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Old December 27, 2012, 09:59 AM   #8
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 15,077

The Lee Classic Turret, specifically, has a lot of fans. Paint and cadmium plating and polish on the exterior of Lee equipment has always been where they put the least attention, but that's not what loads the ammo. The internals work when properly set up. Their cast iron Classic series are also pretty durable. I have one of their original classic cast single-stage presses and consider it one of the largest bargains in handloading gear available. Once you get the Classic Turret operating, it should be fine. Their warranty is two years, IIRC.

That said, the turret press is not equivalent to the Dillon. The Dillon is not a turret press, it is a progressive press, meaning it has a case in each position of the shell holder and lined up for different operations simultaneously. Thus it performs all die operations simultaneously on the handle downstroke. It primes on the handle upstroke. This means, once all four stations are full, it produces one completed round of ammunition with each cycle of the handle. The turret press holds just one case at a time in its shell holder, indexing the dies around to perform each operation on that case sequentially. It will therefore require four strokes to produce each round of loaded ammunition.

So the Dillon 550 produces loaded ammunition almost 4 times faster than the turret once it is set up and running, even though the shell plate has to be indexed manually. Changing calibers on the Dillon can take longer than on the Lee if you have to change primer size. The primer feed is automated and more complicated to swap out than the lee. The shell holder on the 550 is a 4-position plate you have to change out rather than a standard single shell holder as used on the turret press. You can, however, get separate turrets and powder measures so you don't have to set those up for each caliber every time. Money buys speed with Dillon.

The Dillon does cost a lot more. A significant portion of that price is not for the press, however, but for the lifetime warranty. I've been using two Dillon presses and a Dillon primer pocket swaging tool for many years and managed to break one handle casting and the frame of the Dillon swaging tool and worn out the plastic primer feed fingers and so on. When these events happen, I call the toll-free number and explain what broke and two or three days later UPS drops the replacement is at my door. No return of the broken part required, no explanation or excuses required. They just send it. Even if you bought the press used from someone else, they just send it. They seem to have priced the insurance so they can keep their gear running indefinitely. It's not cheap to get that kind of insurance, but it is a joy to have on the rare occasions that you need it.

That warranty includes all the over-the-phone hand-holding you could ask for. Since you are a beginner, you may have further questions. If you used a Dillon in the class, though, it should not be a lot. If you didn't, then you may.

Lee also makes a couple of progressive presses, but there the reputation is that you have to stop and adjust them frequently and do a lot more fiddling to get and keep them running in general. Not as successful and widely embraced as their Classic series turret and single-stage designs.
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