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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
  • bullet reloading
The Ultimate Reloading Manual
reloading tech tips

Loading On The Fly

Author: Stan Trzoniec / Wolfe Publishing
Date: May 01 2020

Inexpensive Lee Loaders make it easy to reload in the field.

For shooters on a budget or veterans in the field, the Lee Rifle Loader is an excellent start in the hobby, not to mention the cost.  Priced around $40.00, this .243 Winchester set represents a good value for those who cannot afford a complete press or the space for a full loading area or gunroom.  While they are very basic, Lee die sets offer a way to completely load once fired brass but they are not for semi-auto’s, pump guns or lever rifles unless the brass has been full length resized first.  Brass is from the same gun works the best, as the set only will neck the case.  

For shooters willing to try this hand-operated system it’s offered from the 9mm Luger to .45 Colt.  In rifles, you have a choice from the popular .223 Remington to the .45/70 Government.  Not every caliber is included but you do have a choice of 16 difference cartridges to load.  In the kit, you will find the main body and sizing die, powder measure, bullet seater, decapping and priming chambers, decapper, priming rod and a powder charge table.  To complete the set, all you need is a rubber or plastic mallet.

While the instructions go into greater detail than I can do here, basically this is what the Lee Loader is all about.  Before you even get to the Lee Loader, it’s a good idea to first chamfer the inside of the case mouth as to allow the bullet to start easy within the case. With the primer removed, drive the case into the body and sizing die.  Using this tool, combine this with the decapping chamber and knock out the primer.  Now, insert the new primer into the priming chamber and gently tap on the priming rod until the primer is seated, then place the case on the decapping chamber again tapping the rod to free the case.

Making sure you have the right powder, add one level measure of powder to the case as shown on the charge table.  With the case now sitting on the decapping chamber, place the bullet into the stop collar and using the bullet seater, tap the bullet down into the case.  The stop collar is adjustable so you get the right overall length of the finished round for you cartridge.

Actually, doing a round is certainly the acid test, so on the kitchen table no less with a 2x4 under the tool, I set to see how it all worked.  In all, even after being awkward the first half dozen times, I did manage to turn out a loaded round every 3 minutes.  That is 20 rounds per hour and once I could do it without looking at the instructions was enough to fill the usual rifle box that comes with commercial ammunition.

Okay, so how accurate is all this?  Getting out the micrometer, my fired cases, the outside diameter of the .243 Winchester cases came to .277”.  After sizing it in the Lee tool that came down to .270”.  Inside diameter before was .245”, after .241” --- good for seating a .244” bullet.   Finally, the powder measure.  The books says it should deliver 34.2 grains of Varget, after three dips (34.6, 34.1, and 33.9) my average was 34.2.  Once you get the hang of it and take note of the volume in the dipper, you will get more accurate as you move along. 

In any event, if you take the Lee Loader the way it is and what it does, it could be a good tool for casual loading in your gunroom or outdoors in the field.