Progressive questions

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Clovishound

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Jan 3, 2012
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Well, I've reached the point where I'm considering a progressive. This will likely be something I will dither about for months, so I might as well get started now.

I've looked at the stats and the videos and I have a couple of questions and observations for those that actually have one of these beasts.

Before I get started let me throw out one ground rule.

NO DILLON SUGGESTIONS.

I'm just not going there and will ignore any posts suggesting such. If you are happy with your Dillon, I'm happy for you, but I will never own one and will not discuss it.

I have looked at the Lee Loadmaster and the Hornady Lock and Load.

I know the Lee has a reputation as being finicky. I can live with a little of that, but don't want to be twiddling with it every 20 minutes. The big question I have is using a powder check die. I use one on my turret press and really like the confidence it gives as a last ditch check on powder throws. I know there is room on the 5 hole plate for one, but the videos make it look like it would be awkward to place a bullet on a case in the last station, if I use the fourth station for the powder check and then us a seat/crimp for the 5th. Anybody done this? I know I can rig up a light for deep cases and do a visual, but I really like the powder check dies.

Moving on to the Hornady. It looks like a good machine. It costs more, but I can live with that. I would also have to repurchase all my dies, as the common dies I use are Lee and won't work on the LNL. Not a huge deal, as I would probably only load 3 calibers on the progressive. These are my 3 high volume pistol calibers. I have two questions. First, it looks awkward putting the case in the first station and getting it under the keeper spring. Is this true, or just looks that way? The case feeder for it is expensive, and looks cumbersome. The other issue is the position for placing the bullet also looks awkward as it is right next to the frame. Again, is this the case, or just look that way on the videos?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
 

jsh

Single-Sixer
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Oct 6, 2013
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Kansas US of A
I have a three of the Hornady progressives. These work better for ME, and for how I load. I use them at times as a progressive turret.
The spring on the shell plate is one of the main reason I went with them, easy in and out at ANY station.
I don't know if the new LNL presses are different. I use a variety of dies in mine with no problems.

If it makes any difference, I traded a 4 station blue press for a slightly used and a brand new Hornady, have not regretted it.

I have used or owned pretty much every progressive out there at some time or another. A problem I have seen in every single one at some time, is the priming system. Second would be the powder measure. ( these two things are why I go as a progressive turret at times)

Case feeders and bullet feeders, I load a lot but not enough to justify the cost. Putting cases in is pretty much my final visual inspection, bullets are the same way.
Jeff
 

gunzo

Buckeye
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Sep 8, 2010
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I have the predecessor to the lock & load, the Projector. Very similar as far as loading sequence. On mine, the keeper spring lowers below the first station so the case can easily be inserted, & then rises back up as the shell plate rotates, so it can hold the cases in place for the rest of the trip.
For bullet insertion, I start lowering the handle & the shell plate will rotate one position as its rising. This is when the bullet can be inserted & the frame is not in the way.
Have had mine about 27 years haven't regretted buying it.
 

Clovishound

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Thanks, good info on the spring keeper. This brings up another question I hadn't thought of. The included powder measure mentions metering inserts. From the look of it, it is infinitely adjustable. I assume that the inserts are for large drops, ie rifle, vs small drops, ie pistol. Also, how accurate is the powder measure? I know, it depends on the powder. I normally use good metering powders like Universal.
 

Twoboxer

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Messages
190
Clovishound said:
Well, I've reached the point where I'm considering a progressive. This will likely be something I will dither about for months, so I might as well get started now. Always best to be honest with yourself :)

I've looked at the stats and the videos and I have a couple of questions and observations for those that actually have one of these beasts.

. . . I have looked at the Lee Loadmaster and the Hornady Lock and Load.

Dunno much about the Lee, but I'd guess there are some strong reasons why there's much more talk on forums about the Hornady and that other press you don't want to talk about.

Moving on to the Hornady. It looks like a good machine. It costs more, but I can live with that. I would also have to repurchase all my dies, as the common dies I use are Lee and won't work on the LNL.

Not true. I use a lot of Lee dies on my LNL AP in positions 1, 4,
and 5. No issues with 9mm, 45ACP, 223 and the few other rifle calibers I still use Lee dies for.


Not a huge deal, as I would probably only load 3 calibers on the progressive. These are my 3 high volume pistol calibers. I have two questions. First, it looks awkward putting the case in the first station and getting it under the keeper spring. Is this true, or just looks that way?

The retaining spring rides UNDER the case at the slot in which you insert a case, so it is not in the way at all. You just put the case on the ramp and push it in. Proof of this is the case feeders wouldn't work if the spring had to be moved out of the way each time. The spring rises to hold the case as the plate rotates. Compared to other methods of holding the cases, the spring is a joy to use when removing/adding cases at different points in the process.

The case feeder for it is expensive, and looks cumbersome. The case feeder is expensive. The other press contains some of the parts needed by a case feeder with your initial setup. The Hornady does not. It certainly makes the press more cumbersome and increases changeover time, but not so cumbersome a 71 year old not in the best of health can't move it from place to place.

The other issue is the position for placing the bullet also looks awkward as it is right next to the frame. Again, is this the case, or just look that way on the videos?

Placing a bullet is done left-handed (as is setting a new case). Since you are sitting more or less in front of the press, you are reaching in a bit from the side giving you a clear shot at the case.

Thanks in advance for your replies.
I might add that using the PTX system to flare your case inside the powder measure station means there are 3 stations left to use for (eg) Powder Check Die, Seating Die, Crimping Die.

The only cumbersome points in the Hornady occur using a powder check die next to the PM, or using the PTX system in the PM in station 2. You will find it takes a bit of fiddling to learn how to insert the dies and in what sequence in order to prevent them from interfering with each other. It isn't hard, but you can't just put them in any way you like l ol.

Hope that helps some, good luck!
 

Luckyducker

Single-Sixer
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Nov 18, 2007
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Ft. Morgan, CO
I load only pistol rounds and 223Rem on my L-N-L progressive press. I use only ball powders in these cartridges and the powder thrower is accurate to a gnats ass after it is set for a certain weight. The L-N-L powder thrower will not be consistent with stick powders! The only problem I have encountered with mine is the primer feed on small primers, I can run a while and it feeds like new money and then it will get finicky. With large pistol primers it never hiccups at all. My machine is a very early production press and the newer ones may have some up-grades, but I don't know. I wouldn't go back to loading pistol ammunition on a single stage press unless I was forced to by some crazy circumstances.
 

Clovishound

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Thanks for all the info. It gives me something to think about. I have heard it repeated so many times that Lee dies won't work with a LNL, I thought it was gospel. Not a huge deal either way. I would likely have to get the powder drop die from Hornady anyway in order to match it up to the powder measure that comes with the LNL.

I see no input on the Loadmaster. There may be a reason for that. I like a lot of Lee products, but the Loadmaster is definitely on my skeptical list. The price is right, and a few years back that would have been a larger factor for me. Fortunately I have a little more disposable income these days and can broaden my horizons a little. Clovispup and I spend nearly every Tues afternoon (shades of the Moody Blues) at the range, and a couple of firearm purchases over the last couple years has greatly increased the number of centerfire rounds we go through in a range session. These days we normally go through 250 - 300 rounds. That is getting a little time consuming on the turret. I just hope I'm not giving up control and feedback from the press. Safe ammo is more important to me than quantity, but I'm sure I can get both with the right process.
 

jsh

Single-Sixer
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Oct 6, 2013
Messages
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Location
Kansas US of A
On some cartridges I use the lee powder through expander die and measure. Some folks have had issues with the "fairy dust" fine powders. I may be lucky, I have had zero issues.
On the disk measures, I have had pretty good results. I have "modified" a couple of disk to make them drop what I want.
I have also used a variety of the Lee factory crimp dies.
I am a user of some of their products. I am not a fan of their dies for the most part.
The above is used on a Hornady progressive.

I have a Hornady powder measure that was one of my first purchases along time ago. It came with a pistol and a rifle meter. It works pretty good by hand. I used it one time on the progressive and did not like or trust it.

I have pieces and parts in use that are from various makers to make me happy.
 

ditto1958

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Jun 23, 2012
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Wisconsin
OP, thank you for posting this thread. I am in a similar position, as I go through a lot of .38 special ammo each week at the range. I love my Lee turret press, but I really could benefit from something faster.

Regsrding the Lee progressive press, it's an odd situation. Lee makes a lot of innovative reloading stuff that works really well, and is priced right. Yet, most of what I read about their progressive press is negative. I wonder why they won't or can't do a progressive system that is up to par with the rest of their stuff?
 

Clovishound

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I've had excellent luck with all my Lee dies. I bought a die set from another manufacturer and had issues. I do have a Hornady powder cop die that I really like. I don't care much for their locking ring. Probably works fine if you snug it down with a wrench. I move it from caliber to caliber, so I really don't want to have to keep a wrench and an allen handy. I've had excellent luck with the newer Lee Auto drum measure.

I've been watching a few videos of the LNL. I like the prime on the downstroke. I'm not overly happy with the primers all lined up in a "barrel". I don't hear much about the Hornady cooking off all the primers in the tube, but I don't much care for the setup. At least it comes with a second tube, which is likely there to prevent injury in case of a cook off. Priming seems to be the biggest issue with progressives.

I currently prime on press with my turret, but hand feed each primer. It's quicker and easier than it sounds, but auto feed would be nice.
 

Twoboxer

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Mar 21, 2012
Messages
190
My guess on the Lee progressives is that there are more stacked tolerances of machined parts than Lee's engineering has dealt with or allowed for. That would cause constant tweaking. Their approach works well enough to compete and sometimes excel with dies and simpler machines, maybe a progressive is a bridge too far.

The fact that you handfeed primers on the Lee turret (like I was quickly forced to) pretty much tells the tale. No matter . . .

If/when you buy the Hornady, come back for a shellplate and pawl tip that will be EXTREMELY helpful getting you going on the right path.
 

loaded round

Hunter
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It's only reasonable to ask why when a statement like that was made. The Dillon reloaders are the most common progressive loaders used today. No more comments from me though.

]
loaded round said:
Why do you hate Dillon?
Re-read his original post. It's reasonable to respect it.[/quote]
 

Ron IL

Bearcat
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Dec 29, 2016
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I tried a Lee progressive for about 3 days and could not get it adjusted. It would run a few and then mess up. Sent it back and went to a Lee Classic Turret. I use all Lee stuff but was not happy with the progressive loader I had.
 

Clovishound

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Well, I have heard a few folks say they have, and like their loadmaster. Then again, I hear a fair number of stories like yours, and some that say they have and use one, but it is a rocky relationship. I have a lot of Lee equipment, but with a progressive, I decided I needed to give the Hornady a look.
 

Luckyducker

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Nov 18, 2007
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Ft. Morgan, CO
I tried some Lee dies and some other tools, though not a press, and don't have any of it now except the universal decapping die. Yes, they have some well designed products but they use inferior materials to manufacture them, so I no longer buy or use Lee. Been there, done that, but threw the souvenir T-shirt away with other useless junk. One set of Lee dies was so bad rather than sell them to some other unsuspecting reloader I threw them in the trash. I don't do Lee.
 

Ka6otm

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Dec 21, 2002
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Twoboxer said:
My guess on the Lee progressives is that there are more stacked tolerances of machined parts than Lee's engineering has dealt with or allowed for. That would cause constant tweaking. Their approach works well enough to compete and sometimes excel with dies and simpler machines, maybe a progressive is a bridge too far.

I'm a long time Lee LoadMaster user. I've got two of them mounted to my loading bench, one set up for large primer and one for small primer as I reload at least 3 and sometimes 4 or more calibers every week.

When you hear people complain about the LoadMaster, they always repeat the "constant tweaking" thing.

So here's the deal: There are only 2 adjustments on the LoadMaster other than the dies.
1. Indexing
2. Primer seating depth.

Both are set from the factory, both work perfectly, and neither one changes by itself, nor does it need to be changed.

So, what are people tweaking? The only thing left would appear to be the dies and one can hardly blame Lee if they adjust and tighten their own dies improperly, can they?

I post on a lot of boards and try to get people to tell me what they're tweaking and what they usually say (if they'll answer me at all, which is rare) is that they're tweaking the primer seating depth.

Okay, why is that since it doesn't change? It's because they didn't read the manual carefully when setting up the press and they have one or more dies on several turret heads that are out of adjustment. Since the press primes on the downstroke, setting the dies properly is crucial.

Then, when they had this problem, they didn't read the manual troubleshooting section where it says that if you have a primer seating problem, check your dies.

Then, after failing to read the manual in the first place, then failing to read the troubleshooting section, they fail to call customer support who, I believe, would tell them to set their dies correctly and their problems will go away. I say I believe because in spite of the fact I've been reloading with a Lee LoadMaster for close to 20 years and a Lee Turret for around 35 years, I've never had a need to call customer support.

I've been using my LoadMasters every week for years and I don't have problems. I load .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, 9MM, .380 ACP and .223/.556 on mine.

I did have one guy on another board who told me he had to constantly tweak his indexing and I told him that either he adjusted it wrong in the first place (didn't read the manual) or he didn't tighten the nut properly and it loosened. Again, not Lee's fault. What I couldn't get him to tell me was why he was fooling with it since it doesn't need adjustment.

So buy a LoadMaster and never look back.
 

Ron IL

Bearcat
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We are not talking about the same press. I had the Pro 1000. The loadmaster appears to be a lot heavier duty than the pro 1000. I would bet the pro 1000 is a lot cheaper and that is why I got it. The loadmaster looks like a classic turret with more automated stuff on it. Had I got it I might still be using that one. I have never had a problem with Lee stuff except the pro 1000. Lee is the only kind I have ever used. A happy Lee customer here.
 

Clovishound

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Judging by the pictures and descriptions alone, I would have to say there appears to be a huge difference in the pro 1000 and the Loadmaster. Just like the turrets. My buddy has the aluminum Lee turret, and I have the classic. Huge difference in the two. Not that big a difference in price.

I also notice a lot of people don't specify which Lee turret they had trouble with when they decided to move on.
 
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