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Lee Classic Loaders

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by enough, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. enough

    enough Monkey++

    Morning All,

    I was poking around in the basement last night and I started to mess around with a couple tools I bought years ago and honestly forgot all about them. I bought Lee Classic Loaders for my two main rifles and handgun loads.

    I am not, nor have I ever been, a reloader. I've seen the process before and participated in a very small part, back when I was a kid with a friend, but that's it.

    The tools were on sale at Cabela's for a good price, so I bought them and forgot them. Now, I'm interested in learning how to use them, if the need arises, and if I end up with with some more accurate ammo, well that will be a nice bonus.

    I see the handloadersbench.com as a resource, but its overwhelming. Does anyone have an idiots guide, or resource, that they are fond of? Does anyone use this old way of reloading anymore? I know that there are much more efficient and probably effective ways to reload, but this was originally intended as a SHTF skill. Possibly a barter service for the future.

    So, what say you Monkeys!?!?
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I say GOOD START. You should have the owner's manual with the stuff you bought, if not Lee has a website that can probably find you a free copy. Then, you MUST have a reloading manual with recipes that you must follow precisely.

    You will need one more tool, a bullet puller, because you will want to fix errors ---.

    The HB is a superior resource for the handloader, and there are guys there that love to assist, they will help with baby steps. Reading thru that site is no more formidable than this one, but asking is the first step. There is someone there that knows your calibers intimately.

    No, I can't help, I do shotshells exclusively.

    Go for it, it's addictive (they say.)
  3. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn Mosquito Sailor

    things to consider .....

    This was how I started as well. For almost any bottle neck cartridge as apposed to straight wall, ie; .308 Win vs 45-70 you will have to be concerned about neck sizing or in many cases full length sizing of your cases before reloading them, or you will find yourself having newly reloaded rounds jammed partially in your rifles chamber. This is not a fun situation with a loaded round. It could be potentially very dangerous. After my first such problem, I bought a Rock Chucker Master reloading kit and a case tumbler. You could probably use a mentor in your area to help you. jmho
  4. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    The Lee Loaders are nice tools for keeping with you in the field. If you have the room, I'd suggest using a reloading press with a set of dies for each caliber. The kinetic bullet puller is also a must, as we all screw up at times, and have to fix it. There are bullet pulling dies, but the hammer puller is far cheaper, especially if you are only reloading in small batches.

    What calibers are you loading for? I'm asking because the Lee Loaders are neck sizing dies only, and if you have more than one rifle in the same caliber, neck sizing will (more often than not) only allow the cartridge to chamber in the rifle it was fired in. So that means you have to make sure you keep the brass sepperate from each other in reguards to which rifle they were shot out of.

    I like the Lee Loaders myself, they are compact and very useful at times, but they have their limitations.
    tacmotusn, rsbhunter and Falcon15 like this.
  5. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    reloading with the Lee

    There is nothing wrong with your set up...as long as you realize that there are limits to what you can do with it....On bottleneck cartridges, you will only resize the neck, so, BEFORE you reprime the shell, and after you have neck sized the case and removed the primer, try each EMPTY case in you rifle...If you are just reloading for targets, of fun shooting, a jam is just an inconvience...if in a "bad" situation, your life will be in a REAL bad position if you get a fail to fire, or a fail to feed.Make sure you clean the cases as well as you can, and not with brasso...it hardens the brass with continued use...and don't plan on getting 5-10 reloads with each case, unless you can full length resize about every 2-4 times of reloading that case....Alot depends on the power of your reloads...if you push the limit on velocity and bullet weight, your chamber pressures go up, and the case will need to be full length resized sooner...if you run mid power loads, your case life will in some cases double.....MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!! FOLLOW ESTABLISHED LOADING DATA!!!!!!! Save your friends, or brother in laws "super duper" load for when you have enough experience to know if after shooting one of their "HOT LOADS" you'll be called lefty. I know this is a long post, but you are getting into something that if followed exactly as the data shows, is a very safe and rewarding hobby...but if you cheat, or think you know more than the people that write the books, you'll end up on "you tube" showing others how to knit with one hand, or whistle with half a face....! Don't let this scare you from getting into reloading, but please respect the fact that you are doing something that DEMANDS paying attention to!!! rsbhunter
    chelloveck, tacmotusn and Falcon15 like this.
  6. enough

    enough Monkey++

    Thanks for all the replies so far.

    I have the loaders for 223, 3006, and 9mm. I do have the little manuals that came with each one, as well as the the reference card with "recipes".

    Typically, how many times can you reload a case before neck stretching is an issue? Is it after one firing, or more? (editted: I think it was just answered above.)

    I have no interest in building hot loads. I just want to be able to build reliable ammo for practice or the stew pot, if needed. Having the knowledge, skill, and supplies is my main goal. :)

    Now, if I end up making something truly precise for my new-to-me bushy varminter, well that is okay too. ;)
  7. groovy mike

    groovy mike Immortal

    I don't even check my cases for stretching until the 5th time of reloading. I doubt you will ever have to trim 9mm cases.
  8. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    NOt so good for barter

    Barter, not so much.

    When you pull the trigger, that brass case ammo is now 'fire-formed' to the chamber of your weapon. Unless you run the brass through a fill-length resizing die, it may not fit in a different weapon.

    The LEE Loader is good for neck sizing reloading - and your weapon will generally be more accurate because the round now 'fit' your chamber perfectly.

    AS for the other
    Reloading Basics


    For the New Reloader: Thinking about Reloading; Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST - THR
    because the Lee Loader comes with a scoop measure, a powder measure scale will ensure a far more accurate load - and where a grain or two make a difference, it is worth the few dollars.

    HAve fun.
  9. enough

    enough Monkey++

    Thanks for the links, I'll get into them this weekend.

    I remember reading stories of guys using these reloaders out west, going from ranch to ranch, refilling peoples spent casings out of their trunks. Given the statement about "specific to the chamber of that particular gun", this would be the ideal way of doing it, right? Obviously, this is not a fast way of reloading so I wouldn't be able to build an ammo depot for my neighbor, but I could certainly get him a pocket full of deer ammo. I'm in MI, EVERYONE owns a 30-06 around here. ;) Just a thought.
  10. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    reloading for your friend...

    The ammo will be more accurate if used in the same weapon as it was fired in originally, as to loading for your neighbor, that is your call...remember that we are a nation of litigation....IF one of your loads causes a detonation of his weapon, it WILL come back on you...i have had weapons that i have sold, even to friends that i have disposed of hundreds of rounds of ammo, or disassembled just so i could sleep at night. Once you get into reloading, you will find that different powders, and especially seating depth (distance from bearing surface of bullet to rifling start) will make the biggest difference in accuracy. Primers, neck turning, etc all becomes an addiction after a while...chasing the elusive "one hole" group out at crazy distances.....
    IMG_0268-1. have fun and BE CAREFUL>>>rsbhunter
    stevel, chelloveck and ghrit like this.
  11. DKR

    DKR Interesting ideas, interesting stories

    No so much again

    Old school reloaders likely used a tool that looked like this

    (Lyman Nutcracker)

    Very much like the old US Army tool

    So reloading someone brass from and for their weapon would be a good match - yes.

    IF, and that an IF you reload for your neighbors, use a load at the low end of the powder load, I'd hate to have someones old rifle give up the ghost (and kill them) from a 'hot' load. There is a reason ammo manufactures carry a ton of liability insurance.

    Lee also makes a hand press, which uses any standard die

    Takes very little space but all allows you to carry a press to the range if you want to make any changes on the fly. I have a complete reloading set up, with dies, bullets and primers (powder goes along in an ammo can) that fit in an old vacuum tube caddy, with room to spare.
    This is a low cost way to move into reloading with dies, offering more choices.

    The big thing is how much in the way of primers and power are you going to keep on hand? The new so-called Green primer have a relatively short shelf life.

    Also, consider what kind of powder you will store - powder that is 'good' for a -06 may not be the best choice for a 223.

    Once you start, you may find the activity is addictive.

    Have fun
    chelloveck and rsbhunter like this.
  12. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey++

    I started reloading with these 35 years ago. Still have all my old dies, and the only one that is beat up is a 20ga set my brother used a ball peen hammer on. Fiber mallet with some decent mass makes using these a lot easier. With practice you can do it as quick as this fella.

    Reloading with a Lee Loader - YouTube

    rsbhunter likes this.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Two cautionary notes about reloading -

    1) There is a lot of argument on the various forums about using reloads in defensive situations. The question will come up about how suitable a reload is when a BG goes down at your hands. I recommend that you load your defensive guns with factory rounds to preclude a courtroom argument that could expose you to a potential penalty. All that is meaningless after SHTF, of course, and does not apply for practice.

    2) Litigation can result from others using reloads built by YOU in THEIR guns which may or may not be in shape to handle YOUR loads. Don't do it. Show them how it's done and let them do their own, in their own brass with their own bullets and their own powder, using their own recipes.
    chelloveck, rsbhunter and BTPost like this.
  14. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Most of the Projectile OEMs (bullet makers) publish a Reloading Manual for their Projectiles. These Manuals will have most of the Factory Loadings listed, and similar Loadings with other commonly used Powders, for each of their Projectiles. Many of the OEMs build similar Projectiles, so loadings for them, will be similar, when worked up, using the Printed Loadings, - 5% by weight, as a Starting Point. You will find that each weapon, you own, will have a "Sweet Spot Loading for any One Projectile/Powder combination. Once you find that, stick with it, and that will usually out shoot any Factory Loading for that weapon. Back in a former Lifetime, I was a Custom Ammunition Manufacture, for High Accuracy, Super Match Grade, Ammunition, used by my customers for Match Competitions. Once we built a loading for an individual weapon, that was logged, and then that recipe was used to produce the exact same loading, for that weapon. Precision, is the key to ANY Reloading. Use the EXACT Same Procedure, for each Round, from beginning to end. Measure projectile weight to the Grain, and separate them into Lots, by weight. Resize the Cases EXACTLY the same. Measure the volumes of each case, and separate those into Lots, by volume. Measure you Powder Loads, to the BEST precision that your Powder Scale can do. Doing that will increase the accuracy, of any fixed Loading, considerably. There are a bunch of other tricks, that I learned over the years, but the above will produce GREAT AMMO, for you weapons. ....... YMMV.......

    Oh, Yea, and on the Legal side... If you intend to SELL, or Market your Ammunition, be advised that you will need and ATF License to do so. Even for a SINGLE Cartridge. You will also be paying a Federal TAX for each Cartridge Sold. There a few exemptions, but they are very tricky and fraught with Legalize, that the FEDs like to trip folks up with. So unless your into that, I would NOT SELL, anything to another person, or even for a neighbor, or close Friend, as it can Bite you in the B**T, if the FEDs come looking. .....
    chelloveck and rsbhunter like this.
  15. enough

    enough Monkey++

    Whoa, I didn't convey myself there. I'm talking about a total SHTF, barter is the only economy-type, no law society situation. Big IF. Heck, I don't think its even legal for one private party to supply another the service/product of reloading in the state of MI. At least that's my assumption.

    Think about it. If my neighbor or otherwise trade partner needs me to reload ammo for his/her hunting rifle, that means that he/she has already shot everything they had in stock, anything they were able to trade for, and they are now down to hand reloads. That is a long way down the road from a collapse and certainly not in these times.

    I hoep I am being clear about this. I don't want to imply anything unlawful.
  16. enough

    enough Monkey++

    That's the ticket! That is exactly what I needed to see. Thank you for posting it.
  17. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    It's nice to see

    It's nice to see a newcomer get sound, sage advice from the folk who have been around this site for a while.

    I have reloaded shot shells with a lee loader which is a relatively simple process, with much the same kind of sensible precautions applying. There are few more satisfying things than to see a load you have handloaded going downrange towards its target. In peaceable times it is a very satisfying hobby that saves money, in hostile times it will be an essential skill that may save your life.

    The only suggestion of my own to make is to wear safety glasses while reloading. Reloading is a safe process 99.99% of the time, but it would be a pity to lose your sight on that .01% instance, but you knew that already.
  18. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    SHTF situation

    If the situation arises that we are in defensive mode, then litigation goes out the window, and yes, i would help my neighbor, or any decent person defend his, her or whatevers life.....In that case, there won't be quite so many lawdogs looking to rape and pillage the society at large.....The calibers (i think it was you) mentioned, are really a good selection to have, as ammo is readily available, components are cheap (relatively) and there are a million and one loads available.....you might check, and see if there is one powder that shows to work really well in 2 or more of the same calibers...you might have to adjust bullet weight, but at about $30.00 a pound now, powder gets expensive, if it doesn't work in a certain cartridge.....Also remember that especially on rifles, the twist rate of your barrel will to a degree , determine what weight bullet will stabilize best in that weapon...rsbhunter
  19. LEE products for the most part are good. The loaders you have are very good for your intended uses. Lots of great advice in previous posts. You can even find videos on youtube (mostly amatures) using the same equipment you have....sometimes even one from LEE factory too. Check that source out too. Powder maker sites are good for loading info as are the bullet makers and even the equipment makers sites and all free. good luck on our new hobby.

    Handloadersbench is a great place to learn so don't be intimidated...go there find the home page, check out the various subject sections, you are looking for the reloading area and post away with your questions.
    chelloveck likes this.
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