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Please help - new to reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by djardine, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. djardine

    djardine Well-Known Member

    I am new to reloading and curious if someone can explain the differences or similarities between the Lee 50th anniversary kit, the Lee Challenger kit, and the Lee Classic Turret. Is the basic idea behind the Classic Turret that you can keep your dies set on the turret so you dont have to change them out?

    I am reloading 9mm, 45 auto, 223, and 25-06.
    I am not looking for a brand X is better than brand Y argument- just want to know about the difference in the Lee presses. I will most likely replace the scale and powder measure with an upgraded one immediately I can get the Lee press 50th anniversary kit for $89 right now - Good kit beside maybe the powder measure and scale? Will it be okay to load .25-06 cases or is it not tall enough for the .25-06 case?

    Please help!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  2. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    a couple of tips: if you google here, in this forum, with phrases like "first order," "Lee Classic," etc., you should be able to find at least a couple of threads that will give you a list of what you will want as a first time buyer.

    Start with that, and prepare a list of what you think you need to buy, then post it. We'll work off that and improve / correct the list as needed.

    Jim H.
  3. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Welcome to reloading and thanks for asking our advice

    Check this thread and my post in it. My 10 Advices for the novice handloader and a dozen web sites to peruse.

    Get a cup of whatever you sip while deep thinking (coffee, cocoa, whatever) and enjoy for a couple of hours.


    or if the link does not work, paste this into your browser


    Good luck,

    Lost Sheep
  4. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    djardine, questions for you

    Thanks for asking our advice,

    $89 is a decent price. But decent is a relative term.

    What kind of budget do you have? Cast iron is twice as durable as aluminum and only 25% more expensive. If your budget is tight or you are extremely weight-conscious, one or the other might be better for you. The Lee Challenger is Aluminum the Lee Classic Cast is iron. Either will last a lifetime, but the Aluminum requires a bit more care to do that. Iron will withstand more abuse, but not salt water. Different kind of abuse.

    So, what is best for you depends on your needs.

    The more knowledge of your needs you share with us here, the better we can advise you.

    I know by her testimony that Sue Kempf at Kempf's gun shop uses a Lee Classic Turret herself and I can testify that she is of good heart and will not steer you wrong.

    The Lee Classic Turret (as opposed to the Deluxe Turret) is advertised as being able to take the longer cartridges, including the belted magnums. The Lee Single Stages, I believe, can take anything up to the 50 BMG. But check me on these, I am working from memory. Verify with Lee's web site.

    Yes, with the Lee Turret (either one), you can set up your dies in the turret and just swap out extra turrets and shell holder as you switch calibers. You can do the same thing with Lee's (or anyone's) breech-lock single stage. Each die is installed in a bushing which simply slips into the press and locks into place with a 1/3 turn twist of the bushing. The die stays installed in the bushing (and adjusted) permanently.

    I rather like the Lee Auto-disk powder measures (standard and pro, both) for their convenience (which only applies if you are using Lee dies, which I like anyway). The Lee Scale is another thing. I prefer my RCBS 10-10 for its ease of use. The 10-10 has a micrometer readout for tenths of grains. The Lee uses a vernier that is less convenient. I know how to use a vernier, but many (since the digital age arrived) are clueless. Even though I CAN read a vernier, I find the micrometer more convenient. Having said all that, the Lee Scale is as accurate as any scale on the market today. It maxes out at 100 grains, though where others go up to 500 or 1,000 grains. This does not matter for measuring gunpowder, but if you want to weigh large-bore bullets, the Lee lacks that capacity. The economical price, however, forgives a multitudes of shortcomings.

    Which brings me back to my questions for you: What's your budget? How much do you plan to reload per month? per session? how often will you change calibers you are reloading? Will you put away your loading bench after every session or leave it set up permanently?

    The more we know of your needs, the better targeted our help to you.

    Lost Sheep

    P.S. I like the idea of building one's own kit rather than buying one that some marketing genius assembled based on what he THINKS you need. Every kit (as a rule) has stuff you don't need and lacks stuff you do. Besides that wastage, every kit has some stuff you will use and find wanting and will replace with something that does the same thing, but differently. Case lube for instance. Kits usually have a lube pad. You may eventually discover you prefer spray lube.

    A kit MAY get you loading marginally faster. The thought you put into assembling your own kit will get you loading BETTER. Provided you put the energy into that thought.

    So, refill that coffee mug and get back to your research.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  5. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    To begin your education, it might help to watch the Lee self-help videos to get a better understanding of the process. An informed consumer makes the best customer. there are also hours of youtube vids on reloading.


    Reloading is not rocket surgery, it is a relatively simple process and as far as hardware? You trade $$$ for output speed. I use and like Lee products. You DO need to be willing to follow printed instructions and stay within published reloading data.
  6. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Well-Known Member

    This is my thought as well.
    I have an aluminum Lee press and it works, however I rarely use it because I have an RCBS Reloader Special press I like much better. It's not because of the brand that I like it, it's because the Reloader Special is cast iron, and the linkage is much more solid. On the aluminum Lee that I have it's the linkages that seem to be in such a strain when trying to full length size rifle brass. And I use Imperial sizing wax as well, so it should be butter smooth. The iron presses are built better all the way around, and I'm sure the Lee Classic Cast is the same way. I've never heard one bad word about them.
    So, my advice would be this. If you're on a tight budget and can't do more than the anniversary kit then by all means buy it and enjoy. It will get the job done.
    If you can swing a little extra money, then go with the classic cast. You'll be glad you did.

    My 0.02
  7. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    The 50th anniversary kit is a single stage press in an "O" design.
    It's a very good press, for being a single stage. (I have one)
    You get the parts needed to prime on the press AND the parts needed to prime by hand

    The Lee Challenger kit only comes with the hand primer.
    (there may be other differences, but that was the one I noticed.)

    The Classic Turret is a totally different kind of press.
    The 2 single stage presses allow only one die in the press at a time.
    Then to change operations you have to change dies.

    A turret allows you to install all 3 or 4 dies in a removable turret.
    So you put the clean case in the press & pull the handle 4 times & you have a finished round of ammo.

    I hope this helps
  8. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    No, the Anniversary kit does not let you prime by hand, only with the press mounted primer.

    The Challenger Kit comes with a hand primer, but lets you prime on the press, but only if you place a primer into the priming arm one at a time.

    I prefer to prime off press most of the time when doing rifle rounds. That way I can prime anywhere in the house, in the backyard or in the garage. I'm not limited to being at the press. You also get a full set of shell holders for the hand primers which is good because standard shell holders don't work on the hand primer and these don't work on the press.

    That's the only difference.

    +1 with the others on the turret press. It does let you load a batch of ammo considerably quicker than a single stage press although it's still 3-5 strokes per cartridge compared to 1 stroke per cartridge with a progressive.
  9. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    OK, now that a few more have chimed in, I will offer the following observations:

    1. You may want to reload your 25-06 (and perhaps .223) in a "rifle cartridge" workflow--i.e., batch processing. That is, you would repeat the same process (die operation) on perhaps 50 cartridges, then change the dies to do the next fifty steps, and so on. You can do that--indeed, must do it--if you have a single stage press, and may do it with a turret press.

    Batch processing is a good way to get acquainted with the basic steps to reloading, and offers you a good way to repeat those steps while refining your understanding, feel, and tweaking of them for your reloading style.

    OTOH, it is slow. Occasionally, I will see people bragging about doing perhaps 100 rounds per hour in batch processing--but I have never gotten much above 50.

    2. Handgun cartridges--and, arguably, .223--tend to be shot quickly, etc.--if you like to run through 15-round (9mm) or 20-30 round .223 magazines at the range, then it is easy to see one can spend hours building rounds in a batch processing workflow that will be used up in minutes.

    So, most reloaders of handguns and EBRs quickly progress from SS operation to the turret or progressive press workflows. The genius of the Lee turret, of course, is that you can readily do either batch or quasi-progressive processing. FWIW, my reliable output with my Lee turret is about 180 rph, starting with cleaned, but not deprimed, brass.

    So, given what you said here so far, and disregarding cost issues as a primary arbiter, I would suggest building an initial package around the Lee Classic Turret (or *** they are calling it now). Kempf's is a very good place to do that, although you should also check pricing at Graf's and other outlets you may know of.

    Jim H.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  10. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    I bought the 50th Anniversary kit about 2 years ago & it DID come with BOTH on press & off press priming parts.

    I double checked & the Anniversary kit that they sell today does NOT say 50th (just anniversary)
    and rsrocket1 is correct it comes with parts for press priming only.

    I HATE when they rename kits something so close to a previous kit.
    All that does is cause confusion! :cuss:

    So it appears that the difference between the 2 kits the OP mentioned is the priming parts included in the kit.
  11. cleanview

    cleanview Well-Known Member

    I purchased the Lee 4 Hole Turret Press with Auto Index Deluxe Kit a few months back. 117.00 not bad. I have not had any problems and find no problem with the scale either. I am admittedly new and dont know anything other that what I decided to buy. So far 300o rounds and it was a good investment. My opinion is that the liitle extra for the turret is well worth it.
  12. djardine

    djardine Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all the help. I ended up talking with my gunsmith who sold me a RCBS rock chucker kit for $175. This is what I wanted badly but could not afford the $300 kit. I am very pleased.
  13. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    Good choice. Welcome to the wonderful obsession we call reloading.:D
  14. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Well-Known Member

    That is great. From someone who has used both, you'll be much happier with what you have. Welcome aboard.

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