The best upgrades to a Lee Loadmaster

The bottom line: The Lee Precision Loadmaster is a good, value oriented progressive press with lots of features. It’s budget pricing forces Lee to take shortcuts in its design however which require a few additional upgrades to make work smoothly.

My very 1st press that I owned was a Lee Precision Loadmaster. It is still on my bench and I use still to this day. I bought it because it is affordable and on paper looked to have all the features of a Dillon 650 for a fraction of the cost. While it does have a case feeder, on press priming, auto-indexing, quick change 5 station turrets, etc. it definitely is the budget option. Any quick Google search will tell you it has a few shortcomings as I soon discovered. So if you find your self the new owner of a Loadmaster progressive press, consider these upgrades to make your life easier.

Number 1 – Lee Precision Case Collator
I seriously don’t know why it took me over a year to buy this. I don’t care what you are using the case feeder for, buy this thing right now. It will save you an unbelievable amount of time when filling up the tubes. Some reviews say that to feed 9mm cases correctly requires some modifications. They may be old reviews and Lee has fixed the design flaw or ?? but I have never had an issue with 9mm cases going in ass end first. I could however see 380’s being a problem.

Number 2 – Lee Precision Charge Bar
This is another can’t live without accessory. Designed for the Lee Precision Auto Disk Pro powder measure, it replaces the stupid disks that have pre-sized holes cut in them. The magic of this is if you need to adjust your powder drop by a 0.10″ you only need to twist a knob instead of tearing your powder measure apart. This will make changing calibers far easier, and again save you an exorbitant amount of time as you dial in your recipes.

Number 3 – Off Press Priming Tool
I have tried and could not find a way to get a better than 90% success rate with the Loadmaster’s on press priming system. To be blunt, it just sucks. Do yourself a favor and buy something to prime the cases off press. I use the RCBS hand held one, but there are many out there. You will pay yourself back within the 1st year with all the primers you will end up NOT wasting.

Number 4 – Lee Precision Universal Case Feeder
This one you can only get from Lee Precision directly, but it only costs a few $$. Older case feeders had a separate short and tall slider that required you to pull the case feeder assembly apart to swap out. This new improved version only requires you add or remove a stack on spacer depending on the case height. The guide arms are also a better design, doing a better job of corralling the case as it drops and gets moved into the shell plate.

There you have it. If you have a Loadmaster progressive press from Lee Precision you will thank your self, and hopefully me, for considering these upgrades. They will all save you time, headache, and increase your overall rounds-per-hour output from your setup.

My Collection of Free Reloading Data

I found myself the other day looking for some load recipes and was bouncing around a few different websites. It occurred to me that I have yet to find a single site that aggregated all the various free sources of load data out there so I started this list. This is obviously not a replacement for a good printed manual like the Lyman’s or Hornady load bible, but if you just need some manufacturer published data then this post should save you some time. Enjoy!

Notes:
* Sierra does not publish a complete set of load data for all cartridges online, you have to buy their book, but they do publish some articles for popular calibers in this blog that I have used to develop new loads.

Making the most of your time at the range

I was talking with a friend the other day and they were telling me how frustrating their recent shooting outing was. We’ve all had the not so successful day at the range where that latest build didn’t work as anticipated or that new load recipe wasn’t as accurate as we hoped. Those failures are productive though. My friend however had a different kind of bad range day (if there is such a thing) that is 100% avoidable every time. His problem is he went out with one agenda that didn’t match his shooting buddies’ or the location. Continue reading “Making the most of your time at the range”

Do you need to anneal your cases?

Whether or not you need to anneal your brass when converting 223/5.56 to 300 AAC/Blackout is a question that is very frequently asked.  I personally struggled to find the correct answer to this problem at the beginning of my 300 AAC loading journey.  If you check any online forum with a reloading topic section you will find those that tell you its an absolute requirement, and those like me that will tell you it’s not.  It’s honestly up to you what you want to do, but here are my reasons for thinking it’s a bit overkill.

  • Cost – The cost of the equipment to anneal your cases is going to run you at least a few hundred dollars.

    You can tell a case has been annealed by the “burned” look at the case shoulder and neck
  • Space – Annealing your cases requires heat which can pose a fire hazard so you will want to set it up in a safe space (pun intended :D).  The size of the equipment is also significant.

    This is one example of a case annealing machine you can buy online.
  • Abundance of replacement brass – The reason behind annealing the cases is to preserve life span of the case.  More specifically to prevent the case neck from splitting.  If you are shooting match grade brass then yes I can see the argument for wanting to preserve its life as long as possible.  Outside of that scenario, .223/5.56 NATO brass is so plentiful and cheap if you do split a case, you can throw it away without it hurting the wallet.
  • Time – Case prep is already time consuming enough, I really don’t want to add to the effort.

 

The best procedure for processing fired brass

This is the process I have come up with for prepping brass I bring home from the range.  I have tried to find ways to cut steps to save time but this is the best I can come up with.

  1. decap/deprime
  2. clean
  3. run through sizing die (obviously lube first if needed)
  4. check length
    • trim (if needed)
    • toss if too short
  5. clean primer pocket
  6. chamfer/debur

The cases are now ready to load.  Here are some of the consequences of skipping some steps:

Skipping step 2 will gum up your dies causing cases to get stuck and/or not size the case to speck

Skipping step 3 will cause the case to not be measured correctly

Skipping step 4 will at best cause your accuracy to be inconsistent, at worst you get rounds out of spec that can cause serious injury

Skipping step 5 can cause you to not be able to seat the primer all the way into the pocket

Step 6 is probably the only optional step in this list.  The reason I say this is because the consequence of not doing this step is mitigated based on the type of bullet and crimp die used.