Another Thread on Lee


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DeadHorrorFan
September 10, 2008, 07:14 PM
Blame it on the new guy...another thread on the Lee systems. I've been an avid shooter for 10 years, and only recently thought about reloading. I'm looking to get into it as both a money saver, and to increase my knowledge. I've heard countless times to start slow and read all you can before you buy. The ABC's of reloading is in the mail as I type this. Hope to be reading it by this weekend. Basically what I'm getting at here is....I want you guys' opinions on the LEE CHALLENGER BREECH LOCK SINGLE STAGE ANNIVERSARY KIT.

This is what I'm talking about (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=423081&t=11082005)

Good for a beginner? Ease of use?

Thanks in advance for your responses and shared experience!

EDIT: I wanted to add that I'll potentially be reloading 30-06/.308, .223, 38/357, 9mm, 45ACP, 30/30 and possibly .44 Mag. Will this setup handle all of those as long as I buy the Die sets for each?

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Vacek
September 10, 2008, 07:34 PM
I really enjoy mine. I have had it since December. The breachlock idea is ok although I now realize the time savings isn't that great, but it is handy; and I have picked up additional breaches.

What I like is that it is a good sturdy press for the price. I am full size reloading 303 Brit...(Yes I know about neck sizing the Brit...I do that too but on someone else's brass you need to full size, so let's not go there....), 6.5X55 Swede, and 7.62x54 Ruskie.

Also I reload for my Glock 17 and 45 Vaquero.
This is a great press and with th extra money I have purchased a few molds, cast bullet expander die, Brinnel Hardness kit, Production lead pot...yada yada yada.

I have a Dillon Square Deal...very cool but expensive to own and buy new stuff for.

I have'ta go to Asia for a couple of weeks on business. Gonna miss my beautiful wife, excellent daughter and my very own reloading room.:cuss::cuss:

RustyFN
September 10, 2008, 07:57 PM
I have never used one but have heard good things from friends that own one. One important thing to look at is your needs and how much ammo you will need or want to reload per week or month. That will make a big difference on which press to get also. Also will you be reloading more pistol or rifle? Reading is the best place to start. After you read let us know if you have any questions.
Rusty

cliffy
September 10, 2008, 08:28 PM
It lasted me a year before the pot metal bottom parts cracked in two. It seems the only weak point of the press. I now have a Lee single-stage Classic Press in Cast Iron. I'm a happy camper to date with thousands of fine reloads produced. The Lee Challenger Anniversary Set got me restarted into reloading, so I can't really complain, since it was dirt cheap. Cliffy

ranger335v
September 10, 2008, 08:31 PM
"I want you guys' opinions on the LEE CHALLENGER BREECH LOCK SINGLE STAGE ANNIVERSARY KIT."

I PREFER an iron press and Lee's Classic Cast press is great. BUT, years of use by thousands of well satisfied reloaders, both new and old, confirm that the Challenger press/Anniversary kit is a good one.

Anyone just getting into reloading is, in my opinion, making a serious mistake if they try to start with a progressive instead of a single stage press.

Later, IF you ever want higher volume for the time spent, a progressive is fine but no turret press is much, if any, faster than a properly used single stage. In fact, I think the quick acton breech-lock systems are pointless gimmicks saving only a few seconds in any normal loading session. Even so, you will never out grow the usefulness of a single stage press for special purposes.

Get the Anniversary Kit and enjoy it.

WNTFW
September 10, 2008, 11:22 PM
I have a Dillon 550B & some lee single stage. The single stage is a good starting point. You can always use one. With a Lee hand primer it is not a bad way to go. I can size/deprime & then hand prime at work during lunch. My wife & daughter like sizing the brass so that helps me out.
The single stage is easy to setup. I just size/deprime a lot of brass in large batches & that negates the breech lock advantage. As some have said the lock rings that clamp to the dies will retain the settings.
My presses can be moved to work as I have identical workbenches for reload room & work. The 550B is just bigger to move.
I also have a friend that swears by the Lee Pro 1000 for pistol cartridges.

ddcarter3
September 10, 2008, 11:25 PM
This is the kit I started with:Lee Classic Turret Kit (https://shooters.securesites.net/kgs//index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=630&category_id=26&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=41&vmcchk=1&Itemid=41)
It was the best investment. I started slow and very careful and ended up at about 200 .45 ACP per hour. Lee is a great company to work with. They have replaced parts for free that I admitted to screwing up!

12Bravo20
September 10, 2008, 11:47 PM
I started out with a Lee single stage and then got one of their turret presses. I am happy with both presses.

CU74
September 11, 2008, 12:53 AM
Starting with a copy of The ABC's of Reloading is good - it's a great primer. And, IMHO, Lee equipment offers great value for your money.

When I started reloading I was primarily interested in handgun rounds - 9mm, .38/.357, and 45ACP - so I bought the Lee Classic 4-Hole Turret Press and added the Pro Auto Disk Powder Measure. It "fits my needs" perfectly. Others here like progressive presses, but I have no desire to make that expensive upgrade. Being somewhat anal retentive, I prefer to load one round at a time with the progressive press - I know exactly what is going on with each round at all times. I check the powder charge with a scale every ten rounds, and check OAL as well. (I also now reload .30 Carbine using the turret press.)

When I decided to start reloading necked rifle cartridges, I bought a Lee Challenger Breech Lock Press. I figured that, since I would be trimming cases after de-priming, resizing and priming, I might as well do it in batches. Using the single-stage press for resizing necked cases also saves some "wear and tear" on the turret press. After this initial prep, I usually switch to the turret press for powder charging, bullet seating and crimping.

IMHO, you can't go wrong starting out with a single stage press, and the Lee Challenger Breech Lock should last for years. I think it is a good choice for .30-06, .308, .223 and .30-30 (I reload all but the .223). When (if) you decide to "step up" to something a bit more exotic, I can recommend the Lee Classic Turret.

You will want to get several more books - Hornady and Sierra have lots of good information, and there are others. Midway occasionally has pretty good deals on blemished bullets, and I've gotten Hornady, Speer and Ranier at reasonable sale prices. I like Oregon Trail's Laser-Cast bullets. Widener's is another bullet source - I've gotten Hornady and some cast lead bullets from them. My "go to" powder and primer source is Graf & Sons - with my C&R License "dealer discount" they beat any local source.

Welcome to the dark side, and kiss your wallet goodbye.........

evan price
September 11, 2008, 02:12 AM
If you are looking to save some money and get started reloading it's a good kit. I personally recommend the classic cast turret press if you can afford a little more money. It works like a single stage, but you can set up your dies in the turrets and changeover a lot quicker, plus you can run it in a "semi-progressive" mode later when you are more comfortable and crank out your handgun ammo quicker. Just IMHO, your money, not mine. Good luck!

DeadHorrorFan
September 11, 2008, 03:30 AM
Wow. Thanks for the incredible feedback. I'm a member of 3 other sites related to the subject matter at hand, and NONE of them ever manage to give me anything other than 3 or four words in reference to any questions I have about reloading.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but is there anything I should be studying up on any more or less having basically picked this press to start on? I guess what I'm wondering is, are there different elements that are more important when using a single stage versus another type of system that I may want to pay more attention to, or will the ABC's book take care of that?

rondog
September 11, 2008, 03:43 AM
+1 for the Lee Classic Turret Press!

sniper7369
September 11, 2008, 04:07 AM
If you're looking for more stuff to read up on, I just picked up Lyman's #48 Reloading Manual and Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook. Lot's of good info in both of them.

bobotech
September 11, 2008, 04:50 AM
I have zero experience with the Lee press but I do have a Hornady Lock and Load press (both single stage and progressive presses) and they have the same style of die locking. The Hornday has locking bushings.

Anyway, I LOVE them. They do save quite a bit of time. I set all my dies and forget about them for the most part. Very quick to change calibers and keeps the settings true.

FullEffect1911
September 11, 2008, 10:03 AM
The vast majority of instructions you will read in your manuals will be concerning single stage presses. Single stages are probably the most common style of press used period. If that lee kit also come with the Lee manual, I would go for that one instead. Other very good manuals are, Hornady, Speer (my favorite) and Sierra.

That kit is pretty good. I started with a challenger kit myself, and since then they replaced the weakest link, which was the linkage parts. I don't care for the lee powder thrower or scale and prefer RCBS for those. Lee's hand priming tool is outstanding however. Simply put, Lee presses and dies are very good buys, and that kit will serve you well for years.

The most important thing to do before reloading is to just understand what you are doing before you do it. Anyone can follow directions and accomplish their task, but understanding will allow you to avoid mistakes before they happen. Read as much as you can, and bother us on the forum as much as needed. When it comes to something that can potentially be dangerous, no question at all is dumb.

JRadice45
September 11, 2008, 12:41 PM
"Anyone just getting into reloading is, in my opinion, making a serious mistake if they try to start with a progressive instead of a single stage press."
Ranger, I disagree. As long as you have a basic working knowledge of how reloading works and what happens in each stage you are good to go. My first press was a Dillon SDB in 45 and you can run only one case at a time and hand feed primers etc... so you can learn how to work the machine etc.
Actually my primer magazine orfice broke so I loaded about 300 rounds loading primers individually before the replacement came and it was a great learning experience.
"I'm looking to get into it as both a money saver, and to increase my knowledge."
Deadhorrorfan... you wont be saving as much as you think.... you'll be shooting more:D but you will learn a great deal, and be scrutinizing your spent brass alot more than you used to.

I have the breechlock press mounted on a Frankford arsenal portable reloading stand. Press is on one side, zip trim and powder measure are mounted on the opposite. I just turn the tabletop depending on the operation I want. The scale and other items sit on the counter or whatever is nearest to me. It is a worthwhile press. I load small batches (80-100) rounds at a time on it as it takes quite a bit of time on a single stage. I have found that tumbling(1-2hrs) , lubing, resizing, trimming, tumbling again (5 mins) and re-priming the cases and storing them in containers for future loading helps spread out the time spent on loading and makes loading the finished ammunition seem quicker since after that all you do is meter and weigh the charge (I weigh every 5-10 thrown charges), seat the bullet, and crimp if so desired.
Doing this all in one day you may end up with 50 rounds in 3 hours or so your first time out... at least thats how I did it :cuss:
If you are shooting 9 mil in volume I would suggest a progressive press as you can load a great quantity in a short amount of time. I don't bother trimming pistol brass so in my SDB i can do 200 rounds in around 30-40 minutes. Not including weighing every 50th or 100th charge and spot checking oal. and re-packaging.
Lots to think about... turn that brain into a sponge... then a filter.

scrat
September 11, 2008, 12:44 PM
lee works for me. I have several of their presses all have worked fine.

Oldcoyote
September 11, 2008, 01:36 PM
I just started reloading and got the Classic Cast Turret Press. I am very happy as this press is very easy to use and is well made. Clearly worth the difference in price.

ForneyRider
September 11, 2008, 03:57 PM
that's the 85$ kit. There's also the 99$ kit: http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=121744

I have the Pro 1000 and the 100$ kit. With a tumbler, micrometer, and assorted rifle brass trimmers, it covers the tools to reload just about everything short of .50 BMG. I do rifle on the single stage and pistol on the Pro 1000. I think the Pro 1000 is 150$, but gives you 3 stations, and dies, but no scale.

However, the Breech lock doesn't work well with my RCBS dies. RCBS, and others have big lock rings that interfere with Breech Lock.

A similar kit in completeness, is the RCBS Rockcrusher kit. It is 250$ at Midsouth. Redding pro-pak, Lyman and others have a kit. But Lee offers a lot of value for 99$.

I am very clumsy and drop stuff all the time off my bench. I dropped the 20$ Lee scale on the ground and broke it. I glued it back together(Elmer's) and it works like a champ.

CU74
September 12, 2008, 01:14 AM
The most important thing to do before reloading is to just understand what you are doing before you do it. Anyone can follow directions and accomplish their task, but understanding will allow you to avoid mistakes before they happen. Read as much as you can, and bother us on the forum as much as needed. When it comes to something that can potentially be dangerous, no question at all is dumb.

A BIG 1+ for those comments. Don't be shy about asking questions here on the forum - we've got guys here who just LIVE for sharing their experiences with this stuff. Take your time and be safe. Don't take shortcuts. And let the folks here help with any questions.

cliffy
September 12, 2008, 01:34 AM
Lee makes the best-for-the money reloading equipment, period. It improves continually, including dies. The latest dies are super-standard, modern-coated with satin-finish. Yes, I've burned through three sets of Lee full-length sizing dies in .223 Remington, but only because I've managed to break the decapping pins and/or rods. Decapping pins are replaceable in Lee dies, but who can wait? I now have three new die sets in reserve, just in case. Still, I consider Lee top-notch reloading fare. cliffy

benzuncle
September 13, 2008, 12:20 AM
After a pile of research, I hooked up with Kempf (as did ddcarter3) and bought the Lee Classic Turret Press. I added the scale, tumbler, calipers, upgraded the powder dispenser and the safety prime system. I bought a bench at COSTCO for $75 and a 48" fluorescent light from Home Depot for under $30. I bought in January of this year but there's not much good in giving you the price as everything has gone up since then. I will say that I think the Classic Turret Press is probably the best value on the market currently. My 2. I load in one corner of the Warden's sewing room; it's a good arrangement. I've been way pleased with the Lee equipment. Zero regrets with the semi-progressive press.

DeadHorrorFan
September 20, 2008, 04:44 PM
I just wanted to revisit this thread to pass a possible new setup under you guys' scrutiny.

Based on recommendations, I think I'll go with the $99 kit mentioned above (HERE (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=121744)) and the Lee Classic 4 Hole Turret Press (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=814175). Using these in tandem, I think all my needs will be covered (the 4 hole turret for pistol and the single stage for rifle). I have heard conflicting information on using the turret press for rifle ammunition saying that it can't be done, and other saying of course it can. Any merit to either side of the argument?

Also, is there anything in the single stage kit that I'd want to upgrade or replace? Anything that's not offered other than calipers (already own a nice pair) that I'd need? I'm assuming I should get a tumbler as well, but anything else? My copy of the ABC's of Reloading hasn't arrived to address these questions yet :( .

Any other information offered is appreciated, and TYIA, and I'm continually glued to the reloading section of this site for more info! Best online resource I've found so far!

RustyFN
September 20, 2008, 09:17 PM
I would save my money and buy just the classic turret. I have loaded a lot of 223 on mine and it loads great rifle ammo. Check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOpN9iYOyE8 and you will see just how easy it is. I also know a few that have loaded 30-06 on the classic and said it loaded fairly easy and good ammo.
Rusty

CU74
September 20, 2008, 11:15 PM
I have heard conflicting information on using the turret press for rifle ammunition saying that it can't be done, and other saying of course it can. Any merit to either side of the argument?

I don't know about merit, but I have reloaded .30-06 with a Lee Classic 4-Hole Turret Press.

(I sure hope my turret press doesn't find out it couldn't load that .30-06 that it's done for me....:).

ForneyRider
September 21, 2008, 02:12 AM
+1 on the turret. Just get extra turrets for each caliber. You can swap calibers lickety split.

evan price
September 21, 2008, 08:57 PM
The turret press will do nearly any rifle caliber you can find.
Just buy one extra turret for each caliber you intend to reload, set up that caliber in the turret plate, and ock everything down, and you will never need to mess with them again. To change calibers, just pop out the old turret & shell holder, pop in the new turret & shell holder, change the setting on your powder measure, and away you go.

I would say get the turret press kit, get a set of Lee dies & turret plate for each of your calibers, then buy a set of Harbor Freight stainless steel calipers for under $10, a powder check scale from wherever you get the press from (or eBay), and a case tumbler (eBay!) and you are set.
If you feel the need for a single-stage press, pick one up later once you know you will need it, and eBay has all sorts of them for cheap as people uprade to progressives and turrets. There was even a deal somewhere that you buy the Lee reloading manual and you get a free single stage press with it. It's a cheapie but great for swageing primer pockets, or decapping, or putting a collet puller in to pulldown ammo, or whatever "utility" work you might have.

elkhuntingfool
September 21, 2008, 09:04 PM
want you guys' opinions on the LEE CHALLENGER BREECH LOCK SINGLE STAGE ANNIVERSARY KIT.

I own it and use to load everything - pistol - 9mm, 45acp, 38super, .223, .243, .270 and 7mm mag. Not as sturdy as an RCBS is - but for $99 - it's more than paid for itself. I will keep it as long as it will last and I'll be purchasing a Lee turret soon - want to kick up the volume of pistol reloading

Go for it - it's a good way to go.

kostner
September 22, 2008, 01:00 AM
I own three Lee presses two turret and a Pro 1000 all are over twenty years old and are used weekly by my wife and I. Upgraded to the four hole but after a while went back to the three hole. Don't really need a factory crimp on 9mm or 45acp. We shoot about 300 each a week. The Pro 1000 is for 38 special. Money well spent I like Lee and I think you will too.

cougar1717
September 22, 2008, 03:20 PM
The Challenger Kit is what got me into reloading. All you need is a set of dies and components to start. For the calibers you listed, it will do exactly what you want to do and it's very cost effective.

The Classic Turret is a good press and very strong. It will reload for rifle and can be used to churn out pistol rounds. For every caliber, you will need an extra turret. In order to speed things up for pistol, you will probably want a Pro Auto Disk to drop the powder when it bells the case and the safety priming system. These are extras that you ought to consider before you buy (unless they come with a kit). Also, if you clean primer pockets, it will slow down your production since the brass has to be taken from the press and replaced after cleaning.

Your "value" equation depends on what and how much you shoot. When you just get into reloading it's hard to tell. If you shoot a lot of pistol and a little rifle, a turret press gives you more production than a single stage, but less than a progressive. If you load mostly for rifle, a turret press is of minor advantage.

wahsben
September 22, 2008, 06:12 PM
i have 2 Lee Classic cast presses and 2 classic turret presses and am pleased with them. On the single stage I use the Hornady LNL quick release bushings which makes things go faster and smoother. You don't have to adjust each die.

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