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Lee Classic Turret or Hornaday LML AP? Opinions appreciated.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by geojap, Nov 15, 2008.

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  1. geojap

    geojap Member

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    Hello, this is my first hand loading thread ever. I've decided I'm going to start hand loading a few calibers. I've been doing research now for two weeks and have some first questions to ask. I would really appreciate it if owners or users of this equipment responded. If you haven't used the equipment, please state that if you reply.

    My purpose is to reload .308/7.62x51 for a SA Loaded M1A with a scope and FN PBR XP bolt rifle. I will be shooting between 100-300 yards from bench and I may enter some casual hi-power competitions at my local club with the M1A (either before scoped or else I'll get a second and shoot competition). I am also going to reload 6.5x55 for bench shooting, .357 magnum for defense and .40 S&W for handgun practice and defensive loads.

    I will be shooting about 2-3 times a month and not using too terribly many rounds, so loading a few hundred rounds per month is plenty. I shoot kind of slow, keeping a cool barrel, and prefer accurate placement, although it's not worth it to me to go insanely high up the cost-benefit scale for an extra 1/10" group size decrease. That is why I bought the Loaded M1A and not the National Match. A 1-1.5 MOA dispersion rate is fine with me, as that is probably better than I can shoot.

    From my research, the Lee Classic Turret Press and the Hornaday LML AP Progressive seem to be the best fit for my needs. Feel free to chime in if you really feel there is something better which I should consider, but please, hold the ignorant Dillon chest-thumping, I've heard it and seen it before. I'm a person who buys a piece that functions well and is a good value, not a blind slave to a name. Like someone else said, I want to know why you bought it, not what you bought.

    My first question is, if I buy one, what will I be missing from not buying the other, and vice versa? I'm aware of the basic fact that output per hour is different and that isn't so much of an issue to me since I don't need the output of the Hornaday necessarily. How noticeable will the difference in the quality of round made be between the two?

    If I did get the Lee, is the automatic powder measure as good as the press? I know the press quality itself is quite high but I wonder about the Lee accessories included with the press. The Lee Safety Primer seems to work very well compared to others I've looked at. Can other dies of higher quality be used with the Lee press with no real issues to speak of?

    Thanks for the help with this new pursuit of mine. It's a big subject to delve into and help from those with experience is golden.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  2. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Member

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    geojap, I too have been considering a Lee classic press after 30 years of using a Lyman Spartan. I believe the Lee is a definite "best buy". I personally do not think the Lee powder measure is the best measure for the money though. I've often read of inconsistencies with different powder types with the Lee measure. I use and will continue to use my Lyman 55 measure, as it is dead accurate and consistent, albeit a trifle time consuming to get set. I use many brands of dies that I have acquired over the years and find myself using Lee dies more, if I need new dies. They are innovative and well built for the money. I cannot speak for the Safety Prime system but it appears to work well from the demos that I have seen. I use the Lee hand primer and am completely satisfied with it. It gives a good feel when seating primers.
    Well, that's my take on it. Best of luck in your endeavor. You'll need to work up loads but nothing is more satisfying than producing those tight groups with ammo that you made.

    NCsmitty
     
  3. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    For precision hi power rifle, I would buy a good single stage press and call it a day. Especially if all you are going to load is a few hundred rounds a month. Spend the extra cash you save on good case prep equipment and a precision powder throw and some competition dies.

    LGB.
     
  4. geojap

    geojap Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I would consider a single-stage like a Rockchucker but I just don't have enough time to load single stage and get everything else done that I need to during the week/month.

    Thanks for the tip about the Lyman powder measure. The Classic Turret may be the way to go, I think. This press will sit in my garage in an older 1950s home, where it's pretty dusty and not climate controlled. It can get humid here in April/May and in the Winter sometimes. I think the turret will probably take the humidity and dust a little better over time with a cover and a light coat of oil.
     
  5. BullsEye10x

    BullsEye10x Member

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    The Lee Classic Turret can be used as a single stage press by simply removing the auto-indexing rod. I've used mine in both modes and it works great either way.

    The Safety Prime system works great for pistol cases. I can't attest to rifle though, because I prime those by hand as part of my prep routine.

    For a good powder measure I recommend that you get the Pro Auto Disc (Lee considers this an upgrade from the standard version), along with a double disc kit for loading your .308's. You might also consider a stand-alone measure and a powder trickle as well for a bit more precision.

    For your needs, the only advantage I can really think of with the Hornady is that you get a rebate for 1000 bullets, which basically gives you a huge discount on the press. I have also heard that the LNL presses will only work with Hornady dies in certain calibers. The only issue I've run into with my LCT is that the turret holes are very close together, so some brands of dies with bigger lock rings are harder to fit and/or adjust.

    Whichever press you decide on, make sure and keep it well-maintained if you're storing it in a garage. I had my bench out there for awhile and never had any problems, but I kept all metal surfaces coated with a fair amount of CLP and hydraulic oil for the ram (Hornady uses regular grease fittings as well)
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2008
  6. bukijin

    bukijin Member

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    Hi. I'm fairly new to reloading. Bought a Lee Classic Turret on which I have loaded a couple of thousand pistol rounds now. I havent tried rifle yet. I am only using it as a single stage at the moment by taking out the indexing rod. Using it as a single stage lets me check to see that Im doing everything correctly. I prime using the hand primer tool which works quite well, except that i manage to put one or two primers every hundred into the case sideways. :what: At first I thought they might go bang but now I just deprime those ones with the decapping die and try again. None went bang yet but we have to wear safety glasses in case. One day I'll buy the auto primer and turn it back into an index press but I only have a 3die set for .357 and 9mm and I believe that you need a 4 die set. Is that right ? Youll need the auto powder measure which works pretty well I think. I have the Lee scale also which I use to check the powder it throws. It seems to add the powder accurately according to my checking. Accurate enough for my purposes anyhow. In the future I will need a better scale though. I still look into every case to make sure I didnt put the powder in twice. The bullet seating die is fine though I have been crimping too heavily. I found some detailed instructions on how to set it up including pics by searching here on THR. Thanks to the gentleman who put that together...The rounds I have made were accurate and went bang so its really satisfying and much cheaper to be reloading.

    I have no experience with the hornady. But the Lee workes fine for me. I can see that a year or two down the track I will want probably want to upgrade but for a beginner like me its perfect I think.
     
  7. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Member

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    I have a Lee Turret Press and load 223,30/06,300WM rifle and 45ACP,45LC,44Mag pistol ammo with it. Yes,Lee is a cheap reloader but it does everything the expensive ones do and just as good. I always measure each rifle load on a scale,but I use the Lee auto measure on my pistol loads and it works fine. I do measure every 5-10 loads on a scale to check though.
     
  8. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    I can only comment on the classic turret. I have been loading on one for two years. I started with 9mm and added 38/357, 45 auto and 223. It is a very solid press. The ammo has been very consistent and I have been very happy. I can change caliber including primer feeds in around one minute. The pro auto disk powder measure has been very accurate but I have only been using fine powder and don't have experience with course powder. I can load 200 rounds per hour pistol and after case prep 200 rifle per hour.
    Rusty
     
  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Pretty much any press will work just fine. That said, the LNL has a reputation for loading very straight ammo. I use a Projector (predecessor to the LNL) and I like it a lot. I have never checked the runout on ammo from it but it does load accurate ammo. All my experience in competitive shooting has been benchrest where I used single stage presses, and I did check runout on those loads. I started with a Partner press and then bought a specialty press designed just for that. It did not work any better than the Partner press, but took up less space and that is always good when packing for a match.

    I load everything from .32 Auto to .45 Colt on my Projector, as well as some .22 Hornet, .223, & .308 (I have loaded a couple of other rifle calibers, but am not presently) It loads great ammo quickly and easily. I had a Lee 3 hole turret early on and it was a good little press. The new 4 hole turret press would serve you well, but the LNL is nicer and worth the money if you have it.

    Powder measures: I would recommend a Redding for the most bang for your buck, and a Harrells if you simply want the best. They are good enough to throw your charges and go without weighing charges.

    As you stated in your original post, you don't want to spend a lot more money just to get another couple of tenths on target. That is understandable, and you are dead on here. After reasonable measures, it starts getting labor intensive and expensive to start carving tenths off your groups.

    An LNL, Forster or Redding dies, a good measure, and you will bring out 95% or better of the accuracy your rifle is capable of.

    Finding a bullet/seating depth your rifle likes, trying 2 or 3 appropriate powders, and working up a load that bullet/gun/powder/seating depth combination likes is going to be your best bang for your buck. No die, press, measure, etc. will make a bullet your gun doesn't like shoot well.

    Hope this helps. AC
     
  10. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    One modern innovation you might consider is the L-N-L die bushing system developed by Hornady and now also used on some of the Lee presses. The die is screwed into a bushing with an interrupted thread that slides into the press and is locked in place by a quarter turn...and is removed for storage, bushing in place, in the same way. Advantages: after initially adjusting the die, you need never bother with that again. And changing cartridge set ups is extremely fast.

    Another modern innovation pioneered by Hornady: Removable powder measure chamber inserts. Using their modern rotary drum powder measure, once you adjust a chamber to your favorite powder charge, press a button after reloading and the insert slides out for storage with your cartridge dies (to be replaced by a fresh insert, of course!). The next time you want to load, simply slide the insert in and start reloading...no powder adjustments ncessary. As far as I know, Hornady is still the only company doing this...and replacement inserts are inexpensive.

    Using both innovations, changing cartridges can be done in seconds, and you are productive immediately.

    (After 50 years on reloading on a variety of presses, I just LOVE my Hornady L-N-L!)
     
  11. ants

    ants Member

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    Turret or progressive is OK for match rifle ammo, but single station is superior

    A single stage press is slower, but not much slower if the round count is low.

    Assuming you already inspected, trimmed and lubricated the cases:
    If you shoot 200 rounds per week, it will take you 30 to 40 minutes to load them on the turret or progressive.
    The same 200 rounds will take you about 60 to 75 minutes on a single station.

    So on a low round count, the difference is a half hour. Progressives make fine ammunition, but the single station press is universally used to produce superior ammunition for match rifle competition and long range shooting.

    Single station is a lot cheaper and gives you dozens of presses from which to choose. But if you plan to do higher production pistol ammo, turrets and true progressives (especially) give you much more flexibility to crank out lots of rounds.
     
  12. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    ANTS is right...I use progressives for practice ammo, but match and load development small batches are done on my single-stage presses, the powder charges thrown by measure about 0.2-gr under what I want, and finished on a beam scale with a trickler. The beam measure is recalibrated frequently to insure accuracy.

    I have found that no powder measure...even the electronic models like my Lyman 1200...are accurate enough by themselves. I found that out the hard way...weighed and sorted a batch of bullets, by chance re-weighed a few and found them differing as much as 0.4 grains!:cuss: Went back to my Lyman 1200 manual and found that the very last sentence recommended recalibration after every 5 measures! (Fortunately, all you have to do to recalibrate is to press the "CAL/ZERO" button...):scrutiny:
     
  13. aerod1

    aerod1 Member

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    I own a Lee Classic Cast Turret. In my opinion, it is the best value in a reloading press anywhere!:)
     
  14. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    I own neither, but have a couple of thoughts for consideration.

    The LNL AP can also be used for single stage reloading by simply removing all but the die you want to use.

    Does the Lee offer a powder measure that works on their turret press, and is capable of throwing 308-sized charges?

    The only station on the LNL AP that is difficult to use some other brands of dies in is station #5, which need not be used at all in rifle cartridge loading. They are introducing an upgraded press that changes up the case ejection so you can use any kind of die you like in station 5.

    Andy
     
  15. Shoney

    Shoney Member

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    ants and TooTaxed
    Sorry to inform you that the LNL does put out more concentric loads than most single stages, in my testing.

    When my loading buddy and I completed a fairly extensive runout (concentricity) study of the LNL AP vs. 650 vs. 550, we did a few single stages: a Pacific (old but great Hornady), a Herters, a mid 70's Rock Chucker. Admittedly, we didn't do but a few in comparison, however, the numbers of the single stages were not as good as the LNL.

    I read an explanation of this somewhere, which I did not completely understand, and apparently it has to do with the ability of the bushings to float???? and thereby line up better with the shell plate and case to give the more concentric ammo.

    I seldom use my single stages any more, and load all my rifle on the LNL AP.
     
  16. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    SHONEY, the reason I load my test loads on a a single stage is because it's faster and easier...concentricity I've never studied. The old RCBS I use has always turned out very accurate ammunition.

    I load batches of only five or ten cartridges for each half grain of powder in a range to determine my most accurate load for a specific firearm. As I mentioned, the powder is thrown by measure into a beam balance pan about 0.2 gr under what I want, then finished off by a powder trickler. Once the optimum powder charge is determined, I vary bullet seating depth/distance from the barrel lands and fine tune.

    I did try out my LNL for the process, but quickly found it to be much slower and requiring of effort when cases must be removed and replaced. Sort of like using a front-end loader to fill flowerpots. I found no advangates in using the massive L-N-L for this process.
     
  17. Shoney

    Shoney Member

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    TooTaxed
    I use the LNL slowly when loading rifle cases for bolt weapons and full progressive for semi-auto weapons. I hand weigh each charge for bolts, which I find easily removed and replaced in post position #2.

    I owned the LNL for over 6 years before I became comfortable loading all rifle on it.

    Good Shooting!
     
  18. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    I have the lee classic turret and currently have turrets set up for: 30-06 jacketed, 30-06 cast*, 6.5x55 cast, 6.5x55 jacketed * 308, .303 brit cast, 7.62x54r, 8x57 cast, 9x19, .45ACP, 8x56R, .223, and 7.5x55.
    I've not found any accuracy difference between using the turret and my single stage rockchucker.
    I load my .223 and 30-06 highpower loads on the turret press- the .223s will shoot 1/2moa.
    For cast loads, I mostly use Unique and 2400, and use the Lee Auto disc Pro measures- they work well, I also use bullseye and ww231 for pistol loads which the measures work well for also.
    For jacketed rifle, I use the Lee Perfect Powder Measure mounted to a rifle charging die- the LPPM needs to be manually activated, but I've found it to be very precise when used with IMR 4350,4064,3031, 4895, RL-15, RL-22, and Varget which covers most of my rifle reloading.

    For my highpower loads, I often load them in an interrupted manner- I resize and decap a batch, trim/chamfer, then do the priming/charging/bullet seating with the auto index on.

    The only bugaboos are the primer dispenser-my large priming dispenser works perfectly, but I can't seem to get the small primer one to work right. The ball on the lever keeps coming off as well. I epoxied it on, and it still came off. I'm just afraid the thing is going to maim me if Iput a lot of pressure on the arm and the ball slips off.

    The Lee press isn't perfect. If you are willing to put up with a few warts, its an outstanding press for the money. If I had to do it all over again, I'd buy the press again.



    *yes, I have multiple sets of dies for a few calibers:)
     
  19. Borg

    Borg Member

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    Nobody has even mentioned the 1000 free bullets you get with the L&L.
     
  20. rockhound758

    rockhound758 Member

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    I have the same question as GeoJap, and didn't want to start a new thread, so hopefully there are still people out there reading this :)

    I'm getting back into reloading after about 10 years out. I have a Lee 3-hole turret from years back, and Lee dies for .357, .40, .45 and .44. I'm looking to shoot 300-500 rounds per month, tops. I was considering the LNL for the bullet rebate but now thinking that might be overkill since I like the simplicity of the Lee, the quick caliber change, etc.

    So now I'm considering the Lee auto-indexing turret vs. Hornady LNL. Both seem good and my experience with the Lee 3-hole was great...plus seems like I could use all the dies no sweat. Plus, the LNL seems great for high volumes but for smaller ones the caliber change hassles seem more than they're worth.

    So, I guess my basic question is at what point would the LNL be worth it? Is 300-500 rounds (with 100-200 rounds in each of 3 calibers or so) per month not enough to warrant the LNL?

    Thanks in advance, and I love this site! Just getting back into reloading and shooting and there was certainly nothing like this resource 10 years ago! :)
     
  21. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    ROCKHOUND758, I regret to inform you that your old Lee dies probably are too short to fit in the Hornady L-N-L Progressive.:cuss:

    When I complained to Lee, they said that about five years ago they started producing longer die bodies so that they would fit in the rather thick L-N-L die head. They suggested I could remove the lock ring from the short dies and wrap them with teflon tape to screw them in further.:what:
     
  22. jpwilly

    jpwilly Member

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    I love my Lee Classic Cast Turret Press and feel I got way more press than I paid for! The Auto indexing system works great. Extra turrets are only around $10ea and I have a trurret for all calibers I reload so set up is easy. I reload 8x57mm Mauser, 30-06, 308 Win, 303 Brit, 7.62x54R, 223 Rem and 45ACP.
     
  23. rockhound758

    rockhound758 Member

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    Okay, I kind of figured there might be a problem with my older Lee dies in the LNL, although in checking a few minutes ago my .40s are Hornady dies, so hopefully they'd work in the LNL if I decide to go that way. Would it be reasonable to assume that my Lee dies (probably 10-13 years old) would work just fine in the classic turret?

    At this point, I'm thinking along the following lines:
    1) Get the auto-indexing turret rather than the LNL
    - Loading a couple of hundred at a time across 4 different calibers (total of 500-700 rounds per month MAX) probably makes the convenience of the auto-indexing turret better than the hassle of switching over the LNL each time
    - Allows me to keep my current Lee dies, and just buy new 4-hole turrets

    2) Get a separate crimping die for each of my current 3 die sets (.357, .45, and .44) and another Lee 4 die set in .40 (sounds like the benefits of a dedicated crimping die are pretty significant)

    3) Get back into it.

    Does this make sense? The money for the LNL isn't really an issue, particularly since the bullet promotion makes it pretty sweet...it's just that I think it might be overkill for my needs, and at least ONCE in my life I probably need to try and exercise some modicum of logic and restraint.

    Any feedback is appreciated.
     
  24. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Member

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    Switching calibers in the L-N-L (Lock-and-Load) is still faster than switching calibers in the turret press by switching turrets with dies, and requires less storage room. In the L-N-L each die is set into it's own interrupted-thread insert, which slips into (and out of) the die station and locks with a quarter turn. The inserts store with the dies, and are very cheap.

    Similarly, the powder chamber in the innovative Hornady rotary measure (which comes with the press) is also a removable insert...once adjusted to your desired charge, rotate the handle horizontally, press a button, slide out the insert and store it with your dies, and slide another insert into the measure. Inserts are less than $10. (You don't have to switch inserts...you can use just one for all your reloading, if you choose...but that just makes it a normal drum measure! That's no fun!)

    When you want to change calibers, lock in the dies, insert your powder insert, and start reloading. Time, less than a minute! (Plus, you may also have to change primer size...about the same for both presses.)

    That said, your reasoning is rather sound...your old Lee dies should fit the Lee turret, and the extra Lee turrets at $10 ea sounds reasonable.
     
  25. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    Yes to both.

    Rusty
     
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