Lee Classic turret press

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Single-Sixer
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I am considering reloading .38, 357 and 380 brass. I do reload shotshells and do a lot of bullet casting for blackpowder but never reloaded center fire stuff. I am lookin for a good inexpensive press. I like the idea of the Lee Classic 4 hole turret press. This is the steel one. Does anyone have experience with this press? Also what options should I be sure to get. I figure the safety primer and the powder measure for it. Also is the carbide dies the way to go?

Where is the best place to get this stuff. Other than a good loading manual what else do I need? I have a Dillon electronic and balance scale.
I am trying to get an order together and don't want to forget something.

thanks for the help
 

mike7mm08

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I have this press and do nearly all my reloading on it. What I really like is being able to set up all my dies and leaving them setup. You don't have to run the press in progressive mode. Which is nice as I still like to run things in batches. Do all my sizing first etc. The priming feature is nice but I still prefer the lee hand priming tool. So I I size and deprime all my brass then I hand prime. I will usually deprime a large quantity of cases then as I am watching TV I can handprime with the lee primer.The powder measure is ok.

I don't run one but a friend does and it works well enough. You just don't have as much control of weights as some other measures. He starts with the primed case cycles to the flare die which is also the station that has the powder measure. Then on to the seating die and finally the crimp die. Works just fine.

I prefer using my little dandy powder measure. So I deprime and size all my cases prime and then flare. Charge with the little dandy then back to the press to seat and crimp. So I am saving a little time. But I am in no hurry but I save the most time by never having to start my die adjustments from scratch.

I always use carbide dieif available for the cartridge. Check out midway I believe they have the turret press on sale this month.

You will also need a good caliper to measure your cases and loaded rounds. Also a primer pocket cleaner and case mouth deburrer.
 

thumbs

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How about a shell trimmer? Which one seems to work best? Do you figure I can probably get set up with the safety primer and the rest for about 200 bucks or so?

thanks
 

Rick Courtright

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thumbs":db9bwt14 said:
How about a shell trimmer? Which one seems to work best?

Hi,

"Best" is a subjective term: different trimmers have strong and weak points.

The simplest ones on the market are the Lee and the "file trim" styles sold by RCBS and others. I think the Lee is quicker and easier to use than my brother in law's file type. I can set it up in an electric drill and go to town. He's a far more patient sort than I am... ;)

Sounds great, doesn't it? Only problem is, any of the above allows just a single trim length.

Some loaders require the ability to custom trim their case lengths. For them, one of the small rotary "lathe" styles will be better, as they can customize the lengths. (In reality, this is probably not anything a new loader needs to worry about much.) They'll pay more, for the trimmer and any accessories, but will be happy in the knowledge they can make longer or shorter cases as needed.

You've kinda gotta ask yourself, "What am I trying to do?" when choosing. Then ask "What's my budget?" Sometimes the choice is obvious, other times not so much so...

Rick C
 

Three44s

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My favorite case trimmer is the Lyman Universal.

It has a universal shell holder. When the cutter got dull, I ordered the Carbide cutting head and it's still sharp as a hound's tooth after several years and tons of brass trimmed. It also cuts fast and makes hand turning more worthwhile.

I also have some of the lee hand trimmers but Rick C. is right: The downside with those is that they cut one length only. If you have brass shorter ..... you'll have long trimmed to your Lee cutter and then cases too short.

With an adjustable trimmer, you can pick the shortest case you want to keep and trim to that one.

Sometimes, you run into a chamber that's cut funny. There again, the one size fit's all Lee cutter may not cut back far enough for that and having a case mouth jam into the chamber raises pressure.

So watch for regular or irregular bright marks on the very rim of your case mouths.

As to the Lee Classic Turret:

I have had one for three or four years. I really like it ....... well built and faster than a single stage.

I don't know about powder measures mounted on them ..... if you want the best poop on that buy the 2nd edition Lee book. There Lee describes his equipment.

I do have the Auto index with my Classic turret but have not used it.

I will make one reservation: If you are a varmint hunter looking for the utmost ...... I'd sure keep your single stage. The turret sort of floats around and for heavy opps that's fine but bullet seating a small caliber might not be enough pressure to fully seat the turret evenly and make sure your bullets get straight.

This is only a suspicion, I have only observations to back that caution up.

I am seating with Lee's floating seaters mainly now with my fly shooters so they may compensate for that.


Three 44s
 

Yosemite Sam

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I've got the Lee Classic Turret (the iron and steel one) and feel it's a great press for the money, too. $85 at Midway right now, as a matter of fact (though currently "out of stock, backorder OK").

I like to use the Auto Disk powder measure with it. You can get an adjustable drop meter that will allow you to drop any specific charge you want. And it's a very accurate measure, due to the way it works. However, it doesn't work real well with stick (usually rifle) powders, and Trail Boss seems to cause trouble due to the large grain size. This measure mounts directly to the top of the Lee "Powder-Through" expander die and is actuated when you run the case into the die. Nice, simple system.

The one weak link in this press, imo, is the "Indexing Ratchet", the fru-fru name they've given the little square of plastic that sits inside the turret and acts as a bushing to the auto-index shaft. These can flex and break if you try to force turret by hand at the wrong time. I broke one when I was first using my press, until I got used to how it worked. Lee sent me a few more free, and you can also but them for $2 at Midway. Might be worth it to pick up an extra or two.

The optional auto priming system ("Safety Prime") is probably the biggest bone of contention for some people. Fiddly little plastic parts that work OK, but need more attention than some are willing to give, apparently. I've been pretty lucky with mine, but you hear a lot of complaints about this from other (ex?) Lee owners. You really are probably better off using a hand priming tool, but then you need to adjust how you utilize the press. It's handy to be able to deprime and reprime a shell in one down-up operation vs. deprime a bunch, prime them with the hand primer, then remember to skip the flare/deprime die on the turret...

Even in indexed operation, this is not a progressive press, BTW. A true progressive does 3-5 operations at one time, and you get a finished cartridge with each pull of the lever.

-- Sam

P.S. ETA: I like the RCBS shell trimmer. Nice and simple.
Not sure what to make of the "floating turret" idea above. Sounds like it could be an issue, but I've never had a problem with it. My OAL is consistent across all rounds.
 

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Ok let me ask you guys this one. Well two.
Can you load +P in 38 special caseings?
What do you figure it costs to load both 38 and 357?

thanks again for your help
 

Yosemite Sam

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thumbs":2z614wid said:
Ok let me ask you guys this one. Well two.
Can you load +P in 38 special caseings?
What do you figure it costs to load both 38 and 357?

thanks again for your help
#1) "+P" is just an indication that the load exceeds SAAMI specs by a certain amount. What you would have to do is figure out what standard load you wanted to start with (bullet weight, powder type, etc), and work it up to max published pressure, then see if you want to push it even higher. Once you're loading your own the options are wide open. Use faster or slower powders, more or less powder, different primers, etc, to tune the load to exactly what you want.

#2) Loading both .38 and .357 is easy, there are many published loads, and you often use the same die set for both, just back the dies out .010" for the .357 cases. Attempting to calculate costs is very difficult, hence the difficulty in determining a point at which you've "paid" for your reloading gear by reloading. You have to buy brass, bullets, primers, and powder. Powders vary in price, sometimes you pay shipping, etc. Same with bullets. Lead or jacketed? I've got one .44 mag recipe that'll only produce ~200 rounds out of a pound of powder (31gr each), but other rounds use as little as 3 or 5gr of powder. Brass is relatively expensive, but you get a number of uses from it, but do eventually have to replace some once in a while.

Cheapest way would be a cast lead slug with something like Universal Clays powder, where you use a small amount. Still would be difficult to tell you how much it would cost. Your first batch would cost a lot, then be amortized by the number of loads per life of a piece of brass, and per pound.

-- Sam
 

thumbs

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Thanks Sam

Yea your right about tryin to calculate the cost per round. I was just wonderin if you bought a box of say Remington 130 gr JHP and tried to load the same load what the cost difference would be just in general. Can you save half, five bucks a box, two bucks? Just wonderin. About what does it cost to load a box?
 

Yosemite Sam

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thumbs":1zsg57p4 said:
Thanks Sam

Yea your right about tryin to calculate the cost per round. I was just wonderin if you bought a box of say Remington 130 gr JHP and tried to load the same load what the cost difference would be just in general. Can you save half, five bucks a box, two bucks? Just wonderin. About what does it cost to load a box?
Well, I started to figure some of this out, but there are really so many variables... Do you want the price of your first box, or your 50th? :)

I have no idea what you'd pay for 130gr JHP bullets. A lot more than I'd pay for cast ($51 for 1000), that's for sure. I took a look at Hodgdon's loading data and for a 130 LSWC they list 3.5gr of Clays as a max load. A pound of powder would give you 2000 3.5gr loads. Brass is $136/1000 @ Midway. Primers around here are $3.50/100. A pound of Clays goes for $22 or so at my local shop.

So for 2000 rounds you'd be looking at $102 for bullets, $22 for powder, $70 for primers, and $262 for brass, a grand total of $456. 2000/50 = 40. $456/40 = $11.40 per box of 50.

BUT, the brass is reusable. You probably wouldn't run out and buy 2000 pieces right off the bat. And this doesn't account for the cost of a press or other equipment that you'll need.

Reloading is a big investment that doesn't immediately start saving you money. Many fail to account for the time involved; What's your free time worth?

-- Sam
 

thumbs

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Hey thanks for your efforts. The Remington's were $17 for 50 rounds. I'm not lookin for this to be a payin proposition. LOL I know it will take a long time to even break even. I can pretty much get the brass for free. Yeah gettin started is a big investment for sure. I've loaded shot shells for years. I kinda enjoy it. I also do a lot of BP shooting and cast my bullets and balls. I make my own paper cartridges for my Old Army. I know this stuff takes time.

Speaking of bullets. Does it makes sense to cast your own? Just wondering if they would foul the barrel due to the velocity.
 

Rick Courtright

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thumbs":245g7do5 said:
Can you save half, five bucks a box, two bucks? Just wonderin. About what does it cost to load a box?

Hi,

As Sam says, there are a lot of considerations that go into determining your actual "cost" but I've generally figured--over 40+ yrs of learning this hobby--that to duplicate any particular load, be it shotshell, handgun or rifle, will run me about half of current retail for factory offerings.

That's before amortizing the equipment costs. Most of my "stuff" is old enough and used enough that the amortized costs added to component costs are probably just pennies per box these days.

Rick C
 

Mandan

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I recently purchased a Lee Deluxe Turret Press Kit. Bought at gunshow new for $119.00. Came with press, auto powder measure, case trimmer, balance scale, and a couple other goodies. All I had to buy was a die set.
following directions and taking my time it was about an hour to get it mounted to bench, set up and ready to load. I can load 100 rounds of .38 in about an hour and a half. Could load faster but I am still learning and don't want to screw up and ruin a gun or myself.
Dan
 

Yosemite Sam

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Yosemite Sam":g0mezuth said:
... A pound of powder would give you 2000 3.5gr loads. Brass is $136/1000 @ Midway. Primers around here are $3.50/100. A pound of Clays goes for $22 or so at my local shop.

So for 2000 rounds you'd be looking at $102 for bullets, $22 for powder, $70 for primers, and $262 for brass, a grand total of $456. 2000/50 = 40. $456/40 = $11.40 per box of 50. ...
This was bugging me, because the numbers were so contrived. The actual savings are a lot greater.

As I said above, you wouldn't run out and but 2000 pieces of brass right off the bat. More like 200, and keep reloading those. Honestly, I'd probably start with 500, but you'd only need to do 200.

200 pieces of brass: $30
Other figures the same. The pound of powder makes 2000 rounds, so buy 2000 bullets and primers. Each case is reloaded 10x. Total cost: $224. $224 / (40) fifty round boxes = $5.60/box.

If you bought 500 pieces of brass ($70) it comes out to about $6.60/box, but either way the price per round would amortize even less with multiple future reloadings.

Looks much more attractive that way, eh?

-- Sam
 

thumbs

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I didn't get the manual yet but does anyone use Winchester 296 powder to load .380, 38special and +P, and 357? Just wonderin if there are loads for these rounds. I have about 3lbs I use to load shot shells. It says for pistols also on the can. Are there loads for these rounds?

thanks
 

Yosemite Sam

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Check Hodgdon's site. I just looked quickly and found a few 296 loads for .357 in various bullet weights. Reloading manuals will have more detailed listings.

-- Sam
 

thumbs

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Thanks Sam I'll check it now. It would be nice to get into reloading pistol and be able to keep the initial out of pocket cost down.
Still goin back and forth with this press thing. I really like the Lee Classic Turret Press but don't know if single stage is the way to go or not. I can use the classic in single stage though if I wanted or needed. Still workin on that one. LOL
Took a quick look. It looks as though Winchester Autocomp has the most loads for the caliburs I will be using. Still lookin though.
 

Shoot44

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Getting back to your original post, I also have the Lee Classic Turret, and will probably never wear it out, or buy another kind. For me, it is perfect, and built like a tank. My son has one too, and loves it. And my shooting buddy neighbor is just getting into reloading and just ordered his from Midway. He used mine and really liked it, so . . . (BTW, the Lee "deluxe" kit does NOT have the "Classic" turret press in it. It has the earlier turret press that is much 'lighter', and has a smaller (shorter) 'throat' as well!)

Say, Yosemite Sam, am I wrong, or what? I had always heard that "+P" was the loading that was right up to the max SAAMI, and "+P+" meant that they had gone OVER that limit. Is that incorrect?
 

Yosemite Sam

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Shoot44":1lqledh1 said:
Getting back to your original post, I also have the Lee Classic Turret, and will probably never wear it out, or buy another kind. For me, it is perfect, and built like a tank. My son has one too, and loves it. And my shooting buddy neighbor is just getting into reloading and just ordered his from Midway. He used mine and really liked it, so . . . (BTW, the Lee "deluxe" kit does NOT have the "Classic" turret press in it. It has the earlier turret press that is much 'lighter', and has a smaller (shorter) 'throat' as well!)

Say, Yosemite Sam, am I wrong, or what? I had always heard that "+P" was the loading that was right up to the max SAAMI, and "+P+" meant that they had gone OVER that limit. Is that incorrect?
I'm by no means a reliable source for this info, but I believe the idea is that "+P" is indeed a SAAMI spec, and is about 10% over "regular" max loads, where a +P spec exists for a load. It is still a specified and testable quantity. "+P+" is not a real/offical SAAMI spec, and just means, "Bubba cranked it up."

BTW, since I made the original post on the subject, and looked up those .38 loads above, I see that several references do have published loads for .38 +P.

I cranked out about 250 rounds on my Classic Turret this past weekend, in .44 Special, .45 Colt, and prepped some .30/30 cases. Changing calibers is a snap when you've got an extra $10 turret ring for each set of dies.

Though the astute reader will note that I'm also looking into a Hornady LNL progressive press right now... Now that I'm loading for almost everything I shoot, I'd like to be able to crank them out even faster.

-- Sam
 

thumbs

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Ok haven't heard anyone that didn't like the classic press yet so I guess that may be the one. Only thing I questioned was that thing that runs on the spiral rod that moves the turret to the next position. I think the thing is made of plastic. The one at Cabelas was broken so it didn't index. Now that was the display one.

How often do you guys clean your cases? Also I was thinkin about the carbide die set for the .38, 357. I can use the same die set right? Anyway I only need the three die set for the sp101 right, or is there an advantage to the four dies set even for the revolver? I should get the four dies set for my Walther 380 right? Anyone use reloads in the Walther? Will it eat them without stove pipes?

One more thing. Are primers, primers? I know in shot shell it makes a difference in the loads. Are there specific primers for a particular load? I would think so but didn't see any primers listed on the Hodgdon's site.
thanks guys
 

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