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Beginning with Lee hand loader?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jason70, May 24, 2010.

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  1. jason70

    jason70 Member

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    At this point, I probably don't shoot more than 50-100 rounds a week, combined. Mostly 9mil with some .40 too. Maybe I'll shoot more if I can get the hang of reloading.

    I'm interested in any advice and or suggestions as to where to go from here. Be it additional equipment, particularly "must haves", or good powder/load recommendations for a beginner. Thanks in advance!

    Anyway, I have either purchased or been given the following.

    Lee hand press
    Lee ram prime
    .9mil 3 die set
    Lee safety scale
    HF tumbler
    Red Dot powder
    125grn RN boolits of unknown mfr.
    CCI 500 primers

    I'm getting ready to place an order and will be adding .40 dies, the Lyman #49and possibly the ABCs of Reloading and another more beginner friendly powder, perhaps Green Dot? Should I get the FCD for the .9 or do I not need it? What else? Any and all help appreciated.
     
  2. Roccobro

    Roccobro Member

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    What brand is your die set? Chances are you do not need the FCD.

    If you don't have a mentor showing you the ropes DEFINITELY get the ABC's of Reloading and read it cover to cover first. But it is your hands and eyes not mine so take it FWIW.

    Justin
     
  3. zac_christy

    zac_christy Member

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    Get a set of calipers, I don't use a FCD for pistol rounds. I like HP-38 powder for my .40S&W. Get a the Lee hand primer, its worth the $15, the ram-prime takes longer.
     
  4. walksbyhimself

    walksbyhimself Member

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    I'm just getting started myself, and what you have is extremely close to what I have. I am getting the Lee auto prime though, rather than the ram prime.
     
  5. Vacek

    Vacek Member

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    Jason,

    There is really nothing wrong with what you have. I really like the Lee Factory Crimp Die. My first suggestion is to resize a few cases and see how they headspace, case alone, in the barrel of your auto.

    I agree you need calipers for overall length. For a starter get one at Harbor. You can always upgrade later if needed. I haven't needed too yet.

    Red Dot is fine although W231 is my favorite for 9mm. But again, Red Dot is fine, just make sure you weigh a lot as it doesn't meter as well in a Lee Scoop or a Powder Dispensor due to it is bulky and flaky.

    You should have no problem knocking out 50-60 rounds per hour with your setup once you have the hang of it. Clean, Resize, Clean primer cavity, prime, add powder using the powder through expanding die, seat bullet, crimp...have fun.
     
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    The Harbor freight calipers Vacek mentioned work great, and are on sale often. Sometimes less than $19.99. I picked up a pair at the local store. They read right on with my more expensive ones. They won't do .0001 of course, but you don't need better than .001.

    I would go with a more medium speed powders for 9MM and .40, although the fast ones like Red Dot will work. W-231 would be hard to beat for your first rodeo.

    I have never used the hand press, and could be wrong, but if you have room, I suspect you will be glad later if you get a single stage press.

    The 3 die Lee sets are all you need.
     
  7. bds

    bds Member

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    +1 on the caliper. W231/HP38 would be good for 9/40, but if you can't find them, Green Dot would be good too. It's a bit faster than W231/HP38, but close enough for me with lots of available load data.

    You'll get a lot of workout using a hand loader ... bonus chest/pectoral exercise too ... sweet! :D

    Maybe gloves for your hands?
     
  8. ants

    ants Member

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    Welcome, Jason.

    Pretty much everything they said above is good.

    That hand press will get you started, nothing to worry about there. Maybe you'll get a bench press later. But use what you got right now.

    SAFETY GLASSES

    W231.

    Cheap calipers.

    Lyman 49th edition, OR Lyman Pistol & Revolver #3. The pistol book has a lot more pistol info than the 49th edition.

    Skip the FCD for now.

    For 9mm, just about any Small Pistol primer works fine.

    115 and 124/125 RN bullets work great, either jacketed or plated or lead. Your choice. All of them work great.

    When working up your load (start low and work up from there until you are satisfied with the function and accuracy of your pistol, but never exceed max load) make 10 and shoot 10 until you find your load. Don't load 100 and shoot the first 2 and find that they don't work. Load 10, shoot 10, until you find the load you want. I know it's tedious, but it is essential.
     
  9. sniper5

    sniper5 Member

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    Two suggestions: Get the Lee hand priming tool. You'll be glad you did.

    Second, get a small tube of Lee case lube, cut it about 10:1 with alcohol (dries faster) and keep it in a small squeeze bottle then put a squirt or two in a plastic bag with about 100 casings or so and tumble them around with your hands and then dump them out on a towel to dry before resizing even if you are using carbide dies. Trust me on this, your arms will thank you.
     
  10. dagger dog

    dagger dog Member

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    Both 9mm Para and .40 S&W headspace on the case mouth so you dont want a crimp like the FCD provides but rather the taper crimp that the seating die does. So you won't need the FCD for either.

    The hand priming tool from Lee that sniper5 suggests is the way to go, but make sure you get the shell holder for both calibers as they are different from the shell holders that work in the hand press.
     
  11. jason70

    jason70 Member

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    Thanks guys!

    Wow! I never expected so much great advice. Not one person said "use the search button." Of course, I have been but wanted some input from the vets and more experienced noobs.

    I do have a HF close by, so I'll get the calipers. Yes, I'm sure I'll upgrade to a bench press when I get an idea what I'm doing. But I knew I was going to want a hand press because of the utility, convenience of a take anywhere system.

    By all means, keep the suggestions coming. Thanks again!
     
  12. bds

    bds Member

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    jason70, welcome to THR and to the wonderful world of reloading.

    You can also look around for a used single stage press. I usually find them for around $25-$35 at gun shows/classified. Take your die and make sure the threads fit and you should be fine.
     
  13. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    If and when (probably when) you get a single stage bench press, hold on to the hand press. I use mine with the Lee Decapping die, which handles all calibers, pistol and rifle. I like to sit and inspect and decap several hundred cases at a time while watching a ball game or listening to a book on tape. The hollow ram in the hand press will hold 30 or so primers before I dump them in a can for easy disposal. Once they are sized, I take the same approach using the Lee hand priming tool.

    These actions are just mechanical so I can have something on in the background. When it's time to dispense the powder and seat the bullets, I don't want any distractions.

    I reload 7 handgun calibers and 4 rifles calibers. I try to keep about 300 sized and primed handgun cases for each caliber available most of the time and about 100 rifle cases. When I sit down at the press I can concentrate on the powder charge and bullet seating.

    I enjoy reloading and find it is relaxing. (Same with bullet casting.) Since I don't need to crank out 1,000 or more rounds at a time, this system works well.

    Jeff
     
  14. sniper5

    sniper5 Member

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    Thought you might enjoy seeing my reloading "bench".
     

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  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I knew a guy who reloaded in his truck. He used a lee loader and just jammed everything under his seat. .30-06 and .45 ACP. Talk about a dirty truck, dirty equipment, and dirty reloads. :eek:

    But he was happy.

    Yours looks much nicer sniper5. :)
     
  16. jason70

    jason70 Member

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    Ok, I have a list together..

    ABCs of reloading is on back order, so I ordered the Lyman Pistol and Revolver. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Also, the Lee manual and the bench press combo. Still room for improvement with this press, obviously. But it will give me another one to work with and something I'm sure I can find a use for later on even if I upgrade.

    Lee .40 cal carbide 3 die set
    Lee pocket primer brush/tool
    Lee Auto Prime w/shell holder
    Lee case lube
    Will get more powder and calipers locally. (planning to look for W231)

    I'll keep you guys updated on my progress. But I"m sure I'll have more questions before I actually start charging cases. I have about 20 ready for powder. Thx.
     
  17. ants

    ants Member

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    There is a legend from the 1960's about a cowboy who used his Lee Loader on bar tops to reload 30-30 for the local Indians, who provided their own brass and traded beers for his services. He would probably need the proper Federal FFL license as an ammunition remanufacturer to do that today.
     
  18. bds

    bds Member

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    I saw a bumper sticker the other day: Native American, fighting terrorism since 1492. :eek:

    OK, back to OP.
     
  19. sniper5

    sniper5 Member

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    Thanks, the setup shown has everything I need to load for 14 different military calibers as well as .38/.357 including case prep (although I've gone mostly to a tumbler now). The thing I like about that setup is that it is completely portable. There is even a small cordless screwdriver in one of the drawers to make case prep easier. I can reload on the tailgate, on the bench, in the garage, the patio, the kitchen table, wherever. All I have to do is bring along the appropriate bullets, powder and primers (I NEVER have more components in the area than I am using for the load being made-less chance of mixup). Lately, since my wife has gotten into pistol shooting, we are looking at getting one of the Lee progressives or a Lee turret press and leaving it set up for .38/357. The rifle stuff I would probably still do by hand press tho, just because I like the feel and sensitivity and hands on experience. I also have a small collection of LeeLoaders and occasionally buy ones that are unusual or odd, just because that's how I started and I'm nostalgic.
     
  20. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    The factory crimp die does taper crimp 45acp and 9mm. There is nothing wrong with using a FCD, OP. Lots preach against and lots for it. I have one for two calibers I reload, but I only use them with one particular bullet combo in each caliber.
     
  21. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I am not a FCD fan, as many here know, but ljnowell is right, the FCD for 9MM and .45 ACP does a taper crimp, and, properly applied, will not hurt a thing as far as the crimp goes.
     
  22. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Member

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    The biggest bargain I know is the Lee Anniversary Pack, Lee part number 90700.

    The kit includes the Richard Lee book, Modern Reloading combined with the Lee Reloader Press.

    [​IMG]

    Wideners.com sells the book for $13.99. Wideners sells the Lee Anniversary Pack consisting of the book plus single stage reloading press for $20.40. What is not to like about a single stage press for $6.41?

    I know you can use the hand press kit. But for a $6.41 single stage press, you will soon find the press is a lot easier to use.
     
  23. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I loaded at least 10k pistol rounds on one of those little lee loader bench mount presses. Still works good.
     
  24. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    I loaded 10k plus on one of those presses in the last 18 months. :} I do all my case prep on one and load on the other. I really need to dust off the loadmonster and use it more, but I have too much time on my hands :eek: I am only loading pistol rounds now, but I have loaded over 15k 223 & 8k 308 on the reloader presses with no issues. It is definitely the most value priced press out there and with the book it is a no brainer.
     
  25. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Member

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    I usually load on my Loadmaster, but I use the Lee Reloader press pictured above to size my cast bullets and to full-length size cases before I trim them. I don't usually load ammo on in, but I have done it just to see how it worked (It worked fine).
     
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