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Hoss

Lee vs Dillon

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I’ve loaded some 22K 38sp on my Loadmaster. About 500 on my new Dillon. Still not fully dialed in on the Dillon, but getting there. 

 

Dillon Pros:

Overall smother operation

primes on upstroke 

primer feed system

ability to use powder check die

sizing/depriming die is a superior design

famous “no BS” warranty

 

Dillon Cons:

cost 2.5 more than Loadmaster

too tall with “optional” case feeder

loading primer tubes

locator buttons

seating depth and crimp dies are hard to adjust. 

 

Lee pros:

cost way less than Dillon

loading primers is waaaay better

Dies are easier to adjust 

case feed system is simple and cheap. 

While not overly advertised, Lee warranty is very good as well. They have replaced the very few parts I broke for free, or just postage. 

 

Lee cons:

primer feed system can be finicky (although once I got mine adjusted no issues) 

powder drop system is a little clunky. The bead-chain reset is a little “Rube Goldbergish”

indexing rod can be tricky

cant feel primers seat 

 

Overall, the Dillon is a better machine. I’m sure after I get a couple thousand rounds thru it I’ll get the feel of it. So far, I don’t think the loading rate is much different. If the Dillon is a little faster, you more than lose the advantage when you have to stop to load primers.  I would not hesitate to recommend either to somebody wanting to get into reloading. It’s kind of like comparing a Plymoth fury to a Caddilac Sedan DeVille. Both will get you there, but the Caddy is much more substantial and stylish. 

 

Biggest plus on the Dillon for me is the ability to use a powder check die. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hand prime & you get increased reliability + you can now have a powder check die on the Loadmaster and a bullet feeder . Yes, I know the Dillon is a higher quality machine but the Loadmaster will easily turn out 400 rnds/hr for a lot less money. Just my experience.

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4 hours ago, Billy the Avenger said:

Running a bullet feeder on mine 1200 per hour easy

 

Hey Billy..Have you ever had a faulty[   whatever the reason ] cartridge ?

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11 hours ago, Yusta B. said:

Hand prime & you get increased reliability + you can now have a powder check die on the Loadmaster and a bullet feeder . Yes, I know the Dillon is a higher quality machine but the Loadmaster will easily turn out 400 rnds/hr for a lot less money. Just my experience.

I could easily load 400/hr on my Loadmaster as well. Just dont like hand priming. And without a doubt the Loadmaster will load quality ammo. I like Leee equipment, and still use a Lee Turret quite a bit. 

 

I dont think the Dillon is really any faster, but in reality, its not a race, its about loading quality ammo. The main reason I changed is to be able to use a powder check die. I had a squib load followed by an OOB discharge with my 66 last year, and it really shook me up. The squib was my fault,  I had changed out the powder hopper to the spring return type off of my turret instead of the chain return. for some reason the disk was not resetting properly, and I had a few rounds get thru without any powder. 

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6 hours ago, Painted Mohawk SASS 77785 said:

Hey Billy..Have you ever had a faulty[   whatever the reason ] cartridge ?

Still have to stop every 100 rounds to load the aggravating primer tube. My biggest knock on Dillon is loading those tubes. I have one of the Frankfort Arsenal vibrating gizmos. it works OK, but is still slower than the Lee tray. 

 

Does the bullet feeder work ok with cast bullets, or do you have to use coated bullets? I doubt I would use it as would have to give up powder check station, or separate crimp station. 

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In general - bullet feeders work best with coated or plated bullets. I much prefer the Mr. Bullet feeder.

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I started with an RCBS Rockchucker and moved on to a Square Deal B and now I have 2 XL650's.  

 

I've got 7 primer tubes and just spend about 15 minutes and fill them all up before I state loading.  Then refilling the primers in the machine only takes a few seconds.  I usually weigh a powder sample and empty the cartridge bin every 100 rounds anyway. 

 

The Mr. Bullet feeder will run you about $500 and you will need to run coated or jacketed bullets through it.  Lead bullets will cause problems.   For $500, I think I can put a bullet on the case myself, but they are really cool.

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Vote for 'D' here. Have run a D/550 since 1987.

I have 10 primer tubes in LG and 10 in SM.

I load'em up ahead of time, and then there's no issue.

I like the 100 rnd 'break', as I have a chance to case gauge check a few rnds and confirm COAL.

I then take a can of compressed air and blow off the shell plate area.

Take a sip of coffee, and it's back to 'wok'.

OLG

 

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53 minutes ago, Hoss said:

Still have to stop every 100 rounds to load the aggravating primer tube. My biggest knock on Dillon is loading those tubes. I have one of the Frankfort Arsenal vibrating gizmos. it works OK, but is still slower than the Lee tray. 

 

Does the bullet feeder work ok with cast bullets, or do you have to use coated bullets? I doubt I would use it as would have to give up powder check station, or separate crimp station. 

More primer tubes, I have 20 each, large and small. Bought a LONG time ago.

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10 minutes ago, Texas John Ringo, SASS #10138 said:

More primer tubes, I have 20 each, large and small. Bought a LONG time ago.

 

Think of primer tubes as magazines. You can never have too many magazines!

 

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have 4 lee presses. all work well.

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Most of the presses available since who knows when will make serviceable ammunition most of the time.  So there is little argument if a Lee or any of the others available today will make ammo, of course they will.  Does the Dillon make better cartridges than a Lee or any other?  All things being equal probably not however all things are rarely equal.  Hoss said he loaded 22k on his Lee but had problems, all machines will have problems at some point.  Some problems are operator induced and others are the result of poor design or wear.  The real question is when does the overall design/wear start to affect the quality of the product.  I'm lucky to have been shooting in some sort of a shooting sport since the early 1970's PPC, ISMHA, IPSC, Steel Challenge and others.  Consequently I've loaded a lot of pistol rounds to feed this habit.  Although I haven't kept count its going to go over the 20k mark per year for the last half century.  I was lucky enough to get an early 650 in 1992 it still sits on my bench producing quality ammunition that wins matches.  Coupled with quality dies, I prefer Dillon dies because they are easier to clean and maintain, it continues to spit them out.  Over time I've learned the 650's language because it will tell you when things are starting to go south.  Cleaning and lubricating is an important operator skill that helps your machine live longer and produce better cartridges whether its a Dillon or a Lee.  The Dillon is a quality machine that will outlive you but like any quality tool it is the operator that makes the difference.  

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Hoss, I can dump 100 primers in the Franklin Arsenal tray, run 'em into the FA tube, and dump them in the Dillon tube in under a minute. Been looking for the video. I will run it once found.

The big difference is being able to load so fast and so long your shoulder aches loading the bullets in the case.  I have had running three Pro 1000s, I own a LoadMaster, and, at one time, had three 650s going.  Got one left.

I have drunk the blue koolaid for so long, I cannot see trying anything else. 

 

Workshop 001.JPG

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Yes, but how do they compare to the famous Fluffy Mobile?  :D:D:D

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14 hours ago, Painted Mohawk SASS 77785 said:

Hey Billy..Have you ever had a faulty[   whatever the reason ] cartridge ?

Yes, you can see the bullets sometimes times fall over and get smashed, other then that, slit cases, primers and I have a really hard time with the primer tubes staying loaded

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Been loading on a Lee for over 3 Decades now .

Never need a  upgrade ! 

Rooster 

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I love my Lee Classic Turret press but only tolerate the Dillon.  The Lee generates round after round with no hiccups.  Been using it for 45 years. 

 

I get the Dillon fired up and start cranking out 100 rounds every six minutes then somewhere along the line, it'll hiccup.  That just irritates the crap out of me.  Clear the hiccup and go back to work.  5 rds or 500 down the line, it hiccups again and the irritation begins all over.  

 

I'm trying to embrace big blue, I really am but if I had to start over, I'd get a Load master.  4 hundred rds an hour consistently is easier on my frustration level than fighting for 5-6 hundred on big blue.

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I don't suppose anyone wants to hear about my 1968 Lyman Spar - T  :lol:

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The only way I could get my Lee to work was to remove the dies, attach a chain through the holes, drop the entire thing in a bucket of cement.  Attached a long rope and it works as a great boat anchor.  Dillon works great.  Great customer service.

 

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There is Dillon and then there is everything else.  Don't fight it.  Just come to the blue press with credit card in hand.

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Oh, and on a side bar, I load 23 different calibers.  It costs me $12 for a new four hole turret vs $75 for each XL650 conversion.  YMMV

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i have a friend with the dillon - if i were to start over............but i have a lyman turret single stage , i hand prime - its the most reliable in my experience and i have had zero issues with the primers to date , i dont shoot often enough to warrant the expenditure at this point , if i was younger - id buy the dillon , 

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36 minutes ago, watab kid said:

i have a friend with the dillon - if i were to start over............but i have a lyman turret single stage , i hand prime - its the most reliable in my experience and i have had zero issues with the primers to date , i dont shoot often enough to warrant the expenditure at this point , if i was younger - id buy the dillon , 

 

Amen brother ...........

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On 6/7/2018 at 10:00 PM, Yusta B. said:

Hand prime & you get increased reliability + you can now have a powder check die on the Loadmaster and a bullet feeder . Yes, I know the Dillon is a higher quality machine but the Loadmaster will easily turn out 400 rnds/hr for a lot less money. Just my experience.

I'll second that

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This discussion is always amusing. Being in denial that Dillons are what they claim and worth what they cost is like saying Tom Brady is really a terrible quarterback. There are always those that have to march to the beat of a different drum and prove that they are smarter than everyone else. Put 4000 rounds out on my 650 the last 2 days. Just like our guns, when you feed them quality brass, primers and bullets they run better. I'd rather load than tinker......thats why I drink the blue koolaid. 

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I personally am NOT in denial that Dillon is what they are or aren't worth the money and I think it's unfair to assume that all folks that like other products are in denial.  I am saying switching to Dillon hasn't been a total success story for me.  My partner has fantastic luck with his 650, I have not. 

 

Maybe since mine only has about 10K rounds through it that it isn't broke in yet.  Maybe I'm unable to get it fine tuned to run flawlessly.  BUT, the 650 is still my go to press when I need several thousand rounds in a couple of days.  I also realize I will have to tinker with it at times during that loading session to keep everything running smooth.

 

Not all Koolaid tastes the same, just sayin'.

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19 hours ago, Jailhouse Jim, SASS #13104 said:

I personally am NOT in denial that Dillon is what they are or aren't worth the money and I think it's unfair to assume that all folks that like other products are in denial.  I am saying switching to Dillon hasn't been a total success story for me.  My partner has fantastic luck with his 650, I have not. 

 

Maybe since mine only has about 10K rounds through it that it isn't broke in yet.  Maybe I'm unable to get it fine tuned to run flawlessly.  BUT, the 650 is still my go to press when I need several thousand rounds in a couple of days.  I also realize I will have to tinker with it at times during that loading session to keep everything running smooth.

 

Not all Koolaid tastes the same, just sayin'.

+10  (can only post 1 Like)  Many of us just don't NEED a Dillon to make the quantities of ammo we use. I personally think they are a fantastic machine with a rock hard warranty.  I think you can produce equal quality ammo with other machines too ........ I do.

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Jailhouse Jim & Yusta B... that might be the case now... but, back when I bought my Dillon, Lee and RCBS were the only other progressive options... the RCBS had a well-deserved reputation for being extremely finicky... AFAIK Lee didn't have a progressive.  After using other folks' RCBS & Dillon progressives. (a 450 & a Square Deal) for just short runs...  Dillon was the clear winner.  I went to buy a Dillon 450 like a friend's... but they'd introduced the 550, and just began offering the 550B when I ordered (not listed in the catalog, and only found out when I was placing my order).

 

No disrespect, but while RCBS & Lee have changed their machines dramatically (entire model upgrades and deletions), in the intervening years, the 550B is still offered and is still a worthy machine of proven design and performance.  (Yes, while the 650 might be considered an upgrade over the 550B, it really serves a different clientele; and the 1050 a different clientele yet).

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Griff - you for sure have gobs more experience with the history of this subject. I was reloading in 1966 but for a much different venue - mostly DCM matches. But I lost my way & didn't get back into serious reloading until about 2004 when I started CAS. I started reloading with my old Lyman Spar T and being strapped for $$ when I needed something a little faster I bought a Lee Classic Turret. Great little press for what it costs - not progressive but at least incremental, able to run as a single stage & totally reliable. I have to mention here I have always hand primed my brass & have had one high primer in the last 14 years. I really like the feel of the primer seating in the case. Anyway, about 4 years ago I bought  a Loadmaster & honestly have had some problems learning it's idiosyncrasies like where & when it needs to be lubed & adjusted. For .38's & .45's it works great for me - for .32 mags - it's a little more challenge. I deprime  before tumbling and hand prime, use a powder check die & bullet feeder. I load for 3 shooters most times but am retired & have the time to do it. For me it does what I need. I don't need a Dillon. What I'm talking about  is current available presses & their application to what the shooter needs to supply his ammo. I only know what I have experience with. There are other machines that will meet the needs of other shooters. You can get a lot of performance out of a GT 350 pony car, but if you only need to drive to work & back, an F150 or a Fusion will do just fine. (substitute your favorite car brand).  :)

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This is an interesting topic.  Yesterday i "won" a Dillion press at a reduced cost.  I have never used Dillion reloading equipment.  Instead I have always used Lee and most recently a Hornady Lock and Load.  If I can figure out how to use it in an apartment, I actually have a need for a progressive.  That way I can reduce my costs and my dependency on my Florida ammunition connection.  Of course, I don't have any way to clean cases so I am not sure a press will do me any good.  

 

Question is it possible to set up a reloading stand in a small space, and is it possible to clean brass in an equally confined space?  Has anybody done it?  (I am pretty sure a lot of shooters who ride the annual and above circuit do it in RVs. )  How have you all saved space and dealt with the noise?   How do you mount your press?  Is it portable. and concealable when not in  uses.  Remember reloading is not something my wife has any interest in me doing in the living room or kitchen. 

 

As to the basic topic.  If you are going to reload lots of ammunition you really can't go wrong with a Dillon, but Lee is a good alternative if you really just want a single stage or turret loader. 

 

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I started reloading in 1968 with the original Lee Loader do to being a broke college kid.  I received a RCBS Rock Chucker for Christmas that I used for several years after that. 

 

Needing more production, I tried a Lee Classic Turret Press and liked it.   Still being at a low income level, the Lee was affordable so I bought one.  At 200 rds an hour, I was able to make sufficient ammo for my needs.  Lee came out with the Pro 1000 which was an ok progressive as long as you kept it adjusted but definitely not great.  I kept using the original turret for close to thirty years before upgrading to the all steel model to do heavy rifle rds.  I gave my old press to a beginner reloader and it's still going strong.

 

About ten years ago after I had the income to purchase one, I drank of the blue koolaid based on all the blue hype and bought a 650 for 45 Colt.  It produced ammo fast, really fast.  I'm happy right?  I was until I went to 9mm.  My Dillon hates 9mm.  It also eats 38-40/44-40 brass intermittently, something I never experienced on the Lee.  It seems I am always on hyper alert to catch problems with the little cases.  The frustration level increased to the point I covered the Dillon and went back to the Lee.

 

Just recently I decided to give BIG BLUE another try to figure out why I am have all these nit picky problems or to send it on to another reloader.  The WCF issues appear to be all brass related.  Some, not all, Starline cases have a thicker head that will not go into the shell plate.  I am still investigating the small case issues and have not found that answer yet.

 

Does Dillon make a good product?  Yes. 

Are there other suitable products currently available for those on a more limited budget or skill level?  Absolutely.

AreDillon's for everyone?  No.

 

To say Dillon is the only reloader to consider is somewhat narrow minded in my opinion.  Skill level, ability, budget, space consideration, volume requirements, etc. should all be considered before offering advice to a novice. 

 

For example, a new guy says he is on a  really short budget and wants to start loading.  Do you just tell him to buy the Dillon and cry once or do you offer any alternatives to give him a choice to fit his needs instead of yours?

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7 hours ago, Jailhouse Jim, SASS #13104 said:

For example, a new guy says he is on a  really short budget and wants to start loading.  Do you just tell him to buy the Dillon and cry once or do you offer any alternatives to give him a choice to fit his needs instead of yours?

I've offered to let a friend or two come over and load on my equipment before... just as I've helped a feller or two begin casting.   I had folks help me when I started loading, even had my first RCBS Junior gifted to me... (if you call being owed some money and getting paid in "stuff")... "gifted".  But hey... it was my B-I-L, so if he wanted to say he "gifted it to me"... who was I to argue with my wife! :D

 

I don't believe that most folks who own Dillon believe thy're the end-all-be-all of reloading presses.  I sure don't.  The RockChucker that sits on my bench sure doesn't feel under-utilized... still churning out my needs in 7mmRM, .30-06, .30-30, 40-90SBN, & .45-70.  I even have an old Lyman Spartan, that gets used every time I set up a range testing session to develop some new loads... (Isn't experimentation what reloading is all about?  Forget this production stuff... Factories are great at that!  Give me a pound of a new powder, time to sit at the range and test different loads for accuracy... THAT's what I'm talking about!  The Dillon kinda sucks at that. ;)

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