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Lee Classic loader for 44 magnum?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Mooseman, Dec 18, 2016.

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  1. Mooseman

    Mooseman Member

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    I don't shoot all that much but I was thinking about getting one of these so I could reload rounds for my 44 magnum. I don't shoot my revolver often because even with cheap rounds it gets expensive quick. I have a couple of questions.

    1. Besides used brass, primers, powder and bullets what else would I really need for a super basic setup?

    2. What would I need to do if If I wanted to expand into 357 mag possibly also with a Lee Classic loader?

    3. At what point do I justify getting a table mounted press instead. I do have rifles which wouldn't work with the classic because they're semi auto but for most of them ammo isn't super expensive.

    Sorry if my questions aren't clear, I'm very much a noob on this stuff and I find info on the internet a bit overwhelming.
     
  2. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    You would need powder, primers, bullets a beating object of some sort, the Lee loader and time.

    If you pick the right powder you could also use it for 357 mag too but would need different primers, bullets and another Lee loader.

    That would be the most basic setup you could get.

    The point you justify a table mount press is up to you, I guess for me it would be before I spend the money on a Lee loader.
     
  3. Proinsias

    Proinsias Member

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    The Lee Breechlock Hand Loader works for all but big rifle rounds (3.650" max) and will be easier on your wrists. All you'd need for #2 to change calibers is is new dies ($20+), and possibly new bushings ($5+ per 2). It's about $30, or $45 for the full kit that has a priming system, funnel, lube, etc.
     
  4. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Skip the time wasting hand style system, start with a bench mounted press. Get a black and decker workmate and a piece of plywood for a top, or a free standing press stand. You'll be much better off to save yourself the annoyance of the hand press or the hammer dies.
     
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  5. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I started with a Lee Loader in '69 and even though I have 3 presses, 12 die sets, 3 scales, 2 powder measures I still occasionally get one of my Lee Loaders out (5 of them) and pound out a few rounds. I believe there is definately a place for Lee Loaders and they are a perfect way to learn to reload.

    I would suggest a scale to weigh your powder charges (Unique or Universal work well in .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum) and mebbe a set of Lee dippers so you have a wider range of powders/powder charges. I use a soft lead ingot as an anvil to cut down on noise. I use a yellar plastic mallet and some folks use a dead blow hammer (don't use a claw hammer or a ball peen hammer!). One hint on priming; the .44 is the only one I have "popped" primers in so I chamfered the primer pockets, just like I do for my military brass, and it cut down the unpleasant primer pops by 99%. It is also a good idea to lube the brass making it easier to size, and easier on the brass.

    If you like reloading you will soon get a press and dies, but don't let anyone tell you you are reloading "caveman" style (At one time the record holder for smallest 1,000 yard group was using a Lee Loader to reload his target ammo). And for those that say a Lee Loader is "tooooo slowww";
     
  6. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    It's $30 you'd be better off spending on something else for a proper kit... If this is the only reloading kit you can afford, then you can't afford to reload, nor afford to shoot, nor probably afford to be typing a thread and reading online forums...
     
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  7. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Pretty sure they're only sold as kits - so you'd have to buy another full kit for .357mag. Your powder measuring equipment would be common, but everything else would be duplicated. Wasting more money instead of getting a proper kit.
     
  8. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I guess the Lee loader isn't "sophisticated" enough for some folks here. I am in no hurry (hurrying during reloading leads to OOPS!), but with a little practice I can pound out a box (50) of 38s in an hour or so (not as fast as a Dillon 650, but good enough for many reloaders). I have used, quite successfully Lee Loaders for 38/357, .44 Spec,/Magnum. 7.62x54r, 303 British and 7.62x39. The rifle rounds neck size only so for semi-autos this may be problematic, but for a bolt gun or single shot neck sizing is often preferred. I do not consider any time reloading a waste, nor are my kits a waste of money (what is a waste IMO, is my $200.00 single stage vs my $25.00 single stage press. Both produce excellent ammo if I do my part). One way to waste money is to buy a kit with items you'll never use...
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
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  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    If you don't own a Lee loader you can't say that you beat your primers into place with a hammer, that alone is worth around $20.
     
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  10. Wishoot

    Wishoot Member

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    My biggest regret when I began handloading was not buying a Lee Classic Cast Turret Press from day 1.

    I started with a Lee Breechlock Hand Loader, which is a good way to make some quality ammo on a relatively low-volume basis. Expect to spill some powder and primers. Also expect your arm and hand to get tired. The turret press was like a gift from heaven.
     
  11. mdi

    mdi Member

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    After reading/replying here yesterday. I got out my 38 Special Lee Loader. I pounded out 30-35 rounds but I didn't time myself. I even primed all 35 with my Lee Loader and didn't pop even one primer! I enjoyed that time assembling 35 rounds (that's all the primers that were left in the sleeve and I didn't want to open a new brick yet). I weighed each charge of 700x, just my OCD, dipped and dribbled, so it may have taken a bit longer than usual...

    Yes, I could have used my turret press, hand indexed, my bench primer, my micro-adjustable powder measure to assemble these rounds much faster, but no more satisfying than using my old Lee Loader...
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  12. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    I have a few lee classic loaders, and I use mine in 44 to load specials for my daughter to shoot. She usually only wants about a cylinder full, and I don't want to reset my seating die on the 44 mag set for 6 cartridges, so I use the little classic. They have their place, but if you plan on loading for more than one caliber, or want to consistently load more than about 50rnds a week, go get a lee classic turret press kit and thank me later. Better yet, buy a lyman reloading manual (either the 49 or 50th) and read it cover to cover. Then you will be ready to decide for yourself. My .02
     
  13. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    I started out many years ago with Lee "whack a mole" loaders and have loaded thousands of rounds with them.

    The only kit/caliber I would warn folks against getting is .30 Carbine. That particular caliber never worked well for me with the Lee hand loader.

    I've given away most of my old Lee kits, but there's nothing wrong with them. They do require a bit more effort, but for someone that isn't planning on loading a bunch of different calibers, they're a viable choice.

    I would look hard at the hand press before I invested any cash. You'll be able to use the dies you buy for it as long as you reload, but money invested in the kits is lost unless you sell them, and they're hardly worth enough to make shipping 'em worthwhile.
     
  14. Dog Soldier

    Dog Soldier member

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    I was an IPSC shooter for many years.You must shoot thousands of accurat rounds to stay in the winners ring. These rounds were loaded on progressive Dillon presses. These presses perform one operation at a time just much faster.

    I would recommend starting with some type of bench mounted press. The LEE turret is a neat economical press. These can turn out volumes of quality ammo. Good luck with what ever you buy.:)
     
  15. Mooseman

    Mooseman Member

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    Thanks for the advice folks, I think I'll pick up a bench mounted press when funds allow.
     
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  16. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    That isn't a fare or correct statement & really comes off snobbish.

    Good luck on your endeavors OP. I agree with others that a single stage press like the Lee Classic Cast BL would be a good investment once you can save enough money. Look at FS Reloading for the best prices that I know of. You'll need a set of dies for each caliber you load. With Lee they come with everything else you need. You could get the powder they suggest with that measure & be done. But I'd suggest investing in a low cost digital scale also. Just make sure the scale reads grain. Grams can & is used also but most of our world measures in grain.

    While your saving money it'd be a good time to go to the library & get a loading manual to read up on the operation. Also surfing this form you will pick up in things & have more knowledge to start on. You will also be better prepared to ask the questions you will have.
     
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  17. mdi

    mdi Member

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  18. mdi

    mdi Member

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    oops!
     
  19. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    If you were only going to reload that one caliber and shoot a box of ammo a year or were going on an adventure say in the Alaska wilderness and wanted to be able to recast your spent bullets and reload your ammo while sitting around the campfire at the end of the day a bullet mold, pot, and the Lee Loader are good minimal tools to have. BUT as others have made a case for if you want more speed and versatility stepping up a bit will be in your best interest IMHO. FWIW I have about a dozen Lee Loaders, a Lee Hand press (for load development at the range), and several single stage and turret presses. I will sometimes pull out a Lee Loader and make a round showing a new reloader how that basic setup would do what they want, then go to a single stage and make a round. They always want to learn how with the bench mounted press for some reason. OP If you know of a reloader near you they might be able to mentor you, ask them and I bet they are willing to tech you as most of us in this hobby are. Also watch the sale/trade section here for a used press and such. They pop up from time to time. Also look at other adds on local swap and sell media. I bet shortly there will be some stuff for sale at reasonable prices because ammo is more available and those that really did not want to reload in the first place are getting out of it already.;)
     
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  20. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Take it as snobbish if you want...

    Loading 44mag with a Lee Loader and posting about it online implies ownership of: cheap $30 Lee loader kit, $25 in powder for minimum size sold 1lb, $25 in bullets for minimum size sold 50 bullets, $30 for primers in minimum size sold 1,000ea (unless you find a shop who breaks boxes), $25 for brass as component or the same price for a box of factory ammo, a $200 revolver to fire it from... So we're into it for over $300 just to be able to fire a shot... Then you're talking about $40/mo minimum for internet at home OR gas to go find yourself somewhere with wifi OR a data plan on a smart phone, AND a smart phone OR a tablet OR a computer which at a minimum, is 150... Which of course, relies completely upon NOT weighing charges and using the supplied Lee powder scoop instead of using a proper powder scale - getting a scale would be a minimum of $20... So we're talking about total implied infrastructure cost around $500 inherent to this discussion, without accounting for gas to the range to shoot, inherent cost of ownership to own a vehicle, any range fees if a guy doesn't have a free place to shoot, etc etc. If you're casting your own bullets to save on cost, you're still adding infrastructure, because at a minimum, you've spent $50+ on a bullet mould, plus handles and a dipper, and I suppose a guy could argue he spent $20 on an axe and builds a fire in his yard to melt his lead instead of an expensive induction furnace...

    Alternatively, instead of the $30 Lee Loader set, a guy can get a set of dies to replace the Lee Loaders for the same cost plus a Lee Hand Press or a Lee Reloader bench press for $30-50, cheaper used, getting all-in for $550, only 10% more cost, even though you're doubling the cost of the dies and press. Throw a $130 Anniversary kit on the table, which includes the powder scale, and you're all-in for $600, only 20% increase over the minimum opportunity cost...

    If you're loading with a Lee Loader set, you're not loading precision ammo, so the only real motivation can be portability (hand press is just as portable and faster in field) or cost savings. Meaning - you're trying to load bulk ammo on the cheap, which in itself implies you're shooting with SOME regularity. If you can afford to own a gun and can afford to shoot it with some regularity, you can afford to spend $130 on a reloading kit, even though it's $100 over the cheapest Lee Loader option, or spend $50 on a Hand Press kit plus proper dies and a proper powder scale instead of the $30 Loader set with the powder dipper.

    So not snobbish at all - it's simple economics - the total capital outlay to start loading with a Lee Loader really isn't so much cheaper than that to start loading with a traditional bench mount press.
     
  21. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Pile on and call me a snob, but then offer advice parallel to my own? That makes sense.

    In case you legitimately missed the point of the thread - we're not talking about Lee vs. Redding or any other brand "snobbishness," we're talking about the $30 Lee Loader kits which you hit with a hammer to load rounds vs. a $50 bench mounted press and dies.
     
  22. Dog Soldier

    Dog Soldier member

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    When I got out of college and short on funds. I bought a used Lyman Jr. turret split a box of bullets and a can of powder with a friend. I will never forget that. Being broke has it's good moments.
    From that little press I became a devoted hand loader who now own 9 press. So keep at it.:)
     
  23. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    It really sounds like you have never been a person that was broke. When something cost a dollar more then you have then it's just too expensive for you. I've been broke & not to long ago. However I was able to keep my kids from being hungry, their heads dry from the rain, & I still had my guns & ammo set back from days I had more money. All those things you list as absolute cost aren't so. You don't know what could have been handed down, given to, or even found.

    If you've never been broke then I'll tell you it can be expensive. Just because you don't have the money to do things doesn't mean you don't want to do them any less. So you splurge at times using up money you needed for other things. Most people that have money will stock up on items when it is on sale to last them to the next sale. Someone that doesn't have the money to buy in bulk has to buy at the higher price so they don't get to save & have it to apply somewhere else.

    I still agree for most people is cheaper to buy a good solid press up front. But if you only have enough saved up to buy a Lee Loader now, bullets next pay, powder another, & a start of 100 primers @ $5 that will at least get you started. $70 could get you started our even less if someone gives you something. You'd save about $18 on your first box of rifle rounds. That doesn't take long to add up. It's a start also. If you decide you wasn't going to do it then at least the cost you have invested is paid for in the first 100 rounds & your out nothing. Heck it could keep you from running around that weekend saving you another $20.

    Broke man economics isn't the same as middle class & wealthy is still yet different again.
     
  24. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    And you don't know squat about my personal condition, so don't preach to the choir about living broke. Been there, got tired of it, dug an even deeper hole to avoid forcing my kids to live that way.

    Bringing up pointless blather about inventory ammo and firearms isn't relevant either, as that has nothing to do with the OP's statements. He's asking about low cost equipment to get into reloading, and I stand by it - if the $30 Lee Loader is in your budget and a $80 combo of die set and benchtop press is out of your budget, you really don't have he budget to be shooting recreationally - and folks who shoot professionally I've always seen be provided ammo. My point is the $50 difference is minimal compare to the total start up cost, and the Op will be much better suited with a benchtop press.

    If a guy REALLY cannot feed his kids because he saved up and spent $80 instead of $30, which all goes along with over $100 in components, and involves ownership of at LEAST a $200 firearm, then he shouldn't be so selfish and skip reloading and recreational shooting altogether. He should sell the gun even and feed his kids. A man takes care of his own before his own recreation. At least that's how I was raised.
     
  25. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    The main advantage of the Lee kits for me was that the kit, a pound of powder, a couple hundred bullets/primers and some cases would all fit into a shoe box that was easy to keep hidden in my college dorm room. :evil:
     
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