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Newbie press question re: Lee Turret

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Legionnaire, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Well-Known Member

    I've decided to get into reloading. I don't have the resources to commit a lot to this in the short term, and don't want to spend money I'll later regret. Should I take to reloading in a big way, I anticipate that I'll spend more over time and eventually have multiple presses for different applications. I want to start with rifle cartridges: .300 win mag and .308 win to start with. Next will likely be .243. If all goes well, I'd move on to .44 mag (for both carbine and revolver).

    I've decided that one of the Lee "kits" is the most economical way to get started (for me, anyway). I already have the "ABC's," Speer manual, and one other manual I don't remember the publisher of. I have space for a bench and plans for building it. I have lots of brass, including match quality brass, in each of the rifle calibers I'm interested in.

    So here's the question: Lee makes three and four hole turret presses. Given the steps in reloading bottlenecked rifle cartridges, which is preferable? Or, if I'm willing to set up separate turrets for each cartridge I want to reload, is this a difference that makes no difference?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2006
  2. loadedround

    loadedround Well-Known Member

    Lee Press Question

    I would like to offer my 40+ years or reloading experience to you. If You are going to start reloading, buy your Lee single station press(in a kit if all possible w/dies) or a plain turret press and learn how on either press. It is not my intention to knock Lee , but my experience shows that Lee Progessive Presses are poorly designed, have long periods of down time and need to be constantly adjusted to run properly. My advice to you is wait and buy a Dillon, RCBS, or Hornady progressive press if you desire volume. I know I will be flamed for my comments, but so be it. What I have just posted is based on many years of experience.
  3. frenchwrench

    frenchwrench Well-Known Member

    The new Lee Cast Turret press would be the way to go for rifle, but later will handle pistol also.The cast press has the 4 hole turret and will do whatever you are looking for in getting started. Check on midway web site for sale price of $84.95 instead of Lee site at $120.00.Whatever you chose, welcome to the world of reloading.:)
  4. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Well-Known Member

  5. Lennyjoe

    Lennyjoe Well-Known Member

    I like the 4 holer cause it gives me the advantage of adding a 4th factory crimp die if needed. I use the turret to load pistol and .223 bulk ammo.

    For rifle rounds other than bulk .223 I use a single stage press.

    I picked up mine used from a member here. Works great except for the indexer. Sometimes it wont index to the next die so I manually index it. Guess I need to get a few new parts to bring it up to speed.

    I'd love to have a Dillon or RCBS but I aint a rich man. Have to make due with what I can afford. ;)
  6. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the feedback. Since my original post, I noticed that the Classic Turret press is not included in the deluxe kit. But it does look like it may be worth the few extra bucks. And if I don't buy a kit, I can decide on what powder measure and scale I really want. Leaning that way, but no decisions yet.

    Also looks a bit like the 3 versus 4 hole question is a bit of a non-issue. The price difference between the turrets is insignificant.
  7. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Oh OK...I'll make a comment...I own a Lee Turret three hole press. As I resize/decap all my cases both rifle and handgun on a single stage and complete the rest of the operations on the turret I am very happy with the turret. It and I have had our hard times over the past 15 years (mostly my fault) it has served me quite well. When loading rifle cases you must turn it into a manual indexing turret by removing the turret shaft (this is easy) and hand index because if you don't the turret starts turning before the bullet is out of the die...Because I only load twenty rifle cases at a time and do each step carefully this is not a problem for me. If you have more questions on the three hole Lee Turret. Just say so....
  8. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Lennyjoe...It should just take a new nylon ratch, if so equiped and/or adjusting the nut a little...:D
  9. Lennyjoe

    Lennyjoe Well-Known Member

    Yea, I figured as much. One day I'll get around to ordering one. ;)
  10. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Cheap...Come two to a bubble pack. And when you figure out how to adjust the nut you will probably never wear one out. I haven't replaced mine in the last 4 years...:D
  11. Uncle Don

    Uncle Don Well-Known Member

    As mentioned, the three hole was the one that needed to be adjusted. The four hole press does not, it's built into the twist and a nylon ratchet (black square) that runs up and down the index rod. Once set (should be from the factory), it never needs to be done again regardless how many times it is removed and replaced.

    When I had a three hole (many moons ago), I too figured out how to set it and it worked fine. The four hole was a welcome addition and now the Classic Turret is what I think a Turret Press should be. Affordable, postive priming, postive priming disposal, cast iron & steel and high enough clearance for the largest of rifle.
  12. darwin-t

    darwin-t Well-Known Member

    I've read that the indexing on the 4 hole is better than on the 3 hole.

    The 4 hole has a square shaft with a twist in it.

    The 3 hole has spring tension involved in the adjustment, if I understand and remember correctly.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2006
  13. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Well-Known Member

    Darwin-T. The three hole Lee turret has no springs.

    Uncle Don. I didn't know that about the four hole Lee turret...Thank you. I'll keep that in mind when my three hole either gives up or I feel I need another press...I much prefer the turret press because of easy in operation, minimum of moving parts and simplicity. Besides I'm just not in that big of a hurry...
  14. DaveInFloweryBranchGA

    DaveInFloweryBranchGA Well-Known Member


    The Lee Classic Press doesn't come in a kit, but it has several HUGE advantages over the older Lee turret presses - size, strength, ability to load most rifle cartridges while in auto advance mode, already set up for the safety primer (this feature alone, due to the highly controlled and quick primer feed, makes this press worth it), four hole turrets, better linkage.

    Also, having examined several kits, while they're a quick way to get started, you often get things you find you don't need, want or like. I would advise one to take a "think it through" approach and select the individual tools you need to reload. If you need help with this, I have a very generic document that talks one through the thought process of selecting equipment for reloading I'd be glad to post or email to you. It's long, but very thorough. It mentions several brands of equipment and is not prejudiced one brand to another, except where I've related my own experiences about features I like or don't like.

    I think you'll be very happy with a good set of tools to start. I think the Lee Classic cast press combined with the other stuff I list below would be a heckuva nice combination.

    Based on your objectives, I'd go with the following initially:

    ***Before anything else - these books***

    ABC's of Reloading
    Metallic Cartridge Reloading
    Speer Reloading Manual or similar manual, this is a good one, LEE, Hornady and Lyman also put out good ones.

    1. Lee Classic Turret Press
    2. Safety prime - kit with both primer sizes
    3. Lee Perfect powder measure (Works well, I've read, to reload rifle cartridges. Add the Pro Auto Disk powder measure when you get ready to reload pistol)
    4. A good powder scale - A good one can be had for around fifty bucks or so. I have a Redding and it's a good scale, but wish I'd bought an RCBS 1010, because of the features. This is a critical item you use often and I wouldn't scrimp, I recommend the RCBS 1010, because of it's range and quality adjustments. Nothing wrong with the Lee scale accuracy, but it's very "touchy" from what I"ve read and can be irritating in use.
    5. A set of RCBS scale check weights - another critical item, so you know your scale is in specification.
    6. Imperial lubricating wax or Hornady One shot to lube cases with. If you tumble, you can use Nu-Finish car polish in your tumbler media to ease pistol brass processing. Shines the brass nicely too, 4 bucks at the dollar store.
    7. A good case trimmer - Depending on how much you shoot, think about getting one that case be automated. The Lee stuff is a good option to start with, until you decide how you want to go.
    8. The Lee chamfer tools and the Lee primer pocket tools.
    9. A set of Lee dies. For rifle, buy the die set that comes with a Neck sizer. For pistol, but the die set that comes with a factory crimp die. \
    10. A tumbler to clean the brass in - I recommend the Frankford Arsenal as a very economical and durable tumbler. I've had one for five years.
    11. A media separater to get the brass separated from the media. I recommend the Frankford Arsenal as very economical and effective.
    12. A lee Auto Prime, in case you want to load single stage style, go ahead and order the shellholder set with it and you'll have most calibers in the kit.
    13. A caliper - I originally bought a Midwayusa OEM, but have since switched to a Harbor Freight Digital six inch version. In comparison's with my machinist buddy's "real" calipers, it's been quite accurate and I'm happy with it. Comes with an extra battery too. They're often on sale for peanuts.

    Hope this helps,

  15. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Dave; excellent info here. I do have books. I have the "ABCs," the Speer manual, and the Lyman manual (the one I couldn't remember earlier). Based on feedback thus far, I'll go with the Classic instead of a kit, and purchase the other elements as needed. I was working on putting together a "shopping list," and your post helps a lot!

    And thanks to all! I really appreciate "hearing" the discussion, including the comments that went beyond my original question.
  16. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Well-Known Member

    By the way, the list I've put together thus far to start on rifle cartridges is as follows:
    1. Loading manual(s)
    2. Turret press
    3. Die set(s)
    4. Shellholder(s)
    5. Lubricant and pad
    6. Powder measure
    7. Powder scale and check weights
    8. Powder trickler
    9. Powder funnel
    10. Loading block(s)
    11. Primer pocket cleaner
    12. Primer tray
    13. Priming tool (or unit for press)
    14. Case trimmer
    15. Deburring / chamfering tool
    16. Calipers
    17. Record book(s)
    "Nice to have" stuff to come later:
    1. Case cleaning stuff (tumbler, media, etc.)
    2. Case neck turning tool
    3. Chronograph
    4. Other??
    Anything I'm missing?
  17. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    As mentioned, the three hole was the one that needed to be adjusted. The four hole press does not, it's built into the twist and a nylon ratchet (black square) that runs up and down the index rod. Once set (should be from the factory), it never needs to be done again regardless how many times it is removed and replaced.

    Not intirely correct. My 4 hole needed to be adjusted after I had it in operation for several months. It would ocasionally not rotate quite far enough to index fully to the next detent. I suffered with it for a week before going to the FAQ section of Lee's website for the solution/instructions on how to adjust the indexer.

    Go 3/4 of the way down to press-press questions, then the last listing is for turret press index problems.
    Both turret presses are outlined on that FAQ.

    Legionaire, The only thing I would add to your list is the excellent RCBS case-slick spray resizing lube. You can eliminate the pad AND the need to lube the inside of the necks. Some of the spray lube will get inside the necks. Don't be concerned about leaving the lube inside the necks, it's entirely inert, won't affect the powder OR primers. I use it when I'm going to run a batch of .223 through my dillon 650. I just toss them in a big bowl, spray them, shake around to distribute the lube, spray again, tumble some more and dump in the case feeder.
  18. DaveInFloweryBranchGA

    DaveInFloweryBranchGA Well-Known Member

    "By the way, the list I've put together thus far to start on rifle cartridges is as follows:"

    "1. Loading manual(s)" - Speer, Hornady, Lyman, Lee all sell good reloading manuals. I'd start with the Speer. Sounds like you already have a couple good ones and are ready to go.

    "2. Turret press" - The Lee Classic Turret is a good choice.

    "3. Die set(s) & 4. Shellholder(s)"

    The Lee die sets, except for the RGB's, come with shellholders. I suggested the ones I did because of the excellent value they represent, including most everything you need to get going.

    "5. Lubricant and pad" - I would not reload with a lubricant and pad. This is the slowest way to lubricate. Get yourselfs some Hornady one-shot lube, Dillon's version of the same thing or some Imperial sizing wax. These are the speedy ways to go. Additionally, you won't need that nasty, messy pad. (blech)

    "6. Powder measure"- Yep, Lee perfect powder measure (You'll need the rifle powder dump die, I don't know the number.) for stick powdes and the Pro auto disk for pistol powders. Pricier alternatives that are top notch are the Hornady Lock N Load Case activated powder measure, the RCBS Uniflow case activated powder measure and the Dillon all offer "on the press automated" powder dispsense, as does the LEE measures. You'll want this feature to speed up your loading. You'll need to check to see if the higher priced measures will clear the safety prime on the Lee Classic Turret press though, something I'm researching myself.

    "7. Powder scale and check weights" Absolutely, I wouldn't scrimp here, because you use the powder scale every time you set your measure up and to check to see if your measure is holding it's setting every 100 rounds or so when you add another 100 primers. (At least, this is what I do.

    "8. Powder trickler" I have one of these. I haven't used it in 2 or 3 years. It seems ok for single stage, but before I spent money on this, I'd buy an electronic scale with a powder trickler and not have to bother with this gadjet.

    "9. Powder funnel" This item is mostly for single stage reloading, but can be useful if you're going to weigh out your powder electronically as you're loading and dump it through your powder die on your turret press. You push the button, it starts to dispense powder, you start the process of sizing your first shell, by the time you get to the point you want to add powder, the electrnic powder dispense is ready and you can dump your powder through the powder funnel. Make sure you get one that words with LEE dies, assuming you buy those.

    "10. Loading block(s)" - My suggestion is to buy one. The MTM universal reloading tray. Holds a 100 rounds. But again this is mostly for single stage reloading.

    "11. Primer pocket cleaner" - A good useful item.

    "12. Primer tray" - This can be a useful item, but is mostly for single stage reloading. There are better choices for turning over your primers. I'm reasonably certain the safety prime will handle this task for you. If not, get one, they're only a couple bucks.

    "13. Priming tool (or unit for press)" For the Lee classic turret, the safety prime, which the classic turret is designed for, appears to be the bomb. Every one who has bought one and posted about it on most internet forums is very happy with it. For off the press priming, the Lee auto prime is a good tool and very affordable.

    "14. Case trimmer" - A good necessary tool for when you're reloading brass. RCBS dies minimize trimming brass, but are more expensive and do not eliminate trimming. X-dies are more for higher competition reloading, where brass trimming because a chore. I would suggest however, you buy a trimmer that can be automated or buy one already automated, such as the RCBS trim pro. The arm you use to crank the brass will thank you, if you get into high volume reloading.

    :15. Deburring / chamfering tool" - Yes, you'll need these. Lee makes good starter ones for cheap. RCBS trim mate is tough to be to automate this process and speed it up.

    "16. Calipers" - Yep, you'll need these. See my previous post about the Harbor Freight ones if you want to save money.

    "17. Record book(s)" - Rather than buy a book specifically printed as a reloading record book, I suggest you do one of two things. One, use Microsoft Excell or Microsoft Word to make a printable sheet you prefer or two, buy a better quality collegiate style ringbound note book or engineer's notebook and use that. Much cheaper.

    "Nice to have" stuff to come later:"

    "1. Case cleaning stuff (tumbler, media, etc.)" - I'd go ahead and get this, you'll likely be glad you did, because it takes away so much hassle in cleaning brass. The inexpensive ones word as good as the expensive ones.

    "2. Case neck turning tool" - You'll likely not use these for a good while, until you get into advanced reloading. I'd look to automate my setup for convenience and speed safe before I looked at this item. It's more for single stage reloading. Before I bought this, I'd buy a Lee Classic Cast single stage press.

    "3. Chronograph" - These can be real handy, but can be pricey for a good one. Borrow your buddies if you can.

    "4. Other??" Akro bins, get with a buddy and order a couple dozen at a buck or so apiece rather than paying five or six bucks for a "Reloading company" brand one. You'll find all kinds of uses for them. Also, go to the dollar store and find some plastic bins with lids to sprt hold your brass. You can label them as well. All these things come in real handy when you're in the process of loading. The akro bins will hold your brass, bullets and finished cartridges as you go along, make things nice and organized too.

    "Anything I'm missing?"

    1. Thing about building a good sturdy bench. Doesn't have to be fancy, just sturdy. Perhaps a second bench for sorting, cleaning and storing brass and bullets. (I also use the second bench for any processing done off the press.)

    2. A shelving unit of some sort to hold the reloading dies, tools, etc., you're not using during your present reloading operation.

    Hope this helps,

  19. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Dave!
  20. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Well-Known Member

    Hmmm. Just put together my shopping list and priced it all out ... $408 plus shipping! That's with two turrets and dies for two calibers (.300 win mag and .308 win). Includes tumbler, separator, and media, but not a chronograph or neck turning tool. Sound about par for the course?

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