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  #1  
Old 11-11-2012, 11:23 PM
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Default Thinking of getting into reloading with Lee hand press

I think I'm finally going to get into reloading because I realized that I do restrict a lot of my shooting due to ammo costs. I love shooting 357mag and 44mag, but price gets pretty crazy just buying the ammo. Whats always stopped me from reloading is that I really don't have any space. I live in a small apartment with my girlfriend and I'm not kidding when I say we don't even have space to set up stool as a reloading setup. So I know a lot of you might advise against it, but I think I'm going to go ahead with a Lee's hand press. I know its really slow, so I most likely won't reload 9mm since I go through them too fast and I buy factory reloads for not that much more than it might cost to reload.

So I have a few questions..
1. First off I will primarily be reloading 357mag. What kind of savings will I be looking at here for just plinking ammo? I know reloading match ammo doesn't yield too much savings and I'll probably do it every now and then, but I'm really looking to save on range plinking ammo. Also throw 44mag and 45ACP in here. If I start reloading, I'll definitely get more guns in these calibers.

2. So I'll get the Lee hand press (I believe these come with funnel and the other small stuff), the appropriate carbide dies, brass tumbler, and something to weigh it all.. anything else really necessary aside from manuals, etc?

3. On the topic of manuals.... with all the sources on the net.. what are some reliable ones? I've already did some research on reloading and have heard differing views on the necessity of manuals. Essentially, everything in the manuals can be found on the net and just printed out.

4. Since I've already brought up my small space (one of the downsides of living near work in CA), I have limited storage space. I probably will never buy primers and powder in bulk which I know also diminishes on the money I save.. but I'd still be interested in any storage advice. From what I've gathered, just keep them separate, possibly in low static, and even in their original packaging. I'm hearing differing views on the potential for fires on these items... essentially many do think its overstated and we probably have things under out kitchen sink thats more volatile.

I'm open to any tips in equipment or reloading in general. I'm actually quite excited as this is letting me still be in the shooting hobby without being on the range. Lately my schedule hasn't allowed me to be free during range hours.. so this'll give me something extra to do on free nights. Maybe I can even talk my lady into doing some of the stages like removing the spent primer on her free time

Sorry I know this is a lot and much of it can be Googled (which I'm already doing and will continue doing.. just want extra sources) but I'd definitely appreciate it if anyone in here can share some helpful tidbits on any single points.
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  #2  
Old 11-12-2012, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
I think I'm finally going to get into reloading because I realized that I do restrict a lot of my shooting due to ammo costs. I love shooting 357mag and 44mag, but price gets pretty crazy just buying the ammo. Whats always stopped me from reloading is that I really don't have any space. I live in a small apartment with my girlfriend and I'm not kidding when I say we don't even have space to set up stool as a reloading setup. So I know a lot of you might advise against it, but I think I'm going to go ahead with a Lee's hand press. I know its really slow, so I most likely won't reload 9mm since I go through them too fast and I buy factory reloads for not that much more than it might cost to reload.

So I have a few questions..
1. First off I will primarily be reloading 357mag. What kind of savings will I be looking at here for just plinking ammo? I know reloading match ammo doesn't yield too much savings and I'll probably do it every now and then, but I'm really looking to save on range plinking ammo. Also throw 44mag and 45ACP in here. If I start reloading, I'll definitely get more guns in these calibers.

You will pay 50 to 70% of factory price on handloads depending on components

2. So I'll get the Lee hand press (I believe these come with funnel and the other small stuff), the appropriate carbide dies, brass tumbler, and something to weigh it all.. anything else really necessary aside from manuals, etc?

Lee hand press is caliber specific my buddy started on one and swears by it. I started on a 3 hole turret which i still use for almost everything from .38 to .30.06. Cheap and easy to expand

3. On the topic of manuals.... with all the sources on the net.. what are some reliable ones? I've already did some research on reloading and have heard differing views on the necessity of manuals. Essentially, everything in the manuals can be found on the net and just printed out.

Since you are looking at lee equipment his manual is good for noobs and others although he sells his gear, which may be good for you, the info is sound

4. Since I've already brought up my small space (one of the downsides of living near work in CA), I have limited storage space. I probably will never buy primers and powder in bulk which I know also diminishes on the money I save.. but I'd still be interested in any storage advice. From what I've gathered, just keep them separate, possibly in low static, and even in their original packaging. I'm hearing differing views on the potential for fires on these items... essentially many do think its overstated and we probably have things under out kitchen sink thats more volatile.

I used to store my gear in a milk crate in my garage. Now i have way too much stuff for one crate so i have dedicated shelves in the garage. Keep your stuff away from the water heater and other open flames and you should be good to go.

I'm open to any tips in equipment or reloading in general. I'm actually quite excited as this is letting me still be in the shooting hobby without being on the range. Lately my schedule hasn't allowed me to be free during range hours.. so this'll give me something extra to do on free nights. Maybe I can even talk my lady into doing some of the stages like removing the spent primer on her free time

Sorry I know this is a lot and much of it can be Googled (which I'm already doing and will continue doing.. just want extra sources) but I'd definitely appreciate it if anyone in here can share some helpful tidbits on any single points.
I answered above but dont know how to bold. Good luck.
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  #3  
Old 11-12-2012, 12:31 AM
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I can't really give you any advice on the calibers you plan to load but I did also start on the hand press. It works fine and I still use it when I want to do some simple tasks like depriming in front of the TV. You'll do fine speed wise with it. The couple of things i'd get if I were you would be a scale, hand primer, and a powder thrower. Honestly, hand weighing each load will get old quick.

If I were to do it all over again i'd just start with a turret press, however I presume the reason for starting with the hand press is space related, so buy with confidence.
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  #4  
Old 11-12-2012, 2:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
I think I'm finally going to get into reloading because I realized that I do restrict a lot of my shooting due to ammo costs. I love shooting 357mag and 44mag, but price gets pretty crazy just buying the ammo. Whats always stopped me from reloading is that I really don't have any space. I live in a small apartment with my girlfriend and I'm not kidding when I say we don't even have space to set up stool as a reloading setup. So I know a lot of you might advise against it, but I think I'm going to go ahead with a Lee's hand press. I know its really slow, so I most likely won't reload 9mm since I go through them too fast and I buy factory reloads for not that much more than it might cost to reload.

So I have a few questions..
1. First off I will primarily be reloading 357mag. What kind of savings will I be looking at here for just plinking ammo? I know reloading match ammo doesn't yield too much savings and I'll probably do it every now and then, but I'm really looking to save on range plinking ammo. Also throw 44mag and 45ACP in here. If I start reloading, I'll definitely get more guns in these calibers.

2. So I'll get the Lee hand press (I believe these come with funnel and the other small stuff), the appropriate carbide dies, brass tumbler, and something to weigh it all.. anything else really necessary aside from manuals, etc?

3. On the topic of manuals.... with all the sources on the net.. what are some reliable ones? I've already did some research on reloading and have heard differing views on the necessity of manuals. Essentially, everything in the manuals can be found on the net and just printed out.

4. Since I've already brought up my small space (one of the downsides of living near work in CA), I have limited storage space. I probably will never buy primers and powder in bulk which I know also diminishes on the money I save.. but I'd still be interested in any storage advice. From what I've gathered, just keep them separate, possibly in low static, and even in their original packaging. I'm hearing differing views on the potential for fires on these items... essentially many do think its overstated and we probably have things under out kitchen sink thats more volatile.

I'm open to any tips in equipment or reloading in general. I'm actually quite excited as this is letting me still be in the shooting hobby without being on the range. Lately my schedule hasn't allowed me to be free during range hours.. so this'll give me something extra to do on free nights. Maybe I can even talk my lady into doing some of the stages like removing the spent primer on her free time

Sorry I know this is a lot and much of it can be Googled (which I'm already doing and will continue doing.. just want extra sources) but I'd definitely appreciate it if anyone in here can share some helpful tidbits on any single points.

How much you save in reloading depends on many factors. Mainly buying in bulk is the best way to save.

The small Lee Hand Press will work "ok" for now with pistol calibers, but you will definitely want to get a mounted press. It is just difficult to maneuver since there is really no leverage.

I personally REALLY like the Lee Classic Turret press for budget reloading. For under $200, you can have a complete press setup for 1 caliber.

Really comes down to your budget. You still need to get a tumbler, calipers etc etc.
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  #5  
Old 11-12-2012, 8:17 AM
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From what I gathered.. I've seen some people just use Simple Green and hot water to clean brass. Any of you have experience with that? Also I saw on a reloading on a budget that Lee dies come with scoops that will measure out the general powder as long as you use the powders listed. I imagine for pistol cartridges this is enough seeing that I don't see the bullet dropping down all that much at such close distances. As a whole, most of this isn't about initial cost of equipment, I have to take space into account. Adding something like a tumbler means it'll just be another "appliance" sitting there next to my Vita-Mix blender, haha.
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Old 11-12-2012, 9:06 AM
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I started handloading with a Lee Loader in about 1960. I see they still make the Lee Loader, a set of hand tools that is used with a rubber mallet. Primitive, but similar to the Wilson dies that benchrest shooters use with an arbor press. My first loads were the .44 Magnum for a Ruger Deerstalker semiauto carbine and Super Blackhawk revolver.

I use a Lee Hand Press today so I can sit at the kitchen table and deprime only or size and deprime brass while watching TV (I don't allow electronics in the loading room). It is also handy for taking afield to reload ammo if I run out. The press is slower than a bench mounted model, but faster than the Lee Loader or Wilson dies and an arbor press. You can also use carbide dies in the Lee hand Press to avoid having to lube handgun cases.

If you use nickel plated brass for the .357 Magnum, cases will wipe clean after firing using a patched moistened with non ammonia powder solvent such as BoreTech Eliminator. In fact, even brass cases can be wiped clean before the carbon hardens. I wipe all carbon off the necks of rifle ammo and then use a quick twist with a towel to dry at the range bench. You do not need to clean straight walled cases to get started. Lee sells a primer pocket cleaner for a few bucks, which is about the only area of concern. The other alternative is to polish the deposits off the brass with a wad of fine steel wool.

Just about any small tool box will work for storage, but keep primers and powder separate. When I started out I couldn't afford more than a couple of trays of primers, a pound of powder and single box of bullets (100 bullets then cost about $2.00). After mastering the Lee Powder Dipper measuring system, purchasing a powder scale is the next step upward.

Any of the manuals will teach you the basics, and RCBS has free videos as does some other web sites.

Last edited by Wrangler John; 11-12-2012 at 9:12 AM..
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  #7  
Old 11-12-2012, 9:31 AM
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I saw someone make a small box with a mounted press.. seems like a decent setup, but I wonder if this is actually less stable than just using the hand press.

At the very least, if I do decide to start with the hand press.. it sounds like it wouldn't be too big of a waste if I decide to move on to something bigger in the future. People seem to love using the hand press for other purposes to keep their mounted presses free for the most important steps.

Last edited by gorenut; 11-12-2012 at 9:56 AM..
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  #8  
Old 11-12-2012, 10:39 AM
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Default Lee hand press

I started with a Lee hand press and still use it for about 80% of my reloading. I usually measure powder by volume (Lee dippers) but you should have a scale to check the weights before and occasionally during your loading session.

I load 9mm, .38, .357, .44 spl, .44 mag, .45 ACP and .45 Colt on the press with carbide dies (LEE and RCBS).

I mostly load the .38 and .44 spl since these shoot rather well with cast bullets at modest velocities. If I'm off a little on the powder charge it doesn't seem to matter but MAKE SURE YOU DON'T DOUBLE CHARGE A CASE! Have a system/routine and double check.

I weigh each charge for the magnum loads and anything near plus P pressure. I use jacketed bullets for these and it's not hard to get good results but the cost goes up due to the bullets.

As far as overall cost, buy primers by the 1000 at 3-4 cents each. Powder is close to the same for mild loads. Price of the projectile is the main cost after your initial set up (press, dies etc).

It's worth it if:
A) you shoot a lot
B) you get enjoyment spending time reloading and finding different loads

I'd recommend you get some .38 and .44 spl brass and give it a try.

Let us know how it goes.
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Old 11-12-2012, 1:48 PM
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Thanks for all the input.. for those who use the Lee Hand Press.. do you prefer to use the Ram Prime attachment or a separate hand primer tool? Seems like the hand primer tool will be better as you don't have to touch the primers with your hands as much (if at all) and thats one less attachment to screw on/off.
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Old 11-12-2012, 2:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
1. First off I will primarily be reloading 357mag. What kind of savings will I be looking at here for just plinking ammo? I know reloading match ammo doesn't yield too much savings and I'll probably do it every now and then, but I'm really looking to save on range plinking ammo. Also throw 44mag and 45ACP in here. If I start reloading, I'll definitely get more guns in these calibers.

Savings are great especially for the 44 and 45 match grade ammo. Others provided some numbers but depends on the cost of bullets it could be around 60% less than factory fresh if you pick up range brass.

2. So I'll get the Lee hand press (I believe these come with funnel and the other small stuff), the appropriate carbide dies, brass tumbler, and something to weigh it all.. anything else really necessary aside from manuals, etc?

powder measure and loading blocks, it'll really speed up the charging process. Balance beam scale is all you need. For 45, 44 and 357 you 'can' find 1 powder for all of them. I use and like W231/HP38.

3. On the topic of manuals.... with all the sources on the net.. what are some reliable ones? I've already did some research on reloading and have heard differing views on the necessity of manuals. Essentially, everything in the manuals can be found on the net and just printed out.

Check out the powder company websites. they offer good recipes. A reloading book does offer more info you might need.

4. Since I've already brought up my small space (one of the downsides of living near work in CA), I have limited storage space. I probably will never buy primers and powder in bulk which I know also diminishes on the money I save.. but I'd still be interested in any storage advice. From what I've gathered, just keep them separate, possibly in low static, and even in their original packaging. I'm hearing differing views on the potential for fires on these items... essentially many do think its overstated and we probably have things under out kitchen sink thats more volatile.

Just look in the classified section for components you need. sometimes you'll get some good deals or you can hop on the 'group buy' threads. Storage wise, like I said, use a plastic storage box with lid. You can pretty much keep everything inside. It was slow but once process was developed I was able to load about 50 rounds an hour starting from sizing, belling, priming, charging, seating to crimping.

.
See bold text for my response.

I used to load mainly with the Lee Hand Press when my kids were born and we lived in a small apt. Everything I needed was in a plastic storage box.

I find most useful are:
1. powder measure - allows you to set the powder charge weight and charge empties fast. The Lee scoopers are useless. I use RCBS.
2. hand priming tool - seats the primers fast and safe. folds up into a small box for easy storage. have both large and small primer adapters. I use RCBS one.
3. loading blocks - makes powder charging, bullet seating faster and more stable.
4. balance beam scale - cheap, reliable and never need batteries. Just need to make sure you take it apart and store it properly after use.
5. tumbler is best but brass brush and '00' steel wool cleans the cases just fine since you don't need lube on the straight wall pistol cases.
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Old 11-12-2012, 2:40 PM
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Thanks huckberry. Very informative run-down. I'll probably start it all out with just 38/357mag as I already own a lot of brass.
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Old 11-12-2012, 7:43 PM
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BTW, I still use my Lee Hand Press for developing loads at the range and the same storage box. Instead of loading 10 or 15 rounds of 1 load at home, I load 5 rounds at the range and shoot for group. If it does well, I load another 5 to confirm or move on to the next load.

I loaded 10Ks of 357/38spl for competition. PM me if you need any more info. Enjoy
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Old 11-12-2012, 8:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
Thanks for all the input.. for those who use the Lee Hand Press.. do you prefer to use the Ram Prime attachment or a separate hand primer tool? Seems like the hand primer tool will be better as you don't have to touch the primers with your hands as much (if at all) and thats one less attachment to screw on/off.
Hand primer no doubt
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:32 PM
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I think you would be better off with a mounted press.
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Old 11-13-2012, 6:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gorenut View Post
Thanks for all the input.. for those who use the Lee Hand Press.. do you prefer to use the Ram Prime attachment or a separate hand primer tool? Seems like the hand primer tool will be better as you don't have to touch the primers with your hands as much (if at all) and thats one less attachment to screw on/off.
I use the lee handpress to reload 45-70 and the hand primer works very well for me.
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Old 11-13-2012, 8:51 AM
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For now, since you are only shooting revolver rounds, there is no need to tumble. A damp rag will be enough to wipe off the soot and you won't need to remove any dirt/mud since the cases won't be hitting the ground. Folks have been reloading cartridges for decades before tumblers/sonic cleaners/steel pins came out.

One of the tricks to avoid sooty cases is to ensure proper pressure and case expansion.

As others said, a hand press will work and if you don't shoot more than 50-100 in session, then you should be OK. It will take a couple of hours to load that many and you'll be pretty worn out at the end of the session. With a single stage press mounted on a Black & Decker Workmate bench and held on with some C-clamps, you will take almost as long, but the effort will be much less and the space requirements will be almost as small in that everything can be broken down, folded up and put away in a box.

I recommend a Lee Breechlock Challenger kit (not the Anniversary kit) because you can prime off press or on press (one primer at a time). You will always be able to use the single stage press in the future for rifle rounds, sizing cast bullets or single step fixes while you use a turret/progressive.
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Old 11-13-2012, 9:43 AM
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The main rounds I shoot are .38/357. Here's my cost savings. Mind you, this is with bullets that I cast myself ("boolits"). But it'll give you an idea. All cost figures assume 8 reuses of the brass, and purchasing both lead and brass up-front. We assume here that lead is $1.00/lb, and that 1,000 brass cases costs about $50/1000 (.38 Spl) or $75/1000 (.357 Magnum).

.38 Special, 105gr LSWC, 3.9gr Bullseye: $3.25/box of 50.
Factory ammo: $15/box of 50.
Cost savings/box: $11.75.

.357 Magnum, 158gr LRNFP, 13.0gr 2400: $4.50/box of 50
Factory ammo: $23-$25/box of 50.
Cost savings/box: $18-$20

My cost savings for .45 Colt ranges from $30 to $72 per box of 50, depending on whether I load it mild or wild. My "wild" load is equivalent to an $80.03 box of Buffalo Bore. I make that same box for $8.00.

BTW, +1 for the Lee Breech-Lock Challenger press suggestion. Those things are great. A Classic Turret Press would be another excellent choice.
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Old 11-13-2012, 3:28 PM
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Thanks for the very informative posts. I might consider getting a clamped press on to a box like this:


Wanna find something sturdy though and not sure how the wood on this particular box is. This would be perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rsrocket1 View Post
For now, since you are only shooting revolver rounds, there is no need to tumble. A damp rag will be enough to wipe off the soot and you won't need to remove any dirt/mud since the cases won't be hitting the ground. Folks have been reloading cartridges for decades before tumblers/sonic cleaners/steel pins came out.

One of the tricks to avoid sooty cases is to ensure proper pressure and case expansion.

As others said, a hand press will work and if you don't shoot more than 50-100 in session, then you should be OK. It will take a couple of hours to load that many and you'll be pretty worn out at the end of the session. With a single stage press mounted on a Black & Decker Workmate bench and held on with some C-clamps, you will take almost as long, but the effort will be much less and the space requirements will be almost as small in that everything can be broken down, folded up and put away in a box.

I recommend a Lee Breechlock Challenger kit (not the Anniversary kit) because you can prime off press or on press (one primer at a time). You will always be able to use the single stage press in the future for rifle rounds, sizing cast bullets or single step fixes while you use a turret/progressive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowboy T View Post
The main rounds I shoot are .38/357. Here's my cost savings. Mind you, this is with bullets that I cast myself ("boolits"). But it'll give you an idea. All cost figures assume 8 reuses of the brass, and purchasing both lead and brass up-front. We assume here that lead is $1.00/lb, and that 1,000 brass cases costs about $50/1000 (.38 Spl) or $75/1000 (.357 Magnum).

.38 Special, 105gr LSWC, 3.9gr Bullseye: $3.25/box of 50.
Factory ammo: $15/box of 50.
Cost savings/box: $11.75.

.357 Magnum, 158gr LRNFP, 13.0gr 2400: $4.50/box of 50
Factory ammo: $23-$25/box of 50.
Cost savings/box: $18-$20

My cost savings for .45 Colt ranges from $30 to $72 per box of 50, depending on whether I load it mild or wild. My "wild" load is equivalent to an $80.03 box of Buffalo Bore. I make that same box for $8.00.

BTW, +1 for the Lee Breech-Lock Challenger press suggestion. Those things are great. A Classic Turret Press would be another excellent choice.
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Old 11-13-2012, 5:18 PM
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^^^^^Lets make a few of them.
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Old 11-13-2012, 5:38 PM
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Woah, that's sold from Brownells? Have a link?
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Old 11-13-2012, 5:46 PM
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Woah, that's sold from Brownells? Have a link?
Yea, a bit on the pricey side.. but depending on build quality and wood, might not be too bad. They're currently sold out, but its made by their sister company, Sinclair. If it was in stock, I can get em $10 less than what is priced with my gunsmith discount.

http://www.brownells.com/reloading/r...prod37267.aspx

Last edited by gorenut; 11-13-2012 at 5:58 PM..
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Old 11-13-2012, 7:29 PM
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Any one of the powders mentioned (Bullseye, Unique, 2400) will work fine for all your needs, as will many others.
For the cartridges you are talking about, the Lee hand press is plenty adequate for low volume reloading. I'm good for 50 rounds at time with this setup, before it gets to be an uncomfortably boring drag. That's depriming, sizing/flaring and seating.
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Old 11-14-2012, 1:55 AM
Wrangler John Wrangler John is offline
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Thanks for all the input.. for those who use the Lee Hand Press.. do you prefer to use the Ram Prime attachment or a separate hand primer tool? Seems like the hand primer tool will be better as you don't have to touch the primers with your hands as much (if at all) and thats one less attachment to screw on/off.
I have all manner of priming tools, including 35 year old Lee hand priming tools, however this is all I use for priming these days:

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/278...d-priming-tool

There is no separate shell holder needed, the tool fits all cartridge cases.

It uses the CCI APS priming strips to feed primers into position. CCI Primers can be purchased packaged in the APS strips, the strips reused, or new strips purchased separately. Any brand of primer can be loaded in the strips, either by hand, I press them into the strip with a thumb, or a strip loader can be purchased that loads them in bulk. When I load a 1000 rounds, I use the strip loading tool.

Most precision shooters use a hand tool for better "feel' in seating primers.
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Old 11-14-2012, 7:06 AM
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I started with a handpress and still use it when I don't feel like going out to my turret press. Its a good little press, just skip loading anything like .308 on it. But I agree with hand priming as mentioned before
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