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Any used presses to avoid?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by armedaccountant, Aug 2, 2013.

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  1. armedaccountant

    armedaccountant Well-Known Member

    I am thinking about trying my hand at reloading. I am bad about deciding to do something and then I get all the gear and spend the money, do it one time and never touch it again. So just in case that happens with reloading I want to start with a cheaper used press. I will be looking at pawn shops, garage sales, etc. If it is something that I get into I will spend the money to upgrade to something nicer.

    I was just wondering if there were any makes and models of presses that for whatever reason wouldn't be worth buying even for cheap. I don't know if there were ever presses produced that had major problems, or that were overly complicated, etc. Since I am new and also not wanting to spend a lot of money I will only be looking at single stages.
  2. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Well-Known Member

    Any progressives that have Lee stamped on them.
  3. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Well-Known Member

    What you would spend for a new less expensive press, you can buy a used RCBS or Redding for about the same money.

    Look for the older quality presses like RCBS, Redding, C-H, Coax, or Hornady.
  4. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    Wow. So much hatred ... even when OP asked for used "single stage" press ... :rolleyes:

    Good plan. It's hard to go wrong with name brand "O" ring type single stage presses, even Lee. I would avoid overpriced presses and ones with too much rust or damage. I frequently see them for $25-$35 at gun shows and classifieds, even at recent gun show just a month ago.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  5. Tolkachi Robotnik

    Tolkachi Robotnik Well-Known Member

    Would suggest staying with 7/8 X 14 threads

    A lot of old tong tools require a different set of dies that are not readily available now, size and threads differ on those.

    I have a Lee C press, and it works fine enough. Those should be about $5 used. They used to be $10 or $20 new. I also have a Texan or two for shotshells. Those did not cost much and they work, but father made a piece or two for those on his lathe.

    Currently active companies are probably a better set to deal with if you don't have a father with a metal lathe.

    You will invest some time if you have the simplest presses. They are safer and better for a beginning effort. I enjoy the activity so the time doesn't bother.
  6. TexasShooter59

    TexasShooter59 Well-Known Member

    I felt like you when I started and was not sure if I would enjoy reloading or not. I bought the least expensive Lee press, the C press.

    Now that press is used only as the depriming press, and I have a Lee Classic Cast single stage for everything else.

  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    What calibers?

    For rifle loading, I want compound leverage like Rockchucker and other heavy duty presses made since the RCBS patent ran out. The old toggle lever linkage takes more effort.
    Look at pictures to get the idea. The Lyman Spartan is discontinued but common and has the plain toggle.

    Avoid presses without T-slot shellholders.
    There are older types of interchangeable shellholder that are hard to find, although some adapters are available.
    There are even presses with the shellholder machined into the top of the ram and no interchangeability at all, except by replacing the whole ram.
  8. Icky The Great

    Icky The Great Well-Known Member

    Actually I found the Lyman T Mag II to be a very nice press for the money. You could buy the expert kit and have just about everything you would nee to start, including a loading manual.
    The nice thing about these presses is that if your loading one or two caliber, you could leave them setup for the next time. Mine is still sporting the 38spl/357mag and 44mag dies. That is all I load on it. I have done rifle loads with great success as well, 30-06 and 308, 30-30, 7.65, 7.62 and 223s. The kit was very nice as a whole. If your loading pistol go with the carbide dies. No need to lube the cases if they are clean.
  9. armedaccountant

    armedaccountant Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the replies, I will definitely check out the C press.

    I will mainly be loading .40s&w and .38spl. No rifle rounds just yet. I will stick with handgun rounds until I decide I am really into reloading.
  10. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    In general, I would probably steer clear of the link type Lee presses. They are terrible and flex really bad with bottle neck cases. I would keep my eyes open for a used RCBS or other "O" frame press. Even the less expensive cast aluminum "O" frames aren't too bad. But for a good "O" frame press, the RCBS cast iron presses, used or new, are all pretty much indestructible and will generally last a couple life times if taken care of properly.

    And if you should ever decide to get into shot shell, don't buy a Lee Load All. But the inexpensive Mec 600 Jr. is a gem of a loader, they will last a life time.

  11. GaryL

    GaryL Well-Known Member

    I would look for specific ones, like a Lee Classic Cast, RCBS Rockchucker, etc
    Then you will know what you are getting.
  12. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    I was thinking that almost any press is better than nothing, but recently there is a new company to definitely stay away from. Smart Reloader presses seem to be cheap copies of existing designs. Some reviews I read say that alignment can be terrible and that the presses aren't even usable for depriming. Their return policy used to be that you had to pay to ship it back to Italy, but it looks as if there is an official US distributor that will "accept" returns only after they give you permission to send it to them.

    There are so many good US made presses around that you shouldn't have a problem finding one at a decent price.
  13. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    I'm surprised it took all the way to the first reply to bash Lee.
  14. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Well-Known Member

    If you find a Forster co-ax for a reasonable price snap it up. You won't find a better single stage press.
  15. kerreckt

    kerreckt Well-Known Member

    If you are looking for a single stage. The press to get is the Lee classic cast iron press. I have a competitive RCBS and Lyman press and the Lee will resize 30-06 with less effort than either of the others. It has done the dirty work for ten years and still absolutely no play in the linkage. Some of the Lee product might not appeal to some folks but this press is the best on the market. Oh yea, its paint job isn't quite as nice as some of the others presses according some people. That's what I like people who understand tools and their uses.
  16. stargeezer

    stargeezer Well-Known Member

    40 years of reloading on a RCBS Rock Chucker, RCBS Turret Press and a Dillon XL650. The first thirty five years was on the Rock Chucker exclusively. These "O" presses don't flex, don't ware out (if you oil them once a year), and will outlast you. I bought another one at a pawn shop last year to just deprime on for a low $70. Sure you can buy a arm full of Lee presses for that - but don't you think there may be a reason?

    Some Lee equipment is ok, but as a rule it is like buying Harbor Freight power tools - they may run, you may get a job or two done, but just when you need one late at night with all the stores closed, they give up on you.

    I used a Lee hand primer for 25-30 years. Then one day it fell and shattered. It served me well and I didn't hesitate to get online and order the "new and improved model" - it was new and redesigned and it worked like most Lee equipment - crap. I use a Lee primer tray, and a couple other small hand tools. But everything that has any links or joints is a problem for them. Just so it can't be said that I've never tried Lee tools, I can assure you that I have a box of the stuff sitting in the garage, stuffed under a bench with other stuff I'd never even give to anybody else.

    We were asked for an opinion. Mine is to stay away from Lee if you want quality ammo.
  17. stargeezer

    stargeezer Well-Known Member

    double post - sorry
  18. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Ammo loaded with Lee products held the record for accuracy for years, Yes, that was done with inferior equipment.

    With that said most all of the manufactures today make and distribute quality equipment with IMO the one exception of SmartReloader. That's sorta like a smart car running with a convoy of truckers.

    Thread such as this does nothing more than bring out the Lee bashers just as a thread asking about the NRA brings out the NRA bashers. Same ole. same ole.
  19. Constrictor

    Constrictor Well-Known Member

    I'd stay away from any Lee presses. Dies are decent though.
  20. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    OK being as others seem the need to turn this into a bash Lee thread, I'll come out of hiding.

    There is nothing at all wrong with the Lee Classic Cast Presses, to think otherwise is nothing less than--well I can't describe it as it will get me in trouble. But for the difference in price

    Lee Classic Cast Press -------- $93.98

    Sorta hard to beat for value. Course if braging right are needed?? And remember Lee is not the only one offering a "quality" press made of Cast Aluminum, ever take a good look at the RCBS Partner?

    The Lee Perfect Powder Measure if one takes the time to research it is one of the most accurate measures out their. Many tho seem to have trouble with ball powder with them tho, just as many have trouble with other measures and their cut off.



    As for those who claim its made of "cheap" plastic, take a close look at your cars dash the next time you go somewhere, or better yet pop the hood even if its a Cadillac and check out all the "cheap" plastic you or the bank owns under there.

    Now with all of the above said, just so you'al don't come to the conclusion all I have is "cheap" Lee equipment I also use much in the way of RCBS, Hornady, and Redding equipment. Also much in the way of Sinclair, such as case prepping tools and their Arbor Press, and the Wilson dies they market.

    So in closing, a used cast Lee press will serve you well as will just about any cast press from any other manufacturer, in fact even the cast aluminum Lee presses that have not been abused and kept lightly lubed on their wearing surfaces will also serve you well, as will cast aluminum presses from other manufactures that have not been abused and kept lightly lubed.
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