Do you want to reload without investing a fortune on expensive—and expansive equipment? Then you may want to consider the Lee Loader.
In early 2012 I had just turned 21. My YouTube career started in earnest. With my very first center-fire handgun, a Smith and Wesson Model 10, I decided to try my hand at loading my own ammo for it. As a starving college kid, I opted for the least expensive option I could find: the Lee Loader. I did not want to buy an expensive press, nor did I have room for that. Considering those factors, dies and other reloading equipment were also out the window. What started out as a $25 investment became an obsession with four loaders (and many videos on how to use them. Even with the ammo shortages in 2013, my firearms always had plenty of ammunition—in fact, I shot more in 2013 than I had in years prior.
What is the Lee Loader?
Lee Precision introduced their Loader over fifty years ago and have sold many units, to startup and seasoned reloaders ever since.
Pistol caliber loaders come with a torpedo shaped steel bit used to flare the cases where the bullets fit in. On rifle kits, the seating depth is adjusted using the knurled black piece in the middle of the die. On pistol loaders, the same knurled piece is adjusted on the primer/bullet seater. The only equipment you need besides the kit to start making ammunition is a small plastic or rubber mallet. Lee Loading Kits are currently available in the following calibers:
- .30 Carbine
- 9mm Luger
- .38 Special
- .357 Magnum
- .44 Special/ .44 Magnum
- .45 ACP
- .45 Colt
- .22 Hornet
- .223 Remington
- .243 Winchester
- 270 Winchester
- 7mm Remington Magnum
- 30-30 Winchester
- .308 Winchester
- .303 British
- 45-70 Government
Is the Lee Loader Right for Me?
IThe Lee Loader is a great solution for the price, but it is not perfect. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Advantages (vs. reloading press):
- The Lee Loader retails for less than $30 at most available locations and is far less expensive than conventional reloading presses.
- The step by step manual process ensures that mistakes in the loading process are minimal.
- 100 % portable. Pack in its little box and go. No need for dedicated space.
- The sizing die on rifle kits only expand the neck of the case. This means the brass case will last longer than it would with constantly re-sizing the entire case on a press.
- Accessories like scales, trimmers, ect., although helpful for more precise loads and casing life, are not necessary.
- In the case of rifle cases, the Lee Loader only neck sizes the case, so while the reloaded ammunition will still fit in your gun, it might not fit someone else’s. (I have loaded 30-30 Winchester cartridges that work perfectly in my personal gun but jam up in another.) Pistol loader kits do not seem to have this problem; I’ve freely exchanged .38 Special rounds from revolver to revolver.
- The Lee Loader, even in trained hands, is rather slow to operate. However, if you only reload small batches, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
- Cases are driven out of the die and onto a live primer on the primer seater. If this is performed too forcefully, the primer could set off, causing a loud popping sound. This has happened twice in my use of Lee Loader kits. Fortunately, seating the primer is completed before powder or projectile are loaded.
- Lee Loaders in the new market are only available in popular calibers. Lesser known cartridges and shotgun shell types are only available on the used market.
- The yellow dipper only measures certain amounts of powders that may be used in the cartridge. A scale would provide a more precise options for custom loads.
Note: If you’re looking for additional info on conventional presses and other reloading equipment, or just reloading in general, check out more reloading articles here on The Arms Guide.
Disclaimer: Always consult with a reputable reloading manual for appropriate loads in your gun.
You may be loading ammunition to make a hard kicking gun into a soft shooter. You might be a precision or sport shooter who wants the most accuracy out of your firearm. Or, perhaps you’re just looking for a more cost effective ammo solution. The Lee Loader is an affordable, easy-t0-use solution to get your foot in the water and start loading your own ammunition. What are you waiting for? Get loading!
Featured image courtesy of leeprecision.com.