View Full Version : selecting a Progressive press

03-26-2012, 05:51 PM
The Dillon guys (Blue Press) are religious and the Dillon press has too many idiosyncrasies to my liking. The Hornady Lock N Load progressive press is the best on the market and the equipped with the Hornady Case feeder and bullet feeder itís a regular ammo factory. But, at $1,300 itís a little expensive for us regular guys.

I like the Lee Loadmaster press, simply as a press; it is well built and very solid. It has a good strong shell plate that is easy to remove and caliber changing is a snap with removable die heads loaded with pre-adjusted dies. However, the rest of the Lee components on the Loadmaster are cheaply built, potentially dangerous, and somewhat unreliable. The only exception is the case feeder, which is still chintzy but works well. The negative on the case feeder is that it has a limited capacity and you must hand-rotate the tubes to continue feeding the cases. However, for the price (about $30 dollars) it does the job.

There are a couple things you can do to augment the Lee Loadmaster and make it more precise and reliable. One is to use the Hornady or RCBS motorized bullet feeder. Check out www.ultimatereloader.com for instructions on using the RCBS bullet feeder with the Lee Loadmaster. The feed tube fits right into the Lee removable die station and is easy to adjust. It loads bullets all day long without incident.

The second modification is to use a Hornady case activated powder measure instead of the Lee disk-type powder measure. The Hornady case activated powder measure is solid, well built, and smooth. Itís a little expensive but the cost is worth it. It fits right into the aluminum Lee die station. Itís easy to adjust using the optional micrometer powder adjustment. Now you donít have to fool around with the little chain, inaccurate disks, powder leakage, or any other Lee mechanism they use to dispense powder.

The worst offender of the Lee Loadmaster progressive reloading system is the priming system. It is a multi-piece, cheap plastic, poorly designed mechanism. There are numerous reports of primers getting loaded sideways and exploding with nearly disastrous results. Lee even sells a primer explosion deflector so they are clearly aware of the problem. I havenít found a fix for this yet so you just need to be careful, make sure any burrs are removed from the plastic primer guide tubes, and check to see that a primer has been properly loaded. When it is set up correctly it works well but it still makes me nervous.

One way around the Lee Loadmaster Auto-primer is to prime your brass in a separate step using a single-stage press. De-prime the brass and place it into an ultrasonic brass cleaner. Once it is clean and dry use your single stage press to resize the brass and re-prime. I believe this is the preferred method even though it is tedious for a 500 case run. If you use an ultrasonic brass cleaner you donít have to worry about bits of tumbler media getting lodged in the primer pocket.

Since the brass is already deprimed, resized, and a new primer installed you donít need a resizing die. Just fill the Lee case feeder tubes with clean, resized, and primed brass. In station one the pistol brass is flared and charged using the case activated Hornady powder measure. Station two feeds the bullets using the Hornady or RCBS bullet feeder. Station three uses the Hornady Powder Cop to test for proper powder level. Station four seats the bullet. Finally in Station 5 use the Lee factory crimp die. Then the finished cartridge is pushed into the collection bin.

For a little less than $600 you can have a sturdy progressive press with an automated bullet feeder, case feeder, and super-reliable powder measure that will enable you to reload 800 to 900 rounds per hour. It would be great if the Ultimate Reloader guys would build a ergo-roller handle for the Lee Loadmaster but the factory one from Lee works OK albeit a bit ergonomically deficient.

Jammer Six
03-26-2012, 09:34 PM
BOW YOUR HEAD, and come unto The Way!

For ye were born blue, blue shall ye die, and blue shouldst thou live!

03-27-2012, 02:07 AM
600 for a lee that's temperamental.
that sounds waaaay better than a 550 with three caliber changes that works correctly forever for the same price.

04-16-2012, 03:21 AM
Very new to reloading but I just picked up a 550B for a song, actually I traded a MEC 9000 I was given by my old man, who paid $40 for it at a yard sale. I haven't actually used it yet but I put it together without the aide of a manual. Its set up to reload 40 S&W. I got a buddy coming over to show me the ins and outs of adjusting it properly. Ill let ya know what I think of it in the near future : ) but even if I decide I hate a progressive I'm out nothing and can make some money on the deal selling it. They are going $400 on Ebay with a set of dies as fast as they come up.

Paul B
04-16-2012, 05:11 PM
"The Dillon guys (Blue Press) are religious and the Dillon press has too many idiosyncrasies to my liking."

I just have to ask. What does being religious have to do with a press? What idiosyncrasies are you talking about? I have a 550B that's been totally trouble free for close to ten years now. If I have a question or problem, those guys at Dillon take care of it or answer my question with a lot of patience and tolerance. What's not to like? I have complete set ups for 9MM and .45 ACP so all I have to do is switch tool heads and I'm ready to load. Couldn't be more simpler.
Paul B.

Jammer Six
04-16-2012, 09:33 PM
On top of that, Dillon is politically correct!

04-16-2012, 11:17 PM
You didn't mention the Lee Pro 1000 which I have two of and love. They have worked perfectly for me once one learns how to set them up properly as well as their ediocracies which they all have regardless of who makes them. Also fairly inexpensive and I load 38/357, 45 colt, 45 acp and 9mm rounds.

daniel lawecki
06-11-2012, 11:38 PM
I use hornady LNL with csae feeder this rig has over 100,00 loaded rds thru it . Not one problem and I like the quick change bushing. Made in good old usa

06-13-2012, 11:03 PM
600 Dillon WHAT A MACHINE!!! Yes you have to take a little time to get it set up but once you are dropping loaded cases it is amazing how fast one can pile them up.

You get what you pay for!
The Dillon Warranty second to absolutely no one!

My two bits.

07-01-2012, 04:00 AM
Hello Gentlemen,
I thought I'd put my $.02 in. I use a RCBS Piggy Back ll and love it. It is smooth reliable and cost effective. Like all things, it does have some quircks such as the plastic primer tools - maybe that's why they changed to the newer advanced primer setup??

RCBS, also has a top rated Costomer Service Dept. They are second to none!!

Perhaps one day I'll convert to the 2000, but as long as my Piggy Back ll keeps working and RCBS is good enough to replace any worn parts, who knows??

Good Luck and God Bless to you All.