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Thread: Question for you reloaders?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Question for you reloaders?

    I have been reloading for many, many years. I have always bought Lee dies for cost quality, ect. The only times I have
    bought other brands are when Lee did not offer them. I,m not trying to start a argument in any way. But why do some
    here pay the high cost of other brands. The same with molds, Lee molds have served me well, & cost a fraction the cost
    of others, plus they are supplied with nice handles. Just asking?

    Fly

  2. #2
    Boolit Master trails4u's Avatar
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    ….here we go. <FWIW...I use a lot of lee products, and have found them to be overall quite satisfactory. I also use many other 'colors'...
    "Do not follow where the path might lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" Ralph Waldo Emerson

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I like Lee products, and now days they're mostly what I buy. But I started reloading many years ago when RCBS was probably the best known reloading products company on the West Coast as they are made here, and Lee wasn't on the market yet much more than the Lee Loader sets. As a result, I acquired many RCBS sets in my earlier years, but am not one to pass on a good deal on used dies, and eventually acquired C&H dies, Lyman dies, and Pacific dies as well. Very honestly, as long as they're in good condition, I don't see much difference in the various brands.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Valornor's Avatar
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    I too started with Lee Dies. I appreciate Lee because they make a budget friendly way to get into the hobby and produce quality ammo. I use Lee Molds to cast, and havenít found much to complain about with their bottom pour casting pot.

    With that said, I have found some of their products not worth the investment, particularly their powder thrower. It do however appreciate the one piece decapper pin, even though sometimes itíll slip on crimped in primers.

    I do sometimes spring for the Redding Dies, and Redding Equipment when I want something that will be of a known quality. Things like powder throwers, presses, case trimmers, and when loading for precision rifle, I like the Micrometer bullet seating does they make.

    For me it all depends on what my budget is at the time and what the project needs are.







    Jay Andrew
    www.theballisticassistant.com

  5. #5
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    ShooterAZ's Avatar
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    I have a lot of LEE products, including dies. Overall, they have given me good reliable service. Sure can't beat the price either. I really like my RCBS and Redding dies also.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Well, I can explain one reason for purchasing more expensive tools; "tool snobbery". I worked in a Heavy Equipment repair shop(s) for the last 25 years of my career and saw many different mechanic's tools. Some bought their tools because of the name on them (Snap-on, MAC, MATCO, etc.). Some bought their tools because they were the most expensive available ("if they cost the most they gotta be the best, right?"). Some bought the same tools their favorite NASCAR pit crew or TV motorcycle builder used, and some prolly bought tools from the best looking, "coolest" tool truck. Few of these Tool Snobs just bought tools because they worked better or lasted longer than other tools. I'm not saying every Heavy Equipment Mechanic is a tool snob, just some (I worked with a mechanic that had a $6,000.00 tool box with some of the most expensive hand tools available, some he never used, they just sat in his tool box, but they were purdy!).
    I also see reloaders that are Tool Snobs and their choice of tools isn't based on how well the tools work or how long they last, but on the name on the box. And again, not all reloaders who use expensive tools are tool snobs, but there are some out there (and they are quick to tell you how bad Lee tools are).

    BTW, I was one of the "middle ground" mechanics. I had tools from Snap-on, MAC, plus Craftsman, Husky and even some Harbor Freight tools.
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    My first die set was Pacific (blue box) in 1964?, then mostly Herter's, 1st Lee die set was 45 ACP carbide, RCBS carbide was very expensive compared to Lee. Started buying Lee for calibers I did not have and Herter's went away. Never had problems with either brand, now I have a few RCBS, some C-H and others bought used or 'on sale/closeout'. If I 'upgrade' I go to Redding, the bushing type dies, if available. Of course the Lyman 'M' die is on hand for all calibers, and the Lee expander with NOE stepped expander for a few. I do prefer a decapping stem that unscrews easily, rather than the Lee friction style. I do like the Lee Collet sizer for a few I don't have Redding bushing dies and the Lee Factory crimp for tube feed lever guns, though 'standard' seating/crimp die not a big deal to adjust. I have a Dillon 550, but find the Lee 1000 and the the Loadmaster no more difficult to operate. Redding is luxury, little difference for the rest. I like the Wilson Trimmer over Forster and Lee. I use the K&M primer pocket uniformers and Flash hole reamers, though I do have an RCBS Power Case Prep Center. I find the Lee Perfect Powder Measure to work as well OR BETTER than my RCBS Uniflow and some others I have. I do have Lyman 310 Tong Tools for many, used them in student housing at college. Modern engineering has brought reloading a long ways. My first Lyman single cavity mold in a kit with a Lyman 45 Sizer, Lead Pot(not electric) and Dipper cost as much as my first marlin 336, now a double cavity Lee is less than a 'deluxe' meal at McDonald's. I expect accuracy in the MOA or less range using these tools in my more accurate rifles, Savage 99 243's(jacketed), a couple Savage 99 308's, a Marlin 35 and a couple Marlin's in 32 Special. Bullet fit and straight cartridges are the key, not how much stuff cost.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Great thread so far. Valornor brings up Lees powder thrower & I can understand that also. I worked in R&D manufacturing before I retired. We
    had a moto, the goal (Make the product as cheap as possible but not to cheap). Meaning a product that works but not cheap in quality but price.
    I many times I look at Lees products & wonder how they can sell them at that price. Henry Ford did it back in the day & it can be done. CNC machines
    have lowered the cost immensely. That's one reason Lee has been able to keep there price from rising much over the years.

    Fly
    Last edited by Fly; 12-18-2019 at 01:39 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub Rug480's Avatar
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    I dig Lee products. I only have two yrs under my belt. Can’t beat the starter kit for the price. I didn’t like the standard powder measure, the deluxe model has been great.

    The dies work well but I like rcbs more, same with molds. The rubber ring on the dies can fall off and be a pain. Two cavity molds are functional but replete with burrs in my experience, even some of the nicer six cavity.

    But with a little patience on a free shipping code with Midway, you can’t go wrong for the molds or dies even as backups
    A nice cigar makes a bad day good and a good day great.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I prefer Dillon dies in my 550b. I have others but for some reason the Dillon dies "seem" to do what I want the first time. Don't know if I would call it snobbery but I have just become more comfortable with them than without.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    Lee dies get the job done, but they are not the same quality as RCBS and Redding. When you are buying something like dies that are a lifetime investment, a few dollars really don’t matter to me. That said, I do have and use Lee dies for some calibers. Some of their other equipment, IMHO, just doesn’t measure up to RCBS, Redding,etc.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master



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    I enjoy picking up a used set of, other than Lee dies and have a few have a few RCBS and Lyman I bought before Lee started producing them. I have a bunch of Lee molds, that I bought when I started casting. Now I buy molds that are the more expensive brands, mainly because Lee doesn’t have the calibers I’m looking for.

    There is a difference. The others (Steel molds) are of top quality. I have some of the other Lee products those I continue to buy are Adequate. I don’t like the lead harness tester at all. Maybe it’s my older eyes. On other products, I believe Lee produces them with lower quality control the other manufacturers. This keeps there costs down and they a very liberal repair or replacement policy. Not a bad business approach.

    For those of you who are willing to take a chance of not getting 100% perfection, you can always send it back and get another one. For plinking rounds I use a lot of Lee stuff, but for competition, it’s always the top brands I go for.

  13. #13
    Boolit Man
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    Most of my gear is lee. The only thing of Lee that let me down was the safety scale that went into the trash. I bought a lyman. The lee hand trimmer kept my hands in blisters, so I bought the Rcbs trimmer...mayb one day I will get the power head too. I love the loadmaster but the case feeder was removed. My only problem with lee molds is they are multiplying like rabbits...very high value.

    I never would have started reloading if I couldnt quickly recover my costs. I would like to try a dillion one day, maybe a hornady.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    What is it you like steel molds over aluminum?

    Fly

  15. #15
    I never cared for the lee rubber die lock nut and have replaced the few lee dies that I have with rcbs or what ever lockable extra nuts that I had laying around on defunct die sets. I also donít like the collet expander rod on their rifle dies, prefer the threaded expander rods. And while their old style Lee auto prime tool is actually pretty good and I use them all the time, it has a fatal flaw of being made of pot metal. I wish they made the handles out of steel. I donít know how many Iíve broken but lee would replace them. I donít think they service the old ones anymore as they have a new style. Iím down to my last 3 or 4 handles. At 68 maybe Iíll outlive them. My presses are old school pacific, bair, lymans or newer 550 dillons, no lees.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I don't like the design of lee expander / decapper rod. With rifle dies, I take the decapping rod out to clean the die every session or two. That mandrel type rod attachment is a pain compared to other brands. I don't like their O ring lock rings.

    Right now I have CH, Pacific, Lee, Lyman, and RCBS dies. I buy whatever I can get used at a good price. The pacific dies I have, I was looking for a Lyman M die when I came across a deal. For 20 bucks I got a Lyman M die, pacific 30-06 dies, and a Hollywood 308 seat die. My point is, lee is not the best deal in town when you consider the secondhand market.

    While I feel Lee dies are acceptable, I don't think they are as good of quality as RCBS. I think Lee is okay and will last as long as needed and do a good job. RCBS seems to be made better. By better I mean better than it has to be.

    I use the Lee perfect powder measure and love it. I like not only that it's half the price new of it's competitors but that used it's less than 1/4 the price of it's used competitors. I've had 1 given to me and 1 I bought for 5 bucks. Maybe they aren't the precision lifetime instrument that an RCBS thrower is, but I've not been able to find a used RCBS for less than 40.00. I like the design of the lee with it's quick remove hopper. I've never had an issue with my thrower and they are consistent according to my scale.

    I use the lee dippers with only one complaint. They need more variety of sizes. I've yet to get a set of the old red dippers to fill in the gaps some.
    Last edited by Bazoo; 12-18-2019 at 03:14 PM.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I started reloading around 1973 for a new Ruger 45lc. My LGS only sold RCBS dies so that is what I still buy and use. I do not have any Lee dies other than some push thru sizers for PC.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Of moulds, I have several Lee, a Lyman and an RCBS. I've had an accurate mould but sold it because I didn't need it. Of those, the RCBS is my favorite. The best way I can describe it is it's a joy to cast with.

    While I like my lee moulds well enough, I don't like the sprue plate ear being on the end. I prefer it on the side like an RCBS or Lyman. My biggest complaint about lee moulds is not the moulds but rather lack of data for their truncated pistol bullets. It's easy enough to work up a load with a case that has lots of room like a 38 special, but harder with something like 45 auto that has a narrower operating range of power.

    I prefer iron over aluminum because it isn't as sensative to a short break in cadence.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Tool snobs show up in many ways, especially as they relate to Lee. I've seen many posters say, in essence, "RCBS is the best. I've used them for twenty years, they are all I've ever used, and they have never charged me for replacement parts" or words of that nature; such posts make me smile. I wonder, IF they have no experience with any other brands how they can make judgements on tools they haven't used? IF their favorite brand provides "free" parts they must not be perfect, right? Fact is, parts can't possibly be "free", they have to be paid for. So the cost of free parts has to be factored into the original retail price and those users who don't dorkup their tools have to pay for the ham-fisted who do, right? (In some 55+ years of reloading I've had to order exactly three small, inexpensive parts.)

    Some guys make ludicrous comparisons between Lee's small alum alloy presseses and other vastly different (and costly) cast iron presses as if both types were intended for the same market; that's foolish. Now Lee makes their cast iron Classic Cast single stage which is very precisely made, bigger, stronger, more user friendly - and still less expensive - than my old Rock Chucker. I now own five presses, two are iron and three are aluminum. I chose each of them for how they would be used, I use them properly and have never had a single problem with any of them.

    Lofty arguments about who makes the "best" dies are also silly. I have well over fifty die sets including RCBS, Lyman, Lee, Herter's, Pacific, Hornady, White, Eagle, Forster, Redding, Savage and a couple others I can't immediately recall. Comparing apples to apples, and when used correctly, I find that ALL dies make good ammo. Dies do vary but that's life.

    Die makers have SAAMI tolerance ranges, not a specific point, to aim for. I've learned the internal dimensions between individual dies from the same maker vary a bit but I can't find any average qualitative difference between any of them - save the Savage, and they didn't survive long in the 1970s market.

    No matter where anyone puts their faith we ALL own Dick Lee a debt of gratitude. Lee has, single handedly, kept the whole reloading market reasonable. If you think our tools are expensive now try to guess how expensive they would be without Lee's price competition!
    Last edited by 1hole; 12-18-2019 at 03:37 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master flyingmonkey35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fly View Post
    What is it you like steel molds over aluminum?

    Fly
    Steel retains the heat better. So dose brass.

    So once up to temp it keeps it temp.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check