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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I spent yesterday afternoon installing, setting up, tweaking and finally using my new Lee Classic turret auto indexing press. Reminded me of Christmases past putting together toys, with lame instructions, on the nights before Christmas!

Installing (actually mounting) the press is very simple, 3 bolts through the bench, one bolt to attach the handle and mount and adjust the Dies.... 8 hours later and I had 50 perfect (I hope) 9mm 115gr Hornady FMJ with 6.0 grains of Hodgdon H6 powder and Winchester primers. So far, with 50 completed rounds, I'm only into it @ $6.60 per round... not including labor!

I didn't slave over it for a solid 8 hours. There was much trial and some error, research online, tweak and test, ruin some brass and then get away from it for a bit and contemplate the "value" of reloading with some colorful language.... Eventually success!

The trickiest part is fine tuning the actual press.... getting everything correctly lined up, and adjusting the Dies. Like any fine tool one is unfamiliar with, it can be frustrating to "learn the hard way" as the available instruction, both written and online, are less than perfect. Not because neither Lee nor the internet and You Tube posters haven't produced enough information, or presented it clearly. It's just that the tolerances are tight, the brass is soft, the press is strong and the margin for error is small.... oh, and you are playing with EXPLOSIVES!

The main difficulty I had was aligning the ram with the Dies. This is something not mentioned in the instructions and maybe rightfully so... I'm sure some presses don't need to be aligned. It seems logical to expect the press should put the shell into the Dies precisely, but there are so many things affecting that operation, and the tolerances are that small, it's not surprising that some adjustment is necessary. Putting every potential issue in the instructions is impractical if not impossible due to all the potential issues caused by the owner.

Long story short, it was an enjoyable experience learning about the press, Dies and process. It's not difficult, but it is "fiddly", plan to spend some time and materials setting it up. I would strongly recommend getting a bullet remover and a good scale and caliper. Do your set-up making "dummy" rounds (no powder) until you are happy with bullet seating and crimping. Measure, measure measure! Once I had the over all length and crimp set, then I went to live rounds. I weighed the powder (I'm using the Lee auto disk powder measure) every 5 rounds or so for these first 50, and found the Auto Disk to be accurate consistent.

Once everything was fine tuned, I was able to load 50 rounds in just under an hour. I know that's slow, but I was being very careful and weighing every 5th powder charge sure didn't speed me up! I expect that 100 to 150 per hour is reasonable to expect in the near future.

BE SURE TO BUY A LOAD MANUAL! There are that many different bullet weight, bullet type, powder and measure variables that guidance in the EXPLOSIVE part is essential. I bought a $9 9mm specific load manual from Sportsman's Warehouse and while not all comprehensive, it is current and comprehensive enough.

Later today, I'll be firing my first batch. I will let you know how it goes.... I hope!
 

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Sounds like you are experiencing the joy of being a new re-loader. It gets better with time trust me. Enjoy and let us know how your first batch went
 

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Sounds like you are experiencing the joy of being a new re-loader. It gets better with time trust me. Enjoy and let us know how your first batch went
how easy is it to make a mistake and overcharge your ammo while reloading (thus blowing up your gun lol)? i assume the more you spend on a press, the better the safety measures. this is something that concerns me about first starting out with it (maybe unnecessarily so).

thank you :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
how easy is it to make a mistake and overcharge your ammo while reloading (thus blowing up your gun lol)? i assume the more you spend on a press, the better the safety measures. this is something that concerns me about first starting out with it (maybe unnecessarily so).

thank you :)
With the press I bought, it has an "Auto Disk Powder Measure" included. It's actually quite simple. You must use a supplied chart to work out the "CC" equivalent of the powder grain charge based on a conversion chart (that Lee provides) specific to each makers powders. The "disk" is actually a pre-measured resvoir that uses positive displacement of a gravity fed cavity that is activated when you insert a shell. One could possibly double charge a shell, but it would require the user to ram the cartridge twice and if you are using the auto indexing, that would take some trying to mess up.... Main thing is to pay attention, a double charge is obvious in the case before you added bullet.
 

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Reloading is a hoot. I did it for 30 years and it was the only way to get the very most out of a firearm.

Work your loads slowly and check every fired primer at the range. As soon as there's any indication that it's "melting" into the primer pocket, it's time to back off on your load. Try to find a Speer #8 Loading Guide. It's from the 70's and probably the hottest loads available. Guides after that were watered down due to the lawyers.

The worst experience I ever had was wrecking the timing on an S&W Model 13 I used for .357 "experiments". Back in those early days, there was only one performance load and that was SuperVel. Once the concept was learned, a hand-loader could build any round. Loading hollow-base wad cutters backwards was our answer to short barreled hollow points. And, using 9mm (.355) 90 grain bullets in .38 and .357 made for some really fast bullets. My boar hunting rounds were totally unique, since I made them. There wasn't a better .44 mag on the market for dropping a nasty Russian boar.

So, enjoy handloading. Just be careful. Also, take a look at the Lee 1000 progressive press. It's not a Dillon, but dollar for dollar, it's hard to beat for turning out 500+ rounds an hour. And for social ammo, get a cannalure tool. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Went out to the world's largest public range today, the Mojave Desert, and fired off 100 that I had loaded and another 100 of purchased ammo. Unfortunately, the Ranger 124gr +p is better than my reloads..... I must admit, I'm not surprised. I loaded 2 separate batches with the same brass, bullets (Hornady 115 gr FMJ) and primers, but different powders. I used 6.0 gr of Hodgdon H-6 for 50 and 4.2 gr of Hodgdon Universal Clays for the next 50. I set the OAL at 1.16. According to my manual, both loads were below maximum, and they both performed like it. I have read that the published load data from most manufacturers is very conservative and according to my manual the loads I used were below maximum but also above minimum. Both loads performed (based on my non scientific feel) less than the load data suggested. I had several FTF's and a couple of stovepipes, firing my gen 4 G17 with the new "02-1" recoil spring. I had zero issues with a box of Ranger NATO 124 gr of 115 gr Federal FMJ, so the issues were with my reloads, but for my first batches a 5% failure rate is fine with me.
I plan on increasing the powder charge in small increments and doing the same testing between the 2 different powders. I'm enjoying the process for now and I look forward to trying "new" loads.
 

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Congratulations!

Sounds like you've put a lot of thought into reloading and it's working out well for you... Glad everything turned out successfully on your first shoot!
 

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how easy is it to make a mistake and overcharge your ammo while reloading (thus blowing up your gun lol)? i assume the more you spend on a press, the better the safety measures. this is something that concerns me about first starting out with it (maybe unnecessarily so).

thank you :)
Like Ed said as long as you index the round it won't happen. The problem occurs when you aren't paying attention or get pulled away from what your doing and dont check before starting again. There are certain safties that I follow myself to prevent it. I don't have a TV in my reloading area. I have a light set where I can see every charge before I index it and do look it takes no time to do. I also don't leave my press with anything being loaded.

If someone is at the door they will just have to wait a extra 10 seconds or so. There is no bullets being worked on when I leave the press or when I sit down. I know exacetly where I am on a load.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Reloading is a hoot. I did it for 30 years and it was the only way to get the very most out of a firearm.

Work your loads slowly and check every fired primer at the range. As soon as there's any indication that it's "melting" into the primer pocket, it's time to back off on your load. Try to find a Speer #8 Loading Guide. It's from the 70's and probably the hottest loads available. Guides after that were watered down due to the lawyers.

The worst experience I ever had was wrecking the timing on an S&W Model 13 I used for .357 "experiments". Back in those early days, there was only one performance load and that was SuperVel. Once the concept was learned, a hand-loader could build any round. Loading hollow-base wad cutters backwards was our answer to short barreled hollow points. And, using 9mm (.355) 90 grain bullets in .38 and .357 made for some really fast bullets. My boar hunting rounds were totally unique, since I made them. There wasn't a better .44 mag on the market for dropping a nasty Russian boar.

So, enjoy handloading. Just be careful. Also, take a look at the Lee 1000 progressive press. It's not a Dillon, but dollar for dollar, it's hard to beat for turning out 500+ rounds an hour. And for social ammo, get a cannalure tool. Good luck.
Thanks for the suggestion on the Speer manual. My 86 year old Dad is here for Christmas and he said he had the same manual in the 60's or 70's... He said it was "the best", so I'll take you two's word on it. I did a search on Amazon and found one in "good" condition for $8 shipped. I should have it in a week.
 

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I started my loading with a Lee.
Everything you needed but the hammer.
To hammer the case in to resize it.
Then punch out the case and seat a prime, yes with the hammer.
Never had a problem. The rounds all fired just fine.
This was in 1966 which was yesterday to me. My son was just born. Now he is an MD Doctor in Austin, Texas and 41 years old.
 

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Thanks for the suggestion on the Speer manual. My 86 year old Dad is here for Christmas and he said he had the same manual in the 60's or 70's... He said it was "the best", so I'll take you two's word on it. I did a search on Amazon and found one in "good" condition for $8 shipped. I should have it in a week.
If you're planning to use reloading recipes (primer, powder, bullet combinations) from and old manual, I would like to offer a suggestion. Check the online sites for the powder manufacturers, and use the FREE current data that they have published. There are some new primers and powders on the market that will not be covered by the old manuals, and probably some new bullets as well. I frequently use the websites of:

Hodgdon ( http://data.hodgdon.com/main_menu.asp )
and Alliant ( http://www.alliantpowder.com/reloaders/default.aspx )

Other powder manufacturers also offer information, it's not usually hard to find. While the other content of an older manual may be useful, having the latest reloading data could be important for safety.

Chris
 
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