hate their(lee) lack of a secure lock ring and had to buy real lock rings which raised the real cost up to the RCBS level. I also hate the round holder for the dies which cannot be stacked and with over 40 sets that matters. I do like the lee hand primer but be sure to lube it or the pot metal will wear and it will be worthless...
My friend got their press and it broke. It cost him for parts. If he had broke a RCBS(that would probably never happen) it would have been free.
Not trying to start an argument, just offering another point of view on Lee:
I use quite a bit of their stuff. Used to use some RCBS dies, now all mine are Lee's. My brother in law uses strictly RCBS dies, so nothing's wasted!
But there are still, and will always be, several "colors" of stuff on my bench, w/ "green" an important one. There are reasons too numerous to go into here on what was chosen and why...
Now, personal thoughts on some of my Lee stuff:
--Dies: I like the dies because they're easier to adjust than other brands. They produce as accurate a round as any I've used. The lock rings are a "love-hate" thing, w/ very little ambivalence! One thing folks complain about is they don't hold their adjustment. True. IF you don't read the instructions and follow them (a caveat to remember w/ much of Lee's stuff.) However, a Magic Marker is your friend: adjust the die/ring combo, make a check mark, follow the instructions and watch the mark. I've had my doubts, but this visual check removed them: things DON'T move.
Every mfr sells lock rings as a separate/replacement item. They don't really wear out that often, so there must be some other reason. (Hint: I don't like the RCBS--and others'--set screw design, and would replace them...
--Presses: before the introduction of the "Classic Cast" series, Lee's presses were all lightweight cast alloy. I believe they were built using Lee's original philosophy of "introduce people to the reloading hobby in an economical fashion." As such, no, they won't last as long as an iron press, but properly cared for, and used w/ finesse (if you're the 800 lb gorilla type who breaks everything you touch, they're NOT the right choice!), they'll last "long enough" to pay for themselves many times over. Some loaders WILL want/need to upgrade some time in their careers. Others will find they never do.
The new Classic Cast series are iron, and I expect they'll hold up as well as any other iron presses on the market and do the same jobs just as well, or better. For example, I'm not the only person here w/ a '60s vintage RCBS Jr. press in the "collection." It'll outlast me, but the design is not as easy to use as the newer ones from several mfrs.
So far, all Lee presses are made in the USA! Call RCBS and ask where their latest Rock Chuckers are cast... do you speak Mandarin? I don't, and try not to support the Chinese when I have a choice. Sorry, RCBS!
--Scales: yes, Lee makes and sells one. Buy an RCBS 5-0-5 and keep the Lee scale (if you get one in a kit) for a spare in case you drop your RCBS and need to send it back for repair! The Lee scale IS quite sensitive, and as accurate as others, but it's rather limited (110 gr capacity handles powder, but not a lot of bullets) and few will argue it's "easy" to use.
--Primer tools: their hand primer is a good tool. It MUST be lubed, or it WILL wear/break. Mr. Lee is kind enough, if you read his "Modern Reloading" book, to tell you HOW to break some of his stuff! No lube = broken tool. Kept lubed, it will go on and on. I've got two, one for a spare. The one that gets used has about 14k rounds thru it so far, and is kept well lubed. It's still doing fine. If both tools were used head to head, a buddy figures his RCBS would PROBABLY last longer. I dunno... though I KNOW his will last longer simply because he doesn't load as much! Unfair comparison, eh?
I also have their Ram Prime tool, which works as well as the RCBS I've used.
--Powder measures: I have their Perfect Powder Measure. I also have an RCBS Uniflo sitting next to it. Neither has an edge on accuracy. Lee has an edge on quick and repeatable adjustment. The RCBS is solid as a rock. The Lee has some "flex" that bothers some folks. Again, used head to head, the RCBS would be expected to last longer than the Lee. But at three times the price, I dunno if it would outlast three Lees!
I have no experience or comments on the disc measures.
--Die holder boxes: the latest Lee rifle dies I bought came in a flat box like the pistol dies have for quite some time. No more big round thingie. Supposedly it was designed w/ the turret press in mind. Not getting another one is no great loss to me. Extra die boxes are cheap enough and readily available thru MidwayUSA for anyone who doesn't like their big round ones.
--Warranty: I've never used Lee's warranty/customer service department for problems. I've ordered parts from them, and the experience was quite satisfactory. I have used RCBS customer service department and they may be matched (most likely by the "blue" guys?) but can't be beat!
All in all, I'm a believer that for the beginner, buying Lee equipment is not the waste of money some think it is. especially if one doesn't plan to load tens of thousands of rounds. One thing I've learned about reloading is there's ALWAYS some other piece of equipment singing that siren song to us, and, sooner or later, we generally find ourselves w/ a pretty fair assortment of stuff, usually in several "colors." So, to say "Buy a Lee kit for $100 and you'll HAVE to upgrade" is probably no more accurate a statement than "Buy an RCBS kit for $275 and you'll NEVER need anything else."
Personal opinions may or may not help. Hands on experience is the best teacher, especially if the new loader knows enough folks who load to be able to "try" different equipment before buying.
There's a reason there's so much different equipment made out there, you know?