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Old April 10, 2008, 06:05 PM   #1
Join Date: January 19, 2006
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Lee Hand Press for Beginners

I'm thinking of getting into metallic reload but am low on funds with an upcoming wedding and fresh-out-of-college bills. The Lee Hand Press seems to fit the bill, as it would take up very little space in my apartment and many people seem to keep it around for loading handfuls of trial rounds. As for my background, I’ve reloaded around 1000 rounds of shotgun ammunition a year during highschool and read my dad’s reloading manuals/magazines whenever I get the chance. (He used to reload an array of rounds but now only reloads the occasional “deer season” batch and said shotgun shells.) I’m looking to reload around 100-200 round in .38 special and .357 magnum after I get the hang of it.

Thanks for the thoughts.
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Old April 10, 2008, 06:17 PM   #2
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I've never personally used the Lee hand press but I've heard that several people like theirs, especially for apartments. There are definately better and faster presses around but that's definately the cheapest. It all depends on how much you plan on loading at a time.
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Old April 10, 2008, 06:19 PM   #3
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I have an RCBS turret press and powder dispenser mounted on the corner of my wife's sewing table. It takes up hardly any room. What takes up a lot more room is the boxes of dies, powder, empty ammo boxes, full ammo boxes and all the other stuff that you need to get whether you get a hand press or a standard press. I can see using a hand press if you want to be able to load at the range as you develop a load. Otherwise, I would just get a standard press, even if I had to save up for it.

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Old April 10, 2008, 10:03 PM   #4
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I used a 9mm Lee hand press for a while it was ok for making plinking rounds. I'd guess that the .357 version would too.
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Old April 10, 2008, 10:21 PM   #5
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Were I in your shoes, I would skip the hand press and instead, buy the cheapest mountable press you can find. Lee makes a very cheap one and though it'll likely flex more than you'd like for some heavy rifle cartridge resizing, I don't see it being any kind of trouble (durability wise) for .38/.357. You might even consider moving to their o-frame press, the Lee Breech-lock Challenger, which will also do a fine job even on large rifle rounds if you ever move toward them.

The physical space that it takes up is not a reason to avoid it-- you'll have much better leverage for working your cases, and when it comes to re-sizing, it's all about leverage. It needn't be a permanent mount, many folks have had fine luck mounting the press to a short plank of sturdy wood, and then temporarily c-clamp that plank to a place to work, even if it's the kitchen table.

This press will be a tool that you will still comfortably use 5 or more years from now when you hopefully have more space and money to go further in your reloading.
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Old April 11, 2008, 02:42 AM   #6
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I like mine. I don't reload all that much maybe 500 rnds./yr in three rifle calibers. Everything fits in two cardboard boxes.

I can make custom ammo, its a good tool.
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Old April 11, 2008, 03:55 AM   #7
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Lee handpress is good. For a sofa/TV reloader like me it works better than
a benchpress. There is no trouble resizing rifle brass, you just gotta lube
cases good.
I load about 500 .357's and 100 7.62X54R / month.
Maybe if I had to reload more Id buy a turret/progressive press but for now its enough.
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Old April 11, 2008, 10:34 AM   #8
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I started on a Lee hand press for 10mm. Thankfully I upgraded with a present from my mother. The hand press is good for loading at the range or doing chores like decapping military brass in front of the TV, etc.
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Old April 11, 2008, 03:22 PM   #9
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Get a real press, you won't regret it. Even if you later move up to expensive progressive equipment you will always find a use for a single stage.
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Old April 11, 2008, 03:35 PM   #10
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Lee hand press

I bought one of these about a year ago for the same reasons, limited funds and space. I use it to load .38/.357 and 40S&W. Overall it's a good unit. I like the fact it fits in a small box under the bed. Easy to set-up and operate. I wouldn't want to try full length sizing a lot of.30-06 cases on it but for what I do it's great. I load about 300 rounds per month. Fifty rounds get completed in about an hour.

Go for it. You'll like it.

All the Best,
D. White
Wake County , NC
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Old April 12, 2008, 03:59 PM   #11
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I have a Lee hand press. With that, a set of dies, and a set of of the Lee powder dippers, I have all that I need to do some "basic" reloading. I reload 38 and 357 with it. I can do about 50 or so rounds an hour.
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Old April 15, 2008, 02:01 AM   #12
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I like mine since I break up the reloading process into prepping a batch of brass, priming a batch of brass, and then loading rounds at my leisure since charging the cases takes the most time. The hand press is really good for doing things like decapping brass or sizing brass while watching TV. It is also compact enough that I can store all my reloading tools in a large surplus ammo can and don't need to have a dedicated reloading bench.

I've loaded 9mm and .223 on mine, and the final parts of the loading process are somewhat less convenient with the hand press as compared to loading on a friend's bench mounted press.
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Old April 16, 2008, 01:58 AM   #13
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I used a Lee Hand Press before I got the Lee Turret. I used Lee Carbide dies with it, for .357 magnum, .44 magnum and 9mm. I use the Lee perfect powder measure and an RCBS scale and a Lyman hand primer.

I typically produced about 50 rounds per hour in batches of 100. I'd clean, resize/deprime, prime 100 cases ... then add powder and seat bullet for the 100, one at a time. I found it tough to screw up with all the 100 cases prepared and then adding powder and seating a bullet one at a time. I never had a double charge, or a squib with the Lee Hand Press.

I use the Lee Turret now, but keep the Hand Press for the occasional trip to the range.

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Old April 16, 2008, 03:22 AM   #14
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Welcome to The Firing Line!

I've never used or for that matter even seen a hand press, but it sounds like a good choice if space is the issue. If the constraint is only budget keep an eye on ebay for Lee or Lyman presses. Sometimes you can find a pretty good deal. Like this one.
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