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lee challenger

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by project88, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. project88

    project88 Well-Known Member

    i'm lookin at my first reloading setup...i'm lookin primarily at the lee challenger breech lock single stage kit...any opinions/experience with this press..i can get the kit here in town for 89.98
  2. JDGray

    JDGray Well-Known Member

    Great starter kit! Still use mine after 25yrs of reloading. I updated the handle after breaking the aluminum link on some 300 Win Mag cases that didn't have enough lube, but that was my fault. The cast turret would be my first choice today, pull the indexing rod and its a single stage, plus you can turn out some quick pistol ammo on the turret if needed.
  3. Husker_Fan

    Husker_Fan Well-Known Member

    I have one and love it. I think it is a great value for a single stage press. I've loaded .38 spl, .357 mag, and 7mm rem mag on it, all with good results.

    I believe there are two kits. The main difference is one comes with the hand primer and the other is set up for priming on the press. I prefer the hand primer for the single stage set up, but YMMV.
  4. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    "i'm lookin at my first reloading setup...i'm lookin primarily at the lee challenger breech lock single stage kit..."

    As a LOOONG time reloader, that kind of press has no appeal to me. The idea of using quick-mount dies (Lee or Hornady) is more of an illusion than a fact, it only takes me maybe 20 seconds to swap dies and that need not be done more than once of twice in typical loading session. The breech sleeves aren't expensive tho - at least not at first! But, I have some fourty sets of dies, some of them three or four die sets, so it would cost me a bundle, and for no real benefit at that.

    But, Lee's presses are quite good. Maybe you should look at the Classic Cast? It's all cast steel (not alum alloy like the Breechlock) and much stronger but at nearly the same basic cost.

    Kits, of any brand, are okay for some newbies simply because it removes all doubts about what to get, you are stuck with one color no matter what might be better choices. In this case, the scale choice would be MUCH better if it was a beam like the RCBS 505 or Redding.
  5. delta5

    delta5 Well-Known Member

    Go with one of the Challenger kits.. After you get comfortable and decide if you like reloading or not, you can decide on what to buy then. Learn the basics before you sink a ton of money into a high dollar press that you may not want or need. By then you will know if you need a high dollar progressive press like the Lee Loadmaster, or a more simple turret press like the Lee Classic Cast turret press. If you are just reloading small amounts of ammo, the Lee cast turret press will work just fine. I can reload anything I want on mine.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  6. gearheadpyro

    gearheadpyro Well-Known Member

    I love mine, works great and the bushings make die swaps a breeze.

    The single stage is great for lower volume higher precision ammunition.
    The turret is fantastic for mid volume shooting like pistol or AR. It is possible, but more difficult, to make very accurate ammo on a turret. One of the high dollar Reddings or Lymans are likely just as good as a single stage when used as such. The Lee turret, which I use for all of my pistol loading, will create variances of a few thousandths from cartridge to cartridge when used for rifle ammo. This isn't good for very high precision stuff.
    The progressive is best for high volume shooters, 1000+ a month, IMHO.

    I recommend starting slowly with a single stage press, and be very meticulous with everything.
  7. delta5

    delta5 Well-Known Member

    The main problem that I had with my Classic turret press when i first got it was that my OAL was all over the place. I finally figured out that it was because of the small amount of up and down play that has to be in the turret so it can spin freely. When you set up your dies, you must follow the directions plus dial out the play and then a bit more. So if you have to touch the shell holder, you have to touch and then turn it down further until you dial out the play. Then your OAL and bullet depth will be very consistent. I dont understand why Lee fails to mention this in their manual.
  8. StretchNM

    StretchNM Well-Known Member

    The Breechlock Challenger is a very nice press, and the Kit is nice and complete. There is a tad (a micro tad) of slop in the ram, at least on mine, but not enough to affect your reloads. I do like the quick-change die adaptors but, as someone said, screwing in and out the dies isn;t really that big of a deal.

    Also, like someone said, I got the kit with the hand primer, which I like much better than priming on the press. Much better sensitivity when seating the primers - faster too.

    With that said, Lee's Classic Cast single stage press cannot be topped. I know KempfsGunShop and Cabela's both put together a Kit for the Classic Turret, and they may have one for the Classic Cast, though I can;t say for sure. I do know this: Kempf is so good to deal with, I'm sure he'd put together a Kit for you at a reasonable price.

    Top of the top of the line, these Classic series are.
  9. moooose102

    moooose102 Well-Known Member

    depends on where you shoot, and how clean you keep things. mine is about 3 years old, and the housing is wearing pretty bad. the ram is getting sloppy. granted, where i shoot, is ALL sand, and occasionally, i deprime a case that has sand in it. when this happens, the sand goes down the primer hole, and right between the ram and the housing, which, of course, gouges the nice soft aluminum housing, and causes wear. but, in al honesty, no matter what, any dirt or debris (even just the spent powder and primer junk) will end up in the bearing surfaces and cause wear. personally, i would look for something that does not dump the dirt onto the bearing surfaces. the lee classic cast iron press would be much better. when i bought mine, i did not realize how much i was going to use it. my press probably has somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 rounds through it. when i replace it (soon) i will probably look into something other than a single stage press. i will then use this press strictly for depriming.
  10. project88

    project88 Well-Known Member

    well i'm just lookin for an affordable single stage kit to get me started to see if i even like reloading...after i'm done with college if i'm still reloading i'd like to get a progressive press anyways...but i dont wanna drop alot of money right now
  11. delta5

    delta5 Well-Known Member

    Then I would pick up one of the Challenger kits. It will work fine for what you need right now. You will need a die set for the caliber(s) you plan to reload, and for rifle shells, a case trimmer and a pin gauge for each rifle caliber. Be sure you get the Lee reloading manual and read it many times :)
  12. Patrick R

    Patrick R Well-Known Member

    I bought the Lee Challenger kit. I've loaded over 3500 rounds so far. 380 acp, 9mm, 38 Special & 45 acp. Works well.

    You will need a few other tools.

    Calipers $22.00, electronic grain scale $30.00, vibrator case cleaner $64.00all "Frankford Armory" brand & a good load book like Lees $15.00.

    I bought everything from Midway USA on the web.

    You also need something to hold your brass shells in during loading. Old ammo box holders or Frankfords reloading trays $6.00 each.

    The electronic scale is needed because Lees scale is hard to use/fickle. The powder dispenser no better but works well once it is set.
  13. StretchNM

    StretchNM Well-Known Member

    I bought the Lee Challenger breech lock kit too. Again, it's a very good press, but the lure of the Classic Cast got me. You'll do well starting with that Kit. I do recommend, however, that you get the Kit that comes with the hand primer - much more sensitive and faster than priming on the press (for me anyway).

    I weigh each and every charge but, as Patrick said, doing each on the scale is painstaking. So a low-priced digital scale checks each charge thrown from the powder dispenser. If it's not dead-on, the pan goes back to the Lee scale where an RCBS trickler brings it up to weight.

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