Reloading with Lee Classic Loader

Why reload?

I had been  asking myself this particular question for quite some time before I tried reloading myself. I am not an expert in this field so I will just tell you my thoughts. I must say for me there were two main reasons to take up home loading: cost and accuracy.

Cost of reloading

Lets have a look at the cost first. Before I started reloading I was shooting Sako 150gr ammo I got from my local gun shop for £25 per box of 20. When I bought two last boxes I was told the new price will be higher, close to £30 and when I started looking around 150gr Sako was not popular with all gun shops preferring 123gr Sako for some unknown reason ( I can’t imagine why would you want to use 123gr ammo in .308 Win 🙂  )So, £30 a box gives you £1.5 a shot 😯  Quite expensive in my book (or maybe it is just me staying in Scotland for so long I started becoming a tight arse 😀 ). Good thing was I had all that good quality Sako brass left as it meant I would have a free brass supply for some time.

I developed a nice load using Hornady 150gr SST bullets, Vihtavouri N-140 powder and CCI primers. So, lets calculate that: 1kg of N-140 for £75, 100 bullets for £35 and 1000 primers for £35 with 43.6gr of powder per rounds gives £0.60 per round assuming no setup cost and free brass. But even if you have to buy your brass, assuming expensive £100 per 100pcs and reloading 10 times (I hear it is reasonable number) it still gives only £0.70 a pop. In worst case half the cost of a factory ammo.  And initial setup cost is very small as well I would say £50-60 is all I spent.

Accuracy

In a good day 1.5″ groups were all I could get with my rifle and Sako ammo. I thought it was mainly my fault as I do not consider myself as a good marksman. I think I am rather average that is why I usually stalk closer to deer and do not try long range shots and offen do not pull the trigger if not feeling confident. When I started reloading I got 1″ groups pretty much instantly and further tweaking of a charge and OAL gave me 0.5″ and smaller groups. It gave me enough confidence to sometimes take a longer shot I would not have taken before.

Lee Classic Loader in .308 Winchester

I think I bought this kit off eBay US and it cost me £25-30, don’t quite remember. Lee Classic Loader is not new and has been around for a long time and you can find plenty of information and tutorials how to use it. Basically it is a neck sizing die and a tool for decapping, priming and bullet seatter in one box. All you need is a small hammer, mallet or a piece of wood to operate it (I mean whack it 😉 ) It also works as powder funnel. Bullet seating depth can be adjusted and also one powder scoop is included. At the time I bought it I knew I would have liked to play with the charge so I also bought a set of Lee dippers. As I mentioned in previous reloading article dippers can have limited use for small calibers but is ok for larger cases. Lee Classic Loader kit is caliber specific witha manual and loads for the scoop included. The powder I wanted to use (N-140) was not on the list, but I got initial and maximum charges from Vihtavouri website anyway.

Case preparation

I got a few things to help me with case preparation. They all cost very little. I got Lee case trimmer and stud with a case holder, chamfer tool and primer pocket cleaner. After removing spent primer I use primer pocket cleaner to remove any debris, then trim the case to length with Lee case trimmer and finally use chamfer tool to work case mouth inside and outside.

Then it is just a matter of  seating a new primer, adding powder and seating a bullet. The way Lee Classic Loader is supposed to work is serially, ie you do all activities one after another to get one fully assembled round and then start with another round, but I often do that in different way. I prepare all the cases then size them all, then charge and then seat bullets.

Video tutorial

Please have a look at the video for more info. It is easier to show than to explain many things. If you have YouTube account please rate the video and subscribe to my channel. More information on .308Win load development in this post. More video tutorials here.

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5 comments

  1. Been thinking about this post.
    Maybe i’m just showing my ignorance here, but would it not be that the same volume of powder would be different weights as you worked your way through the big tub of powder? i.e bigger granules when you first opened the tub and as time goes by and the granules have rubbed against each other smaller granules, therefore a larger weight of powder to each measure.
    Thanks
    SBW

  2. Hi SBW,

    I guess you might be right but I never noticed anything like that. When you look at VIt N-140 granules are really small and not bulky, so variation on fresh and almost empty tub will be insignificant. The scoop I used is 3.4cc, how much you think it could vary? I would hazard a guess no more than 1-2%, but lets say it will be 10%, so 0.34cc. It gives you 0.5gr. Is that a lot if compared to 43.6gr of the load? I would say no, but I am not reloading expert.

    Thanks for commenting,
    Greg

  3. Greg

    Phew that puts in into perspective, from my very limited understanding 0.5 grain is a common step up or down from a factory load so i guess it would be safe.
    SBW

  4. SBW,

    At the time I developed that load I had only access to Lee dippers, but as soon as I bought scale I checked the 3.4cc scoop and it was bang on 43.6gr just as Lee manual says. I have very limited experience as only tried this with N-140 and Lee manual says powder volume/weight factor might vary up to 10%, but with the powder I used it was just what it supposed to be.

    All the best,
    Greg

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