Reloading: Lee 50th Anniversary Kit
- By Wheelwrite
- 2 Comments
- Last updated: 13/12/2016
I know I’m always banging on about Lee Precision reloading equipment being good, and with few exceptions it pretty much offers highly effective kit at rock bottom prices. I use their dies near exclusively, as at around £25 a set, which includes a shell holder, loading data and a powder scoop - they are hard to beat and I think the cheapest on the market, yet do not lack ability.
Truth is and though I do use and like other company’s products, when it comes to reloading at any level I would not hesitate to recommend Lee Precision. This bold statement brings me nicely round to the purpose of this article and that’s the reloading virgin, who seems to be a growing breed these days! As the ability to produce cheap ammunition that’s tailor made for your needs is an important consideration in these ever more expensive times.
My good friend Tomo Svetic the MD of Artemis Hunting is an expierenced shooter, but up until now has always used factory ammo. Artemis works out of Croatia and tends to specialise in wild boar and other European species. Tomo lives in England and approached me about getting started in the reloading game. This seemed like a good opportunity to not only look at a Lee product well suited to that need, but also chart the highs and lows of his walk along this path.
What’ ya got?
To this end Henry Krank & Co Ltd sent me the Lee 50th Anniversary Reloading Kit, which this month I will be looking at as to content and comment, then handing it over to Tomo so he can set up and start producing ammo. He will get back to me on a regular basis and I will be printing his experiences, which I hope will be of use to all of you out there just starting up too.
The kit consists of the following:
• Breech Lock Challenger O-frame press
• Safety Prime, hi-capacity priming system
• Perfect Power Measure with stand
• Case preparation tools
• Powder funnel
• Safety Powder Scale
• Case lube
• Breech Lock quick change bushing
The Challenger is a cast alloy O-frame design, which though of medium size is strong enough to handle normal reloading chores. The aperture will easily take long action calibres like 30-06, so no worries there. The compound linkage is steel as is the ram, with the handle offering four positions and the ability to be set on the right or the left.
Spent primers are ejected through the side of the ram and drop into a chute that leads to a hollow plastic tube for collection, which has a removable cap for ease of disposal. The standard, L-shaped, en-press large and small primer arms are included. These simply fit into a slot in the side of the ram and are loaded, singly by hand then seated; slow but sure…
With the Breech Lock system Lee offers a quick detachable (QD) die system. The top (planten) of the press is not threaded to the standard 7/8th X 14 TPI of factory dies. Instead there’s an interrupted screw thread cut in the planten into which fits a quickly removable adaptor that the dies screw into. When located they are turned and a sprung plunger keeps them in position. Three are provided so no problem with using a full, 3-die set either! I have to say I like this facility as it does save time and is easier too. The planten is drilled and threaded at the rear to accept other Lee powder and priming system, as we shall see. Overall this is a neat and practical design that should last a life time.
Lee have been generous as they include their all-important balance beam scale (Safety Powder Scale) and adjustable volume dispenser the Perfect Power Measure with stand.
The scale measures up to 100-grains and uses a rolling ball bearing for the large, 10-grain increments. Grains and smaller are handled at the other end, which can weigh down to 1/20th-grain. Magnetically dampened, it’s slightly different to the likes of RCBS etc but is easy to use and works as well.
The dispenser uses the normal variable-volume system with a graduated shaft that adjusts the capacity in the tube and a quick up down on the handle throws the charge. Different is the fact you can remove the hopper when it’s full as it incorporates a simple, rotary ON/OFF mechanism. The stand allows it to be bench-mounted at the right height for case filling.
To complete this is a powder funnel, which will allow you to throw charges on the scale then fill the case by hand. Simple but a very useful item!
Supplied is the soft back, Hodgdon Data Manual laid out in Lee’s style. This however gives no reloading information for the novice and only covers Hodgdon, IMR and Winchester powders.
As I said the press includes the basic L-shaped priming arms, which are good enough. However Lee has included their Safety Prime, which works in conjunction with this system. Using 100-primer drums the unit fits onto the planten and once full is rocked forward onto the primer arm cup to deposit one ready to go. It includes both small and larger feeds so you are ready for any calibre.
The case prep tools are worth the effort as they provide an inside/out neck chamfering tool, which can also do the mouth of the primer pocket. Next is the primer pocket cleaner that gets right to the base of the pocket and is double ended for small and large sizes.
Also included is the cutter and lock stud for case trimming. The former needs to be fitted with a case length gauge for the relevant calibre, which includes a centralising pin that goes through the flash hole and a special shell holder. The latter allows the process to be motorised as it fits into the chuck of an electric drill. Here you can only get the correct gauge and holder once you have the dies/calibre. Finally a tube of case lubricant is included, which is an essential item for full-length sizing.
With the kit all you have to do is buy some Lee dies, which includes the shell holder and load data for the calibre and even one of their simple powder scoops that negates the need of scales and you’re ready to go.
Comparing the 50th Anniversary Kit to other Lee, all-inclusive kits I have used the most obvious omission is Richard Lee’s hard-back data book - Modern Reloading. This, apart from showing more powder manufacturers than just Hodgdon, IMR and Winchester also has the full SP on how to reload from start to finish. However the individual components that make up the kit all include their own instructions, which are good enough, but I would recommend you invest in Modern Reloading as that has it all in spades.
Though a small thing I would have liked to have seen a case lube pad and also an ammo block (for easily processing cases) included, I would sooner have this than the lock stud, cutter and primer pocket cleaner! Likewise though the Safety Prime is good I would have preferred the hand-operated Auto Prime.
Perhaps I am beign a little judgemental; as I’m an expierenced reloader who has had the chance to use all of the above and a lot more besides. But for the newcomer what the 50th Anniversary Kit offers is ideal and as they grow then they can add other equipment as they see fit.
In terms of options it’s possible to get the Breech Lock Challenger Kit, which is identical to the 50th but includes the Auto Prime and special shell holder set instead of the Safety Prime. Most basic is the Hand Press that requires no bench mounting and for those that feel the need for speed is the Deluxe Turret Press Kit, which I feel is something to move up to once you have got the basics sorted. However, none of these is going to break the bank with the most expensive being just over £100. Stay tuned for Tomo’s progress over the next few issues…
• Huge value for money
• Comprehensive and practical package
• Get a reloading book too