first reloading press

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by LightningJack, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. LightningJack

    LightningJack New Member

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    I asked for some feedback on getting my feet wet in the realm of reloading and several of you gave input and opinions. I didnt take me long to see that reloading nuts (no offense :) ) are kinda like gun nuts. One of them says he wont shoot anything but a Kimber and another guy says theres nothing better than a $500 glock. All in all, I happened to be at Cabelas and found some reloading equipment in the clearance section, some marked as missing parts, and some just because someone returned it. I found a Lee Classic Turret Press marked down to $79, plus 20% off. I opened a Cabelas Visa account (yea, I prob coulda passed it up) and got 20% more off, so I think the press ended up costing me a bit over $50. Midway sells it for $105 and it seems to have a ton of great reviews.
    So, for the cost I guess I couldnt pass it up. Now, I am trying to figure out exactly what else I need (primer drum, dies, powder feeder, etc). To start with, I will probably be doing 9mm, .40, and maybe .357. Anyone here setup/use a Lee Classic turret press? Thanks
     
  2. noylj

    noylj Member

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    Read the Lee Reloading manual and the Lyman #49 or "ABCs of Reloading."
    Read stickyes for information.
    Contact Lee for any missing/broken parts.
    Buy Lee dies for it and you will get the shell holder and a dipper for loading powder. You can use the dipper with the recommended powders printed on the sheet with the dies or you can get a balance to weigh your charges.
    You can get a powder trickler to trickle powder into the balance pan to get the weight you want or you can buy a powder measure.
    You will need the Lee safety primer system (or whatever it is called) for priming on the press or you can get an Auto-Primer and prime by hand.
    There is very little you HAVE to get.
    You will want to wipe of the cases before you size them. You don't need to worry about it, but you can buy the Lee Primer pocket cleaner for a little over a dollar and clean the primer pockets before you seat the primer.
    You need primers, powder, bullets and case.
     

  3. budman46

    budman46 New Member

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    lightningjack,

    i'm a big, big fan of lee's classic cast turret press...after i got one, i gifted a lyman orange crush to a pal and pretty much idled 2 dillon square deal b's, a dillon 550 and an rcbs 'chucker.

    these days i load 40 of this and 40 of that. this is where the lee turret shines...if you've caliber specific turrets. lee could give the presses away and make $$$ on guys like me that have over 25 set-ups. :D

    i bought the priming accessory for the press and, while it works after a fashion, prefer my lee hand priming tool...but i don't use my turret press as a semi-progressive tool. most of my loading is rifle, so i pass on the auto-index feature.

    good luck...you've got a good piece of equipment.
     
  4. hnealg

    hnealg New Member

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    I have both the turret and a breech-lock press. I'm using the turret 90% of the time. If you load multiple calibers, get a spare turret for each and leave the dies set up. (I load 9mm, .45, .38, .357--I also do .223 in the turret, but lubing/resizing a bottle neck requires a more complex sequence). The discs are inexpensive and this will save you a lot of time. I use the Auto Disc powder system which is a big time saver as well, but starting off with the dippers and a scale works fine too.

    Good luck and have fun!:)
     
  5. BILLYBOB44

    BILLYBOB44 New Member

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    Dillon 550??

    If you have idled your RL550, I'll pay you to ship it to me??:confused:
     
  6. LightningJack

    LightningJack New Member

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    Thanks everyone! I am glad to know that I didnt throw my money into a big paper weight. Im going to unbox it and use my uneducated eyes to see if anything appears to be missing/etc. So, it looks like everyone has a preferred scale as well. The type of scale that comes with lee's kit is supposed to be accurate to 1/20 gr, but there are also a lot of digital scales as well. I am also planning on setting up a type of powder measure, maybe just the one that comes with the kit? There is one that comes with multiple discs. I am assuming the discs are for measuring diff amounts of powder charge?
    Cabela's: Lee Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure with Four Disks
    They also have the Perfect Powder Measure Cabela's: Lee Perfect Powder Measure
    Will I need some sort of tumbler, with cleaning compounds? Tools for measuring OAL? I apologize again for my intellectual inadequacies as it pertains to this subject. I just want to gain a greater understanding of how this all works and what exactly I need to get started.
     
  7. Eric0424

    Eric0424 New Member

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    I started reloading with the Lee Classic 4-Hole Turret Press, the Pro Auto-Disk measure, nearly all my dies and several other components are Lee. Every time I buy a news set of dies they get their own 4-hole turret so I don't have to waste time screwing and unscrewing dies to change cartridges. I just grab the turret and die assembly and drop it in the press. I really like the whole Cabela's Exclusive Lee package I bought a few years ago and enjoy reloading with the turret press.

    I recommend a set of 6" dial calipers for measuring cartridge length and anything else you'll have to measure, the digital are OK but after I learned to read the dial calipers and the micrometer I don't pick up the digital anymore. Either way you can get good calipers for around $40, and great calipers at $80 and up if you chose. I've got some china knock-offs too but they needed adjusting before they were usable.

    The Pro Auto-Disk powder measure does dispense powder straight into the case when it is mounted on the turret press, you will need an Auto-Disk Riser from Lee as well. It gets the powder measure up high enough to clear all the other dies mounted in the turret.

    The Perfect Powder Measure will not mount to the turret press like the Auto-Disk but it's a good powder measure that can be used off the press to charge cases.

    The Lee Safety Prime will prime your cases while their on the press as well, I prefer all these operation on the press, it gets the ammo loaded faster for me. I like to shoot a large volume of 9mm Luger, 45 ACP and the recently added the 9mm Makarov and the turret press along with all the add-ons gets it loaded quicker for me.

    I prefer the RCBS 5-0-5 scales to the Lee Safety Scale. My Lee scale was a defect though, but was also a little irritating to adjust when checking the powder charges dumped by the powder measure. I also tried a couple of budget digital scales and they were not consistent when I checked my charges against the balance beam 5-0-5 scale. If you decide on digital scales don't be afraid to spend a little more for high quality.

    A lot of people prefer the tumblers and media for cleaning cases, I like to use Iosso Case Cleaner. It's a chemical cleaner but it works for me.

    My fourth reloading manual is on it's way here, the Hornady 8th. I do recommend buying at least two and reading at least one of them all the way through. There's a lot of information in them and I've read through all three of my current manuals, Lee 2nd, Speer #13 and Hornady 7th. I also have an account with LoadData.com, an online load data resource. I had some problems finding load data in my manuals for the specific components I was wanting to use and it helped with several.

    The Lee manual may help with instructions because it will be referencing Lee equipment and I was able to see first hand what was being described. It helped with me anyway.

    A lot of the above information will be easier to explain once you get the press and other equipment ready to assemble. I think there are enough members here with Lee presses and with all the stickies above you shouldn't have too much trouble getting started. As was mentioned earlier, you don't need all the odds and ends I purchased with my kit, but it really helps with the volume of handgun ammo I like to shoot.

    Sorry, that was a lot more information than I intended to post. :eek:
     
  8. budman46

    budman46 New Member

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    billybob44,
    my dillon 550 and two square deals are used rarely but still have their uses, so sorry!

    lightningjack,
    i used digital scales for 30+ years in a laboratory...when their prices got realistic, i got one and never looked back. the best deal currently is mtm's unit at around $30...they make/market good stuff and stand behind their products.

    i no big fan of lee's powder measures (excepting the scoops). i really like rcbs's 'lil dandy fixed measure and their uniflow for everthing else. i love my $20 gun show purchased, pacific adjustable, too.

    tumblers and media separators are nice, but not essential; save some $$$, amortize your equipment costs, collect a bunch of reloading manuals and follow the reloading boards...it won't take you long to figure out who are the real guys and who are the fools...then proceed with caution. ;)

    welcome to the fraternity, brother.
     
  9. noylj

    noylj Member

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    If you read a manual and the instructions with the kit, you will know everything you need to know to get started.
    You DON'T NEED a tumbler. You do need to wipe off any dirt or grime from the case exterior so it doesn't scratch the case or the damage the dies.
    If you are loading straightwall cases with a carbide sizing die, you do not need to lube the case.
    You can use nothing more than a Lee dipper kit and load book and skip the powder scale and measure.
    However, most people want to weigh the powder and work up loads, so they are not restricted to just a couple of powders and a dipper.
    The Lee PPM works fine, if you read the instructions and follow them exactly.
    The measure works by movement of a conical section in another conical section. Very fine powders can get into the interface and cause some powder to trickle out. Some people simply collect the powder than comes out and put it back in the measure. Some people try to tighten the interface and all they do is capture powder in the interface and get frustrated.
    If you can't stand to have powder trickle out, you need to empty the measure of all powder, disassembly the measure, clean it out, and re-assemble with more tension between the two surfaces.
    The Pro Auto-Disk works best as part of a progressive press. It expands the case, bells the case mouth, and charges the case with powder. It works well on a turret with auto-indexing.
    The Lee balance beam is fine. However, you should 'play' with it for a while to be sure you can set it and read it properly. It has a vernier read out and it confuses a lot of folks.
     
  10. BILLYBOB44

    BILLYBOB44 New Member

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    Thanks budman

    Thanks bud. I kind of was looking for another RL550 so that I could have one set up for small primer feed+one set up for large primer feed. The 550 that I have had for close to 20 years still works great for me.
    I have never used a Lee press, but the design of them looks cheap to me. I do use a few of their speciality dies (FCD) and their universal de-cap die, but most of my hand loading tools are RCBS or Dillon-a few Redding odds+ends, but mostly RCBS+Dillon.;)
     
  11. Bushman

    Bushman Member

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    I have the Lee Pro 1000 progressive press and I use the Auto Disk powder measure. I reload for practice ammo so super precise powder measuring isn't a big deal. I load them for economy. It works very nicely. No problems at all.
     
  12. cpttango30

    cpttango30 New Member

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    I don't like Lee products. So there for I will not endorse them nor will I use them.

    If you got a lee press and it is working for you glad to hear that. It is good seeing more people getting into the reloading world. Other than the fact that you new guys keep buying up all the bullets I need.
     
  13. Bushman

    Bushman Member

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    Noted.


    I think it's great to see people becoming more self reliant, whatever works for them is outstanding, IMHO.
     
  14. rifleman55

    rifleman55 New Member

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    Do you notice that every time a shell goes into the die, the whole shell holder, die and all cant???
    That can not be good for precision reloading.

    Someone gave me one, I put washers on the bolts on top to hold the die and mount parellel, so now it's an OK single stage, but I load precision ammo and would never put up with the miss alignment the cant gives.

    Just my 2 cents, but if you want ammo that shoots better than factory, forget Lee equipment, buy quality reloading equipment, learn how to use it and what it takes to make ammo superior to factory ammo.
    Quality reloading equipment will last a life time.

    If you just want to crank out spray and pray ammo as fast as you can, then the Lee stuff will do fine.

    John K
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2011
  15. Eric0424

    Eric0424 New Member

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    I don't have a problem with anything canting on the Classic 4-hole press I'm using, not sure which press you're referring to but the one I have works fine as a 4 station auto-indexing press. However I do tighten my dies down with a spanner wrench I made instead of just the "finger tighten" Lee recommends in their instruction manual. If you were just using the finger tight method or the dies were not set properly in the turret I could see they might cant a little, it's also possible the press you were given has considerable wear on it or was abused.

    It should also be noted that if the die, shell and shell holder all cant, then they're straight with each other and won't be a problem anyway.
     
  16. xring3

    xring3 Member

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    WOW!!!....Talk about old school me!.....I still use a single stage Hollywood press from the 1950's......beam type scales and one step at a time. Of course it does keep me out of the wife's way. ;)
     
  17. rifleman55

    rifleman55 New Member

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    The die holder cants, I've seen it on all of them. The shell holder does not cant, therfore, your ammo in not going in at a 90 degree angle.

    The only thing Lee makes that's worth a darn is their factory crimp die, and that's only if you get one that they managed to cut the fingers evenly in the middle, more than a few arn't.

    Buy quality, why even bother to reload if your not making ammo that shoots better than factory.
    I just can't see making ammo that groups lousy just because you can do it cheaper.

    Just my 2 cents.
    I've been reloading for almost 30 years. I do know what works and what quality tools are and Lee is not amoung them.

    John K
     
  18. budman46

    budman46 New Member

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    billybob,

    lee's aluminum presses aren't my cup of tea, either, but the classic cast turret is first class...
     
  19. rifleman55

    rifleman55 New Member

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    The one given to me was brand new, the guy who had it didn't like it.
    I bought a couple of the aluminum die holders, and due to the fact that they have to rotate and the way Lee made the setup, not using a bolt in the middle of the die holder to keep it level, the whole die holder lifts up a little as the case ges into the die.
    That's my problem with it, the cases are going into the die at a very slight angle.
    It's just the way the press is designed, it's a poor design.
    I bolted the die holder down with washers so it can't move, now I get the shell going into the die at exactly a 90 degree angle.
    It's now a single stage press.
    I have several more, so it gets limited use, but at least I know my cartridges are going in right, not at an off angle from the whole shell holder plate lifting.
    I spoke with a tech at Lee, he said the shell holder has to have some slop in order to turn. It's just the design. For me, any angle that's not a perfect angle is not what I want.
    I take a great amount of time in prepping my cases, weigh every load of powder and carefully seat the bullets.
    I load for better accuracy than factory ammo, and I get it, but it takes precision loading to do so. It's my opinion that the lee press we are talking about does not give the precision to get the kind of reloads I want.

    No put downs, I just want people who own this press to be aware of the problem that it has.
    If you buy quality reloading equipment, it will last a lifetime. Aluminum turning in a steel ring will wear in not too much time, get quality like the RCBS, Dillon, Redding or Hornady presses and your reloads will be in perfect alignment, usually within .002" with good dies.


    John K
     
  20. Eric0424

    Eric0424 New Member

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    My Classic Turret Press loads straight, accurate ammunition that feeds and fires in all my rifles and pistols. The rounds I have compared to the factory loads were also more accurate with the 357 Magnum through a Thompson Center handgun being the biggest improvement. The 270 and 30-30 were also more accurate but not to the degree of the 357, the Thompson was being shot at 50 and 100 yards and the factory pistol rounds just didn't group well at that distance. I haven't bothered to bench test the 45 or 9mm but I see no reason to think they won't be more accurate than the factory loaded ammo of the same caliber.

    To date the press has 2465 rounds loaded and I'm getting ready to load some 9mm Makarov since Lee's Custom Services got the Factory Crimp Die to me in 11 days.