Doubts about lee press systems and priming tools

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by amayumi, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. amayumi

    amayumi New Member

    Sep 5, 2008
    Dear sirs,

    I am reading the lee reloading products catalog in order to select the product wich fits my necessities (a good press for reloading pistol ammo), however, after a comparison of all lee reloading kits, i still have some doubts about the aplicability of each kit and because of it i would like to send some questions to you.


    i want to know about the advantages of this called Lee Turret system when compared to commom breech lock press.

    I want to reload pistol ammo and i am not sure about the advantages and disvantages of each press system (turret versus breech lock). What you say about this two systems?

    2) i read that the LEE BREECH LOCK CHALLENGER PRESS KIT features the same components as the 50th anniversary kit but have replaced the Safety Prime with the Auto-Prime and a set of Auto-Prime shell holders.

    I wish to know the advantages and disvantages of using a Auto-Prime ( manual priming tool) instead of an Safety Prime (press mounted priming feeder).

    I am thinking about to acquire one of this two kits but i am not sure about the advantages of different priming systems that comes with each kit and because of this i cannot made my choice.

    Since the kits are identical, it is better to get the kit with the primer mounted over the press or the kit with the manual priming tool?

    Best Regards,

    Ama Yumi
  2. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    All my equipment is RCBS and I prime off line with an RCBS bench mounted auto priming tool that I purchased used and love the system. I used to prime on the press and much prefer off line priming.

  3. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 New Member

    Aug 23, 2003
    I use a Lee Annerversary Kit with hand priming tool. I do only one pistol round, the .40 S&W and have had no problems with the kit.
    I like ths kit for what I do and have reloaded around 10,000 rounds on it.
    For what I paid for it and what it has done I am very happy with it.
    It is not the fastest system but did not cost much either.
  4. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I use a Lee press also, and I can tell you from experience that the manual priming tool is much slower. I use a hand held priming tool and load as much as 500 rds. at a time. 500 rds. will take you at least 5 hrs. If you need more than that then you need to step up to a fully automatic loader.
  5. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    There are a couple versions of turret presses. The Lee uses the type with an upper and lower casting seperated by long skinny rods.

    The Lyman uses a huge casting in the rear holding the turret top casting with a huge bolt.

    The RCBS is made like the Lyman.

    The Redding is made like the Lyman but even more masive.

    The Dillon RL550B, which can be used single stage, turret style or progressive uses a modified "O" frame press design,

    similar to the RCBS "O" framed single stage Rock Chucker press.

    Each is sold seperately or in a kit form but the Lee is weak by comparison to the others. When doing some of the larger rifle cases it takes a lot of force to size the cases and using a weak Lee press may not make the most accurate ammo.

    In general, anything Lee, makes is made to a price (interpretation of that is cheap). While it might be adequate it is just adequate. You will probably never break a Lyman or RCBS or Redding press. Maybe not even a Lee but Lee stuff is not made to last, as is reloading equipment from others.

    If you buy Lee stuff now and continue on for years to come with reloading then you will eventually replace the Lee stuff with reloading equipment from Lyman, Hornady, RCBS, Redding, or Dillon. You will not be satisfied or have gotten good service life out of the Lee stuff, in my opinion. Some of the stuff Lee designs is good in design concept (I particualrly like their collet neck sizer and collet style factory crimp dies) but they always seem to use inferior materials that lead to breakages or poor performance over time. They seem to like palstics which deteriorate over time or materials of the wrong alloys that gall or rust. But you have to buy what you can afford. Just be aware of Lee's failings.

    In general it is easier to reload pistol cartridges (especially with carbide sizer dies which you can not get for rifle cartrides) than rifle cartridges and the Lee press MIGHT hold up for pistol calibers just fine. When I started reloading I intended to only reload 9mm pistol cartridges. After 20 years I now reload for 20 rifle cartridges and 10 pistol cartridges. I progressed through several presses to get to where I am now. I'd be money ahead if I just bought the best to start with...Dillon RL550B. One was a Lee Progressive that was pure junk. Oh well. I guess you get what you pay for.

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2008
  6. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    Cabela's offers a kit with the Lee Classic Cast turret press instead of the original aluminum turret press. It is a better press than Lee's original turret. It also has "auto advance" which the other brands do not.

    However, if you load batch style, as users of single stage presses do, turret presses are only marginally faster than single stage, with the possible exception of the auto-indexing Lee turrets, and then only if every step is done on the press (including priming and any case prep that may be necessary). Reloading depends a lot on "feel" to tell you when something is not right. Batch style loading, lets you get used to the feel of a specific operation, and become more able to sense when something is different and needs attention.

    LD is right about the Dillon 550's ability to be used as a single stage, turret or progressive press. To be fair, every progressive press, auto-indexing or not, has this ability either by removing unused dies or by inserting a new, empty case only after the previous one is finished. The Hornady LNL AP makes removing/replacing individual dies easier. Automatic case feeders allow rapid batch processing in single stage mode, without having to remove or add cases manually. Even without case feeders, auto-indexing progressives eliminate the need to manually remove processed cases from the press. Some presses' priming systems, such as that of the Dillon 650, make it more difficult to load turret style, since every handle stroke that does not insert a primer still results in a primer being dispensed from the tube.

  7. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    I am not fond of auto advance (had it on the Lee progressive that I hated). Advancing the table is just as easy as hand feeding a bullet onto the case. For my Dillon RL550B I advance the table with my left hand, place the new case at station 1 while picking up a bullet with my left, place the bullet on the case ready for it in station 3 while holding the table steady with my right hand, and guide the bullet into the seating die with my left hand while pulling the press handle down with my right hand. It is all a fluid motion that I don't even have to think about it to do after years of reloading on that press and auto advance would help little.

    Things happen when you are reloading progressively since there are at least four things happening at once. A case may get slightly out of alignment halfway up the stroke before entering the die or a smaller case is inside the larger case (it happens if you vibratory clean different caliber cases together). If you have to back up then the auto advance will auto advance anyway. Now you end up with four case all at the wrong station and instead a few moments to fix the problem it takes minutes. I have had two presses with auto advance (the Lee and a the Dillon Square Deal) and it is more trouble than it is worth to me. But that's my opinion and yours may differ.

    I don't know how the Dillion 650 works or the Hornady for that matter but my Dillon RL550B will dispense the primer but it sits in a cup below the top of the press's table, out of harms way, and not interfereing with anything. If you load turret style and move onto the next station and the next after that, then the dispensed primer stays in the cup, protected. The primer system will only dispense a primer when the cup is empty.

    I have had a case feeder too (that hated Lee progressive) and it too was a pain in the neck. The more mechanisms and stuff you have going on in a progressive press the greater the chances of something going wrong. A screwup on a progressive press effect all the cases on the table and the mess you have to cleanup to get things back to right can take a few minutes. Eliminate all the extras like auto advance and case feeding and you have a KISS situation (Keep It Simple engineering byword I stand by). The Dillon is a KISS progressive press.

    I had forgotten that Lee made a materials change to their turret press. They finally decided that minimal material selection for that press was not hacking it? What about all those poor souls that bought the original version? Dillon would upgrade every one if it was their screwup. And they have. My press has been updated several times by them for free but not for such a basic thing as the material of the whole press. Dillon got it right the first time and did not go cheap to start with. This points out to me the error in Lee's whole practice that he chronical in his book about "just enough" design and material's strength. Stronger is better regardless of Lee's view.

    A person needs to buy what he wants and can afford. I have made mistakes in my choices through the years and I only wish to pass on the system of reloading that I found works for me, not sell equipment for any manufacturer or attempt to stop the sale of equipment to you I know does not work for me. Buy whatever suits you but at least listen to my point of view. It may help (?). Thanks.

    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  8. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    The Dillon 650 keeps feeding a new primer for every pull of the handle. Unused primers are sent down a chute (affectionately called a ski-jump ramp) to ???. Both the 550 and LNL AP will hold onto the primer until it is used, and not keep feeding more of them out of the magazine tube.

    Some people prefer fewer things remember to do (like advancing the shell plate or feeding a new case) when operating a progressive, others want more control from manual operations. Different users: different markets: different products.

  9. I agree that, in general, Lee products are not of the same quality of most other reloading equipment manufacturers. I do use some Lee products including an old turret press. It works well for most of my loading when I'm looking more at volume than accuracy.

    The one Lee product that I do use all the time is the Lee AutoPrime. I think this is the best hand priming tool on the market. I've also been very impressed with the customer service I've recieved from Lee when ordering replacement parts.
  10. Popgunner

    Popgunner Active Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    I replaced my Lee turret press that had the "cheap" aluminum body & the steel ram after I had loaded over 80,000 rounds on it. It was given to me by my father in law who used it for years & then went to a Lee progressive. If I would have oiled it a little more often it wouln't have gotten a tiny bit sloppy but it was still useable at that point. I was having to be careful when running cases into dies for re-sizing because of a tiny amount of looseness.
    If I would have sent it off to Lee they would have re-built it for me but I decided to send it off to a new re-loader on another board. He paid shipping & I gave it to him. I bought another new Lee turret press to go in it's place. I'm hoping to wear that one out too. Hope I'm around that long. If it would have been one of the new Lee Turrets with cast iron instead of aluminum I bet it'd outlast me. One heck of a value for $60 or whatever. Along with my Rockchucker that's all I use on my bench.
  11. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    West Virginia
    The breech lock press is a single stage press. You will do everything in batches. After sizing all the cases you need to change the sizing die to the expanding die and so on until the process is done. With the turret press all of the dies mount to the press at the same time. I would recommend the classic turret over the deluxe turret, not much more money but a much better press. This picture might help.

    The turret press works like this. Pull the handle and the case goes up into the sizing die to be sized and remove the primer. While it up pop a primer into the primer cup with the safety prime. Push the handle up to lower the ram and spin the turret, push the handle at the bottom to seat the primer. raise the ram again to expand the case mouth and drop the powder charge.
    Lower the ram all the way to spin the turret and set a bullet on the case. Raise the ram to seat the bullet. Lower it and raise it again to crimp. You can crimp in the seating die if you don't want to use the factory crimp die. It sounds a lot harder than it is. I can load around 200 rounds per hour on mine at a comfortable pace. On the breech lock you will be able to load around 50 to 75 per hour.
  12. Shellback

    Shellback New Member

    Jul 10, 2008
    Broken Arrow Ok
    Absolutly love my turret press I have the Lyman and it's one solid press, thats what I load 200 rds per hr. just crusin.:D
  13. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    I would point out that it takes at least two to as many as four pulls of the press handle on the turret presses to get one finished round. In between there somewhere you have to add primer and powder. Whereas on a progressive like the Dillon RL550B you get one round per pull including automatic priming and automatice powder fills. So if you are getting 200 rounds per hour on a turret you could get well over the advertised 500+ rounds per hour on the Dillon. I don't work that fast but you can really get into the volumn thing on a progressive if you want to OR .......You can use the Dillon as a turret press or a single stage press. It is most easy on the Dillon RL550B because it DOES NOT have auto advance on the cartridge table.

    I see the advantages of several of the turret presses but for me and I think some others out there it is very hard indeed to beat a Dillon RL550B press for almost any kind of reloading you might choose to do. So part of the "plan" for reloading should include a real look into the future to anticipate your future needs as well as your current needs. I guessed wrong but maybe I can convice at least someone here to be more optomistic about which and how many guns you may own in the future that your reloading may have to support.

    Last edited: Oct 4, 2008
  14. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    My Lee looks just like your Lyman, except for the 3 ball on your handle, mines just black.
    Love my Lee!

    Y'all be safe now, ya hear!
  15. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

    Oct 12, 2007
    The absence of auto-advance on the 550 is touted as an advantage, and for progressive or turret presses that have all the dies screwed into one removable plate, that is probably true. However, for progressive presses that have easily and individually removable dies, such as the LNL AP, auto-advance is a considerable advantage, whether you use it in progressive, turret, or single stage mode, since it removes one more manual operation (the whole reason for turret or progressive style reloading in the first place: to reduce the number of manual operations).

    If however, the budget prohibits a well made progressive press (Dillon, Hornady or RCBS), the Lee Classic (cast) Turret is hard to beat. I find it interesting that it is considered weak by some because it uses an aluminum die plate in an aluminum support, while the Dillon 550/650 are considered "strong like ox" with an aluminum die plate and an aluminum support.

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