Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lee's Hand Held Press

Lee precision produces a little reloading press one can use without the need for a reloading bench. Their Lee Hand Press retails for around $39.98 and will fit standard Shell holders, Dies and their universal priming unit which I've seen sell for about $5 from Lee dealers at gun shows. The priming unit screws into the top of the press, you place the shell holder of the case you are priming and the priming arm is inserted into the ram and your set to prime. The press I used was a gift from somebody I worked for at OSU who no longer reloaded and thought I could put the press to good use as well as the priming unit, loading tray and RCBS 45 ACP dies. I have seen the Lee Hand Press before but didn't think highly of them as all my presses are green, orange or blue. So would this little Lee Hand Press stand up to the rigors of reloading on and off the Wonderwolf bench?

Some people who reload go as far as taking their equipment to the range to load small lots of ammo to fire through that particular gun right then and there. All your brass should be already prepped and primed mind you so you spend less time at the range doing what you would usually just do at home. Not to mention handling primers at the range can be tricky. So once your at the range you look at your notes at what you've tried and pick out the next incremental load or combination. Taking your prepped brass you simply throw the powder charge then seat the desired bullet with the hand press. No clamping your Rockchucker or Orange Crusher to the shooting bench or your tail gate. Now I didn't have any testing like this to do over the colder months here in Ohio so I took the press with me to the indoor range here on campus to find a regulated load for my 38/200 Webley with fixed sights. The press did fine and took a little getting used to as far as not having a hand free to guide the case and bullet up into the seating die. All my brass was primed and belled only needing powder and a bullet. So how does this press do other operations of reloading other than just simply seating a bullet? For this test I had sized and belled a few hundred pieces of 9mm luger brass while seated on the couch watching a movie (another benefit of the hand press!). Priming with the handpress is like priming with any other non auto priming unit on a single stage press. Place the case and primer in their given areas and with the "feel" of things seat the primer slowly but firm and consistent.I was pleased with the press overall but I would not use it for large production runs. Only on load testing trips to the range and such. The power zone is on the upstroke because you close the handle to lift the ram you must be careful not to smash your fingers in between the ram shaft and the handle when it finally closes all the way. This press is not something for the beginner to start with. For lots of reasons just stick with a bench mounted press for those just starting out.