Accuracy of ammunition loaded with the Lee Loader


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The_Next_Generation
October 2, 2011, 09:19 PM
Hey guys and gals,

I am looking into getting some reloading gear for .30-06. I have already done quite a bit of research on standard press/die configurations and all the details associated with them. Then I saw that the Lee Loader kits are only $26! Originally, I was planning on getting the Lee Challenger press with a Redding two-die set (Neck sizer/decap, seater) along with a manual and all the other little things.

I know there are a few threads already that talk about the Lee Loader, but none have answered my questions:

How accurate is the ammunition loaded with the Lee Loader?

How does the ammunition produced on a "standard" press compare with that loaded on the Lee Loader?

Would it be worth it to order the Lee Loader and extras to try, then wait a little longer to go all the way with a normal press and dies?

I know there are a few threads already that talk about the Lee Loader, but none have answered my questions.

Thanks guys!
(Any other pertinent information/advice is always welcome)

- The Next Generation

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jcwit
October 2, 2011, 10:04 PM
The more important question is how accurate are you in carefully reloading ammo. The Lee Loader will load perfectly accurate ammo if the reloader does his part. Some will say they are slow, altho only slightly slower than a single stage press. You will have to experiment with different powders, bullets, charges, even cases and primers to find the most accurate setup for you and your rifle.

Welcome to THR and welcome to the exciting world of reloading.

I might add I started with a Lee Loader to reload rifle cartridges many many years ago, and now own Lee Loaders in some of my rifle calibers and still use them today to work up loads at the range or small quantities.

bigedp51
October 2, 2011, 10:08 PM
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a Lee loader and accuracy, BUT you are neck sizing only and you do not have the capabilities to full length resize and bump the shoulder back when it is required.

I started reloading with a Lee Loader, and I have a 38 year old Rockchucker press. I also have several Lee loaders that I use at the range when playing with loads.

All I will say is a set of powder scales is a must for loading "accurate" ammunition with the Lee loader.

NOTE: More "inaccurate ammunition is loaded on reloading presses due to the fact that the decaping rod is locked down off center causing excess bullet runout. And a Lee loader doesn't have decaping rod inside the die. ;)

mkl
October 2, 2011, 10:36 PM
NOTE: More "inaccurate ammunition is loaded on reloading presses due to the fact that the decaping rod is locked down off center causing excess bullet runout.

Excellent point. The normal way to avoid this is to find a case with an in spec flash hole, and then run the decaping pin through the flash hole before you tighten the lock nut on the decaping rod.

jcwit
October 2, 2011, 10:47 PM
NOTE: More "inaccurate ammunition is loaded on reloading presses due to the fact that the decaping rod is locked down off center causing excess bullet runout. And a Lee loader doesn't have decaping rod inside the die.

So using L.E. Wilson decapping base and punch "same set up as Lee Loader" will create inaccurate ammo??????????????????????????????

Wait a minute, isn't this the set up the benchrest guys use?

Now I know what causes my fliers in my center fire rifles, next I need to find the answer to my .22 target rifles and their fliers. I know for a fact its not me. I'm not responsible for anything.

GCBurner
October 2, 2011, 11:20 PM
A Classic Lee Loader will turn out ammo as accurate as you can make with a regular loading press, if you do your part, particularly if you add an accurate scale to back up the powder dipper method of measuring charges. It just won't turn reloads out as quickly, but if you're only going to be reloading 10 or 20 rounds at a time, that's not a huge deal.
The Lee Loader just resizes the neck on bottleneck rifle cases, so it's best used to just reload for the particular rifle the brass was fired in; full length resizing of cases to original factory specs requires regular dies in a press.

Vacek
October 2, 2011, 11:38 PM
First I am going to assume you have brass shot from your existing rifle and that the rifle is a bolt action or a single shot.

If you are willing to go with a less than max load then properly using the scoop provided with the Lee Loader and one of the recommended powders that are calibrated for that scoop and the 30-06 you can produce at least 20 cartridges per hour that should shoot as good or better than factory. Count on overcrimping the first loaded shell and putting a crick in the neck. Don't ask me how I know this.

If you are reloading to get enough cartridges for sighting in an hunting at reasonable ranges, the Lee Loader is perfect.

bigedp51
October 3, 2011, 12:34 AM
jcwit

So using L.E. Wilson decapping base and punch "same set up as Lee Loader" will create inaccurate ammo??????????????????????????????

Wait a minute, isn't this the set up the benchrest guys use?

I have a Wilson decapping base and punch and it had "NOTHING" to do with what I said. Now go back and re-read what I wrote because it came from a reloading manual in an article untitled "Modern Benchrest Reloading Techniques" by National Champion Neal Knox.

The article tells you how the center your dies in the press and how to center your decaping rod in your die and reduce neck runout to .001 or less.

mkl

Excellent point. The normal way to avoid this is to find a case with an in spec flash hole, and then run the decaping pin through the flash hole before you tighten the lock nut on the decaping rod.

Using the flash hole is NOT a method used in the article or a method I would use either. You slowly raise the ram until the expander button enters the case neck, let go of the press handle and "then" tighten the decapping rod lock nut. On my dies I have rubber o-rings under the lock ring and this allows the decapping rod to "float" and be self centering in the neck of the case.

Mike Kerr
October 3, 2011, 12:38 AM
I use other reloading equipment for the volume I can produce. The Lee Loaders are slow but if you do your part they will give you very adequate ammo regarding accuracy and reliability.

regards,
:):):)

JohnM
October 3, 2011, 08:47 AM
Even without the addition of a scale or other accessories, that basic old Lee Loader can make some reliably accurate reloads.
After a little time and practice the dipper system can be kept to within a couple tenths and with a routine you can turn out a finished round pretty fast,especially if you set up a sort of production line operation.

And you aren't going to wear the tool out in a normal lifetime of use.
I still have the first one I ever bought, has the metal powder dipper with the wooden handle. Granted, it doesn't see a lot of use anymore, but still works fine :)

GooseGestapo
October 3, 2011, 09:33 AM
Well, you can certainly load accurate ammo with the Lee loader, but it is SLOOOOWWWWW. I loaded my ammo for the first 1-hole group I ever shot with a Remington M788 in .30/30 with a Lee loader, dipper's and some IMR4320 and Speer 130gr HollowPoint bullets.

I suggest you get one to get started.

But:
You'll also need a plastic headed mallet (small hammer).
After detonating your first primer with the Lee loader, you'll want the Lee hand-primer tool.
Then, you'll want a powder scale. Then, you'll want the Lee Jr. press and the Lee loading manual, and a complete set of the dippers.

So, I suggest,too, you get the Reloader Special with press, dies, powder scale, autoprime, and manual to start with. Then if you decide that reloading isn't for you, you can sell the set-up and not be out too much money.....
But if you buy the Reloader, and you stick with reloading, you'll "move up" to better presses, measures, ect. as you add cartridges' to load for, ect.
I've got my original Lee loaders in 20ga and .30/30. I even still occasionally use the decapping bases and rods for "odd" projects until new dies/ect get shipped to me.....And the equipment is over 40yrs old.....including the hammer/mallet I bought while in high-school in the early '70's.

JohnM
October 3, 2011, 09:44 AM
Buying a Lee Loader is just the first step-------- on the long road to getting more and more tools.
I drove to town yesterday, went to a gun shop to pick up a new lube pad.
Walked out with 200 bucks worth of new stuff :D
Well, I "needed" it. :D

Jim Watson
October 3, 2011, 09:50 AM
At one time there was a benchrest record set with ammunition loaded with a Lee.
Which they proudly advertised for some time, offering a target model loader with extra features and adjustments. That is no longer available, but you can certainly load shootable ammunition with the regular mallet powered Lee Loader, IF for a bolt action, maybe a single shot; but NOT an auto, pump, or lever action that calls for full length sizing.

If you don't already have a handloading manual, get the book first. The Lee book if you lean towards Lee equipment, otherwise Lyman or one of the bullet company manuals.

RandyP
October 3, 2011, 09:51 AM
If all you need are a few dozen rounds each session, the Lee Loader is more than up to the task. here is the youtube video of Mr Lee himself using the Loader:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeEl9wZyabc

If you think you will be reloading other calibers, even infrequently, I would suggest looking at their Anniversary single stage kit for $82 less dies and components.

https://factorysales.com/html/xcart/catalog/anivers.html

Did you mention if this is a bolt action/single shot rifle you are loading for?

Big Juan
October 3, 2011, 10:09 AM
Twenty something years ago, I bought a Lee Loader in 380ACP for a little pistol my sister loaned me. My first loads were more accurate than factory ammo and I regular out-shot a LE friend of mine and his double-stack M9 Beretta @ 30ft. Eventually I gave the gun, loader kit and components back to Sis. It's all still sitting on her closet shelf. Fast forward to the recent past and I went looking for a rifle/pistol combination for plinking. I bought a pair of Lee Loaders in 38Spl and 357Mag. Since I live in an apartment, all the tap-tap-tapping was frowned upon so I put the Lee Loaders in the field kit and bought a set of dies and a hand press. Are Lee Loaders capable of producing accurate ammo? I think it depends on the caliber, the firearm it's for and most of all the handloader's technique and volume needs. But it's a fun, practical and inexpensive way to start learning and keep as part of a backup or field kit. Totally worth it!

243winxb
October 3, 2011, 10:25 AM
How accurate is the ammunition loaded with the Lee Loader?
Good , but not perfect. How does the ammunition produced on a "standard" press compare with that loaded on the Lee Loader?
The "hammer" loader does not use an expander , some bullet noses will be deformed on seating, as the bullet becomes the expander. This depends on the case wall thickness of the brass. A standard press is faster. Would it be worth it to order the Lee Loader and extras to try, then wait a little longer to go all the way with a normal press and dies?
No, save your money for the normal press and dies. With rifles, you must full length resize soon or later. Full lenght dies & press are needed for this. My old target model loader for 30-06 works, but after reaming the neck, neck tension is very light. Remember, Lee has no expander & can not FL resize. Target model loader, click for larger view> http://i338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/th_LeeLoader_20090208_002.jpg (http://s338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/?action=view&current=LeeLoader_20090208_002.jpg)

The_Next_Generation
October 4, 2011, 08:49 PM
Thanks for all the great input!

Currently, I am trying to get my grandfather's '57 740ADL to shoot as accurately as possible without directly modifying it. I realize that a neck-sized only case will most-likely fail to feed from the magazine, but I have no problem loading one shot at a time directly into the chamber. Also, I plan to purchase a precision bolt-gun of some sort (Rem 700, Savage 10FP, etc.) in the near future, so my hand loads will most-definitely be worth the cost of equipment.

Therefore, I am going to go ahead and purchase the full setup with a standard bench-mounted press (hello, eBay). This will give me a lot more options down the road, as I am confident I won't be giving up my shooting habits at any time during the next three or four lifetimes ;)

Maybe I will get a Lee Loader just for grins and giggles, but it will certainly not be the only way I load ammunition.

I'll let you guys know how it turns out!

As always, thanks.

- The Next Generation

bigedp51
October 4, 2011, 09:04 PM
A little info for you, take note of the fore arm attachment screw problem

"Model 740: The Remington model 740 with a 22" barrel & a detachable 4 shot box magazine that was introduced in 1955 . This magazine was designed so that on the last shot the action remained open. In reality the only reason for this was so you could have the action open for cleaning, as in normal shooting, after the last shot, you now have to push the follower release button allowing the bolt to go forward before you push the magazine release button to remove the empty magazine. It was produced initially in 30-06 & 308 calibers with 244 & 280 coming available from 1957 until this model died in 1959. The wood was plain uncheckered walnut. It had a receiver mounted pivoting bar type ejector. There was a 740A in the product line & I suspect it was simply a 740 that used the newer plunger type ejector.

The early 740s were not drilled & tapped for a scope. The later guns being tapped for the Weaver #62 scope base. Also there was a 740ADL which was similar to the 740A but had a checkered stock, pistol grip cap & sling swivels. The 740BDL was similar to the ADL but had select wood.

One problem with this firearm was that the forearm attachment screw was a single pitch thread, pulling the forearm tight against the front of the receiver. When firing rapidly the 2nd & 3rd shots seemed to always climb & the gun would shoot higher with each successive shot. Williams Gunsight Co. made a aluminum spacer that went on the forearm screw & between the metal forearm liner & the gas nozzle block, making the forearm float at the rear."

Vacek
October 5, 2011, 01:36 AM
Next Generation,

I'm not sure you fully understand the implications of neck sizing. It's not about the magazine, it's abuout being able to fully chamber. With a cartridge that was fire formed in your chamber and then neck sized will now be a tight fit. You may or may not have enough cam to fully chamber. That's why neck sizing is usually for bolt actions and singles. You may be fine, but just a note.

The_Next_Generation
October 5, 2011, 02:35 AM
A little info for you, take note of the fore arm attachment screw problem

Thanks, but I am already aware of this problem and the severe impact it has on accuracy. I can't believe someone would design a gun like that :scrutiny: I just want to see how far I can push this rifle (its the 740ADL) before I get a more "refined" long-arm (I will need the reloading equipment for my next rifle anyway). I don't have many other options as its the only firearm I have access to at the moment.

Next Generation,

I'm not sure you fully understand the implications of neck sizing. It's not about the magazine, it's abuout being able to fully chamber. With a cartridge that was fire formed in your chamber and then neck sized will now be a tight fit. You may or may not have enough cam to fully chamber. That's why neck sizing is usually for bolt actions and singles. You may be fine, but just a note.

Vacek, thanks for the info on neck sizing! Looks like I'll be including a full-length sizer die in my purchase, just in case.

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