In this article, I delve deeply into the diverse range of Lee reloading presses available, addressing the requirements of users from beginners to serious enthusiasts.
Lee is one of the Top reloading press brands. My aim is to unravel the complexity of reloading presses, providing a complete comparison of options from the inexpensive yet time-consuming classic Lee Loader, to the more complex and sophisticated progressive press like the Lee Pro 1000.
I’ve crafted a step-by-step guide to help you make well-informed decisions, advising newcomers against directly opting for complex models and instead recommending more manageable and economical alternatives.
Every Lee Press feature incorporates compound toggle linkages, allowing you to size even the largest magnum cases with ease. They all come with built-in spent primer catchers, a durable powder paint coating, and detailed instructions. Under normal usage, any of these presses are designed to last a lifetime. For those of you who desire only the very best, the “Classic Cast” is unbeatable. It’s the finest that money can buy.
I specifically recommend the Lee Classic Turret Press Kit for those new to reloading. I present this kit as the perfect entry point, as it offers an excellent balance between affordability, durability, and versatility.
It’s well suited for full-sized rifle cartridges and comes packed with all the essential components, including the press itself, handle, primer tube, case conditioning kit, auto disk riser, powder scale, powder measure, primer feed systems, and the Lee handbook. I provide a comprehensive rundown of each component, helping you to better understand their functionality and utility.
|LEE PRECISION CLASSIC TURRET PRESS KIT||Turret Press||Includes press, handle, primer tube, case conditioning kit, auto disk riser, powder scale, powder measure, primer feed systems, and Lee handbook||4.8|
|LEE PRO 1000||Progressive Press||Provides automated indexing, can load over 200 rounds per hour, features a 5 station press||4.5|
|LEE PRECISION BREECHLOCK CHALLENGER PRESS||Single-Stage Press||Breech Lock quick change feature, boasts a steel ram and operating compound leverage||4.3|
|LEE PRECISION BREECH LOCK HAND PRESS||Hand Press||Portable, capable of full-length resize, features breech lock quick change system||4.1|
|LEE PRECISION CLASSIC LOADER||Classic Loader||Affordable, minimalistic, includes tools needed for basic reloading||3.9|
In addition to the comparison of different reloading presses, I also underscore the contents and benefits of the Lee handbook included in the Classic Turret Press Kit. The handbook offers extensive load data, making it a priceless reference for various reloading needs. With this expert guidance and practical advice, I aim to equip you with the knowledge to confidently embark on your reloading journey.
Making Reloading Easy with a Classic Lee Reloading Press Kit
Classic Lee loader kit is a one-stop solution for all your reloading needs, housing a variety of indispensable tools. This kit features an array of tools to streamline the reloading process.
You’ll find a primer decapping chamber, sizing die, powder measure, priming tool, bullet seeder, flaring tool, and a priming rod. Each tool has a specific function, and they all work together to simplify the reloading process.
Understanding the Reloading Process
We start by removing the old primer and resizing the brass. Then, we move on to placing a new primer and flaring the mouth of the brass, which prepares it for the next step. We add the powder and then seat the bullet.
Caution While Reloading
While reloading is relatively straightforward with the right tools, I stress the need for caution, especially when handling the primer, to avoid any accidents. It’s crucial to handle all components with care, ensuring the primer is protected throughout the process.
The Importance of Attention to Detail
Reloading is a task that requires a keen eye and attention to detail. I encourage you to take your time and work at a comfortable pace. Don’t rush the process. It’s all about precision and accuracy.
Aside from the Classic Lee Loader, there are several additional pieces of equipment that you’ll require for an efficient reloading process. These include a polymer mallet or an Estwing rubber mallet, caliper, digital powder scale (which provides more accuracy than a mechanical scale), primer tool, chamfering tool, tumbler, and a sense of patience and safety.
|Polymer Mallet||Used to perform the various steps of reloading|
|Caliper||Measures the dimensions of the cartridge|
|Digital Powder Scale||For precise measurement of gunpowder|
|Bullet Puller||Used to extract the bullet from the case|
|Case Gauge||Verifies the correct sizing of the reloads|
|Primer Tool||Assists in inserting new primers|
|Chamfering Tool||Helps in preparing the case mouth for bullet seating|
|Tumbler||Cleans the brass cases before reloading|
Once you have these additional tools along with the kit, you’re ready to start loading. However, a word of caution – patience can be elusive, as hinted by some reviews mentioning difficulties in getting the kit to function correctly.
I’ve found this tool to be outstanding. With practice, I can produce about 100 rounds in roughly 110 minutes – a perfect pastime during the dull winter months while waiting for better weather. While I could opt for a press, there’s no compelling reason to do so as this kit functions just fine. Given the abundance of available cases at my local target shooting areas, I also got a kit for 9mm.
Starting with 45 rounds is an excellent choice if you’re keen on pursuing this hobby. I usually shoot on weekends when fishing isn’t an option. It’s a wonderful meditative hobby that instills safety, patience, and consistency. If you struggle with practicing these virtues, it’s best to avoid ammunition and firearms altogether.
|1. Cost-effective introduction to reloading, allowing you to gauge your interest before fully committing.||1. Only sizes the neck, limiting the types of firearms for which your ammo will be reliable. Not recommended for use in automatics.|
|2. Avoids overworking your brass with its flaring tool, offering an easier time seating the bullet.||2. Difficult to achieve a good crimp with the Lee Loader as the hammer technique is not as effective as a press.|
|3. The tools from this kit can be used alongside a press, filling in gaps. For instance, the scoop and decapping tools remain useful even after upgrading to a press.||3. The hammering process can be noisy and requires significant force, especially during the priming step, which may be inconvenient in certain living environments. The method occasionally fails to seat the primer below flush, necessitating multiple attempts.|
Yet useful tool to consider is a Case Gauge. Although you could technically use the chamber of your handgun barrel to gauge your reloads (by removing the barrel and checking if the cartridge fully drops into the chamber), this method isn’t highly recommended unless you have substantial experience.
Furthermore, it’s especially important to note that if you choose to use the chamber of your rifle for this purpose, it is critical for safety reasons to remove the bolt first. However, a safer and more recommended option for verifying that your reloads are correctly sized is to simply purchase a Case Gauge that matches the caliber of your reloads.
In summary, investing in a Lee Loader is a wise decision. It serves as a reliable backup for your reloading equipment. Despite already having 30-06 dies, considering a 30-06 Lee Loader may still be beneficial due to its effective decapping function and cost-effectiveness.
The Lee Precision Breech Lock Hand Press – A First Look
Firstly, I want to commend Lee Precision for this remarkable piece of equipment. The Breech Lock Hand Press has this sleek and rugged feel right out of the box. It screams durability and I must say, it lives up to that impression.
One feature that stands out in the Breech Lock Hand Press is the breech lock quick change system. The ability to change dies with a simple twist without adjusting the die setting is a time-saver. Especially when you’re running several calibers in one session, this feature is an absolute game-changer.
Versatility & Portability
What impressed me the most is the press’s portability. Its design allows for use almost anywhere. You could be at the shooting range or just chilling in your living room while watching a game. The convenience of reloading wherever you want is unparalleled. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a bit of multitasking!
Reloading with this hand press has been quite the experience. Let’s not sugarcoat it; it does require a bit more effort than using a bench-mounted press. However, the tactile feedback you get from every stroke, feeling the brass resize and the primer seat, there’s just something inherently satisfying about that process.
Room for Improvement
While it’s a fantastic piece of equipment, the Breech Lock Hand Press isn’t without its flaws. I noticed a few minor hiccups, such as the lack of leverage when resizing larger calibers. It can get somewhat strenuous. However, it’s nothing a sturdy bench or a bit of elbow grease can’t solve.
Longevity and Reliability
In terms of longevity, this press holds its own. Having used it extensively for a decent amount of time, it’s taken a fair amount of wear and tear but still functions like a charm. It’s a workhorse. I’ve cranked out thousands of rounds with it, and it’s yet to let me down.
In summary, the Lee Precision Breech Lock Hand Press brings a lot to the table. It’s compact, portable, and highly functional. It may not replace your bench-mounted press, but it’s a fantastic addition to your reloading arsenal. Especially if you appreciate the convenience and the hands-on nature of a hand press, this one is worth considering.
Previously, I’ve done a lot of reloading with my Hornady Lock and Load progressive press. However, since I’ve moved to a new location with limited space, I needed a more compact solution. That’s when I discovered the Breech Lock Hand Press, which has impressed me with its capabilities.
The press is constructed from aluminum, which makes it lightweight, and the design of the components gives it a good level of stiffness. The piston is crafted from stainless steel and I noticed minimal play in it when I first took it out of the box.
The breech lock feature on this press simplifies the process of swapping out dies. However, I found the bushings to be a bit pricier than I’d prefer, so I’ve opted to use Hornady locking rings instead. They are more affordable and work perfectly for my needs.
To prevent static cling and ensure the powder doesn’t adhere to components, I use dryer sheets. This technique helps me maintain a consistent powder charge. It’s important to note that reloading ammunition carries inherent risks, just like shooting. Therefore, it’s crucial to receive proper training before attempting to reload ammunition.
LEE PRECISION BREECHLOCK CHALLENGER PRESS
Right out of the gate, the Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Press has a presence. Solid and sturdy, it has a weightiness to it that instantly spells durability.
I knew from the get-go that this isn’t just another run-of-the-mill press; it’s a piece of equipment designed to withstand the demands of serious reloading.
Embracing the Breech Lock System
One feature that stands out on this press, and one I truly appreciate, is the breech lock system. This feature allows for rapid die changes without the need for readjusting, which, trust me, is a big deal when you’re processing large quantities of ammunition. The time saved there alone is a significant advantage.
The Feel of the Lever
The lever on the Challenger Press has a smooth action that’s satisfying to use. There’s just enough resistance to give you that feedback you need when sizing and seating. It’s one of those subtle things that enhance the overall reloading experience.
On the Flip Side
As much as I appreciate this press, there are a couple of areas that could use some improvement. For one, the primer system can be a bit finicky. It takes a bit of practice and finesse to get it running smoothly. But once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s not much of an issue.
The Test of Time
One key aspect of any press is its longevity, and the Breech Lock Challenger Press shines here. I’ve put thousands of rounds through it, and it’s held up incredibly well. The rugged design and sturdy construction promise a lot of mileage. It seems to be one of those investments that will stick around for the long haul.
All in all, the Lee Precision Breech Lock Challenger Press is a stellar piece of kit. Its strengths certainly overshadow the minor hiccups. If you’re looking for a solid, reliable, and efficient press, the Challenger Press is worth a serious look. Remember, every press has its quirks, but in the grand scheme of things, this press delivers where it counts.
Initial Reaction to the LEE PRECISION CLASSIC TURRET PRESS KIT
From the moment you unpack the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit, you realize it’s not your average reloading setup.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into this kit, from the comprehensive set of components to the user-friendly instructions. The sturdy build of the press itself, coupled with its sleek design, promises an exciting experience ahead.
The Turret Advantage
One of the key elements that sets this kit apart is the turret design. It lets you have multiple dies set up at once, which dramatically speeds up the reloading process. Switching from decapping/resizing to bullet seating is as easy as turning the turret, and you’re on to the next stage. This feature truly streamlines the process, which is a godsend when you’re going through a substantial quantity of brass.
Diving into the Kit
The kit comes with a bunch of handy extras. The Auto Disk Powder Measure, primer pocket cleaning tool, chamfer tool, small and large primer pocket-cleaning tool, cutter and lock stud are all excellent additions. In particular, the Auto Disk Powder Measure is a big win for consistency in reloading.
Room for Improvement
On the downside, setting up the primer feed can be a bit tricky. It’s not insurmountable, but you need to invest a little time to get it right. Once it’s correctly set up, though, it runs like a dream.
Longevity and Performance
In terms of performance, this press kit has withstood the test of time and use. I’ve loaded a significant amount of ammo on it, and it’s still running as smooth as the day I bought it. The turret maintains its alignment and the dies stay firmly in place, ensuring consistent results each time.
In the end, the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit proves to be an excellent investment for any reloader, regardless of experience level. It’s quick, efficient, and comes with almost everything you need to get started. While there are minor kinks to work out, the overall quality and performance outweigh any initial setup challenges. With its sturdy build and user-friendly design, this kit is poised to serve you well for years to come.
LEE PRO 1000 – high-speed reloading
When you first encounter the LEE PRO 1000, it’s hard not to be impressed by its slick design and the promise of high-speed reloading.
It is a progressive press that does it all: decapping, sizing, priming, powdering, and bullet seating, all in a single pull of the lever. This machine is clearly built for the reloader who wants to churn out a high volume of rounds in less time.
The LEE PRO 1000 in Action
Seeing the LEE PRO 1000 in action is quite the sight. It’s a smooth operator when it’s all set up and running correctly, and watching a completed round drop with each pull of the lever can be incredibly satisfying. Plus, the amount of ammo it can produce in a given time frame is genuinely impressive.
A Bit of a Learning Curve
However, getting to the point where everything runs like clockwork can be a bit of a journey. Progressive presses are inherently more complex than single-stage or turret presses, and the PRO 1000 is no exception. It takes time, patience, and a fair bit of tinkering to get everything dialed in just right.
One issue that seems to crop up now and then is with the priming system. It can occasionally be finicky, but with some adjustments and care, it tends to fall back in line. The trick is to take it slow and steady, especially when you’re just starting out with the PRO 1000. Once you’ve gotten familiar with its quirks, you’ll be able to troubleshoot on the fly and keep those rounds coming.
All in all, the LEE PRO 1000 is a powerful piece of machinery that, once mastered, can significantly increase your ammo production rate. While it might present some challenges, particularly for those new to progressive reloading, the rewards for perseverance are great. The key is patience and a willingness to learn the ins and outs of the press. If you’ve got those, then the LEE PRO 1000 might just be the game changer you’re looking for.
Lee Reloading Press – What to Choose?
In my personal experience with reloading presses, I’ve found each of these top products to have unique advantages in various performance categories.
Starting with the LEE PRECISION CLASSIC LOADER, this compact tool is a testament to simplicity and effectiveness. It can decap, size, and seat bullets with a surprising level of precision, considering its size. While it won’t produce high volumes quickly, I’d rate it an 8 out of 10 for reliability and precision, but around a 6 for speed.
Moving on to the LEE PRECISION BREECH LOCK HAND PRESS, I love the portability of this tool. It’s simple to set up, and switching dies is a breeze, thanks to the breech lock quick change system. It’s more versatile than the Classic Loader, but still not a speed demon. I’d give it an 8 for versatility, a 7 for speed, and a 9 for convenience.
The LEE PRECISION BREECHLOCK CHALLENGER PRESS is a robust, single-stage press that offers a bit more speed and precision. With its solid “O” frame and breech lock quick change system, it’s a sturdy, reliable workhorse. I’d rate it a solid 9 for reliability, an 8 for precision, and a 7 for speed.
As for the LEE PRECISION CLASSIC TURRET PRESS KIT, it’s my go-to for mid-volume reloading. The auto-indexing feature significantly increases speed, and it’s very precise. It’s a perfect blend of speed and accuracy for me. On my scale, it gets a 9 for both speed and precision.
Finally, the LEE PRO 1000 is a beast when it comes to volume production. Once dialed in, it can churn out a high volume of rounds with impressive speed. However, it’s also the most complex and requires some experience to operate smoothly. I’d rate it a 9.5 for speed, an 8 for precision (due to occasional priming issues), and a 7 for user-friendliness.
Of course, these are just my opinions based on my experiences. Everyone’s mileage may vary, depending on their specific needs and skill level.
Alternatives Lee reloading press
In my personal experience, a few comparable products to the Lee reloading press lineup certainly warrant consideration. Depending on your specific needs and circumstances, different products might rise to the top.
If you’re just dipping your toes into the reloading world, I’d suggest the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit as a worthy alternative to the Lee Precision Breech Lock Hand Press. This kit includes everything you need to start reloading and is known for its sturdy construction and reliable operation. The Rock Chucker single-stage press is an industry classic for a reason.
For those ready to take a step up in speed and volume, consider the Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press as an alternative to the Lee Pro 1000.
While it’s a bit pricier, Hornady’s Lock-N-Load system makes changing calibers fast and easy, and the five-station press provides flexibility for additional operations like crimping or bullet seating.
If you’re looking for a turret press, the Redding T-7 Turret Reloading Press is an excellent option. This cast iron press is exceptionally sturdy and precise, making it a fantastic alternative to the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit.
However, keep in mind that Redding and Hornady equipment tend to be a bit pricier than Lee’s. If budget is a concern, Lee presses offer great value for the money.
Again, the best choice heavily depends on your specific circumstances – the volume of ammunition you plan to reload, the variety of calibers, your budget, and how much space you have for a reloading setup. But rest assured, there are plenty of options out there to fit any reloader’s needs.
Lee reloading press – Buyer’s guide
When it comes to reloading presses, there are several key decision-making factors to consider. Let’s examine how the Lee reloading press lineup performs in these areas:
- Ease of Use: Reloading presses should be user-friendly, especially for beginners. Lee’s products excel in this area, particularly with their hand press and classic turret press, which are straightforward to use. The presses feature a simple setup and a design that prioritizes user experience.
- Versatility: A good press should handle a range of ammunition sizes. The Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit and the Lee Pro 1000 are standouts in this category, accommodating a variety of calibers.
- Speed: If you’re reloading in volume, speed becomes critical. The Lee Pro 1000 is an automatic progressive press designed for high-speed reloading, allowing you to produce hundreds of rounds per hour once you’ve got the hang of it.
- Durability: You want your press to last. Lee’s presses, particularly the Classic Loader and Breechlock Challenger Press, are known for their sturdy construction.
- Price: Lastly, cost is often a deciding factor. Lee’s reloading presses are competitively priced, providing excellent value for the quality and functionality they deliver.
Remember, your specific needs may prioritize some factors over others. For instance, if you’re a beginner, ease of use and price might be more important than speed. Conversely, if you’re an experienced reloader producing high volumes of ammunition, speed and versatility may be the most crucial factors.
Useful manufacturers resource
If you’re interested in exploring more about Lee’s reloading presses and how they compare to other manufacturers, I’d highly recommend checking out The Reloaders Network. It’s an invaluable resource that I’ve found really helpful during my reloading journey.
The site provides a wealth of information on reloading equipment from a variety of manufacturers, including product reviews, user guides, and tips for both beginners and experienced reloaders.
There’s a community of like-minded enthusiasts there as well, ready to share their experiences and offer advice. You’ll find insights on other popular manufacturers like Dillon, Hornady, and RCBS, which can provide a wider context for understanding the features and benefits of Lee’s reloading presses.
Remember, it’s always useful to get multiple perspectives when making your decision, and The Reloaders Network offers exactly that. It’s a resource that’s definitely worth checking out.
Here’s a list of equipment you might need to work with a Lee reloading press:
|Lee Reloading Press||Used to resize and deprime cases, prime cases, bell cases, drop powder, and seat/crimp bullets|
|Reloading Dies||Used in the press to perform specific tasks like resizing, expanding the case mouth, seating bullets, etc.|
|Powder Measure||Used to accurately measure the powder charge|
|Digital Caliper||Used to measure case and overall cartridge length|
|Case Tumbler||Used to clean brass before reloading|
|Primer Tray||Used to orient primers for pickup by the primer arm|
|Powder Scale||Used to verify powder charge weight|
|Bullet Puller||Used to disassemble a loaded cartridge|
|Case Trimmer||Used to trim cases to the proper length|
|Case Lube||Used to lubricate cases before resizing|
|Reloading Manual||Provides important data on specific loads|
Keep in mind that the exact equipment needed may vary based on the specific model of the Lee reloading press and the cartridges you plan to reload.
Can the Lee reloading press handle all types of ammunition?
Generally, Lee reloading presses can handle a wide range of ammunition sizes, but not all. Be sure to check the product description or consult the manufacturer’s guide to ensure the press you choose can handle the specific ammunition type you wish to reload.
Do I need any additional tools to use a Lee reloading press?
Yes, using a reloading press requires additional tools such as reloading dies, a powder measure, a digital caliper, and possibly others. It’s best to check the specific model’s requirements and recommendations.
Is a Lee reloading press suitable for beginners?
Many beginners find Lee reloading presses easy to use, particularly the models that are designed with beginners in mind like the Lee Precision Breech Lock Hand Press. However, it’s recommended to have a comprehensive understanding of the reloading process and always prioritize safety.
Is the Lee reloading press manual helpful?
Yes, the Lee reloading press manual provides detailed instructions and safety measures for using the press. It is an important resource for both beginners and experienced reloaders.
How much space do I need for a Lee reloading press?
The space needed depends on the specific model of the press. Some presses like the Lee Breech Lock Hand Press are portable and require less space, while others, like the Lee Classic Turret Press, are larger and require a sturdy bench setup.
How do I maintain my Lee reloading press?
Maintenance typically involves regular cleaning after use, lubricating moving parts, and checking for wear and tear. Detailed maintenance instructions can be found in the press manual.
Can I reload rifle cartridges with a Lee reloading press?
Yes, most Lee reloading presses can handle both handgun and rifle cartridges, but it’s essential to have the appropriate reloading dies for the specific cartridge you wish to reload. Always verify with the press’s specifications.
Where can I find replacement parts for my Lee reloading press?
Replacement parts can typically be ordered directly from the Lee Precision website or from retailers that sell Lee products.