Progressive presses, on a budget...


November 25, 2008, 06:36 PM
Short version: I want a progressive press on a budget, and am considering the Lee Pro 1000. Suggestions?

Long version: I have a single-stage Lee press now, and while it does everything I want it to do, I shoot so much handgun that it's a really time consuming process. In addition, I don't really enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I don't mind reloading 12 gauge on my Mec 600 jr, but I usually only do 50 or so at a time, and other than moving the hulls/wads and operating the press, it measures and fills most everything for me. I think it's all the handling of the powder I don't like. I started with AA#7 but it leaked out of the Lee Perfect Powder Measure so bad I switched to Red Dot. I loaded about 150 rounds this spring and can't even bring myself to use the press since then. Anyway, I want to load a fair quantity of 9mm, 38/357, and 40. I have enough brass, primers, and bullets to load about 3000 combined. May need more powder.

I'd like to be able to insert a primed case, pull the handle and have one spit out the other side, reliably. I don't want to mess with powder leaking out of the measurer, and I'd like to be able to buy additional turrets (or something) so that once I set the dies up I'm able to switch them out without tinkering with them. I want to be confident that it won't double charge (using a reasonably bulky powder charge) or not charge at all. Properly seated and crimped bullets. In short, I want a progressive press that just works, but I can't go crazy on the price. Come on, experts... What should I watch out for? Pay for quality or avoid overpriced name brands?

Thanks, y'all.

If you enjoyed reading about "Progressive presses, on a budget..." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 25, 2008, 06:41 PM
For around $100 on sale a 1000 isn't a big investment. Otherwise you looking at $400+ for "Quality".

November 25, 2008, 06:44 PM
I say you get what you pay for and cheap price doesn't always translate to low cost.

I lean blue for progressives, but I'm not on a budget.


November 25, 2008, 06:51 PM
I guess "budget" is different for everyone. I'd like to keep this under $300, especially since I already have the Lee Carbide 9, 38/357, and 40 die sets. I believe they're compatible with another manufacturer's presses... RCBS?

Jumping Frog
November 25, 2008, 06:53 PM
I loaded 400 rounds of 9mm using AA #7 last Sunday night in a little over an hour using my Lee Loadmaster.

The powder measure that comes with the Loadmaster does not leak. The powder charge for #.7 is +/- 0.1 gr., which is perfectly accurate enough for my purposes.

Since I purchased the Loadmaster last April, I have loaded about 3500 rounds of 9mm, 40 S&W, and .45 ACP. I spent $200 for the complete Loadmaster setup.

November 25, 2008, 07:09 PM
There are two types of progressive press owners;) Those that do have Dillons, And those that will have Dillons, sooner or later:neener:

Just a little humor

November 25, 2008, 07:10 PM
All that I can say is, you get what you pay for.

Everything is overpriced these days. But along with buying a quality product, usually along comes great customer service & support for the life of the product. To me, Customer Support is everything.

That said, if I would ever want to get out of the hobby (and I never will in this life) I think I could re-coupe most of my investment dollars.

My best advice, is to buy what you can afford.

Do your homework, then decide.

November 25, 2008, 07:15 PM
No such thing as cheap! You get what you pay for.

My first progressive press was a C-H Mark 5a which was a great press for a beginner in a progressive press. I advanced sideways and has 4 stations that all work at the same time. I endded up having two of them on my bench, one setup for small primers and one setup with the larger primers. Reloaded everything from 9mm, .38/.357, .44 spec/mag, .45acp, and 10mm.

My next press was a Lee Pro 1000, it was ok but not a great press. I also had a Lee LoadMaster, also ok, but not great. The Lee presses always needed extra parts and extra adjustments.

I finally broke down and got a Dillon 550b and wouldn't you know it they introduced the 650XL in about a month afer that, so I broke down again and got the 650xl. After loading many thounds of rifle rounds on the 550b, and many 10s of thousands of pistol rounds on the the 650xl I have found that if you want to have a reliable progressive press you really need to just spend the extra money now.

If you can not afford the Dillon 650xl now, and are only loading pistol rounds then get at lest the Dillon Square Deal. If you get anything else you might be sorry later. I know I was until I found the Dillon presses, and wish I had just spent the money on Dillon in the first place.

November 25, 2008, 07:44 PM
If you are on a budget, quit worrying about the folks telling you to spend more money, and get what your budget can stand.

Buy a Lee Classic 4 hole turret press, or the Loadmaster. They will serve you well. Many folks love theirs and I don't see Lee going out of business for lack of sales, do you. ;)

Then again, if you can swing more cash, then consider the Dillon, RCBS, or Hornady progressives, all very good stuff.

November 25, 2008, 07:59 PM
Your problem, Odnar, is that you're like my teenagers.
They want absolutely everything, but want to pay nothing for it.

My advice:
If you are handy with equipment and somewhat mechanically inclined, pay $138 for the P1000 and learn to use it. It works perfectly well, if you're capable of operating it.

If you are mechanically inept and you need to reliably spit out a round with every pull of the handle, every single time, buy a Hornady LNL AP or any Dillon. Shut up about the cost. If you really cannot learn to use a Lee, you (like my teenagers) have no right to complain about the cost.

I have Lee and Dillon presses and I love them both. The Dillon is way way easier to use, but the Lee works perfectly well when I operate it correctly. It's all up to me.

Like it or not, that advice is so priceless it's easily worth a thousand times more than you paid for it.

November 25, 2008, 08:54 PM
If you are on a budget, quit worrying about the folks telling you to spend more money, and get what your budget can stand.

I would have to agree with my buddy Walkalong. Especially if you have a wife and kid(s).

I think a LEE Classic Turret would be perfect. it's good, inexpensive (About $160.00) and I think you can load about 200 rounds per hour, plus it will match up perfect with your single stage you now own.

Good Luck, Mate.


November 25, 2008, 09:22 PM
Your problem, Odnar, is that you're like my teenagers.
They want absolutely everything, but want to pay nothing for it....

:confused:Who peed in your primers this morning?

Seriously, though... I don't have a problem paying for quality equipment. It's just that I'm not willing to pay more than $300 for another reloading press right now. I'm reloading primarily to save money, so the more I pay for equipment, the longer it would take me to justify it. Also not willing to pay for a press that isn't going to "just work". I have a single stage that just works right now if I want to take all day to load a few boxes. Just wanted to know what's available that will reliably load rounds and save time in the price range I'm willing to spend.

Thanks for the priceless advice, though.

November 25, 2008, 09:32 PM
BTW I use a Classic Cast Turret press for all my reloading. Yes a progressive would be nice for pistol calibers! But I can still crank them out pretty well. Loaded 400rnds of 45acp in 2.5hrs last saturday.

November 25, 2008, 09:41 PM
For my progressive presses, I use Dillons, 3 of them and unfortunately, you can't get one for $300.00 you'll need another $50.00 bill for the price plus the addition of Tax.

You could however, get a Hornady LNL AP. They are not bad at all and as an incentive to buy their machines, they are willing to give 1000 bullets for free if you buy it.

I have loaded on it and it is pretty cool. I was looking at it really hard when it came time to buy my third progressive press. One of the main things I didn't like about it is that you have to use your left hand to both add brass and add a bullet. This can be solved with a case feeder for another $350.00. I already have 2 XL650's with case feeders so that wasn't really what I was looking for. I like to use both hands (right hand loads brass, left hand loads bullet)so I went with the 550B. $350.00 at the Sportsmans Warehouse.


November 25, 2008, 10:00 PM
I had 3 Lee Pro-1000's. Here's what i found out....

The Pro-1000 press is great, but the accessories kill it. The powder measures are low-end and vary more than others on the market. (Some Lee measures are not even infinitely variable.) The primer feeder is cheap, and buried under the rotating plate so that you almost wish for 2 presses... one set up for each size primer. The case feeder is an outright joke.

I converted my Pro-1000 to another brand of powder hopper and considered using a hand-held primer feeder before realizing I should chuck the whole thing.

Bottom line: You get exactly what you pay for.

November 25, 2008, 11:50 PM
From your data, I am not convinced that you need a progressive. You seem to have around 3000 empty cases, but the problem is "How often do you empty them?"

If you are shooting 3000 per year, that does not justify a progressive. If you shoot 3000 per month, then you may be a candidate for a progressive. However, the Lee Classic Turret wil do that chore quite nicely.

If you absolutely, unconditionally, definitely, and categorically just have to have a progressive, the LNL AP minus the cost of the 1000 bullet rebate is the way to go at final cost between $200 - $250.

For a multitude of reasons why the LNL AP is a superior machine, do a search of my name with Dillon.

November 26, 2008, 01:02 AM
Your problem, Odnar, is that you're like my teenagers.
They want absolutely everything, but want to pay nothing for it....

Who peed in your primers this morning?
Thanks for the laugh, Odnar! I'll have to remember that line at the range! I love it.

I'm actually serious about the advice. The P1000 works for those who are patient to set up the machine correctly, and keep it clean. At first I couldn't get the primers to seat right, until I realized I was spilling my powder down into the primer feed because I wasn't careful. Then I couldn't get the powder charge to be consistent, until I realized I wasn't adjusting the pulldown mechanism right. It wasn't the press, it was me. As soon as I committed to doing things right and paying attention, I started loading hundreds of rounds at a time with no malfunctions except in the case of my own idiocy. These days I have a glitch once or twice in a reloading session of 200 to 300 rounds.

There is no doubt that the Dillons and Hornady are superior machines. IF you got the money, they are better purchases. My buddy Rich just bought an XL650 from Brian Enos, I think the base press was advertised at only $504. He bought the package with everything you need for 9mm and 45acp, complete with case feeder, one conversion kit, extra toolhead, spare pickup tubes, primer tray, extra casefeed plate for the second caliber, large primer feeding system, calipers and dies (which I know you already have). The bill? $841.43 shipped. The bare Dillon press sounds like a good deal at base price, but Dillon KILLS you on all the extras to make it crank. Don't forget the mount. And the roller handle. And the bin. And bullet tray. Do you want the low powder sensor? Only 39.95. And the powder check? That's a safety item. Just $63.95. And this...and that...and the other things...

November 26, 2008, 02:20 AM
If you go Dillon..and you should...
Don't get the square deal,your dies won't work in it and their dies are spendy for that machine.
The lnl with the free bullet deal is well worth looking at,even though I love my dillon 550b,the lnl is a geat machine,and free bullets are always a good thing.

evan price
November 26, 2008, 04:53 AM
You know what? When I first started with my Pro-1000 I thought it was a piece of junk.


Once I figured out how to set it up correctly and run it the way it needs to be run, I started running 300 rounds per hour without a problem.

I've since loaded over 12,000 rounds of ammo on my Pro-1000 in 7 different calibers. I would say that my defective/rework rate has been around one in five hundred, or even less.

The case feeder for the Pro1K is simple, when coupled with the case collator, it works. The case feeder for the Dillon costs darn near what you can buy a whole Pro1K for. The auto-disk powder measure (I prefer the old ones with no chain) drops -.1/+0 accuracy. When the primer tray is kept full, primers don't misfeed. If primers don't misfeed, powder doesn't spill into the primer system and cause more misfeeds.

The thing about hte Pro1K is that it has all the features an expensive Dillon 650XL has- case feeder, true progressive function, etc- at 1/10 the price, so parts are made of plastic. Parts need to be kept adjusted. You have to keep an eye on supplies.

I'm not knocking the Dillons or other presses, I've used this analogy before- When I worked as a pro mechanic I had an account with the SnapOn tool truck and had a lot of SnapOn tools. Now that I only do my own stuff, Sears Craftsman is just fine.

The Dillon is the SnapOn- it's made for high volume turnkey operators. The Pro1K is the Craftsman. If I was laoding 5000 rounds a week every week for IPSC or some other competition, then a Dillon would be the way to go. Since I load maybe 500-600 rounds of pistol every month, the Pro1K gets the job done at a price I can afford. If I had to buy Dillon I wouldn't have been able to convince my wife to dump almost a grand into a reloading hobby.

Of course, if you have the money, why not?

The ammo I load on my Pro1K shoots just as well as the ammo a friend loads in his Dillon.

In the end, it's up to you to figure how comfortable you are with what you buy.

November 26, 2008, 06:36 AM
Thanks to everyone for their input/info. I'm leaning more towards the LnL now, esp. with the 1k bullet offer. I'd rather spend a little more and not have to keep things adjusted. I'm meticulous all day at work and I'm doing this for a hobby, so although I have no doubt I could get the Lee performing, I'd rather not have to fuss with it. I tend to be overly careful in the first place, so I have a feeling I'd be checking things every round otherwise. In other words, sounds like the Lee would get the job done, but isn't really what I'm looking for. A few comments/questions:

Can I still use the Lee die sets with the LnL?

What about Dillon (with the exception of the Square Deal)?

Does the LnL allow you to switch out your dies without needing the readjust them next time?

Wish I had a Sportsman's Warehouse nearby...

From your data, I am not convinced that you need a progressive. You seem to have around 3000 empty cases, but the problem is "How often do you empty them?"
Actually, I have enough brass, bullets, and primers to load 3000. I have many, many more empty cases.

November 26, 2008, 07:50 AM
Can I still use the Lee die sets with the LnL?
What about Dillon (with the exception of the Square Deal)?
I think so, the Blue crowd will know
Does the LnL allow you to switch out your dies without needing the readjust them next time?

I have been running a Hornady Projector for over 20 years. Once I got the bugs out, it has run great and loads excellent ammo. Hornady worked out some of the bugs as well and came up with the LNL which, by 99.9% of the reports, is a super press. I may upgrade one day, but I am kind of attached to my Projector, and it still works great.

November 26, 2008, 09:54 AM
• Yes, I use all my standard Lee, Redding and RCBS dies on my Dillon 550B. In a lot of my calibers, the die brands are mixed on the same die holding plate.

• The secret to any multi-stage press is to buy a die holding plate for each caliper you reload. In the end you may end up with 4-10 die holding plates so that your dies can remain on the die holder in a pre-adjusted, read-to-use position. You may also wish for 2 powder hoppers, one to use for small pistol loads, and the other for larger rifle loads. Although you may not buy all this stuff initially, those items will figure into the final true cost of the machine. You might do well to use a spreadsheet to look at your purchase from that standpoint.

All the best.

November 26, 2008, 10:49 AM
Before you buy a LNL,read this thread on the new,improved version being released soon.

November 26, 2008, 09:06 PM
The Lee Classic Turret will work well for you. In my case the PRO 1000 drove me nuts, although I did load good ammo on it. Buying one taught me a good lesson.

If you enjoyed reading about "Progressive presses, on a budget..." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!