Lee Challenger Breech Lock press


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dak0ta
October 20, 2011, 09:13 PM
What do you guys think of this starter kit for reloading?

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rjfunk
October 20, 2011, 09:52 PM
I'm new to reloading, but I have this and love it. Haven't used anything else yet though, so not much to compare to.

PsychoKnight
October 21, 2011, 12:27 AM
Its okay if you're only going to do short action rifle, but if you are planning on longer cartridges for the future, the Lee Classic Cast is more appropriate.

Even better is the LCT, Lee Classic Turret which will do pistol and rifle just as well, but about 3 times faster than a single stage like the Challenger or Classic Cast, yet doesn't cost much more.

Make sure the Lee Turret you consider has the word "Classic" in it, it is far superior to the standard Lee turret press.

I had Lee single stage presses, and also used both of their progressive models. Never had any of their turret models, but if I could only have one press, I would start with their Classic Turret (still wish I had one).

Thedub88
October 21, 2011, 07:13 AM
I have this press and its great. I dont see the point of a turret press, because I reload in batches of like 500. First I size and deprime , the prime them, then seat bullets in all of them, and so one. The turret is only good if you are planing on doing the all steps one cartridge at a time.

T Bran
October 21, 2011, 07:51 AM
Ive had this press for a while now it works just fine for most things just wish it was a
little taller. Seating bullets for my 300 WIN MAG can be trying at times.
T

john16443
October 21, 2011, 10:18 AM
The Breech Lock Challenger was also my first press, and it worked great for the 9mm and 45ACP pistol cartridges I load (don't load rifle). I outgrew this single stage press because of my volume requirements, so a few months later I bought the Lee auto indexing turret press. I still use the Challenger for all decapping and sizing operations, as the 4 dies I have in the turret don't leave room for this die.

Like others have indicated, be wary of rifle reloading on it.

dak0ta
October 21, 2011, 11:53 AM
Okay thanks for bringing up the rifle load problems. I was planning to reload 7.5 swiss, 8x57 mauser, and 30-30 on it. Is the Classic Cast the way to go or the Rock Chucker?

howlnmad
October 21, 2011, 01:21 PM
First I size and deprime , the prime them, then seat bullets in all of them, and so one. The turret is only good if you are planing on doing the all steps one cartridge at a time.
How do you get the powder in?

Funshooter45
October 21, 2011, 01:30 PM
I think it's a great little press to start with. I started with one and still have it. I eventually wound up with a Classic Turrret for my pistol needs and a Redding Big Boss2 for rifle, just because I got a steal of a deal on that one. I still have the Challenger sitting there waiting for my son to get out of college and get his own reloading started.

As for rifles, I loaded plenty of 7 mm mag and .308 on my Challenger. Maybe it's not quite as slick as my Redding, but it got the job done just fine.

ranger335v
October 21, 2011, 02:14 PM
I've been reloading a LOONG time and feel that any kind of quick-change die bushings are a solution for which we have no problem. And, given the number of cartridges I load for the bushings would get prohibitive. Of course I haven't cinched my dies down with a wrench since I was a noob, finger tight is fine and that's all I do. I can easily screw-swap dies in maybe 30-40 seconds so even if the bushings were instantaneous - and they arent - I wouldn't 'save' a lot of time using two or three or four dies in a normal two hour loading session!

Other than that personal perception, it's a dandy kit. But, no loading kit of any brand or price is complete, you will still have to buy several other items.

GLOOB
October 21, 2011, 02:24 PM
I thought the cost of bushings was prohibitive, too. But then I realized they come in packs of two. So they're not really that bad! I still don't use them except on the seating dies for my most common calibers.

Funshooter45
October 21, 2011, 03:44 PM
Same thought I've always had on the bushings. I sorta timed it the other day and it took me about 5 seconds to spin a die out and another 5 or 6 seconds to spin a new one in. If you pay attention to what you're doing, the O-ring or set screw will keep the lock ring in the same place so it will go into the same depth when you put it back in next time.

ranger335v
October 21, 2011, 06:28 PM
"I sorta timed it the other day and it took me about 5 seconds to spin a die out and another 5 or 6 seconds to spin a new one in."

Yeah, sure easy for YOU too say, but I'm OLD and I work SLOW! ;) But, even at my snail's pace, changing screwed-in dies sure doesn't eat up much of my reloading time; if I was in that big a hurry I'd probably just buy factory ammo. (Last time I did that was about 1988.) ??

I have some 50 sets of dies - even IF I wanted quick-change bushings that many would NOT be small change! Every one gets to pick his own poison but they aren't for me.

dak0ta
October 21, 2011, 08:29 PM
Is it better to buy my reloading stuff separately from different brands or get a kit? Is the RCBS Rock chucker kit good?

gofastman
October 21, 2011, 08:37 PM
I started with this kit and recommend it, I have nothing else to judge it by though.

ranger335v
October 21, 2011, 08:42 PM
In reverse order, is the RCBS kit good? Yeah. So are the others.

Is it better to buy individual parts from various brands? Yeah. But all of it works fine so that means you would need to know what YOUR prefered work methods and NEEDS would go best with.

Well meaning comments like "I use this and that", "I've used my xxxx for 60 years and it's never failed me (so it must be best?)", etc. is no real help to you. What we need to know from YOU is what cartridges you expect to load, for what purpose, in what monthly volumes, and if you have any experience in reloading at all. In other words, if we don't have a clue what you need we will likely tell you what we like and that may well be totally different from what you need.

AK_Maine_iac
October 21, 2011, 09:36 PM
I started out with the same Kit. Now my bench looks like an orphanage for misplaced cast-a-ways. I get lots of other brands at lawn sales and estate auctions.
It was a very good starting point. Nothing wrong with buying used, unless you like spending more for new.

cfullgraf
October 21, 2011, 09:52 PM
"I sorta timed it the other day and it took me about 5 seconds to spin a die out and another 5 or 6 seconds to spin a new one in."

Yeah, sure easy for YOU too say, but I'm OLD and I work SLOW! ;) But, even at my snail's pace, changing screwed-in dies sure doesn't eat up much of my reloading time; if I was in that big a hurry I'd probably just buy factory ammo. (Last time I did that was about 1988.) ??

I have some 50 sets of dies - even IF I wanted quick-change bushings that many would NOT be small change! Every one gets to pick his own poison but they aren't for me.

I agree. I do not know why folks get hyped up on being able to change a die in a few seconds less with some kind of bushing.

I spent a small fortune on Hornady bushings when I converted many of my pistol cartridges to the progressive. I would have been happy if the L-N-L press had screw in die locations versus the bushings. But such is life.

The Lee Breech lock system corrects what I conside the only flaw in the Lee dies. It allows one to jam the o-ring lock ring against something so that you do not lose the die setting. I noticed that Lee now sells a Breech lock bushing with a split ring clamp built in.

The basic Lee press is pretty good.

RandyP
October 22, 2011, 11:31 AM
It is a fine kit that can provide a lifetime of use making reliable, safe and accurate ammo.

I quickly upgraded to the CLASSIC 4-hole turret going from the 50 rounds per hour single stage output to the very relaxed pace 150-175 RPH on the auto-advancing 4-hole turret.

There is IMHO absolutely NOTHING wrong with only ever reloading single stage. You pays yer money, you makes yer choices. For ME the triple output per hour was worth the investment and meets my realistic shooting needs perfectly. If I were shooting often I would doubtless be looking into the very high output progressives,.

Lost Sheep
October 22, 2011, 02:04 PM
Is it better to buy my reloading stuff separately from different brands or get a kit? Is the RCBS Rock chucker kit good?
A kit will get you loading quicker. Assembling your own kit will force you to THINK about what you are doing more than a kit does. What's that extra knowledge worth?

Any kit will have extra stuff that is a waste of your money and a waste of space. No kit has EVERYTHING you need, so you will be supplementing it with extra purchases (or, if you are lucky, trades). You will also, after you develop your particular style, trade off some stuff for other stuff you like better, but that applies to kits as well as self-assembled outfits.

One can begin loading with but three things.

Press because fingers are not strong enough to work metal

Dies because fingers are not precise enough to work metal

Scale (or powder scoops) because eyeballs are not precise enough to mete powder charges.

Everything else enhances 1) safety (e.g. safety glasses or a good scale), 2) speed or 3) convenience (e.g. applying case lube with a lube pad instead of fingers).

If you live near a retail outlet, you can get the bare essentials and add to them as you see the need. I loaded for a decade before I ever had a bullet puller and another several years before I needed to use it. I didn't have a tumbler for over 30 years, but just wiped my brass down with terrycloth or old t-shirt. My brass looked grungy, but shot just fine. Now that I have a tumbler, my brass looks better, but shoots just the same.

Tell us what your shooting habits are (and your expected reloading habits) and your future goals. Supreme accuracy at distance? Lots and lots of informal paper punching? Formal competition (IDPA, silhouette, etc). Hunting? Help us help you. Our advice will be more on target the better you inform us of your needs and expectations.

Good luck,

Lost Sheep

ranger335v
October 22, 2011, 03:31 PM
Cfull, understand that some people like Lee's O ring lock nuts, a lot don't; me, I don't care one way or the other.

None of us needs to lock dies down with pliers or a wrench but some do it. Actually, hand tight is plenty tight and no die is going to move during normal use anyway. Thing is, some think Lee does that type lock ring 'cause it's "cheep" but I suspect it actually costs more than the set screws in most lock nuts. Dick Lee designed those soft locking nuts for very good mechanical reasons; they are easy to swap by hand and, done correctly, they won't loose adjustment. (But, if they do, I don't sweat it, only takes a minute or so to reset 'em.) The bigger deal is the rubber holds the die softly so it can more easily shift to match the cases if anything is out of line; shell holder, case head, press or die - locking any dies down hard forces the dies to bend cases if they have to match more than a tiny bit of misalignment.

If someone gave me a Lee or Hornady press that only took bushings I 'spect I would hot-glue a bushing in place and screw/swap dies in that. (I would use hot glue rather than epoxy only because I might want to sell it later and the next guy might LIKE to use the bushings. ?? )

Twmaster
October 22, 2011, 04:28 PM
I too started out with this kit. At $98 plus shipping from Factory sales it's hard to beat.

I load several pistol rounds, 8x57 Mauser and 6.5-257 Roberts with no trouble at all.

One day I'll get a progressive press. But not until this one starts to slow me down.

As to the bushings. I hate them. I just spin my dies in/out. Easy-Peasey.

cfullgraf
October 22, 2011, 10:20 PM
None of us needs to lock dies down with pliers or a wrench but some do it. Actually, hand tight is plenty tight and no die is going to move during normal use anyway.


It is not when the die is in use with the Lee lock ring that I have an issue with. It is when the die is changed out. It is too easy to loose the setting when screwing the die in and out. I know what Lee says about their lock rings and keeping the setting. But, the o-ring is not a positive enough lockign system to prevent the die from moving. It is not "if" but "when" the die moves relative to the o-ring when removing or re-installing the die..

Hence, the die setting should be checked every time the die is installed.

With a clamping lock ring, spin the die in, snug it up hand tight and start reloading. The die returns to its original, adjusted position.

With the Lee turret or the breech lock system, the lock ring can be locked, or even hand snugged, against the turret or breech lock bushing and the die will not lose its adjustment.

I have a Lee lock ring on the L-N-L powder cop die on my progressive. I have to readjust the die with every caliber change and the Lee lock ring is great. Like you said, the lock ring is hand snugged, I can move it easily without tools and reset the die position as needed.

In my opinion, the Lee lock rings are not appropriate where a die is rarely re-adjusted but frequently removed.

But, if you are happy with the Lee lock rings, then they are the best lock rings for your reloading system.

snuffy
October 22, 2011, 11:18 PM
I spent a small fortune on Hornady bushings when I converted many of my pistol cartridges to the progressive. I would have been happy if the L-N-L press had screw in die locations versus the bushings. But such is life.

The solution is simple, just lock-tite those bushings in, then screw your dies in and out like they were INTENDED to be used!

That's what I told a young co-worker I got started in handloading to do. He bought the breech-lock challenger, just used red lock-tite to hold one bushing in. The red lock-tite can be removed simply by heating to release it, so could epoxy.

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