Lee Kit

sandersj89

Well-Known Member
#1
Having been reading various reviews and books I have decided to plump for Lee kit to start reloading. In part my decision is based on budget but most of the kit seems to get good reviews.

I wont be reloading huge amounts of ammo so spending £400 to £500 on more expensive kit does not make it economically viable. Results from Lee equipment also seems to be more than adequate and certainly I can expect better results than premium factory ammo.

So, having been perusing the various catalogues I have build up a shopping list:

Lee Aniversary Kit
Case Length Gauge and Shellholder
Collet Die in .243

I already have a few bits and bobs, digital callipers, electronic scale, Ultrasound cleaner.

Will look at the local shops to see what bullet, powders and primers are available, looking to load a flat shooting varmint bullet, something like a 70gr ballistic tip. Any recommended loads to look at to begin with?

Am I missing anything on the equipment front??

Thanks

Jerry
 

DL

Well-Known Member
#2
You have a better idea of what you need than I did when I got mine.
They sold me a full length die & a factory crimp die,because I didn't know what I was talking about.
It took me a while to get case length gauges sorted out,but these have been very important for two of my calibres as I've trimmed a lot of brass.
Consider buying the pack with the Lee Handbook included. Enjoy it, Danny
 

sandersj89

Well-Known Member
#3
I already have the Lee Handbook 2nd Edition, been reading that for the last week or so.

I did wonder about a crimp die, in the book Lee goes on about it being needed for hunting ammo, is that the case?

Thanks

Jerry
 
#4
Jerry

The Lee reloading kit works fine. It's what I started with and it's served me well.

I still use the Lee hand-primer, but other than that I now mostly use RCBS, Wilson and Forster kit. I'd be hard pushed to say if the loads were that much more accurate, but the RCBS kit is a bit more polished! If I was going to start again I'd probably start with RCBS kit - once you've got it, you've got it. That said, I probably now have enough kit to run three reloading presses simultaneously....and I've still just got the one same rifle!

In the 5 or 6 years that I've been reloading I have never bothered with a crimping die, so I can't say if it results in more accuracy - maybe someone else can advise? What I can say is that my reloads seem to do the job.

What I have found useful is a neck sizing die, rather than a full-length sizing die. However, I only have one rifle - a .308 - so I use the neck-sizer as it means all my cases stay fire-formed, even after reloading. With a full-length sizer it puts your cases back to SAAMI standards - which is fine - but if you're only using one rifle in that caliber it makes sense to leave them fire-formed to that rifle's chamber, reducing the stress on the brass. Whether it makes a real difference to accuracy I couldn't say, but I doubt I can shoot up to my rifle's capabilities anyway. ;)

Enjoy the reloading - it's a fascinating and consuming hobby to get into!

Regards

willie_gunn
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
#5
Be warey of using the Lee factory crimp die, many bullet manufacturers are dead against it. Lee are far less enthusiastic in their promotion of this die than of previous, and now seem to agree that it should only be used on bullets with a canulare (crimping groove), which differs with their original claims.
I have used the factory crimp die in the past with .308 but honestly couldn't see any improvement in accuracy or chambering. I wouldn't be so bold as to say it doesn't work but personally I don't think I will ever use one again.
 

sandersj89

Well-Known Member
#6
OK, I dont think I will bother with the crimper but will add a decapping die as been told the collet die does not remove the spent primers.

Thanks for all the input so far.

Jerry
 

DL

Well-Known Member
#7
Jerry,buy the deluxe die set,it costs the same as the factory crimp set & you wouldn't have to mess about buying a separate collet set to have a neck sizing set leaving you with 2 decapping dies like I will have when I've bought a collet set. If I'd just bought the deluxe set from the start it would have saved me messing about like this.
I made about 50 .223 with a powder I wont be using any more,that I cant take apart with the hammer because I crimped them so hard I made an impression in the bullet!
Don't bother with too much crimp,go easy on winding in the collet die.
All you need is for the bullet to be tightly enough seated that it doesn't come apart when you extract an unfired round from the rifles chamber. D

(I meant seating dies,but I'm sure you guys know that)
 
#8
Jerry - assuming you've only got one rifle in each caliber, then I'd suggest adding the neck-sizing die with a decapper built in. You can always remove the decapping pin if you have a batch of brass that needs neck sizing but not decapping. I believe RCBS make a neck-sizing/decapping die, but I use a Lyman die myself. With this and the regular die set you should be good to go.

Good news that you have the digital calipers already. I used the analogue ones for many years, but the ability to re-set the zero on the digital ones once you have correctly sized your cases/rounds is a god-send, particularly if you are using a comparator for measuring bullet seating depth and OAL. The price of digital calipers has really dropped - you can get a set for under a tenner on eBay.

Talking of eBay, I've picked up a couple of useful reloading tools there - mostly sourced from the US (things like the Wilson case trimmer and case guage) so worth keeping an eye on it occasionally.

For the right loads, I've always relied upon a combination of those provided by (a) the bullet manufacturer - in my case Nosler, and (b) the powder manufacturer - in my case VihtaVouri. Take their suggestions, bracket the loads, try them out on the range and find out which ones suit your rifle best. Then stick with it.

willie_gunn
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#10
8x57 said:
Be warey of using the Lee factory crimp die, many bullet manufacturers are dead against it. Lee are far less enthusiastic in their promotion of this die than of previous, and now seem to agree that it should only be used on bullets with a canulare (crimping groove), which differs with their original claims.
I have used the factory crimp die in the past with .308 but honestly couldn't see any improvement in accuracy or chambering. I wouldn't be so bold as to say it doesn't work but personally I don't think I will ever use one again.
Not so. Lee still stands behind their claim to increased accuracy with bullets lacking a chanelure. See this link:

http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1236823696.5010=/html/catalog/dies-crimp.html

There are a few factors that govern accuracy with crimping. A good and proper load for starters and if you have a very accurate load to begin with, you may indeed see no detectable difference. The theory is correct though: A crimp adds a uniformity of "pull weight", or, the amount of pressure needed to release the bullet from the hold of the case mouth. In brass of varying uniformity, or in a load using a less then optimal powder, the pressures tend to become more uniform.

I have used the Lee Factory Crimp die in .22 Hornet, 243, 6.5x55, 257 Roberts, 30-30, 308, 30-06, .303 British, and 45-70 to name a few. I don't know if the crimp aides accuracy in most of these cartridges but I can tell you emphatically that it doesn't hurt! In the .22 Hornet I saw a huge improvement in accuracy and my results there moved me to the .308 and others.

I do not generally shoot channelured bullets. I have had no problems even with the lightest skinned varmint bullets. It is important to realize however, that the degree of crimp must be experimented with. Another variable, another thing that needs adjusting. ~Muir
 

thomas

Well-Known Member
#11
Hello Sanders,

I too have just entered the world of reloading!

I have been trying to buy a Lee kit for about a month or so but every dealer seemed to be sold out! In the end I was too impatient to wait and bought a Lyman kit. Seems to be well made equipment - yet to load anything so far, still reading / researching.

One thing I have noticed are some major differences between the powder manufactures data and the data put out by the bullet manufactures!!

Good luck

Tom
 

thomas

Well-Known Member
#12
Hello Sanders,

I too have just entered the world of reloading!

I have been trying to buy a Lee kit for about a month or so but every dealer seemed to be sold out! In the end I was too impatient to wait and bought a Lyman kit. Seems to be well made equipment - yet to load anything so far, still reading / researching.

One thing I have noticed are some major differences between the powder manufactures data and the data put out by the bullet manufactures!!

Good luck

Tom
 

thomas

Well-Known Member
#13
Hello Sanders,

I too have just entered the world of reloading!

I have been trying to buy a Lee kit for about a month or so but every dealer seemed to be sold out! In the end I was too impatient to wait and bought a Lyman kit. Seems to be well made equipment - yet to load anything so far, still reading / researching.

One thing I have noticed are some major differences between the powder manufactures data and the data put out by the bullet manufactures!!

Good luck

Tom
 

Pete E

Well-Known Member
#14
I have kit by Lee & RCBS (plus others), and in many cases the Lee build quality is far below the industry standard. For instance, their dies look as if they are made of water pipe, although the certainly work to a degree. The locking rings with their rubber O rings are a waste of time.

Edited to add a pic of the Hornady locking ring..



The Hornady lock ring, with its "split" design can be seen on the die. It has flats machine on the side so you can use a spanner on it as required.

The other two lock rings are of a more conventional design where the locking action is achieved by the action of a grub screw against the thread on the die. Obviously this allows for the possibility of the thread being damaged over time, something that is completely avoided with the Hornady "split" design..

For dies, I personally like the standard Redding dies with a Hornady lock ring, but they are obviously far more expensive than Lee. As a one off cost however I think they are worth it..

Personally, based on expirience of myself and others I know who reload, I would not buy the following Lee items:

Lee pot metal C frame presses...Pay the extra and get the Lee cast iron "O" frame instead (can't remember the name of it). It really is an excellent press and *far* more durable than the pot alloy ones. The latter have a habit of breaking near bolt /screw holes..

The Lee Scale and Lee powder measure / thrower..Friends have had both and had nothing but problems with inconsistant results with both. Get a secondhand RCBS 505 or similar scale...

On the otherhand, the Lee hand primer is supposed to be very good and favoured by a lot of the bench rest shooters in the States..

Lee case length gauges...Execellent and very simple system...use it in an electric drill to speed things up...

Regards,

Peter
 

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