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Ecleticism in reloading tools...

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Poper, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Poper

    Poper Member

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    :uhoh:Eclecticism, that is... :uhoh:
    Like most reloaders that have been hobyists for more than just a few years, my collection of reloading tools varies widely in operations and manufacturers. I have presses from RCBS, Lee, Mec and Herters.
    Priming tools from Lee, RCBS, Lachmiller and Lyman. Case trimmers from Lyman, RCBS and Lee. Case prep tools from RCBS, Lyman and Lee. Dies from RCBS, Pacific, Lee, Redding and Lyman. And on, and on....

    For a long time, I used a Lachmiller priming press. It worked great and gave wonderful feel for getting the primers fully seated. It was mounted on a block of oak and lifted the priming ram when the lever was lowered with an eccentric cam. Problem was, you had to handle each primer individually and place it in the little hole for the ram. Tedious beyond description after the first 50 cases or so.
    Then I discovered the Lee Auto Prime hand priming tools and began using them almost exclusively just because I didn't like the RCBS press mounted priming tool, either. They were inexpensive enough that I had one each for large primers and small primers. The levers had a habit of breaking and I replaced them at least three times over the 25 years or so that I used them.
    Then I bought a RCBS hand priming tool because Arthur Rightuss was making the Lee tools so painful to use. I loved it dearly, too, except for the hassle of changing from large to small priming configuration.
    Then along came the RCBS Universal Hand Priming Tool. Yay!! Had to have one! It works great with one minor issue: The coil spring that retains the jaws in the frame has a habit of popping off and flying across the shop about every other time I use it. It's not a big deal, just a damn nuisance. Again, there is also the hassle to change out between large and small primers. It is too expensive to warrant having one for each primer type.

    Now Lee has married my beloved Lachmiller with the Lee Auto Prime and calls it the Lee Auto Bench Prime. I cautiously bought one for, IIRC, $23 and mounted it on a small block of oak. I used it the first time, after having to loosen the screws holding the two halves of the cast pewter tool housing together, and declared to my beloved 'the manual priming tool has finally been perfected!' (She gave me a look that convinced me she was certain I had lost my mind and needed to be restrained.) It has the multiple primer reservoir and auto feed of the RCBS and Lee hand priming tools and the leverage and feel of the Lachmiller. I really like this little tool!
    The Lee Auto Bench Prime is cheap enough that I am going to buy a second one just so I don't have to swap out between large and small priming tasks. Which is far easier than any of the hand priming tools I have used.

    You can say what you want about Lee's stuff, but the tools that I have used of theirs have been very functional. They might leave a little bit to be desired for fit and finish, but they do work! I definitely recommend this tool to anyone that reloads metallic cartridges!

    Jut my two cents.... :thumbup:
     
  2. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I’m with you. I haven’t been reloading anywhere near as long as you but I have gear by most of the major companies.

    It’s sad that when someone mentions Lee it becomes a religious war. As you point out, they won’t win awards for fit and finish but they will win on value on many of their products. Most works decent and their prices are usually lower than everyone else. Sure they have a few dogs but so do many (all?) of the other companies.

    I’ll say the Lee Classic Turret press and the Lee hand press IMHO are great values. The hand primer I have works well, but like yours the handle leaves something to be desired of. Likewise, the so called Perfect Powder measure is ok, working better with some powders than others. And I like my Lee Dies better than the Hornaday ones I have.
     
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  3. Schwing

    Schwing Member

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    I agree that Lee certainly has a won a big place in the reloading world. I started on a Pro 1000. Even though I have purchased several other presses over the years, that Pro 1000 still has a spot in my reloading room. Nearly all of my reloading gear was Lee when I started out. As I expanded my caliber footprint and learned a few things, I branched out but a large majority of my dies and casting gear is still Lee.

    Even so, I do seem to have an eclectic collection myself. I use lee crimping and sizing dies almost exclusively. I use Lee, Dillon and Lyman powder dies/dispensers. I use Dillon powder checks and RCBS lockout dies. Bullet seating and crimping dies I have certainly developed more of a "Refined" pallet, if you can call it that. I own some from just about all of the major manufacturers.

    Frankly, they all make pretty good stuff in this day and age.
     
  4. Dudedog

    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    :rofl:
    I like my Lee hand primers, but I don't like the new ones (square tray no longer made) or the new triangle shaped tray as much as the old round tray ones.
    Wish I would have bought a couple more spare handles for the round ones, down to my last handle.:(
    Helps if you keep them lubed. When the last one breaks it will be sad since I will lose an old friend
    I cut a piece of 1/2" clear plastic tubing and put over the handles, much more comfortable and you still have good feel. Cheap fix.

    The Lee bench priming tool looks neat, but most of the time I prime brass while watching the tube. (wearing safety glasses of course)
    Glad you like it and it works well for you.
    As mentioned earlier some Lee stuff is not so great but works, some of it is pretty darn good.
    Most of my dies are Lee, happy with them.
    Both my Lee 9mm sizers seem to size tighter than my Hornady one. Hornady is maybe a little smoother but I use the Lees. (1 for turret and one for LNL)

    All and all happy with the Lee products I own.
     
  5. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have been able to make pretty much every product they have made work with the exception of their bullet feeder.
     
  6. kcofohio
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    kcofohio Member

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    I'm satisfied with my Lee stuff so far. I like the idea of their bench top primer. I don't prime off press enough to invest in one.
    I bought one of their non ergo primers (XR I believe) a while back to make my purchase qualify for free shipping, but the ergo one was out of stock. They hadn't come out with the bench style yet. It takes some learning to hold without it flopping in my hand. I have only primed maybe 300 cases with it.

    Who knows, one day while placing an order, I may add the bench primer to qualify for free shipping.
     
  7. lightman

    lightman Member

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    I own fewer Lee tools than any other brand. I've used a set of their plastic powder dippers for ever. I also have a few of their case trimmers. And their universal depriming die. Years ago I primed with their original hand tool. It was convenient but it seemed to wear out quickly and I broke more than a few handles. Those have been replaced with higher quality and more expensive tools. The tools that I do have work ok.
     
  8. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I'm another with a "rainbow bench." I wouldn't say it's because I'm open minded, but rather, because I'm very closed-minded; not around one brand, but around functional performance and efficiency. If it looks like it works better for me, I buy it, if it works better for the money, I keep it. Doesn't matter what color. I have tools from Frankford, Lee, Wilson, K&N, Forster, Whidden, RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, Dillon, PT&G, CH4D, 21st Century, Thumler, Mitutoyo, Starrett, Sinclair, Redding, Mettler Toledo, surely I'm forgetting someone...

    Personally, I think the "brand loyalty" of reloaders is typically heaviest in two paradigms - the really cheap guys with budget set ups, "aka Lee lovers," or the "progressive only" guys who kinda HAVE to stick with one color to make all of the gear function together. It seems like the Green Army has subsided over the last decade or so, not because RCBS stuff has fallen off, but only because a new Red Army has arisen with the introduction of so many products from Hornady (and their tireless marketing efforts). But I've never met a reloader who would tell me ONE brand makes the best-for-them tool for every job, especially when "best" includes functional AND economic aspects.

    I have 5 Lee presses in service, and lots of their dies. They work just fine for bulk reloading with moderate expectations - aka better than required by any hunting, but not precise enough for competition. I have two Forster Co-Ax's and a Redding T7 for precision loading. Most of my precision cartridge dies are Redding, some whidden. I have bunches of Hornady dies - probably the last ~5yrs any time I need a "budget" die, I buy Hornady. I sold my Dillon 650 several years ago, and when I get my next progressive this summer, it'll be a Hornady (two of the Lee's are progressives, one for high volume 44mag the other high volume 223/5.56, but I'm needing one for 6 and 6.5 creed as my volume is picking up). I can't think of any Lee tool I use for case prep other than a Universal Decapper and Anniversary press... Hate their case trimmers and gauges... Throwing a little Kaizen/Lean/Six Sigma at my reloading practices gave me a pretty clear path to what matters most in the process...

    Unfortunately, I've found a lot of stuff which doesn't work for me (read "wasted money on" in place of "found"), some which doesn't work at all, but I've also found a lot of stuff which works beautifully.
     
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  9. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I too have a "Rainbow" bench (but not LBGT!!). I have never liked "kits" when purchasing stuff for a hobby, it seems that I always get stuff I will never use. Same with reloading tools/equipment so I researched each tool and bought what I figgered would be best for my reloading. I have Lee, RCBS, Lyman, Pacific, Herters, Sinclair, Forster and prolly a couple more I can't remember at this time...
     
  10. hdwhit
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    hdwhit Member

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    My bench is probably less of a "Rainbow" than a "Striped". Most of my equipment is either RCBS or Lee.

    Lyman, it's only been three years since you promised to send that warranty item (after you decided that you wouldn't sell it to me).

    RCBS has never disappointed me. Lee has only let me down once. Lyman is dead to me. So that has kind of set my priorities when I look for equipment.
     
  11. Poper

    Poper Member

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    Funny, I find the Lee case trimmers to be very useful and much more consistent than either my RCBS or Lyman trimmers. Fast, too, when I chuck the holder in the drill.
    I have the Lee Universal decapping die and it works just fine, no complaints. The Lee Anniversary Press gets used strictly for checking crimps on handgun rounds with their Factory Crimp dies. If it passes through the die without resistance, it is probably a perfect round. If there is any resistance, it is not a perfect round. My old S&W M15 seems to have undersized chambers and any bulge in the case results in a sticky chambering round or one that won't chamber at all. A quick pass through Lee's FCD solves the problem and I don't have to sort my brass.
     
  12. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    In my college days, I considered having all of my bench gear powder coated purple. It was going to cost as much as buying the other progressive press I needed, so you can guess which got my money.
     
  13. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    I have a mix of things. I have a Dillon 550 on one end of the bench, and a Lee Classic Turret on the other end. I use the LCT more than I do the Dillon. I have Dillon, Hornady, Redding, RCBS and Wilson dies. I have a LOT of Lee dies, I've only had a couple of calibers that the Lee dies did not work well (30-30 seater was one). My 45acp setup on my Dillon has a mix of Lee, Hornady, and Dillon dies.

    I had a Lee Challenger press, but did not like the way it handled spent primers, so I replaced it with the LCT. I use my universal decapper die in that press, the primers drop down through the ram. I have a RCBS Summit press with the arbor press conversion that I use with my Wilson chamber style seating dies (30-30, .223, and .308). I never really felt any love for the Summit when used as a normal press. And I have a cheap Lee C press that is dedicated for use with a RCBS collet bullet puller.

    I have the Hornady cam-lock trimmer, but I prefer the Lee trimmers, with the cutters mounted to my RCBS case prep center. I use the shaft and cam-lock from the hornady to hold the brass, though.

    I don't care what color it is, as long as it works.
     
  14. rskent

    rskent Member

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    Absolutely!
     
  15. glc24

    glc24 Member

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    I went with the Dillon 550B right off the bat. I use it for my pistol (40S&W,45ACP) calibers. What's nice is the ability to choose how you use it. I don't always do progressive. When I started reloading 5.56, I did it on the little single stage Lee. I just got the Lee Classic Turret, because I didn't like having to swap out dies on the single all the time.

    I also hand primed the 5.56. I used the RCBS one. I really enjoyed hand priming, and started hand priming everything. The problem is your hand gets tired after a while. So I too took a chance and bought the Lee Auto Bench Prime. I also mounted it to a block of wood, and clamped it in my bench vise. It is a great little priming tool for 23 dollars. The only problem (but is very frustrating) is the primers constantly bridging where they are supposed to go single file down the trough. I even tried using the RCBS universal primer tray in place of the one supplied with the tool. They still bridged!:fire:

    Poper, you don't seem to have any issues. What is your secret? I'm wondering if the primer tray is at too steep of an angle. But if the tool is sitting level, then the angle is always constant. So why do I have this issue and yours works as intended. I'm scratching my head.
     
  16. Charliefrank

    Charliefrank Member

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    I also have two Lee hand priming tools. One st up for large and one set up for small. I bought them in the mid 90's. Still going strong. I keep the shell holders in the corresponding die box.
    Being able to feel the primer seating is the only way to go for me.
     
  17. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I have a *few* different brands of reloading equipment in house as well. Heck some of it is older than I am and I am no spring chicken any more.;) IMHO Lee keeps the other guys from pricing some reloaders out of the hobby with functionality at a price point. I bet that any reloader that has been at it for 10 or more years has more than two brands of equipment on their bench. I also think function tops all other aspects of needed equipment. When Lee came out with the square tray primer I bought a couple more of the old round ones to have "just in case". Sure glad I did that now.:) FWIW my Ideal #55 measure is from the late 40's as far as I can tell. My grandfather purchased it new just after WWII.
     
  18. ray15

    ray15 Member

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    I use the Lee Classic Turret and associated products, and I actually find the fit and finish to be excellent. It's a really nice piece of hardware, strong and well-built. The quality of the press itself is my favorite aspect of it. And the dies are great.

    I have issues with the safety prime primer feed for the press though. I've seen it work, but it's a disaster on my press. I feel the affair is just severely under-designed. Some might say the same about the square plastic bushing the auto-index relies upon. I've read Lee's book and understand his economic philosophy with respect to design, but really do come away with the impression that when there's an issue with Lee products its more driven by design shortcomings than fit and finish.

    I have several RCBS products I like a lot. And some Hornady ones as well. I don't really care who makes something, it's always my goal to learn enough about a prospective purchase to judge the quality, utility and value of the product separate from the identity of its maker.
     
  19. quest4perfection

    quest4perfection Member

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    regarding your quote: Deep down, bureaucrats are good people...;)
     
  20. Poper

    Poper Member

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    I am not sure what your primer bridging problem is. Mine worked straight out of the box once I loosened the screws that held the two halves of the body together. I'm thinking, though that there might be a little flash burr in the tray or primer chute. I have noticed that out of 50 primers, it will sometimes bridge lightly, but just like my RCBS Universal Priming Tool, all it takes is a couple light taps or a light shake to get 'em flowing again.

    I have noticed, though that the little triangle tray is a little small for 100 LRP's. Maybe that would have an effect on the smoothness of the primers flow? I dunno. My guess is there's a burr somewhere in the primers' path. If you call Lee, they might send you a new piece that fits into the metal lever frame.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  21. Poper

    Poper Member

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    I am not sure, what quote you are referencing?
     
  22. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I have equipment and dies from just about every manufacturer even the out of business ones. At one time I had 80% RCBS but now about 50% of my stuff is Lee. I like just about everything they make and its 1/3rd the cost of other stuff. I don't collect reloading equipment though. Everything I have gets used and if I find a better tool for a job I sell the old one. I don't have room to store equipment I don't use.
     
  23. Offfhand

    Offfhand Member

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    Here's another "rainbow bench" blue on one end and green on the other.
     

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  24. north east redneck
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    north east redneck Member

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    I have a few Lee whack a mole reloading kits, not using them at this time, but not getting rid of them.
    RCBS single stage press, MEC 12 gauge press.
    Dies by RCBS, Lee and Lyman
    RCBS scales.
    Lyman powder drop.
    Lyman lead Dipper.
    Lee melting pot
    Lee powder dippers.
    I really don't care who manufactured the product as long as it performs consistently for me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  25. Poper

    Poper Member

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    H.L. Mencken quote, I take it.
    Mencken was a little over the top, even for his day.
    This particular quote I believe, though with Mencken you never really know,:eek: the pistol is figurative. There should be severe and sudden consequences for any bureaucrat that overreaches his authority. That and the public should be very observant of bureacracy behavior and should not hesitate to eliminate any abuse of their power in any way.

    BATFE comes immediately to mind...
     

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