Press Kit Review: Lee Classic Turret


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zenshootist
September 30, 2012, 10:46 AM
All: Posted this review on reloaderhub a few weeks ago - wanted to share my additional thoughts as I pass the 1,000 round mark:

Notes after 1,000 rounds - I did wear out the plastic index gear at about 400 rounds. I took this press apart several times and discovered that when putting this press back together it's important to remember that the square plastic gear goes back in LIP DOWN. 600 rounds later I'm still using the same replacement gear (costs .50 cents for a new one) and auto index *totally rocks* I can make about 150 rounds per hour without hurrying. For $214 off ebay this was a great buy.

One other thing: I find myself constantly looking for good deals in ammo supplies 'so I don't run out' - can't stop - want to shoot more than ever, life is good ;-)

Initial review:

Lee Classic Turret Kit
Bought this kit because I want to save money and I figured if this kit was a wash-out, I could still go back and justify buying better gear to the wife. As I read all the comments on various equipment, this particular press seemed to have the fewest real complaints - plus a few passionate Lee users got me to seriously looking at this kit.

My first look:

1. Instructions could be a lot better. OK, they pretty much downright suck: especially the instructions on how the powder measure works. Without this forum, youtube and a buddy on the east coast talking me through the OAL setup on my dies, I'd probably still be shaking my head. It might be that way with the other kits too - but this is what I bought.

2. I was pleasantly surprised when the package arrived from the 4 sportsman store on ebay - because I ordered the Lee Kit and the 4 die 9mm kit from them, I got 4 crisp new dollar bills and a note that this was money saved for combined shipping - more money for my reloading table ...

3. The turret press is very strong. No play in the linkage like I saw that in comments about the T-Mag. I think the auto index is a huge advantage but I wish it was metal instead of plastic. The linkage was initially pretty stiff but it loosened up with some wd40.

4. I was concerned about the scale, looks kind of flimsy so bought a franklin forge digital scale to double check. The scales both work just fine but I like the digital because it can quickly check the weight of my bullets after crimping them.

5. I decapped about 500 shells of range pick ups (mostly mine, I've saved about 1,500 shells over the last year). Had a run of bad shells and averaged a stuck shell in the decapper about every third shell for about 100 casings or so. I'm thinking I picked up a bad run on one day as they all came from the same container ... I cleaned the shells before loading them. I like the idea that I can put casings through the whole process at one time but was concerned about primer seating.

6. I followed the die installation instructions that came with my dies - my first reload was a midget with the shell stuck into the casing below the ogive ... another call to my buddy on the east coast and got walked though the proper way to set up dies ... I later found that same process on page 55 of my Lee manual that ends with a statement on the instructions that come with the die are less detailed because of 'space considerations' - what? Why couldn't the instructions that came with the die refer the (new) user to the reloading manual or a more complete set of instructions on their web site?

7. The primer loader works fine. no issues with it but again, wish there was more metal in it.

8. The powder measure is hard to understand because Lee uses a cubic centimeter measurement that has to be converted into grains with a formula based on the size of the powder particles. Another issue is that for WSF powder, I only have one powder measurement available with the disk setup that comes with the powder measure. The setting for WSF with 115 grain jacketed bullets is number four on the disk - measured consistantly 4.1-4.3 grains last night. I would like more flexibility in measuring powder so I'll probably buy the optional adjustable charge bar (about $10).

So after reloading about 100 rounds, I have learned that I have some flexability in the OAL - (again, from articles I've read on the Net and in conversations with my reloading buddy on the east coast). I am happy with my purchase but I'll go on the record as stating that there are some things I'd like to see different in this kit but for just over $200 off the internet, this is one hell of a good buy. I'll be shooting my reloads this week and if you don't hear more about this kit, it's because I'm happy and busy loading more rounds ...

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JRWhit
September 30, 2012, 11:40 AM
Have the classic 4 turret, Seems to work great with the 45acp. Have a slight problem with the powder disc. Using win 231 the disc binds on occasion due to the powder type. It is easily overcome but it definitely keeps me paying attention before placing the bullet. If it doesn't completely reset it won't charge the casing possibly resulting in a squib. I make absolute point to verify powder before seating a bullet. Biggest complaint; this started an addiction. I have to keep reminding myself to let this one pay for itself before getting serious about a progressive.
As a noob to loading I'm a little paranoid about double and triple checking. I've gotten in a habit of checking O.A.L. every 10 rds And have to say through all the rounds so far, about 450, I've yet to have to re-adjust depth. There are minor differences due to bullet texture but average stays spot on. Overall great buy. I don't want to take away from anyone, but I got mine from middway on sale for 120.00. That was the kit with safety scale,which sucks, and the auto disc.

zenshootist
September 30, 2012, 11:54 AM
I check OAL and weight about every 10-20 rounds. When you use pick ups off the range, different brands mean different weights and lengths where casings are concerned.

I find that my powder measurements are very consistent using WSF - I've read that flake powders can be problematic though. That said, I am a noob at this - still working through my first pound of powder ...

RandyP
September 30, 2012, 06:21 PM
Congrats on the purchase - I have been using the Classic turret for several years and have ZERO complaints - I'm still on the original square plastic ratchet too - lol - it can only get damaged if you try to rotate the turret with the ram in the wrong position.

In truth I have never used the Lee VMD conversion charts to determine disk hole size, or PPM setting either when I use the single stage. I just pick a size or setting, weigh the charge, and repeat the process adjusting until I have the size needed to throw the weight I want.

bogon48
September 30, 2012, 08:36 PM
I like the Lee Classic 4 hole turret and use it mostly for .223 and .45 now. I like the fact that you can adjust the stroke and throw of the handle and dies so that you can use it as single stage for some tasks, like depriming crimped military brass, and then by pushing farther back on the handle rotate the dies to the next stage.

I've seen guys on YouTube remove the indexing nut and bash its operation as a turret press. Frankly, that's a problem I've never had. Of course, I use a Lee hand primer and charge my cases in separate steps. Bottom line, you have a lot of flexibility with this tool. It's very adaptable to your reloading needs.

tglazie
September 30, 2012, 08:55 PM
It's very adaptable to your reloading needs.

bingo

joecil
September 30, 2012, 09:21 PM
I use mine for 9mm, 45 ACP, 45 Colt and 45-70 loving it.

1SOW
October 1, 2012, 01:14 AM
Go to the LEE web site and view the video instructions for dies and all the rest.
http://leeprecision.com/turret-press-help-videos.html
This is video for a single stage die set-up. Same set up for each of your dies:
http://leeprecision.com/single-station-die-adjustment.html

Hope this helps

ArchAngelCD
October 1, 2012, 02:12 AM
I'm glad you're happy with your new press. There's hardly anything worse than buying a new toy and not liking it!

When i first got my Classic Turret press I "broke" 3 of those nylon squares for the auto-index in the first month. (all my fault) After I realized not to turn the turret unless the handle was half way pulled everything was fine. I think i have over 10,000 rounds on this one and while it's getting very sloppy, it's still working.

Once I got used to the press I was able to safely produce between 180 to 200 rounds/hour. It's a great press for handgun ammo and I use it without the auto-index rod when making up batches of rifle ammo too. (as heavy as 30-06)

Lost Sheep
October 1, 2012, 02:50 AM
When i first got my Classic Turret press I "broke" 3 of those nylon squares for the auto-index in the first month. (all my fault) After I realized not to turn the turret unless the handle was half way pulled everything was fine. I think i have over 10,000 rounds on this one and while it's getting very sloppy, it's still working.

It's not the position of the ram, but the direction of last movement.

The square ratchet (otherwise known as the "little black square thingy") slides up and down the indexing rod, forced by the indexing arm (the square ratchet is trapped inside of it). Since there is some drag, the square ratchet is forced against the interior underside of the top of the indexing arm when the ram movement is down. The underside is where the ratchet notches are. If the square ratchet is engaged with those notches, and you rotate the turret (and the indexing rod) in the backwards direction, you will feel resistance. If you force it, you will break the square ratchet. It's that simple.

Put another way.

It does not matter where the indexing arm is located. It only matters where the square ratchet is in relation to those notches. But you cannot SEE the position of the square ratchet, so you have to rely on remembering the direction of travel of the ram, the primary determining factor.

If the last movement of the ram was downward, the square ratchet will be up and engaged with the notches. If it was upward, the square ratchet will be down and not be engaged. If not engaged, no breakage. If engaged, you can break the square ratchet, almost guaranteed. Do not pass go, pay 50 cents and start over.

I will repeat. The stationary position of the ram is irrelevant. The position of the hidden square ratchet is relevant. The position of the square ratchet is determined by the direction of the most recent movement of the ram.

Most recent movement up, disengaged; breakage impossible. Down, engaged; breakage possible.

In mnemonic form:

Most recent movement up, OK.
Down, not ok

Remember the signal from the Roman Coliseum:
Thumbs up, your square ratchet lives.
Thumbs down, your square ratchet dies.

Lost Sheep

Edit: An alternative method (which works no matter where the ram is) is to grab the indexing rod, lift it 1/4 inch and drop it back down. That will carry the ratchet out of engagement with the notches on the inside of the indexing arm.

tglazie
October 1, 2012, 11:43 AM
It's not the position of the ram, but the direction of last movement.

That is very interesting, I always avoid turning the turret when the ram is all the way down, regardless of the direction it is coming from, but this makes perfect sense when you put it that way.

I also agree with the the previous poster though when he says if you make sure the ram is halfway you are OK to spin the turret regardless of the direction the ram was traveling previously. When I have the indexing rod in and need to move the turret by hand for some reason I just make sure to "free up" the turret by moving the ram to a neutral spot between all the way down and all the way up.

So far the only time I have broken the ratchet was when I accidentally turned the turret while moving the whole press once (empty hopper and no primers on board). It was a rookie mistake which others can learn from- always remove a turret that has dies and a powder measure on it from the press before moving the press.

HOWARD J
October 1, 2012, 12:09 PM
I like the classic turret
I use it to resize the brass---expand the mouth----seat the bullet & crimp if necessary
I use RCBS 5-0-5 scale---RCBS uniflo powder measure & RCBS auto prime tool.
Works good for me.
I don't use my Dillons anymore----no need to rush

arjppj
October 1, 2012, 12:36 PM
I love mine, I don't shoot enough to NEED a progressive, but I have about 2000k rounds of .38, .45, 7.7jap, 7.62x54r, 7.62x39, and .30-06 loaded on mine. The only problem i have is that it starts to index before the .30-06 clears the die...o well just take out the rod and turn by hand.

ArchAngelCD
October 1, 2012, 01:32 PM
Remember the signal from the Roman Coliseum:
Thumbs up, your square ratchet lives.
Thumbs down, your square ratchet dies.

Lost Sheep
:D :neener: :D

Lost Sheep
October 1, 2012, 10:19 PM
That is very interesting, I always avoid turning the turret when the ram is all the way down, regardless of the direction it is coming from, but this makes perfect sense when you put it that way.

I also agree with the the previous poster though when he says if you make sure the ram is halfway you are OK to spin the turret regardless of the direction the ram was traveling previously. When I have the indexing rod in and need to move the turret by hand for some reason I just make sure to "free up" the turret by moving the ram to a neutral spot between all the way down and all the way up.

So far the only time I have broken the ratchet was when I accidentally turned the turret while moving the whole press once (empty hopper and no primers on board). It was a rookie mistake which others can learn from- always remove a turret that has dies and a powder measure on it from the press before moving the press.
The alternative method, which works no matter what, is to grab the indexing rod, lift it 1/4 inch and drop it back down. That will carry the ratchet out of engagement with the notches on the inside of the indexing arm.

Lost Sheep.

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