Lee Classic Loader and the .44 Mag

Discussion in 'General Reloading' started by Rex_Lee, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

    Ok, seeing the other lee classic loader post made me think about dusting off my old lee loader again.

    However, the last time I tried reloading with it, (.44 mag, 180 grain HPs) the bullet would not stay seated. It always wind up falling into the case, either right away or because of recoil. Eventually I got fed up and just gave up on it.

    What was I doing wrong? Is that just the weakness of the basic lee loader?

  2. Dutch

    Dutch G&G Evangelist

    I can see 3 possibilities.
    First p (most likely), maybe a full length resize never happened, or the die is out of specs.
    Second p, maybe the bullets are sized to small.
    Third p, bad crimp.

    Either way, it is not likely the press itself. All the press really does is hold your toolhead for your dies.

    Edit: wait, I just re-read the post, are we talking about the old-school hand loading kit? If so, Neat! Can you even do a full resize with one of those?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010

  3. gandog56

    gandog56 G&G Evangelist

    As far as I know, all Lee loaders are neck size only.
  4. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

    That's what I am not sure about. I thought from reading up on it, that the pistol version did a full resize. But I do not recall seeing an actual crimp on the cartridge after it was loaded. So does the classic lee loader even DO a crimp? That's what I am wondering. If not, what does everyone else who as used one for loading a .44 mag do?
  5. Dutch

    Dutch G&G Evangelist

    I think so to. I have a few lying around, but have never really tried one.

    Just found this in a product description:
    In that case, I am going to keep my vote that not getting a full length resize is the root cause. You may be able to overcome this by being meticulous on your crimp.
  6. Dutch

    Dutch G&G Evangelist


    Crimping is done in the opposite end of the loading tool. Check out the bottom of page 1 on this .pdf manual.


    Neat stuff.
  7. I know on the rifle ones that you just put the cartridge in the opposite end of the tool and lightly tap on it, that will make a crimp. I'm not sure on the handgun loaders though, but it sounds like you need to crimp them.
  8. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

    Ok after doing some more googling, it appears that the classic lee loader does not crimp.

    I guess that was the root of my problem. But my next question how can they get away with selling this for a cartridge like a .44 mag, whose recoil will surely cause a non crimped bullet to fall into the case. That is re...that is just stupid.
  9. Are you sure that's true? In the directions for mine it says -

    Crimping Bullets

    It may be necessary to crimp the bullets for tubular magazine guns. This is easily done in the opposite end of the loading tool. Be sure to protect the primer with the decapping chamber when tapping on the case end. Use several light taps until the desired crimp is formed. Do not attempt to crimp bullets that do not have a crimping groove.
  10. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

    Shoot, I really don't know. I have seen people say it does, and it doesn't. I am new to this whole reloading thing. The lee loader was my first experiment. I wish someone who had used one extensively first hand could tell me if it crimp or not? I will bust it out when I get home and read through the instructions again, too.
  11. stinkybriches

    stinkybriches G&G Enthusiast

    when it says lightly tap, it might mean hit really hard with a big hammer.
  12. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

    Ok, so I came home and dug out my old Lee Loader for .44 Mag (1st pic) and answered my own question...lol. Found the ol reloading data I had. That was pre-internet days. I bet it is much eaiser to find data now.
    The Lee Loader DOES do a crimp, or sorts, at least it rolls the edge of the case in around the crimp line or whatever it is called of the bullet. Forgive my lack of terminology, i am pretty green when it comes to reloading.
    I did a test "load" minus the primer and minus the powder, since I have none. Here is how the finished cartridge came out and you can see the crimp. I had to REALLY pound it to get the crimp like this. I was probably not hitting it hard enough before. Smashing a loaded cartridge HARD is a little disconcerting, rubber mallet or no...
    On a happier note, I found a whole bag of 180 grain hollowpoints for my .44 mage, 1000 large pistol primers (3rd pic) and several hundred cases. With .44 ammo costing what it does, I think I will buy some powder and start experimenting again.
    The second pic was my test load, minus the primer and the powder.So what do you think, will this crimp hold?

    Attached Files:

  13. When you crimped it did you use the decapping tool?
  14. Rex_Lee

    Rex_Lee G&G Regular

    Yes sir.....I put the bottom of the cartridge in the decapping chamber, and then turned the main die, or what have you the way it is shown in the diagram and pounded the hell out of it with a rubber mallet. I am sure I did not hit it this hard back in the day, because i was pretty scared of blowing myself up. Which I still am, but everywhere I read it says you have to hit it HARD.
  15. Dutch

    Dutch G&G Evangelist


    Get yourself a nice wood or leather mallet. You are losing a lot of your energy with the rubber. You won't have to hit it nearly as hard.

    It looks crimped to me, but hard angle to really tell. One way to find out though!
  16. gandog56

    gandog56 G&G Evangelist

    It's just so much easier and faster with a regular press and die set.
  17. mikld

    mikld G&G Regular

    I still use my .44 Magnum Lee Loader occationally. When I don't want to set up my press, or just feel "retro". I can do a box (50) from fired case to fully reloaded in an evening. On straight walled cases, the Lee Loader full lenth sizes. The ONLY drawback for using a Lee Loader is occationally, maybe one or two out of fifty, you pop a primer when trying to seat it. No damage, the priming rod doesn't fly out, no materials shoot into the air, just might have to change yer underwear!

    There's a guy on youtube that reloads a round (bottlenecked case) in less than 45 seconds...
  18. That's Richard Lee. :)
  19. tsalley

    tsalley G&G Newbie

    I am also new to reloading and I found this post (obviously) looking for the same issues. I knew that the lee loader would crimp but my problem was getting a crimp period. I pounded the crap out of the cartridge with my plastic mallet and none of them really held. i also had a primer explode on me using the lee loader and i got the lee autoprime and that worked really well.

    For the same reason though i am wary of hitting a loaded cartridge with so much force. I know it has been a while, but any other advice anyone can provide would be appreciated.