Primitive/Low-Tech reloading (Lee Loader Vs. Lee Hand Press)


March 1, 2010, 06:52 PM
I'm a stingy bugger, if it hadn't been for me finding a killer deal on a used Lee Pro 1000 ($65 with the 4 tube case feeder, the auto-disk powder drop, and a set of .45ACP dies, just the caliber I was looking to reload for) a year or so ago, I would either never have gotten into reloading, or would have gone the "inexpensive" route, with a basic, simple single stage press

That said, since I'm still a stingy bugger, and I haven't yet found another great deal on another reloading press, I decided to go the cheap route anyway

about 6 months ago, I picked up a Lee Loader in .30-06, and used it to turn out some pretty respectable ammo, it wasn't that hard to use, and I like the precision of crafting each round by hand, measuring each powder charge, I know I'm shooting quality, safe ammo

A month or so ago, I picked up a used Ruger Blackhawk .45 Convertible with 7.5" barrel in near-mint condition, I mainly used the .45ACP cylinder and loved the gun, accurate, smooth manageable recoil, but that .45LC cylinder was always calling my name, begging to be used

So, based on my favorable experience with the Lee Loader in .30-06, I picked up a Loader for .45LC, I noticed Lee said "considerable force is required to size .45LC pistol brass, boy, they weren't kidding, I had to use a steel hammer on the steel primer seating rod to start ejecting the cartridge shell, and that's even after lubing the case...

Pounding out .45LC cases got old rather quickly, two weeks ago, while at my gunshop, I spied a set of used Lee Carbide dies in .45LC, I picked them up, planing to get a new shellholder for the Pro 1000, but after thinking about it, I decided to just go with a single stage press for .45LC, specifically, the Hand Press, mainly because I liked the portability, nothing to permanently bolt to the table, plus, the Lee Reloader press just looked and felt too flimsy

I decided to give the Hand Press a chance, so I bought it and took it home, resizing the .45LC brass was much easier than with the Loader, however, the used decapping/resizing die turned out to be bad, as it shaved a microscopic layer of brass off the first few cartridges I ran through it, not enough to be dangerous, I can't feel any difference in the shaved areas by running my fingernail over the shaved and tarnished areas....

I took the dies back, and the shop swapped them out for a new set (I paid the difference in price, got full credit for the defective used dies), and immediately noticed a difference, the new dies were much smoother and even more effortless...

anyway, enough setup, onto the meat of the review (mmmmm....meat!)

Comparing the Lee Loader directly against the Hand Press, the difference is like night and day, the Hand Press is much easier to use, quieter, and more versatile as it can use any standard reloading die, you don't have to buy a new press for each caliber

the Lee Loader has the advantage of being far more compact, and being mostly self contained, you don't have to unscrew and screw in dies to change functions, but it requires far more force and pounding to resize the cartridge, especially on pistol cases

Both reloading devices have a place in any reloader's arsenal, the Loader is a great, self contained kit, perfect for trips to the range, or to keep in your emergency kit, or even as a backup to your primary press, it's a great way to get in touch with the "roots" of reloading, just don't expect to crank out hundreds of rounds a night (not unless you're Superman, or Batman , who, as we all know, is always prepared...)

The Hand Press is more versatile than the Loader, and can use all your standard reloading dies, making it a great backup to the primary press, or even just as a depriming/resizing tool, as with the Loader, don't expect to crank out ammo at factory speeds, but for those of us who actually enjoy taking time for the process, and enjoy each step, it's a nice, relaxing way to build ammo at a laid back, relaxed pace
(plus, it's a decent upper-body workout to boot ;) )

Just because you happen to have the latest DilloLymaOuterRCBS ‹berMegaSuperMultiProgressive Cast-Unobtanium UltraPress with auto-everything Telepathic Interface and the new, Patented, built in Bullet, Powder and Primer Replicator system, doesn't mean you can't get good results with the lowly manual hand tools, in fact, they're great to have for backups, when your UltraPress is back at the Utopia Planitia PressYards for it's annual service/adjustment or even out for repairs...

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March 1, 2010, 07:51 PM
My oldest has moved out of the house thus freeing up a bedroom. I've considered getting a bench and a bolt on press to replace my Lee Hand Press but then I think, "why?".

My hand press loads plenty fast for my needs. It's easy to use. It fits all my dies. I can take it with me on the road when I travel. Why do I need something else?

Sometimes the old familiar is still the best.

All the Best,
D. White

March 1, 2010, 08:15 PM
Good to know I am not the only one who went with a hand press for portability and space and decided to stay with it. I love mine.

March 1, 2010, 08:55 PM
Y'know what's funny, I'm actually considering trading in my Pro 1000 towards a single-stage press, I'll keep my .45ACP dies and turret, and maybe trade it in towards a good used Rockchucker or Lee Classic Cast or something.

I'm a fan of simplicity, and the Pro 1000 has too many moving parts and things to go out of adjustment for my tastes, not to mention it's a headache if I want to change calibers between .45LC and .45ACP, with a single-stage, all I'd have to do is change the shell holder....

I'm not looking to become an ammo production house, I just want to turn out good, safe, reliable ammo, I already weigh every charge thrown by the Auto-Disk anyway, and since it throws light, I have to trickle it up anyway, so I'm not gaining any speed from the progressive press anyway

Hmm, wonder if I could simply turn the Pro 1000 into a Turret, they seem to share the same basic press body...

7.62 Nato
March 1, 2010, 09:37 PM
I had two Lee Loaders. I used one then sold both. I have a Lee hand press and am pleased with it. I do most of my loading on either a Lee Classic 4 hole Turret or single stage. What I really like about the turret is it can be used without the center rod making into a single stage. The Turret also has removable die holders so you can keep your dies set and just swap for caliber change.

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