THE Progressive Press Shootout (12 presses compared)

LEE Loadmaster 5-Station (4-Useable) 

The LEE loadmaster is one of the most controversial progressive presses on the market. It is called a five station press though that’s not exactly true and has a cult following among budget, high-volume reloaders.

Here’s the overview video for the LEE Loadmaster published on Ultimate Reloader:

What’s In the Box

The LEE Loadmaster comes with most everything you’ll need to load a particular cartridge: exceptions would include components and other tools/supplies that are not caliber specific. The picture above shows the contents of the box for the 9mm Parabellum Loadmaster setup, from right going clockwise:

  • Press assembly with toolhead and shellplate pre-installed
  • Completed cartridge bin bracket
  • Primer flip tray
  • Explosion shield (recommended when using primers other than Remington or CCI)
  • Case feed parts
  • Owner’s manual and printed materials
  • Pro Auto Disk powder measure
  • Completed cartridge bin
  • 3-die set (sizer-deprimer, expander/charging die, seating/crimping die)
  • Die lock ring wrench

Loadmaster Features and Specs

Loadmaster Die Stations Example (Pistol)

As shown in the picture above: 

  1. Decap
  2. Size/align*
  3. Powder charge/expand
  4. Seat
  5. Crimp

Loadmaster Total Cost of Ownership


Loadmaster Summary

What it’s for:

  • Budget minded reloading

What it’s not for:

  • Precision reloading, high-volume reloading


  • Cost
  • Speed
  • Quick caliber changes


  • Station #2 taken for alignment
  • Primer explosion risk (some primers)
  • Materials
  • Need for adjustments and tweaks

Loadmaster Stories on Ultimate Reloader

LEE Loadmaster 9mm Start-to-Finish

Berry’s 9mm 147 grain Subsonic “Magic Load” 


Hornady Lock-N-Load AP
RCBS Pro Chucker 5
RCBS Pro Chucker 7
Mark 7 APEX 10
Dillon Square Deal B
Dillon RL-550C
Dillon XL-750
Dillon RL 1100
Frankford Arsenal X-10
LEE Pro 1000
LEE Breech Lock Auto Pro (Pro 4000)
LEE Loadmaster
Total Cost of Ownership Recap
Inline Fabrication Mounts
KMS Squared UFO Press Lighting

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8 thoughts on “THE Progressive Press Shootout (12 presses compared)”

  1. I am sort of disappointed that their is no single press that fits my needs.
    A) I reload 30-06 – not all accommodate
    B) I reload 300 Winchester Magnum – not all accommodate
    C) I reload tons of 9mm, 45 ACP, 223/5.56, 308 – high speed progressive needed
    D) Hornady Lock-N-Load AP and RCBS Pro Chucker 7 fit for A) and B) but not C)
    E) Only Mark 7 APEX 10 fits C) but NOT A) or B)
    F) Swaging is important but is very stressful on progressive presses, thus I swage on a single stage Rock Chucker which is about 40 years old.

    1. I have an rcbs pro 2000. I use it for 7.62×54 and 303brit or 7.7×56 if not u.s.. I’m fairly certain that I could do 3006 on it although I haven’t tried. It has good beef for sizing these cases. I like it but the cost to me was just a few shell plates so I may be jaded. Also used it for 7.5×55 308 and 6.5x53r dutch

    2. John, there is no hard definition for “C” but a 1050 will do what you are asking up to 30-06 in my experience. I would ask the OEM what they say about 300 WM in terms of case and bullet feed.

  2. A couple of things I wish you would have added the warranty for each press (you mention it in general but not specific for each press) for i.e. DIllon on there lower end press lifetime warranty and the 1100 one year warranty (unless they change it). Also where they are made (you mention it on a few of them but not all of them).

  3. When I got my L-N-L AP I avoided Big Blue because their powder measure was said to be less accurate than drum types, primer safety concerns and I didn’t want to hand over my wallet and tell them to take whatever it cost. It was said, Team Red lacking floating die head had to be precision manufactured and produced precision ammo as a result. Now I have a reloader that requires some ongoing tinkering compared to Big Blue which was said to run on rails and the Red Team gets no respect.

    My L-N-L AP has sat for awhile but when I had contacted Hornady CS in the past I sometimes got someone interested in helping me solve my problem and sometimes got someone who treated like I was looking for a problem and since they were not overcharging for a BS Warranty, we’re not interested in any fixes that might cost them.

    Now I’m older and retired, shocked at component prices more than doubling with things like primers near impossible to get or the ideal powder choice unavailable, Im thinking I like precision loading on my single stage Co-Ax. Anyway who is buying these mega ammo plants when you can’t keep them fed or afford to keep them feed ?

  4. Thanks Gavin, I have been looking to get a new progressive press to replace a destroyed RL550b
    May go with the RL550c as I never had an issue with the RL550b ever
    But that XL 750 has me thinking…

  5. I run both a Dillon 550 B with case feeder and a Lee Loadmaster. No question the Dillon is a better press, but you get what you pay for.
    The Loadmaster can be fiddly. You need to be the kind of person who loves to tinker and make things work in order to be happy with the L/M in my opinion.
    I load .44 mag and .44 Special on the L/M
    All other pistol calibers-9mm, 38/357, 45 ACP and .45 Colt on the Dillon.
    I like the case feeder on the Dillon because it allows me to concentrate on the powder drop and bullet seating stations. It also can be a p.i.a. at times, especially with .45 acp cases not wanting to center on the decapping station, but like other Dillon products it is well made and backed by solid customer support.
    Now Gavin. Time for a shotshell reloading press shootout.

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