Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reloading with the Lee Loader

This is all I need to reload 100 rounds of .303 British rifle ammunition.  I am really impressed with my Lee Loader, it came with very good instructions and a load chart that made getting into reloading easy. I think they must have invented the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) because this loading system works. Another thing I like about it is that it is very portable, you could take it to the field with you and reload anywhere. The initial cost (Bullets, Powder, Primers, Loader and accessories) is about the same as buying 5  twenty round boxes of commerial ammunition, but it has a plus.  The rest of the 100 round batches you make will only cost you about what you would pay for 2 boxes.
The first thing you need is the Lee Classic Loader in your rifle caliber. 
Here are a few interesting sites:


If you order it through http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/BrowseProducts.aspx?brandId=1262
it will cost you about $24.99.

Now the advertisement says "everything you need but a hammer" but I soon realised that I would also need the following to trim the cases before loading. You see in the act if firing the cases tend to expand and if they expand too much it can cause dangerous pressures to build.  So just go ahead and order the following also.

Lee Case Length Gage and Shellholder in your caliber $4.49   This is used in combination with this:

Lee case trimmer cutter and locking stud $5.99

  Lee Chamfer and Deburring Tool $2.79


Lee Primer Pocket Cleaner $2.09  


Lee Powder Funnel 22 to 45 Caliber  $3.29

The funnel may not be necessary but it sure makes it easier to add the powder, especially since it is made to fit into the top of the tool.  And it is nice to have something to store all of your reloading supplies in such as  Military Surplus Ammo Cans.   I own several in different sizes and use them to store all sorts of stuff.  I like them because they are usually air tight and will keep moisture out of the powder and primers. I usually pick them up at flea markets or Army Surplus stores but they are getting harder to find and more expensive all of the time.

Surplus Ammunition Can 50 Caliber 11" x 5-1/2" x 7" - $11.99

You can also order bullets, powder and primers from this same site but I normally get them from local stores such as Gander Mountain, also you need the loader first to find out what type of these items you need.  You will also need a mallet or non metalic hammer to load with.  Oh and I almost forgot, you need a bunch of used brass shell cases to reload.  Clean them up (minor corrosion can be buffed away with a little 0000 steel wool and make sure the cases are empty inside too), sort out any corroded, dented or cracked cases and dispose of them.

I am sorry for the poor quality of the following photos but I shake too much to get very many good ones.

From the left a case with the primer removed, the depriming base, a Berdan primed case (usually only found on military rounds, sometimes having a colored primer, and cannot be reloaded), and the depriming rod.  To deprime the case you stand it up in the base, insert the rod and tap it with a mallet.

clean out the primer pocket

Put the case into the shell holder and tighten the locking stud.

Screw the case length gage into the cutter/trimmer and insert it into the case.

give it a couple turns with gentle downwards pressure

Deburr the inside of the case wit a gentle turn or two.

and chamfer the ouside edge the same way.

insert the shell into the resizing chamber 

it will only fit part way, stand the tool up and tap the case in flush with a mallet

put a new primer (cup side up) into the priming base

Stand the tool into the base

insert the priming rod and tap it with the mallet until the case frees and the primer seats

a perfect seated primer
stand the primed case in the depriming base

slide the tool over the top

insert the funnel

pour some powder into a non plastic container it need to be big enough to drag the measre through and deep enough to fill the measure. tap to level

pour into then remove funnel

drop in a bullet

insert the bullet seater and tap with mallet until flush

remove the tool
a perfectly seated bullet

to crimp the shell to the bullet stand it in the top of the tool place the depriming chamber over it and tap with a mallet

And there you have it a perfect round to rival any factory load. Total loading time, about 2 minutes

Ok, so I did leave out the instructions for adjusting the tool to the proper bullet seating depth, but it is well covered in the loader instructions, as is most of what I showed here.  
Also I suppose I had better add that reloading can be dangerous and should only be done with proper adult supervision. Make sure to follow all saftey precausions when handling or storing gun powder or primers and loaded ammunition.
And remember: Treat all guns and their owners as if they are loaded.


Reddunappy said...

My Hubby has always wanted to reload. We have never had a place for him to do it. Now that all the kids are moved out he has a gun room!!! We just have to get a desk upstairs for him and he probably will! He turned the closet into another gun safe/room! LOL and is hanging all his good fishing poles on the walls, it turning out pretty cool!!!

GreyWolf said...

Sounds like quite a "man cave" you will have to blog it sometime. Tell him I am envious.

warren said...

I am going to get a reloader and try this. It doesn't seem too bad at all and I am so curious! This looks like a great source of info too! Thanks!

GreyWolf said...

Warren: Great, I hope you enjoy this hobby as much as I do. If you have any further questions let me know.