The Lee Loader
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- Last updated: 18/12/2022
The earliest reloading tools for metallic cartridges were small, tong-based, portable pieces of equipment, capable of carrying out all stages of the reloading process with just the one item. In a similar vein, Lee Precision offers their Lee Loader, a pocketsized and calibre-specific reloading kit that contains everything you need to reload metallic cartridges. This very compact tool is economically priced, making it an ideal way to give reloading a try without spending a fortune, plus it’s totally portable.
The Lee Loader comes in a plastic case complete with instructions and reloading data, which means you can start producing ammunition immediately. The main body of the tool is a substantial, 2-part steel tube with a threaded stop collar, so adjustments can be made to the Cartridge’s Overall Length (COL). There are also rods for depriming and priming the case, a powder scoop and two ‘chambers’ for the tool to sit on during the reloading process. One of these, the priming chamber, also serves as the bullet seater.
The Lee Loader requires a mallet to apply the force required for the various stages of reloading. With a case sat on the decapping chamber, the spent primer is knocked out with the decappper and the case is then tapped into the main body of the tool to resize it. Next, the tool is placed onto the priming chamber, with a new primer in the locating ring. The priming rod is then used to drive the case onto the primer. The primed case is then placed back onto the depriming chamber, where it is tapped free in the tool.
The powder is tipped into the case through the opening in the top of the tool and a bullet is then dropped in. Finally, the bullet is seated by tapping it down with the priming tool and the round is complete. The correct COL is achieved by adjusting the stop collar on the tool and then securing it with the locking ring. An additional crimp can also be applied by tapping the completed round into the other end of the tool.
With everything you need to reload in such a compact kit (apart from the mallet), you can take this kit anywhere. Also, if you were at the range and wanted to experiment with the COL, you could actually make up some different rounds while you were there. You do not even need to pack a mallet, you could use a piece of wood to apply the necessary force.
This is a really clever tool and is very different from a typical reloading press, but is a great way of getting to know the various stages of making ammunition. It is much slower than working with a press, but this concentrates the mind and ensures that every stage of the process has your full attention. For anyone wanting to try reloading for the first time, this is definitely a very economical way of dipping your toe into the art, without breaking the bank.