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One man's opinion of the Lee Loadmaster.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Inebriated, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. Inebriated

    Inebriated Well-Known Member

    So, as many of you guys know, the Loadmaster is a topic of rather hot debate. I read a lot of information before I bought one, and used a friend's. It seemed like a good enough deal... $200 (what I paid for the .45 ACP kit) for everything needed to reload .45 was better than any other deal I could find, so I went with it. I also bought an RCBS single stage because 1, I wanted it to reload rifle cartridges, and 2, I was still a little iffy on the Loadmaster.

    When I got the press, I took probably two hours getting everything set up. The case-feeder, priming system, got the right disk in the auto disk powder measure, got all the dies adjusted, etc. It's a finicky system, that is for sure.

    The case-feeder works excellent, when everything is tight. But over about 1000 rounds, it loosened, and the piece that pushes the case in to the shell holder prevented the ram from moving up all the way. Not a big deal, but it did get annoying. If you bump it, be prepared to adjust it.

    The auto disk powder measure is... ok. After throwing a few charges, I was getting charges within just about .2 grains of each other. The chain that controls it is vital to getting a consistent charge, though. So if you keep an eye on it, you'll be ok. I broke the chain three times, so some extras wouldn't be a bad move.

    The quick-change turret system works beautifully. $20 for a turret, and you can just keep one die set in its own turret. That's what I do, and it cuts down on the time for adjustments.

    Now, the absolute worst part of this whole thing.... the priming system. It is it incredibly unreliable and unsafe. Lee advises a blast shield. They don't include it, they don't design it in, they merely advise you buy it. They also say to use it if you plan to use anything but CCI or Remington primers. I'm sorry, but if anything regarding blast safety is "recommended", you need to include the damn thing. I got about three crushed primers so far, one upside down, and NUMEROUS that just flipped or got jammed up in the raceway from the tray. The tray is stupidly designed... Primers come in square boxes, not circular boxes. Why make the primer tray circular? Come on Lee, step up your game. WHEN the system worked, it worked consistently. But it just is unreliable.

    So what is my conclusion? It's an ok press if you don't expect to be cranking out massive numbers. Be prepared to take some time, and understand how it works. Due to priming system problems, I decided to remove it and buy an RCBS hand-primer. I de-prime all the brass at once. The case feeder and progressive action make this incredibly fast. I then prime them by hand, which I like much much better than on even the single-stage. It's quicker, 100% reliable so far, I can feel if there's an issue, and I feel it's safer. I can knock out 100 cases in about 5 minutes. Then, I remove the de-capping die from the turret, put the cases in the case feeder, and then do the final expanding/charging and seating stages. So overall it's more work than it should be, but I can still turn out a lot of ammo, and I can do it with a higher degree of safety than with the press working as Lee intended.

    So that's just my opinion. I know there's a ton of back-and-forth on this press, and I wanted to offer my experience.
  2. Rodfac

    Rodfac Well-Known Member

    My experience with the Loadmaster mirrors yours. By far the most aggravating part of it was the priming system. I actually lost track of the number of plastic primer feed parts that I bought to replace those crimped or broken.

    In addition, the powder system leaked like a sieve, is not adjustable for precise loads and spilt powder over the bench when changed.

    The chain broke several times as well.

    The case feed worked most of the time...but again, plastic where it should have been metal...

    After a cpl years of pulling my hair out, I went back to a single stage press that I'd had since 1962 and gave up on progressives. When son #1 bought a Dillon 550B, and I had a chance to try it, I was convinced. I've got two now, set up for small and large primers and couldn't be happier. They're customer service is the best in the industry...hell, it's the best for any product I've ever run across.

    If you can justify the cost, I'd dump the Lee and get a Dillon. My comments are not meant to run Lee's other products down...I've got better than a dozen sets of their dies, trimmers, and a cpl of primer seaters that I use regularly with good success. And I don't know about their other presses, but that Loadmaster I had was an expensive boat anchor at best.

    Best Regards, Rod
  3. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    If your having those problems your setup still isn't right. I have never broke a chain on the Load Master or the Pro1000. I have no problems from ether presses case feeder. The powder measure is the best one I've used with no powder leakage. The only primer problems I've had is with 9mm because the primers were crimped.

    There site used to say if you was using Federal primers the blast shield was suggested. I don't know what it says now.

    My opinion of this press is that it is great. I wouldn't suggest all the oil & grease that you see in the videos on the web. That will cause problems.
  4. Ewcmr2

    Ewcmr2 Member

    About a year ago I started out with a Loadmaster in 9mm. It was finicky to set up and get running. After playing around with it and getting it dialed in it runs very well. In 9mm I'm currently running at about 1% primer failure (tipped/missing/crushed) rate.

    I recently set it up for 45acp and in the first 400 rounds have had zero issues!

    Overall my recommendation for the LM is based on the person asking about it. If the person is mechanically inclined the LM is a great bargain. If the person asking isn't very good with their hands I point them elsewhere.
  5. theslasher

    theslasher member

    Bought my loadmaster about a month ago. So far ive loaded 300 rounds of 9mm, 150 rds of .38 special, 200 rds of .45 acp and 200 rds of .223. So far Ive had 1 problem withe priming. I forgot and let it get too low. My fault. Never a tipped primer crushed any of that. I dont reccomend mounting it to a $6 card table from Walgreens! And by the way the only place ive seen turrets for $20 is ebay! Thats a rip. Normal price is about $10-$11
  6. Ken70

    Ken70 Well-Known Member

    +1, I've never broke a chain either. Only primer issue from crimped primers as well. I don't know how to get the primers jammed in the chute. There is a cast in "bump" on the back of the frame that vibrates the entire priming system; it's gravity and the vibration that keep them moving down the chute. It is important to mount it to a solid bench; if the press is waving around, not good. The primer is just balanced on the punch. It'll move off center and cause problems if there's too much movement.
  7. nix4me

    nix4me Well-Known Member

    I have a Lee single stage kit bought 12 years ago. It's pretty much trashed. Press flips primers all over the bench and ground, podwer measure leaks powder out of the disk, hand primer is plastic crap. I have an envelope where i stuff money and as soon as it hits $675, i'm buying a Dillon 550B.
  8. JohnsXDM

    JohnsXDM Well-Known Member

    +1 I have never broken a chain either, you must be setting it too tight. I purchased the "INLINE FABRICATION" stand for the LM and since then have not had any issuses at all with priming as it took all the movement out of the bench top.

    BBQJOE Well-Known Member

    I'm happy with mine. I load .44, .38 and 9mm.
    As someone else said, if you're not mechanically inclined, forget it.
    Then again, if that's the case, you probably shouldn't be playing with explosives of any kind.
  10. StretchNM

    StretchNM Well-Known Member

    I believe, Inebriated, that you bought your presses in reverse order. Your best single-stage press for (almost) any amount of money is the Lee Classic Cast. The progressive should probably have been a Dillon. And if not, then a turret press, such as the Lee Classic Turret or other brand.
  11. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    I'm a fan of a lot of Lee products, except for this one. I never use it anymore. Same problems described here.
  12. greyling22

    greyling22 Well-Known Member

    JohnsXDM, I looked up that mount, that's sexy. Is there a place to mount the bin that catches loaded rounds as the fall off the press?

    My loadmaster experiences more closely match kingmt and ewcmdr2. Case feed is awesome, auto disk is as good a powder drop as any for handguns, and the priming system is a bit problematic. Especially with 9mm. Lee has redesigned the primer feed a couple of times in the past couple of years, and this latest update seems to be working all right. roughly 1% failure rate with 9mm. maybe half that in 357 and 45. MY press is not mounted rock solid, maybe that is part of the priming problem......
  13. hentown

    hentown Well-Known Member

    If Lee didn't make the Toadmaster, there'd be a 42% reduction in the amount of Valium sold in the U.S. ;) Looks like it was designed by a child...and not a smart child.

    Toadmasters don't have turrets. ;)
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  14. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    You just showed you don't know what your talking about.

    Mounting the press rock solid is a must. If it is bouncing around I'd expect problems.
  15. JohnsXDM

    JohnsXDM Well-Known Member

    Yes, it comes with a bracket that mounts to the stand then you bolt the original bin bracket to that. I also ordered the arm assembly that mounts to the left side of the press and it will hold 2 bins for bullets and is fully adjustable.
  16. JohnsXDM

    JohnsXDM Well-Known Member

    I must be doing something wrong with my LM. It just keeps making me 9mm and .45 cartridges without giving me any problems! The only thing that I can see that's gonna cause any problems is that I have only about 2000 more 9mm bullets left and only about 1000 more .45 bullets and LPP.
  17. fiftybmg

    fiftybmg member

    My experience was the same. I could not live with the priming system it had.

    Even a 1% failure rate means I have to spend more time fixing than actually reloading.

    I had 2 LoadMasters, one I bough new, one I rebuilt from parts, and because of the priming system, I sold them both and bought Hornady Lock-n-Load.

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