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WishIWasHunting's picture
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Lee Classic Handloader

So, I decided to give reloading a try.  I bought the Lee Classic Handloader in .223, and the Hornady Hand Priming Tool.  I am using Winchester small rifle primers, Hogdon H4895, and Hornady 55 grain V-Max.  For my first batch, I wanted to start with new brass, so I bought 100 cases of un-primed Winchester brass.  The Hornady Hand Priming Tool worked very well, once I figured out how to use it.  I had a little trouble with it feeding two primers at a time sometimes, but not that bad.  In less than 2 hours, I primed 97 rounds (two primers fed sideways, and I lost one).  Instead of loading all the rounds at once, I only loaded 20 rounds.  I did not take note of how long that took, but since I already had the shells primed, it is a surprisingly efficient process.  I would guess that it took me less than 40 minutes, and I am a slow worker.  I want to shoot those rounds and see if I like the results.  If it goes well, then I will finish loading the rest of my shells.  

The main area that I have not found explicit recommendations for the Lee loader is on bullet seating depth.  I realize I can adjust the seating depth using the Lee tool, but I do not know what I am trying to adjust it to.  Without buying a tool to measure total bullet length, I used my factory ammo to approximate.  These rounds will be shot out of my Thompson Encore.  Since it is single shot, I don't have to worry about feeding issues.  

So, has anybody else used either the Lee Classic Handloader kit or the Hornady Hand Priming Tool? If so, how did it go for you?  After doing some searching on the internet, it does sound like bullet seating depth is crucial.  How do you handle it?

Thanks!

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I have never used either of

I have never used either of those tools to reload ammo but it will just take you a little bit of practice to get to where you can seat the primers fairly fast.  I use a Lee hand held priming tool and can prime a couple hundred rounds in a hour.

As far as you seating depth it all depends on what your Encore likes.  With my 7-30 Waters out of my Contender it loves the bullet to be just off of the rifling's but depending on bullet choice that isn't always possible and with a 223 I doubt that you could seat a bullet out that far but you can try.  To get it to this point load a round with the bullet into the case with no powder just to where it will stay and then chamber it, if it hits the rifling's usually the bullet will pull out of the case.  If it does pop the bullet out with a cleaning rod and just seat it a little bit deeper.  Then once you have found a good length take them out to the range and shoot them and see just what they do.   

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My son has the Lee press and

My son has the Lee press and he like it. I have my second Lee hand priming tool and they have worked great for me. The Hornady and RCBS hand primers are a take off on the Lee tool. I have never had two primer's get in at the same time and have never loaded one on edge with my Lee tool.

As for seating the bullet, when I started, we didn't have the tools to measure to the ogive so we fooled around trying to get the bullet just off the lands. Sometime's we found out that with the bullet just off the lands, it wouldn't fit in the magazine so we had to load it deeper. I like mid range bullet weight's and pretty much everything I load today will be just off the lands and usually the base of the bullet will be seated to the junction of the neck and shoulder, but not always. To hold the bullet well and in alingment you need one caliber depth in seating. If you loaded to the lands with lighter bullet's you'd often find that the case did not have sufficent hold on the bullet, that would be seated to one caliber depth. But with it loaded to one caliber depth, there was much more jump to the lands. Which is right and which is wrong depends on you. If in fact measuring the distence to the ogive really produces more accurate ammunition, the cost is more time setting up and the expendurter of money for a new tool and a rifle well bedded. I have seldom had a rifle I could not get to shoot to just above and just below 1" group's.

I do have a few really good shooting rifles now, all shoot under 3/4" +/- and two will go half an inch +/-. This is really more accuracy than I require and I can't imagine anyone other than a competative shooter wanting or needing more than that.

I measure from the bolt face to the tip of a bullet using a cleaning rod. Then I use that bullet to adjust my seating die and seat that bullet. I see if it will fit the magazine and if it does, check the depth fron the case mouth to the base of the bullet. If that distence is not at least one caliber depth, I seat the bullet farther. Idealy one caliber depth is what you need to hold the bullet well. In my case most the stuff I load the base come's right at or very close tpo the junction of the case neck and junction on the shoulder.

I read what all some people put into their reloading and I know it's more about getting everything you can from the rifle rather than all you need. Measuring thousand's of an inch in seating depth, turning case necks, checking concentrisity ect. might give you a better group, if you have a rifle that can produce it and if you have the skills to shoot that well. I was a a local rifle range last year and a sniper from the Deschutes County Sheriff's dept was there. They are not allowed to shoot handloads in the sniper rifles, the use Hornady factory match ammo. Huh! I'm quite sure that the jump the bullet get's in different rifles varies quite a bit but, this guy's rifle was wonderfully accurate! So much for jump!

There is certainly nothing wrong with using extraordinary measure in loading but, without the accurizing measures having been taken with the rifle itself and very good technique by the shooter, the loading measure's are pretty much a waste of time.

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OLL with a cleaning rod

Don Fischer wrote:
I measure from the bolt face to the tip of a bullet using a cleaning rod. Then I use that bullet to adjust my seating die and seat that bullet. I see if it will fit the magazine and if it does, check the depth fron the case mouth to the base of the bullet. If that distence is not at least one caliber depth, I seat the bullet farther. Idealy one caliber depth is what you need to hold the bullet well. In my case most the stuff I load the base come's right at or very close tpo the junction of the case neck and junction on the shoulder.

I was reading thru this yesterday and something about my post bothered me. Went back this morning and found this. An attempt to explain something that doesn't even come close!The method of measuring OLL with a cleaning rod is very easy but there is more to it than just saying that's what I do.

To do it is really simple. Take a cleaning rod with a blunted tip in it. I use a plastic patch tip and cut it off belo the slot. The purpose is only to close the hole in the end of the cleaning rod. Run the rod with the tip (plug) down the barrel to the bolt face and mark the rod with a sharp pencil right at the muzzle. Take the rod out and remove the bolt. Drop a bullet down into the chamber and hold it against the lands, I use a long pencil with the eraser end to do that. Run the cleanind rod back into the barrel until you feel it touch the tip of the bullet. Then mark the rod again with the sharp pencil. Pull out the rod and measure between the marks, that is the length of your chanber. When you set up your seating die, use that same bullet. Reason is the length of the bullet's can vary a bit from the ogive to the tip. After you have the bullet seated to that length, turn down the seater plug another one turn, the loaded round ill give you the proper length for that rifle. That length will work with every bullet you use in that rifle, including RN, as the bullet is seated using the ogive or very close to it. Once the die is set, I never move it. Of course I only have one rifle in tha cartridge.

 

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I have used one

I have used them and still keep them as back up.  Seating depth is just one of many factors that affect accuracy.  Keep your over all length similar to factory ammo and see how it shoots.  Then you can start adjusting powder amounts, which powder to use, which projectile to use, what weight it should be, seating depth, and other things in the endless quest for better accuracy if needed.

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I've been using my Lee Loader

I've been using my Lee Loader for over 15 yrs.  It's the only press I've ever had, probably be the only press I'll ever own.  The thing works today the same as it did 15 yrs. ago.  It's simple, easy, and nearly dummy proof - which is good for me :yes:   I did get an RCBS electronic scale however.  I used the Lee scale for about 2 yrs., but then it just got too time consuming to use when I started loading more and more.  Also, with the Lee Anniversary kit comes a auto powder thrower (not sure what it's really called).  It is very accurate and I use it exclusively when loading pistol rounds.  I can jam a hundred pistol cartridges in about 30 min. or so.  If you're looking to buy a kit, I don't think you can go wrong with Lee.  Great product and cheap!!

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Seating depth and OAL is

Seating depth and OAL is important, you don't want to have the bullet driving into the lands, especially since you are just getting started.  Like the others have said, try to get the total loaded cartridge length as close to some factory loaded ammo as possible.  Once those work well, then you can try to extend the bullet out a bit further to get it a bit closer to the lands.

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Thanks everyone for the great

Thanks everyone for the great responses!  It sounds like I am on the right track with seating depth.  Now I just need the chance to shoot what I have got so far to see how it is working.  

Just for clarity, I am talking about the Lee Classic Loader.  You use a plastic or rubber mallet to seat the primer, size the neck, and seat the bullet as it does not have a press.  

I can tell that I am already enjoying the reloading process.  Combine that with some of the suggestions you guys gave, I can tell that my wish list is going to keep growing.  Thanks again for the great responses!

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Don Fischer's picture
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I started with the Classic

I started with the Classic loader many years ago. Then, maybe still, you could purchase a powder dipper set. You can do everything with it you can with a press except full length size. And if you want to weigh loads rather than load by volume it's no problem, just get a scale.

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You can still buy the powder

You can still buy the powder dipper set and I have had mine for over 35 years.  I remember that when I first looked at the Lee Clasic reloading tool it was a real expensive $9.95 for the caliber of your choice. 

Don Fischer's picture
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Seem's to me that's about

Seem's to me that's about what I paid for mine also. Boy are you an old guy!

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