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Old January 18, 2013, 08:45 AM   #1
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Dillon VS Lee

What is the biggest difference with the Dillon and the Lee. I know on the progressive press the Dillon has 4 stage and the Lee has 3. Is this efficient with only 3 stages or is it set up to do more in each stage than the Dillon?
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Old January 18, 2013, 08:56 AM   #2
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Both make more than one machine. However, Dillons are generally more reliable and will load more ammunition than the Lee line in a given amount of time. They also cost more than the Lee's.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:21 AM   #3
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Dillon has a lifetime unconditional No B.S. warranty, Lee does not. For the most part Dillon only makes progressive presses. Lee does not make a press that is capable of the production rates of any Dillon press.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:22 AM   #4
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I was looking at the Dillon Square Deal B and the Lee 1000. If i not going to quantity but reliability Dillon over the Lee?
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:32 AM   #5
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i have had a lee for a long time and had no issues. may take some adjustments from time to time but for the money they are hard to beat. i also had a dillion 650xl and was a great press. if quantity is not an issue go with a rcbs rock chucker.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:33 AM   #6
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I was looking at the Dillon Square Deal B and the Lee 1000. If i not going to quantity but reliability Dillon over the Lee?
If there is any problems, ever, with the Dillon, they fix it. Not so with Lee.

Be aware the Dillon Square Deal is for pistol loading only and can use only special Dillon dies. If you are looking to load rifle on a progressive press, then you start with the Dillon 550, which can use standard dies.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:33 AM   #7
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If you are willing to tinker with the Lee Precision 1000 you can have a satisfactory experience. They have quirks and there is specific information out there (and here I believe) as to how to make them run. Lot of happy users but they are willing to make them work. Generally most every Dillion user is happy with their choice. Lee Precision has excellent customer service and any suggestion to the contrary is based on ignorance.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:39 AM   #8
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If money is not an object, get the Dillon.

If money is an object, then you have to ask yourself if you can make a Pro1000 work well enough that you won't just buy a Dillon later on.

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Old January 18, 2013, 09:48 AM   #9
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I've owned and loaded on both the Lee Load Master, and Dillon's's my take on both.

Lee Load Master, uses a lot of plastic and pot metal parts. Some work well but the primer feed mechanism in particular is a royal PITA. Constant breakage. Lost track of the number of small parts in it I replaced. The powder measure uses a number of varying size discs to measure powder; all of which leaked to one extent or another. The case feed mechanism was difficult to keep in adjustment for hand gun brass...another PITA. After 5 yrs of parts replacement (at my expanse) and constant problems keeping it running...I retired it.

Dillon 550B...SUPERB customer service...two rings, they pickup and answer any question...agents are reloaders themselves and UNDERSTAND the machines. Immediate parts availability and sent at their expense, even those that I screwed up, (one spring crimped and admitted same to the agent). Setup is easy, adjustments were virtually, the machines were factory setup properly..and a production rate of 200 rounds per hour for hand gun rounds. I now own two of permanently setup for large primers and one for small. Quick caliber changes...less than 5 minutes. One drawback is that the adjustable powder measure, like the RCBS Uniflow, while fine with ball or short stick powders, crunches the long stick ones (3031, 4064 etc). But I've even had good luck with those after polishing some of the working surfaces in the measuring slide and drop tube. I now use it for my .223 rifle rounds used in CMP/NRA National Match across the course ammunition.

All in all, if I were you, I'd save up for the Dillon 550B; you'll never need to upgrade, nor be frustrated by a balky press. I've been reloading my own ammunition since 1962 and have owned 8 presses; everything from a single station Herter's #3 to a costly Herrell turret and have come to the conclusion that the Dillon's just can't be beat for the money, ease of use, reliability, and customer service...if you're looking at progressives, they're the best in the business in my opinion.

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Old January 18, 2013, 10:27 AM   #10
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Lee Precision has a new fix for the primer issue but otherwise, I agree with ^
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Old January 18, 2013, 10:43 AM   #11
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I would go with the 550 if you are planning on doing a great deal of shooting.
Yes you will spend more, but you get Dillons lifetime warranty and your investment will hold its value if you decide to sell. I purchased one the first year of introduction and it still is reliable & thru many reloads, I have paid for mine many times over

I would not recommend the lee to a beginner, it is problematic and requires frequent adjusting and maintenance when compared to the 550.
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Old January 18, 2013, 11:37 AM   #12
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I have an old Pro 1000 that I picked up used. I am not real fond of the priming system and I have had a few missed powder drops that make not trust that part of the system as well. I can process (deprime, resize and bell case mouths)a lot of brass quickly with it then I hand prime and finish loading on a single stage so I can inspect each round more easily.

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Old January 18, 2013, 03:45 PM   #13
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Can't say slot about dillon but the lee pro 1000 is ok but u get what you pay for I switched to rcbs pro 2000 and holy cow the difference was miles apart in quality . If you like having to fiddle with it all the time lee is ok if you want to produce headache free ammo go with something a little better .
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Old January 18, 2013, 04:16 PM   #14
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In progressive, these two brands are SO FAR apart on the scale that it truly isn't really fair to compare them.

If you compare the build quality, the quality of materials, the ease of use, the durability, the capability, the functionality and design, the customer service and the amount of maintenance and adjustment, the Dillon machine so far outweigh anything that Lee has ever built that it's like racing a thoroughbred up against a pack mule.

Now then... if you price out the machines (and especially so when you begin to outfit a single machine for multi-caliber use and swappability) then the bottom line, out the door expenditure in dollars gets so far apart that once again, it's like the difference between purchasing a pack mule and buying a pedigreed thoroughbred.

Lee progressive machines can work and can provide a certain level of output for a certain type of user. And I'm a -huge- fan of Lee products and they are almost irrationally represented on my bench -- and that includes a Lee Progressive press (Pro-1000), and with the help of that Pro 1000, I've churned out over 20k loaded rounds in the last two consecutive calendar years. So if you think I'm a Lee are out in left field.

But if anyone, ANYONE, tries to make the argument that Lee's best progressive is as good or better than a Dillon progressive, especially a 650, then give them a short wave of "thanks" and exit the conversation, because you are talking to a used car salesman.

Dillon machines will require a large cash outlay and the price flies up in a ridiculous fashion as you add the necessary pieces, especially if you want to do more than one caliber.

It really is all about the money.
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Old January 18, 2013, 04:31 PM   #15
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I've owned and used both.

In my opinion, the Dillon is a more reliable precise machine. That said, the Lee worked for me when I was on a tight budget just fine. It just took some tinkering every now and then. I kept plenty of ball chain on hand. Mine seemed to like breaking the powder measure chain.

My choice now is Hornady. I sold the Dillon and picked up the Hornady based on what some friends have said. I love it and I'm not looking back.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:27 PM   #16
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I've owned Lee, RCBS, and Dillon. After being able to compare all three, the only two I still own are the RCBS and Dillon- and the RCBS has been gathering dust since the very day my Dillon got bolted to the bench.

Precision, ease of use, and QUALITY are the big factors to me. I'd equate it to the difference between a Chevy and a Cadillac. Less plastic, and better workmanship. Pay more to get more, IMHO.
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Old January 18, 2013, 09:37 PM   #17
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Do yourself a favor and buy the Dillon. With that said, I have 2 Lee 1000 presses now and they have loaded a lot of ammo on the cheap...but if I had it to do over...Dillon would be bought from the start not years later as I wound up doing.
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Old January 18, 2013, 10:09 PM   #18
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I studied this extensively before I purchased my first progressive press. Was on a limited budget and could not buy the Dillon. I chose the Lee Loadmaster knowing full well that tinkering would be in the formula. I happen to be very mechanically inclined and like to improve things, so that was not a problem.

I still want a Dillon 550b, but after some tinkering I've got this Lee cranking out ammo for our pistols.
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Old January 20, 2013, 12:19 PM   #19
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When i started i read everything possible, looked @ everything...2x,3x,10x. Still justified buying a dillon550 outta the gate. To learn, i was able to use it as a single stage. After the first 50 rounds made started using as a progressive. I still am not fast by any means, but i still look into every case for powder, and i still check every 10th round. The warranty alone says "drink the BLUE kool aid". If i ever wanted to sell it, i could recoup most of it, plus the next owner(highly doubt) has the same no bs warranty for them. Granted i'm now looking into casting my own bullets & lee is probably getting my $ for this adventure. Still don't know......decisions, decisions
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Old January 20, 2013, 01:03 PM   #20
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I have the 550b and the SDB presses. As stated the SDB only will load certain pistol calibers. It takes a little more effort to work the handle on the SDB compared to the 550b. The 550b has greater leverage because you can also load rifle ammo with it. The SDB works with very little tinkering. I suggest always getting the strong mount with the SDB press. The 550B will mount to most benches without problems. You do need to have about 1.5" of over hang on the bench top. If you don't have any overhang and don't want to add it get the strong mount for this one as well. The 550b is slightly faster than the SDB press but not by much. There is a little more room for your hands to place bullets and cases on the 550b. The powder measures are the same on both.

I prefer the 550b press over the SDB. Both do work. I have the SDB only setup to load .45 apc large primers. The 550b is used for small primers in everything else I load. I have tried the Lee a LGS had setup for demo purposes. Either Dillon press will be much easier to operate over the years compared to the Lee. Once you have paid the money for a press you start getting over the cost fairly quickly. Having to tinker with a press constantly to produce any ammo gets old pretty fast. The more you have to tinker the worse it gets. I like being able to call Dillon if something fails to be told the part is on the way. I found if you just send an E-mail about needing a part it will take 2 to 3 days longer to get it compared to just calling. Dillon's customer service is great.

I got my presses from Brian Enos. He ships for free on orders over $400. The caliper (digital) he sells have a lot to be desired. Everything else I have gotten has been great.

I think if I were to sell either of my presses today I could get what I paid for them. If not the difference would be small.

Last edited by Misssissippi Dave; January 20, 2013 at 01:10 PM.
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Old January 20, 2013, 04:45 PM   #21
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I've got both the Dillon Square Deal B, and a XL 650. Both machines are great progressive loading machines. Dillons are built to last a lifetime, and have the warranty to back it up. But, they do require some minor tweaking, as with any other machine, from time to time.

I've been churning out pistol/revolver rounds with the SDB for over 20 years. I have no complaints with the quality, production rate, or customer service from Dillon. My XL 650 is fairly new, and works like a fine Swiss timepiece.

I also have a few friends whom own the Lee Pro 1000 machines. Although not the quality of the Dillon, they do work, especially if you take your time, learn the machine, and fine tune it. If you plan to un-box it and begin producing 300 rounds per hour, you're going to be disappointed. But, the machine is certainly capable of 300 rounds per hour, if you take my advice above.

Several here have mentioned the Dillon 550B. I personally like the auto-indexing feature on some machines. The 550B is not auto-indexing, so I didn't even consider going that route. I did try a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP, and did not have success with it. The priming system is it Achilles’ heel.

Here is a link to a good YouTube Video, where the guy goes over the pros/cons of the Lee Pro 1000.

Would I purchase a Lee Pro 1000? If I had X number of dollars to spend, and the Lee Pro 1000 fit inside that limit, yes I would.

Hope this helps... Take care.

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Old January 21, 2013, 01:30 PM   #22
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Given a choice......go for the Dillon 550B hands down.
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Old January 21, 2013, 02:22 PM   #23
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Dillon makes great tools, and they cost a premium because you are paying for the warranty.
Lee makes some great tools also, but the progressives are for the instruction reading mechanically inclined types, there are thousands of Lee progessive presses out there churning out ammo like nobody's business.
Lee also takes care of their customers, like most of the reload companies.

Make no mistake, progressives are for the folks that pay attention to detail and are always watchful, any of them will jump up and bite you as soon as you aren't.
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Old January 21, 2013, 02:27 PM   #24
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I was looking at the Dillon Square Deal B and the Lee 1000. If i not going to quantity but reliability Dillon over the Lee?
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Old January 21, 2013, 02:53 PM   #25
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Dillon makes a better press than Lee....but like others said, there is more to it than that...

Dillon SDB - handgun ammo only, this press uses a proprietary die that you can't use on any other press ( not even another Dillon), good progressive press with auto indexing....

Dillon 550 ...does not auto index ( adds another step for human error !), does use standard industry dies, does not allow installation of powder check die.

Dillon 650 / comparable to Hornaday LNL - auto indexes, uses industry dies, has room for Powder Check die ( big deal to me)...

All of the above have the "No BS Warranty" from Dillon ...and good support for setup questions, etc...
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