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Old April 3, 2014, 05:06 AM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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Lee Hand Press. Something useful to have?

Are these viable alternatives to single stage presses, especially if you already have all the dies etc?

I ask as this could be something useful when doing work up loads and you want to confirm a particular charge weight there and then: could be easy to rustle up another couple of cartridges.

It also means loading away from home is easy on those long winter nights in the cabin.

Gimmick or useful back up? Reliable and accurate or flimsy and temperamental?

Thoughts?
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Old April 3, 2014, 05:26 AM   #2
Salmoneye
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I have only ever had one press, and it is a Lee hand press...

I don't shoot thousands of rounds of semi-auto per year, so I have never needed anything more...

I can load a box of twenty .30-30, .30-06, .35 Rem, etc., in less than a half hour...

That is from fired brass to fully loaded with weighed charges...

I can do a box of fifty .357, .44, etc., in an hour from fired brass to loaded and in the box with dipped charges...Weighing takes more time, but still comes in about an hour and fifteen minutes...

With the Lee hand press and a scale, I can work up loads right at the shooting bench...

I can take a few hundred .357 cases outside and decap/size while watching the dog chase squirrels...

For my lifestyle and needs, it has been all the press I need for more than 25 years...
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Old April 3, 2014, 05:59 AM   #3
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I've used one enough to absolutely LOATHE it. It packs small, it does work, it's a sturdy tool, it doesn't cost a lot. I doubt I can find anything else good to say about it.

It's awful to have to use it. If I really wanted the ability to work up loads away from the bench... I'd rather use a "c" style open press mounted on something.

The other issue to keep in mind with buying the hand press (honestly... with any other press besides your primary) is that your dies will need to be very much re-adjusted between the two different presses. That alone would annoy me. The quality of my handloads comes directly from my consistency, and you monkey with that when you have to completely re-adjust where your dies need to be.
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Old April 3, 2014, 09:07 AM   #4
g.willikers
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Lee also makes a small and inexpensive ($30 US) open front press, that is easier on the hands.
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/807...ProductFinding
Might be a consideration.
That's what I use for a portable press, mounted on a small piece of wood and attached to a surface with a little c-clamp.
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Old April 3, 2014, 10:55 AM   #5
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I have an rcbs rc and it's a great press but I find myself using my Lee hand press a lot more often when I move my bench into the basement for the winter. I like the Lee hand press there's nothing wrong with ammo assembled with a hand press either. The earliest presses were hand presses that's why they call home made ammo handloads.

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Old April 3, 2014, 11:13 AM   #6
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I have one and it's the next best thing to having a bench. It's nice, small, doesn't take up much space and stows away when you're done with it. If you get the one with the quick change adapters then it will make life even easier for you if you have one of lees other presses that are quick change.
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Old April 3, 2014, 11:50 AM   #7
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That is the only press i have right now. I like it, and it does it,s job.
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Old April 3, 2014, 11:53 AM   #8
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I don't make ammo on mine, but I do use it for decapping. I decap then wet/Stainless Steel Pin tumble. So rather than standing in front of a press I can it on the couch after a range trip and decap with the thing. It was cheaper to get the press than one of those decapper gadget/gizmos and has more versatility that I may or may not ever use.
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Old April 3, 2014, 12:24 PM   #9
Pond, James Pond
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Given that I charge at home, I only decap/resize or seat and crimp at the press, in the garage.

I don't tend to flare the mouth: my bullets seem to go in without especially with boat-tails

The hand press could mean decapping at home but I could load altogether especially when it is very cold outside. Again, I also like the ability to load cartridges at the range if I find I need more of a given charge weight or I want to try a variation on a node of interest, such as a different OAL...
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Old April 3, 2014, 07:46 PM   #10
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I have one easy to use, I think it's worth it.
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Old April 3, 2014, 07:53 PM   #11
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I've reloaded over 20,000 pistol rounds with mine in the last 4-1/2 years. 8 different calibers. It's all I ever use.
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Old April 3, 2014, 07:57 PM   #12
chris in va
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I have loaded thousands through my hand press. Three rifle and two pistol calibers.

Now I will say you get 'claw hand' with this thing. Reload and process for a couple hours and you will need a tire iron to pry it off the lever. I only wish Lee would design a more ergonomic version.
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Old April 3, 2014, 08:20 PM   #13
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It took 20 years to break my first one on a stuck 6.5x55 that had the handle on my Rockchucker II bending before the case popped out of the die. I bought a replacement. For most of 20 years that was all that I had room for in my apt. I loaded 10's of thousands of rounds with it. On mine I have loaded pistol and rifle rounds including my first 200 rounds of 375 RUM.

They may not be the fastest, they may be a work out with some rounds, but they work. Limited space?? No problem! Field work ups?? No problem. Want to decap a couple hundred rounds and watch TV??

Not the most ergo design but if you find it hard on the arms...you needed the work out anyhow!
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Old April 3, 2014, 08:37 PM   #14
lee n. field
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Quote:
Are these viable alternatives to single stage presses, especially if you already have all the dies etc?
The Lee Hand Press is very very handy. Do get one.

The ergonomics are "sub-optimal".
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Old April 4, 2014, 12:17 PM   #15
Peter M. Eick
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I keep thinking about buying the Huntington's "Compact Tool" .

https://www.huntingtons.com/store/home.php?cat=744

It is currently backordered again, but it looks like a better solution then the Lee to me.
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Old April 4, 2014, 12:38 PM   #16
Pond, James Pond
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Quote:
they may be a work out with some rounds
If I can convince my wife that this will give me that "cut pecs" look she might even buy it for me!!

I knew there was a reason to keep my physique a little more basic than buff!
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Old April 4, 2014, 12:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
I keep thinking about buying the Huntington's "Compact Tool" .

https://www.huntingtons.com/store/home.php?cat=744

It is currently backordered again, but it looks like a better solution then the Lee to me.

At $150 it looks like the worst possible solution I can think of for a handheld press.


The Lee hand press is handy. As many have already posted the reasons for having one.
I started out loading 45 acp on one(Press, scale, calipers book set of dippers loading block and dies all fit in a small tote). It will do pretty much anything, up to resizing pretty large bottleneck cases.
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Old April 4, 2014, 01:30 PM   #18
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I use a Lee hand press daily. I decap, size, prime, expand, load and crimp everything with it. I also use it to make gas checks. I have a bench mount press, but it is not currently even bolted down. I haven't found anything (yet) that I cannot do with the hand press.


(get the breech lock model, definitely)
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Old April 4, 2014, 01:49 PM   #19
Pond, James Pond
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What is the advantage (read difference) of the breech-lock model?

The thing is this is not my main press and should be.

At present all my dies are set in their own turrets so getting a hand press where all the dies are in some quick-release system would not be so crucial.

If there is a quick-release system then great, but I don't want to be bound by it.
For now, I just want something I can screw the die into.
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Old April 4, 2014, 02:19 PM   #20
Sevens
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Again, I will go VERY MUCH against the grain of the masses.
(I am not trying to be adversarial, I am not picking the role of the under dog, I just have my opinions and experiences...)

The breech-lock is a collet that clicks in and out swiftly in to the press. If you have a breech-lock capable Lee press, you don't screw dies in to and out of the press anymore. You push a spring-loaded nipple, give the collet a quarter-turn (maybe it's an eighth-turn?) and you "unlock" the collet and the whole die pulls directly up and out of the press.

So you spend a little money to buy collet after collet after collet after stupid little collet because you don't have the time or patience or care to screw a die in to a press. That's basically it.

Of course, if you have the breech lock press, you certainly CAN use the "best of both worlds" and screw dies in and out of the little collet. This is what you're forced to do when you haven't spent the money to buy a slew of collets.

If you are a guy who loads one caliber... and you are the type who can't spare the precious 10 seconds to screw a die in place, the collets will seem like a no-brainer.

At my bench, where I have dies for 20+ different chamberings, with 2-3-4 dies in each of those calibers, it's a nightmare to even suggest that I'd be shopping for FIFTY or SIXTY of these stupid collets... because I'm too impatient to screw a die in to a press.

But I'm not jaded... just opinionated!
Lee makes good stuff. But their marketing is even better than many of their tools.
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Old April 4, 2014, 04:10 PM   #21
Pond, James Pond
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What you describe is exactly what I want to avoid!! At present, I load for 4 calibers using 3 sets of dies.

The collets are even more pointless as I would need to unscrew the dies from the turrets into the collets and back again!

I'd be happy with the one collet, permanently in situ, and just screw the dies in as and when needed.
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Old April 4, 2014, 05:07 PM   #22
Blindstitch
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Use the collets or don't use them the collet press is the better option. Either way if you think it's stupid you still have to screw the die into a collet or the press all the same. So you're getting the same amount of screwing.

I like the collets and have them for 3 die sets. It's about $9 for two. Price isn't much of a factor if you're getting into reloading and buy a set of dies here or there and two collets. But if you have a closet full of dies it's a different story.

Either way I don't think or maybe don't know that you would bring your whole collection out to the range for bench work ups.
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Old April 5, 2014, 03:13 AM   #23
Pond, James Pond
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Quote:
So you're getting the same amount of screwing.
tee-hee..

OK, seriously. Yes, in fact I would be doing the same amount of screwing, but screwing dies into a collet purely so I can then fit them to the press seems a waste of money.

Their purpose is to make quick change-overs and this would not be the case if this were not my main press.

I could use one set for .308 (the only one I am likely to try and load at the range) but that is about it and even then, at the range I really just need the bullet seater...
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Old April 5, 2014, 03:30 AM   #24
Sevens
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Mr. Pond, hold up a second, you are missing one point. Now it's obvious to those of us who have seen or used these things, though it's not quite computing for you...

Let's say you buy the Lee "Breech Lock" Challenger Press.
On the top of the press, there's a hole for the die, right?
Except that hole isn't threaded with a screw and standard pitch.
Instead, that hole looks more like jagged teeth.
That hole... it holds a collet.
The collet slides in quickly/easily and a short turn "locks" it in place.
The spring loaded nipple ensures it doesn't come out.
That collet IS threaded, and you spin a die in to that collet.

Now if you don't give a flop about the whole idea (like ME!), then you simply screw any die you ever wish to use in to and out of this ONE single collet. And then you leave that one collet always in the press.

However, if the whole idea of the "breech lock" suits you, you buy a slew of these collets... and you screw dies in to all of them... ONCE.

And then you never screw another die again unless you buy a new die.

Instead of screwing ever again...
You push the little nipple,
You give a fraction of a turn
You simply pull up & out
Whole new die (long-ago screwed in to a collet) is slipped in just as quickly.

The idea doesn't appeal to me at all, but it's not something you need to run away from like the bubonic plague.

If you buy the hand press and it comes as a "breech lock" version...
You simple screw your dies in to and out of the -ONE- single collet you own.

Everything else is the same.

No panic!
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Old April 5, 2014, 04:03 AM   #25
Blindstitch
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A few pictures that might help.
Normal


Colet version.


This picture isn't from the hand press but it shows the hole the collet goes in and how it works as explained above.



If a person really hated the collet version enough they could get some permanent loctite and make the collet so it never comes out again. But in place the collet doesn't move because the spring button keeps it from moving.

Last edited by Blindstitch; April 5, 2014 at 04:09 AM.
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