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Lee reloading equipment

4825 Views 42 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  miatakix
Hi Guys

I hope to get into reloading later this year, initially for pistol ammo and later for rifle ammo.

I've been looking at the Lee single stage press and turret press, as money is tight at the moment and the Lee prices seem very good value.

However a lot of the shooters on the UK forums (I'm from London) really knock the Lee kit as poorly made and prone to breakage, and suggest spending twice as much on RCBS, Lyman or Hornady equipment.

So I really thought I would check with you guys and get an opinion on Lee. Should I really stay well clear, or is it not as bad as it's made out to be?


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I threw out my rockchucker and took up with a Lee Classic turret press. Can't believe how much faster and more efficient it is. If you are ham fisted, some of the models will not be to your liking. Its generally pretty good stuff. Just take care of it. I've not bought the aluminum stuff...
I would stay away from the lower end Lee stuff (I had a small single-stage press and broke it on the 3rd cycle) but others here have had very good service out of the Lee products. I don't care for their presses, but I have a few of their tools and crimp dies.

PJ will be along shortly to tell you about his Lee Turret press, more than likely... ;D
I have 3 presses two are Lee presses a 4 Hole Classic Turret Press and an old 3 hole turret press the third is a R.C.B.S. Rockchucker. I have both lee and R.C.B.S. dies. I have no trouble with either one. However I don't like the Lee Safety Powder Scale or the Lee Safety Primer Feed. I would rather prime one at a time if I'm not loading pistol. I use the Lee Auto-Disk Powder Measure attached to the 4 Hole Classic Turret Press loading pistol cartridges. But with fine powders the powder escapes on the moving parts. I haven't tried flake base powder yet, maybe the thicker flakes like red dot or alike it wouldn't be as bad. For rifle cartridges I'm now set up with the Lee 4 or 3 hole turret press. I set up the dies then prepared ( cleaned,sized,trimmed,)the cases. I now prime 10 cases at a time. With a Lyman 1200 automatic triple beam grain scale I add powder to 10 rounds. With the seating die I seat the bullet. With the Lee factory crimp die I crimp the round. You can't go wrong.

Would suggest the Lee press yes I would. The 4 Hole Classic Turret Press. Would I suggest the lee dies. Yes I would. But get a good powder scale and a good hand primer.

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i enjoy using my lee stuff(its all i have with one exception) i have a hand press and havent had any problems with it really. my friend tried to resize some 308 brass with no lube got it stuck and then we broke the hand press trying to extract the brass(standing on one side and then pulling on the other side) sent it in to lee and they replaced it free of charge, I have used it on 308(my own), 300wm, 44/45/40, 30-30. all with good results. I have one die set from RBCS i got from my father in law, i didnt like it and got a lee one. first go at the range im close to the accuracy with those dies as he did with the rbcs.

I have had good luck and other than a bone head mistake no issues with them. best of luck and have fun.
Look into the Lee Classic Cast Turret press. It's a great press Stay away from the Lee powder scale. Lee dies are great! The "Pro" powder measure with the adustable insert is hard to beat.

Mark in Tucson, Az
I started several years ago with Lee equipment (a Lee Loader in 1969). Lee presses, especially the Classic Cast are as good as any, and maybe better than some.. Since I've been reloading I've had 6 different single stage presses, from Lee to a Redding "Big Boss". (a divorce or two and one homeless stint cost me my reloading gear a couple times). I'm down to a Lee 4-hole turret, a Lee hand Press, and a C-H single stage monster. All worked like they were expected to do, just some a bit slicker than others. Of course I didn't try to swage any 50 BMG bullets or use a 6' cheater bar and broke nothing on any of them.

The Lee Safety Scale is as accurate as nearly any out there, just uses a vernier scale rather than notches and poise. Not better or worse than other scales, just different.One good feature is the lockable poise. Set the scale and lock the setting in place. (I have a Lyman/Ohaus that the small poise, 1/10th gr., is very easy to bump when replacing the pan).

BTW and jes my opinion, there is an "elitist" bunch that think "if it doesn't cost an arm and leg, it couldn't possibly be any good". I was a Heavy Equipment Mechanic/Electrician for over 25 years and saw the "tool snobs" quite a bit. The tools they bought are always the best (If it ain't Snap-On (or MAC, or Williams, etc.) it ain't no good) but also the most expensive...

Dollar for dollar (or Euro for Euro) Lee is as good as any. Lee put out some very innovative and "priced for the average guy" equipment.
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+1. The Lee "Classic" series (the Classic Cast single stage and Classic Turret 4-hole press) are absolutely outstanding. And they are priced right.
Charlie98 said:
PJ will be along shortly to tell you about his Lee Turret press, more than likely... ;D
I should have written this Lee response in a Word document and just stuck it in my Document files, I bet I've written it 50 times by now.

Okay, in a nutshell, here it is:

All reloading equipment is over built. Lee is LESS overbuilt than most. But it's also cheaper, because they use castings to save money. I've done some pretty extensive case-forming on my turret press, and it hasn't come unglued yet. I just re-mounted it to my bench, and I could probably hang 500 pounds from it without worry. If that's not overbuilt, I don't know what is.

Lee dies are usually cheaper, yet they come with shellholders the other guys make you pay $5-10 for. I think that's stupid.

I prefer Lee dies over most others. If I need benchrest precision, I might look elsewhere, but most of my dies are Lee's, and I've shot groups in a dozen calibers that would make benchresters proud. Or mad, if they were shooting against me. My Marlin 30-30 has put NUMEROUS bolt gunners to shame, and the ammo is made up using the Lee scoops, their standard dies, and decent bullets. The only bad dies I ever had were from RCBS. I'm not saying RCBS makes crummy stuff, I'm just saying that in the luck of the draw, that's how it worked out. But I have over two dozen sets of Lee dies, and they all serve me fire.

The Lee scale? Never had one, but people seem to either hate it or tolerate it. I have a Lyman, because I found it on sale.

What I like about Lee is that they understand that reloaders are a cheap bunch, which is why they started reloading in the first place. Lee makes good, solid products, often very innovative, and sells them at a fair price. I like Lyman's stuff, too, but every time I see their price list I start looking for the diamonds and gold bars used to make their equipment. It is almost always WAY overpriced, and I've never understood why. It's not radically different, or better, AFAICT.

And since some here would be disappointed if I didn't bring this up ( hello, Dennis!), my Lee Turret press has churned out several hundred thousand rounds of ammo, is still going strong, and shows no sign of wearing out. In fact, I just bought several more turrets for it, and some PVC pipe to hold the turrets. I have no doubt my kids will be using this press long after I'm gone.

See all the red stuff in this picture? It's about half of the Lee stuff I own, there isn't room to display it all.

If your buds brag on how strong their loading gear is, you can always brag about how much money you saved on gear that's just as good without being ridiculously overbuilt. ;D
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I have the Lee Classic Cast 4 Hole Turret Press.....and I love it. The greatest thing I love about it, is I can either use it as single stag press and turn the turrets by hand, when I am loading 45-70 or use it with the square thingy and use it as semi progressive loader for the .45 ACP. I like the idea of setting my dies in the turret and not have to worry about adjusting them again and like the idea of when I am switching calibers, I just need to swap out the turrets.

I like the cast iron base versu the pop metal stuff.....but there are plenty of folks who have used the orginal just fine.

I would encourage you to got to the Midway site and look at what they have in lee's gear. The cool thing is, there are reviews for everything they sell.....the good and the bad for everything they sell. Beside PJ and others on MO...those reviews also help me to feel good about pruchasing a lee turret press.....I have not regret it at all. I actually have an RCBS 10-10 I do not have any experiences with lees. But I did picked up a number of acessories for the turrets, like the safety primer feed, the disc pro-powder measure and lee's 4 die carbide acp set.

If its a single stage you are after, I would look into the Challenger press with the removable bushings......I am actually thinking of picking one up for the odds and ends stuff, that seems to be always around.

as far as Lee bashing....i just ignor it.....knowing there are many who have been using lee's equipment for years.....

I you are not a gorillia, you should be fine with Lee.

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Thanks for all the advice guys, looks like I'm going to stick to plan A and go with Lee kit. :)
The Lee Classic Cast and Lee Classic Turret are as strong as any comparable press out these can be called "overbuilt" as well, and run considerably cheaper than the competition.

A win - win situation.
I started reloading just a little over a year ago and, like you, funds were limited. I bought the Lee Anniversary kit to get me started. When you start adding all the other things you need to get, like powders and primers, dies, loading bench, etc., the press is just a fraction of total start up cost. I have upgraded a few things in the kit like the debur/chamfer tool, but the kit helped me get started and I have produced some very accurate loads with it. I have produced close to a thousand rounds by now and I have had nothing but satisfaction with the press that came in the kit. I would buy again for low cost startup.
Lee makes a good product for the money and I have some Lee die's. All my other equipment is mostly RCBS, Herters and Dillon, I have die's from about every maker. I do pistol on one bench and rifle on the other. I started with RCBS, would I do it differently if I did it again, NO. ;D


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Hello from across the pond, as they say! I also vote "yes" on the LEE Classic Cast Iron Single Stage press, which I switched to a few years ago from their 4-hole turret press, not that there's anything wrong with it. I just wanted to try it out & I've stuck with it ever since. Their customer service is great, BTW. I don't think you'll go wrong, choosing LEE reloading equipment. Good shooting! jd45
All my equipment is Lee and I've never used anything else so I can't compare it to anything.

I've had only one problem of any kind with my Lee equipment and that was when the thumb lever of my hand primer broke. That was a bad part. It should not have failed.

Here's one good thing, though... A replacement part cost me $2.00 US plus $4.00 shipping. Most companies really stick it to you when you buy replacement parts. Many times it's cheaper to throw away your broken tool and buy a whole new one at retail price than it is to buy a replacement part from the manufacturer. Not with Lee. They sell replacement parts at prices as low as their complete products and they make them easy to buy right from their website.

Lee products may not be the highest quality. But I appreciate their ingenius engineering and excellent value.
If there's anything Lee makes that you might want to avoid, it's the older version of the Auto-prime. I've broken literally dozens of levers, and Lee always replaced them for free, but sending them back got expensive and arduous. It shouldn't have been necessary, and I wrote them angry letters suggesting they beef up that part. I also managed to break two of the Auto-prime bodies, I do a LOT of repriming, and they just gave out. One split in half, the other failed in the middle where the little cutout is.

Lee has since re-designed the Auto-prime, and I hear the new ones are much better. But I bought a Hornady hand primer about a year ago, and I like it just fine. It has its own quirks, but at least it hasn't broken. Yet. 8)
PJ, maybe they listened.

Would you believe I have the first one I got?

My Auto Prime takes a full push of the lever to seat the primer plus a bit extra, and that might explain why I haven't broken it.

My friend Dave has one that stops short of the full stroke like many do, and he's got maybe 10,000 primings on it, I'd guess. The reason the count isn't higher is that he eventually went to on press priming for the most part and only a few cartridges use it now. So far, so good, but I can't say how much life it has left in it.

We'll see.

The rifle cartridges see the use from mine. I've gone to on press priming for all the pistol cartridges and the high volume rifle ones. So I don't think the number of rounds primed with my AP are as many as some have on theirs.
Add another vote for the Lee 4 hole turret press.
Thanks again for the info guys, I feel a lot happier about Lee presses now. :)
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