Lee vs RCBS presses and equipment

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by vahena, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. vahena

    vahena Active Member

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    Hello everyone,
    I am new to reloading and want to buy a press with complete kit. My question is what and how much difference is a lee press to a RCBS?
    Will I regret buying a Lee setup in the long run?
    Also I have been looking for a used press setup on here but does not seem to be any, to me a used setup is just as good as a new one and for less money. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks
     
  2. Gunpoor

    Gunpoor Well-Known Member

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    I may get flamed for this but every time I have bought Lee Precision reloading tools I have always ended up replacing them with a better/more expensive brand, except for my two Lee Auto-primes and when they give up the ghost will be replaced with an RCBS unit. Lee makes some well designed products but they are made from inferior materials, in my opinion. I have been using an RCBS Rockchucker press for a lot of years without a single issue, but Hornady and Redding and some others are also well made.

    There fellers, I didn't call Lee cheap junk. LOL
     

  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    I don't have a lee press but my small cal bullet research shows lee is well accepted by those folks.
     
  4. Elkriver

    Elkriver Well-Known Member

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    I like my rcbs kit. Never owned a lee my buddy dose shots primers all over but it was a lower model I've had issues with my rcbs press called them 2-3 days latter I have parts for free or minimal charge they replaced my tumbler last mounth for free sent me a check for shipping cost I would buy rcbs any day over lee but that's just me ... For casting lead I use all lee
     
  5. LoneTraveler

    LoneTraveler Well-Known Member

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    In 1966 I bought a RCBS Jr. 2 it has served me good every since. About 1987 I bought RCBS Rock Chucker. The Rock Chucker is great for full length sizing of large cases. I would recommend RCBS. I have quiet an amount of Lee products. Lee Hand Primer seating tool, Lee Case trimmers in about 6 calibers that work great. I have sets of Lee Alumnium bullet moulds. Lyman, Hornady and other companies make good equipment. If you get an RCBS hand primer tool buy 2 shell holders in sets. The RCBS priming tool uses a standard press shell holder and it takes some work to put a shell holder in just to prime 20 shells. Good Luck and making Custom Ammo.
     
  6. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

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    I have presses by RCBS, Redding and Lee. My RCBS press is a single stage that I've used a LOT for about 30 years with nary a problem. My Redding T7 press is well made; I like it a lot. I also have a Lee Classic Cast press which works well.

    All that said, I prefer RCBS presses. Some of the models of Lee presses I've seen didn't impress me that much.

    If you can get a decent used press, I'd say go for it unless it's about 300 years old. I think it would take 3 or 4 lifetimes to wear out any of the ones I have unless I seriously abused them.

    As for other equipment; I don't like the Lee powder scale. I bought one and returned it. I don't like the newer RCBS scales either but they're better than Lee. I have dies from various manufactures and prefer RCBS but Redding and Lee dies are good as well. For crimping, if you need to, nothing beats the Lee Factory Crimp Die. I don't think Lee Collet Dies are as fantastic as Lee says they are. I would not buy a Redding case trimmer; for trimming, I'd recommend a Wilson or RCBS trimmer or a trim die.
     
  7. RT2506

    RT2506 Well-Known Member

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    I have been loading for 34 years and have used many different make tools. If you want to buy once and done get the RCBS or Lyman. Lyman makes one of the best kits if you want a kit. Get the kit that has the case trimmer with it. Midway has them. The only press that Lee makes that I would suggest would be their Cast single stage press. Lee makes good dies and I have used their hand priming tools, on my second one now, for years. Other Lee stuff I would stay away from.
     
  8. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    I'ne been reloading for some 49 years. I have dies from every one but Dillon and, used correctly, they all load fine.

    I still have presses from Lyman, Lee and RCBS, have had others. MOST of the comparasions by brand you read about leave out the press models and that very much matters; Lee's iron presses (Classic Cast and Classic Turret) are better presses than my 1987 Rock Chucker 2, or any other iron single stage press. Lee's alum alloy presses are as 'good' as RCBS' alum alloy presses.

    Obviously a big cast iron press has more total strength than a light alum press but, used properly, any alum press will handle routine loading chores quite well and, if the ram is kept reasonably clean and lightly oiled, any press made will last much longer than the user. I've seen web photos showing broken top straps on RC pressses so even they aren't fool proof to stop a sufficently determined fool.

    Buy your press by what you plan ro use it for, not it's color or cost. A new guy who doesn't quite know what he may eventually want would do well to start with Lee's Classsic Cast single stage. It's moderate price, brute strength, precision machining and excellant user features make it a stand out tool and most people will never need anything else. Even if you later decide to get a progressive press you'll still have many occasions to use a single stage press so it's not like the money would be wasted.

    In today's insane reloading market, used tool prices make buying new a better deal inless you stumble onto a REAL deal! I'd never pay more than half of what new tools could be bought for, new cost isn't massive and paying more than half just doesn't save enough money to make a real difference at the end of the year.

    All makers support their products quite well but none of them give away anything for "free", the average cost of "frre" parts is built into every tool they sell - if you bust a lot of stuff it may be a good deal to have a 'lifetime warrantee', otherwise you're just covering the support costs of those who do. Loading tools rarely fail and, if they fail under warrantee they all fix it; if something is out of warrantee it seldom costs much for most broken or bent parts. I've 'saved' a small fortune by paying for most of my few repair parts! lightbulb

    No brand has a lock on the best tools across the board and kits are NEVER complete anyway; I don't care for kits because of that. There are always more bits and pieces you will need, depending on what you plan to load for, AND in what quanity. IF you need 300 rounds of 9mm spray and pray ammo a week it will be significently different than for an occasional 50-100 rounds of hunting/casual target practice shooting ammo.

    As a noob, forget any hopes of immediately producing 1/4 MOA groups for your .285 Backfire Magnum in a new Remchester. Not only do you have way too much to learn to make costly dies and components meaniful, you will need a good deal of experience in just developing a load your rig will like. So -- get a good, solid press and avoid the high dollar dies and fancy case trimmers, measuring tools, case cleaners, etc, for now. Add what you actually need as you perceive a need. For now, get only what you need to produce the ammo you need, then have some fun learning and shootin'!
     
  9. vahena

    vahena Active Member

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    First I would like to thank everyone who has replied to this thread.
    There has been a lot of good advice here and I see there are as many different views on the subject as there is reloading equipment. I would like to explain at this point anyway, I am newly retired and have always love to shoot target, I am looking to reload 357,44, 223, 7mm rem mag. I am really going to concentrate on my long range shooting as that is the ultimate to me. I shoot one shot and think about that shot for a while, on what I did right or wrong and then shoot again, I am in no hurry, I want one ragged hole in the end. I know I have a lot of learning to do but that is half the fun. That being said, I have many other hobbies that I like and do so I don't want to spend a fortune on one hobby as a newbie without the experience to know what I will need and like in equipment.
    From all the different views and advice from here and again thank you all. I believe I should get the lee cast press, I would like to get a single stage press in cast, if that is possible for now as I am interested in making exact loads and different recipes that my 7 mm, 223 like, and go from there.
    I hope everyone chimes in as to whether I am on the right track and what lee, make and model number I should be looking for. I really seem to like the RCBS presses and equipment but to get started I think Lee is a good approach.
     
  10. Kennibear

    Kennibear Well-Known Member

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    Boomtube is pretty spot on in his last post. I have a 70's era RCBS Rockchucker that is very well made but there was a time when RCBS had quality issues. The new presses are pretty good and when youngest son got his first we bought a Lee Classic Cast for him. Cabela's had all of them set up in Lacy WA and comparing them all side by side and the Lee gave nothing up to the others. The Hornady Loc N Load was the second choice as it was a better fit and finish than all the others. Checking ram alignment on all of them (peering down the die thread and operating the handle) the Lee and Hornady were spot on.
    Lee dies are not finished as well and I like all current brands for one feature or another. I have a Lyman (223/556) and RCBS (30/06) in small base sizer and feel they are a must for semi - automatics. The pistols require carbide dies and Redding Dual Ring sizers are the bee's knees but pricey. Lyman "M" neck expanders are the best too. Lee collet neck sizers work very well and you can get smaller mandrels if needed. +2 on the Lee Factory Crimp dies - rifle or pistol. When I crimp they are my choice. If it seems like you end up with more than two for rifle and three for pistols in a die set - your right. I have as many as 7 for some calibers.
    I don't trust electronic scales 100%. The Ohaus/RCBS 510 is better than the 505 because it uses three poises instead of two. The electronic scales work great for on range load development.
    Hand priming tools are it. The Lee is better than the RCBS and I own both. I never use the on press priming - never, not even on my progressive (45 ACP). The hand tools have such fine feel that you will not crush a primer.

    Tons of opinions on this and you will develop a preference for what works for you.
    Single stage presses rule!

    KB
     
  11. vahena

    vahena Active Member

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    Well Guys, I went and bought a Hornady Lock and load used, complete kit with some extras and a win. 308 die set with the quick connect bushings. I have been researching now for about 2 months and have passed up some good deals as I was to late to decide to buy . This time with every ones help on this forum and youtube, I jumped on it and bought it for a little less than 50% of a new one.
    I believe this press to be rock solid cast and in true alinement with the die and the ram,I think I am off to a good start. I know I will need a few things, caliper,dies,,power,bullets, primer, I have plenty of brass in just about every caliper I need except 7mm .
    Well its getting late here on the east coast around 1am and its time to signoff, I will check in tomorrow as always.
    Again thanks
     
  12. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

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    That is true and I use hand priming tools by Lee but if you're ever in a situation where primers pockets hand be a bit tight, the RCBS priming die will still seat the primers and, knowing from past experience, a primer that's a little crushed will still shoot just fine and I've never touched a primer off during the priming procedure.
     
  13. Wachsmann

    Wachsmann Well-Known Member

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    I started with the cheap Lee aluminum press. It worked for about 5 years and then some how I bent the small pin that attaches the straps to the ram. I then starting having issues sizing my 257 weatherby. I later bought the RCBS rock crusher. I had it now for about 5 years and its had worked flawlessly. But for the money I think the heavy iron Lee press will work just as well. I still used my lee for pulling bullets. I have them side by side attached to my reloading bench. So in a way its still in service but I don't size any thing on it anymore. For as dies I like redding the best. Powder scale I like the RCBS charge master. Its quick ,easy, and accurate. But for a good all around quality set...the RCBS reloading kit is had to beat.
     
  14. jrock

    jrock Well-Known Member

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    If cost is your concern, Lee has done well. However, I would recommend going with RCBS on the kit. The Rockchucker II press is built like a tank and the kit parts as well. Dies are a different story depending on how you want to treat your brass. I'm sold on the Lee neck collet die over the RCBS die but I'm not fond of the rest of the Lee dies. Redding makes great dies too. Up to you.