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Thread: Difference in Lee presses

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Captain*Kirk's Avatar
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    Difference in Lee presses

    Can anyone tell me the difference between the Lee Pro 1000 and the Loadmaster progressive presses (other than cost). Is one better, faster, more reliable, etc, or is it just apples and oranges preference?
    I've read some really good...and really bad...reviews of both presses. The good reviewers claim the bad reviewers just don't know how to set them up.
    "Are you gonna pull those pistols, or whistle Dixie?"

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have challenger, turret and loadmaster but I dont have Pro1000. From my understanding Loadmaster is supposed to be better then Pro1000. Main differences I think are the number of stages and priming. Pro1000 only has 3 stages so while Loadmaster has 5. Priming on Pro1000 is semi manual same as turret while Loadmaster has full hands off feeding and priming on the upstroke. I dont think neither priming system is very good. I think loadmaster priming is ok with LP but it sucked at least for me with SPs so I prime separate now. From my understanding many people prime with other tools. Short of priming I think loadmaster is not bad at all. I have it setup for 9mm and 45acp which are my high count calibers. Thats where progressive shine. For others I prefer turret which is my favorite press anyway.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I had a pro 1000 for 15 or 20 years and a loadmaster for 10 at least , I had fewer problems keeping the pro 1000 running smooth but I did not like being limited to 3 stations the Loadmaster has 5 but took more time when changing calibers to get running smooth both were picky about priming both produce a lot of good ammunition when you get them running well. I now have the auto breech lock pro and prefer it to the others.
    I would buy it again if it disappeared , it is easier to set up and simpler to operate in time per round total it is probably as fast or faster than the loadmaster because after the learning curve it has given me no problems and you can feel the primers seat a big plus to me , it also has 4 stations so prefer it over the pro1000 speed wise it is probably in the 250 to 350 rounds an hour at a casual pace. I have loaded 308,30-06 and 223 on the loadmaster but for the most all 3 presses were for handgun ammo.
    And my hunting rifle ammo was loaded on a single stage.
    We all have our preferences and likes and mine would be the ABLP I do not miss the other 2

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have a loadmaster, its built pretty solid. Looking at them both the loadmaster is better built. Im really happy with it once I got to know it. I think people are giving up because they arent learning the machine. They want to pull the handle and get results no ifs ands or butts. Even sewing machines get bad reviews because the operators want to stand on the petal and have it work. But every machine needs dialing in.

    Here are some things that helped me get aquainted...

    Only run CCI primers! And lee expresses this in the directions. Any other primers get seated on their side, half way in ect...and that brings everything to a halt. Ive had 7 mis seated primers in 20 rounds. But cci i might get 1 in 500.

    When setting up the press slow down and where things move on each other rub 400grit sand paper on the rough cast surfaces. Just enough to make the casting smooth. I then applied lithium grease very sparingly. Mainly to the underside of the shell plate, and the indexing rod. And on the press frame where the indexing rod rides on the handles way up.

    My machine was purchased for 38s, then I bought another die plate for 357s, then 45acp small primer. The case feeder gave the most fuss changing calibers so I dont use it. For me taking he case feeder off sped up production and reduced frustration. Change over is 5minutes. But thats not changing the primer feeder.

    I wish shell plates were cheaper, the frame was cast iron, and that stupid wooden knob stayed on the lever. Oh and the primer tray was big enough for 500 primers.

    Oh never short stroke the press...something about the clunk at the top and bottom of the stroke makes the machine happy.

    Im considering another press just for 45acp large primer. But 2 leads to 3 and so on...

    For more insight visit mikesreloadingbench.com he sells improved loadmaster parts, but he has several free tutorials and ideas to help you along.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I never have run a Pro 1000 but I did own a Loadmaster and after awhile got it running as well as any others out there.



    That said, It wouldn’t be my first choice for a progressive press. Once you figure out how to make one run well, you will have the knowledge to keep it running well and what parts to keep spares of.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have three Pro 1000s, one was a Christmas gift.
    The other two I found in a box at a LGS marked $20 wit a few misc. parts.
    I asked $20 apiece? No, it was $20 for everything in the box.
    They were missing the powder measures, which I bought later, great presses if you have the mechanical ability to make them work.
    That is what it comes down to with Lee progressives. You have to be a master of the mechanical stuff.
    Otherwise you're screwed.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    I had a loadmaster and my dad has had a pro 1000 since the early 80s the indexing is really goofy on the loadmaster but otherwise it was a pretty decent press the pro 1000 was a great press and I would choose it over any of the entry level progressive presses including the Dillon 550.

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub
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    I've run Red for a long time, started with the little single stage, then a turret, then a Pro 1000. I only use it for pistol loading. I have never used it in full progressive mode. As others stated, I prime off press. I've got two set of turrets for each caliber, de-prime and flare, then prime in my manchair with a big bowl. They get boxed for later loading. I keep 3 to 4,000 primed of most calibers in storage. When time to load, the other turret has the seating die and the LEE FCD die. They get powdered in Midway 50 rd blocks through an RCBS powder measure I consider more accurate than those LEE plastic pellets. Don't take me too long to load up a lot. It works for me, I only gave $120 for it new when I bought it, and at my age, I'm not gonna put a bunch more money into another press now to "save" money. When I spot a deal like mcguyver did above, I'll do that.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    There is a large difference between the Pro1000 and the LoadMaster. I don't own a Loadmaster for many reasons. Now there are also a number of differences and improvements between the old model Pro1000 and the currant updated model.

    I currently use an old model Pro1000, a new Pro4000 ABLP and an old model 3 hole turret press and they all serve a purpose. Also currently I am using the turret more than the other two because at this time I am doing a lot of load workup as I have started casting bullets this year.

    I use the Pro1000 the most and I use it as designed which means I also prime on this press. It really doesn't take a lot to make the priming system work once it is understood that there are a few "rules" that need to be followed. Also the Priming is not the same as previously mentioned and is not like what it found on the turret presses or the ABLP. I load 380auto, 9mm, 45acp and soon 38Spl again on the Pro1000 and get along just fine with a standard everyday Lee Carbide Pistol 3 Die set dies.. I purchased the ABLP press for the 4th station because I obtained a pistol that is very finicky with reloads and needs the 4th die to function reliably. The Pro1000 is still hands down faster than the ABLP.

    The upgraded Pro1000 has had the shell plate carrier rotated counterclockwise which makes it easier to check the powder level and place the bullet and also had the ram changed so that now the spent primers are discharged all the way down through the ram and out the bottom.. If Lee would sell the press as a stand alone press I would have already bought one to upgrade the Pro1000 I already have but they won't do that..

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Another place to look (unbiased, no Lee Haters); http://www.lee-loader.com/index.php
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    My pro 1000 was the first model they offered looking at the latest model it does look like they have made some good improvements. I do wish the ABLP used the 4 hole turret die holders . I to prime on the press with most of my loading and one of the things I did not care for on the Loadmaster was priming on the up stroke of the ram, to much going on at the top and hard to feel when the primer was seating correctly for me.
    I don't know about any one else but priming on progressives is probably a major cause for squibs or double charge if I get distracted with a stoppage of any kind I would be much more likely to over look a problem on another station and primers seem to be the most common issue on all the progressives ,this is one of the main attractions for me on the ABLP you see the primer setting properly in the cup before seating if something is wrong it is a minor inconvenience that is easily corrected before it affects the other stations and becomes a problem.
    There is more than one reason so many people that load on progressives of all brands don't prime on the press.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onelight View Post
    I to prime on the press with most of my loading and one of the things I did not care for on the Loadmaster was priming on the up stroke of the ram, to much going on at the top and hard to feel when the primer was seating correctly for me.

    I don't know about any one else but priming on progressives is probably a major cause for squibs or double charge if I get distracted with a stoppage of any kind I would be much more likely to over look a problem on another station and primers seem to be the most common issue on all the progressives ,this is one of the main attractions for me on the ABLP you see the primer setting properly in the cup before seating if something is wrong it is a minor inconvenience that is easily corrected before it affects the other stations and becomes a problem.
    There is more than one reason so many people that load on progressives of all brands don't prime on the press.
    Onelight I cannot agree more with everything you've said. Read the posts on progressive presses and it is almost unanimous on the reason people prime away from the press, or at least one of two reasons. The other being wet tumbling brass and cleaning primer pockets. Priming is the bain of all progressive presses.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    one of the things I did not care for on the Loadmaster was priming on the up stroke of the ram, to much going on at the top and hard to feel when the primer was seating correctly for me.
    It is unforgiving in that respect, it could really use the swage station that the 1050 has (the only other press that primes as everything else is done). It is nice to set a depth that all primers are seated to though.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy Captain*Kirk's Avatar
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    I would probably prefer to prime off the press either with my RCBS hand primer or on the Rock Chucker, but that sort of negates the whole reason for a progressive press...
    "Are you gonna pull those pistols, or whistle Dixie?"

  15. #15
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    It slows down the process for sure but the progressive could still cut down on the labor.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I have three pro 1000s and all three have the same problem. The powder thrower spits bits of powder which fall directly into the primer slide jamming up the works. I have made small primer slide covers from milk jug plastic which fixed that. They are the only press on which I have actually detonated a primer because a flake of powder stopped a primer about half way onto the primer post. Destroyed a primer slide in the process. Also the very short cases (9mm) like to spill powder which can fall into the primer area causing problems. I keep an air hose handy to occasionally clear spilled powder bits powder. Haven't loaded with the loadmaster so can't comment.
    I also have a Star progressive and a Dillon 550b. The Star has never given me any issues with primers but is a bear to mess with if you don't keep it fully fed with cases. The Dillon will fail to get a primer on the post maybe once in a thousand and I still haven't figured out whether it is failing to pick up a primer or it's hopping out on the way to the shellplate.
    I do load rifle cases on a single stage or turret but I'm not messing with pistol rounds on a single stage nor am I going to prime off the press as this slows production way too much.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    Taking recommendations from those who prime off the press in selecting your progressive is fine if that is how you wish to load. There are two reasons someone would do that...their ability to set up the machine properly, or inherit design issues with the machine. Guys like jmorris can make anything work. Not many have that talent. Guys like me are better served with equipment that is easier to use,, set up, and/or more reliable. KISS

    Also, factor in a persons expectations. If someone reloads 200 rounds at a time, but needs to fiddle with the press every 100 rounds, that may be acceptable. Someone who loads 300-2000 at a time, and has a low tolerance for tweaking has different needs.

    You will get passionate responses from both extremes. Every press out there has a loyal following. Your job is to find what fits your current and future needs and expectations.

    BTW, IMHO, a true progressive is the safest press to use. Properly set up and operated, it is impossible to double charge and next to impossible to miss a charge. There is absolutely no advantage in loading pistol calibers on anything else except for the cost of equipment.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    I got my first LEE press some 35 years ago and progressed through the Breech Lock (C), Turret Press (worst press in history!), the Lee Pro 1000 then to the Load Master.

    The 1000 gave me nothing but trouble so I gave it away with the Turret to an enemy (was a friend before I gave him the press) and once I got the Load Master all set up (three days or so) I was able to get 9mm out each pull as long as I had swaged primer pockets and plenty of Marvelous Mystery oil on the indexer rod and the case feeder bar.

    I leave it set up for 9mm all the time, if I want another cartridge, I will buy another press. Any change results in sheared primer mechanisms or broken casing feeders so I leave it alone!

    Almost 100% of my handloading now is done on one of my 3 Breech Lock C type presses. No auto anything, the Auto Bench Prime is amazing! It actually feeds primers and seats them well on any casing I throw at it. All of my 35 year old shell holders still fit and function. I rigged the auto-disk powder measure to work on the Breech Lock as well for known powder loads and use the Auto-Drum powder measure to work on ladder loads.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain*Kirk View Post
    I've read some really good...and really bad...reviews of both presses. The good reviewers claim the bad reviewers just don't know how to set them up.
    Lessee ... we have two largish groups using the same tool, one has good results and the other doesn't; what's the problem? I don't know for sure but, since the tool is the same for both groups, I suspect the difference is likely in the users.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1hole View Post
    Lessee ... we have two largish groups using the same tool, one has good results and the other doesn't; what's the problem? I don't know for sure but, since the tool is the same for both groups, I suspect the difference is likely in the users.
    TOUCHE!!! Well done. Bravo.

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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
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check