• The Lee Classic Loader

    One of the questions most often asked on this website in regards to reloading or hand loading if you prefer is What is the cheapest way I can get started in reloading. The answer is simple enough. The classic Lee Loader.

    This is without a doubt the least expensive way you can enter the reloading scene. For just about twenty bucks invested, you are almost halfway home. Everybody has a hammer lying around, the only other equipment really needed. Although I always used a plastic mallet and highly recommend one, it is not entirely necessary. This is the little package that can and did get me and many other people started in the reloading hobby.

    Inside the convenient plastic box is a neck-sizing die, a de-capping pin, a primer-seating tool, powder dipper and a bullet-seating device. Also included is a simple to follow set of instructions and a complete load data sheet that is more than ample for finding a good load for almost any bullet weight and powder combination.

    It has been way over twenty years now since my first experience with the humble Lee Loader. I was shooting a lot of 22-250 factory ammo from just about every manufacturer out there at the time. I was dissatisfied with the bullet weight choices and a little disappointed with accuracy. I was very interested in trying some match bullets out of the old Remington and since I could not buy any suitable factory ammo in those days. I had only one alternative; hand loading! Well, I talked to a few guys in the hobby and one of them recommended I take a ride to Edelmans Gun Shop and take a look at the Lee hand tools. He told me that that was how he started out reloading for his 270 several years ago and said that it will not cost a bunch and will do the job. Also he mentioned that if you dont like it your only out about 10 bucks (1980 prices). So I took his advice and off I went to Edelmans. As luck would have it, they had my caliber of choice (22-250) in stock. I promptly opened the box and pulled out the instruction sheet and the data sheet. I went to the powder shelves and picked out some IMR 3031, several boxes of 52 grain match BTHPs and some Remington 9-1/2 LR primers. The only thing I bought extra if you will was a powder funnel, not a necessity as a piece of paper shaped into a funnel would suffice in a pinch but it is a bit more of a convenience. It is more than possible to charge right through the die with the dipper.

    I could hardly wait to get back home and try this new toy out. Well, after just a few minutes I had enough cases decapped and sized to get a couple of boxes put together. I dumped out some primers and one by one tapped them in place with the capping tool and punch provided. I know it sounds primitive but what the heck, it works. I then dumped out some powder into a teacup and proceeded to charge the cases with the dipper provided one at a time though the combination resizing die seating tool. A playing card makes an excellent scraping tool to level off the dipper before dumping the charge. After charging the case simply drop your bullet of choice through the top of the die and tap it into place with the seating tool provided with your handy mallet.

    Step 1:  De-cap the cases with the de-capping base and the pin provided. Your hammer will come in real handy for this.Next it was off to the range for the hand-load challenge of the decade (for me anyway). I set up a few targets and began firing away. Now this was a long; long time ago but I remember it clearly. Every bullet was in the black and the point of aim had not changed enough to worry about. Gentlemen, I can honestly say here and now that over twenty years and several reloading presses, new toys and gimmicks, progressives and single stage presses I have made little if any improvement in accuracy over the years over what the little red box has to offer. I still have it to this day.

    The attached photos will walk you through the quick and easy procedures for creating your first and I might add highly rewarding reloads.

    That is it; you are now finished with your first reload. Now its time to get to the range for what may be a big surprise and what will very likely become a lifelong hobby. All for less than twenty bucks! Now in this day and age that is a super bargain for what you actually get out of it.

    Total cost outlay, today's prices:

    Reloading tools: $15.99 Total Cost to get you started

    Powder: $18.99
    Primers 100 count: $ 2.29
    Bullets 100 count: $10.49

    Step 2:  Resize your cases by driving the case into the sizing die with your mallet or a hammer and a small block of wood.Not assuming the cost of brass price per load is 21.66 cents each or $4.33 for 20. It doesn't take a genius to see that about 2 boxes of ammo pays for the tools you need.

    Actual load data:

    2.5 CC loading of IMR 3031 (yield) 32.8 grains per load or 213 rounds per pound
    Hornady # 2265, 55 grain spire point .224 caliber
    CCI LRP # 200 Primer
    Federal brass
    Estimated velocity: 3,200 FPS.

    - Not a particularly hot round, but one I have found to be very accurate, cost effective and rifle friendly.

    One of the most interesting points with using this setup is the ease and flexibility of taking it along with you to the range or on a varmint hunting trip. It takes about 1 square foot of bench space and weighs about a pound. I have loaded right at the shooting bench many times with this outfit.

    Best of luck and enjoy your new hobby, be safe be smart and be careful! Do not exceed recommended loads and follow the enclosed directions closely. Remember, any doubts ask someone.

    Additional Photos:

    Step 3:  Re-prime the case, set a primer in the priming tray and seat by tapping with the flat face priming rod. Step 3:  Re-prime the case, set a primer in the priming tray and seat by tapping with the flat face priming rod.
    Step 4:  Using the de-capping base and the flat face rod tap the case free from the sizing die. Leave the case and die in this position for the next steps. Step 4:  Using the de-capping base and the flat face rod tap the case free from the sizing die. Leave the case and die in this position for the next steps.
    Step 4:  Using the de-capping base and the flat face rod tap the case free from the sizing die. Leave the case and die in this position for the next steps. Step 5:  Charge the case with one level scoop of powder with the dipper provided. The powder is dumped straight into the case through the top of the die.
    Step 6:  Seating a bullet, simple enough here, drop your bullet base first of course through the top of the die and tap into place with the seating tool provided. The collar of the seating die is adjustable. Step 6:  Seating a bullet, simple enough here, drop your bullet base first of course through the top of the die and tap into place with the seating tool provided. The collar of the seating die is adjustable.
    Step 6:  Seating a bullet, simple enough here, drop your bullet base first of course through the top of the die and tap into place with the seating tool provided. The collar of the seating die is adjustable.



    Lee Precision
    4275 County Road U
    Hartford, WI 53027
    Phone (262) 673-3075
    www.LeePrecision.com





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