Lee Classic Cast Turret - how good?


April 21, 2006, 09:52 PM
...and how fast?
I know that "fast" is the least important thing in reloading, but for loading handgun cartridges "fast" can add to your weekend. It doesn't hurt when loading straight walled rifle cases, either.
There's a review of this press at realguns.com that describes this press in very positive terms. Any users out there?

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April 22, 2006, 06:28 PM
i started with the simplest of Lee's reloaders...the small cigar box of all its components....45LC...had to lub each case and do a shell at a time....about 20 / hour...then i went to a 3 hole turret...bought an auto disk powder charger...now do about 175 / hour....but the old way worked well till i was shooting more then i could reload fast enuff....

not quite what you asked about...just general info....

April 22, 2006, 07:46 PM
At a minimum, it is a decent turret press that holds several dies and one case at the same time. However, it is not a progressive press, because it takes 3-4 handle strokes to produce each loaded round.

A progressive press holds several dies (and several cases) and produces 1 loaded round for each handle stroke. It does this by doing a reloading operation to each case in the press. Think of it as a small assembly line. The turret press only holds 1 case at a time. That is the big difference.

You can discuss (and research) the quality and reliability of various brands of progressive and turret presses, but the basic operations of each type is similar. On a decent progressive starting with cleaned, fired brass, 500+ loaded rounds per hour should be safely possible even if you choose to reload with it at a slower pace. I'd guess a decent turret press could load between 200 to maybe 300 rounds per hour and that's probably with a 3-die setup. 200-250 per hour with a 4-die setup would be fast loading. Remember, on a turret press, a loaded round takes a handle stroke for every die in the press. On a progressive press, the number of dies does not slow it down since it holds 1 case per die in the press.

The difference between the 2 types is cost and complexity. Speed costs money, how fast can you afford to reload? Taken to the extreme, commercial loaders can load over 5,000 rounds per hour but the equipment costs start at 5 figures and up.

If you've got the money, time is critical, and you load enough, then I'd suggest looking hard at a good progressive setup even though it has a higher initial cost.

April 22, 2006, 11:35 PM
The Lee Classic Cast Turret should run between 200-300 rounds per hour. If you organize your bench layout, you'll be at the top of that number fairly easily. Also, if you're new to reloading, I think you'll find that type of turret press is better for learning, because you can turn the auto matic advance off and slow things down until you're sure of what's going on. After you're more comfortable, you can turn the auto advance back on and speed things up.

Initial cost is low and even if you decide to upgrade to a progressive, it'll be a press you can keep and make use of on your bench for calibers you don't shoot as much.

April 22, 2006, 11:51 PM
I got one like it a lot .
Never really loaded that much at a time on it but
I imagine you could do 150 an hour or better .
If you decide to get one get the auto-prime it works great .
If you use thier auto disk powder measure you will need
to buy the riser so it doesn't hit .

Good Luck , Bill

April 23, 2006, 05:49 PM
Hi again

I said auto-prime meant safety prime . :uhoh:

April 23, 2006, 06:23 PM
If you use thier auto disk powder measure you will need
to buy the riser so it doesn't hit .

What does that mean?

April 23, 2006, 06:32 PM
The powder dispenser will hit the primer feed tray without the riser.Riser cost $6.00. This is only a problem with the saftey primer when the turret rotates.

April 25, 2006, 06:51 AM
With a 4 hole turret, a pro auto disk powder measure and the new safety prime system I can reload 120 per hour safely. I personally don't know how one could do it faster than that, but that's just my opinion. I'm in the process of switching over to a Pro 1000 - I need to get a 9mm shellplate and a .38 special shell holder for the turret so I can load .38 on that.

Uncle Don
April 25, 2006, 08:00 AM
There is a video on Lee's website of someone doing 5 rounds in a minute. If he could keep up the pace of even 4 a minute, it would be 240 rounds an hour. The bench wasn't very steady and that would help. www.leeprecision.com under Help videos for the Turret Press section.

April 25, 2006, 08:28 AM
I loaded with the best [IMHO] turret press for 30 years and the best I've averaged is 150 per hour. I know things change but of the turrets I've seen I wouldn't expect more.

April 25, 2006, 08:53 AM
I've got both the original Lee cast aluminum turret press as well as the new cast iron turret press - both four-holers.

Speaking on the cast iron version, it it absolutely an excellent press. I don't believe Lee makes a better product than this press, except maybe for their new single stage classic cast iron press that is almost exactly like the Rockchucker press.

Absolutely flawless operation in every respect, as long as you make one small modification that I've fully detailed here on the Handloads.com forum:

Lee safety prime fix on a Classic Turret press (http://forums.handloads.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=10237&PN=1)

As is mentioned above, check this video out on the Lee site that shows this press in operation:

Video - Lee Turret Press in operation (http://www.leeprecision.com/html/HelpVideos/videos/Turret%20Press/loading%20on%20turret-1.wmv)

If you do the math you'll see that the individual in that video does in fact load at a speed that will produce 240+ rounds per hour. I have in fact proven this true as I can load .45 ACP handgun ammo on mine in excess of 250+ rounds per hour, guaranteed, and I'm not going so fast as to not be careful.

As a comparison, on the older cast aluminum turret press I'm only able to achieve about 150 rounds an hour, and this is because the priming and depriming function of this older press is not nearly as flawless as on this new press. Still a great press, just that the newer cast iron is a fabulous press.

One very nice nice thing about buying the newer press in my situation is that I can take all of my pre-loaded 4-hole turrets and just drop them right into the new press from the old, without even needing to make any additional adjustments. I load 9 different handgun calibers on either with absolute precision.

It's an absolutely excellent piece of gear that will last you a lifetime - I highly endorse it.

April 25, 2006, 09:03 AM

There are a couple of key factors for getting the maximum production out of any press, regardless of wether it's a single stage, turret or progressive. Since we're talking about a Lee Classic cast turret, I'll talk about getting that with the Lee, but these points apply to any progressive press.

1. Spend some time and effort up front learning your press, how to set it up correctly and how to maintain it. A clean, properly lubed and properly setup press will run faster, regardless of brand or type.

2. When you build your bench, think about ergonomics. You want the press at a comfortable working height. Some like to sit down, some like to stand and some like to sit/stand on a barstool height stool. Whichever you like, the press should be sitting at a height and in a location where you will make minimal movements with your hands and arms to insert brass, bullets, etc. I like to setup the height of my press so that my left arm, when bent at 90degrees at the elbow, has my hand sitting just above the brass and bullets and just to the left of the press. (The less you have to move your hand distance wise, the less amount of time wasted in body movement.

3. To take maximum advantage of the ergonomic height setup, you need to keep your brass and bullets in a plastic bin, such as an Akro bin. I find the 6" akro bins work well for me, but others may like the smaller bins. You can use cheaper storage bins, but I've found those tend to slide around when I'm trying to load, slowing me down straightening them back up. You want the two bins for brass and bullets to be in line with one another so that you only have to bend your wrist or move your hand a minimal distance to get a brass or a bullet. If you watch the example of the gentleman in the Lee Classic Turret video, you'll find he has 5 brass and five bullets right at hand. You can do the same, perhaps even beat his speed, by having your brass and bullets right "at hand" when you're loading.

This seems like not a big deal, but it truly is. When you work production, it isn't how fast you go, it's how well organized you are. Doing this step isn't hard, isn't a big deal and will greatly increase your production. It doesn't require working "fast" either, just smoothly.

4. Learn to operate your press in a smooth rhythm that's comfortable for you. When you're new, do not try to make as many bullets as you can. Instead, focus on making good quality bullets. Watch your press operation closely and see how it was designed to work. Try to pick up on if you can tweak your adjustments to make it run a little more smoothly. Your speed will come as you get more used to the press.

5. As the Lee is a turret press, you build one cartridge at a time. To facilitate the insertion of a brass and the removal of a cartridge, use the same hand to remove the cartridge that you're inserting the fresh brass into the machine with. While you're dropping the completed cartridge in the finished cartridge bin (placed beside the brass and bullet bin), you can resize and deprime the brass you just inserted.

There are other little things like this you can do to increase your hourly cartridge count without affecting the amount of actual labor you expend to load your cartridges, such as place powder and primers handy if needed and have the primer boxes open and ready to load into the safety prime. After reading the steps above, I'm sure you have the idea and can tweak the "system" to work best for you as an individual. But the general idea is to work smart, not harder, as my Father repeatedly told me as a young man. I didn't appreciate it then, but I sure do now. Thank you Dad. (grin)


30 years is a long time. Not sure what type of turret you're loading with, but there's been a few upgrades, changes and modifications to some of the turret presses. You might want to check the Lee Classic Turret video out on the Lee website. You may find it interesting. The Lee Classic Turret isn't at all like a conventional turret press.



April 25, 2006, 09:11 AM

That's a great little modification/tweak you came up with.



April 25, 2006, 01:13 PM
I just got this press and am wondering how smooth (or not smooth) it is supposed to be. My Rockchucker is what I would define as smooth as silk.

While cycling the lever on the Lee Classic Turret it feels like it's rough, like something’s not aligned or is too tight. This is with no dies installed and I even took out the rod that auto indexes it. Is this normal? I was thinking of loosening up the nuts holding the various arms together to see if one is too tight and causing binding, but am not sure if this is just normal operation with this press?

Other than that, the one very big negative I see with it is how far I have to cycle the lever. The RCBS is about 90 degrees and I can apply maximum force right when the lever is horizontal and therefore easiest. The Lee takes much more, maybe 120-140 degrees so I have to stoop down and then push the lever down toward the bench from below. It's a kind of awkward and back breaking move. What’s worse, trying to apply a crimp groove with the lever in that position is much tougher than it should be. I was thinking of moving my Lee crimp die to RCBS press because it’s just too hard on the Lee.:banghead:

April 25, 2006, 02:41 PM

I am just guessing here, but to get the smoothness you're used to with the RC, you're going to have to take your Lee apart and polish up the edges, corners and such. The Lee is a lower end press and they don't do a whole lot of "polishing." That said, it's not a lot of work to take things apart, polish the sharp, rough edges and put it back together.

Once you're done though, no turret or progress feels quite as smooth in operation as a single stage until you get things tweaked in and adjusted. It takes a little bit of effort to do this, but the end result is worth it. My Hornady wasn't as smooth initially as I would have liked, but now it's as smooth as a RC and so is my Lee Classic Cast press. But I do take the time to tweak and smooth out ANY press I buy, regardless of brand. Makes them all work better, including the RCBS and Dillons.

I'm not sure about the angle on the press arm. Perhaps you need to shorten or lengthen the arm.

Hope this helps,


The Bushmaster
April 25, 2006, 02:53 PM
The arm is also adjustable, too

April 25, 2006, 03:37 PM
I'll take it apart next chance I get and see if I can find the rough spots to polish.

Yes, the arm is adjustable, but I can't very well have it over arc over the top of the press can I?

I built a 15” high platform for it to sit on over the weekend. That helps some, but not really enough... Maybe I should look into having the arm arc over to the other side of the press. It can't be any worse.

Uncle Don
April 25, 2006, 05:38 PM
I think the crossbolt might be a little tight on the model you looked at. Mine has about 4000 rounds through it by now and it is every bit as smooth as any Rockchucker I've ever seen, including my own that I had years ago.

Secondly, the lever can move into any position you want it, but there is going to be slightly more throw because there is more clearance on the press than a RC. To me, the Classic Cast is apples to apples of the RC and there are many great improvements but yet the heft is still there. That said, I can't imagine not being able to size anything with my Classic Turret either.

April 25, 2006, 06:49 PM
If it's mounted check to see if the ram or the linkage is rubbing against the edge of your bench.

The Bushmaster
April 25, 2006, 06:59 PM
Now why didn't I think of that. As many times I have moved and had to remount my Turret I clean forgot about the possibility of the ram or linkage rubbing the bench...:D

April 25, 2006, 07:26 PM
I've had to make a groove on the side of my bench for my turret and my pro 1000. There isn't much clearance there.

April 25, 2006, 08:15 PM
I loosened the two nuts on either side of the retracting arm and it smoothed it out considerably. Now the only roughness that remains is in centerbar of the press itself.

I can't get the lever to over index over the press though, so I'm stuck with the extra long throw. I will next try to build a higher platform so I won’t have to stoop down to push it all the way down.

April 26, 2006, 08:08 PM
DaveInFloweryBranchGA said:


30 years is a long time. Not sure what type of turret you're loading with, but there's been a few upgrades, changes and modifications to some of the turret presses. You might want to check the Lee Classic Turret video out on the Lee website. You may find it interesting. The Lee Classic Turret isn't at all like a conventional turret press.

I went to the website and watched the press work. Nothig like mine. I would almost call the Lee a progressive or at least an Auto Index. The press I use is a 1973 Lyman All American Turret. It uses 4 stations and I prime by placing the primer in the punch with my index finger. I could speed up with a auto drop measure but use the Lyman 55 which came with the press.

One couldn't haul the ammo this press has loaded in a pickup. But it doesn't self rotate like the Lee so it's been 150 per hour.........Creeker

April 27, 2006, 09:17 AM

I'm not familiar with the Lyman you own, but I picked up a rough condition LymanT-mag, reconditioned it and used it for a while. If your press is similar and you can get 150 per hour out of it, I suspect you could get more than 300 out of a Lee Classic Turret. You're obviously very well organized and know how to set yourself up with no wasted motions and it's a press that rewards the user for doing such things.



April 28, 2006, 09:47 AM
I recently switched from a Pro 1000 to a Classic Turret (in order to reload .308). I've been very happy with it. It's a great combination of single stage and progressive features.

April 28, 2006, 07:02 PM
I do .45acp on a Lee turret.

I only charge/expand, seat, fcd on the turret. I start with primed/sized brass. I've got a pretty ergonomic setup for brass and bullets and I get 50 every 12 minutes, or 250/ hour. I would not feel comfortable (qc-wise) going faster than this.

I size and prime on the Lee classic cast with safety prime. This is a real no-brainer operation and I can crank 250+ per hour in this mode.

That equates to 125/hour complete cartridges. That is fine for me. I only shoot 150/week.

I really don't know how you could produce much more than this (125/hr) with a turret set-up.

By the way, if you examine the various turret designs, Lyman, Redding etc. you'll find that the Lee is superior in that the turret head/ram relationship has much less 'cantilever' and makes for a more positive (less flexible) engagement when under pressure. I think this allows for more precise work when seating and crimping. Also the Lee auto index really makes the operation run slick, and leaves your left hand free to grab brass and bullets while cycling the ram.

April 29, 2006, 02:31 PM
Here's a look at the Lyman All American. It's a 4 holer. Size & decap at 1, expand & prime at 2, Drop powder at 3, seat & crimp at 4. One complete rotation produces a loaded round. This my first set up and slow but once mounted to a good bench like the one in my Montana home things became faster and but smooth.

Uncle Don
April 29, 2006, 04:23 PM
That is a great old press.

April 29, 2006, 08:55 PM
I loaded with the best [IMHO] turret press for 30 years and the best I've averaged is 150 per hour. I know things change but of the turrets I've seen I wouldn't expect more.


Was that pic taken the first day you owned it or what? I haven't seen a bottle of soda like that (Dr. Pepper?) in at least that long! ;)

May 1, 2006, 02:17 PM
From the looks of the cartridge in my hand [44 Mag?] I'll guess the picture 1974. That's about the time of my first 44. Glad you enjoyed the picture. Loved those Dr Pepper's but don't miss loading on a stand.

May 1, 2006, 08:30 PM

What I wanna know is if you're still as slim as you were in that picture? (Grin)


May 1, 2006, 09:19 PM
Now what kinda ? is that to ask a bald headed ole man.:) I weighed near 155 in the picture and 30 years later I'm 20 heavier.:neener:

The Bushmaster
May 2, 2006, 12:21 PM
But are ya any better lookin'???:D

May 2, 2006, 12:52 PM
Ok Bushmaster you asked for it and the years have not made me prettier. Here's a picture of Doc & Lee Jurras. I'm the ugly one in the middle.

The Bushmaster
May 2, 2006, 01:08 PM
L O L...You may be better lookin then me (and I would hate to admit that):D

May 2, 2006, 01:23 PM
:p Feelin' better in WV......HEE HEE;)

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