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Bought a Lee, Should I have gotton a Dillon?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by buenhec, Nov 15, 2007.

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  1. buenhec

    buenhec Member

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    Here I am chugging along at 150 rounds per hour of 45 cal on my Lee 4 hole progressive. I find out that the guys I shoot USPSA spit out up to 500 rounds per hour on their Dillon 550 which would have cost me about $150 more than my Lee.

    Now I wonder, am I wasting countless hours reloading when I could be shooting? Also I am about to start reloading 223, my AR can really spit those out. Will this mean more uneccesary hours on my press?

    Any thoughts on this?
     
  2. 3rdpig

    3rdpig Member

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    I've got both. I've got a Lee Loadmaster (which after 2 years of ownership and roughly 20k rounds I think is a fantastic press for the money) and a Dillon 550. When I bought the 550 my intention was to buy a Lee classic cast turret to do my 5.56 loads on, but the 550 came along at such a great price I couldn't turn it down. I'm now doing all my bottleneck rifle cartridges on the Dillon and all my straight walled cartridges on the Lee.

    The main idea behind this was the tall and narrow 5.56 cartridges just don't work well through the Loadmasters shell feeder and the military cases with the crimped primer pockets, even after swaging, tend to cause stoppages that are somewhat of a PITA to clear in the full progressive Loadmaster. So my idea was the turret press for the 5.56, but along came a Dillon 550 with a mess of accessories at a price that was too low to pass up.

    Both work exceptionally well, but after several months of owning the Dillon I still like the Loadmaster as much as I always have and have no intentions of replacing it or stop using it. But the 550 is a great press for 5.56. But the Loadmaster would be too as long as you don't plan on using the case feeder and do a better job swaging the primer pockets in military cases than I seem to be able to do.
     
  3. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    If you see reloading as simply a method of putting together mass quantities of ammo cheaply then maybe you should have got the Dillon but I'd guess that any one putting out 500 rounds per hour has put a lot of time doing the process a lot slower to develop the "rhythm" for fast production. I'd also hazard a guess that they're not counting any time to load all the primer tubes and other things you need to do to keep that ammo machine going.

    Personally I enjoy reloading, even on the single stage press where each round is assembled slowly with careful quality control where the finished product is equal to "premium" ammo vrs the crank-em-out as fast as you can as long as the rounds go bang most of the time. I have a Hornady LNL automatic and usually only get around a 100-150 rounds per hour if you count checking the charges and guaging the loaded rounds and replentishing primers, etc.
     
  4. Chief-7700

    Chief-7700 Member

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    Here I am chugging along at 150 rounds per hour of 45 cal on my Lee 4 hole progressive. I find out that the guys I shoot USPSA spit out up to 500 rounds per hour on their Dillon 550 which would have cost me about $150 more than my Lee.
    At the range I shoot aroung 200 rounds of 230 gr TCJ .45APC per hour. However
    I have a Dillon XL-650 and it takes me around 1 hour and 10 minutes to reload 1,000 rounds of .45 ACP.
    Chief-7700
     
  5. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Member

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    Funny but My Lee progressive is a five hole Loadmaster and I formerly owned Pro 1000's which are have three holes. I guess your four holer is a Classic Turret with auto advance and Lee's new priming system.

    I currently own a Loadmaster, a 550, and a Lee three hole turret. The Loadmaster can be a valuable tool but when you factor in QC and time lost to repairs, adjustments etc. - it is effectively much slower than the 550 for most people. I know there are exceptions - but after loading well over 100k rounds - I have found the Dillon 550 is by far the superior setup for consistent, fast, steady, quantity, production of handgun calibers. With the 550 once you learn the ins and outs of the equipment, and build a steady rhythm and system, you really can acheive pretty impressive cyclic rate per hour.

    Whether you actually want to work like a madman hour after hour to win the "Testerone braggin rights" at the next match remains to be seen but 500 rounds in one hour on the 550 is very achievable once you are experienced on the machine. If you are shooting much IDPA, IPSC, Steel or similar matches, you will find a 550/650 a great great time saver which will quickly repay your expenditure. If you need more speed add an electric case feeder.

    On the other hand you have to consider the volume of rounds per week/month you need of a certain caliber. So don't sell your progressive turret for running off a few hundred rounds here and there of various calibers.
    Keep the Lee because its pretty versatile and easy/cheap to change over for multiple calibers. Its an addictive hobby for most so just consider it the next step.

    regards,

    :):):)
     
  6. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Member

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    buenhec wrote " Now I wonder, am I wasting countless hours reloading when I could be shooting? Also I am about to start reloading 223, my AR can really spit those out. Will this mean more uneccesary hours on my press?"


    Yes Sir. Sad but true.

    regards,

    :):):)
     
  7. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I'm happy turning out 200 rounds an hour on my Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret Press.
     
  8. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Member

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    FWIW . .while I believe I could hit 500 per hour on a 550 I don't know if I'd be happy doing it. I tend to like a bit more QC and to me that would be too fast to check things the way I like. On a 650 500 per hour isn't too hard. Everyone has their own comfortlevel though.

    Just my .02

    Regards,
    Dave
     
  9. lil ski

    lil ski Member

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    I have a 550 now and I had a Lee pro 1000 in the past. I have been using the Dillon for about 10 years now and 500 to 600 rounds an hour is the norm. I had no problem with the lee I just wanted a little more speed in my set ups and cycle rate. I guess it's all about the speed how fast do you really need to go.
     
  10. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    It sounds like you bought the Classic Turret. The Classic Turret isn't a progressive, that would be the Load Master which would get you your 500 rounds per hour. Dillon makes a great progressive loader, so does Hornady and RCBS.
    Rusty
     
  11. buenhec

    buenhec Member

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    What would be the speed on my Lee classic when reloading 223? I would only use 3 dies right instead of 4?
     
  12. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I know one guy that shoots IDPA and reloads on a single stage; he’s got the time and chooses to spend his money in other places. It’s not difficult at all to have a set up that will crank out an easy 1500 rounds an hour. Not that I’ve ever reloaded that many at once but I load 500 in under 20 min. You’ll need a 650 with bullet and case feeders and the auto primer filler; it’ll take about 3.5min per 100. Most important don’t tell the wife what it cost. Seriously, how much is your time worth (not just $ but spending time with family etc), and is reloading therapy to you or another job you don’t like.
     
  13. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Member

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    ArchAngelCD wrote:

    " I'm happy turning out 200 rounds an hour on my Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret Press."


    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    Good. I have seen the on line video clips that show the 4 hole Turret in operation. IIRC it was on "Glock Talk". Then I saw the Lee clip on their site. Pretty impressive for the money.

    If I was not already set up, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, I would seriously consider the Classic 4 Hole Turret. IMHO it darn sure fills a realistic market niche for the reloader who needs some volume in rounds per hour but is concerned about initial cost - or the reloader who knows they will have limited production needs for certain calibers.

    regards,

    :):):)
     
  14. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Member

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    jmorris wrote:

    " I know one guy that shoots IDPA and reloads on a single stage; he’s got the time and chooses to spend his money in other places. It’s not difficult at all to have a set up that will crank out an easy 1500 rounds an hour. Not that I’ve ever reloaded that many at once but I load 500 in under 20 min. You’ll need a 650 with bullet and case feeders and the auto primer filler; it’ll take about 3.5min per 100. Most important don’t tell the wife what it cost. Seriously, how much is your time worth (not just $ but spending time with family etc), and is reloading therapy to you or another job you don’t like

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well said.

    regards,

    :):):)
     
  15. pinkymingeo

    pinkymingeo Member

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    You can't beat the Cast Turret if you have modest needs in multiple calibers. This time of year I shoot about 500rds per week, usually in 4 of the seven calibers I load. Changeovers are so quick with the turret that I can replenish my supply in an afternoon, no sweat. I've thought, from time to time, of going with a progressive but the numbers aren't there. The turret is a better tool for the job I need done.
     
  16. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Member

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    If you do the math,500 rounds per hour on 550b is highly unlikely.Not if they count primer loading for sure.
    IMHO,it's too fast for saffety and qc both.

    but,300 is easily do-able,which would double your production rate.
     
  17. GaryL

    GaryL Member

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    I think 500/hr is entirely possible, with certain calibers - some are a little easier and faster than others. 45acp is naturally a little faster for me than most other pistol calibers.

    I did a timed run a while back, including (and starting with) loading primer tubes, visually checking every case after the powder drop, weeding out berdan primed cases (not sure how they got into my brass pile, but I do occasionally shoot some nice berdan primed Laupua I picked up years ago), and the obligatory interruption by wife. I wasn't worried about speed, just maintaining a steady pace where I felt comfortable with the process and QC'ing every round, and had no trouble making close to 350/hr doing 9mm.

    I'm sure I could hit 450/hr doing the same thing, but then the fun may start going out of it, so if I get much faster it will be through experience and comfort rather than pushing every motion as fast as I can.
     
  18. Eagle103

    Eagle103 Member

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    I agree and if it is and you paid only $150 less than a Dillon you paid way too much. Something doesn't add up here.
     
  19. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    I agree. By the time you get everything you need for the 550 you are looking at $250 to $300 more than a classic turret.
    I use four dies. Here is the way I load 223. I'm not saying my way is the best, it just works for me.
    1: tumble the brass.
    2: FL size and trim if needed.
    3: prime the cases.
    I will do this for a couple of hours here and there until I get 1,000 to 1,500 cases ready. Once the cases are ready all I have to do is charge the case, seat the bullet and then crimp. Once the case prep is done and I start loading I can load around 300 per hour. Loading pistol I can load around 200 per hour. Yes I am loading on a Classic Turret. The four dies I am using are
    1: full length size die.
    2: powder charging die.
    3: bullet seater die.
    4: factory crimp die.
    I shoot IDPA, GSSF and a lot of local matches at the club I belong to and the classic turret has no problem keeping up with my needs. Spending five hours a week I can make 800 to 1,000 rounds. I have plenty of time to reload and am not in a hurry because I enjoy it and it is very relaxing for me. With the primimg system on the CT you won't have the priming problems that a lot of progressives have, Sideways primers, upside down primers and missing primers. I also mounted a LED light on my press and can see every powder charge before I set the bullet on so when my loading is done I am confident that my reloads are 100%. I hope this helps.
    Rusty
     
  20. Caimlas

    Caimlas Member

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    My only question is: if you primarily intended to reload pistol, why did you buy a non-progressive omni/rifle press touted for being able to reload .50BMG?

    It seems apparent to me that your primary criteria are 1) speedy reloading, 2) getting that speed economically. Given those criteria, I don't imagine the Lee - whichever one it is - does not provide you the value you'd wanted. I'd imagine finding a press which fits your criteria would be fairly simple, as most if not all major progressive presses advertise both their MSRP and their rounds-per-minute potential.

    If you don't want the Classic Turret, and you didn't pay a high price, you could probably get most of your purchase price out of it with little effort. It's a popular, well made press that has a good price.
     
  21. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Mike Kerr,
    You're right, it is a great press for the money. The Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret Press turns out good ammo especially when you use the Lee FCD in the 4th hole. I get low SD when I run the rounds past a Chrono which aids in accuracy. Initial startup costs were low with that press setup. I bought the press for only $73 NIB and Lee Carbide Deluxe Die sets are only $31 each. Additional turrets cost only $8/9 each. (no reason to waste time reseting dies for that price) Add in a scale, Electronic Calipers, Safety Primer kit and the Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure for an added $110/$120 and I was ready to produce ammo for under $225.00.

    I'm know there are better presses available on the market and other reloaders prefer different company's dies but for the money, I'm very happy with this setup.

    REMEMBER, I'm talking about the Classic Turret Press, not the "regular" Turret Press. The Classic model has a Cast Iron base and the ram is almost twice as thick. It's well worth the few extra dollars in cost!
     
  22. bofe954

    bofe954 Member

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    I had the newer model turret and was happy with it for every aspect but speed. In the full swing of USPSA I can easily shoot 400-600/week. I am actually pretty low volume compared to serious competitors. That's one weekday club match, a bigger weekend match and some practice.

    To keep up with that I needed to reload 4-5 hours per week. I upgraded to a 550. I debated keeping the Lee but I put it on Ebay to help pay for the Dillon.

    I still think the Lee is a good press and perfect for a hobbyist/hunter who shoots a lot of different calibers but not huge volume of any of them. It's easy to work up loads on and easy and cheap to swap calibers on. It just isn't a high volume progressive (neither is the 550 really, but it's a step up).

    You might want to upgrade down the road. So what though, use the Lee. You'll still save a few bucks and learn a lot. Then sell it and get something else. Look at the Lock and Load.

    I don't miss the priming system either...
     
  23. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    bofe954 I was wondering what kind of volume you get with the 550. I have been offered a chance to try a 550 at a friends and a 650 at a different friends but haven't had the chance to yet. I am anxious to pull the handle and try them out.
    Rusty
     
  24. creekwalker

    creekwalker Member

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    Heya Rusty,
    Sorry for jumping in on this but I recently aquired a 550B and already had the LCCT. Insofar as production speed and volume hand's down the 550B wins, you have fewer handle pulls per loaded round also.

    With that said I'd say I'm pleased with the 550B but I'm keeping the LCCT for load work ups and short run calibers and also just because I like it so much to.I haven't tried a 650 yet but hope to some time soon, what I like most about it is the auto indexing and ability to put a powder cop or a lock out die in it.

    creekwalker
     
  25. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    creekwalker thanks for the info. I have no doubt that the 550 wins in RPH. I was curious what the average person loads on a 550 at a comfortable pace. I hear a lot of people say that the CT is great for load development and when they need to go into mass production they go to the progressive. I would have to agree with them. My problem is I don't shoot enough tthat the CT can't handle it and don't have to go into mass production.:D This is a bad time of year at work and we don't get much time off. After the first of the year I'll have to go pull the handle on some friends Dillons.
    Rusty
     
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