Lee Hand Press


January 1, 2013, 01:51 AM
Happy New Year.

I've got a few years of reloading experience (RCBS Ammomaster) but due to a move I no longer have any reloading equipment.

I'd like to start again but want to start slow.

What is the most minimal set up that I would use for some light reloading duty? Mixture of handgun (45 and 9) and rifle (270, 308, 5.56).

Could I load with just a couple of Lee Hand Presses? How much could I realistically get done without a 'proper' press?

For those of you with the Lee Hand Press, what do you use them for? Any other suggestions?

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January 1, 2013, 02:55 AM
So far I've only used mine to load up some test rounds of 7.62x54r. I have a Hornady LNL AP but every time I try to find a shell plate for the 54R everyone is sold out. But even on that big case the Lee hand press has plenty of leverage. I imagine that as long as you don't plan on loading mass quantities you could get by with the hand press, a powder measure, scale, dies, and maybe a trimmer since you have some rifle calibers you want to reload. But Lee does make a mountable press that only about $5 more than what I paid for the hand press. If you have the space for a press I would skip the hand press. I only picked up the hand press because Cabelas was out of the cheap Lee press. The hand press does have he advantage (or disadvantage) of using their quick change bushings while the cheapest Lee bench top press doesn't.

January 1, 2013, 03:28 AM
I bought a lee hand press as an extra / backup to my lee classic turret. Also for range load development. So far I have only neck sized .308, and carbide die sized 9mm with it but both were smooth. It's nice to be able to sit on the couch, comfortable and still near my wife while reloading. It appears (in some you tube vids) to take a bit of force to full length size rifle cases but certainly can be done. The breech lock rings are nice for die changes too.

Best of luck and let us know what you think!

January 1, 2013, 08:01 AM
I have both a lee hand press and a rcbs rock chucker. The rcbs press is faster, but sometimes I can't go out to my mancave (knee problems), so I break out the handpress. It works fine. I wouldn't prime on it though ( i guess you could if you were good at juggling).

It doesn't have the leverage that the bench mounted press has, so it can take some more muscle to use, but for 50 - 100 rounds at a time, it's not bad. It's great for depriming and resizing in front of the tv.

January 1, 2013, 08:26 AM
If your going to be be reloading for quality and quantity, get a normal single stage press. If your just working up loads at the range, like 5 for each caliber, then its ok for the hand press. But any more than that your going to kill your hands. I started out on a hand press with my 30-30, took so long to get 100 rounds done.

If you have the room and funds just get a nice little Lee single stage press and make a bench, the presses are fairly cheap.

I still have the hand press, and a aluminim(or some sort of light metal) older press, and on the one on the bench beside the Lee Progressive is a Lee Cast Iron single state.

January 1, 2013, 08:32 AM
Welcome back.:evil:
I purchased mine exclusively for the range. I can even FL size 30-06 and 300 WIN MAG with relative ease, if I use good lube. I would also purchase a hand primer such as that offered by Lee as the ram prime is not so easy to use with a hand press IMHO. Yes I also have a setup with an inexpensive press mounted on a wooden 2X6 with a powder dispenser that can be clamped on the range table that is quite a bit faster but both will work quite well. My Lee hand press is the older type without the bushing. I also use it to swage primer pockets with a Ch-4D swager tool while watching the TV working off of a length of 2X6 on my lap and laying the press down. I would say what you get depends on the speed at which you want to assemble ammo and the amount of effort you are willing to exert while using the press.

January 1, 2013, 08:58 AM
I've only used mine for some 45 colt and 38/357 pistol rounds. Worked ok, but primed with a Lee or RCBS hand tools. Haven't used it for about 5 years or so now.

January 1, 2013, 09:09 AM
I have the Lee Hand press and use it for with the Universal Decapping die at my cowboy action meets. Shooting black powder 45 Colts there you want to decap and get them in soap/water solution as it is a couple hours there followed by a 2 hour ride home. Black powder flat cruds up brass quickly if left. Now my regular presses are the Lee Classic Turret and Lee Classic Cast both of which I actually load with. However my Lee Hand Press is the quick release type and could load using it just never have.

January 1, 2013, 09:18 AM
if it is a price issue, Lee makes 2 inexpensive bench mounted presses that will get you buy for a while. they are cast from aluminum like the hand press, so longevity is not great, but they will certainly get you by for a few years. i wore my "anniversary" press out in roughly 3 years. and replaced it with the "classic cast" steel press. if space is the issue, Lee also makes a stand to mount the press to, so you do not need a conventional bench . like anything else, the old tried and true methods work best for longevity, especially if you will be loading a lot. but if you are just starting out, all of them will work. just not as conveniently. i have thought about picking up a hand press so i could do something while my kids are at karate (1 1/2 hours every night). i just have so many other things i want to buy, it keeps getting pushed back.

January 1, 2013, 11:02 AM
I have 5 Lee hand presses. I use them for all kinds of things. But you can have one for sizing, one for flaring, and one for seating. Or you can use just one and change out the dies. They are plenty strong for FL sizing any case that fits in them. One of mine has a screwed-up alignment. I use it for decapping. I should send it back but it's not worth the hassle.

January 1, 2013, 01:08 PM
I do all my hand loading with one hand press for handgun and rifle.

The Lee hand press, Lee dies (includes dipper), case length gauges, cutter and lock stud, chamfer tool, ram prime, scale, caliper, funnel and loading blocks. Everything fits into a tool box.

I usually load 50 rounds at a time. Takes about an hour and a half.

January 2, 2013, 09:55 AM
I have one also. I guess I'm the only person that doesn't like this press. It has to much flex. It will work tho.

January 2, 2013, 10:23 AM
If you don't want any flex, get a Meacham Anywhere Press but they cost over $100 and the shellholder floats in the ram.


February 26, 2013, 11:49 PM
I have two Lee hand presses and a RCBS Rock Chucker. I use the Lee's mostly. I watch TV with my wife and load .45 Colt with them. One keeps the seating die in it and I swap the other three dies in the other hand press. It takes a while, but they do the job just fine. I find my seating depths are very consistent.

chris in va
February 27, 2013, 12:57 AM
Two month old thread, but I also load with one while watching a movie or the news. I just wish it was more ergonomic.

February 28, 2013, 11:37 AM
I'd like to start again but want to start slow.

A hand press seems like the right equipment for slow! I started reloading with one a couple of months ago, and it still takes me at least two hours to finish a box of 50 rounds.

Admittedly, that's without a powder measure, and weighing most of the charges. I switch calibers almost every time, and trying different bullets, so I'm adjusting the seating die. With a measure and a consistent seating setting, I'll probably be able to get it down to 90 minutes.

Agreed that the grip for the off-hand could be a lot more ergonomic. Hasn't caused me any actual problems yet, but they could have given it a little more thought.

February 28, 2013, 11:53 AM
I match #4 completely. Sometimes I just don't feel like committing to a whole Saturday in the garage. With the hand press and an RCBS hand priming tool, I can size, de-cap, prime, and bell while I watch TV. I have some of the switch-out bushings, but now I want to get some of the ones that lock. I suppose I COULD go out to the garage to measure and charge, and come back inside to seat and crimp, but I don't trust myself enough to do that with the distractions I have.

I have recently acquired a few thousand .45 cases and primers, I'm cranking through them one re-run of Law & Order at a time.

February 28, 2013, 04:28 PM
If the linkage was reversed, ram bigger, a priming system, had three mounting holes to bolt it to the desk, & made from cast is like it better. :-P

February 28, 2013, 11:19 PM
Had a hand press for a few years. Its not bad if you focus on one stage at a time. Decap and size a bunch. Then later sit and load. I was able to sit and load 300 .45 in a couple hours time. But if you shoot a bunch your going to kill all that work in one range outing. I did use it to load 20 .270 rounds. I don't think I would want to load too many large cases but it will load them just fine. If space is an issue the hand press works fine. If you have space to spare lee challenger press is inexpensive as well.

March 1, 2013, 06:18 AM
This thread from Snipercentral.com was written over 6 years ago, but covers handloading fundamentals using the Lee Hand Press.


I use it to deprime with a Lee Universal Decapping Die... fewer dropped primers, just pull the shellholder, and turn upside down into the trash, or as I do, an old plastic Folgers coffee container. Screw the lid back on the container, and no loose waste.

boom boom
March 1, 2013, 02:20 PM
Latest Lee hand press has breechlock for dies which should speed up changing dies in it.
I have the older model which took time screwing in and removing dies--used hornady locking rings though to keep the die settings intact.

Like others above, I have loaded decent handgun ammo with it. Now primarily I use it for depriming while watching TV or range load development. Never tried to prime on it as I prefer using hand priming tools for that job.

March 1, 2013, 02:26 PM
I use the Ram Prime attachment. Only way I've primed, so I can't compare, but it works OK. Another place I'm losing time, of course, since you have to pick up each primer and place it on the little seating post.

March 1, 2013, 10:51 PM
I have been doing "table top" reloading for the past three years using a Lee hand press & accessories (case trimmer, in-press priming set, case neck chamfer and deburring tool, primer pocket cleaning tool, weighing scale, powder scoop, powder funnel, loading block, etc.) and RCBS (originally Hornady) dies. Of course my output is low and slow (no more than forty reloads per session) - all of my case prep is manual and I neck size the cases (sample checking them in the chamber of the rifle). For me it is a most relaxing way to reload and I am producing accurate ammunition of good quality that functions nicely in my 30/06 rifle.

I lube inside the case neck using a .30 caliber nylon bore brush with Lee Resizing Lubricant (which I also use for exterior case lubing). I do not clean the lubricant from inside the case neck. Time is not a factor for me and therefor I hand clean each case using steel wool. I also scale weigh each powder charge.

Lee hand press minimalist equipment

Equipment storage box

RCBS Dies (neck sizer) with resized and trimmed test case & prepped dummy test cartridges

Lee manual case trimmer

Lee "in-press" priming set up

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