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Old 11-15-2020, 12:10 PM
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Default Anybody use a Lee Loader?

I've got this old Lee Loader. It is a 38 (357), I believe. I've never used it. Picked it up free, years ago.
My first reloading efforts were with a 22 Hornet Lee Loader, which I still have.
Thought I'd give this a try. Does anyone know if it does both 38 Special and 357 Magnum? Guess I'll find out. Generic rifle and pistol instructions are posted on the Lee site, just nothing specific for this loader. Wish me luck.

Now to find a mallet...
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Old 11-15-2020, 12:21 PM
Sam McCord Sam McCord is offline
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I've used them for years on and off. I too began loading loading for 22 Hornet on one and still do. I just don't load enough Hornet to buy dies. As for the 38/357, I have a set of loaders for each caliber but don't know if each can be can be used for the other. For rifle calibers I use Imperial Sizing Die Wax to make resizing easier but have had good results using Lee Loaders. Give it a try and report back.
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Old 11-15-2020, 12:28 PM
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A .38 Special Lee Loader and a rubber mallet was how I got started in reloading, about 35 years ago - so I'm like you and your .22 Hornet set. (It works fine for .357.) Have fun!
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Old 11-15-2020, 12:57 PM
S&W629 S&W629 is offline
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Wait till you have that first primer detonation...!!!
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:08 PM
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That is how I started over 45 years ago (38 also) and haven't popped a primer yet. I still use that depriming rod when I get a sideways primer.
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:13 PM
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Been using them off & on since 1980. Have kits for calibers I don't even own. Been reloading 9mm lately on a kit. 60 rounds at a time keeps me from burning up my components too fast :-)
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:28 PM
Loyaljeeper Loyaljeeper is offline
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I have only owned one, a 9mm kit, but I wouldn’t mind having a few others. My classic loader 9mm hand loads will not chamber in my two 1911s. They have done just fine in Glocks and a Sig.
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Old 11-15-2020, 01:35 PM
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I started loading on a Lee shotshell loader at age 11. At 18 I started loading 44 mag on a Lee loader. I wish these loaders were still available in shotshell sizes. They are an excellent way to introduce people to reloading. By design, you have to proceed slowly and think about what you are doing. It's a great way to instill the fundamentals of reloading. Also, they take up no space making them great for apartment dwellers. The one flaw is the priming feature. Having a primer pop on you certainly gets your attention.
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Old 11-15-2020, 02:53 PM
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Like many others I got started reloading with a Lee Loader in 38 Special in 1969. I have since gathered presses, die sets and 1.87 metric tons of assorted reloading tools, but also now have 8 Lee Loaders. I only have one Lee Loader that would on a few occasions would pop a primer, but I found a remedy that has worked 100%. I chamfered the primer pocket mouth with a countersink, just like I remove military primer crimps. Many 44s reloaded with no primer pops...

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Old 11-15-2020, 04:53 PM
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I started to reload 12 ga. with a Lee Loader around 1963, still in high school. My first rifle loader was in .308, still have it but not used in over 35 years since I got a Rock Chucker press and regular dies after military duty.
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Old 11-15-2020, 08:21 PM
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Alright. Loaded 10 rounds of 38 Special. Even used my good brass. Sizing wax really helped. I used a cast, Lee 105 grain SWC over the .7cc dipper-full of Unique.
The flaring tool only opened up the mouths about .003". I like to go at least .006. The I.D. of the sized cases was .3565-.357" which for a .358" cast bullet is good.
This is probably the first time this tool has been used. A friend of mine moved out of town some 40 years ago and left a bunch of stuff behind. This kit was something he left.
I'm anxious to see how they shoot. I'll be shooting them out of my 357 Rossi rifle. It was fun loading these rounds. I highly recommend it.
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Old 11-15-2020, 08:30 PM
ggibson511960 ggibson511960 is offline
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Just like you, I started with a .38/.357 Lee Loader 46 years ago, loading .357 Mag for a Ruger Blackhawk. Despite the furious pounding necessary to beat brass into the Lee Loader, it only neck sizes cases. To my dismay, my Ruger had inconsistent chamber diameters. I ended up pounding reloaded cartridges in and out of the cylinder. Not good. I would detonate two or three primers per 50 round batch while seating primers. Not good at all. There is a very good reason Lee doesn't make them any more. I gave mine away. All that said, if one were in the backwoods on a subsistence existence, the Lee Loader would keep one in limited purpose ammo.
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Old 11-15-2020, 11:40 PM
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The LEE Loader kit got me started reloading . My first was 38 spl , followed 44 magnum and then 45 Colt . As I bought the various calibers I would add the reloader kit for it . I still have them and have added a few more since , but not the firearm itself -- yet . The kits are great , compact , take very little room and will produce quality reloads , if you do your part . Regards Paul
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:33 AM
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As a teenager I loaded .38 Special using the Lee Loader and a Leather Mallet. I bought a C-press just as soon as I could scrape up the coin, but even that has long ago gone the way of the Dodo bird.
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:37 AM
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I started with a 12 ga Lee loader in about 1967, and one in 357 mag in 1974. Sold both many years ago.
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Old 11-16-2020, 03:49 AM
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I started with Lee Loaders long ago and started the kids with them.
Priming with a Lee Auto Prime since day two.

Question: has anyone tried a dead blow hammer/weight?

Easy to tear up the hammer's face but a shoe can be made.
I never had the need for one until I had a milling machine to service and made some long bread baking pans out of aluminum.
Used a big old sledge hammer's head as an anvil.
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Old 11-16-2020, 08:56 AM
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Default I popped one primer.....

...and it was unpleasant. But I salute Mr. Lee's ingenuity in creating such tools. I used them for years until I accumulated presses and dies for bench reloading.
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Old 11-16-2020, 09:11 AM
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Over the years I've offered it to various people who showed an interest in reloading but none of them have taken me up on the offer. A Lee Loader, a brick of primers, a can of powder, and a 500 pack of bullets - all in an ammo can would keep a casual shooter in ammo for years if not decades.
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Old 11-16-2020, 09:54 AM
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I started reloading with the Hand Loader...

Well, I started driving with a go kart, but it's not what I would choose to drive on the interstate.

It's a nice item to have in your saddle bag high in the mountains if you need to load a few rounds around the campfire, but its usefulness has long been surpassed.
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Old 11-16-2020, 10:15 AM
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I first started reloading with a .44 mag Lee loader. No particular problem besides slowness except I had to prep the wife and kids for the occasional primer detonation. It also startled my dogs who came rushing in to bark at the process! I wore leather gloves to protect my hands...

John
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Old 11-16-2020, 10:16 AM
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The Lee Handpress is a very kool tool.
Bought one for the kids and will leave it in the Rockies with the Winchester '94/44 Mag.
The kids can buy the dies.

Picked up a new Lee Loader in 44 Mag for $15 and used that to test the rifle.
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:01 AM
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I started using one for 45LC in the seventies. I loaded using black powder. Never had a primer go off on me. I still have the set but rarely use it since I got my progressive press. I don’t know if it’s true but I heard that Lee got the idea from a similar set up from the Cowboy period?
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Old 11-16-2020, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S&W629 View Post
Wait till you have that first primer detonation...!!!
Make sure the the metal base the primer sits on is dead level and smooth . On my first (38 Special) the seat had a tiny "teat" left on it ... just about every time I tried to seat a primer " POW"!
I took it back to the gunshop and the owner examined it and spotted the tiny "teat" ... with a file and emery paper he eliminated that little firing pin and solved my pow problem ... those primers going off unexpectedly tend to rattle your nerves !

A lot of us got started in the 60's and 70's with Classic Lee Loaders...we didn't have much money and they were cheap .
In 1967 I asked my Dad for $10.00 so I could save him money reloading our ammo ... He kind of thought I had lost my mind ... but the old Man gave me a $20.00 , for extra stuff , and said "Don't tell your Mamma . "
I never tried to load 357 magnum with it so I couldn't say if it can be done .
Gary
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Old 11-16-2020, 12:16 PM
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I started in 1965 with a Lee loader, in .45 acp. It made good ammo, and I used it til '69, when my wife bought me a Lyman c-press. Good starter in reloading, and oh yes, I popped a few primers with it!
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Old 11-16-2020, 01:23 PM
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FWIW; Very often incorrectly posted, Lee Loader sizing being neck for straight sided/handgun cases. Lee Loaders full length size straight/handgun cases. I have 4 revolver case LLs and they all full length size. I have 4 bottle neck rifle LLs and they only neck size.
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Old 11-16-2020, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggibson511960 View Post
J Despite the furious pounding necessary to beat brass into the Lee Loader, it only neck sizes cases. To my dismay, my Ruger had inconsistent chamber diameters. I ended up pounding reloaded cartridges in and out of the cylinder. Not good. I would detonate two or three primers per 50 round batch while seating primers. Not good at all. There is a very good reason Lee doesn't make them any more.
No offense intended and not to belittle your reloading abilities. I can only reply "operator error". I have reloaded thousands of 38 Specials, 357 Magnums, 44 Specials and Magnums and 45 Colt, (all are full length sized), among 4 other calibers, with Lee Loaders and while rare I would pop a primer, but never had the other problems mentioned. Being steel dies, not carbide, Lee suggests lubing the cases, and I never had a need to "beat" brass in the die with anything larger than an 8 oz plastic mallet even though I used a leather mallet and a dead blow hammer occasionally. As far as Lee discontinuing the Loaders; Classic Lee Loader - Lee Precision. Still manufactured...

Too bad you don't like the Lee Loaders and couldn't get yours to work. They are an innovative, dead simple, easy to use and fun tool for reloading. No they don't produce ammo as fast as a Dillon 750, or have as precise adjustments as some micrometer dies, but I have assembled some very accurate and consistent handloads with mine.

I like reloading and have 4 presses and a bunch of die sets along with many, many assorted reloading tools and mostly use my Co-Ax, but occasionally I'll get out one of my Lee Loaders and "pound out" a few rounds. I like reloading...

Last edited by mikld; 11-16-2020 at 03:22 PM.
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