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Thread: lee reloading press

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    lee reloading press

    why do some think that a lee (non progressive) reloading press is better. price is not a issue; i'm a believer that you get what you pay for in tools. comments?

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    There's a couple of ways of looking at it, I guess. One would be "what does the job?" A single stage press is a single stage press is a single stage press, and they'll all do the same job. So, I guess the other way to look at it would be "what does it cost?" If a less expensive press will do the same job as one that costs more, there are those to whom cost matters.

    I do not own a Lee single stage press. I started with a Lyman Spartan (cast iron), and just this year for my winter reloading projects I purchased a Lyman Brass Smith. Not much difference between it and the Spartan except a different linkage design. Since it gets really snowy and cold where I live I thought I'd move my operation into my office, and the Lyman was just right to C-clamp onto my desk (coincidentally right in front of the computer screen!). I think you'll get more durability over the long haul from cast iron as opposed to cast aluminum.

    But, let me say that if you move past the single stage press, your next step should be the Lee Turret Press, especially for pistol ammunition. I bought one when the were "3 holers" and converted it to a "4 holer" when that improvement was made. I've reloaded thousands and thousands of .38 Spec. and .45 ACP on the Turret Press, and it's never missed a beat. Some things are real masterpieces, and the Lee Turret press may be matched, but is not surpassed by other brands, even though they are more expensive.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I don’t know about better but it’s cheeper than any brand out there. I have had my classic for 30 years and still going strong. If there where junk or cheaply made I would of found out about it long ago. I load 5000 to 8000 thousands rounds a year so far it still just works never a broken part. It should work another 30 years no problem.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by porthos View Post
    why do some think that a lee (non progressive) reloading press is better. price is not a issue; i'm a believer that you get what you pay for in tools. comments?
    Price is always an issue at least for most of us , I saw a review on a single stage German press that was over $1000.00
    I don't know any one that has one and that is probably because of price , for most of us our Lee or Lyman or Rcbs will do exactly the same thing on our bench for as long as we want to use it why pay 4 to 10 times as much to get the same result. Unless you just gotta have one.

  6. #6
    Boolit Bub 2A-Jay's Avatar
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    The Lee Single Stage press is a good deal for a beginner (someone who doesn't yet know that they will stick with reloading) I started with Lee and passed it onto a friend for his first press.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    “The worst day fishing beats the best day at work!”

    The poorest press beats no press at all. But Lee does not build poor presses! They build less expensive presses.

    Moreover, the Classic Cast series are very good.

    As single stage presses go if I was just starting out and could afford nor more expensive tool than a Lee Challenger, I would buy a Challenger!

    I began hand loading on a RCBS Jr. and still have it 45 years later. It is not my number one now (a Redding Boss is my #1) but it is not going anywhere.

    Three44s
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    "The Lee Single Stage?" Last I looked (and best I remember) Lee has four or five single stage presses.

    I have two of their little "Reloader" presses on my bench now; great little tools. They surprised me when they handled my .30-06 and .300 WM chores fully as well as my much bigger and more costly Rock Chucker. I really can't imagine what 90% of reloaders would need more of than what that little Lee press can do.

    At the other size end, Lee's massive Classic Cast is all iron and steel, strong enough and big enough to handle .50 BMG; don't think I'd want to do much of that with my old RC II. And the CC lever is fully adjustable for the operator's desires, the press doesn't scatter spent primers and grit all around and I hear some folk even use it to swage bullets.

    I'm not a brand snob, I want tools that work. IMHO, Lee's CC is simply the current best press of its type on the market.

  9. #9
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    I started out with a RCBS single stage to see if I was into reloading. It was loaned to me. You can never go wrong with a single stage. I have moved on to a Dillion 550 and the single stage RCBS is still mounted to my bench and gets used all the time. I would be lost with out it. By the way the person who loaned me the RCBS bought it at a yard sale for $10.00 and said I could keep it. What a good friend!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    That line about you get what you pay for may have been true "back in the day" but the older I get the more I see quality slipping away all across the spectrum from cars to guns to electronics.

    I've also found that a lot of guys who slam Lee quality fall into the "poor workman blame their tools" camp. I don't know if that describes you, I don't know you. You may be earnestly seeking knowledge. And my words may come across as harsh but they are not meant to be. I just want to speak plainly.

    Lee equipment is value priced. For some reason that puts some people off.

    I started reloading when I was on active duty making less than $500 a month. I stuck with Lee all through raising my kids (youngest is now 31) because Lee stuck with me.

    Now that I can afford any press that I want I do have a Dillon 450, dedicated to 5.56. I also bought a RCBS turret press that had a worse priming system than anything Lee ever put out. I sold it and in it's place I mounted a new Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro currently dedicated to 9mm.

    I have a Lee Classic Cast single stage, a Lee hand press and an old Pacific press in my shed some where.

    I load the majority of my stuff on a Lee Classic Turret. Currently have turret heads set up for at least 12 calibers from 9mm to 45 Colt to 30-06.

    Spend your money how you want. Most guys on here don't care. I use what works.

    Best of luck,

    Steve in N CA

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Better than what? My main single stage is still the original RCBS rockchucker I got many years ago. It works fine. If I were to start all over again tomorrow, you know what I would buy? A Lee classic cast. I've NEVER seen a press that had what I consider a good priming design, the classic cast is no exception, although it's better than the tube system of the RCBS. That's fine, as off press priming is the best way to go, and always has been. Progressive press priming is another matter. The big issue, that might seem small, is that the Lee engineers actually thought about depriming. Instead of RCBS, which will throw a primer in any direction, Lee dumps theirs out the side into a cup. I mean really, whoever at RCBS did that how many years ago should have been fired. You can load just about anything, including 50 BMG on the Lee. You can't on most presses, even though they offer the larger thread size threads.

    Outside of priming, I can't think of one problem with the Lee classic cast. Some might prefer the Forester Co-Ax, but that's a personal preference. It's no more of an accurate press, and certainly not stronger.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Far be it from me to tell you how to spend your money. You can look down your nose at my cheap Lee press all you want to. I have loaded thousands of rounds on my press ans will continue to do so. The money I saved on the cost of the press went into components that don't just sit on the bench and look pretty.

  13. #13
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    I started with the Lee brechlock challenger kit, back in '08. It's a good press, but for forming brass I bought the RCBS Rock chucker 4. Now that is an awesome press, the only thing I don't like is the primer catcher, but that seem to be a common complaint on them, not big deal, just annoying at times. I have loaded a countless amount of rounds on the Lee, and it's still a good press, but now I have moved it, and use it for pistol ammo, cause to me it lacks the leverage! I will get the Lyman brass smith turret in the future, cause I don't like progressive presses. I like tools that work, not the most expensive, ones that work good for the dollar! Lee makes some good products, not all of them are home runs, but neither is anyone else's! This is just a hobby for me, so I buy what I can afford, but to each his own!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I go along with the Forster Co-ax recommendation, all steel, no pot metal, no plastic.

  15. #15
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    I bought a Lyman Spartan 45yrs ago, before I even got out of the Service and started my own Reloading setup. It got sorta replaced by the RockChucker I got from a Girlfriend the next year. Can't remember the GF's name, but the RC is still on the bench.
    And that old Spartan, it's bolted to the other Reloading bench.

    And I got a Lee Single Stage sitting under the bench. It was free. Just waiting to be given to the first kid I meet at the Indoor Pistol Range, who expresses an interest in reloading.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    Instead of knocking one brand vs. another, I am just happy that people are reloading. I prefer RCBS, but I will not disparage anybody’s choices. Reminds me of bow hunters fighting amongst each other on what bow they hunt with or archery deer hunters and gun hunters fighting. Our shooting sports have enough outside enemies, we don’t need a circular firing squad with our brothers and sisters.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    Never used the Lee SS but all I hear is good reviews of them. I would not be hesitant to purchase one. If I needed another SS, I would likely buy one.

    I hate the way my RC spits primers and dirt everywhere so I stopped using it for depriming but love the way it handles sizing of machine gun brass. Most presses have pluses and minuses so you need to figure out what works for you. For my needs, the RC and Co-Ax get the job done.

    BTW, most people get used to what they have and if it addresses their needs, it is a "good" press. Not too many of us will have experience with a dozen different SS presses so we only know what we know. Maybe someone bought a Lee and sold their RC and that would be an interesting review. I have read of at least one person who hated his Co-Ax sand sold it, so one size does not fit all.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by MT Chambers View Post
    I go along with the Forster Co-ax recommendation, all steel, no pot metal, no plastic.
    MT, I don't get what you're saying.

    I have three Lee presses, all are made of aircraft grade aluminum alloy and steel. There's no pot metal (zinc) or plastic in them at all; what am I missing????

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I forgot, I also have the Lee hand press, and it's great for cold rainy days cooped up in the house! Actually it does about 50% of my pistol ammo reloading! I really like it.

  20. #20
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    You get what you pay for.... sure but there is a point where a tool is a tool and the extra cost is merely just the name on the side of the tool.

    I havent used anything but Lee, merely because price is an issue. I have the Lee hand press, Breach Lock Chalenger, Classic Cast Turret, and a Load Master. These are great useful tools. They are inexpensive and durable. I have abused the Hand Press and Challenger and they are still smooth and going strong.

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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