Questions about Lee Loader and reloading 44mag


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Jackal
December 25, 2012, 05:08 PM
So. I have never reloaded before. I am very savvy in nearly every other aspect of my hobby, but reloading has never been a thing I delved into. I recently acquired a Lee Loader kit for the 44mag, the only cartridge I intend to reload for. I do not shoot the 44 often enough to invest in a more complicated or costly setup, maybe 100 rounds a year. I have watched videos on how to use it etc. What I really need to know is this:

What powder is best for use the included measure scoop and the 44mag in general?

What primers do I use?

Whats the best place to get bulk hard cast bullets (prefer 240 swc), primers, powder, etc? Where are the best (read cheapest) places online to get them?

Thanks in advance for helping a noobie.;)

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rcmodel
December 25, 2012, 05:19 PM
What powder is best for use the included measure scoop and the 44mag in general?You should have got an instruction sheet with the Lee Loader that tells you what powders you can use with the dipper.

.44 Magnum uses Large Pistol primers.

Magnum primers are not necessary, or desirable unless you are loading massive doses of ball powder, which you won't be with a Lee Loader dipper.

Missouri Bullet has a full range of .44 Cal lead bullets with good prices and fast service.
http://www.missouribullet.com/results.php?category=5&secondary=12

PS: You might ought to buy a Lyman #49 Reloading Manual and read it before you jump in with both feet.

rc

Honest John
December 25, 2012, 05:39 PM
Jackal, I use a Lee Loader myself and I strongly suggest you get a scale to use when working up your loads. (In addition to a reloading manual, of course.)

Lost Sheep
December 25, 2012, 06:32 PM
What rcmodel and Honest John said is spot on.

Trail Boss powder is very forgiving. BUT DO NOT COMPRESS THIS POWDER. Otherwise, it is impossible to get overpressure. It runs at a decently low pressure and occupies a lot of volume, making it easy to see in the bottom of the case. It is great to learn with.

I don't recommend loading for full power while you are learning. So, you don't need really hard cast lead slugs if you stay under 1,000 fps. (Loading manuals will give an estimate of velocity to expect.)

Use a mallet to drive the loader. Do not use a steel hammer unless you pad the face. A wood mallet, rawhide, plastic, hard rubber or brass will do better.

Get a scale. The Lee Safety Scale is accurate and once you get used to reading a vernier will do you just fine. Being able to get known powder charges will enable you to vary your power level and expand your powder choices immensely. And it only costs $33 from Lee Precision (and less from other retailers) and far less on the used market.

If whacking on explosives (the primers are explosive, the gunpowder merely flammable) is unnerving to onlookers (or to yourself), a hand priming tool is available from Lee Precision, too. Consider it. Otherwise, wear a glove on the non-hammer hand and use eye and ear protection. I have never set off a primer loading with the Lee tool, but have testimony that others have done so.

Prime an empty case, load into your 44 and set it off. You will see how loud it is. For extra information, drape a paper towel over the muzzle to see how much power there is and do it into a porcelain sink or clean dropcloth to see what residue comes out. You don't want that embedded in your fingers or eyes. The ear protection mentioned before will protect your ears from the extremely rare primer detonation as well as the constant banging (at east 5 or 6 whacks per cartridge loaded).

I own, and have used a Lee Loader (also known as the Lee Hammer Tool, Whack-a-mole or Whack a bullet) for all of my cartridges. But use a press. Much quieter, faster and does not take up much more space or cost much more, really.

Once you add the accessories that you REALLY SHOULD USE, like Scale, calipers, various sized powder dippers, bullet puller, notebook, dropcloth etc and a box to put it all in, the Lee Loader is not that much more compact or inexpensive than a press setup. That's the sales pitch.

Enjoy your Lee Tool. Get ABC's of Reloading (from your local library, maybe) and a couple of loading manuals (not just for the load recipes, but for the instructions they all have in the early chapters, too).

Merry Christmas

Lost Sheep

Lost Sheep
December 25, 2012, 06:52 PM
Reading your other posts, I see that you have (or have had) a number of centerfire rifles and 9mm guns and at least one 38/357.

Why not reload for them, too? .223 and 9mm do not offer the savings that 44 Mag does, but there is some. If you have more exotic calibers (like your 6mm? if I read your posts correctly) you could squeeze a bit more accuracy out of it, I'll bet. That is, unless you just don't have the time. Then I understand.

Lost Sheep

gamestalker
December 25, 2012, 07:28 PM
I would really recomend getting a scale to check your powder charges against. Volmetric measuring devices can be OK to use as long as you cofirm what they are scooping. I can tell you from experience that the powder scoop chart never seems to get even close to matching the scoops. I especilly feel that a new reloader should start out doing it the safe way to avoid a bad first experience with this hobby.

GS

Jackal
December 25, 2012, 09:18 PM
Thanks for the sound advice everybody. I will look into the scale and auto primer. My kits kinda older, it recommends Hercules green dot and hodgdon h4227. It was free from a family friend.

I would reload for more, but I honestly have enough ammo for every other caliber (between 1-5k rounds each). I dont find it financially viable until factory ammo reaches about $.50 per round for the cartridge in question (.44mag about $.60).

gadawg31
December 25, 2012, 10:13 PM
x2 on the scale and a good Lyman reloading manual. I load a lot of 240grn cast for my handi rifle and redhawk and mostly use #2 powder. I have experimented with some 2700, mainly because I use my 44's in my handi rifle and it can take a lot more abuse. But my ole reliable is still #2 and if you can find a buddy that is casting, I think you will find that it is a little more economical to cast and load, but that is my 2 pennies. Good luck.

JD

gamestalker
December 26, 2012, 07:51 PM
I would not recomend Green Dot, it's a rather fast burning powder for 44 mag. which leaves very little room for error. Try starting out with slower burners that occupy more case capacity, a safer avenue for a new reloader I think?

GS

Lost Sheep
December 27, 2012, 04:02 AM
I would not recomend Green Dot, it's a rather fast burning powder for 44 mag. which leaves very little room for error. Try starting out with slower burners that occupy more case capacity, a safer avenue for a new reloader I think?

GS
I always thought that faster powders were a little more flexible than slower powders (that is, they tolerate being downloaded better).

Do I misinterpret? I have no experience with Green Dot. Perhaps that is the cause of my confusion.

Thanks.

Lost Sheep

FROGO207
December 27, 2012, 04:38 AM
Welcome to the world of reloading and the benefits of accuracy and cost savings/supply availability security. I would reconsider the possibilities with not bothering to reload other calibers yet. With the current state of affairs a simple press (even a Lee hand held press) that will accept multiple dies and the dies needed along with enough primers for each cartridge would be a good start in addition to what has already been recommended. FYI I have several calibers that are so easy to get cheap ammo that I do not reload for them presently BUT have the equipment in hand already and have worked up several good loads for each so that if things get hard to obtain I have already done all the legwork to minimize waste. If 5K was all the ammo I had aside for my handguns I would have to almost stop target practice to make sure I would have some ammo left in a year if things get more expensive or hard to find. I am old enough that $20+ for a box of premium 30-30 seems like robbery to me for example, having paid less than $5 a box for the same stuff not that long ago it seems. Your loader kits are something I also have for multiple calibers as a backup for broken presses should the need arise. IMHO prices will do nothing but go up in the future and the sooner you start to get a solid footing in the reloading area the better able to handle the ammo cost you will be. YMMV

mdi
December 27, 2012, 02:50 PM
I have been reloading, off and on, for 30+ years and still on occation will dig out my Lee Loaders. The only one I have popped primers on is the .44 Magnum, so I prime with an arbor press, with the Loader. No popped primers. If you don't want to prime with the Lee Loader, go with a hand tool (Hornady, Lee, etc.).

A scale is a good idea, you can change the charge accurately, and/or use different dippers (don't overlook the Lee Safety Scale. The poise is a vernier rather than a weight and notched beam and for some can't or won't learn to read it, and it's lockable). Lee has a good dipper set that comes with a "slide rule" type of charge chart (when I don't want to set up my C-H powder measure, I'll use a dipper from the kit and a scale).

One hint to using a Lee Loader is use a heavy mallet to get a "push" rather than a "tap" (a dead blow hammer works great). Easier on the hands and fewer popped primers...

I usually tell a new reloader to pick a tried and true bullet/powder load from a manual (in .44 mag. something like a 240-250 gr. LSWC over 9.0-10.0 gr. Unique). Usually accurate in most guns and all the problems have been worked out by someone on this forum.

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