Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lee Precision Pro 1000 Progressive Reloader Review

Lee Precision Pro 1000 Progressive Reloader Review

Even now that ammo has again returned to normal pricing, it is still less expensive to reload quality rounds than buy them. It really becomes an economy thing if you shoot a lot and I do. During bad times, a reloader is critical to keep shooting.

I want to first apologize for the photography which is not up to my usual standards of bluzzy images on a rock background, however once set up and cranking along, I realized I was not in an environment conducive to taking high quality images, I am sure you get the idea.

When I started reloading, I started with a very simple Lee Hand Loader nearly a decade ago. The $29.99 Lee hand press is designed to be used from a couch, or at least that is my perception. The Lee Hand Loader did not even require being mounted to a tabletop to operate, however it was single stage press which means it was painfully slow to use. I still use that press to this day on the range or when resizing brass while watching a movie at home, however when you want volume, you have to look to a progressive reloader. Typically, progressive reloaders have been significantly more expensive than more simple single stage presses. Progressive reloaders deliver one finished round per handle cycle which equates to up to 250 rounds per hour, but are more complex contraptions which usually pushing prices up.


Of the progressive reloaders on the market, the Lee Precision Pro 1000 is, without question, one of the best buys in the industry with a street price of only $178.00 and it pays for itself very quickly.  

The Pro 1000 does have its limitations. Where the The Pro 1000 is convertible to other calibers, it is a total pain in the butt to do so. Do not expect it to have the multi-caliber fast swap flexibility of a reloader such as a premium Dillon 550B, however it is also one third the price of the Dillon. If you buy the Lee Pro 1000, buy it setup from the factory in your caliber of choice and only make minor modifications as needed for tuning and you will be happy. The Lee Pro 1000 is available in a dozen pistol calibers and also .223 Remington.  The reality is that this reloader is so inexpensive that it makes sense to have one Pro 1000 in each of your needed calibers for only around $125 more than you would have invested in a set of dies alone. Even at full price, it pays for itself in around 800 rounds which if you are reloading, the first 1000 rounds goes fast.

After setup and tuning, you can be up and running with reloads in about an hour. The operation is fairly simple and mostly automatic, however with just three stages, it is a little limiting as well.  Depriming and resizing occurs on station one. Priming, case flaring and powder charge occurs on station two, and bullet seating and crimping happen on stage three. Cases are automatically fed into the machine and the only requirements of the reloader are to assure primers are feeding (which sometimes they don’t), assure the brass feeds off the auto feed tubes and are kept full, and there is a bullet placed on each round for station three.

When the Lee Pro 1000 is tuned well and your brass is well prepped, and you remember to flick the primer tray every six or so rounds, everything runs great and the reloader is a joy to hammer out rounds very fast. The production volumes can be stunning. Lee even has an optional auto bullet feeder which means total hands off reloading other than pulling and pushing the lever.  I have found that the Pro 1000 does like to have primer pockets on the brass chamfered for positive primer seating at least once but is not required each reload cycle. As with any progressive reloader, there is always a lot to keep an eye on during reloading, however the simple three stage press makes that process a little easier… or at least 25% less things to look after than a four stage press.


I purchased a 9mm Pro 1000 and was not disappointed other than I do like a final factory taper crimp on my 9mm rounds. Because the Pro 1000 is only three stations, I have to run the final round through my single stage press for that final step.

The 9mm factory setup feed, functioned, and reloaded without any significant issues.  I then converted the reloader to .38 special. Not something which was particularly enjoyable, however you can do it and then expect about an hour of tuning to get the reloader really humming along without bobbles.  Personally I really liked the Pro 1000 in this configuration or the 9mm and will likely stay in one of these configuration… and then I converted it over to .223.

The Pro 1000 is a great inexpensive progressive reloader for handgun ammo, however I had a lot of problems with the .223 reloading from brass feeding to priming and I think you have the highest probability of breaking something with the force required to reload the .223 on this small press. My brass was not prepped properly with chamfered primer pockets which lead to bunch of primers going in sideways. You will have this issue with any brass with tight primer pockets, however for whatever reason my .223 brass was giving the Pro 1000 fits.  Botched primer seating of course meant that charges were dropping into cases with holes in the bottom which meant that powder was going everywhere and jamming up the internals. A vacuum and/or tear down was required in some cases to get everything working.   That noted, I have many friends who load .223 (with properly prepped brass) on a factory setup Pro 1000 and have no significant issues, so it may just be my tuning. What I found was that the shorter the case the better the super critical feeding of the first stage went smoothly. The tall .223 cases in the Pro 1000 seemed to me just asking for problems.

During the last 8+ years of ammo shortage, the Pro 1000 was hammered pounding out thousands and thousands... and thousands of .38 Special and 9mm rounds and I finally broke a piece on the changing handle. I was amazed at how awesome the customer service was with Lee and I had a replacement part in my hands in about a week. You may push the Lee products to a breaking point, however Lee does stand behind each of their products.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Despite any problems I experienced, the Lee Pro 1000 is the best budget buy progressive reloader on the market and I honestly have no idea how they can offer this for the price they do. My advice is to buy one of these in each caliber you need, set it and leave it. I have a really nice Dillon 550B setup, however the Pro 1000 can deliver a higher round count per hour and I still use it for .38 Special round reloading to feed my Henry and Ruger Vaquero single action revolver set. Is the Lee Pro 1000 the same quality as a Hornady, RCBS, or Dillon press? No, however it is an awesome value for the entry level reloader who wants to see whether this whole progressive reloading thing is for them. To put the price and value of the Lee Precision Pro 1000 into perspective, consider that the next closest priced progressive reloading option equipped ready to reload for a caliber is over $600 or a little over three times the price of the Pro 1000. For many, this becomes an easy decision and from my perspective a great place to start with reloading higher volumes after they have at least a little experience with a single stage press setup.

SPECS
Lee Pro 1000 progressive 3-hole reloading kit for your selected caliber. Includes press, dies (full length size, powder through expanding and bullet seating dies), 3-hole turret, #19 shell plate, Pro Auto-Disk powder measure, small case feeder and priming system.
This press only accepts the 3 hole turret.
WARNING: Only CCI or Remington brand primers are safe use with this press.

Offered in These Caliber Offerings
32 S&W Long or 32 H&R Magnum
9mm Luger
380 Auto
38 Special (will load 357 Mag.)
357 Magnum
40 S&W
10mm Auto
41 Magnum
44 Special (will load 44 Mag)
44 Magnum
45 ACP
45 Colt
.223 Remington

Weight 13.00 lbs
MSRP: $280.00
Street: $178.00

SOURCES
Lee Precision - http://leeprecision.com/

3 comments:

Thomas D Reloader said...

If you are searching for a progressive reloading press then my suggestion will be Hornady Lock N Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press.

Tom Demick said...

I agree that the Lee Pro 1000 is the best buy out there (there is no close second). It receives a fair amount of criticism, most of it is unjustified. The biggest negative I've found was the poor instruction manual put out by Lee themselves. Broken chains, which are commonplace, are the direct result of the poor instructions. I've never broken a chain, simply because I figured out how to install it before I broke one. I've loaded thousands of rounds on mine with few issues. I do convert between calibers and find the conversion relatively easy. However, all of my various calibers use small pistol primers. My understanding is that if you use both small and large pistol primers, it is best to have two presses.

Mintu Das said...

nice one