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Thread: Question for you reloaders?

  1. #41
    Cast Hunter




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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    While I feel Lee dies are acceptable, I don't think they are as good of quality as RCBS.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Three44s View Post
    If you looked my load tool spread you would have a hard time finding a “brand bias”.
    Ditto.
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  2. #42
    Boolit Buddy
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    Forget brand preferences I'm into the idea of evaluation of products individually across many factors. Design, build quality, cost, service, parts availability are among them. A Lee Single Stage press is a bargain for getting into reloading and indeed how I did it. The (non breech lock) reloader press sold for a paltry $35 back in the day. There's one on Ebay now for less than a $20 bill shipped. That, a set of dies, a basic scale, a few powder scoops home made or otherwise (not the Lee scale it's terrible no matter what they say) and maybe (maybe) a shell trimmer is the simplest, cheapest way to be in the game. I cranked out thousands of rounds with not much more of a setup than this in .38 Special and .357 magnum. Pretty sure I was less than $100 into it as well the most expensive part being the Ohaus/Dillon scale I bought off a buddy at $50. $7 CH dies from a gun show, a $3 measure, (I used a Lee dipper too) a $35 press, an auto prime I got for a couple bucks and that was really about it.

    In terms of die quality the big objection I have to Lee is specifically for the 9mm dies. I just got my buddy's 550 and the dies just seem to slide around like butter. Dismount out of the Lee sizing die was kind of a rough tug which I believe was the sizer. I also agree with the sentiments around lock rings. I'd at least like to be able to stuff the dies back in and be 99% where I want to be. I mean bushings are a modern thing but even with the bushings it's annoying as you can have stuff twist around in the Hornady bushings before it comes loose with the Lee O-rings.

    I actually like their decapping rods. I've ham fisted a couple of the RCBS/Hornady rods/pins into pretzels before. Kind of annoying honestly. I think the Lee pin stays lined up better and doesn't move around as much.

    All presses have weaknesses. The blue, green or other red presses are no exception. You just have to understand and accept them. As an example:
    -The 550B I have is a bit rough around the edges for a south paw honestly, specifically case insertion. I didn't realize it loading with it before but did after the other day. The Hornady's 5 station setup is south paw friendly and I think I took that for granted.
    -The bushings on the LNL AP I have I find kind of annoying compared to the Dillon. The powder measure coming loose is really annoying. Pulling down powderless ammo sucks. The priming system isn't altogether great in its original iteration and the jury is still out on the reworked one. The dies have also shifted around some as they've been removed and I don't like that either. The Dillon's disadvantage is it's more challenging if you want to share a powder measure between calibers. The Hornady is more accommodating to that.
    -The Classic Turret I used had an auto index that was kind of squishy IMO, to the point I manually indexed. The priming system wasn't as "seamless" as the progressives above although it worked okay.

    Never used any of the support for Lee so I can't say one way or another. Hornady I'm really meh on and RCBS was no questions asked for the Uniflow I have.

    Measure wise things are extremely complicated IMO. Some just work better than others with certain powders. I have a Lee Perfect Powder Measure I got from a gun show for $3. Works great with stick powders. Would I trust Blue Dot with it? Not in my experience. It also leaks H110 like a sieve. Those seem to meter really well from my Hornady measure on my LNL AP or the Uniflow I just got. That Uniflow doesn't seem to do well with the stick powders though, you can feel it slicing the grains up.

    Build quality out of all the stuff I own I would say that the Dillon stuff is the nicest both dies and press. I would actually say I liked the build quality on the Lee Classic Turret better than the Hornady LNL AP. The fact they machined the top of the press where the dies go and didn't break the edge is a knock in my book. The Reloader press I have is not as good of a fit and finish but as said it's an entry level press so I have lower expectations. That said I wouldn't hesitate to think I could crank nice ammo out on any of them.

    Can't complain too much about the Lee casting stuff either. The molds themselves are good quality although I will say the SWCs seem to be a bit harder to get to drop and I think some of their bullets in the RN/RNFP category need to be longer for the weight to reduce the ogive and make loading a bit easier. The former may just be that they're SWCs and the latter may just be me wanting a mold that is easier to load without experimentation in semi autos. Their sizers are awesome though, I don't see why I'd ever want a fancy lubrisizer when I can use a Lee with some powder coat. The lead pot I have from them does seem somewhat drippy and they're known for it. I can't benchmark to someone else's pot however so I'll leave that up to you.
    Last edited by drac0nic; 12-19-2019 at 10:25 AM.

  3. #43
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I bought a lee push through sizer in .452, new from amazon I think. Well it had a big gouge in it's interior. It wasn't in the sizing portion, but lower in the die. Well I called them and sent pictures. They paid shipping to send it back and replaced it.

    Thats been my only experience with lee CS.

  4. #44
    Boolit Master
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    started loading in 82 with lyman stuff mainly but now I use lee most of the time .

  5. #45
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    Lee customer service and RCBS is very comparable in quality and attitude. Only difference is parts. Rcbs will send you replacements for free while Lee only charges a couple bucks.

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  6. #46
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1bluehorse View Post
    Rcmaveric, I really like what you said. Made me sit back and think. I will no longer involve myself in these type threads. When I look back at my first response, while I meant no offense, it seems rather offensive after reading yours. If you invited me over to you house to do some reloading with you, and we sat down to a Lee press(s) with Lee dies I guarantee I would not say anything about your equipment and would happily go about reloading with you. So to say it on a forum is just as rude in my opinion. Hopefully you get my meaning.
    I'm also hesitant to post on these type of threads. I actually typed up and canceled a response that would have been the first one after the original.

    I'm not a big Lee fan but I'm also not a hater. Lee has an important corner in the reloading tool market.

    My Lee universal depriming die is stronger than the much nicer looking and more expensive Sinclair die that some one gave me as a gift. I cast with a few buddies and the one that uses a Lee mold and a Lee pot spends more time working on them than me and the other friend that use ProMelts and Lyman or RCBS molds. He also has much less invested in his equipment than we do. Another friend was showing me a new set of Lee dies that he just bought. This is a large set of dies (as in big) thats for a 577-450 Snyder and the craftsmanship is as good as any brand that I have ever seen. My next set of dies may be Lee just to see how they work.

    I thought there were a lot of thoughtful and well worded responses to this post.

  7. #47
    Boolit Buddy
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    Most of my die sets are RCBS but also have 8 sets by Lee. Started with RCBS press, dies, shell holders, and assorted bits and pieces. Have several Lee molds and all cast accurate boolits. Have Lyman molds and RCBS also.
    I really can't knock Lee products. They function, are affordable, and have started many people down the reloading route that would have otherwise been priced out of reloading by the more expensive brands.

    The only problem I have ever had with Lee tools is a Pro 1000 press that I bought when they first came out with them. That darned thing is a real PITA to get set up perfectly, and then has to be dismantled whenever it misfeeds a primer. H110 and 296 will drizzle down through the flash hole and into the works. If I watch it like a hawk there is no problem.

    In all I have no real preference as to who made what. I am more into fit, form, and function.

    Now that I am retired and on a fixed income, I will probably gravitate more towards the Lee brand because of sheer economics.
    NRA Life 1992
    My avatar is almost a dead ringer for my little buddy Chico. Six pounds of mean that thought he was a Pit Bull. Miss that little guy.

  8. #48
    Boolit Master

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    I just checked the Excel spreadsheet for dies. It shows 53 entries. That is not 53 die sets but includes individual dies that fill a particular need. It also reflects several duplicate die sets that I bought used just to acquire a particular die, such as a steel sizer for a handgun cartridge. For example there are 4 sets of .30-06 dies, three of which were purchased used. One of these is marked "Bench Rest" to account for the neck sizer die. Some were bought to get an extra seat & crimp die.

    I have to admit to buying some "just because". As far as brand, they cover the spectrum of dies manufactured over the last 50+ years.

    I haven't figured out how to explain all this to my sons. I hope if they don't want them that they will try to list them here. That doesn't mean they will be doing it in the near future since I hope to outlive most of you.
    John
    W.TN

  9. #49
    Boolit Grand Master
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    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.
    Fly ... agree with you 100%. For reloading 39 different cartridge calibers from 22 LR up to 50-90 and metrics - for example the 9.5x47R which is an obsolete caliber:
    * Die sets in inventory that are Lee: 31 out of 58
    * Molds of different calibers and many with different weights: 302 molds in inventory and 178 are Lee
    * CH4D is my 1st choice for die sets that no one else makes and have to pay the price
    * Accurate Molds is my 1st choice to replica many Ideal molds in inventory or an Ideal mold that is rare, not available and not in inventory
    Regards
    John

  10. #50
    Boolit Master mtnman31's Avatar
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    I use a bit of everything. A lot of which tools or brand I buy depends on cost, availability and how much I'll use it. I'm not spending big money of a set of say, 7.62 Tokarev dies when in reality, I'll probably load 100-200 rounds a year for that cartridge. On the other hand, my .260 and .308 equipment that see a ton of use, I've got a substantial amount of money wrapped up in those tools. While Lee has a good selection of dies for obscure and obsolete cartridges they don't have them all and sometimes, for odd ball or obsolete cartridges, you don't have many off-the-shelf options. For example, I looked forever for a .32 Remington die set. Ended up getting a used Redding set at a reasonable price. I'm still searching for an 8mm Lebel Revolver die set. Can't bring myself to shell out over a 100 bucks for something I might use once a year.

    Lee does have some winners in their stable of tools. I think the 358-158RF and 476-400RF molds are two of the best designs out there. My 480 Ruger gets fed a steady diet of bullets almost exclusively cast from the 476-400RF mold. I also really like their universal decapping die. I have an RCBS universal decapper but have bent a couple rods. Sure, RCBS will replace it for free but the Lee does the job equally well and I have yet to damage it.

    These same discussion are had regularly about other products; Taurus firearms, tire brands, car manufacturers, etc. I say, to each his own.

  11. #51
    Boolit Master trails4u's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    Fly ... agree with you 100%. For reloading 39 different cartridge calibers from 22 LR up to 50-90 and metrics - for example the 9.5x47R which is an obsolete caliber:
    * Die sets in inventory that are Lee: 31 out of 58
    * Molds of different calibers and many with different weights: 302 molds in inventory and 178 are Lee
    * CH4D is my 1st choice for die sets that no one else makes and have to pay the price
    * Accurate Molds is my 1st choice to replica many Ideal molds in inventory or an Ideal mold that is rare, not available and not in inventory
    302 molds? THREE HUNDRED AND TWO molds????

    Are you seeking any help? You might have a problem.....
    "Do not follow where the path might lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" Ralph Waldo Emerson

  12. #52
    Boolit Master
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    I have no brand bias , my benches show presses of many colors , yes rcbs holds a dear spot as it was first press , lee molds and other stuff I have and use some I love , last set of dies 350 legend I hate , and directions on that set differ from some recent lee dies , taking a break from that caliber for now, I have quite a few dies sets a few presses and a lot of lee molds , some fit a niche that was needed at the time some were when it was what I could afford, I will pay the cost for who has what I need and what it does , brand does not matter , use and worthiness does .

  13. #53
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    Fly ... agree with you 100%. For reloading 39 different cartridge calibers from 22 LR up to 50-90 and metrics - for example the 9.5x47R which is an obsolete caliber:
    * Die sets in inventory that are Lee: 31 out of 58
    * Molds of different calibers and many with different weights: 302 molds in inventory and 178 are Lee
    * CH4D is my 1st choice for die sets that no one else makes and have to pay the price
    * Accurate Molds is my 1st choice to replica many Ideal molds in inventory or an Ideal mold that is rare, not available and not in inventory
    I will echo the 302 sentiment.... if you ever need help casting or a heir let us know. I will bring some lead.

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  14. #54
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I really like my lee magnum melter. It never gives me a problems.

  15. #55
    Boolit Bub
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    if any one is looking for a good decaping die try f.m. arms. I was breaking decaping pins left and right. I tried lee, rcbs and Hornady with no luck ,until I found f.m.arms

  16. #56
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    Before it's time for me to buy a different car, I research different makes and models. There is usually a one (or more) from each manufacturer that stand out with more "Pros" than "Cons", in regards to features, design, quality of build, and reliably. Of course I've made my share of poor choices, as well as, having bad luck and had to deal with a lemon, due to the luck of the draw. I've owned a lot of different cars (and motorcycles) over the decades.

    I do the same with reloading/casting gear.
    I like most Lee products, but there are a few clinkers in there lineup.
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  17. #57
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by drac0nic View Post
    The (LEE) Reloader press I have is not as good of a fit and finish but as said it's an entry level press so I have lower expectations. That said I wouldn't hesitate to think I could crank nice ammo out on any of them.
    Ref. Lee's little "Reloader" press let me suggest a different perspective.

    First, it's a single stage and therefore sorta slow - but no slower than any other S.S. - and I'm slow too. I have the proper machinist measurement gages to test for press "spring" under the stress of FL sizing .30-06. Neither of my two Reloaders spring enough to measure! Doing identacle testing on my big 'ol green RC II results in an easily seen spring of 2-3 thou. Obviously the big iron press is "stronger" over all but, within its rational limits, the little alum alloy press is more rigid. So, I believe it's much better than just an "entry" level press.

    Second, I believe the little Reloader presses are absolutely great special task tools for any serious reloader. I keep two mounted side by side on my bench; one has Lee's excellent universal deprimer die, the other has an old Lee AutoPrime II. (I just LOVE that primer station combination!)

  18. #58
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by rbt5050 View Post
    if any one is looking for a good decaping die try f.m. arms. I was breaking decaping pins left and right. I tried lee, rcbs and Hornady with no luck ,until I found f.m.arms
    Fw Arms

    https://fwarms.com/shop/reloading/f-...nter-decapper/

  19. #59
    Boolit Master
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    It's rude for me to say Lee stuff is not any good.

    It's also rude to tell me I overpaid for Noe, Redding, RCBS etc because Lee is just as good.

    Personally I don't like Lee products
    " If you cant do it with a 308 , you dont need to do it!

  20. #60
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    buy whatever makes you happy. i buy the quality level that i desire and can afford, and if i cant outright afford it, ill save for it. i dont know why it bothers some people that others want a different quality level of equipment than they do, be it die's, guns, or cars. you buy it, you have to live with it. choose wisely. some of the dumbest things i have ever heard in this life are from those that are jealous of what others have. personally the only persons stuff i am concerned with is mine.

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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