Cost Comparison between Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro, Loadmaster, XL650, etc.

Don't worry, We've got a Blue Press up there too ;)
A messy bench, and an honest comparison

Most of us start reloading to save money, then make the same joke about not saving money so much as shooting more.

We can go premium, or bargain in our tooling.

I tire-kicked about reloading for more than a decade before I really got started, and sought a lot of advice and did a lot of reading. Bottom line is that it wasn’t really worth the expense of time and money, until things changed. The tools got more efficient, and the cost of commercial ammo went way up. I jumped right into progressive presses, because it made sense.

A great deal of the advice I was given was counterproductive.

Among the worst common advice given to new reloaders is “Just get a single stage to learn on, like this Rock Chucker. It’s not too complicated, and you need to start with training wheels.”

My take is that a single stage is handy to have around, but it should not take away from the budget of your primary press, because it is the least used tool, if you get other good tools. In the current era, you can have a good auto advancing turret press for ~$80, so no single stage is a better place to start. That’s even more true, given how easy it is to remove the indexing rod, and use any current turret press as a single stage. Then you can have some actual decent progressives, with all the kit short of a scale, and calipers for $250, which is less than a new Rock Chucker, (or Lock and Load single stage, or their kits) so that advice is almost maliciously bad. For most reloaders, something like that or a forster press are a luxury novelty they get later down the road. Once you know reloading, you find bargains. Starting out, you need the most capable efficient tool that your budget can support.

People today value their time, and if their first experience of reloading is needlessly laborious or tedious, they will reasonably give up on reloading. — As many have. I bet if you think about it, you know several people who “used to reload” precisely because the way they were taught was very time consuming per production. They weren’t quitters so much as people who made sensible choices based on the information they had.

Let’s not set up the noobs to fail, and spend their precious dollars on tools that they will quickly outgrow.

Furthermore, the equipment has gotten better and often cheaper across the board. Seemingly that culminates with the new $109 Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro, quasi progressive press. But, I’ll not hide the ball. This press isn’t cheaper than Lee’s real progressive, the LoadMaster. I knew they would be close in practice, but I was surprised how very close they truly are. Even if you hate Lee, you probably love the way Lee has forced the other companies to update their products and lower their prices by roughly a third over the last few years.

To jump back to the next bit of bad advice I got from tens or dozens of people, which was that I would want RCBS dies, and that I could start with Lee, but I would want to upgrade eventually, so just get RCBS. Welp, it’s been the reverse for me. I kinda hate most of my RCBS dies, and love most of my Lee. I’ve sold a few of them to trade “down” because I got tired of dies working loose on settings, or constantly dropping and bending decapping pins. I still like my RCBS small base rifle dies where needed, but supplement those with a Lee FCD and maybe a flaring die. Each company has special purpose tools that have an edge on the competition, and I am not a loyalist. I want a tool that does the job well, and at a reasonable price. If a tool costs a lot more, it better do more to justify that cost.

Why do I bring this up? First, because I anticipate criticism to some of my comparisons with other brands. It’s hard to do an apples to apples, without someone complaining that you used the wrong breed of apples. I compared all presses using lee dies, because they are good dies and are economical. I could have priced each brand of press, with dies from that brand, but IMO that’s a less practical comparison, and inflates the real world differences. Other people may gripe that I didn’t compare the literally most minimal purchasing for each press. True, but these presses are based on reducing set up time and wasted steps. People looking at them absolutely will use the quick change features. One of the major advantages of having your dies live in a toolhead, turret, or quick change bushing is that the settings stay locked down. So I will compare the presses as they are meant to be used, and as they will be used, but using the cheaper of parts that fit those criteria. i.e. Lee dies, and in one case, a Dillon case feeder. The ABLP will be priced with the primer kit, because it would be foolish to leave off long term, and wouldn’t be a fair cost comparison without it.

By the same token, I deliberately did not compare the Lee Pro 1000. If I were doing a review of a modern Toyota Camry, vs a Honda Accord, I would not include facts about a 1987 Yugo. I think the pro 1000’s priming deficiencies, and the negative reputation it gained is a major reason why the ABLP is handicapped with it’s clunky manual priming system.

I hate “moving goal posts”, so I decided that before I started looking things up, I would assume a typical reloader who does some volume. He shoots .223, 9mm and 45AARP. This means he needs both a large and small primer feeder, and associated parts, and anything necessary to adapt the case feeding. He probably shoots 308 too, but that is going to use the priming and shell holders from 45 ACP, so it’s kind of a freebie. The next assumption I made is that anyone looking at the ABLP is probably newer and looking at keeping initial costs down. So he won’t be getting a dedicated powder measure for each caliber. That means, if extra parts are needed to change the powder measure, I will have to note them, but I will be considering the cost and hassle of adjusting the powder system to the other calibers.

I started searching pricing between both midway and titan reloading, but it was taking a lot of time. In practice, by the time you order everything, they end up being within about $60 of each other, with maybe a free speedy shipping, or one having it in stock rather than the other. Both are nice to deal with. Both get you reloading at speed for 3 calibers for well under $500, with the actual tools you would want to use. That’s just over a third of what it costs to be reloading progressively with the other common choices. If you are excited about the ABLP because it’s cheap, it is, but it isn’t cheaper than the LoadMaster, which IS more capable.

Here’s what I found:

Practical Cost for Single Caliber (223 Rem to start) Single source for all components Midway for initial prices 10/20/18. Comparison is as I would buy the parts now, not how I would have earlier. All tooling Lee, unless there is a solid reason not to use Lee. I am assuming that you will use features like turrets/bushings, and primer feeds, because otherwise this gets silly. I assume you value both your money and your time.

PressPowder MeasurePrimingDiesTurret/bushingsShell PlateFeederCase Collator




MW: $109.99Auto Drum

MW: $38.99

+Short rifle Riser

$12.99. You may also need a long one later for the same price.

MW: $23.99

L and S

MW: $46.99

4 Die set



Three are the “standard” which you will hate.

MW: $18.49Universal

MW: $24.99

MW: $12.99289.94
Old Flagship



MW: $264.99Included *


Pistol models have the AutoDisk, and rifle models have the

Auto Drum (preferred)

Included for either large or small.


Since we specified Rifle, we need to buy large later.

Included, but you may want to get a second set for priming station & FCD




They are probably using up non universal stock, so you may end up getting a universal too.

MW: $12.99277.98





+1 Additional Caliber 45 ACP, which requires a different primer setup, and with the older LM feeders, would require a different feeder.

PressPowder MeasurePrimingDiesTurret/bushingsShell PlateFeederFunnelTotals
ABLP$46.99Locking $12.99/2


$7.99 /2

=$25/ caliber*





LM+Large Pistol/ Rifle $19.99$46.99$13.99$23.99Subtotal


Overall $382.94



+1  caliber 9mm Luger

PressPowder MeasurePrimingDiesTurret/bushingsShell PlateFeederFunnelTotals


Overall $471.40



Overall $466.41



More Additional Calibers—

In many cases the shell plates you already have will work. LM shell plates are better IMO, and have many more options at the present. From my browsing it looks like it is both possible and less expensive to add new LM calibers due to likelihood of shared shell plates.



PressPowder MeasurePrimingDiesTurret/bushingsShell PlateFeederFunnel/ FeedplateTotals


4 cramped stations.

Primes on top

$109.99Auto drum comes with a spare drum, and ~$20 packs of 4 additional are availableLarge and small included(3)Lee sets


$25 ea caliber~$19

Limited selection

$25 once and doneOnce and done$471.40


4.5 stations

Dropped down almost $200 recently.See aboveLarge and small included3 lee sets, but one is not a 4 die set13.99 ea, and you have 3.

I often see them in multipacks for closer to $10 each


Broad support, sometimes need a free tune up

See aboveOnce and done$466.41
$Dillon$ XL650

5 stations

Bare press


A lot less than it was


+ (2) powder dies


Tube style

L and S. $7.99/ea


L&S parts included

1 included +

(2)Lee sets ~$92


When I priced these in 2013

This was $120!

“caliber conversion kit” $79.99 ea (3)239.95


1 plate incl.


2 total would cover the applications




$449.99 ($1199.99)

For 1 caliber complete

1 Included

Spare drums

At $12.99 ea

Suggested 1 per load/caliber

Tube style


$19.99 per assy.

(3)Lee sets



5 included

$44.95 per 10

3 calibers would warrant at least 12…



$34531.99$1155.93 if bought as bare,

A little more if you buy the kit*

RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Station! The cheaper product improved D1050$849.991 Included.

Additional powder measures are over $200 each and can be purchased as a combo with the turret

4 tubes included, additional tubes MW: $13.99 ea,

L/S conversion parts included

None included.

Totals include

(3)Lee sets


MW: $45.99 (ea)MW: $56.99(each)Not at midway


MSRP $150, 1 & done and looks Skookum, but …


No collator.


Use 3rd party support



Dillon ~$300


Cost Comparison between Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro, Loadmaster, XL650, etc. 7

Cost Comparison between Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro, Loadmaster, XL650, etc. 9

Known Consumables:

ABLP TBD: Softer spring for détente. ratchet clutch internals? One commenter says ~1500 rounds, which seams plausible. I am going to break the primer catcher. Why lack of support for rifle calibers, in shell plates, manual, description? Maybe a few extra drums for the auto drum measure.

LM: Indexing rod. Primer Assy @~50K  ~$25, Universal Decapper pins @$3 Each.

Accessories you just want to buy: FCD in any caliber. Universal Flaring Die. Universal Decapper. Feed Funnel. Maybe bullet feed?

Hornady LNL AP: The spring that goes around the shell plate. IIRC, the case pusher, but this is hearsay for me.If you’ve owned one a while, tell me what spare parts you have needed, and I will update.

Dillon XL650: I honestly don’t know. If you’ve owned one a while, tell me what spare parts you have needed, and I will update.


Cost Comparison between Lee Auto Breech Lock Pro, Loadmaster, XL650, etc. 11

Copyright note: This post is for educational and review purposes. All images or trademarks used are either made by the author or used for descriptive and review purposes.

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