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Which progressive press?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ohihunter2014, May 7, 2019.

  1. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    My brother has shown an interest in reloading 9mm, 40cal and 5.56 and began talking about progressive presses. I am a Lee fan because of the price range and quality but I hear Lee doesn't make great progressive presses. I also don't want to spend $400 on a press either. Right now I am loading on a LCT with a case ejector and its somewhat fast but not progressive fast. Between the two of us I shoot maybe 1k 9mm, 1k 38spl, 500 or so 223rem. He would probably be at 1k for 9, 40 and 5.56.

    What's your thoughts?
     
  2. forty_caliber
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    forty_caliber Contributing Member

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    I don't think there is a definitive answer to this question since the response would be subjective to opinion and experience with brand X.

    Buy once cry once and spend more than $400 would be my response. I would lean toward high quality gear that will stand the test of time and not require me to futz with it every 5 minutes during a reloading session.

    .40
     
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  3. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    many guys have super high round counts on there lee progressives. if money was not problem the why not splurge some.
     
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  4. SCC

    SCC Member

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    Best advice I can give is to get to know some other reloaders with different presses. Ask them if they will demo and let you put hands on.
     
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  5. Livin_Cincy

    Livin_Cincy Member

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    Are you talking about shooting 1,000 of two pistol & one rifle caliber per week, month, or year ?

    Richard Lee's rule of thumb is that you need a progressive if you are shooting more than 500 Per week of a Caliber. This makes your reloading time about an hour on a Progressive when you clock all time and not just time spent pulling the lever. I am guessing you get about 250 per hour on your case ejected LCT ? Perhaps you do not need one.

    If you buy plenty of brass you can load ahead so your 250 per hour keeps you stocked up. If you like the manual operation of your LCT then the simplicity of a Breech Lock Pro might appeal to you. They are rated at 360+ per hour.
     
  6. Bartojc

    Bartojc Member

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    Sheesh, I cant seem to get 250/hour on mine all decked out with case ejector and all. I believe it could be done, but I can't. I'd be around 150ish. The Lee Breech Lock Pro is the only logical choice if you want to be well under $400. It has limitations most well documented in other threads here. Most of what you have for the LCT will work on the new unit like the powder drop, etc.

    -Jeff
     
  7. ohihunter2014

    ohihunter2014 Member

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    Sorry, that was a couple thousand per year.
     
  8. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    The new Lee Breech lock Pro is probably the press you need to look the hardest at unless you want more than 4 stations. Then your options are Hornady, Dillon, and RCBS and all will be at the $400 mark or above.
     
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  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    If you have mechanical ability and are a “problem solver” kind of guy you can make the Lee’s run well.

    It took me a little while to learn what makes them tick and they likely won’t stay running as long as others, because of some plastic parts that are critical but cheap to replace.



    Once you get one running well, you will know exactly what it takes to keep them going.

    That said if you don’t want to spend 400 you can load 3000 a year on just about anything, that’s less than 10 rounds a day.
     
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  10. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    If you're really shooting high volume, the press is only part of the process. I know some people skip steps and that's their choice. Presses don't clean and prep brass, and those processes can take as much time or more than loading if you don't have the right equipment -- that is equipment that can handle larger batches. The fact is most tumblers sold for reloading, wet or dry, cannot handle 1000 cases at a time. Some of them inflate their case capacity by making capacity claims that exclude media. I could easily spend more than a thousand dollars on a high-end progressive setup, but it won't speed me up if I can't feed it cleaned and prepped brass fast enough. What's good about brass cleaning and preparation is it is generally a less costly process to cut time. For cleaning, you need larger containers which don't cost significantly more than smaller ones. It can be more costly if you choose to buy multiple cleaners. For prep, you can speed up some processes with a motor.

    Another important time saver is having enough brass. If you're cleaning, prepping and loading the same 100 cases over and over again it will get tedious. It's a lot easier when you've shot a thousand cases and you already have another thousand cleaned, prepped, and ready to go. But again, that means having the machines to process thousands of cases instead of a few hundred at most.

    Speed on a progressive press is really dependent on all the necessary preparation being done beforehand. The most sophisticated (and costly) progressive presses need less preparation as more processes are included (successfully) in the press's operation. Those operations can include case collating and feeding, priming, and more die stations for optional dies like bulge busters, powder checkers, separate crimp dies, and so on. Press operation can also include cartridge changeover. Costlier setups can make that process faster while simpler configurations will require more involved and time-consuming changeovers.

    I use a Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro. I like it but it has its limitations. It will reload handgun cartridges (up to 500 S&W) and .223, 6.5 Grendel, 7.62x39 but not longer rifle cartridges like .308 or the Creedmoors etc. I use it with a case feeder (but no collator). I gave up on the bullet feeder and I also don't use the on-press primer. If I am able to feed it with clean, primed cases (which I also prefer to be resized when I decap them, though it can resize during the loading process as well), then I can load at least 400 rounds per hour. I loaded just under 5000 cases last year. I also used a LCT last year and I found the ABLP to be faster with fewer pulls and probably most importantly, less loading and unloading of cases (the case feeder makes a big difference). I don't consider the ABLP in the same league as the best progressive presses, but it can do a good job loading cases if you're reasonably clever to work out the process. It's not for the person who wants the process to work flawlessly without fail. If you learn to work around its shortcomings, the biggest challenge will be having enough prepared brass, bullets, and powder on hand to keep it going. I'm satisfied with the ABLP and intend to run it for as many as 12,000 cartridges per year. I think it's a good fit for that volume, but some people are happy to load the same on a LCT or single stage. Others load more than that every month, and I can't say I recommend it for that.
     
  11. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    Very good advice.

    With a single press, reloading several different calibers require caliber conversions that include changing out dies/tool heads, shell plates, case feeders (if equipped), priming system (If using small/large primers). If the $400 budget is to include caliber conversions, your choices narrow even further.

    As others posted, I would suggest you consider looking at Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro as you can purchase the press and all the caliber conversions including case feeder/collator for under $400. And caliber change can be done quicker and easier than other progressive presses.

    IMHO, that notion changed with Auto Breech Lock Pro (ABLP).

    ABLP may be a game changer for the entry-level progressive press market. Lee Precision seemed to have incorporated good features from their other presses and addressed issues raised by their press users in designing the ABLP.

    After reloading over 5000 rounds, here are my thoughts - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...ussion-no-bashing.835426/page-8#post-10957798
    • 4 station progressive press that is solid with smooth operation. There is no play or slop from breech lock dies down to ram lever linkage.
    • Ergonomic roller handle with good leverage. (Even after 500 round reloading session, my hand/wrist don't tire)
    • Lowest price 4 station progressive press with case feeder which really increases production rate. I place bullets with my left hand and work the ram lever with my right hand. (If you get a progressive press without a case feeder, production rate will drop by more than 50%)
    • Penny and spent 22LR case mod for case collator to prevent upside down 9mm cases - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...ussion-no-bashing.835426/page-8#post-10956047
    • Improved case slider (spring instead of solid Z-bar) for more positive case feed into shell plate.
    • Index rod through shell plate for no-adjustment index timing. If shell plate timing gets off a bit, simply back up the ram lever a bit and presto, index timing is fixed.
    • Easiest and fastest primer refill and small/large primer change WITHOUT removing shell plate. You simply pull out and drop in small or large primer arm. Ingenious. All the tools and primer arms are stored on-board on top of the press frame.
    • Safety Prime will feed down to last primer in the chute and currently feeds 99.9% reliable for me. Push on the feed head until I hear quiet "click" and primer is seated in the cup. (I did have to take apart Safety Prime feed head and smooth out manufacturing burr with thumbnail and stretch out the return spring a bit and this has been the extend of "tinkering" on the ABLP)
    • Through-ram collection of spent primers for clean and easy disposal.
    • Every finished round now drops quietly into the collection bin with this cheap mod - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...ussion-no-bashing.835426/page-8#post-11085562
    Even though I have Dillon 650 with case feeder and several Pro 1000s dedicated to calibers, I find myself reloading on ABLP more and more. During the 5000+ round reloading sessions, only maintenance required was oiling of metal-to-metal contact parts and cleaning with paper towel.

    Once the Safety Prime feed head was worked on initially, Safety Prime has worked reliably with various brand primers as long as I push on the feed head until I hear a quiet "click".
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  12. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Already using a Lee LCT and you like it very much only you want to increase output w/o spending a ton of money. The answer is simple. Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro. It will operate very much like the turret press and uses the same Safety Prime. Besides the press, $106.00 most places, you will also need a shell plate, $20.00 and enough die bushings to match the number of caliber changes you decide on. Now the 9mm and 40cal both use the same #19 shellplate. The 5.56 uses the same shellplate as the 380acp. So 2 shell plates will cover 4 calibers. Then you can always add the case feeder at a later date.

    The Lee ABLP may not be the most sophisticated or well polished press on the market but it is the least expensive progressive press you will find. Oh and it works very well and doesn't take a lot of tinkering or adjusting. The learning curve from the Classic Cast Turret to the ABLP should be minimal! The biggest drawback to this press in my mind is the amount of plastic Lee used.

    Again it may not be the most polished example of a press but it flat out works and should easily be twice as fast as the turret press.
     
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  13. egd

    egd Member

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    Have you considered searching here and on other forums also? I'm sure you will find several threads with about the same title and the same variety of opinions. Which is better a Ford or a Chevy?
     
  14. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    More like a Ford Ranger or a Ford F250 both are pickups yet they both have very different capacities and versatilities.
     
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  15. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    Only thing is Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro came out in 2018 and would not be included in those comparison threads dated prior to 2018.

    Since ABLP is mainly for pistol calibers and short rifle calibers like .223/.300 BLK/7.62x39, if OP asked for progressive press to reload both pistol and rifle calibers, I would have suggested Dillon 650 with case feeder.

    But with calibers OP specified with $400 budget, Dillon 650 is not a consideration.

    I think many would suggest Hornady LNL AP but not if including all the caliber conversions and with no case feeder.
     
  16. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    At $400 The OP could start with the Dillon case feeder and add a press later.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  17. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I also think you would be fine with the ABLP press for all the more you are reloading. I paid a $115.00 for mine and had to buy the case feeder for another $38.00. I already had a Lee Auto Disc pro for my really old Pro 1000 that I put on it.
    Buying the bushings for all your dies will get expensive in a hurry but it did on my LNL-AP also.
    I bought my ABLP as a new toy to load .357 mags on and the only complaint I have is the press needs raised up to make it comfortable to run.
    I don't prime on the press with it, like I do with my LNL-AP. I haven't gotten over trying to prime on my Pro1000 yet, even after 30 yrs.
    I don't have no where's near 5000 rounds on mine like BDS has but if asked "would I buy it again?"
    Yes, I would.
    Is it a Dillon XL650 or LNL-AP, not even close. But there is something about it's simplicity and ease of operation that keeps me going back to it for my .357 mag loads.
    It is pretty much, drama free and does just plain works.
     
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  18. Christopher 761

    Christopher 761 Member

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    Lots of different options. One of the tough things about your situation is having to change between 3 pistol calibers and 1 rifle caliber.

    Straight walled pistol cases are much easier to do.

    When you start looking at neck sizing followed up with trimming, then the 223/556 requires some extra steps. The trimming will probably be off die, unless you are going to spend a lot more money. Since you are firing the 223/556 from multiple rifles, trimming probably will be required. I don't currently reload for 223/556, because I don't shoot it that much, and because for the work involved, I just don't wanna. That may change.

    Since you are just getting started, I would recommend that what ever you do, you start with a setup ONLY for 9mm to begin with. That appears to be your highest round count, and it very easy to reload.

    You could start with a Lee Loadmaster in 9mm for about $230. Forget about the auto case feeder, and just run them through one at a time. Dial everything in perfectly. Stop and check powder weights, etc. Then, later you can add the included case feeder. The collator is a nice add on for $10, but you may need to add a washer at the top for 9mm for it to feed correctly.

    You haven't even started talking about how you are going to clean cases. With a dry cleaning setup, you don't need to remove the spent primer before cleadning. With a wet setup, most people remove the primer first before cleaning.

    The Auto Breech Lock Pro is pretty inexpensive to start at about $100, but you will need to add dies $50, Powder drop $40, case feeder $40, etc.

    Do you need 5 stations? I think so. Some will disagree. Here is my setup:
    1) Deprime/size
    2) Flare/powder drop with autodisk
    3) Hornady powder cop die (Additional cost for this die for $40)
    4) Set bullet
    5) Factory Crimp

    The Dillon xl650 at about $700 ($650 plus dies for $50) is a nice step up. But again, that is only for one caliber.

    Before you purchase anything, you should watch videos on how to change over from one caliber to another on the various machines. That may sway you opinion on how you want to approach things.
     
  19. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    I think most Dillon press owners will testify that the proper way to buy a Dillon press is to purchase a low end progressive first, get frustrated, sell it for a huge loss or give it away then buy a Dillon press... this is a time honored tradition for most Dillon owners!


    My first progressive was an RCBS 4x4 which was so bad almost nobody has even heard of them.
     
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  20. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    Five, six, seven, eight stations can be put to use, but with respect to progressive loading, four stations are definitely better than one. I also value the inclusion of a powder cop or lock-out die. I won't dismiss the importance of that, though others would. I would only exclude it where the charge fills the case and a double-charge would overflow -- which is pretty common for magnum handgun and intermediate rifle cartridges. So rather than excluding a powder-checker station, I would suggest that depriming is best done prior to case cleaning. Otherwise, you're loading a dirty primer pocket. Some don't care, but I won't dismiss the concerns of those who take care to prepare their brass thoroughly anymore than I would dismiss those who use a powder-checker. Because I find resizing to be the operation that requires the greatest force, I do it while depriming. That allows me to load fully prepared brass and the loading process goes more smoothly. Also, while I personally favor the Factory Crimp die for roll crimp cartridges used in revolvers, for the handgun cartridges that headspace on the case mouth like 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, the FCD is not compelling. Properly adjusted resizing and bullet seating dies will full-length resize and taper crimp the cartridge and the factory crimp die is unnecessary. Finally, with bottleneck rifle brass, I only use two stations at most. I decap and neck only resize with a type-S bushing die with no expander ball and use a slight amount of case lube on the outside of the neck, but I still clean the cases afterward so that both the primer pocket is cleaned and also the case lube off the neck. Also, if the rifle brass needs to be trimmed, it will be after resizing. I don't trim on the press, so it has to come off anyway. So when I reload bottleneck rifle cases, it's just powder and bullet seat. I don't crimp more than the minimum neck tension provided by the correct bushing size. Because of things like this, one of the best values of a progressive press is the case feeder because even if you're only doing one operation, it's still much faster than a single stage press or turret without a feeder. And if you're doing two stations with a case feeder, that's an economy of motion that still beats a turret. So while some may make use of 5 or even 8 stations, even two or three would be an improvement over the alternatives.
     
  21. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    I do not believe 5 stations are NEEDED on a progressive press... but I REALLY appreciate having 5 stations on my Dillon 650xl!

    I run a RCBS lube die / decapper on my station 1 and it makes sailing through pistol rounds incredibly smooth and fast! The 5th station on the 650xl makes that possible.

    Do you know how much I paid for this extra flexibility?... I have no clue, I bought my Dillon 650xl 25 years ago and that burning feeling in my wallet went away pretty quick... but the press puts a smile on my face EVERY TIME I load a round on it!
     
  22. lightman

    lightman Member

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    Everyone is going to have an opinion and nearly everyone has at least some brand loyalty. I would buy a Dillon and never look back. Actually, thats exactly what I did nearly 30 years ago.
     
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  23. Bandit67

    Bandit67 Member

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    If you aren't in a big hurry to get a new press, keep watching Armslist, Craigslist, estatesales.net, and auctionzip. I have done very well on equipment and components doing that. If you get a good deal on a bulk estate purchase or auction box lot you may be able to sell the items you don't need and get all or most of your money back. That's how I got my Dillon 550.
     
  24. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    That's the absolute truth right there.
     
  25. Thomas Mayberry

    Thomas Mayberry Member

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    If you're only looking at shooting a combined total of 2,500 rounds a year, a single stage press will meet your needs easily. I'm still using the same single stage press that I bought over 35 years ago and I've averaged 400-500 rounds a month during that time. I did use a lee pro 1000 for a couple of years but I got rid of that piece of junk.
     
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