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Old March 28, 2013, 09:56 PM   #1
reynolds357
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Lee Dies

As much as I try to give Lee a chance, every time I do it I regret my choice to do so. After my last couple of bad experiences with Lee I decided I would try another of their collet dies. Ordered it, opened it, and immediately noticed the slivers of aluminum in the box. Take the cap off and discover that it was cross threaded on a brand new die. That makes three sets of dies in a row from them that have all had a problem. Is it just me, or anyone else had this sort of luck with Lee or any other brand for that matter?
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Old March 28, 2013, 09:57 PM   #2
ScottRiqui
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I've only got a half-dozen sets of Lee dies, but no problems so far.
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Old March 28, 2013, 10:01 PM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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I used several sets of Lee dies and only had one "major" issue. That was a .243 collet die that seemed to have the hole in the collet a bit too small. 10 seconds with the correct drill bit and it was fine. Otherwise, their guts are a bit rough and I usually polish them but I do that with all my dies anyway. Considering that a single RCBS or Redding die can easily cost more than an entire set of Lee dies, and my Lee dies load extremely accurate ammo, I'm more than willing to accept their "faults ".
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Old March 28, 2013, 10:09 PM   #4
reynolds357
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25 years ago I used a lot of Lee dies and loved them. Still have them. They still work great. They were good stuff. Back then I think I could buy a set of lee dies for about $10 and RCBS and LYMAN were about $22 or $25 or something like that. Now Lee is not much cheaper than Hornaday. I guess I will try one more set.
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Old March 28, 2013, 10:11 PM   #5
kimbers rule
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I've had good luck with lee dies. No they are not my favorite, but for straight wall cases it take a lee carbide die set over any steel set out there. I've never tried thier rifle dies though.
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Old March 28, 2013, 10:30 PM   #6
oryx
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I am with the OP - at least for the sizing dies. The decapping pin never seems to want to thread straight and feels like you are cross threading. I do like the factory crimp dies however.
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Old March 28, 2013, 10:55 PM   #7
Lost Sheep
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More information, please.

What retailer sold you the defective products?

I think (my opinion) that any retailer who has to replace a product would take a little extra care to ensure your replacement set would be perfect. And any retailer who wouldn't would be reported (by me) to Lee Precision.

My experiences with Lee's products being defective are two in number.

One, is their cheapest press which belonged to a friend. He fell against it and snapped it off at the base. Factory Sales (now known as FSReloading) offered to replace it for free even though they were not the ones who sold it in the first place and I told them how it happened and did not even ask for a replacement. All we had to do was return the broken press. (Full Disclosure: I had just purchases a few hundred dollars worth of gear from them.) Alas, my friend had already recycled the aluminum, so no return was available. My friend is not in the habit of making warranty claims.

Two, I had trouble with my priming arm on my brand-new Lee Classic Turret. I had tried to fix it and made it worse. They sent me a new one and did not ask for postage or even the old one back. I forget if it was Lee Precision or Factory Sales that made it good, but it was only a couple of days, Priority Mail.

If your retailer does not bend over backward to make you happy, call Lee Precision Directly. Talk to a sales rep or a manager. I have confidence they will make it right.

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Old March 28, 2013, 10:59 PM   #8
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The only "problem" I've noticed is that the powder through expander dies, as shipped, have oil in their throats that holds plenty of powder inside them. I've cleaned it out without cleaning the outside of the expander plugs so that they'll still move in the die. Other than that, every die I've received has been ready for work straight out of the box. I'm new to reloading, so I may have missed other undocumented prep steps, but nothing like a cross-thread has been noticed.
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Old March 28, 2013, 11:31 PM   #9
5 STRING
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I just bought 4 sets of Lee dies and they are just as good as the old sets I used many years ago. I haven't had any problems with Lee products.
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Old March 28, 2013, 11:44 PM   #10
reynolds357
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The last die came from Midway. They sent me a replacement free of charge and told me to keep the defective one for spare parts if I like. The ones before that from factory sales. The ones before that I believe were from Cabellas. Not the retailers fault. I still have not figured out what is wrong with the .270WSM Lee seating die. It seats to all kinds of erratic depths. I replaced it with an RCBS that seats the same bullets to consistent depth. Its a 130 Spitzer being seated. Definitely nothing that should require a custom meplat. The one before that was a sizing die that scratched the brass awfully. None of the above are the retailers fault.
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Old March 28, 2013, 11:53 PM   #11
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You can't go wrong with RCBS...

In my early years of reloading I would buy a set of dies for every caliber I was able to shoot even though I didn't own the gun. In other words, I was creating a die collection.

I was quickly attracted to the inexpensive Lee dies & they seemed to perform pretty well. But they did seem like I got what I paid for after trying other dies. Finally, over the years, I was able to replace all of them with RCBS or Redding dies. Since these are lifetime investments I feel like the extra cost was worth it.

If they made them in all calibers & I could afford them, all my dies would be RCBS competition dies. I'd love to try some Redding neck-bushing dies but their cost is way out of my budget!

I think all shooters owe Lee a big vote of thanks for making affordable equipment that creates good ammo. This factor has helped sportsmen immensely to get started reloading & enjoy & promote shooting!

JIMHO...

...bug
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Old March 29, 2013, 01:00 AM   #12
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Quote:
Is it just me, or anyone else had this sort of luck with Lee or any other brand for that matter?
It isn't just you.

There are some Lee tools I have found to be acceptable, and worth the cost. There are other Lee tools that I have found to be universally sub-standard, and a complete waste of time and money.
There are other Lee tools that I think are a lump of poorly-engineered crap, but I do understand how they may satisfy less picky reloaders.
No matter the tool, I've found Lee's quality control to be nearly non-existent.

Buying Lee is a roll of the dice - you may win, or you may end up cussing them.


As far as dies go....
I now only own 5 Lee dies, and I only use 2 of them:
.32 S&W 3-die set (which is actually a combination of .32 S&W, .32 Auto, and .32 S&W Long dies - and I only use the seating die)
.243 Win collet neck-sizer (never used)
.270 Win Factory Crimp (defective - only used for an experiment)

All other Lee dies have just left me angry.
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Old March 29, 2013, 07:47 AM   #13
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Quote:
Is it just me,
It's just you.

Most of my pistol die sets are Lee (or have one or more Lee dies, so I could use the set on my Pro 1000 or Classic Turret). No problems with any of them.
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Old March 29, 2013, 08:06 AM   #14
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I only own a few LEE dies- a FCD for .40 S&W and .405 Winchester, and also their universal decapitating die. Zero problems.

The .405 FCD was the most expensive of the bunch, $34.95, but it is practically a custom die.

I also have a LEE powder charge die for .357 Magnum which worked fine but I no longer use it.

No complaints here, YMMV.
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Old March 29, 2013, 08:12 AM   #15
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Lee . . . .

I use several Lee dies and have had no problems with any of them. 7.62X39, 7.62X54, 38sp/357, 32S&W long, 270Win. One note about Lee, use Carbide dies...
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Old March 29, 2013, 10:23 AM   #16
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The lee factory crimp die for thin walled cases like the .44-40, and .32-30 are magic. They crimp without crumpling the brass.

I de-prime in a separate step, and I use the lee universal de-capping/primer removal die constantly. Matter of fact, this thread will be a reminder to buy an extra one.

I don't like the lee, rubber 0-ring die body locking nut, but that's easily fixed by substituting a hornady lock ring.

My personal ranking of dies, in order of preference is: redding, RCBS, hornady, lyman, and lee. For many years now, all my new die purchases have been redding. Their manufacturing tolerances and quality control seem to be the best.

I do have one lee reloading set in 7.62x54R russian. I bought them decades ago before the mosin nagants were common or popular and the lees were the only dies that I could find which weren't in a "custom" category and outrageously expensive. That lee set has always reloaded just fine.
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Old March 29, 2013, 10:37 AM   #17
Brian Pfleuger
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I can tell you one thing.... for loading rifles, I use Lee collet neck dies and Redding body dies. I've also used both Redding and RCBS full-length and neck-only dies.

From those uses, if I couldn't get a Lee collet die for a cartridge, I wouldn't buy a gun that shot it.

I DESPISE those "regular" dies. I simply can't imagine having to use them to load my cartridges.

The extra prep, the lube, the force it takes to pull the expander through the neck, even the extra force it takes to size the neck and body at the same time.

The accuracy I get from the collet/body combination, easily under 1 MOA in every gun so far and 1/2 MOA in the good ones....

Say what you want about Lee, but their collet dies are absolute freakin' genius.
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Old March 29, 2013, 11:47 AM   #18
hammie
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@Mr. Pfleuger: I'm ashamed to say that the lee collet dies are new to me. From what I could learn at the lee website, it seems that the collet dies are a different way to neck size only.

I think I understand what you're doing now, but I'm curious about how you do it. Do you neck size first and then body size or do you neck size and then body size?
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Old March 29, 2013, 11:47 AM   #19
DAVID NANCARROW
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I dont know if I got lucky or what, and its certainly not a scientific study, but I kept reading this accuracy guarrantee on Lee rifle dies so I decided to put it to the test.

I full length resized 25 rifle cases (308 Win) with my Redding die, and 25 more with my Lee die. Droppede powder and then seated bullets with the Redding and Lee and to my amazement, the cartridges resized and formed on the Lee dies showed much less runout than the Redding on my RCBS Casemaster. Dont know how, dont know why, but its all I needed to know. Scuse me while I kick myself over the price of those Redding dies
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Old March 29, 2013, 11:51 AM   #20
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Nothing but good stuff with Lee dies....
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Old March 29, 2013, 01:15 PM   #21
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hammie
@Mr. Pfleuger: I'm ashamed to say that the lee collet dies are new to me. From what I could learn at the lee website, it seems that the collet dies are a different way to neck size only.
You can do either.

The collet die sizes the neck in a unique way, by pressing it against a mandrel. That means it's sized "from the inside", so variations in the thickness of the neck are irrelevant. The slight tolerances of a shellholder and the centering effect of the mandrel means that the case self-centers too, which makes for extremely concentric sizing. The collet die requires no lube of any kind, anywhere on the case. The mandrel is one size along it's length and there is no expander plug to pull the neck out of line. The case is pressed against the mandrel and then released. It springs back 1 or 2 thousandths and slides cleanly out of the die.

The Redding body die bumps the shoulder back .001-.002 and sizes the body but leaves the neck completely untouched.
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Old March 29, 2013, 01:58 PM   #22
Romeo 33 Delta
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Long time Lee user and no complaints. The problems I've experienced were MINE (I don't need no stinkin' directions). Last time I checked, Lee accounts for fully half of my dies. As for their Collet Die ... I like it enough to have ordered custom calibers (back in the day when they weren't so busy and did offer this service). I think they were $50 a pop ... but in terms of EASE of operation and RESULTS ... some of the best money I ever spent.
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Old March 29, 2013, 03:36 PM   #23
hammie
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@Mr. Pfleuger: Thanks for the clarification, but I'm still not certain about the order of the steps.

Do you remove the expander button from the full length sizer, run the case through the full length die, and then use the collet die for the neck? Or the other way around?

Sorry. I don't mean to belabor this but I'm not the brightest bulb on the marquee.
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Old March 29, 2013, 03:46 PM   #24
Brian Pfleuger
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The Redding body die has no expander it sizes only the body and shoulder.



It can be used before or after the Lee collet die, neither of them has any effect on the other.

The part of the Redding die where the neck goes is larger than a fired case neck. Actually, they also work really well for forming larger necked cases into smaller. For instance, 7mm-08 into .243AI. The neck part of a 243 body die is smaller than a 7mm case but larger than 243. It will size the 7mm neck down so that it fits into a 243 sizer perfectly.

Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; March 29, 2013 at 03:51 PM.
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Old March 29, 2013, 04:00 PM   #25
hammie
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@Mr. Plfeuger: Well I just slapped my forehead. I was confusing a full length die with a body die. I finally get it.

Your idea should certainly improve the precision of re-loads. I will try it.
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