (proficient loaders make 250 or more on that press) the best progressive will not suddenly increase your own productivity to 600 rounds per hour. If you include filling primer tubes and powder hoppers and you don't work very fast, you will probably get 200 per hour.

Yes, I know the rest of you guys get 1000 per hour on your presses, but obviously cskelly is not a speed demon like you. To get realistic for him, we need to look at his present speed.

November 6, 2008, 02:28 PM
Thanks for the insight.

And changing the turret is not tough. What slows me down is the handling over everything at pretty much every step. I know if I was in a hurry, I could get close to that 200 rounds per hour, but I take my time. Still some what new and really dont want to make any mistakes. Heck, I even mic every 20th round that I make to make sure nothing is changing.

November 7, 2008, 02:03 AM
I have a 550 and yes, you can use Lee dies. Some require that the lock ring be placed on the underside of the tool head, but they function quite well,

Having said that, I also have the Hornady LNL Auto Progressive. It is superior to the 550 in many ways. The most significant factor is that it measureably produces more concentric ammo than the Dillons. MORE CONCENTRICITY GIVE MORE ACCURACY.

Combine the better quality LNL AP with the 1000 bullet rebate - - - - there is your biggest bang for the buck. Final cost of the LNL after bullets, somewhere between $200 to $250.

Good Shooting.

November 7, 2008, 09:46 AM
Given Shoney's post and the preceding commentary, you now have most of the information at hand you need.

As Shoney pointed out, the progressive to probably consider most is the LNL Auto Progressive. Were I buying again right now, this is the one I would probably be getting.

Here (http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillonLeeHornadyComparison.pdf) is a link that compares "the big three," so to speak.

Read it completely, at least twice.

FWIW, since you identify yourself as "somewhat new" to reloading, I recommend you learn your Turret use a bit more and learn more about your workflows. By doing this, you will probably build some stronger opinions about what you are going to want to buy, and what you'll be doing with it.

Jim H.

November 7, 2008, 03:01 PM
IM experienced O, the Lee Loadmaster is the biggest pain in the , err, neck that has ever been fousted onto the loading public.

I make no bones about my hatred of the thing. It requires more fiddlyfix work than any mechanical device since the mechanical band played in Sutro Baths, San Francisco for the end of the nineteenth century sight see'ers visiting that city.

You are better off with a single stage rudimentary press than with that monstrosity of glitches. The glitches come one after another - no sooner have you got one element of the process working again a different element fails.

Tiny plastic levers are not appropriate in an ammuntion loading machine. They break, their edges wear quickly, they are easily damaged if any part of the process is slightly out of time and you must keep numerous spares of all the little plastic thingies or you'll spend a lot of ammo loading time waiting for the mailman to bring you some stupid part or another. Because they're plastic they can't be tightened in the place you want them to stay without distorting. The stupid threaded active bumpstop lever that makes the whole thing work wears when it slams into and slides along, and then it turns slightly on it's threads because......you guessed it, because it's plastic.

The index advancement is straight out of the proverbial Rube Goldberg machine and is the weirdest and least reliable part. Close on it's tail for craziness is the dumb little CHEAP chain that makes the powder drop. Or if those work for the time being you'll be having impossibly nonsensical problems with the primer feeder. The case feeder is maybe the best part of it all but it requires perfect setup that must be maintained using plastic parts that change dimensionally if you tighten the nuts and bolts that hold them in place.

Watch the videos that are around and take note that none of them (at my last view anyway) depict a user who has all parts of his machine working. Most settle for what can be kept going longest and don't use the case feed, don't use the bullet feed, or don't use a combination of things that they'd given up on.

Despicable loader!

I've got the remains of one out in my shop and the whole of it is going to the county metal recycling bin next time I go. I had enough of that MF. Lee refused to pay shipping to return it, and they offered only half credit as a 'store' credit. They can kiss my chochas - the arrogance of thinking that I might want a credit to get any more of their junk?!

Life's too short for a Lee Loadmaster in it. Get the Hornady, or, like me, stick with whatever works. For me it's a Redding turret press that I bought thirty five or more years ago and has NEVER had a problem.

November 7, 2008, 04:08 PM
And just to balance krs' rant about the Load-Master:

When I set my Load-Master up again, sixteen months ago, I used the youTube loadmaster videos to re-do the setup, and currently have had it "in adjustment" and operating routinely after doing that. And that's with ALL the sub systems, save the bullet (not case) feeders operating perfectly.

But, as noted earlier, I do consider the machine to be 'persnickety,' and if one is a reloader focussed on results, not on process, it probably is not the one for you.

Jim H.

November 7, 2008, 04:52 PM
I use Lee 4 die set on my 550B, you won't be dissapointed.

November 8, 2008, 07:18 AM
You may want to look at the RCBS Pro 2000 as an option. I have found this to be a great press for 9mm and 45 ACP. Very happy with this press for ease of use and setup.

pilot teacher
November 9, 2008, 11:37 AM
krs is right about the the Lee LoadMaster. The plastic (nylon) parts can break alot and thats because of poor design of the priming pin and priming arm.

I was able to provise an engineering solution to Lee and they said, "they will look into it." Haven't received any further response. However there are two excellent points. One is the warranty. When I gathered up enough primer slider arms, those are one of the mickey mouse plastic parts he refers to, I send them back to Lee and they always replace them free. Since I engineered my own fix to the poor mechanical design of the priming system, the failure rate has dropped from one failure every 20-30 rounds:mad: to 1 per 300 to 400 rounds.:D

The other mickey mouse is the auto bullet feeder fingers. I'm working on the solution for that one. It can be very troublesome. It's easier and faster to manually place the bullet into case. The other is hollow based or concave bullet bases will not feed correctly. Flat base are no problem.

Other than those mousy issues, I love the press for the price and the warranties. I've reloaded (a conservative guess) at least 20 or 30 thousand rounds. Yes the Lee LoadMaster can create language you don't want the kids or grand children to hear. (My wife is used to it so she's no longer bothered when she hears it.):D

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