The most affordable progressive press. But not a beginner’s progressive press. The Lee Loadmaster requires some grinding, polishing, and some more work before you can begin reloading without destroying primers or cases.
If you have the patience and are willing to tinker with the press you will have something amazing in your hand for less than half the price of other progressive presses. Let’s dive into the Lee Loadmaster Progressive Press Review, and find out if we are ready to invest the time and money.
Short Lee Loadmaster Progressive Press review!
- Most Affordable Progressive Press.
- Durable & Reliable.
- 5 die-station system.
- Outputs up to 550 cases per hour (after some tweaking)
- Caliber Conversations does not require tools.
- Primer punch changing is quick & easy.
- Available in kit form, which includes some necessary equipment.
- Reloaded case Length Varies up to 0.005″ and can be fixed by mounting it on a non-flexing base.
- The Shell-Plate may be warped.
- The press requires a solid non flexing base.
- The shell plate carrier requires polishing.
- Adjusting the primer depth setting can be complicated.
- Requires tinkering for smooth operation.
Progressive presses are generally considered complex and hence it is best avoided by beginners. But this press requires some polishing, grinding & lubing making it difficult for an entry-level reloader.
If you allocated the minimum budget this is the press but you will need to allocate time and patience to get this press running smoothly. Not impossible for a beginner reloader but will require more time to get used to it.
Lee Loadmaster Press Review in Details!
This section is dedicated to the detailed review; are you looking for an unbiased conclusion?
The Good Features
Durable & Most Affordable Progressive Press
This press is literally less than half the price of any progressive press in the market. It is also available as a kit, and I preferred the kit because it included an auto drum powder measure, universal case feeder, set of 3-dies and shell plate of your choice & small primer feeder for some added cost, which still beats the price of any other progressive press.
The press has a hardy steel & aluminum alloy frame that does not break or bend even after reloading 10000+ rounds. And the backbone of the system, the ram is smooth and sturdy.
Just like other popular progressive presses the loadmaster also has 5 die stations. But the 2nd die station is dedicated to seating primers, you can only charge your cases from the 3rd die onwards. But you can still hit about 550 completed ammo in an hour.
Caliber changing with lee loadmaster is simple and can be performed without any extra tools. The turret head can be changed by loosening just 1 lock nut, considering you have already invested in a 2nd turret head.
Next is the shell plate which is also held in place with a knob and can be unscrewed with fingers. which releases the shell plate and case ejector plate. Remove the ejector plate and change the shell plate as desired.
Finally, the primer punch which is below the shell plate and is now readily available to change. just swap out the primer punch.
Put and screw back everything in reverse order to complete the caliber change.
Well, nothing is perfect, and due to some quality control, the critical finished products are often rough and can easily create more friction and reduce accuracy. But these problems can easily be handled by any reloader.
Case length varies
The length of the output case varies by 0.005″ due to a few reasons. One of the special reasons is the requirement of a solid foundation – usually, other presses can withstand some flex without reduced accuracy. This may make you invest some more in a sturdy table or amount.
Warped Shell Plate and unpolished carrier
In the beginning, lee precision had bad quality shell plates and many reloaders received warped shell plates. But over the years they improved but chances are you may still receive a warped shell plate. Just call lee customer service and they will send you another one.
Well making the But that’s not the only problem. The shell plate has rough surfaces which decrease the smoothness of reloading. An easy fix is to just polish the surface of the shell plates with a 600grit or higher grit sandpaper.
While you are polishing the shell plate, polish the shell plate carrier at the contact points. This will significantly reduce resistance and you will have a smoother operation.
To make it even smoother take the indexing rod and notice the bevel and grind the bevel a tiny bit more. and of course, don’t forget to lube it.
The priming system of this press is like none other. Priming happens with a down stroke like any other operation and not a reverse stroke like that of Hornady or RCBS. And due to this people generally think it’s more complicated than any other on-press priming.
Honestly, it is a bit more complicated; but it gives you more control over the seating depth. And due to the positive stop function, you will not over or under-seat the primer than your set seating depth.
The biggest complaint most may have is that you are not able to easily take the case off the shell plate which means lots of stocks during the configure process.
Personal Unbiased Conclusion
Please understand that you will not get Hornady, Dillion, or RCBS quality bullets right from the start. This press requires some attention and some patience and once you have given enough of that you will love it.
Being the most affordable progressive press has its flaws but none of them are permanent and once you have set it up, it works as good as Dillion or Hornady.
Personally, I’ve invested in a mount from inline fabrication for stabilizing the press on my table, which also reduces stress on my back. And drastically increases the overall bullet length consistency.
- If you over-seat the primers it may burst.
- Flexing press reduces bullet length consistency.
- Shell plate may be warped, check carefully.
- polish the contact points on the shell plate and the shell plate itself.