Advice with Lee Loader with 45 ACP


October 30, 2006, 10:16 PM
I recently purchased a Lee Loader for 45 ACP handloading. In addition to the Lee Loader, I purchased the Lee Auto Primer Hand Tool. I am seeking some advice on what bullet type, powder, brass and primers I should purchase for my first handloading activity. I typically shoot Winchester 230 gr (White Box) through my 1911-A1. Any suggestions/recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

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Steve C
October 31, 2006, 01:58 AM
The kit should come with a powder dipper and a chart showing what powder and bullet combinations it will load. Make your pick of components from this list. There should be a combination that you can load 230gr FMJ ammo if you want to shoot that type.

The Bushmaster
October 31, 2006, 08:49 AM
begoode...Do you have a loading manual? Not a pamphlet but a real loading manual. I hope you do then I can appologize for this post.:)

November 1, 2006, 07:45 PM
Bushmaster: Yes, I do have the Speer Edition 11 manual.

November 2, 2006, 12:21 AM
Glad you got the hand-prime tool...whacking the primers in with a hammer causes some to fire every once in a while. Don't ask me how I know that!

All the Lee powder dippers are very much on the low-end of the powder-charge spectrum for any given caliber...that's to be on the safe side I guess for Lee's liability sake. And your safety second. ;)

You first have to see if the dipper that came with your Lee Reloader kit will RELIABLY operate your 1911 slide...if not, you'll need to increase the powder charge until it does, but, of course, NOT exceeding the maximum powder charge given in a load data chart (unless you REALLY know what you are doing).

Use of someone's chronograph -- if you don't have your own -- would be helpful in finding the load that (1) operates your slide "smartly" enough to avoid stove-piping (if you're not limp-wristing it) and assure positive chambering of fresh rounds yet (2) does not move the bullet too fast...i.e., the fps noted should be within 45ACP normal bullet-speed ranges (all I try to get out of MY .45ACP reloads is standard GI power levels/speeds which is a 230-grain FMJ at about 800fps). Forget about +P 45ACP for now.

Once you find the powder charge that works -- if the Lee powder dipper with your kit throws charges too low -- you can make your own dipper just for that particular charge (and particular powder) and use it from then on.

As for which powder to use, people here will suggest a few, and you can look up loads on the internet at various reloading/handloading websites. I use Alliant's Unique mostly -- because that's what I have the MOST of -- but also their Red Dot and Green really doesn't matter except for target shooting and I don't do that. I use their Blue Dot (or Red Dot) for reduced loads in my 270 Winchester. And use Red Dot/Green Dot for my shotguns, too. Some people use Bullseye and W261 (?) for the 45.

Primers? I use whatever (standard) large pistol primers that are available -- Winchester, Remington, CCI -- it doesn't matter.

Same for brass...whatever brand, find it in the trash, out in the woods/desert, mix-and-match, it doesn't matter except to the demanding target shooter. I don't care for shooting ranges -- never go -- so I don't get brass there.

Bullets...I use hard-cast 230-grain LRN bullets to reload with usually purchased from I buy them in bulk (by the 500 or 1000) but buying basic 230-grain FMJs in bulk are not too much more expensive.

As mentioned, I don't shoot targets, I only want "combat accuracy" from my reloads -- for personal SD situations and/or to repel boarders -- so not being anal about components works for me. It has since the Summer of 1974 when I started reloading the .45ACP.

Good luck,

-- John D.

The Bushmaster
November 2, 2006, 08:28 AM
Then I appologize....And I'll assume that you have read it. I take it you have just started or am I wrong again. Go ahead. You can tell me. I can take it. Really I can. :D If you have just started you will start to notice that you have a slight fever and that the only cure is more suffisticated loading equipment. Good luck and enjoy...:)

November 2, 2006, 05:24 PM
Suggestions ... stick with it, the first 3 rounds took me an hour, then I could do 10, then 20 an hour, then I moved up to a single stage press and soon a turret.

This site has great directions for the loader.

Then search for Lee Classic Loader, the first article is "Handloading on a Shoestring" and gives full instructions with color pictures for the Lee Classic Loader.

November 2, 2006, 09:31 PM
Cloudcroft and other: Thanks for the great advice and suggestions. I will purchase the remaining items and then slowly begin my first handloading experience. Thanks again.

November 2, 2006, 09:41 PM
Just about any brass works for the .45 ACP except AMERC.

Pick some brass up on ebay, clean and inspect for serviceability. Buy a box of 500 Rainier 230gr plated bullets, Winchester LP primers and a jug of Winchester 231 powder.

Start at the lowest advertised level and work up in .3gr increments until you find a load that is accurate out of your pistol.

November 3, 2006, 07:14 PM

You're welcome.

Happy reloading,

-- John D.

November 6, 2006, 03:28 PM
You are on a budget but I strongly urge you to get a scale. And a press and dies, etc. Lee loaders have been around for many many years, and while you can turn out good ammo with one, it is very, very slow and labor intensive.

The powder dippers work, but you must be careful to use them so as to get uniform results. Reloading presses seldom wear out, and used ones can be found cheap. A new set of carbide dies (.45ACP) will cost a bit but are worth every penny. You already have the hand priming tool, and that is a good thing.

A press, a scale, dies/shellholder, a loading block, and at least one reloading manual, and you are set. There are lots and lots of other goodies that make it easier, but the basics are all you need to get the job done.

Once you load a few rounds using a press, you will never use that Lee Loader again. If you count your costs (including your time) against boxes of WW White box ammo, you 'll see how these things pay for themselves after a little bit. Although your up front costs are higher, making ammo for $6 per hundred is better than paying $21 dollars per hundred.

The real drawback with reloading is most reloaders don't save money. What often happens is that they spend just as much (or more!), but they have two or three times the ammo for the money. And don't forget your time, you can never get that back. Spending a couple of hours with a Lee Loader doesn't get you that much ammo.

Keep going, just put aside a few dollars here and there, and keep your eyes out for a deal. A $150 new press can be found in the want ads for a song, used. Often a complete set up can be had for the price of a new press.

Read your loading manual. Learn about the machinery, pick up a piece at a time, and soon, you will be "in the tall cotton"

I started out nearly 40 years ago, with just a simple press, one set of dies, a scale, a loading block, and a manual, a gift from my grandmother, and it just kept growing. Today I load for over two dozen different cartridges, and seldom buy more than a box or two of factory ammo in a year (besides .22LR). When I get a gun, I also get dies (if I don't already have them). Reloading the the other fun side to the shooting sports. Welcome to the next level.:D

Chuck Dye
November 6, 2006, 04:11 PM
When I made noise once too often about getting back into reloading, a couple of friends landed Lee Loaders on me in .45ACP and .44Mag. Haven’t set to one the .44 yet, but have had success with the .45. My one worthwhile bit of advice at this point is LUBE YOUR CASES! Believe me, my overboard emphasis and the lube are worth it. I am using RCBS Lube-2 applied by fingers per the recommendation of my gunsmith, who specializes in 1911 competition pistols. His advised that virtually any purpose-blended case lube would work fine, he just has the RCBS as a result of distributor service. He recommended applying the lube with my fingers even though I was out to buy either of the two lubricators he has for sale (have to love businessmen who do that kind of thing!)

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