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Lee Whack-A-Mole Classic Loader, my experience

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Landric, Apr 24, 2009.

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  1. Landric

    Landric Member

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    I recently purchased a Lee Classic Loader in .38 Special just because I was intrigued by the thing. I thought it might be a nice way to take handloading on the road. I broke it out this afternoon and decided to try to load a few rounds (which felt a little strange sitting on the floor of my handloading room under two presses, both of which happened to have .38 Special dies installed in them). I had been loading .38 Special this morning, so I had the components out. Seemed like a perfect time to give it a try.

    Anyway, I followed the instructions that were included. They were better than Lee's usual instructions (and the pictures were actually useful); that was a nice change. It took a while (probably longer since I was new to it), but the Whack-A-Mole turned out ammunition that looked exactly the same as the rounds I loaded on the press, chambered just fine, and seems to be of similar quality.

    I'm impressed with the system, it was both easier to use and of higher quality than I was expecting.
     
  2. DesmoDucRob

    DesmoDucRob Member

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    I've also always been impressed by that simple little design. I love watching internet video of guys who can use these with speed that puts my single stage ability to shame.:eek:
     
  3. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

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    I started with the LCL worked well for the money but priming cases with a hammer:what::what::what:. Have to admit I was young and stupid at the time.
     
  4. Reid73

    Reid73 Member

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    Landric, other people have had your experience and arrived at the same conclusions (see here, for example).

    Lots of guys love to sneer at the old Lee Loaders; notwithstanding that they: (1) are simple to use, (2) are inexpensive, (3) take up very little space, and (4) are capable of producing excellent ammunition.

    The above features are all highly desireable, and Lee deserves a vote of thanks for introducing so many people to reloading. Many shooters would like to give it a try, but are intimidated by the complexity and cost. The Lee Loader is the answer.

    There are only three real knocks against the Lee Loaders.

    First, they are relatively slow to use. That is a turn-off for many folks who like high-volume semi-auto plinking, but makes no real difference for the hunter with a bolt action or single shot rifle. For loading one or two boxes at a time, they work just fine. Who's in a rush? :)

    Second, they only neck-size. That means that their cartridges won't work well in multiple firearms of the same calibre. On the plus side, neck-sizing means that your brass will usually last longer.

    Third, they are not made in uncommon calibres (Lee continues to produce new ones but only in a small selection of popular calibres: e.g., .308 Win., .357 Magnum, .223 Rem., .45 Colt, .303 British, etc.). However, if you look around you can usually find older examples in different calibres, often in barely used condition.

    A few links that you might enjoy:

    General

    "Getting Back to Basics with the Lee Loader"

    "The Lee Loader: Thinking Out of the Box"

    How To

    epinions: "Classic Lee Loader"

    "Reloading with the Lee Loader--lots of pics"

    "Handloading on a Shoestring"

    "Reloading 101 Using The Classic Lee Loader"
     
  5. Landric

    Landric Member

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    Seating the primer with a hammer is somewhat different, but given the way its done, the worst that happens is the primer gets set off. No damage, no injury, just a bang.

    Of course, the Lee auto prime hand primer is about $15, so one could spring for that and skip the hammer seating step.

    I really didn't take the system seriously as an option until I tried it. Yes, its slow, but it works.
     
  6. David Wile

    David Wile Member

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    Hey folks,

    I tried one of those a little over 50 years ago. I loaded one box and decided it was not for me. I took it back and spent a little more for an RCBS Junior press. Since then, I have had bigger and better presses, but I also tried the Lyman 310 Nutcracker hand tool, and still use it on occasion just for the fun of it. I never thought the Lee Loader was any fun.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile
     
  7. Eagle103

    Eagle103 Member

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    For $15, maybe $20 now I think it's one of the coolest tools you can own.
     
  8. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    "I'm impressed with the system, it was both easier to use and of higher quality than I was expecting."

    Upon that neat little package the giant we now know as Lee was built. It had a couple of competitor/imatators in the early days but they died. That didn't happen because the Lee Loader kit was inexpensive, it happened because it was GOOD! Still is.
     
  9. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    I have 3 progressive Blue presses, 4 single stage presses, a shot shell press and a hand held job but I still love them Lee Hammer-time kits.

    I wish I had more of em.

    LGB
     
  10. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I remember when I was a preteen back in the early 70's helping my grandfather load a bunch of 410 with a lee loader then going rabbit hunting. I was amazed that what we had just made worked and was so accurate. I was hooked. Now I reload over 25 different cal. Yes I still have that loader I inherited and still use it to load my 410 to this day.:)
     
  11. AirplaneDoc

    AirplaneDoc Member

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    This was the first "press" I owned. My Dads best friend gave me 1 for my birthday, to go with the 45-70 trapdoor that my dad had given me as my first rifle a few months before. He and my dad taught me to load my own with it. I still use it, when I get the old trapdoor out every so often and shoot a few rounds. As few as I load it is not worth the expenst to buy Dies or the time to do a setup.

    AD
     
  12. ants

    ants Member

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    Straightwall cases are sized full length. Only bottleneck cartridge are neck-sized.

    Landric, yes you can use it in the field for load workup. Size and prime a bunch of empty cases on your press, then take them to the field with powder and bullets. If you have a Stanley Workmate, that's your benchtop.

    If you want the ultimate in consistent loads, use the same brass case for all 5 shots in a string.
     
  13. SquirrelNuts

    SquirrelNuts Member

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    I want one of these as soon as I can find one in .30-06
     
  14. Landric

    Landric Member

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    Graf's has the .30-06 Classic Loader in stock:

    http://www.grafs.com/product/232486

    I went ahead an ordered myself a .44 Magnum Classic Loader to go with my .38 Special loader. It can be used for .44 Special also, so I figure it will be useful for loading at the range and such, along with my .38 Special loader.
     
  15. Dragk913

    Dragk913 Member

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    Does anyone know if Lee makes these in 8x57 Mauser?
    I didn't see it on their website, but some guy said he had one..
     
  16. Landric

    Landric Member

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    I don't think they do anymore, the availability on the Classic Loader has been cut down a lot. However, they did at one time, so finding a used one is an option.
     
  17. mp43sniper

    mp43sniper Member

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    Found one locally yesterday in .44 mag for $18. Can't wait to try it out, but alas....the shop had no bullets. I'll probably order a mold and do it cave man style.

    Craig
     
  18. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    cave man style is the way to go.

    LGB
     
  19. Rebel Dave

    Rebel Dave Member

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    I have a NIB unopened, Lee loader in .357 Mag, If any one is interested, for sale. Some how i ended up with two in this calibre.
    I use these quite often, and enjoy using them. Like some others, I have had a few primers, go off, for a little awakening.

    Rebel Dave
     
  20. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I'll take it off your hands if we can agree on the particulars. email rfoster@swhfire.org
    Rick
     
  21. krs

    krs Member

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    I started with one in .38 Spec. but got the best use out of .45-70. I used to take five cases to the range to load for my old trapdoor right on the bench. Later I graduated to a small arbor press to do it without whacking but the whole loading setup fit in a Superman lunchbox (that I REALLY wish I still had!).

    They're up to $33. now. Seems like I paid $9.95 for mine.

    Did anyone ever have the deluxe whack-a-mole? The Target version with a neck turning tool? I sold an unused one of those in ebay a little while back in .222 Rem. for $75. The buyer seemed really happy to have it and made me think I'd priced it too low.
     
  22. UnderDawgAl

    UnderDawgAl Member

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    I've just bought two used MRC Lee Loaders, one in .357 Magnum and one in .44 Special. The MRC-branded ones are the ones which were originally produced under the old Lee Custom Engineering name (an earlier Richard Lee business, which he was forced to leave, per his comments in his reloading handbook).

    The advantage to the MRC ones is that they include a handheld priming tool, like Lee's Improved Priming Tool. It eliminates setting off a primer.

    I bought both for $20. They include the original data sheets. Some time with Flitz, a soft cloth, and some 0000 steel wool has made the .357 set look new. Now I need to do the same with the .44 Spl set.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
  23. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    IIRC, David Tubb used one of these to set a number of long range rifle records.
     
  24. kragluver

    kragluver Member

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    I have one for both .30-06 and .303. I bought them mainly for neck sizing (which you can do quickly even with these tools). HOWEVER -- I've found that both the '06 and the .303 dies over-size (or is it "under"?) the necks such that the bullets are loose in the case in many instances. I have had to re-size the cases using another neck sizing die in my press.
     
  25. Landric

    Landric Member

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    Does anyone know if the .45-70 Government Classic Loader full-length resizes? I figure it probably does since the .45-70 lacks a neck being a tapered case, but it would be nice to know for sure.

    I loaded a couple more .38 Special rounds with the Whack-A-Mole system after doing about 100 (in about 1/2 hour) on my Lee Classic Turret. Again, rounds are just as nice and its still a lot of fun.
     
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