Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Texaszach, Dec 22, 2013.
I prefer Lee dies.
Main press is an RCBS Big Max but I have several Lee single stages for lighter duty. All dies are Lee and have been for 25+ years. All the rest is a mix but lots of other Lee products as well. I do have to smile when I see one of those Lee scales. Caused many a potential reloader to totally pinch up.
When my shooting buddy decided to start reloading years ago I raved about the Lee stuff and then helped his wife choose a Lee kit that I thought would get him set up well. He got it for X-mas and called me shortly after opening it. When he saw the scale, he's a Machinist by trade, he was thoroughly unimpressed and suspected I'd broken it off in him over Lee products. I had to allow I wouldn't be too happy using it either. He picked up an RCBS scale but nearly 20 years later he's still using Lee and happy with it. I'll have to ask him whatever happened to that scale though.
All Lee, all the time. They are a perfect match to MY realistic ammo needs and my budget. They are built stronger than they need to be, are All American made and have a great customer service group.
I don't brand bash since IMHO everyone out there makes a good product to their price point. And everything from the $30 Lee whack-a-mole loader to the $30,000 Camdex is perfectly capable of making safe, reliable and accurate ammo that you could not tell apart.
I suggest that if a person matches the machine to their actual need/desire, they will be happy with their purchase. I reload as a pleasurable pass-time during my empty free hours, not as a piece-work drudgery and I don't fire off enough rounds to warrant a higher price, higher speed mechanism.
Well. You can get away without a bullett puller. But without a set of calipers there's pretty much no way to safely measure oal I believe.
I started on and still use a Lee Challenger Breech Lock Press. All of my dies are Lee too. They all work well, never had any problems, so I've never seen a need to go with anything else. I think that Lees products are really hard to beat, especially from a value standpoint. They are a well made product at a good price.
I would suggest you read the stickies at the top of the reloading forum. They will tell you what else you need to get started. There is a wealth of information in the stickies. Also a reloading manual.
You will need to pick up a set of calipers for sure. Also probably want a reloading tray, components obviously, a trimmer. Possibly a case tumbler. Possibly a bullett puller.
Can't speak for the Dillon products since I haven't used them before (they do look well made) but the caliber flexibility that my Loadmaster provides for what I paid for it, is a good value. It's not difficult to see why many reloaders don't like the press, but I have become accustomed to the nuances that are involved in its operation and it works well for me.
They work exactly as they should. Many people bash the products. I assume these are the folks that equate expense with quality. I guess if they were more expensive the bashing would quit.
Way back when the earth was young and pterodactyls flew in the sky, my dad got me a Lee Loader for my first deer rifle (30/06). (comes in a box about the size of a small book, and everything is done by hand and hammer) I used that exclusively for many years. Years later when I got back into reloading, I took over my dad's reloading operation and all his stuff was either Lyman or RCBS. But when I needed to add s'thing, I seem to have always decided on Lee. Just got the LCT, and it works beautifully.
I buy Lee dies whenever I can. The quality is as good as any other and thheir customer service when I mess a die up is superb--better than RCBS for a fact. I don't care too much for Lee's basic balance scale and wouldn't have one for free, but everything else of theirs that I've bought I've been very happy with (and I'm typically a Dillion guy). My Dillon 550B uses mainly Lee dies.
I would not consider myself an experienced reloader. Lee is all I have ever used. I only load handgun ammo as both my centerfire rifles use handgun type ammo (.38/.357 and .30 cal for M1 carbine).
May not be able to reload as fast as others but works for me.
I will also add that as a 'frugal' (OK I'm poor AND cheap-lol) reloader, I own and use without shame a $10 Harbor Freight digital caliper and an MTM DS-1250 $30 digital scale. All are powered by coin batteries I buy for literally pennies apiece from battmanaz on flea-bay. So cheap that I have no problem replacing them often.
While I appreciate that there are indeed SUPERB measuring devices out there with near NASA grade accuracy, I do not believe my reloads need or would benefit from them. YMMV. You only gotta make yourself happy.
I have quiet a bit of Lee equipment and it all serves me well.
4-hole turret press with the Pro Auto Disk powder measure
Challenger Breechlock press
Several die sets (I only have 3 sets that are not Lee)
I have 4 Lee 2-cavity molds that produce great bullets (I have 1 RCBS iron mold and 1 single cavity Lyman mold. They're great. I made trades for them so was out little $. If I had been paying full price, I would have gotten Lee).
There are only two things I wouldn't buy from Lee and that is the beam scale (its a PITA) or a progressive press. I like to load ammo, not spend half my time tinkering with a press.
Like I said, the equipment I have works great. I've worked up sub MOA loads in all my rifles using inexpensive Lee presses and dies so what's not to like? And I can load nearly 200 rounds/hr with the turret.
Here's a 3 shot group with my wife's Ruger M77 in .243 with loads from my Challenger Breechlock press. I really don't see where a more expensive or "sexier" press would have done much better.
I don't know if they are all like ours or not but I found the .243 to be extremely easy to load for. It seems to like everything I try. Hopefully your experience will be a smooth one as well.
Lee turret. Lee dies,
RCBS scale RCBS powder drop.
*** case trimmer
RCBS case trimmer.
Dillon calipers .
With this I load EVERYTHING. Talking 10s of thousends of rounds.
I use a Lee classic turret e/w Lee carbide dies, two turrets, one setup for 9mm and the other for 45LC. Also have Lee classic single stage for odd stuff like sizing lead bullets. the safety primer system takes some learning to to use it correctly but once you learn how it is mostly reliable. the setup turns out quality bullets that I shoot several times a week. I can turn out about 200 rounds an hour, 250 if I press it hard.
personally I consider it a good value.
Most of my equipment is Lee, I started with the breech lock kit and upgraded parts that I wanted as I went. But I still use the most of the kit.
Thousands and thousands of rounds thru my lee equipment.
Definitely get calipers -- harbor freight digital ones are cheap.
And definitely get cheap kinetic bullet puller -- will allow you to safely dissassembly goofups and prevent temptation to fire them.
I have several sets of lee dies. They are highly polished beautiful sets. They work just fine. My other tools are a mix of different brands. They all work fine.
It's all I use, so far, and my ammo doesn't look any different nor shoots worse than that one made with the mighty blue presses. In fact, my thought is that the Factory Crimp die I use for my 9 mm will ensure that my ammo will always chamber properly.
If I ever decide to go progressive I'll probably get a Dillon 550, but instead of their crimp die, I'll fit the Lee Factory Crimp die instead.
I think everything is lee except trimmer and powder scale.
I have Lee for all my reloading, EXCEPT for the RCBS Universal hand primer, and a cheapo (amazon) digital scale. I started with the Lee "whack-a-mole", and still use a couple of its kit items. Their carbide dies are simply the best value for the money.
I've never used anything but Lee dies and a Lee Classic Turret press. One of these days I'll probably splash out for a Dillon Progressive, but, until then, I'm just fine with what I've got.
Separate names with a comma.