An after action review of my new Lee Single Stage press

An after action review of my new Lee Single Stage press

This is a discussion on An after action review of my new Lee Single Stage press within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Ok, so this past Tuesday my Lee Challenger Breechlock press came in. I'm new to the mysterious craft of reloading, but have learned a couple ...

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Thread: An after action review of my new Lee Single Stage press

  1. #1
    Member Array likesbigbullets's Avatar
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    An after action review of my new Lee Single Stage press

    Ok, so this past Tuesday my Lee Challenger Breechlock press came in. I'm new to the mysterious craft of reloading, but have learned a couple of things during the past few months with my basic Lee Loader kit.

    I just finished loading 275 rounds for my .357 magnum. It has been a bit of a learning experience because I've found that so many details can affect the outcome of the load.

    I thought when I mounted the press to my bench that the linkage was free from contacting any part of the table. I was wrong. I had a few problems with getting consistent OAL because the bottom of the handle was striking the framwork of the bench.

    Until I realized this was happening, I continued to fool around with the seating die, thinking it was moving slightly on it's own. I struggled with this through the first 150 rounds until I saw the handle hitting the table. Problem solved!

    I continued on with a little bit more ease, but I was still having trouble with OAL. I figured I was doing something wrong with the die and figured I'd make a post... until upon further investigation, I realized that the XTP hollow points will actually deform ever so slightly when pressed into the case. The seating die never shifted on it's own, so I think I narrowed down the problem.

    The safety prime system that mounts to the press worked flawlessly. I didn't have a single problem out of it that I didn't cause. I was skeptical about it because I think it only had 3.5 star review. It was cheap and available, so I jumped on it. Good system, in my inexperienced opinion.

    I don't have the cool Powder Disk Measure that mounts to the press, but I do have the Lee Perfect Powder Measure and I was highly impressed with it's consistency. I think I've made one adjustment to it in the 275 rounds that I've done so far.

    The die set that I have is the 3-die carbide system. The only thing I can think of that I could do to make the process more efficient is purchasing a second bullet seating die, specifically so that I can have one die set for bullet seating and one die set for crimping without making adjustments to either. Happy with my purchases.

    Just though I'd post my first experience and try to see if my OAL inconsistency theory sounds right to you guys.


  2. #2
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    Next you'll be wanting a progressive press!

    Go with the Lee factory crimp die for a separate crimp. Some will tell you that it is a crutch for bad procedures, but if you want to separate your bullet seating and crimp procedures, why not get the finished cartridge re size feature to boot?

    I've not had any noticeable issues with OAL variation due to bullet deformation, but if you really think it may be the cause you might want to adjust your powder through die for a bit more bell at the case mouth. Don't go wild, you want the barest minimum expansion needed but a little more might fix your issue.

    Have fun but be vigilant as to details.
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    Come to think of it, you may have too much expansion happening. How easy do your bullets slip into the expanded case? If there isn't enough resistance they could be seating deeper simply from inertia or gravity and this would certainly not be consistent.
    T*A*N*S*T*A*A*F*L
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    I was just looking at that die on midway. I might give it a shot. I hate having to reset my bullet seater every time I finish seating 50 rounds.

    I do think you are probably right about expansion. I hardly expanded the case. I heard somewhere that nickle brass doesn't get as many uses as the traditional brass, so I opened it just enough to get the bullet seated. I'll tinker with a few more tomorrow before work and let you know.

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    If your deforming the bullets you more than likely don't have the seat/crimp die adjusted right,it sounds like the case is being crimped before the bullet is fully seated therefore causing you to try to force the bullet into a crimped case,best way to relieve the problem is seperate seat/crimp dies,therefore the bullet is seated into the belled case mouth at the right depth then crimping the case on the next stage,people tend to prefer the Lee factory crimp dies
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    Using one die to seat/crimp is a matter of proper adjustment. It's all I've ever used to load both jacketed and lead bullets. If you change bullets, you'll have to reset your dies regardless as no two makes/styles have the same shape. Adding a fourth die won't make your reloading more efficient, it will add 33% more cranks of the press.

    The mark on your bullet is caused by the seating stem not mating with the bullet nose properly. No die is designed to fit every style of bullet tip. RCBS comes with two stems, one round nose/one flat nose, but even those can leave marks on some bullet depending on the shape. I've read of folks applying beewax to the base of the seating stem to form a more custom fit to the particular bullet being used, or some folks have even sent a bullet to RCBS to have a stem custom made for that bullet. Both seem excessive to me for general shooting at <25 yards.

    If you're trying to get your OAL to be +/-.001 on every round, stop. It's not that critical.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    If your deforming the bullets you more than likely don't have the seat/crimp die adjusted right,it sounds like the case is being crimped before the bullet is fully seated therefore causing you to try to force the bullet into a crimped case,best way to relieve the problem is seperate seat/crimp dies,therefore the bullet is seated into the belled case mouth at the right depth then crimping the case on the next stage,people tend to prefer the Lee factory crimp dies
    ^^^^What He Said^^^^^^

    Most bullet deformation, and OAL wandering is caused by this.

    When the case comes up into the die, for the seater to seat to correct depth at finish (how else), the bullet is still moving when the crimp is applied, no way around it. Seperate operations eliminates the problem, whether realized or not.

    Terry
    Last edited by Exsimguy1; May 9th, 2013 at 08:00 PM. Reason: added info

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I started out years ago on the Lee single stage. I am still using it. I have played with the notion to get a progressive, but it never materialized. I think partly because I can do anything I want with what I have.

    True, it takes longer, but I'm in no hurry. And, I enjoy doing it.

    I like the QC that the single gives also. Giving one multiple opportunity to check the brass, and isolating each step of the process gives me peace of mind that every round is consistent in every way.

    Depending on your priorities and volume of shooting will determine if you move to a faster set up.

    I have found winter to be a great time to load all my ammo for the coming warm months of shooting.
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    I agree Glockman. Each step readily available with the single stage. I might get something more high speed one day, but I have a feeling I'll always want the single stage for my +nothing/-nothing loads.

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    Reloading is a great hobby for the shooter. And Im still learning things as I go along. But Im gettin better. Trust us soon youll be looking at the progessives. Learn and enjoy reloading.

  11. #11
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    I have been reloading over 40 years. Started with a Lee Loader then moved up to an RCBS Rock Chucker.

    Never wanted to change till last year. I had traded and bought brass through the years and realized I had 2-3 K of 9mm and about the same in .40. Bought a Lee progressive. Realized like the above posters I liked to have better quality control on all stages of loading. Sold it and bought a Lee Turret Press just for pistol ammo. This press I really like. Still have complete control and a LOT faster. With the Auto Disk powder measure it will crank them out.

    Still have the old green monster for rifle and .44 Mag and it will outlast me. I agree about liking the process of reloading as much as shooting. The big plus is other than .22 the crazy ammo shortage wasn't even a blip on the radar.
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    I still use my original lee single stage kit Ive had for over 30 years. I still load a lot of ammo on it. I now have two progressives and two single stage presses. But I still go to the Lee first. I deprime before I clean the brass on the lee press. I try to process brass in lots of 1000. Then I resize and slightly flare the mouths of the cases. At that point I pack them away till I'm ready to load. I have found that priming is easiest and fastest with the hand priming tool. I'm with the others tho the 357 shouldn't take enough force to seat and crimp to deform the bullet. you are either crimping too much or too soon. My tools don't have the breech lock option. How do you like that option? DR

  13. #13
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    I flared the case mouths just a ***** bit more and all went well. I was shooting for an OAL of 1.593 and my end result was 50 rounds +/- .001.

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