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Discussion Starter #1
Wow! After reading a few "newbie" posts, I determined to purchase an "O" press kit. I checked out the Lee Challenger Anniversary kit and the RCBS Rockchucker Master Kit at Midway and the RCBS is more expensive by a factor of 3! I'm sure there are differences. . .but the stuff looks so simple I'm wondering what the heck could cause THAT MUCH difference?! Will I be well-served by the Lee kit? From what I've read folks seem to be happy with either manufacturer's goods.

Also, I'm getting carbide dies--the heck with lube and cleaning. Do I need the separate crimp die (set of 4 dies) or will the 3-die set with a combined seater/crimp die suit me? I'm only loading .45 ACP for now. Probably won't load more than 200 rounds a month, at least to start, and I'm no world-class marksman, either.

Thanks much, folks!

John Collins
 

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The RCBS probably weighs 3 times as much as the Lee. The Lee will probably serve your needs. You might check some of the on-line auctions for a used press.
 

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I recently bought a RCBS Partner press and Uniflow powder measure for $65 out of the newspaper. Came with books and such. No dies. You may find a bargin in the newspaper want ads. I like to look/feel/touch stuff before I buy. Might be interesting to see what comes from an want ad.
 

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I think Lee is probably a better value (I own both). Also, instead of a 4th die as part of a set, buy the Lee Factory Crimp Die. Wouldn't be caught without mine!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Originally posted by fremont:
I think Lee is probably a better value (I own both). Also, instead of a 4th die as part of a set, buy the Lee Factory Crimp Die. Wouldn't be caught without mine!
Thanks, Fremont! So I want the 3 die carbide set for .45 plus a "Factory Crimp Die" as a separate purchase. Other than a caliper and a vibrating cleaner, then, the kit is probably all I'll need?
 

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I have an RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage press. I've been loading on it for 31 years - never had anything else to compare it to. But it's as good as it was the day I bought it. It is a solid, quality piece of machinery. Others may be good; RCBS, I know from experience, IS good.

I also have some RCBS dies and now some Lee dies. I imagine the Lee dies will work, but they just aren't the quality of my RCBS dies. They aren't finished as well, and the threads aren't as precisely cut. Of course, the RCBS dies I have are also 31 years old, and they too are as good as the day I bought them. I don't know if new RCBS dies retain that high quality.

Despite my satisfaction with my RCBS equipment (my Uniflow powder measure still astonishes me with the consistency of the charges it throws), I bought Lee dies for my .45. If they simply won't work, I can replace them and haven't lost a lot of money. But I think they will work fine, and I wanted to try the Lee "factory crimp" die.

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If God didn't want us to own guns, why did He make the 1911?
 

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Do yourself a favor and get a Lee Turret Press. You can get it from Midway in a kit for $80 complete for one caliber. Especially with the four dies you will use to reload. Put them all in one turret and save an incredible ammount of time by not having to screw in and out every die and then have to continue to recheck measurements. If you have other calibers, the more joy this press brings. No worries about breaking toggles or anything with this press, hardly any pressure is needed to size and seat.

However, I have a practically new O press with less than 1000 rounds on it. I can sell it to you for 1/2 the price of the Midway catalog. I'll throw in the Lee hand primer and .45 shell holder. Just e-mail me if this will save you money.
 

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Lee equipment can't begin to compare to the other brands in terms of precision, length of service, raw materials, and mode of operation (not always true).

Their dies, turret press, and case trimmers are acceptable and will likely serve a person for years. The auto-index powder measure is a nice idea, but it will not last long. I do believe their latest redesign has corrected the problem with the older models.

The RCBS Partner press stands head and shoulders above anything Lee makes in a single stage press. The term "precision machinery" applies quite well once you've used a Lee model.

I have a local machine shop making me a stainless steel model of the turret press, but since it's a freebee job, I figure the wait will be a long one. I keep waiting on the cheap cast handle on my Lee press to break, but so far it hasn't.

You have to pick and choose Lee stuff carefully. Doing so, you can get some good values, but failing to do so will cause much aggravation as well as more money that you'll spend on quality equipment.

Their scale is a good example of equipment that functions, but will drive you nuts waiting for the beam to settle. $45 for a Lyman, Hornady, etc... scale is well worth the extra money.

My 0.02 anyway, from someone who loads several thousand rounds a month.
 

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I had a Lee Challenger and though it served me well for the time I used it, I think the Rock Chucker is a MUCH better single stage press. The last I heard, Lee's warranty would replace a broken item at half the retail price.....which is the full price that most mail order places charge. I like RCBS' Lifetime warranty a LOT better. I actually used the Challenger till the ram was starting to get loose. The Rock Chucker is about 16 pounds of cast iron....Heavy duty. I don't have a problem with their dies as they work well and are cheaper to boot. I thought the scale was too flimsy. I originally had bought the Challenger kit too. I'm not sure if I have any of those components left anymore except maybe the shellholder kit and the handheld auto primer. Some guys like their stuff, but I think you're better off with RCBS in the long run.
 

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As a fellow beginner, suggest the Anniversary Kit, and the .45 ACP SPEED DIE, and the Factory Crimp Die.

For 200 rounds a month, for the price, you can't beat it. Everything else is overkill for that volume.

Go to a local gunshow for the powder, primers, and bullets. Best savings!
 

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Just a note on my new Lee dies, now that I've had a chance to use them.

If you are used to RCBS dies with a set screw on the lock ring, Lee dies can drive you crazy at first. Lee expects you to screw the dies in and out of your press using the lock ring. I keep fouling up the adjustments by trying to unscrew them by grabbing the die body. But once you learn how to use Lee dies, they seem to work fine.

I decided to buy their "factory crimp" die, making it a four-die set. I'm thinking that was a good decision. I really like the ability to put their version of a tapered crimp on the case in a separate step. Also, the factory crimp die has a carbide insert in the die mouth; this insert does a last-minute check on case dimensions. If the case is oversized, this insert takes care of the problem.

I haven't used the feature that allows you to charge cases through the top of the expander die. The die set came with the feature, though, so I'm not out anything if I don't use it.

Lee dies make you learn a different order of business, though. My old RCBS dies decap and expand in the same step; the sizer die is a single-purpose die. The Lee dies (and, I think, newer RCBS dies) combine sizing and decapping. This means that, when I use the RCBS dies, I have to size, expand/decap, then prime, and with the Lee dies, I can prime right after sizing/decapping. If I do that, I can then charge the cases through the top of the expansion die, if I wish.

I hope I keep all this straight.


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If God didn't want us to own guns, why did He make the 1911?
 

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Lee does offer a beginner a way to get started without spending alot of money,However, one must remember that you get exactly what you pay for, reloading equiptment is NO exception,Lee does make a few good items,they're factory -crimp dies are great! I use'em for loading .223, They also make alot of junk too...I would get the RCBS kit, sure it costs more, but it's MUCH better equiptment,I know some of you newbies think the Lee stuff is the cat's ass, but I've been loading for 20 yrs now, Buy good stuff to start out with and you'll be using it for many years to come, buy cheap stuff (based soley on price) and you'll be replacing it a couple of years from now, and buying a better grade of equiptment,and spending more money,I've never felt that Lee presses were quality items, for a few bucks more you can get a rockchucker, and it'll last just about forever, Dies, Lee's are ok, but there's better out there,again for just a few bucks more,The extra money spent on good quality items now, will pay you back many times over down the road.....
 

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So I want the 3 die carbide set for .45 plus a "Factory Crimp Die" as a separate purchase.
Anyone know if the Lee is a roll or taper crimp die.

Lee equipment is worth what you pay for it: pay more get more. If you're loading small quantities, it should serve you well. If you're like many of us that "small quantity" will grow by leaps and bounds. I guesstimate I would have worn out half-dozen Lee presses by now.

Eddie
 

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Eddie, the Lee factory crimp die is a taper crimp die. I believe, but can't be sure, that the seating/crimping die in the Lee 3-die set is a roll crimp.

RCBS sells die sets with either roll or taper crimp in the seating die. However, I doubt you can seat and taper crimp at the same time, as you can with a roll crimp.


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If God didn't want us to own guns, why did He make the 1911?
 

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I use RCBS taper crimp dies in a seperate position. I use four dies on all my straight walled cases, even on roll crimps.

Eddie
 

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I have been using Lee carbide pistol dies in Dillon machines for decades with complete satisfaction. There is no reason to spend twice as much for dies. The taper crimp die solves a lot of problems.

The Lee collet rifle dies load the most accurate ammunition I have ever used. I don't use my RCBS dies when accuracy is an issue.

The Lee hand priming tool is preferred by many bench rest shooters who can afford anything they want.

Whoever started this business about you get what you pay for has done us a disservice. If you don't know what you are doing, buying the most expensive may be a good policy. If you know what you are doing, there are much better options.

The Lee balance beam powder scale is slow but useable.

The Lee 1000 progressive is dangerous.
 

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My statement about getting what you pay for was not a disservice,it's the truth!! I've been loading for 20 years and I think I know a few things, I hate it when I see a person who's just starting out reloading, buying a Lee pro 1000, or a cheap lee single stage, and thinking about all the money they saved over buying a good press, like a rockchucker or a dillon, presses that, (lee) have a lifetime of only a few thousand rounds before they need rebulit or replaced are, for all intents, JUNK!! The disservice is, when this persons press is worn out after a few thousand rounds, and he now has to replace it! Guess what, he's now spending MORE MONEY, Add the price of the replacement press to the price of the "bargin" and you'll find out you could've bought a good press to start with and had money left over! Now's where's the disservice in buying quality equiptment in the first place??? I don't buy the most expensive equiptment out there, I buy good, quality, equiptment,the rewards to this are one hell of lot less problems, I've seen too many posts about lee presses breaking, on this board and others, that I won't recommend them to anyone, Dies, lee's are OK, but there ARE better out there, I'm using Hornady New Dimension Dies, that I got on sale at Midway, FOR $20.99(when shipping was included) maybe a couple of dollars less than Lee collets,and since I've a few rifles in the same caliber,necksizing won't work for me, damn sure won't work in my AR either, It all depends on what level of accuracy you're looking for,(after all, how many people competing at camp perry use lee dies?)You can't tell me that a set of $20.00 lee dies are going to have the same tolerances as,say a set of $40.00 reddings,I just don't buy it! And yes, I DO know what I'm doing.I'll say it again, when you're buying reloading equiptment, you get exactly what you pay for!!! P.S. one question, if the lee hand primer is so good why is the pot metal lever on it always breaking?

[This message has been edited by Ralph (edited 07-16-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Ralph (edited 07-16-2001).]
 

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The old run down Lee gambit again? I have a Lee Loadmaster and it works great. I have several sets of Lee dies and they work. I have a Lee c press I use for decapping and it works. So do my RCBS tools as well as Hornady Redding and Forester. The only thing I ever used that gave me problems was a Dillon SD. Guess those expensive tools are worth the extra money?
 

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If your SD is giving you problems why don't you send it back and get it fixed? that's what the lifetime warrenty is for,(even if you're not the orginial owner) or would you rather complain about it? At least with dillon you have the option to get fixed right, for free, what do you think would happen if you sent you pro1000 back to lee?? I'd be wiling to bet they'd fix it....for a price! Seriously, if you're having a problem with your Sd call dillon, and tell them they'll make it right, if they ask you to send it back, do it, the machine you get back WILL work, would LEE do that for you???

[This message has been edited by Ralph (edited 07-17-2001).]
 

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I just purchased a rcbs, i also was looking at a lee. The thing that i noticed the most is the rcbs stuff was built a little more sturdy. The lee is a good product and would work fine, but u get what u pay for. Lee works but rcbs is built a little better. Atleast thats why i ended up going with the rcbs.

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Jay
 
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