Review: Lee Pro 1000

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Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:23 am

I wanted to start a discussion about the Lee Pro 1000 progressive reloader as an option for shooters who aren't reloading yet to inexpensively get to the next level and start reloading.

If any of you other members have experience with the Lee Pro 1000, and wish to share your pros and cons about it, lets share that on this thread.

I went to Cabella's in Green Bay and picked up the Lee Pro 1000 for 45acp for $179.99.  The kit comes with pretty much everything you need besides a scale, powder, bullets, primers, bolts to bolt the press to your kitchen table, a caliper to measure crimp, a vibratory tumbler and some tumbling media.

The press is auto indexing and comes with an automatic case feeder, powder dump, and priming system.  All the user needs to do is load the machine, pull the handle and set bullets on the case in station 3.

Setup is kinda a pain in the butt.  A shooter who is new to reloading is going to be asking a lot of questions on the forum to get this thing dialed in.  The Lee dies are very touchy--very small adjustments make large changes to crimp and belling.  The seating/crimping die doesn't have a large opening and is not very forgiving for large belling.

Although the Lee Pro 1000 was finicky to setup, the price is INSANELY cheap and a great value.  Once I dialed in almost every adjustment 100 times, I was really cruising.  My primer feeder has been the most difficult to dial in--and I figured out that it's likely due to an incorrect indexing adjustment that I didn't fix until just now.  I'm hoping my next batch will result in fewer sideways primers--I had a 7% sideways primer failure rate so far.

The Lee made good ammo.  I shot 90 rounds of practice with the rounds I made and cleaned 2 short line targets and shot a total score of 872...1 point shy of High Master--and it wasn't higher because of the shooter, not because of the ammo.

In summary, a Lee Pro 1000 might be a good option for a shooter who is interested in reloading, but doesn't want to spend a lot of cash.


Last edited by Rob Kovach on Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:17 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by bmac on Sun Jun 22, 2014 2:06 am

A few tricks I have found while using the Pro 1000 over the past couple of years for 9mm and .38 Special. Before loading anything, I make sure the primer system is spotless by cleaning with a small brush. I then wipe the primer feed down with a fabric softener to aid in removal of any stray powder.

To get the most accurate powder drops (with minimal leakage) it is a good idea to sand the mating surface of the powder measure with fine sand paper on a flat surface. I also wipe out the hopper and drop tube with a fabric softener in order to prevent bridging of powder and light powder drops.

while on the subject of powder. Use a fine ball type powder vs. flake. Flake powder such as Tightgroup will bridge and cause weak and hot loads.

There are a lot of videos on YouTube about the Pro 1000. the best in my opinion are from https://www.youtube.com/user/sfliberal/videos

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by markj on Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:34 am

I was fortunate to have an experienced hand loader right next door when I started loading my own ammo. He lent me his old Pacific single stage and powder measure and helped me get started. Using the single stage press really helped me learn the ins and outs of each die, it also helped me appreciate a progressive press for any caliber you are going to load in quantity! My wife and I are both competitive shooters and now that our reloading bench is up and running,  in the summer months will go through nearly 1000 rounds of .45 a month.

 I like Lee products. I think they offer a great value. I really appreciate the fact that they try and deliver the most press they can for the money. That being said, there are a few things about the Pro1000 that I never could get past.

 I was never able to get the primer feed system to work to my satisfaction. As bmac said, it is imperative that the entire system be kept spotless. If even a tiny bit of powder worked its way into the primer system I would get a flipped, sideways, or no primer! The best I was ever able to do was about a 2-3% failure rate with the primers.
My only other real complaint was the fact that there was no way to add a factory crimp die. 1-2% of the rounds produced would fail to chamber fully due to being slightly out of shape. Its true that that's not a lot, and they were eliminated by checking every round with a go-no go gauge. but it was frustrating.

 I don't want it to sound like Im bashing the press, Im not. Just pointing out a few issues. On the plus side, I love the case feeder. It worked flawlessly. The powder measure was very accurate with ball powder.
I owe a lot to the little Pro 1000. It allowed us to crank out large enough quantities of .45 for my wife and I to really get involved in shooting sports, and for that, I will always be thankful.

 I have since switched over to two Hornady lock-n-load progressives. They are 5 station, auto indexing presses that run so reliably its boring. One is dedicated .45, and the other is for everything else.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by GrumpyOldMan on Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:00 pm

Put your finger over the case mouth when it's advancing from powder charge to bullet seating. Keeps kernels from popping up and out when the auto-index snaps fast.

REMOVE that finger completely after placing the bullet on the case mouth for seating. IME, seating, and sometimes sizing, one's own finger is the most dangerous part of reloading. Speed is nice but should not cause bloodiness.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by C.Perkins on Sun Jun 22, 2014 11:16 pm

I have been reloading on a Lee 1000 for close to 25 years.
Also have a Lee single stage for longer than that.

I learned from years ago to scrap the primer system.
Nothing but headaches, trust me.

With a four die set and using a single stage and the Lee 1000 is perfect and fine.

Use the first die on the single stage.
Prime by hand.
Use the other three dies in the three hole Lee 1000 press.

Cranks them out that way with no headaches.

Clarence

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by sixftunda on Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:13 pm

C.Perkins wrote:I have been reloading on a Lee 1000 for close to 25 years.
Also have a Lee single stage for longer than that.

I learned from years ago to scrap the primer system.
Nothing but headaches, trust me.

With a four die set and using a single stage and the Lee 1000 is perfect and fine.

Use the first die on the single stage.
Prime by hand.
Use the other three dies in the three hole Lee 1000 press.

Cranks them out that way with no headaches.

Clarence
That was the only way I could get mine to work.  The primer feed design is just too finicky but when I hand primed it made some nice rounds.  Owning a Lee Pro 1000 was like owning a boat.  The two best days I had it were when I bought it and when I sold it.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:44 pm

It may be my Rube Goldberg personality, but I've run (3) for years, per the manual, with very few problems

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by C.Perkins on Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:48 pm

STEVE SAMELAK wrote:It may be my Rube Goldberg personality, but I've run (3) for years, per the manual, with very few problems

Steve;

What were the very few problems that you had ?

Clarence

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by ASchlem on Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:19 pm

I have been using mine for several years with good results, loading several different calibers. My only complaint is the primer delivery. I can deal with for the price.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:40 pm

I've worn out just about every moving plastic part
I've had spent primers get under the shell carrier assembly & crush the slot that the primer punch spring rides in
I've worn out / broke (2) toggles
After trying just about every progressive press I come to rely on the pro1000 and the dillon550
The common denominator is that the primer feed is the weak link in every setup and that not getting in to the rhythm of the press will cause a jam + trying to go faster makes them all go slower

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by Rob Kovach on Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:31 pm

Steve,

After getting all the setup, and the rhythm correct are you able to load 100 rounds without ruining any primers or finding ones with no primers installed?

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by bmac on Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:45 pm

Rob Kovach wrote:Steve,

After getting all the setup, and the rhythm correct are you able to load 100 rounds without ruining any primers or finding ones with no primers installed?

I'm not Steve, but that is totally doable if it's clean and you make deliberate movements while operating the press. As long as you don't try to set a land speed record for # of rounds made per hour, you'll be fine.

I also load 200 primers at a time and refill as soon as the round primer storage is empty but the feed ramp is still full.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:02 pm

as long as I keep the primer chute clean & give it a tap every 10-20 cycles the feeding is flawless
as soon as the tray is empty I refill and continue on
if I'm going to finish a run I use a cable tie to ease the last few primers down the chute..,gravity is more than a good idea, it's the law

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by Rob Kovach on Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:29 pm

great idea with the zip tie to handle the last primers in the chute.  I was trying to figure out a good solution for that.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by javaduke on Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:56 am

I replaced the ball chain on my Lee with a piece of hanger wire, it works much better now and drops powder much more consistently.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:19 am

I got rid of the "NEW & IMPROVED" powder drop link system, the original spring return setup has proven to be more reliable & positive.
Not all change is progress...I believe.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by GrumpyOldMan on Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:15 pm

Steve:

That's all fine and good, but my first EVER experience with no powder under the bullet was with that Lee Pro 1000 I borrowed.

It might not have been so bad with the .357 and the 125-gr bullet, case capacity being so big and all. but the guy's die was not exactly tight on the case neck sizing. Crimp alone wasn't enough.

296 powder just doesn't get along with that powder measure, and I had not yet learned to LOOK and LISTEN to every moving part on a progressive press as it cycles.

So yeah, I believe in having something to pull back a stuck powder charge slide.

No such problems with a Star, but ya gotta pay close attention and slip an empty PRIMED or spent-primer case under the powder drop if there's no case otherwise fed there for any reason.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by Rob Kovach on Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:21 pm

I just reloaded another 100 rounds on the Lee Pro 1000 with my new self-indexing adjustment on it and whipped through all 100 with ZERO stoppages, ZERO primer feeder malfunctions and ZERO wasted components.  It took almost NO TIME at all.  I used everything set up as the factory intended, and it was FUN.

Things I didn't like.  I might buy a different seating/crimping die.  I think the stock Lee one is too touchy to adjust crimp.  It also mooshed a couple cases while seating the bullet--because I didn't have the bullet on very straight when I set it.  I was able to fix them by running them through the sizer with the deprime pin removed.

I couldn't be more impressed with that press for less than $200.  Now for time to go shooting this weekend!

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:35 pm

Update:
I have mastered the primer system by adjusting the indexing making sure the indexing is fully complete and on the detent before the plate gets all the way down for priming.  I really haven't had much trouble with primers staying up in the tray.  It's happened a couple of times.  Maybe one of these would help: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xcell+phone+vibrator&_nkw=cell+phone+vibrator&_sacat=0

Another member told me that his friend used his wife's electric razor taped to the primer feeder and that worked for him.  That's a little too redneck for my taste.

I did have some problems with light charge on a few rounds.  I added a mirror to check for approximate powder fill and cleaned the entire system with dryer sheets.  I haven't had any problems since.

I'm using it for all my .45ACP loading now.  I really like how it works.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by james r chapman on Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:46 pm

Wife's electric razor, yeah, I bet, she'd miss that one... (chuckle)

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by KenO on Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:56 pm

Can you use other makers dies (RCBS, Redding, etc), in this machine?

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by Rob Kovach on Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:13 pm

yes. It takes all standard dies except it has a powder through expander so that die wouldn't be used on the lee.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

Post by KenO on Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:25 pm

The Lee expander would be fine, just have to replace the seater and crimper, and be in business. I like to seat and crimp separately. Something to think about for going progressive for another caliber, hard to beat the price.

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Re: Review: Lee Pro 1000

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