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Old April 26, 2005, 11:18 PM   #1
relientk1988
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Just bought a lee loader need help...

After browsing the entire handloading and reloading forum I decide to start reloading on a classic lee loader. It seems like alot of people started out on it and I guess I will too. I will be loading .357, I ordered the actual tool, cartridge cutter(friend told me that the .357 really expands the cartridge), chamfer tool, primer cleaner and the universal de-priming tool(they say I wont have to clean cases). A good site someone on here recommended is Re-loading on a Shoestring . Ok now I have some questions.

1. How important is cleaning? Can I use steel wool like the article says?

2. How important is lubing?

3. Do I trim the cases before re-sizing or after?

And.... thats about it. Well I'm anxious for the package to get hee and get started. If you experienced guys could me it'd be great.

Thanks



Try this link instead(it works) Handloading shoestring

Last edited by relientk1988; April 26, 2005 at 11:34 PM. Reason: LINK BROKEN
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Old April 26, 2005, 11:59 PM   #2
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Try http://www.reload-nrma.com

You will need at least 3 different loading manuals to reference and cross-reference your loading info.

Unless your cases are severely tarnished or corroded, cleaning is an option. 0000 steel wool is fine for light cleaning both inside and outside of cases. Also soaking your cases in HOT water with dishwashing detergent works well.

Unless you are using carbide dies you will have to lube your cases.

Trim your cases after resizing. But unless they are over maximum length you won't have to worry about them.
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Old April 27, 2005, 07:20 AM   #3
caz223
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I used a lee loader kit for years.
You can make really good ammo with it, but the rate of production is somewhat slow.
Like 50 rounds an hour.
If that doesn't scare you off, proceed.
You will eventually want a powder scale and trickler, a hand priming tool, a dial calipers, and a powder funnel. Maybe even a powder measure if you want to go high-tech.
But you do need load books, the loads they give you are awful.
Fortunately, you can buy a caliber-specific load book from your local gun show, or midway, for less than $10, that's the only book you'll need, provided you're only loading that caliber.
http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpag...eitemid=442318
It's amazing how accurate those little scoops can be when used correctly.
I'd use good bullets with a cannelure (In the absence of a dial calipers.), you can't really screw up enough to get yourself in real trouble.
Also, I don't know what the general concensus is on chrome polish, but I used chrome polish and a rag to clean the brass, it worked for me for ages.
Check the ingredients for ammonia or petroleum products, they weaken brass.

You don't have to lube your cases, but you might want to after you find out how much effort it takes to pound 'em in.
Forgive me if you got a press, I assumed you bought a lee loader KIT that uses a plastic hammer and block of wood.
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Old April 27, 2005, 07:35 AM   #4
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Oh, yeah.
Do yourself a favor and keep track of what's what.
Label your loads, even if you're going to shoot them the same day.
If something seems wrong, the label is a great place to start figuring out where the problems started....
The ultimate in almost free organization is a sandwich baggie with your loads in it, and a piece of paper in the bag, noting powder type and amount, primer type, bullet weight, etc.

In regards to powder selection, use your lee dipper chart, and figure out how full the case will be, good loads fill the case at least 85% full with the bullet seated.

Blue dot and 2400 are good powders to start with, blue dot being cheaper to shoot.
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Old April 27, 2005, 06:22 PM   #5
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relientk1988 this is great! I recently read that article and was about to post the same questions. Please post how the Lee loader works out for you. I just bought a .357 Ruger and it looks like we are on the same page. Did you get the .357 kit or the 38?

Thanks.
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Old April 27, 2005, 09:02 PM   #6
drinks
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Lee classic loader

1988;
I have had and used the Lee loaders in 20ga and .30-30 since the '60's, I loaded a number of cases with exactly what is in the package, plus bullets, primers and powder.
I cannot think of a cheaper or easier way to start reloading.
Follow the instructions and if you get bored, get the Lee 2nd ed, reloading manual and at least one other, then get the Lee powder measure set, technically, this could do you for life, but I do not know of anyone who stayed with reloading who has not wound up with enough stuff to fill at least 2 steamer trunks, 3 if the bullet casting bug bites too.
You might as well relax, you are not going to save any money reloading, you are going to shoot a lot more and keep on expanding your shop until you give up or give out.
Don
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Old April 27, 2005, 10:27 PM   #7
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I had to laugh at the truth contained in the last post from Drinks....
I got a Lee Anniversary press kit last year, and it's been a non-stop
buying frenzy since then. Let's see, first I decided I needed a better scale.
Then I needed a digital calipers.
And cleaning supplies and ammo boxes for those different calibers.
Oh, yeah, I better have a Lyman tumbler to keep that brass looking nice.
I told my wife I was done after that.
When she turned her back for a few days I sneaked out and bought a
new rifle, since I had a bonus check coming and she'd never miss money
she didn't know about......I was wrong about that, too. Then I HAD to know
what kind of velocity I was getting from those loads, so a chronograph
ended up in my shopping cart. And what good is a chronograph without a
decent bench rest and a magnum rifle rest to shoot from? Yup, got those, too.
Finally figured out it was easier to take her along with me and explain
as I went than to have to make up stories later. At last count, there were
12 different powders and as many bullet types sitting on my workbench.
(And 3 new rifles in the last 6 months have found their way into my gun cabinet.)
Who needs a drug or gambling habit...I'll go broke if this keeps up.
I have been thinking of getting a lead pot so I can utilize all those wheel-weights I've been saving at work...............somebody stop me!!! :barf:
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Old April 28, 2005, 10:39 PM   #8
relientk1988
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it came, it came

I already typed this but apparently forgot to click reply. I got it today and startd punching out primers. I like how everything, including my accesories can fit into the box. Right now I'm looking for some stout .357 loads. I'm going to buy powder, primers, and bullets tomorrow. I have a quick stupid question some reciped I've seen say SWC or LSWC or JSP. Am I required to use that particular type of bullet in the load or could I a use a LRN? I'm pretty sure you can. Well I'll tell you how everything goes tomorrow.


Ben
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Old April 28, 2005, 10:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Right now I'm looking for some stout .357 loads.
Then buy some factory. No offense but it sounds like you're getting ahead of yourself. Learn to walk before you run for safety's sake. Starting loads or midrange are just as satisfying to shoot as full house loads, moreso if they shoot better than the hot ones.

Why do you think they call it 'working up a load'? Be careful.
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Old April 29, 2005, 04:18 AM   #10
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Well, if you're looking for some stout loads, I'd recommend staying away from lead, until you have a little more experience under your belt.
Name brand jacketed is the way to go.
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Old April 29, 2005, 05:42 AM   #11
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Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but the case trimmer was a not needed item at this time. In the last 30 yrs of reloading, I've never seen a .357 case that needed trimming and I shoot some pretty hot loads. Just put it away for now as you'll need it when you start reloading rifle bullets. "Cleaning is an option", I don't agree with that, but you can get by without cleaning for a time. Cabelas sells a tumbler kit for under $50. Get yourself one some day. For now just use the steel wool or sparingly some brass cleaner, shells don't have to shine but get the surface grit off. If you bought a new Lee press, it will have carbide pistol dies so lubing is not nessassry.

Sorry just realized you are using the Classic Loader. Forget what I said about lube. Unless they have started using carbide, you WILL have to lube your cases.

As someone else said, start out slow, start with Starter loads and work your way up. Have fun.
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Old April 29, 2005, 07:18 AM   #12
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To Cobra81 : You sound just like me. I started out with just a one stage chucker with a scale and a caliper. Then handcleaning the cases got tiring so I bought a tumbler. Then I started to do match loading and moved to a digital powder meter and scale.

As my number of guns I owned increased my time for making ammo skyrocketed so I went moved to a 5-stage progressive press. I also then bought a media separator since I was spending alot of time hand picking out and separating the cases. I added a second tumbler.

I purchased even more guns and found that I was spending alot of time doing caliber conversions on the one progressive press so I went out and bought 3 more 5-stage progressive presses. I have each press set to those calibers I shoot the most of and I use the single stage chuck for doing those I don't shoot much.

I am spending alot of time trimming so now I am considering the purchase of an auto-trimmer that trims while resizing the case in the progressive presses. I am also considering getting the primer-tube loader as well.

My cabinets are filled with bulk bullets in many different calibers, about 10 different kinds of powder and bricks of various primers. Also now that I have the 4 progressive presses going I have run out of bench space so I now have to buy another bench so I can do the necessary bench work. Its like a never ending story.............but I love doing it !!
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Old April 29, 2005, 07:43 AM   #13
caz223
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Agreed about the case trimmer/chamfer tool.
Don't chamfer necks, it reduces the amount of brass present in a very vital area.
Oh, and you'd have to spend a long, long time crimping and loading really hot to stretch .357 mag cases past trim-to length using a lee loader and a 4" or 6" DA revolver.
Start slow, like load 12 rounds at the minimum loading, then load .2 grains higher until the desired power level is reached.
Check for primers backing out and flattening, or cases not wanting to extract from your gun easily.
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Old April 29, 2005, 10:32 AM   #14
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Loading ammo is a very safe hobby IF you follow the recipes in the books.DO NOT 'add just a smidge' of powder to see what the results would be.The dippers are made for one load with a certain kind of powder.Don't guess.It could cost ya a gun at the very least.
My 'go to' book has always been the Lyman.Lots of loads with lots of diff. powders.
Wear safety glasses,primer do go off when seating sometimes.
Cases are seldom at the lengths shown in the books,so I just pick one that is midway in my batch of brass and if the rest are +- .003 or so I skip trimming.Talking pistol ammo here like your .357's.
I"ve read that some lee loaders just neck size,not full length size.Do the instructions specify using case lube.?
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Old April 29, 2005, 10:52 AM   #15
relientk1988
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calrification...

when I said "stout" .357 loads I meants somewhere between starting and maximum. I'm am definetly going to start at the bottom and work my way up. But after a while I'll move up. if i wanted weak loads I'd shoot .38 spcl. I have been disappointed by factory ammo not having enough oomph. I'd shot some .357s that were almost the same as .38s. Also the powder dippers come with a slide to say how much dipper will hold with each type of powder. Yeah after sizing a few brass I realized I won't have to trim cases. Also since it's a revolver round I should use a flaring tool instead of the chamfer, the manual said only use the champer for 9mm., .45...

Well time to go reload,


Ben
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Old April 29, 2005, 11:56 AM   #16
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ThrockMorton said The dippers are made for one load with a certain kind of powder.Don't guess.....

This point cannot be emphsized enough. Good advice !!
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Old April 29, 2005, 11:59 AM   #17
caz223
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The lee loader comes with a flaring tool.
The little paper that comes with it that specifies dippers and stuff is really bad, I'm looking at the 357mag one right now, and I'm not sure I'd have started reloading if I went by this data.
(For instance, the powder that gives the most velocity with a 158 grain jacketed bullet is listed as unique, 7.8 grains.) That's waaaayyy down the list in most manuals I have...
10 grains of blue dot is safer, and just makes more sense, and isn't listed, because it would take more than a scoop of powder...

Weak, inflexible, and it seems the only way to increase power is to change bullet weight and powder.
Yeah, the paper I got is prolly ten years old, but I'm sure it's still pretty conservative. Which is a good thing starting out, but you are still gonna need a scale and trickler eventually....
And at least the less than $10 .357 mag caliber specific loadbook.
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Old April 29, 2005, 01:58 PM   #18
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Glad to hear you are starting low and working up! (Kinda scary to read stuff like your 'stout load' post from beginner reloaders)

If I'm reading this right, you have no scale yet? Thats scary too. In my mind you have to verify the dippers too, there'll be variation there especially if you dont scoop the exact same way each time.

I started on a shoestring but no Lee loader. Just a Rockchucker and a set of dies and a scale, not even a powder measure. I'd pour powder into a cereal bowl and use a spoon to tap-tap-tap powder into the scale to get my weight and then pour it from the scale pan into the case carefully.

You could probably use dippers for powders other than the listed powder but you'd have to verify the weight to the dipper anyway because powder densities are different with each kind. You could dip ten charges and average them (still need a scale), but this wouldn't tell you the variation of each charge/dipper full. To do that you'd have to weigh ten dipperfulls seperately and record each, and decide if the variation is ok or too much for you. Actually you have a snowballs chance of finding a dipper for the powder you want to use that not listed. Murphy says it'd be over or under.

Quote:
Don't guess.....
(This is code talk for "You need a scale"!!)
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Old April 29, 2005, 04:03 PM   #19
relientk1988
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I'll get to a scale.....

I started loading for the .357 today. I bought some red dot and 158 gr. hornady XTP. I used 5.0 grains(starting load) and can't wait to go out shooting. By the way the dipper set I bought came with a slide so I can figure out the grains for each specific powder.
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Old April 29, 2005, 06:52 PM   #20
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relientk1988, how hard was the loader to use? The "shoestring" article made the process look pretty simple, but I sure some unexpected "steps" popped up. How was your experience? Thanks and congratulations!
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Old April 29, 2005, 07:14 PM   #21
relientk1988
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Thanks JR

Well, the kit was pretty much straightforward and easy. At the begining I accidentally hammered the shells through the Crimping side so they came out weird, lol. Uh, of all the accesories I purchased I recommend 3, the primer pocket cleaner($1.98), the shell-holder for the cutter($??) and the set of dippers($10). I don't think I'll be using the cutter for a while.

here's my process....

1. deprime, using the hammer.

2. insert into shellholder thats in a 3/8 drill, and buff with steel wool. This is how I clean until I buy a tumbler.

3. Lube and drive into resizing die.

4. hammer out shell onto primer.

5. flare mouth with tool.

6. load powder

7. seat bullet. the rod is adjustable and I got mine at the exact length.

8. Turn around die and lightly tap to crimp.


All in all exactly how the article said it would be. I bought some cheap RCBS lube($2.49) , (100)158 gr. hornady XTP($12.99) , Alliant powder Red Dot(17.99) and CCI magnum small handgun primers 100@$1.70

Definetly worth it. if this particular 5.0 grain red dot load proves itself then I will use it for a while. Like all other reloaders I now have the urge to upgrade :-). i think a lee press with carbide dies is in my future.

ben
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Old April 29, 2005, 09:06 PM   #22
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Sold!

Very cool relientk1988. Looking at the load data on Alliant Powder's site, suggests that'll be a fun load. This sounds like just what I need, I'll order my kit in the next two days now.
My Ruger GP100 is a perfect match for me, it runs through boxes of ammo like I run through a buffet.
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Old April 29, 2005, 09:50 PM   #23
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Starting loading, awww

Reliant and JR: You're at the beginning of what could very well be a lifelong adventure. I too started with the Lee hammer-it-in kit. Used it for years. Excellent learning tool, and some people never go further and they are happy.

Suggestions: I'd skip the cleaning of cases with a drill; I always just wiped mine w/a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol. Worked for years. Used alcohol so they'd dry with no further attention. Cleaned the primer pockets w/a jacknife or a small screwdriver, just to knock the major crud out. That worked for years too. Never trimmed a case while I was using the Lee.

Using the whole set of dippers, you can get by w/o a scale IF you use the dippers VERY consistently: always exactly one shake to level the powder, or always one pass with a 3x5 card to level powder. Any deviation, dump the dip and try again. The Lee recipies are on the starting-level side, specifically for use by people w/o a scale. Use those recipies until you get a scale--DON'T IMPROVISE!!!

If the reloading bug bites you, you'll be graduating to other equipment eventually. That's fine. If you stay with the Lee, that's fine too. If you go back to buying all your ammo, at least you will have a much better knowledge of what it consists of and how it works. You can't lose.

Enjoy. As always, the journey is part of the destination.
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Old May 1, 2005, 02:12 PM   #24
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Fingernail Polish, different colors.

I use this on different loads that I put together, just a little dab on the primer and a note next to your load data makes it a lot easier to know what problems you are having with each load when you sort your brass.

If you find a certain color is splitting the cases, you can check the color on the primer and you know what load it was.

This is handy when picking up brass on the range too. You know which brass is yours and which was left by the friendly folks that were there before you.

You can pick up there brass and use it over and over and over again. That is if your range allows this. The one I use was built for the LE communtiy but is open to the public as long as they do not abuse it. Most of the time you can tell if it is new or used\reloaded brass.

I really like our range cause the local Sheriff's Office and surounding Police, as well as a few locals, use it for quailification and practice.

I have at least a dozen cofee cans full of brass that I haven't even cleaned and de-primed yet. Anything from .25 up to 30-06.

Now that the LEO's in the area have gone to issued .40s, there are more of it than anything.

But still the occasional .38 and .45 acp.
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Old May 1, 2005, 02:30 PM   #25
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those of us who'be moved to progressives

almost never clean a primer pocket.Sure,some bullseye shooters are adamant about it,but thousands of people load millions of rounds and never touch the pockets...defeats the purpose of the progressive.On the rare occasion I decied to trim brass so they are all the same length I'll maybe clean the pockets....if i't s raining or snowing or sleeting or over 110 in the shade.
IMHO,YMMV etc.
Sounds like some new reloaders have gotten sucked in by us 'old timers' .
enjoy!!!
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