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Thread: Lee Classic Loader - process improvements?

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Lee Classic Loader - process improvements?

    I am a near long time Lee Classic loader user for my 30-06 (boolits and Sierras) and overall quite satisfied, but I am least happy about seating primers in an efficient and repeatable way. It seems that calibrated mallet blows are not always so consistent and other variables sometimes have primers standing a little more proud than I prefer, micro "feel" proud.

    Mallet persuasion aside there are some other factors to check: cleaning primer pockets, general cleanliness and so on...

    And there are sometimes small variances in primer dimensions. This is overall rarely noticed and again they all shoot.

    So what's the problem? I can seat all the cases well enough, they all shoot ok, but is there some gremlin still sneaking into the process? Also, is it worth tooling up a Lee primer seating tool to accompany the classic loader?


    Best to all.

    Coondog SE LA

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    LUBEDUDE's Avatar
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    I haven’t touched my Lee Loader once I acquired a Rock Chucker 45 years ago. I loaded tons of 44 mag Ammo with that LL.

    I experienced similar results priming as you did. However, when I set a primer off, that was when I decided to get a Lee hand priming tool.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Lot of personal preference with this question. If dissatisfied with the hammer method, probably any of the primer setting devices would work just fine. I generally use the RCBS hand primer. It's not perfect but very useable. Fast and efficient, too. I know what you mean about the bug-a-boos with the hammering of primers. Lots of ways to skin a cat.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    mdi's Avatar
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    I like Lee Loaders and I still have 6 (along with a Co-Ax, 3 presses and 3/4 ton of assorted reloading tools/equipment). I found that to aid primer seating, chamfering the primer pocket mouth just like I do to remove military primer crimps works quite well. I also make sure the primer seating part of the Lee Loader is clean and free moving. I haven't had a primer pop when priming on a Lee Loader in many, many years. The simplest way to ease your mind would be to get a hand priming tool. There are many available and everyone has their favorite.

    I have used an arbor press (not the reloading style, but a real 1 ton arbor press) to load with a Lee Loader including priming. Also a heavier hammer or mallet will have more of a "push" rather than a "tap-tap-tap" and seat primers more "positively". A "dead blow" hammer works great.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    jimkim's Avatar
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    I use a Lee Loader for 30-30. I was thinking of buying an old(no tray) hand primer, or new one from Sinclair, to use with it. I have two AutoPrimes. This would be one of the old Lee hand primes with the screw in shelholders.

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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I have been using the Lee priming tool with the screw in shell holders for about 50 years. I have 6 or 7 of them.
    I have only seated 1 or 2 primers testing the hammer in process but I decided that was a dumb method for a percussion sensitive primer.
    EDG

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Hi, coondog, and welcome to the forum. Yes, I'll bet everyone that has used the Lee Loader extensively has popped a primer or two. I don't use them much anymore, having graduated to bench mounted presses years ago, but a hand priming tool (RCBS) was the first departure from the Lee system that I purchased. I still use the hand primer for loading some cartridges, and have found the old Lyman 310 tool to also be useful for that job.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    "So what's the problem? I can seat all the cases well enough, they all shoot ok, but is there some gremlin still sneaking into the process? Also, is it worth tooling up a Lee primer seating tool to accompany the classic loader?" ...Coondog

    Coondog, When I purchased my first Lee Loader ~1984, I was deeply concerned, no, make that scared s---less, about primer seating as per the instructions. I purchased a Lee Auto Prime shortly thereafter and never looked back. Btw, those Lee Loaders are capable of loading very accurate ammunition + some of the older ones (black cardboard box) came with a primer seating tool.

  9. #9
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    mdi's Avatar
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    FWIW; I really only had one Lee Loader that popped primers and that was my 44 Magnum kit. Yes, it was loud and startled me (the first time I had to change my skivvies) but there was no damage to me, the tool or anything near by. So, I accepted it. I would pop mebbe 1 primer out of 100 or so cases at the most. Just noise, no harm, no foul. But I did research/experiment and learned to chamfer the primer pocket mouth (I'm a lifelong machinist/mechanic and had a half dozen countersinks in my tool box) and the primers I installed for the next 20 years went in smoothly and had zero surprises...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  10. #10
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    An Arbor press is how this type of reloading tool was originally designed to be used. They were originally called Hand Dies and Wilson makes the best ones which are effectively just really nice Lee Loaders.

    My first Lee Loader was bought in 1971 when I got my Sako .243 I looked at the primer seating method and asked if there was another way and the guy sold me a Lee Priming tool along with the Lee Loader which I still have and use. I never seated a primer with the hammer method. I also bought a Redding #1 powder scale the next payday.

    If you use your drill press as an arbor press you can eliminate setting primers off. You just mount the pusher in the chuck and push the primers in . please don't turn the spindle on?

    You can also use the DP to push the cases into the sizing die which will give you more consistent results.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
    NoZombies's Avatar
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    Priming tools usually seat the primers so that they're recessed a few thousandths below the case head. Using the lee loader hammer method, the best you can hope for is flush. The combination of the lee loader and a hand priming tool can produce very accurate ammo, although it will do so slowly.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Just for the record, GONRA's Lee Classic Cast Press 90998
    is my Dedicated RUGGED Range Brass Case Prep Press.

    Probably "much more rugged" than Lee Classic loader. (?)
    (Not really familar with this.)

  13. #13
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    What the heck as long as I don't set one off near the sleeping dog no harm done. Sure would rather set primer off on bench with plastic mallet than have wife set one off that I dropped and didn't find with a vacuum cleaner.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
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  14. #14
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    The best advice I can give is watch Logcabinlooms on Youtube. He gives an excellent tutorial on how he loads with the Lee Loaders. The key is to knock the brass out of the sizing die before trying to prime the brass. That way you are not trying to seat a primer and get the brass out of the sizing die at the same time. I haven't popped a single primer using his technique.

    https://youtu.be/24MAWOcRxg0
    Last edited by tranders; 06-06-2018 at 02:19 AM.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    How many of ya'll are still using the Lee Classic loader that doesn't have at least one press? I started with 30-30 around 50 yrs ago with the Lee Classic Loader, but quickly moved to a Rock Chucker press and have not looked back! That Lee Classic Cast Press 90998 looks like it might even be better than the Rock CHucker, I like the way the toggle at bottom is setup.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    I have two presses on the bench and still use a Lee Loader occasionally.

  17. #17
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    Once I started using the Lee hand priming tool I stopped priming on the press or with the whack-a-mole priming set up. The hand Tool gives so much better control than anything else. If you have never tried one, give it a go. Lyman and RCBS has even started making them .
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  18. #18
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    Using a Lee Classic Loader is not about speed, it is about reloading ammo in a Minimalist Manner. These tools have been around since ammo has been able to be reloaded.

    As I stated above they were formerly called "Hand Dies." I have a story about Townsend Whelan's Hand Dies for loading .400 Whelan which were made in the 1920's. This type of tool was in use for 40 years before that.

    Lee just made them affordable to anyone and put the tools needed together in a kit. My first one was $9.95.

    The advantage of this type of tool is that it will teach the process of reloading a cartridge in the simplest possible way, and produce excellent ammo in the process. It is also compact, and weighs little so it is very portable.

    I ALWAYS recommend that a newbie start the process with a Lee Classic Loader as there is no better way to learn Reloading.

    Wilson Hand Dies are the goto reloading method for virtually all Bench Rest Shooters, so they must work well. Otherwise they would all be using my Hand Press which is the next step up from a Wilson Hand Die set. Lee also makes a Hand Press and it is in the same category quality wise as the Lee Classic Loader.

    I really don't understand why more companies haven't marketed Hand Die Tool Kits. It would be hard to compete with Lee in this area, but I feel there is a market for a kit that is in between the Lee Classic Loader and the Wilson Hand Dies. Especially with the Prepper Mentality that many of us have nowadays.

    I have shown that My Hand Press is no slower than any single stage press. Lee Loaders are not any slower once you learn how to use them efficiently, so that argument goes out the window.

    These are all simply different ways to accomplish the same thing. There obviously are machines which load ammo much faster, however none of them are single stage presses. They are progressive reloaders and are the way to go for reloading lots of ammo.

    Under 50 round batches a Lee Loader is just as good as anything else.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check