Can Lee press be used for feeding autoloading rifles?


Oleg Volk
February 5, 2003, 05:58 PM
In reading Lee manual, it seems that he advises not using his press for ammo intended for autoloaders or for guns other than the one in which the original brass was fireformed. Is that caveat only applicable if the case isn't resized full-length? Can full-length resizing be done with a Lee press? Bogie? Anyone?

Also, I am trying to decide between starting with 303 British and 45ACP as the first caliber to re-load...which would be easier?

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February 5, 2003, 06:46 PM
Oleg, you ask a good question. The answer is yes and no! Usually, semiauto's have rather genereouos chambers to aid in feeding, etc. Many times, the case is, when fired, expanded all the way down to close to the head. Depending on the press and dies used, they MAY NOT size the case far enough down toward the head to work in the semiauto's. You can get 'small base dies' made to, supposedly, cure the problem of sizing cases to be used in semiautos. The only way is to reload some and give her a try! You will most likely have to full length size the cases-even so far as to 'bump' the die on the shellholder (don't try to just neck size or just 'kiss' the shoulder with the sizing die) and see what happens. I have some that work ok and some that don't. Good luck with yours! (BTW-semiauto's and sizing this way cuts WAY down on case life-CAREFULLY inspect for insipient case separation up from the base.)

February 5, 2003, 06:48 PM
Other question: 45 ACP hands down. Hard to screw up! (IT CAN BE DONE THO!)

February 5, 2003, 07:26 PM
I have used a Lee "C" and Lee Turret Press to make ammo for a Browning BAR (the semiauto hunting rifle) an M1 Garand, and M1 Carbine, and an M1A. No problems with any of them as long as I adjusted the dies correctly. That did take some trial and error and an occasional re-reading of the directions to set.

In addition I have reloaded the .32 ACP, 9mm Luger, and .45 ACP on the same setup for various semiauto pistols. Some of the 9mm and .45 ACP loads were fired in a Madsen M50 subgun and a Reising subgun. Few problems as long as I stuck to FMJ or round nose lead bullets. Truncated cone bullets did not work too well in either subgun, but it was a bullet not a press problem.

February 6, 2003, 12:57 PM
Oleg, they may have been writing about the use of the Lee collet dies or the Lee Loader straight-line dies - these dies size only the neck, and don't mess with the body. So after a few firings, the body has expanded enough that it doesn't want to chamber easily (but will work okay in a bolt gun).

Standard full length dies will work fine. Use a good lube - Try too much at first, and work down. Too little is not a godo thing. I recommend Imperial Die Wax.

I'd load for the .303 first. Reason being that with a good slow powder, it will be VERY difficult to double-charge the case. Get used to the process, and then move on to the .45.

So, what's a good case-filling powder for a newbie to use in the .303? For the .45? About all I use is either Unique or AA#5 or #7...

February 6, 2003, 04:12 PM
Oleg, If you have any standard press designed to use the standard 7/8" full length dies, you will not have any problems.

I use the Lee RGB dies (Really Great Buy) for my .223 cartridges which are used in an AR with no problems. I use Lee 9mm dies as well, again with no problems.

As for case lube, the .45ACP dies if carbide, will not require lube. For bottleneck rifle cases, I use Hornady One Shot Spray, and this is the best I can come up with. Align the cases in a plastic loading block. Put a paper towel underneath, and hold can at a 45 degree angle and spray briefly from all 4 sides covering all sides and the case mouth briefly. You just then resize and wipe off the cases with a paper towel and then trim.


February 6, 2003, 04:26 PM
I use a Lee "C" press and Lee dies for cartridges up to .308, including .223 and 7.62x39 for use in autoloaders. I have had no problems chambering any of my reloads unless I screwed up personally. They only headspace/sizing/chambering problem that I have had was with Redding dies due to an oversight on my part.
Any mention of unsuitability for use with autoloaders is doubtless a description of either his Lee Loader tool or his collet neck sizing dies, which are both built to minimally size a case. Since I've read his manual, I'm betting that it's the former that he is referring to. He claims that millions have been sold. I think my grandpa had one. I, on the other hand, had the $20 to shell out for a real single stage press.

February 6, 2003, 04:55 PM
Oh yeah - If you buy the Lee "Pacesetter" or whatever they call it sets, they include the proper shellholders.

"Pam" cooking spray also makes good lube, but you HAVE to tumble the cases after you resize.

Oh yeah - for the .303, you're gonna want to order Lee's little case trimming gizmo (rifle loads BAD when the case mouth grows too much). It's only a few bucks, and works VERY well.

Call me when you get ready to load for the rifle, and I'll talk you through setting up the die to minimally resize the brass (longer life, less likelihood of head seps - I generally can shoot 6PPC brass until the primer pocket expands enough that it will no longer grip a primer!).

February 6, 2003, 07:18 PM
Yeah, listen to the guys when they suggest case trimming on the .303-probably good to do on each firing (I know some don't) but it can cause big problems.

Also, listen to the guys tell you how to set up the dies. The Brit. .303 is notorious for 'generous' military chamber, maybe 'generous' headspace (good to check especially for reloading) and 'springy' action with back lugs. All that translates into short brass life if you are not careful. Always check for incipient case head separation on fired brass. Case separation is a BIG no-no for a wide variety of reasons-all of them BAD!

Good luck and when you get to specific questions, holler and somebody with experience will fill you in.

Freedom in theSkies
February 6, 2003, 08:11 PM
I'd reccoment a magazine...:p

Sorry Oleg, I just could'nt help myself.

I have used a Lee 1000 and an RCBS single stage for all of my reloading, and they both work fine. You just need to full length size the brass.

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