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Lee Precision Classic Loader .45 Colt


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I know that I should actually get a real bench set up, but this is what I have in my budget right now.

 

Lee cautions not to use ammo crafted with this kit in levers, etc, just revolvers.

 

Does anyone have any experience with this kit and trying to cycle a lever action with what’s produced from it?

 

Of course sizing is going to be a bit inconsistent with this set up for a lever gun. I’m just wondering it is a sometimes problem or an ‘always’ problem.

5052F232-F258-46E1-A83A-D613BFD639E1.jpeg

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I’ll also apologize for the plethora of questions I keep having on this topic. I didn’t have anyone to really mentor me on firearms growing up except my for stepdad taking me deer and rabbit hunting in high school.

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I realize that sometimes budget constraints force folks to use less than desirable tools. With that said, the Lee loader pictured is not going to produce the amount, nor the quality of ammo needed for any kind of shooting match. I have to suggest that you purchase a Lee (or similar) single stage press and some .45 Colt dies w/shellholder and a balance beam type scale. Post a WTB in the Classifieds. There are many pards that have an old single stage laying around. See below.

 

https://www.midwayusa.com/s?searchTerm=lee+single+stage+press

Edited by Cypress Sun
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1 minute ago, Cypress Sun said:

 

I realize that sometimes budget constraints force folks to use less than desirable tools. With that said, the Lee loader pictured is not going to produce the amount, nor the quality of ammo needed for any kind of shooting match. I have to suggest that you purchase a Lee (or similar) single stage press and some .45 Colt dies and a balance beam type scale. See below.

 

https://www.midwayusa.com/s?searchTerm=lee+single+stage+press

Thank you Cypress Sun. A proper set up and a lever gun are next on the list.

 

I’m just hoping to get some range time out of this kit until then honestly.

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2 minutes ago, Whiskey Hicks said:

Thank you Cypress Sun. A proper set up and a lever gun are next on the list.

 

I’m just hoping to get some range time out of this kit until then honestly.

 

Please see edited post. The Lee Classic Loader is really a SHTF loader in my opinion. I've never used one but I can only guess that it takes about 10 minutes per round to make ammo. Probably less as you get used to it. How much range time will you get for your time? 

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Whiskey, I believe the reason they caution you about lever guns is that they can be very sensitive to overall length.  I have not used one of these kits personally, so I can only speculate if that is the issue.

I do know that as soon as you can afford it, you should move up to a Lee 4 turret press.  I have used mine for about 6 years now and it really makes reloading about as simple and easy as it gets.  

 

Dr. O. R.

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A Lee Hand Press would be a better alternative than the Lee Loader.  It uses standard dies (so you don't have to buy dies again when/if you get a bench mounted press).  That means that you can start getting a routine down.  Since it uses standard dies, crimping on a Hand Press is no different than on a bench mounted single stage.

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I've used the Lee Loaders for many different calibers, both pistol and rifle.  The only reason I can think of their warning for lever action rifles is a crimping issue, but all the ones I've used has a crimping feature on the other end of the sizing die.  I've never had a problem with .44-40.  You can make very high quality ammo with them, just not in a hurry.

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5 minutes ago, Pulp, SASS#28319 said:

 You can make very high quality ammo with them, just not in a hurry.

 

I agree.

 

I use the Lee Whack-a-Mole for reloading hunting rounds for my .270 Winchester.  By measuring each powder charge on a scale rather than just relying on a dipper, I can make very good groups with that ammo.  Overall cartridge length is very precise from one reload to another.

 

But these tools will not full-length resize a case.   So if there is any variation in chamber size between your three guns, your reloads might only fit the gun it was fired in.  You might have to find a way to identify each case so the reloaded cartridge would only be used again in that particular gun.  Challenging, but not impossible.

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2 hours ago, Whiskey Hicks said:

I’ll also apologize for the plethora of questions I keep having on this topic. I didn’t have anyone to really mentor me on firearms growing up except my for stepdad taking me deer and rabbit hunting in high school.


Ask away! We will baffle you with responses…some may be baffling…some not! :D

 

I have experience with the Lee Classic Loader in .45. 
It takes a while to load a few rounds with it. I loaded around 25 with it before putting it away. 
1. The BIGGEST RECOMMENDATION I have is use a good lubricant when sizing the case!

Hornady “One Shot” case lube is not the right lube for this. 
2. Don’t use this loader in the living room on the coffee table. My friend did and then had to explain all the dings to his really angry wife. 
3. Keep your work area clear and debris free. Do you know how loud a large pistol primers is? You will find out if you trying seating a primer and a piece of debris sets it off…Man, they are loud! :D

 

Now, as for the Lee Challenger Breech Lock Single Stage Press Kit. It’s all I used for a long time until I bought RCBS’ M500 beam scale, powder measure and bench top hand primer.

The Lee equipment that I replaced was cheaply made. The scale is a good backup scale, but the primer tool hurt my hands after a while and the powder measure is just cheap.  
The cool thing about the Breech Lock system is each die goes into a collet or bushing. You set the die’s dimensions, lock it in with a set screw and it’s Set. No fooling with it unless you decide to readjust it for whatever reason. It is MUCH quicker than the original Challenger press where you had to install and reset each due each time you used it. 
I own both but use only the Breech Lock set up. 
Oh, buy the bushings with the locking Allen screw if you buy Lee dies that have the thumb wheel locking nut. You will need one bushing per die. 
 

I use my Lee single stage for ALL my reloading. Some folks lol down their noses at them as slow. They right! They are slow.The single stage also assures consistent, repetitive loads. The single stage also allows the user to learn and appreciate reloading and the nuances of it. 
I owned a Dillon 550 Progressive Press for a couple of years. Thank goodness I bought it used for a very reasonable amount so I didn’t feel bad when I donated the whole set up to a Boy Scout Troop in Sacramento. 
It turns out my OCD got OCD as I loaded every round on the press. I didn’t trust it to do it’s job. Why?

Because EVERY time I have witnessed a squib load, a really light load, a really heavy load at a match was due to someone using a progressive press and usually you find that they “were in a hurry” when they loaded the rounds in question. 

Don’t get me wrong, a progressive press is a wonderful thing. Just not for me. Too OCD to trust that every round was properly sized, seated, primed, charged, dimensioned and crimped properly. 
 

Hell yeah, it takes me longer to load 500 rounds, but every round was eyeballed and touched by me so I know every one is right, safe and will not be the cause of malfunction in my guns. Any misses are my fault. ;)
 

Honestly, if I were starting out and in a budget I would seriously consider the Hornady Lock  and Load set up. 
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1012998011?pid=749997

 

The Lee is less expensive, but cheaply made. The RCBS Rock Chucker does not have quick change bushing for dies. The Hornady set up is quality and has quick change bushings.

Note: one must buy a bushing for each die for this system to be a benefit. 
 

I hope this helps. 
 

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Thank you Pat.

 

I haven't seen this statement lately, but a few years ago whenever anyone asked for recommendations on getting into reloading, it seemed like they were always being told START WITH WHAT YOU WILL END UP WITH. BUY A DYLAN.

 

I'm 65. I started loading when I was 21. So 44 years? Still using the same Rockchucker single stage press. Don't have a progressive. Don't need a progressive. Rockchucker, uniflo, and a 510 scale. Been making awful damn good ammunition for the last 40 something years with that.

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3 minutes ago, Alpo said:

Thank you Pat.

 

I haven't seen this statement lately, but a few years ago whenever anyone asked for recommendations on getting into reloading, it seemed like they were always being told START WITH WHAT YOU WILL END UP WITH. BUY A DYLAN.

 

I'm 65. I started loading when I was 21. So 44 years? Still using the same Rockchucker single stage press. Don't have a progressive. Don't need a progressive. Rockchucker, uniflo, and a 510 scale. Been making awful damn good ammunition for the last 40 something years with that.


Agreed! 

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1 hour ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:


Ask away! We will baffle you with responses…some may be baffling…some not! :D

 

I have experience with the Lee Classic Loader in .45. 
It takes a while to load a few rounds with it. I loaded around 25 with it before putting it away. 
1. The BIGGEST RECOMMENDATION I have is use a good lubricant when sizing the case!

Hornady “One Shot” case lube is not the right lube for this. 
2. Don’t use this loader in the living room on the coffee table. My friend did and then had to explain all the dings to his really angry wife. 
3. Keep your work area clear and debris free. Do you know how loud a large pistol primers is? You will find out if you trying seating a primer and a piece of debris sets it off…Man, they are loud! :D

 

Now, as for the Lee Challenger Breech Lock Single Stage Press Kit. It’s all I used for a long time until I bought RCBS’ M500 beam scale, powder measure and bench top hand primer.

The Lee equipment that I replaced was cheaply made. The scale is a good backup scale, but the primer tool hurt my hands after a while and the powder measure is just cheap.  
The cool thing about the Breech Lock system is each die goes into a collet or bushing. You set the die’s dimensions, lock it in with a set screw and it’s Set. No fooling with it unless you decide to readjust it for whatever reason. It is MUCH quicker than the original Challenger press where you had to install and reset each due each time you used it. 
I own both but use only the Breech Lock set up. 
Oh, buy the bushings with the locking Allen screw if you buy Lee dies that have the thumb wheel locking nut. You will need one bushing per die. 
 

I use my Lee single stage for ALL my reloading. Some folks lol down their noses at them as slow. They right! They are slow.The single stage also assures consistent, repetitive loads. The single stage also allows the user to learn and appreciate reloading and the nuances of it. 
I owned a Dillon 550 Progressive Press for a couple of years. Thank goodness I bought it used for a very reasonable amount so I didn’t feel bad when I donated the whole set up to a Boy Scout Troop in Sacramento. 
It turns out my OCD got OCD as I loaded every round on the press. I didn’t trust it to do it’s job. Why?

Because EVERY time I have witnessed a squib load, a really light load, a really heavy load at a match was due to someone using a progressive press and usually you find that they “were in a hurry” when they loaded the rounds in question. 

Don’t get me wrong, a progressive press is a wonderful thing. Just not for me. Too OCD to trust that every round was properly sized, seated, primed, charged, dimensioned and crimped properly. 
 

Hell yeah, it takes me longer to load 500 rounds, but every round was eyeballed and touched by me so I know every one is right, safe and will not be the cause of malfunction in my guns. Any misses are my fault. ;)
 

Honestly, if I were starting out and in a budget I would seriously consider the Hornady Lock  and Load set up. 
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1012998011?pid=749997

 

The Lee is less expensive, but cheaply made. The RCBS Rock Chucker does not have quick change bushing for dies. The Hornady set up is quality and has quick change bushings.

Note: one must buy a bushing for each die for this system to be a benefit. 
 

I hope this helps. 
 

Here I was thinking I was going to use it on the big desk at work while I babysit my residents all night. I guess maybe I shouldn’t take the chance of a primer going off while everyone is asleep?

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Well... it IS possible to set off a primer while seating it.  And it's LOUD when it happens - which, fortunately, is not often.  I've experienced it only once or twice.

 

I've used these gizmos quite a lot ~ both as a function of having once been young and "unwealthy," and later as a matter of convenience.  In that, I've used 'em camping, at the range when working up a load, and sometimes just for the sheer fun of it.  

 

They work - and I've shot a bunch of matches with ammo I turned out with a Lee Classic loader.  And a Lyman 310 Tong Tool.  And later, an RCBS Jr single stage, and a variety of other presses.  And, of course, the Dillon.

 

Use what you have and enjoy the experience... the other cool stuff will come along when it comes along.  ;)

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Whiskey Hicks:

While I'm NOT an expert in any way shape or form, I have been able to help a couple of newbies get started, teaching/mentoring them on the loading of our CAS ammo, using my single stage LEE Challenger, RCBS carbide dies, hand primer, powder measure, scale etc.

Perhaps you could locate someone in your area to do the same for you or go shares on the equipment with someone?

 

My single stage and the rest of my set-up is slow, but, as I'm retired, I just load in winter, a few at a time, when there are no club matches.

 

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1 hour ago, Whiskey Hicks said:

Here I was thinking I was going to use it on the big desk at work while I babysit my residents all night. I guess maybe I shouldn’t take the chance of a primer going off while everyone is asleep?

Just keep your area clear of debris and use a wooden plate to hammer on. 
Won’t the hammering be noisy?

You should test this out before doing it at work. 

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Did I mention a good casing lube?

Stuck cases in the Lee Classic Loader are a bear to get out. I always use Hornady One Shot on my rifle cases but it’s not what you want to use with the Classic Loaders. 
 

@Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967can you recommend a good lube?

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The cheapest Lee bench mounted Press and a set of die ( that can resize etc. ) will set you back only about 25 Bucks more than the Hammer a Swear set ...

And then you can use the carbide set for next to forever on about any press you grow into ... And you save not having to buy case lube ....

My take, Skip the grief, spend the extra 20 ... I use one of the Fore mentioned presses on a  trailer Hitch mount I made to Deprime my brass .44 spl. , 38-40 and .45 Colt at the shoots before giving them the bath. Using a Lee universal Deprime die and one case holder handles the chore .

Even a fellow with 58 years of reloading under his belt can find a use for a inexpensive single stage press ... 

 

Jabez Cowboy 

 

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Use what you got until you get something different.  My dad loaded many rounds of M1 carbine with a lee loader before he switched up to a RCBS reloader special (which we both still use). 

There is nothing wrong with using a lee loader to learn the process.  You will learn more about loading with that than if you jumped into the deep end and bought  Blue without the loading experience you are getting now. 

 

A lot of good opinions here in the Saloon, but dont let those opinions make you feel like you have to spend lots of money to be able to do something "right".  All the fancy machines buy you is time (and more complicated ways things can go wrong).

 

Progressives are nice, no doubt.  I have a 550 I use for 45lc.  But everything else gets loaded on the reloader special, and a RCBS partner press.  Multiple presses is the poor mans progressive.

 

JMHO, I aint no expert.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Whiskey Hicks said:

I’ll also apologize for the plethora of questions I keep having on this topic. I didn’t have anyone to really mentor me on firearms growing up except my for stepdad taking me deer and rabbit hunting in high school.

I used one for years.  I do recommend getting a better (mechanical primer) tool.  Don't know what's out there anymore, but could never master the one that came in the kit.

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Whiskey, I used a Lee Hand loader for ten years of monthly IPSC and DCM matches.  I still use one to test rounds at the range.  Not sure about availability but it certainly is a step up.

My thought about the Lee Loader differs from the others.  The crimp on cartridges loaded un a tube will be challenged by recoil.  Having a round compress due to a light crimp can lock up the gun or result in unsafe pressure levels.

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I Understand the budget thing, I truly do, but if I would have started reloading with that thing when I started 11 years ago, I would have quit very quickly.

 

For about $5.00 more, based on Amazon, you could go with a simple, single stage press that would make your life a heck of a lot easier.  True, you would still need to get a set of dies, but both of which would last you a lifetime, be more productive, produce a better quality round, with a lot less hassle.

 

image.png.c6eed84801156aec3fc39c99746da1b0.png

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On 6/22/2021 at 8:25 PM, Tom Bullweed said:

Whiskey, I used a Lee Hand loader for ten years of monthly IPSC and DCM matches.  I still use one to test rounds at the range.  Not sure about availability but it certainly is a step up.

My thought about the Lee Loader differs from the others.  The crimp on cartridges loaded un a tube will be challenged by recoil.  Having a round compress due to a light crimp can lock up the gun or result in unsafe pressure levels.

You beat me to it!

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5 hours ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

Trouble is dies are hard to find and prices are stupid high in some regards. 

 

Here is a set from Midsouth Shooters that is in stock at a reasonable price...

 

 

Screenshot_20210623-223314.png

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22 minutes ago, Dutch Wheeler said:

 

Here is a set from Midsouth Shooters that is in stock at a reasonable price...

 

 

Screenshot_20210623-223314.png

Nice! Prices are starting to go back to being reasonable. At least for some things. Thanks. :D

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