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Thread: Lee Hand Press for larger Cartridges?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy VariableRecall's Avatar
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    Lee Hand Press for larger Cartridges?

    This is just a quick one,

    I've got a Lee Hand press and I love the little thing. I've got a buddy in OK that's hoping to eventually get started with reloading for his Atlantic Arms FAL in .308. Would a Lee Hand Press be capable of going through the motions for a relatively large rifle cartridge? If not, he's got space for a tabletop press, fortunately.

    The manual says it accepts cartridges up to 3 inches but considering how long those bullets are, I have my doubts.

    If you happen to have Lee Hand Press experience loading for larger rifle cartridges, what's the largest cartridge you've successfully loaded with it?

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy adcoch1's Avatar
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    It will work for.308 length wise, but for the necessary full length sizing an FAL will require a hand press is pretty weak. Id go with a used single stage before the hand press.
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  3. #3
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    I have Lyman's version of it: the Acculine IIRC.

    I have loaded .243 Win with it, but it is not the easiest thing in the world to do. It is much easier with a bench mounted press, even an old C frame type.

    I know I would rather use my Pacific Super C than the Lyman in hand held guise. I have never mounted the Lyman to a bench, I have other presses for that.

    It is kind of neat to have a semi-portable reloading kit, but I much prefer having a bench mounted press. Bullet seating without spilling powder with everything in your lap is a learned balancing act.

    Robert

  4. #4
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    I reload all my handgun ammo from 32 acp up to 41 Magnum and 30-30 Winchester and I did resize 500 - 308 Winchester once , but not all in one sitting ... a few at a time while watching TV . No problems with those cartridges fired in modern sporting arms .
    I bought some once fired 303 British brass , they must have been fired in oversized chambers and had a lot of trouble resizing even on a bench mounted Pacific Super Deluxe C Press . I believe the brass had been fired in Lee Enfield military rifles or maybe even from a machine gun ... I had to size them down in 3 separate steps and the compound linkage of the press was necessary to do it ... it was more like forming brass rather than just resizing ... what I'm trying to say is there is room to reload 30-06 but there is not much leverage in the resizing stage .
    After I got the 303 British resized on the bench mounted Pacific Super Deluxe ... I finished loading them on the Lee Hand Press .
    I just took a fired 30-06 case , fired in my factory rifle which has a nice minimum dimensioned chamber and resized it ... lubed the case well and had no trouble ...had to put a little muscle in it but the hand press doesn't have much leverage to help you . I would do 20 on the hand press ...
    50 or 100 ... I would go out to the bench and visit the the Pacific ...71 year old hands might have something to do with it ! But 30-06 can be done .
    Gary
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I've used my hand press for many 30-30 and a few 30-06 cases.

    I recently measure how much I'm setting the shoulder back on my 30-30 when my die is set to maximum .039. That's a bunch by the way.
    Last edited by Bazoo; 11-20-2020 at 08:43 PM.

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    It will do it as long as you have the strength

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    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Imperial sizing wax and the Lee Hand press I was able to full length size 7.62x54r for my Mosin's.

    I won't say it was easy or fun, but yes doable.

    Mostly these days I resize large rifle on larger lee fixed press. But everything else is done with the Lee Hand press.

    It will do it, but it takes both Imperial sizing wax and some oomph.
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    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I've had good luck with Hornady one shot as well as imperial when using the hand press. The hardest part in my opinion is removing the case from the die as that is when the neck is inside sized. The Hornady helps there as when you spray it it lubes the inside of the neck. Otherwise it's a good practice to use dry graphite in the case necks.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master poppy42's Avatar
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    Iíve loaded 30-06 on mine. I certainly Wouldnít want to do hundreds on it if I had another option but I had no issues. Oh and yes I full length size the cases. I also loaded 06 with a 310 tool although that was neck sized only. Whatever you do donít forget the case lube.
    Last edited by poppy42; 11-20-2020 at 09:36 PM. Reason: I really hate freaking auto correct!
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  10. #10
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppy42 View Post
    Iíve loaded 30-06 on mine. I certainly Wouldnít want to do hundreds on it if I had another option but I had no issues. Oh and yes I full length size the cases. I also loaded 06 with a 310 tool although that was neck sized only. Whatever you do donít forget the case lube.
    I still want a 310 tool for 30-30 every so often.

    The first round I reloaded were on a Lee Classic Loader.

    https://leeprecision.com/lee-loader-308-win.html

    Nothing like hammering out some ammunition.

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  11. #11
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    My BPM Hand Press will resize just about any Brass Case. .308's are easy and I have a video of a guy sizing .308 machine gun brass in one stroke which is pretty hard to do on most single stage presses. It takes me three strokes to do it on my Rock Chucker.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnVUXKdqHcs&t=291s

    My tool has about 25-30% more Mechanical Advantage than the Lee Tool. It also costs more because it is made from all machined parts and assembled by hand and designed to last. I have customers who load .338 Lupua and all the larger cartridges, and one guy who does .577 Nitro Express at the campfire in Namibia!

    Please note: a Lee Hand Press WILL NOT DO THIS !

    There are several other videos on youtube on the press and you should check it out. www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

    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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  12. #12
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    I've used mine for 308 but use the wax and have Wheaties for breakfast. The Lee excells at pistol length stuff imho. If you want to do longer and keep it simple the whack a mole will work.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonp View Post
    I've used mine for 308 but use the wax and have Wheaties for breakfast. The Lee excells at pistol length stuff imho. If you want to do longer and keep it simple the whack a mole will work.
    Whack-A-Mole only neck sizes the cases ... hand press and neck sizing is a walk in the park , if neck sizing is all you need .

    Gary
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Lubing the cases is the key. Lee sells case lube in tubes that is supposed to be very good. A properly lubed case will glide in and out of a full length sizer with modest effort. The sized cases will be more uniform as well. I have never used a hand press though.

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    Boolit Master
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    I've used a Lee for 45/70's with no problems!

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I love the simplicity of these little things but a small press mounted to a 2x6 and C-clamped to a table will be a lot more productive for the guy.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Prairie Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlHunt View Post
    I love the simplicity of these little things but a small press mounted to a 2x6 and C-clamped to a table will be a lot more productive for the guy.
    I agree. A Lee Challenger bolted to a plywood base and clamped to a table is pretty compact and sturdy.

    You glue up 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood and then saw it into a base that lets you C-clamp it on either side of the press. You bore holes for the mounting bolts and counter-bore holes underneath to recess the bolt heads and the washers.

    It doesn't need to be a large base, just wide enough for the clamps and deep enough to support the press, plus a bit more. Store it in a closet or a cupboard.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master poppy42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prairie Cowboy View Post
    I agree. A Lee Challenger bolted to a plywood base and clamped to a table is pretty compact and sturdy.

    You glue up 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood and then saw it into a base that lets you C-clamp it on either side of the press. You bore holes for the mounting bolts and counter-bore holes underneath to recess the bolt heads and the washers.

    It doesn't need to be a large base, just wide enough for the clamps and deep enough to support the press, plus a bit more. Store it in a closet or a cupboard.
    For me this defeats the whole purpose of a hand press. I can take my hand press to the range and load rounds, or sit around the campfire and load rounds. But then that’s why I bought mine
    Last edited by poppy42; 11-28-2020 at 11:09 PM. Reason: Damn auto correct!
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    When using the Lee Hand Press (even for my Lee Cast Iron Bench Mounts) I find sizing in the die WITHOUT neck expanding makes the process easier. Neck expand using an 'M' die, NOE or Lyman, helps reduce the sizing power requirement and usually makes straighter cartridges. I use a decapping unit smaller that does not expand the case neck. Redding and Lee both have non-expanding decapping stems/pins available for their dies.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    I do like mostlyleverguns does. I size without the expander button, then I trim, then M die expand, then load. Now this is with 30-30 both with cast and jacketed. The main difference is the trimmer pilot won't go in the necks unless expanded. It needs to be reduced in size. I spun mine in a drill with sandpaper wrapped around it till it fit.

    Now, variable recall sir, this change in loading is not required for loading. It is a tweak to the normal method and both work. The main reason for it is ease of loading if you're already going to use an M die for cast bullets in rifle cartridges.

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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