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Lee Auto-Index Turret press.

* Dick Lee, the Wisconsin wizard who created the Lee Loader for rifle and pistol cartridges, the Load-All for shotshells, plus a host of other unique goodies for reloaders, has done it again! The latest offering of Lee Precision, Inc. is a simple, rugged loading press that outperforms many other turret presses costing a whole lot more. Compound leverage provides ample power for case forming and bullet swaging, while normal resizing requires only a minimum of effort. Lee's Turret Press and accessories have so many novel and unique features that it is difficult to know where to begin describing them.

Unlike many loading presses, the Lee unit is easily reversible for left-handed operation--a boon to thousands of southpaw reloaders. All that is required is to move the front support column from the right to the left side, then mount the operating lever on the left side of the toggle. Serrations on the operating lever mate with like indentations on the toggle, making it possible to position the lever at whatever angle is most comfortable for individual use.

In the interest of lightness and ease of manufacture, the operating lever, toggle, connecting links and base unit are made of die-cast non-ferrous alloy. Pivot pins, the 13/16-inch ram, and other highly stressed parts are fabricated of steel. Three sturdy hexagonal steel columns support the precision-cast steel top turret ring. An alloy turret is drilled and loading dies. A spring-loaded ball detent, adjustable for tension, holds the turret in the proper position for each die.

The turret is readily removable from the press by simply lifting it out of the turret ring when the turret is positioned midway between stations. It is thus possible to set up loading dies for different calibers in their own turret, so that once installed and properly adjusted, dies never have to be reset for a reloading session. Extra turrets are available for only $10 each. A turret, with dies installed may be stored in the cleverly designed box in which the dies are originally packaged.

Manual rotation of the turret is required when using the basic Lee Turret Press, but an automatic indexing device is available that rotates the turret from one station to the next with each cycle of the operating lever. The Auto-Index unit clamps to the upper part of the ram and, through an action rod extended upward to the turret, turns it when the ram is lowered. When used in conjunction with Lee's Auto-Disk powder measure, a case may be resized, primed and loaded with only three strokes of the operating lever.

Case mouths are flared in an expander die that is hollow. The Auto-Disk powder measure screws into the top of the expander die. A floating sleeve inside the die is pushed upward by the case as it is inserted into the die from below. Movement of this internal sleeve actuates the powder measure, dropping a predetermined charge into the case as it is being expanded. Four fiberglass-reinforced plastic charge disks are supplied with each powder measure. Since each disk has six charge cavities, a total of 24 different powder charge volumes are available. A chart accompanying the measure gives approximate charge weights contained in each cavity for 77 different types of powder.

Lee's Auto-Index press is at its best when loading straight-sided handgun cases, but two-die rifle sets are also supplied in 21 calibers ranging from .22 Hornet to .35 Remington. Powder must be loaded into bottle-neck cases by hand, however, since there is no provision for use of the Auto-Disk powder measure with a two-die set. Lee three-die handgun sets with carbide sizing dies are made from 9 mm Luger, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP and .45 Colt.

In addition to the hollow expander die, Lee dies have a number of other interesting and unique features. Sizing dies have an unbreakable decapping pin. If the pin encounters resistance, it is simply pushed upward through its clamping collet instead of breaking or bending. A displaced pin may be repositioned by loosening and re-tightening a collet located at the top of the die. After loosening the collet, stuck cases may be driven out by tapping the top of the decapping pin with a hammer--an extremely useful feature. Decapping pins are guaranteed by Lee for two years. Lee bullet seating dies have a floating seater that centers the bullet as it enters the case month. Correctly centered bullets are a major key to accuracy.

Lock rings on Lee dies are held in place by neoprene O-rings instead of with more usual set-screws. Only finger pressure is needed to tighten lock rings firmly in place, and they do not work loose with protracted use. Lee lock rings may also be used on other dies, and cost $2.50 for a set of three.

We reloaded 100 .38 Specials and 100 .45 ACPs with Lee's Auto-Index Turret Press without any problems whatsoever in a little over an hour. The only criticism we have concerning operation of the Lee press is that primers must be inserted by hand into the two-position reversible primer arm. An automatic primer feed would be a welcome addition to this otherwise excellent reloading machine.

Lee's turret press may be mounted to a bench in conventional fashion, but for those who do not have a workbench an alternative mounting system is available. A sturdy wooden box intended for storage of the press and accessories may be used to mount the press for table-top operation. Apartment dwellers or others cramped for work space will appreciate this feature. The box, with carrying handle and lock, is priced at just $34.98.

Price of the basic Lee Turret press is $63.98. However, a kit is offered that contains a press, carbide three-die set, shell holder, case trimmer, chamfer tool, and full instructions--all packed in a wooden box described above for just $129.98. With an Auto-Index attachment priced at $30 more, and an Auto-Disk powder measure at $24.98, cost of a Lee Auto-Index Turret Press and all accessories set up for a single caliber is a modest $184.96. If one has no need for the carrying box, the price shrinks to $154.96. Comparison shopping will show that this price is considerably less than for any comparable press.

The Lee Auto-Index Turret Press is available from Lee Precision, Inc., Dept. GA, 4275 Hwy. U, Hartford, WI 53027.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Glaze, Ralph C.
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Mar 1, 1984
Words:1070
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