Lee Auto Prime won't take shell holders


December 25, 2003, 08:32 PM
I can't put shell holders in my Lee Auto-Prime for some reason. The bottom part of the shell holder (where it gets bigger after it gets smaller - you know, the bottom :uhoh: ) simply will not fit into the device. I thought maybe it was just the RCBS shell holder I was using, but I used a Lee shell holder and it does the same thing. The Auto-Prime is just a little too narrow - maybe a millimeter TOPS. I could probably get the thing in there with a hammer, but I doubt that I'd ever get it out.

Is this supposed to be this way? The shell holders go in and out of my Rock Chucker Supreme perfectly. Could the Auto-Prime just be a little deformed or something?

And no, the shell holder is not in upside down or anything like that. I know this because it actually fits when it's upside down, just not when it's the way it's supposed to be :rolleyes: I even read the directions! "Insert proper shell holder." Wow, what a tremendous help that was :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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December 25, 2003, 08:46 PM
Shellholders for the Lee Auto Prime are not interchangeable with shellholders for reloading tools.

December 25, 2003, 09:50 PM
Grr this is info I should have found out before buying the damn thing. Why should it cross my mind that I'd need different shell holders for this POS when the RCBS one takes the same holders? I guess it makes sense that it was half the price as the RCBS - because you have to buy more parts to make the %#$*!@$ thing work :fire:

Oh well, guess I'm sending it back. I don't care if it's supposedly superior to the RCBS - it's the principle! Making something require proprietary parts when standard parts will do JUST FINE (as evidenced by RCBS) is just a way to suck a little more money out of the consumer. Besides, the RCBS warranty is much better.

BTW, NOWHERE in the instructions does it say I need special shell holders. In fact, it specifically lists a #19 holder - WHICH I HAVE - in the instructions and it STILL doesn't work.

Man, my faith in Lee is totally shot now.

December 25, 2003, 09:50 PM
LT .... apologies if misinterpreting but ... sounds like you are trying to install a shell holder for press use .. if it has the ''waist'' and wider bit below!!

The holders for autoprime have no ''waist'' ... they are plain, so to speak.

It sound like you are not using the dedicated holders needed.

If you like, and just ask ... I will take pics to show you exactly what is what ....... so come back on that quickly if you can.

December 25, 2003, 10:03 PM
P95 - I just edited above post. Thanks for the offer, but I'm sending this thing back to Natchez and trading it for the RCBS. Why would you have a list of parts in the instructions if you can't use those parts with the tool? Listing them implies that they are the ones to be used....

December 25, 2003, 10:23 PM
LT .... oh dear! Hmmm .... well, I guess they should be more precise about descriptions. IIRC they use same numbering system for the holders but --- the auto prime ones are the dedicated ones.

I can understand your ire tho.

Maybe ------ and for benefit of others who may read this and be uncertain ... I'll post a pic or two to help explain ... don't want others gettin into deep water.

December 25, 2003, 10:24 PM
The Shell holder #'s for autoprime are the same # for the Shell holders used in the press. The actual part numbers are different.
Edit: P95 beat me to it.

December 25, 2003, 10:33 PM
OK, now - done this pic real quick ... not perfect at all ......... and thrown it on server ..... but should help others not quite sure.

As mparris71 mentions ... holder #'s same ... part #'s different.

Notice the base differences .... press shell holder is ''waisted and deeper'' ...... Auto prime holder is plain base ... and if you look at receiver for holder on Auto prime you can see how one fits and other won't!! These are #1 ...... for 38/357 - holders


May be too late to help LT who is not a happy camper but ... if this helps others then maybe it'll be worth showing.

December 25, 2003, 10:36 PM

Sorry you are having problems, but the cost of a set of lee shell holders for the Auto prime would be money well spent. I have used both the RCBS and Lee auto primer devices and in spite of the fact that the RCBS is a heavier built unit, the Lee with its dedicated shell holders always worked better for me. I have used the same one for over 20 years and it is still as smooth and fast as ever. I sold the RCBS .

December 25, 2003, 10:48 PM
Thanks for the help guys.

I don't know why this pisses me off so bad. Actually, I do. It's Christmas, and I find out I have to buy more parts before I can use my Christmas present - parts that I wouldn't have to buy if Lee's website stated this vital information on the product page instead of buried in some other section of the site that I'd never look at.

December 25, 2003, 10:54 PM
LT ... I again sympathize with you .. I'd feel the same i guess. I would also say that Lee's site is lacking in as much as ...... it is not ''intuitive'' enough to navigate and find all you want - easily and clearly. I am used to it now but it is frustrating. I do web work - and would change several aspects!!!

However - if your ire cools enough ... and by morning maybe it will! Do re-consider. As JPM70535 says .. it is a good tool ... and even tho you may have to spend a few Bucks and wait awhile ... i do think your patience and small expenditure would be rewarded.

Hope the distinction is clearer now anyways ..... both for you and others in a similar dilemma!!


December 25, 2003, 11:27 PM
I feel the Lee tool is a superior product to the rcbs design. It just works better.

Mike Irwin
December 26, 2003, 12:00 AM
When I worked for American Rifleman I told one Lee person I was talking to (may have been Richard Lee himself) that they should mark the autoprime shell holders AP19, etc., so that it would be clear which one you needed when reading the instructions, etc.

You're not the first person to get caught by this.

Lloyd Smale
December 26, 2003, 06:29 AM
i too prefer the lee unit. A set of shell holders isnt that expensive.

December 26, 2003, 01:37 PM
I had the same problem and after the fact I found that they did have it on their web site but not as clearly as they might have.

I just picked up a complete set for the auto prime at a show the next weekend for $12.

Loads primers very smoothly. It took me about 15 minutes to load 50 primers for .45 Colt sitting at the kitchen table. Very smooth and very easy to get the feel of when the primer is fully seated.

Don P.

December 26, 2003, 04:45 PM
The problem isn't how expensive the extra parts are, it's that it needs extra parts in the first place. I ordered extra RCBS shell holders specifically so I could leave one in the hand primer. Then I did something stupid and bought more because I'd forgotten that I'd ordered the first ones. So now instead of just having 2 extras, I'll have 3. I put 'em up for sale on the for sale forum but nobody wants 'em. My local shop doesn't have any of the Lee holders, so that means I have to order them anyway.

As far as the website not "clearly stating" stuff - yeah it's good that they put it in the FAQ section, but WHY should I even need to THINK of asking THAT question in the first place??? That's what irks me.

I'm calmer now than I was yesterday (amazing, considering the whole family was just here :scrutiny: ). I still don't know what I'm gonna do about it. Hell, maybe I'll just use the press to prime the cases....

Nero Steptoe
December 26, 2003, 04:52 PM
I've found the RCBS hand primer to be far superior to Lee's pot metal special!

December 26, 2003, 10:31 PM
I have the Lee Primer. I love it.

December 26, 2003, 11:48 PM
The Lee was a real treat when it first came out!

Knew they were different when I bought mine but that was before Al Gore invented the Internet. Seems to me at the time Lee said mill the base off press-type shell holders for applications Lee did not make priming tool shell holders for. Also true a little Lubriplate helps but it is possible to wear out the linkage on a Lee and likely quicker than some others (that also cost more to begin with).

December 27, 2003, 12:08 AM
I have two Lee priming tools and have used them for over 20 years. I did break a part once, which they promptly replaced.
I am not sure how I knew that it took "special" shellholders. Maybe someone gave me my first one and it had shellholders with it, I don't know. Possibly I was looking at a catalog and noticed the priming tool shellholders. Been too long to remember.
The nice thing is that you can buy a whole set of shellholders in a red plastic box. Same with regular press shellholders only they are in a green box. I purchased both years ago for about $25 and have never needed to buy another shellholder again.

Mike Irwin
December 27, 2003, 01:53 AM
Oh yeah, I figure I've primed over 50,000 cases of all types on my Lee hand primer without a broken part of any kind.

December 29, 2003, 12:55 AM
Funny, I didn't get caught by this...

I think I noticed when I looked at the pictures of the shell holders that came with the dies and noticed they were different, and when I read a description for the auto-prime which said it does not take the same shell holders as the press... All my shopping around and reading descriptions paid off!

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