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Old May 14, 2005, 07:50 AM   #1
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Lee Anniversary Kit- is it really that bad

First, let me state that I am on disability, and have a very limited budget. To save a few bucks (as well as try to work up most accurate loads for my rifles) I would like to start reloading. I've seen mixed opinions on the Lee reloading products, so I'd like some "first hand" experience and knowledge.

Again, due to budget restraints, I will NOT be doing any "high volume" reloading, probably no more than a couple hundred rounds a month. Will the Lee kit work OK to get me started, or should I wait (and it may be a long wait) to get something better.
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Old May 14, 2005, 08:22 AM   #2
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I say go for it Lee is the Chevrolet of reloading not the best but still will work OK.I have two Lee press's that I still use, and use there dies even in my Dillon.If you are just doing Rifle that press would work great if pistol I would say something else.You just might save enough on reloading to buy a better one
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Old May 14, 2005, 08:48 AM   #3
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I would not hesitate to go with the Lee stuff. I know there are the Lee bashers that want only the finest machining and looks to their equipment, God bless them. Lee produces stuff that is affordable and it works. A lot of their products are every bit as functionable as any others made and why wait needlessly to save up the price of some products that are probably somewhat overpriced when the Lee stuff will have you up and running right away.
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Old May 14, 2005, 09:19 AM   #4
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In my opinion, the Lee kit is just about the best way to get started there is. It would be really nice if they put their Classic Cast Press in a kit, but the Challenger press has served me quite well. A buddy has two of them on his bench and loads thousands of rounds a year in over a dozen calibers.
One place to find great prices on reloading equipment is Boses Guns . They have the Anniversary kit listed at two prices, the higher one ($7.00 more) has the 2nd edition book.

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Old May 14, 2005, 09:27 AM   #5
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There is nothing wrong with Lee products, they work exactly as they where intended to.
If you have limited income and would like to get started loading as soon as possible, Lee equipment is the way to go.
More than likely, Lee products will last you a lifetime if used properly.
So, in answer to your question, NO, the Anniversary kit is NOT "that bad", it's just about the best setup around for starting out reloading, and it will work just fine for you.
I have some Lee tools that I bought 15 years ago, they still work just like they did when I bought them. I've never had any of them break or malfunction, and some of them have been used extensively.
I say go for it, for the money, you just can't go wrong.
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Old May 14, 2005, 09:54 AM   #6
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For some reason this question appears repeatedly. I think it must be natural for people to be skeptical of something inexpensive. After all, why would there be a market for the more expensive stuff if the inexpensive stuff is just as good?

Lee actually is one of the most innovative companies in the business. Their patents on the collet sizing die, the factory crimp die, the wiper system for handling stick powders in their Perfect powder measure are all outstanding bits of engineering. Their execution is Chevrolet on the outside, as Russ said, so they are not as pretty as their competition. On the other hand, I believe they are still the only maker who hones their sizing dies, rather than ream and polish, so their cross-sectional roundness is better than anything else on the market.

Lee products are all functional in a non-slick way. I've had the experience with their older progressive equipment that its rough corners produce a bit of sticking of primers or other odds and ends of minor grief, and that their lighter construction doesn't endure the way my two Dillons or my Forster Bonanza Co-ax press or even my ancient Lyman turret press have done. But if you watch what you are doing, no bad ammo comes out of them.

I still use all the Lee products I've bought over the years. The Challenger press with a Lee universal decapping die serves as a dedicated de-capping station now (I decap before cleaning rifle cases—not necessary, but I like being fussy with match loads). The Challenger's aluminum frame will wear faster than cast iron or aluminum with bushings, but you just need to keep it lubricated. You can use a semi-permanent lube like MolyFusion or Lubri-Silk, or use Plate+ on the steel ram (Plate+ is the only one of the three that has no affinity for aluminum, but will make the ram slick), then you won't ever see wear.

I keep a Lee Hand Tool in my range box for load work-up. I usually prepare cases and go to the range with a couple of the Perfect measures (so inexpensive I can have a separate one for each powder I commonly use), a scale, the hand tool and seating dies. This lets me assemble loads as I gradually increase the powder level while watching for pressure signs. There is nothing to beat the convenience of that hand tool at the range.

I use the Redding Competition seating dies for rifle because they work well and I've had them for awhile. I don't know how the Lee zero-error seating arrangement compares? But this brings up the point that most of us who re-load find certain tools we prefer for some specialized functions. It isn't that others are bad, just that we get comfortable with what we get out of particular ones.

So, in the end, especially considering the low volume you are talking about, I would go ahead with the Anniversary kit, figuring that over the years you will gradually get other equipment but keep the Lee gear in service for some purposes.

The only question I would have are whether the nature of your disability means you would want a press with a higher leverage ratio than the Challenger? A heavier press will resize large rifle cases more easily. Lee's new cast iron frame Classic press would be a candidate. If you shoot pistol or rifles up to the 30-06 size range, I wouldn't worry about it.

One small caveat: Lee has promoted their white water-soluble case lube for resizing for some time. I believe you'll get a tube in the kit. I've never found it as easy to resize with as Imperial Sizing Wax (available through Sinclair), or any of the spray-on resizing lubes or just a lube pad damp with STP. The advantage to the Lee product is ease of clean up (water) afterward, while the others all require tumbling with plain corncob media or a rag and some mineral spirits or mechanic's part cleaning solvent to remove. But if you find resizing difficult, try one of these other lubes.

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Old May 14, 2005, 09:55 AM   #7
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Start with the Lee Anniversary Kit by all means.

It should serve you well. If you find you want to upgrade to "better" equipment in the future, keep an eye out on this and other gun boards for good pricing on used equipment. On the other hand if you decide reloading isn't for you, you can sell the Lee kit and just be out a few bucks.
Take Care
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Old May 14, 2005, 11:22 AM   #8
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Lee would definitely be my absolute last choice. But if it came down to a question of using Lee products or not reloading, I wouldn't hesitate to use Lee until I could afford better.
If you think a mighty military force is expensive, wait 'til you see what a weak one costs.
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Old May 14, 2005, 12:06 PM   #9
Al Norris
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I've wanted to get into reloading for several years now.

So I looked and researched and dreamed. Everytime I seemed to be able to get the money saved for a really good setup, something else came along that this needed money had to be spent upon. Many of you have probably had the same thing(s) happen. Doctor bills; Hospital bills; Car problems; Plumbing problems; Even that new gun that just had to be bought!

So, last Xmas, my son came home on leave and brought me the Lee Anniversary Kit and dies for .223 and .300 weatherby. Since then I have bought dies for .44mag/.44spec; .357/38; .300wm and 9mm.

My son was recently TAD to March AFB from Camp LeJuene and had gotten a 120 hr pass. He came up to Idaho for a couple of days. Yesterday we spent a couple of hours at the press and loaded 1000 rnds of .223 and 300 rnds of .44mag (teamwork can be a great thing!). All from recipes that I had previously worked up.

Gonna go out and shoot 'em up in just a bit.

While this Lee Press may be inexpensive, it is serving me well. I have learned a lot by using this single stage press. Moreso, I think, than if I had waited and started off on a progressive... But, that's just my opinion, YMMV.

dfaugh, get that Lee press and don't look back. My only regret is that I took so long to make the plunge!
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Old May 14, 2005, 03:02 PM   #10
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The Lee kit is a great way to start out. I did and several guys I know did too. As you become proficient you will gain the knowledge of what makes the different brands better than others by the best method....experience. Good luck and welcome to the Guild!
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Old May 14, 2005, 03:28 PM   #11
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Lee is the Yugo of the reloading world, the company is very innovative in finding cheaper ways to do things, but Lee's main objective is to make things cheaper, not better. Many years ago I decided to try reloading, being new I made the common mistake of going cheap, big mistake, the experience was so poor I almost quit reloading entirely, but I decided to give reloading another chance and tried better equipment, it worked much better and I continue to reload, it's almost 40 years now.

You might do better by ordering individual parts rather than the kit, here is a rough guide to usability of the items in the kit, the scale is the worst piece in the kit. The most important thing is to get a good reloading book, like the Speer Reloading Manual.

Challenger Press, usable
Lee Dies, usable
Powder Measure, usable
The scale is not worth the small price they ask for it

Some say I am a Lee basher, having experienced Lee's lack of quality first hand, I can only say that I have tried it...and ended up junking it.
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Old May 14, 2005, 03:52 PM   #12
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Lee is the Yugo of the reloading world
Thats hilarious
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Old May 14, 2005, 04:52 PM   #13
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I have to agree with you about everythinjg except the dies. I have had bad luck with Lee dies. I must admit, though, that when I sent the defective dies back, they were replaced quickly with useable dies. If their quality control was as good as their customer service, I might have a higher opinion of them.

Having said all that, I use, and LOVE the Lee Factory crimp dies. Never had a problem with them.
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Old May 14, 2005, 05:37 PM   #14
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Well, I might as well sound off too.
As someone a lot smarter than I once said, "It's a poor workman that blames his tools." If YOU are capable of loading good ammo, you'll find a way to do it, whether with a Dillon, a Hornady or a Lee press. I've loaded lots of ammo with a Lee turret press and I seem to find the X-ring often enough to keep me satisfied.
Granted, some other presses and tools are easier to work with, but Lee stuff does the job. The Perfect Powder Measure that comes in the kit is as good a powder dispenser as any I've ever seen, though it isn't as shiny or pretty as some others, it's only about $20 too. Their Safety Powder Scale is accurate enough, it's just unhandy to use and it only goes up to 100 grains. That's fine as long as you're only measuring powder, but if you need to weight a bullet it's not so good.
Their presses aren't polished as well as Dillons but one has to wonder what it costs for all that polish and whether it's worth it. Both Dillon and RCBS have "no questions asked" guarantees but the only thing I've ever broken on my Lee press was the result of my own stupidity and Lee sent me a replacement part for only $5. Not bad in this day of high shipping and handling costs.
If I were shooting a thousand rounds of pistol ammo every week, I'd run-- not walk-- to the nearest Dillon source and get something that would make the job quicker and simpler. As long as I'm loading primarily for rifles and then only a couple of hundred rounds a month, the Lee works fine. It will for you too.
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Old May 14, 2005, 06:36 PM   #15
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I'd been watching this thread with detached amusement for awhile, mainly because I own a Lee Anniversary kit, but when the post about the Yugo appeared, I got a good laugh and decided to weigh in on this one.....For the last 19 years, I've made a good living selling cars. Probably even sold a few Yugos. Sold a lot of Lincolns and Cadillacs, too. One thing I've noticed is that, whether the customer pulled up in a Yugo or a Lincoln, they both managed to arrive at the dealership from wherever "Point A" was. I've also seen a lot of folks who could afford a Lincoln driving Yugos or Festivas or whatever, instead. Some folks for financial reasons have no choice but to drive the Yugo. Doesn't matter....if the product gets the job done to your satisfaction, and it's within your means to purchase, or you just choose not to spend more money, then get it done and don't look back.
Just for the record, other than the Lee scale which I swapped out of the kit for a Hornady scale, I have the same gear that you would be getting, and I have had no problems producing quality ammo. After reading your wants/needs, and purchase motivators, I would recommend the Anniversary kit, and I am confident you will get great results. Definitely be sure to get several good manuals (Lyman's 48th is what I got) and start your loads where they suggest. Have fun and be safe.
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Old May 17, 2005, 03:26 PM   #16
Austin Charles
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If your just getting into reloading than by all means go with Lee.

You might find it boring and too time consuming and not want to hassle with it.

Lee does the job. Reloading is a very expensive hobby, by the time you get the kit- You still NEED to get --brass,powder, dies,primers,calipers,bullets

For a hobby to save money, you need a bunch to just get started.

You can alway's upgrade in the future if you find you like it and want to keep it up.
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