Help picking a press.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by AK Gun Man 88, Jan 21, 2012.

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  1. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Member

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    So I am new to reloading. I'm about to buy a single stage press. Problem is I have it narrowed down to two and I have been arguing with myself as to which one to get for about 2 weeks.

    RCBS Rock Chucker or Lee Classic Cast.

    Pro's that I found for RCBS.
    -It's what most presses are based off...the original
    -Cast Iron and steel
    -Higher quality (older ones from what I have gathered, new ones are poorly made?)
    -Piggyback upgrade (anyone got any experience with this?)

    Con's for RCBS
    -It's made in China (internet rumor?)
    -MidwayUSA reviews are around 55 review with mixed reviews

    Pro's for Classic Cast
    -Lower Price
    -MidwayUSA reviews around 100+ with 98% 5 star ratings
    -Made in America (I prefer to buy American made products)
    -Made with stronger iron and steel (again internet rumor?)

    Con's
    -Poorer finish coat (????)
    -No conversion for progressive
    -Lot of people bashing Lee because they aren't RCBS

    Looking for your input guys. Serious input please. I don't want just RCBS or Lee without explaination. Looking for experience with either press
     
  2. Scimmia

    Scimmia Member

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    I remember asking myself the same question when I was looking for a heavy duty SS press. I ended up with the Lee. For nearly half the price, I got a press that's made in the USA and is as strong as they come. I haven't had the bad experiences with Lee that some people had, and I really don't care what other people think of them. The only time I've had any issue at all is with the RCBS primer pocket swager, it needs a different case stripper because of the bigger ram on the Lee Classic Cast. To RCBS's credit, they sent me the new stripper for free.
     
  3. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I have experience with the RCBS Rockchucker, but not the Lee Classic Cast. I will telly you that the Rockchucker is wonderful and wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
     
  4. sellersm

    sellersm Member

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    I've used both and prefer the Lee. USA made quality at a fraction of the price.
     
  5. kludge

    kludge Member

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    Lee Classic Turret.

    Pro's...
    Very strong, very smooth
    Iron and steel
    Primers go down the tube
    Batch load when you want to, go faster when you want to
    Fast caliber changes, leave the dies set up on the turret and swap them all at once

    Con's...
    Wish they made a shorter one for pistol cartridges?
    Can't load 50BMG
     
  6. Ridgerunner665

    Ridgerunner665 Member

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    If your interested in the piggy back kits for the RCBS (great press by the way), have you given any thought to the Lee Classic Turret...pretty good production speed, great press, not expensive. It will load pistol and small rifle (223, etc.) rounds pretty fast (150-200 per hour), and can load larger rifles too...but I really don't think its built for the larger rifles.

    My point is...if you're not loading large rounds...have a look at the Lee Classic Turret. If you are loading large rifle rounds and just want a single stage press, which are handy to have around, get whichever color you like...they are all great.
     
  7. dsm

    dsm Member

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  8. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    RCBS experimented with Chinese made castings with finish machining in the U.S. (I heard second hand) a few years ago. They discontinued the practice and their presses are now cast and finished in the U.S., as they were before. They learned a lesson.

    I have an RCBS Rockchucker (1970's vintage) I will never get rid of. Strong, rigid, great press. Good for any job, especially ones that require a lot of leverage.

    I also have a Lee Classic Turret that sees all my loading work since I got it. The RC is great, but the Lee is faster and more convenient. I will keep the RC because it is paid for and if I ever have a job the Classic Turret can't do, it is there for me.

    I don't have a Lee Classic Cast, but I have examined it (not used it, though) and would not hesitate to own one. But let me pitch the Classic Turret. It can operate just as if it was a single stage, yet, when you want to triple your production rate, you can switch from batch mode to continuous mode very easily.

    I have it on reliable information that the progressive converstion (a.k.a "piggyback conversion") is not as smooth to operate as a progressive built from scratch as a progressive.

    Check out the Classic Turret Kit offered by Kempf's Gun Shop online.

    If you shoot more than 200-300 rounds a month, you will be yearning for higher production rate. If you load more than 200 rounds in a sitting, you will really want something faster than a single stage. I could do 50 rounds an hour comfortably on my RC (but I am slow). I can do 125 an hour on my Classic Turret.

    What calibers will you be loading for and what kind of quantities? That will make a difference to you.

    Lost Sheep
     
  9. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Member

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    Thanks everybody. I just got an email back from RCBS saying that their Rock Chuckers are made in America. Decisions, decisions.
     
  10. AK Gun Man 88

    AK Gun Man 88 Member

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    Just discovered the warranties. RCBS Lifetime, Lee 2 year.
     
  11. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    I have used RCBS since I began reloading over 30 years ago.

    To me, they are strong, perhaps stronger than needed, but who cares? When I leave this old world my press will still be cranking out ammo for another hundred years (if reloading stays LEGAL ,that is)!
     
  12. res7s

    res7s Member

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    I think YOU should go with the RCBS. Any body else I'd say get a Lee Classic Cast, but YOU should get the RCBS. Since you're concerned about breaking something go with your gut.

    If you get the Lee you will always second guess yourself. You can always sell the RC later and buy a LCC. I'd personally buy a used RC before I'd buy a new one. The older ones had a different feel to them. It could be my imagination, or even the kool wrinkled paint, IDK.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  13. FWest

    FWest Member

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    I have not been reloading for years as some here have. I doubt this will be the only press you buy. Start with either one and before long you will need (want) another with different features, like turret or progressive. The RC or Classic cast will be fine to get you started and see if you enjoy the hobby. I had a classic cast and now the new Rock Chucker IV surpreme. Also went through a JR2, Lee classic turret, Loadmaster, Lyman All american and breech lock challenger . Presses are easy to sell and recoup most of the purcahse price.

    The Hornady LnL AP and RC IV are what I'm using now.
     
  14. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

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    I picked up a Lee Classic Cast second hand from a guy getting out of reloading. It sits beside my Lee Classic Turret ... and rarely gets used. I have six turret heads (four hole) with my dies mounted, and switching cartridges is a breeze. The only thing I use the Classic Cast for is de-crimping the primer pockets on military brass. I was a complete newbie to reloading when I bought the Classic Turret and have had no regrets.
     
  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    AK, you left out priming system. It's hard to tell the difference when you've never reloaded before. But there is a difference when priming on the ram.

    With the Lee Classic, you can switch the priming arm to the right side. See this vid I made:
    http://s688.photobucket.com/albums/vv241/gloob27x/?action=view&current=loading001.mp4

    Take a close look at the Rock Chucker and imagine what priming would be like. It's no wonder that hand primers are so popular. They just don't know. :)
     
  16. dsb1829

    dsb1829 Member

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    I just got my setup at the end of last year. I am a bit of a practical gear snob (practical = cheap). I like to get the best equipment I can with limited funds. While the Lee is an attractive option for budget reasons I found that the majority of positive reviews were from those with no other experience. On the other hand the Rock Chucker is often held in high regard by experienced loaders, most of whom still have their chucker despite upgrading to a faster press.

    I was able to find the Supreme kit for $250 locally and take advantage of a $50 mail in rebate RCBS was running through 2011. So I ran only about $50 over the cost of the Lee kit. After using it for a few weeks I really do recommend this option. The press is well made and all of the equipment in the kit is top notch.

    Only additions I have made to the kit are:
    -powder trickler
    -tumbler
    -Hornady Lock-n-Load quick change adapters (makes changing dies very fast)

    My $.02, YMMV...
     
  17. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    If you clean cases between resizing and loading, you do not want the primer installed in the case.

    The hand primer is portable and priming can be done any where, you are not tied to your press.

    Remember, what works for you, may not work for some one else. Neither is wrong, just different.
     
  18. joed

    joed Member

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    I was once making the same decision over 30 years ago. Settled on the Rockchucker at twice the price. It's still working which says a lot for it.

    When it comes to tools I like steel more then aluminum.
     
  19. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    In my opinion, a single stage press is a handy thing to have around. There are many specialized tasks that just work better on a single stage than cobbling it up on a turret or progressive.

    A good single stage press will last forever as long as it is not left out in the rain or used as a hammer.

    But it all depends how how deeply you are planning to get into reloading. Each type of press has its operational advantages and operational disadvantages.
     
  20. INGarand

    INGarand Member

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    I have an old rockchucker and it is named wrong. It should be solid as a rock. I don't use it as much anymore as I have a old dillon 450jr for pistols and a new lee turret press for rifle. I know it is not designed for large rifle cases but it works good in the non progressive mode. I just like the ability to change dies in seconds and not have to worry about readjusting. I am thinking about setting the rockchucker for straight depriming brass and I am sure all three presses will be used long after I am gone.
     
  21. res7s

    res7s Member

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    Joed, which one is aluminum?
     
  22. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    I've been reloading since '65 . Been using an RC 2 since '87 and it's okay but nothing special. If I had to replace it next week I'd get a Lee CC, it's the better press.

    Pro's that I found for RCBS. (Point by point:)

    -It's what most presses are based off...the original


    IF being the original was a guide we'd still be flying Wright brothers airplanes. The CC presses (and others) include the strengths of that original compound toggle link system and some significant imporvements; even stronger bodies, longer ram travel for cartridges up to .50 BMG, larger diameter ram means more wear resistance, MUCH better spent primer catching system, the lever is fully adjustable for angle and length. But, other than that, I guess it's a draw. ??

    -Cast Iron and steel-

    Lee's CC and CT are cast iron and steel.

    -Higher quality (older ones from what I have gathered, new ones are poorly made?)

    Higher quality? Measured how? Most of the 'quality' comments we read on the web or in gun stores is elitest crap, not fact. IF RCBS was as great as some seem to think they wouldn't need a lifetime warranty or great customer service. Lee's finish is fine, so is the strength. All of Lee's boring and machineing is done on modern CNC tooling for very precise alignment. (But I disagree that newer RCs are of any less quality than my old one, that's just more web BS. IMHO. ??)

    So far as durability, it doesn't matter what brand of press we get, they are all quite good. Fact is, I've seen presses that were badly abused/neglected and still worked fine; given intelligent use and a little oil from time to time any iron press of any brand will last three lifetimes. I've seen web photos of RCs with broken top straps, proving nothing is fool-proof to a sufficently determined fool. Even alum alloy presses (made by Lee, RCBS, Hornady, Dillon) will last a very long time unless they are massively over-loaded or denied a little lube.

    -Piggyback upgrade (anyone got any experience with this?)

    No experience but I've seen the crop-failure things. It is (or was ... I don't know if they still make it) a very expensive gimmicky add-on that flopped in the market for several very good reasons. In fact, it would have been both better and cheaper for the owners buy a Dillon progressive to start rather with than fooling with that quirky kit project and an RC.

    Finally, I have no sense of loyalty to inanimate objects so I have a of different brands on my loading bench. I buy tools based on their features, not the color, and I can't imagine any real benefit to a 'lifetime' warrantee for a press - or die. Both are VERY simple devices and any legitimate defect will show up quickly, not ten or twenty years down the road. Given the better features and reduced cost of some of Lee's stuff I have no concerns about a warrantee of "only two years". If I break something out of warantee I'll happily pay for it with the money I save by not buying green or blue stuff all the time; does that make sense? Or cents? :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  23. jcwit

    jcwit member

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    RCBS'S warranty is impeccable for sure, with that said I broke a Lee Aluminum
    Press "myfault" that was WAY OVER 2 years old and sent it back to Lee along with a trueful explanation as to what happened and that it was my fault. Less than 5 business days I received a replacement part along with a note informing me it was sent No Charge and Thanks for using Lee Equipment.

    With that experience I would surmise their customer service is pretty impeccable. also.
     
  24. 918v

    918v Member

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    Get a Redding Big Boss II. Better than anything else under $200.
     
  25. viking499

    viking499 Member

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    I have a RCBS RC. My next press will be a Redding T-7 to go along with the RC.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
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