Lee Challenger Primer Arm Keeps Falling Out


November 11, 2008, 08:35 AM
Hi. I have a Lee Challenger press that I'm pretty happy with, except that the primer arm (the part that fits into the ram and that seats the primer) frequently pops out and falls to the floor when I'm depriming and sizing cases. :mad: So I figured I'd just keep the primer arm out, since I don't usually use the press for priming anyway (I use a hand held Auto Prime). But with the primer arm removed, the spent primers fall onto the floor instead of going into the spent primer tube. :banghead: That is, the primer arm serves to direct the spent primers in the right direction.

I have this problem with both the large and small primer arms. I've cleaned everything up, but it still happens. And it happens with both calibers I'm currently loading (8 x 57 and .243).

Before I call Lee, anybody else experiencing this? Any clever workarounds?



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November 11, 2008, 12:00 PM
The older Challenger doesn't have a primer arm in the ram. Do you have a Classic Cast Press?
Put a little dab of grease on the primer arm to keep it in the ram.
But keep the grease away from the shellholder so you don't get any in the primer pocket.

November 11, 2008, 06:39 PM
Ants - The manual calls it a "Breech Lock Challenger" press. It's not that old, as I bought it last summer (2008). Manual is dated 2007. Pretty sure the frame is aluminum, definitely not cast iron (or any other other ferrous metal). There's a slot milled in the ram (that IS a ferrous metal), along it's long axis, that the primer arm fits into.

November 11, 2008, 07:03 PM
Yes, the Breech Lock is the newest model.
My older Challenger doesn't have it, but I didn't know about the new ones.
Give the grease a try, or invent a plug to insert into the ram that will redirect your spent primers.
Or maybe just wear pants with big cuffs to catch the spent primers as they fall.

November 12, 2008, 08:11 AM
Thanks, Ants. I'll try improvising some kind of a plug. Last resort will be the pants!

November 12, 2008, 09:36 AM
I have the original version of the Challenger--so I did not know about the latest version having the primer arm "insert."

This sounds to me a lot like the primer arm on the turrets--both the original one and the new Classic Cast version. If that's true, the problem of the "sticky" arm comes from detrius from depriming getting into the slot and on to the arm, or from powder doing the same. It builds up and becomes gummy and sticky.

I use my (updated) standard Turret mostly--and I find this problem can readily be fixed by routine maintenance--

1. Remove the primer arm, degrease it (Gun Scrubber, brake cleaner), and wipe down. Pay particular attention to the sides and the back of the arm--detrius / powder can cake up on the back, and that starts getting sticky.

2. Using a swab with degreaser on it, swab out the arm channel in the ram. Pay particular attention to the sides of the ram slot. Get it dry.

3. Possibly / probably clean the shell holder primer hole.

4. Put a small drop of oil on the arm hinge pin and reassemble.

I simply plan on doing this every 100-300 rounds or so, depending on the powder I am using.

Jim H.

November 12, 2008, 09:37 AM
I had the same problem with my turret press. I polished the piece with 400 wet/dry, smoothed all corners and used some light oil on it... It still pops out, but not nearly as much...

I don't have a collection tube on mine so I never worried about the caps going all over the place...

November 12, 2008, 12:11 PM
I must be the only one, but I physically can't remove the primer arm from my Lee Classic Cast Turret press without removing the shell holder first. If there's a shell holder installed, there's no way the primer arm can come out.

FWIW, I use both Lee and RCBS shellholders.

November 14, 2008, 09:05 AM
Well, I gave everything a very thorough cleaning and did what JFH suggested. I did find a couple of nooks and crannies with some crud so I was hopeful. I decapped 28 cases and the arm fell out twice. I think it's a slight improvement but still annoying. :mad:

I'll try Cobra's suggestion next.

It happens with Lee, Lyman, and RCBS dies and shellholders. I've even used the small primer arm (when decapping only, just to guide the spent primers in the right direction) and that is no help.

I'll probably end up using a removable plug per Ants advice.

RidgewayCO, on the Challenger press you can remove the primer arm while the shell holder is in place. I think that the design of you press would eliminate my problem.

Thanks to all.


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