Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit from FS Reloading

Discussion in 'Consumer Reviews' started by lklawson, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    This review is specific to the Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit offered by FS Reloading. I orginally believed it was slightly different than some Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kits offered by other sellers but have learned that Lee changed the contents of the kit a few years ago but did not change the name. The effect is that there are multiple reviews of the Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit which no longer accurately reflect the contents of this kit. If the review you are reading was written prior to about 2013 or 2014, then the information on some components and the exact list of contents is out of date.

    https://fsreloading.com/lee-precision-breech-lock-challenger-50th-anniversary-kit-90050.html

    I am slightly disappointed with this product and would use caution in recommending it to a new reloader. Please note that I am not blackballing FS Reloading but merely noting shortcomings of this particular "kit." There were three notable problems with this kit which left me as a new reloader both frustrated and confused. The steps I needed to take to fix the problems left me disappointed and frustrated with the over all product.

    I'm not going to do an over all review of the Lee products represented in this kit. Lee is a well known manufacturer of entry-level reloading equipment and each individual component appears to be exactly as described by the manufacturer and by other reviewers. My limited experience with the individual items of Lee manufacture has been, thus far, satisfactory. The review is, once again, about this particular "kit" and shortcomings that I, as a new reloader didn't see coming or misunderstood.

    The first, and most egregious, issue was that of the confusing and mixed case-trimming tools. Experience reloaders will likely immediately recognize this. New reloaders probably know by now from their research that cases meant for reloading may be over maximum length from the factory or have been fired already and possibly "stretched" and, therefore, will often need to be cut down to the proper length. There are dozens of different methods to achieve this and the current version of the Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit comes with 1/2 of two different methods! It comes with both the Lee Value Trim crank AND the Lee Cutter & Lock Stud case trimmer. But these two pieces of equipment don't work with each other. To complete the Value Trim, you need to purchase the Quick Trim Die for your cartridge. To complete the Cutter & Lock Stud you need to purchase the Case Length Gauge & Shell Holder for your cartridge. And, of course, those pieces aren't swappable to the other. I spent an hour to a few hours trolling the Lee website, various forums, and youtube instructional videos before I finally realized that the Lee Value Trim crank and the Lee Cutter & Lock Stud case trimmer are 1/2 of two distinct and incompatible trimming methods. Thanks Lee for wasting an hour of my life. :mad: I eventually found the Lee product description, which very briefly metions this. The description is breif and may still be confusing for new reloaders looking to start. It may be particularly confusing because it is different from all of the earlier reviews of the kit. Lee made a mistake here.

    Second is the inclusion of only one (1) Lee Quick Change Bushing. Now I was aware that it came with only one, but I wasn't aware of just how important having 2-4 of them was. I figured that I could seat the die, use it, then unscrew it and replace it with the next, leaving the Quick Change Bushing in place. Well, the fact is that I can do exactly that. But it completely negates the whole point of a Quick Change Bushing. By having only one Quick Change Bushing, I was provided with the equivalent of 1 slow change bushing. When I realized that all of the reviews of the Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit which I had read indicated that it sold with three (3) Quick Change Bushings, I contacted FS Reloading and asked about the number included. I was told that it was, indeed, only one bushing but that the value of the other two had been substituted with the Lee Value Trim crank. You remember, that thing who's inclusion is both useless and wasted an hour of my life? Thanks again Lee. :mad:

    Third, the kit is supposed to come with a Lee universal Powder Funnel. If it was included in my kit, I sure can't find it. I thought maybe I'd misplaced it when I unpacked the kit but diligent searching has yet to reveal it. I'm still hoping that FS Reloading didn't just forget to put it in and that it's my fault for misplacing the missing item, but I can't shake the feeling that I didn't see it during unboxing. In any event, I was forced to go purchase a new funnel from the only store which was open at the time and also had a funnel: Gander Mountain. The problem is, I'm still mad at Gander Mountain and I hate having to buy anything from them. Plus, it was an additional $7 out of my "save money by reloading" theory, which pushes my Break Even Point another 50 rounds out or so.

    I have purchased other items from FS Reloading and been satisfied. I was satisfied with the prompt delivery and professionalism of FS Reloading. However, I was NOT SATISFIED with the current version of the Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit. It's simply the wrong mix for the new and inexperienced reloader. If you buy the Lee Breech Lock Challenger 50th Anniversary Kit understand up front that you will need to immediately purchase an additional 2-4 Quick Change Bushings along with the kit and you will need to complete one of the trimming methods and can ignore the other. Don't let the two, partial, trimming systems confuse you.

    I've been given to understand that the name is a bit of a marketing ploy. Apparently Lee started seeing a cast iron version of this press and kit more than 50 years ago and warrantied the kit for 50 years. Hence the name. When Lee changed the contents of the kit, they should have given it a new name, or at least a "generation" number so that buyers would know that there is a difference in the contents of the kit from the previous generation.

    That said, does anyone want to buy an unused, unloved, and pointless Lee Value Trim crank? :rofl:

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  2. whats your break even point at now? I sure like watching you go through this process a lot more then me doing it.
     

  3. sarahsmom

    sarahsmom Supporting Member

    The more I learn about reloading the more I want to throw up my hands, scream like a banshee, and run (if I could) the other way!:eek::eek::eek:
     
  4. That's what I did.

    A fun hobby it probably is. But it certainly isnt a save money quick scheme!

    Some day when I have a spare couple hundred I'll look at it again.

    For now i just keep buying 50rd boxes of 9mm with every spare $10 i get.
     
  5. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    34,865
    11,360
    NE Utah
    This "Challenger" version...it shows on the Lee sight that it has only one bushing as well?

    Maybe it's not FS, but the Challenger package from Lee that is the real issue?:confused:
     
  6. sarahsmom

    sarahsmom Supporting Member

    Seriously though, if I had the resources I would try to dabble in it, because it sounds intriguing. I like the do it myself aspect of it, and think it would be a rewarding hobby. That being said......(throwing up hands, screaming like a banshee, and limping fastly away).......
     
  7. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Maybe. I'll have to do some more research and see.

    I was under the impression that "Challenger" is the press itself.

    Whoever is responsible, it's certainly still suffering from the "defects" I described, the biggest of which is, as I wrote, the incompatible 1/2 portions of the trimming systems. That needs fixed.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  8. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    34,865
    11,360
    NE Utah
    It's not that bad, unless you make it that bad.

    Here's all you need.

    The press $30

    [​IMG]

    The powder $20-$30

    [​IMG]

    Some Primers $3.50-$35

    [​IMG]

    Some brass...use your own used brass.

    [​IMG]


    Some bullets $10-$20

    [​IMG]

    A table, a hammer and a few minutes.:p
     
  9. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Not for bottle-necked rifle rounds fed in an semi-auto.

    I looked at the "Whammer-Bammer" at first too. Then I was told it wouldn't do full-length resizing, which was critical for semi-autos, particularly semi-auto rifle rounds.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  10. sarahsmom

    sarahsmom Supporting Member

    Read Ajole's post......(cautiously creeping back)
    Read Kirk's post... :(
    (slowly turning around, slinking away.....)
     
  11. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    34,865
    11,360
    NE Utah
    See what you did Kirk...you scared the poor thing.:mad:

    It's not that bad, really, it isn't.;)


    Yeah..that's why I put up a pic of the PISTOL loader, and Power PISTOL powder.;)

    Of course, it's not for semi guns either according to the lawyer mumbo jumbo.....but honestly, its a 9 mm tool...how many bolt guns run 9 mm ammo?


    They also say not for pump guns or lever guns....but somehow, it still works for lots of folks.;)

    I wouldn't load up .223 or .308 for an AR with the loader...Instead, I'd keep the $30 from the Classic Loader, and I'd spend $60 and use this...

    [​IMG]

    and this:

    [​IMG]

    Toss in some lube and a funnel...all good.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  12. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Don't listen to him. He's trying to recruit you into the Cult! Run!!!

    I could have swore that I read somewhere that most 9mm chambered guns were semi. ;)

    Yeah, I got all excited when I first saw that too. Then a friend told me that it'd be a lot of work for certain larger rifle cartridges and that it can require a lot of force to operate. People with weak hands/arms wouldn't be able to use it reliably and normal people without Popeye arms would get tired fast. Apparently, it's the reloaders equivalent of the Thigh Master. I was then told that it would work OK for make a very small number of rounds at a time or custom rolling test rounds at the range (though I think that would be a nightmare).

    That said, some guy over on P64Forum.com found one used (I think) and has reloaded a couple hundred rounds on it from 9x18 through some sort of bottle-neck rifle round. But he may have Popeye arms. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  13. sarahsmom

    sarahsmom Supporting Member

    Okay, maybe.....

    But what exactly is:
     

    Attached Files:

  14. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    The top is a hand operated press, not bench mounted. Think of it as a Thigh Master that you're supposed to squeeze with your hands. ;)

    The bottom is a standard Lee 3-die set.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  15. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    Reload. Did you get those items for reloading that I sent you. Can't remember if I sent them or not :-(
     
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Nah. I told you to hang on to them for someone who really deserves them. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  17. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    That would be you ;-)
     
  18. sarahsmom

    sarahsmom Supporting Member

    So just a hand press for whatever caliber I would want, correct?
    I am taking notes for when I decide to "bite the bullet"! :D
     
  19. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    almost. It is a hand-operated press but it is also like the bench mounted press. Any of the dies for whatever caliber should fit in it. Using that press you could, theoretically, reload for 9mm, 357, .223, or 30-30. It's just like the big boy single stage press only harder to use.

    Peace favor your sword (mobile)
     
  20. FlashBang

    FlashBang I Stand With Talon Lifetime Supporter

    That is the Reloaders version of the Mark Eden Bust Developer. :rofl:

    .

    .