Lee vs RCBS

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by bstomper, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. bstomper

    bstomper Well-Known Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    What quality difference is there in the lee reloading starter kits as opposed to the RCBS starter kits. The lee stuff seems to alot cheaper for pretty much the same parts, and the lee package comes with a set of shell holders.
  2. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    if you get the Lee Cast iron press, there's not a lot of difference. Except that Lee stuff is made in the USA, and not The Peoples Republic Of China
  3. NW Hunter

    NW Hunter Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 2010
    My Lee Anniversary Edition starter kit lasted 2 years before bullet runout started to become a problem. I had to order a new ramrod and a new cast frame. Seems that grit from decapping primers wore out the tolerance in the hole that the ramrod slides through.

    The Lee again produces great ammo.

    Learn from my mistakes. Keep your press very clean and lubricated at all times!
  4. royinidaho

    royinidaho Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    I have been informed by several bench rest bullet makers that the Lee, when properly maintained, takes a back seat to none other. Its seems that their alignment is as good as it gets.

    Don't have personal experience. But that was what I was told by a fella that makes tons of great shooting itty bitty bench rest bullets and has a shop full of presses.
  5. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    Both kits work fine but no KIT is complete, you will still have to add several other items for a complete set-up. That said, trying to compare "the" Lee kit to "the" RCBS kit for which is 'best' really isn't intellectually honest; they are made for much different customers and include different tools.

    RCBS tools are the "standard" of the reloading industry. Contrary to some opinions, that doesn't mean their stuff is the 'best', it just means they (and Lyman) have been around a very long time and almost everyone knows what it is; that makes comparing others to RCBS immediately understandable to almost anyone.
    RCBS does have a great lifetime parts replacement policy but those "free" parts are NOT free; they are factored into the original purchase price. That's really good for fumble finger guys who bend or break a lot of stuff but it's not so great for those who don't.

    Pitting alum alloy presses (Lee, Hornady or RCBS) against cast iron presses (Lee, RCBS, Redding, etc) makes a bit of difference in that the iron stuff wears better but unless you're loading some high volumes for a long time even that won't much matter. Most avid reloaders prefer iron presses but they don't make any better ammo than the less costly alum alloy types. Reloading tools are quite simple and there are no deep secrets to their design. Lee's tools are less costly because they are simple designs intended to be made on largely automated CNC tooling by non-mechanist workers and that plan works well.

    So, want a good press for low volume work; get an alum. Lee. Want an iron/steel beast for large rifle cartridges; get a Lee's Classic Cast or Classic Turret. (NOT the 'breach lock" stuff, IMHO, any quick-change die system is a great solution for which we have no real problem.)

    Avoid 'tips' from anyone who says, in effect, "Get my favorite, it's great; I've never used anything else!" It seems those who are stuck on any one brand have little or no experiece with anything else so their perspective is quite limited. Most old hands have a wide variety of brands on their bench. experienced reloaders buy different tools for their features and performance, not color.

    Saying all that isn't much direct help for a poor noob trying to get his feet on the ground but the effect is that you can buy anything you're willing to pay for and know you'll get more service than you're likely to need for a very long time.
  6. CogburnR

    CogburnR Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2010
    I like the Lee stuff...it works well.

    I love my new Classic Cast Breechlock. Once you install the bushings you can load several different calibers in a very short time. I load for 3 rifles of different caliber to take to the range and usually load all the ammo the same day. Switching calibers in extremely quick compared to the regular die system.

    Lee equipment is made in the USA, RCBS outsources to china.

    Lee is cheaper. The Challenger kit is a good and it is under 100$!


    A Classic Cast press is under 100$.

  7. SidecarFlip

    SidecarFlip Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2011
    With me, it's mix and match. I have a Rockchucker Iron press for smaller runs and a Dillon for the pistol loads..... and a MEC for the shotshells... All are good so long as your purchase has some heft. By that I mean rigidity. If you are sizing large calibers, there is quite a bit of force applied to the press frame so mass is important.

    Don't drop a Rockchucker on your foot.......:D

    Be aware that Dillion is high priced stuff but USA made and quality plus Dillon is only available from Dillon Precision. No retailers (that I'm aware of at least) offer Dillon reloading equipment.

    Some Dillon presses only accept Dillon dies so that can be a detraction, especially in the pistol calibers. I reload a bunch of 45's and the Dillon Progressive will turn out loaded rounds quickly and accurately (for powder load and bullet seat depth.

    I'm a sit on the sofa and hand prime my cartridges, not a machine prime. I want to 'feel' every primer to make sure it's seated correctly (not proud of the base) and insure it's square to the pocket. I looked at the RCBS strip primer system and thought to myself that it was a waste of time, but that's only an opinion.

    I have dies from every maker. I've noticed that Lee dies have aluminum parts (adjusters and such) while RCBS, Lyman, Redding and Hornady and Wilson have none.

    Wilson dies are pressless, by that I mean that their dies can't be used in a normal reloading press but an arbor press or a mallet works just fine. Just the ticket for hunting lodge reloading, like the Lee Pocket Press.

    I don't particularly care for the Lee locking ring (captured 'O' ring) design. I prefer and refit to the accepted practice of a setscrew locking the ring.

    I would say that my favorite dies, as far as ease of use are the RCBS Competition and Gold Medal Die sets, especially the bullet seater. I like micrometer adjustment on seating depth (I believe RCBS copied the design from Redding) and I like the top front bullet window. Much easier to drop in a bullet from the front versus from the bottom, especially with smaller caliber bullets like 22 caliber (.223).

    Reloading equipment reminds me of motor oil. Everyone has their favorites for specific reasons. Actually, they are all good. The difference lies in how much you plan on using them, space limitations and wallet capacity.
  8. Reloader222

    Reloader222 Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2010
    There are stuff from Lee that is excellent - like their case trimmers, auto prime and hand press for field reloading. However, when comming to their presses the Cast Lee Press is their best quality which compares good with RCBS. If you have the money for the RCBS, don't let the free shell holders convince you. The RCBS got a top-dead-stop and overcam function which the Lee does not have. The RCBS Rock Chucker Press is superior to the Lee Cast Press.