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Lee Loader Kit .303 British

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Topic: Lee Loader Kit .303 British
Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Subject: Lee Loader Kit .303 British
Date Posted: July 06 2014 at 5:48am
he!!o everyone, I recently got the chance to finally shoot my no4 mk1(F). It was great. And its a solid shooter. Hitting 8" steel plates at 100 yards. Im very pleased with that accuracy. Now to my question...I will soon start reloading the great .303 using the lee loader kit for .303 british. I want to start with that because it will allow me to take my time and maintain a high level of focus and not rush things. I like that it has all the main components to reload, even though its a slow process I dont mind it. My question is in regards to the powder charge, using the dipper provided with the kit. Do I just fill the dipper to the top with any of the powders recommended? Or do I need to put less powder pending on which powder I choose to use? From my research, ive gathered that the dipper is set to an appropriate charge. This will be my intro to reloading, so all info and tips will be greatly appreciated.

Posted By: Zed
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 4:00am
I'm not familiar with the Lee Loader, but I do reload. You need to be very careful with regard to how much powder and what powder you use! This is your safety and the safety of people around you when you shoot.
You need accurate weighing scales and accurate information on recommended load. 
Start at a safe margin below published maximum and use a chronometer to check the speed of your loads; it is the best indication of what's going on and which way you should be adjusting the load.
If you do not have any experience reloading you really need someone experienced to advise and check what you are doing to prevent dangerous errors.

Example: I use Vectan Tubal 3000 powder. 
The company info states 41 grains as a maximum load. In my No4 rifle using a 174 grain Sierra orgive I am getting 2440 feet per second (which is standard velocity for the military round) with 39.4 grains of powder. I feel it would be dangerous to go to the proposed maximum as it would increase the speed and chamber pressure to well above the recommended. 

Every powder company has it's own recommendation's, each powder has it's own burn rate, different pressures, different volumes in the she!! case depending on the type of grains.
Be very very careful.

Reloading is fun, but it's also serious. Don't practice anything you can only do wrong once!

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!

Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 4:11am
Thanks a lot. I have met a few people that are experienced reloaders. I definitely will work with them to get things done the right way. I did Iinitialy think about loading less than the recommended amount of powder to stay safe. Im excited to start reloading, but im in no rush to start. I want to get everything in order before I start. Thanks for replying.

Posted By: SW28fan
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 5:05am
I started with the lee loader and you fill the dipper to the top. 
I am not sure what powders are recommended with the kit
But IMR  4895, 3031 and 4064 usually work well in 303  loads as does Hogdon H-414 and Varget

Have a Nice Day
If already having a nice day please disregard

Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 5:16am
Ok great. Yeah ive seen people just fill it to the top. I was just curious to know if its different with any given powder or fill straight to the top with any powder I choose

Posted By: SW28fan
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 5:27am
The Powder charges are all calculated to what it is filled level with the top of the dipper

Have a Nice Day
If already having a nice day please disregard

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 5:32am
Zed has given you great advice. So has SW28 Fan.

Its a simpler system you're using but capable of excellent accuracy when used well. It measures using pre-calculated VOLUMES, not weights. Because of this my "How To" will differ from ZED's in detail as he is using a weight based system.

When you open the kit there is a table of different powder types & charges to use. That is in several "sections" as you also use different volumes of specific powders for different bullet weights. Don't extrapolate anything, follow the tables EXACTLY as "monkey see, monkey do".

What is done is they work out a volume-based safe charge & then use a dipper of the best all round capacity to let you use several powders with it. ONLY USE POWDERS ON THE LIST, don't go getting clever & using something "close".

Also don't do this: "I did Initially think about loading less than the recommended amount of powder to stay safe." There is a minimum as well as a maximum, just use the scoop filled with the powder listed. Powders burn "progressively" the burn rate is changed by pressure, which is in turn created by burning a specific volume. If you go too low it fakes a bore obstruction, & can actually be worse than too much as it fizzles then detonates.Confused

You don't quite "just fill the dipper" there is a bit of a technique. You can practice with something harmless at first like "Cream of Wheat", or even sand, till you get your technique to the point you're comfortable with it.

1: Pour some powder into an open top wide mouth container. (It should be wide enough to take the dipper's "scoop" at least twice across & about 1" minimum depth.)

2: Scoop down, with the opening facing down, through & back up, while slowly rotating the scoop 180 degrees. (The idea is a 1/2 circle submerged in the powder, with the open end always being facing the direction of travel) till it surfaces with a heaped scoop of powder with the open end facing vertically UP.

3: Tap the over-filled scoop gently on the rim of the container, while keeping the open end vertical till all the excess falls off back into the container, leaving you with a full, level scoop.

What this does is settle a consistent volume for loading with for more accuracy.

The Lee scoops & charge tables tend to be slightly mild, so you probably wouldn't over-charge anyway, but the goal is accurate ammunition & consistent measuring of powder is a key step!Wink

You'll find the Lee "Whack a Mole" is surprisingly fast without rushing. I taught a total newbie & within 30 minutes he was loading 3 rounds every 2 minutes without rushing on a picnic bench in a forest.Big smile

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: Jon287
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 5:50am
Several good you tube videos of .303 lee loader in action.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their planet!!

Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 6:58am
Thanks a lot. Gives me a fair amount of confidence. It is fairly simple but just wanted some good feedback from those who are more experienced than I am.

Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 7:37am
Ive seen a few. Good videos. Just wanted to clarify the dipper question

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 07 2014 at 9:21pm
Like most reloading it is simple.
Just remember to always exercise caution & you'll be fine & have some good ammo as well.
There's something even more satisfying about a god group shot with ammo you made over factory.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: DairyFarmer
Date Posted: July 29 2014 at 9:36pm
The Lee scoop should have a number on it. i.e 2cc
This means the scoop is 0.5 cubic centimetres in volume. Most powders will give you a VMD value. This is the Volume Measure Density of the powder or how cubic centimetres = one grain of powder.

The figures are used for example only. They do not relate to any actual powder or load!!
So if you wanted 30 grains of powder and the VMD is 0.0667 then you would need 2cc of powder.

To be honest, just invest in a scale and you will be much happier.

Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Date Posted: July 30 2014 at 4:33am
I spoke to a friend of mine and he suggested I get one of the Hornady lock n load hoppers and a scale. The hornady powder measure really allows you to make fine adjustments to how much powder to dump. Along with a scale to be 100% sure. I feel much more confident with that then the lee dipper alone.

Posted By: DairyFarmer
Date Posted: July 30 2014 at 2:08pm
A hopper will allow you to get close to the charge. A powder trickle will allow you to add very small amounts and help you keep your sanity when trying to get the last 0.1 of a grain.

A good practice is to have a small dowel rod or similar. Once you have charged all your cases, put the dowel into each case neck. You will be able to see that the charges are filling the cases to the same level. You can pick up double or half charges very quickly. I find this quicker and easier than weighing the cases after charging.

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 31 2014 at 3:41am
"I spoke to a friend of mine and he suggested I get one of the Hornady lock n load hoppers and a scale."

I'll reiterate this:
"Don't extrapolate anything, follow the tables EXACTLY as "monkey see, monkey do".

No disrespect to your friend, under normal circumstances that is good advice. However you are using a volume-based system & if you stick with the Lee "whack a mole" loader you will have started "Improving" the system by extrapolating. This is not a good idea while you are right at the bottom of the learning curve.

I'd have no problem with the scale, its always a good idea to verify charge weights, but please don't start mix 'n matching till you're more experienced.

If you use the technique I outlined earlier you'll find you are probably within 1/10 grain with the dipper, by all means use the scale to verify your volume to weight conversion & accuracy & repeatability but please don't mix 'n match volume & weight not all powders are the same density.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: ZeeRo_7
Date Posted: July 31 2014 at 5:07am
Alright I see what youre saying. The loader scoop and scale are different in terms of weight vs volume. So I shouldnt do that as to confuse myself? I was thinking about using the scale as a way of double checking the load to get as consistent as possible. From the info you guys have given me I now understand that the dipper is fairly mild and will get the job done right and not over-charge.

Posted By: DairyFarmer
Date Posted: July 31 2014 at 12:27pm
If you are going to get a scale use it as the only method of charging the case. As you use the dipper to put powder into the scale you will see that each time you get a difference. Add or remove powder from the pan as needed. I am sure that you will be more happy with the results than just using the dipper.

As far as reloading is concerned, your main challenge it to get the charge right for YOUR rifle with the bullet you are using. Yes there are other factors that will affect accuracy and safety (case length, case type, primer, seating depth, crimp, ......) but, by far, the powder charge is the most important thing when reloading. That is why there are starting loads and maximum loads.

Always start at the starting load, which, I stand to be corrected, is normally 10% lower than the safest load for the average barrel.

But be warned, a significantly under charged load can be more dangerous than an overload as there is a chance of detonation of the powder, rather than a exponential burning of the powder.

But don't let all this bother you too much. The one golden rule of reloading is to be consistently safe what ever you do. Remember this and, baring a faulty firearm, you will be fine.

Here is a quick break down of the basic reloading process:

Make sure cases are clean so that you can inspect cases for damage or abnormalities. Set aside anything that doesn't look like the rest.
Lube and resize cases.
Inspect cases again.
Insert new primer.
Insert powder charge.
Insert bullet.
Inspect cases again. Check for any damage from the reloading process and check for consistence (i.e. overall length).
Test your rounds. Remember you are looking for consistently safe reloads. (i.e. no signs of pressure, damage, and grouping).

For anyone who is interested I am putting together a detailed, simple reloading tutorial and hope to post it in the reloading part of the forum soon.

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: July 31 2014 at 9:12pm
Dairy Farmer.
That's a excellent set of steps for reloading with a press. But he is using a different tool which you may not be familiar with.

The Lee Classic loader is a hand tool, in fact a complete kit in a small box. It doesn't use a press of any kind, substituting whacking with a hammer (hence the whack a mole nickname). It only neck sizes, doesn't require any lube & Uses a reversible (unique)  die to perform all the steps, but in a slightly different sequence.
(he's actually making a couple of minor errors BTW) Here's a video of it." rel="nofollow -

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: August 20 2019 at 3:21pm
Originally posted by Shamu Shamu wrote:

Dairy Farmer.
(he's actually making a couple of minor errors BTW) Here's a video of it." rel="nofollow -
Hi Shamu,
Just came across this post about the use of the Lee Loader.  I'm using it as well and had seen that video when I started reloading with it.  You mentioned the guy was making a few minor errors...what are they??
Thanks for your help.

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: August 21 2019 at 7:04am
It's been so long I had to view it again to remember!
Nothing drastic.
1: Chambering un-sized brass. Not really a good test, because case neck expansion alone can make a good case fail. Resize in the lee THEN see if it chambers.
2: There's no need to drive the case in the die twice the first time does the resize just fine.
3: He's using a crimped case (you can see the crimp where he shows the case head). You need to remove the crimp before re-priming.
4: Tap the resized case free BEFORE priming then prime. (It drastically reduces the possibility of primers igniting when seated if the case isn't SLAMMED into the primer so much.

Extra tip:
You can use a factory load to set the basic bullet seating depth as long as its a similar profile. just put the factory load in the same as you'd have a finished reload, & screw down till you feel it contact the bullet nose! (Then back off 3/4 turn & fine tune with your reload.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: August 21 2019 at 2:09pm
Thank you very much, Shamu Thumbs Up

I have a side question, though...
I'm reloading milsurps that also have crimps.  Why is it important to remove the crimp? 
I have reloaded those I have 6-7 times now for some of them and never had an issue inserting the new primer or any signs of pressure etc.  The main reason is that I don't have the proper tool to remove the crimp.
Can that potentially create a problem, I mean in terms of safety or integrity of the rifle??
Thanks a lot for your help.

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: August 21 2019 at 3:39pm
Its just because the crimp is a sharp stamped edge & so it makes inserting the primer harder & more prone to going BANG!
It won't hurt you, there's too much metal surrounding it, But it WILL get your attention & start the ol' ticker racing.
If you have a "countersink", or "rose" bit you can hand turn that 1/2 a turn to clean it out. Even a big(ish) drill bit will do it.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: August 21 2019 at 3:48pm
Thanks for the tip, Shamu Thumbs Up
I'll try that.  The brass should be soft enough, I guess...
Philtno :)

Posted By: Stanforth
Date Posted: August 22 2019 at 2:02am
A small point when starting reloading. Make sure there is nothing to distract your attention
  No other people and no radio or TV on.

I have only been reloading for 53 years and I stick rigidly to that rule.

Good luck and enjoy.

Life.. a sexually transmitted condition that is invariably fatal.

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: August 22 2019 at 7:40am
Its thin & already moved in the crimp area. The trick is to not over do it. You're only tying to "break " the sharp edge, not create any kind of taper. Light pressure & a 1/2 turn should be fine.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: August 22 2019 at 1:50pm
Yes, that's a very good point and I apply that strict rule myself as well.
I have my own office space at home where I reload... no wife around, door closed 🙂

Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: August 22 2019 at 1:52pm
Thanks a lot for the tip, Shamu 👍

Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: August 22 2019 at 8:17pm
Stanforth gave good advice.   This needs your undivided attention, particularly when you start out.  After 20 years and thousands of rounds, you will develop some brain muscle memory, but don’t ever break the routine.  

Screwing up pistol cartridge loads is admittedly easier because of the small charges in a large case, but what ever you do, DON’T EVER A LOAD RIFLE CARTRIDGE WITH A PISTOL POWDER!  (Not unless you know what you are doing and it’s a cast bullet load with very small charges of pistol powder).  Look at the powder container, read the label out load, read your load data out load, be sure you are loading the case with the correct powder.  Keep the powder container out and return the powder back to the same container when you finish charging cases.  

In all the years I have reloaded, I’ve only had one instance of a problem.  The powder did not ignite in a reloaded pistol cartridge, the primer power was sufficient to lodge the bullet in the barrel.  Fortunately, I realized what had happened and did not just chamber another round and fire.  

Posted By: englishman_ca
Date Posted: August 23 2019 at 6:24am
A horror story for you.

Dont drink booze while you load. Give it your undivided attention.
Shut the door, give yourself some peace and quiet. 
Hand reloading can be very restful and therapeutic!

I reload smokeless for my Webley .455. I also reload black for Adams .450.

 I have a routine when loading. I use dippers and a baby food jar. Close enough measurements for the mild loads that I make.
So I loaded my batch. As I was putting everything away, dies, powder, trays, I got called to the phone and was gone for an hour.
I missed the baby food jar of smokless powder and it stayed on the bench. (You know where this is going, dontcha?)

When I got back, I set up to reload .450 Adams. I loaded very mild soft cast lead bulleted loads for an antique Bulldog clone for plinking.

Loaded just that first round before I realised that I had used smokeless powder and not black. The powder looks very different, but it took a minute for it to sink into my thick head with me looking at it, but byb then I had seated the bullet.. 
Phew! glad that I caught that mistake. Stupid me! I should pay more attention. 
Oh well. Nothing hurt..
I put that round aside to pull the bullet. I even went and got the inertia hammer out of the drawer. I was called to the phone again and had to go out once more to run an errand. So I just quickly put all the powder away, left everything else out on the bench and locked up.

The next day I finished up loading for the Adams with black being very careful that I used the correct powder. Took my time. No mistakes. All good, I was happy.

Took the pistol out to my range, and shot it until the one shot felt very different.
I looked at the frame of the revolver and it was busted through the top strap.

Apparently, the cat had been playing with a pistol round on the kitchen floor scooting it around. Goodness knows as to where he found it, I think that I might have knocked it off the bench onto the floor and kicked it, who knows. My significant other, took the round away from the cat and brought it to my gun room. She put it in a dish with some others on the loading bench that looked exactly the same. Yup, it was the smokeless miss-loaded round.

Smokless powder has ten times the brisance of black. So that one round was kind of over pressure! 
Wrecked my pistol. Lesson learnt.

Look to your front, mark your target when it comes!

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: August 23 2019 at 7:45am
Best tip I ever got.
Only ever have one of each component (powder, primer, bullet) on the bench at a time. store them separate from the load top.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: philtno
Date Posted: August 23 2019 at 1:19pm
Thank you all for the good advice.  I'm fully aware of the risks and, as I said to Stanforth in my reply, I apply those very strict rules...and my wife knows that I need to be left alone when I'm reloading.  I'm reloading with the basic Lee Loader with the exception that I'm using a scale so the amount of banging the hammer forces me to lock all doors or do that when the wife goesline dancing Haha. I'm also going through every step for 50 or 100 round at the time so when I'm decaping I'm going through the whole batch and only progress to the next step only when I'm done with decaping..., same when preparing my loads etc... also I never drink and drive, same when my Old Boy or ammunition are around.  At this stage, I just reload 303' no risks to mismatch powders or loads... but who knows, I can see myself acquiring a 30-30 or a 30-06 one day.  That day I might need a refresher on those advices 😉

Posted By: TomcatPC
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 10:59am
I started reloading with the Lee-Loader in .303" Calibre.  As little as I shoot .303" these days, I have never got a set of .303" dies for my Lee-Hand Press yet.  Might do that someday, but for now the Lee-Loader Kit works just fine.

Too bad Lee did not make a kit for the .577"-.450" Martini-Henry Cartridge!!!

The .303" Cartridge, Helping Englishmen express their emotions since 1888.

Posted By: Shamu
Date Posted: August 03 2020 at 4:54pm
I gave my Lee Whack-a-mole to the guy I taught to reload on it.
He just liked it so much & we were in the middle of nowhere.
I really should replace it.

Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)

Posted By: britrifles
Date Posted: August 04 2020 at 10:15am
Originally posted by TomcatPC TomcatPC wrote:

I started reloading with the Lee-Loader in .303" Calibre.  As little as I shoot .303" these days, I have never got a set of .303" dies for my Lee-Hand Press yet.  Might do that someday, but for now the Lee-Loader Kit works just fine.

Too bad Lee did not make a kit for the .577"-.450" Martini-Henry Cartridge!!!
Mark, you can get 577/450 dies from CH4D.  Lee also made dies (not sure if they still do), but they were set up for a .458 bullet; the martini needs a .468-.470 dia bullet to shoot well.  I got a bushing neck sizer with a few different bushing diameters and a bullet seating die from CH4D; they worked great.  They are 1 inch diameter IIRC, so you need a larger press with the inserts.

Posted By: Stumpkiller
Date Posted: August 04 2020 at 12:54pm
The good 'ol days.  I started reloading in 1976 with a Lee Loader for a .30-40 Krag.  Still have the loader set - and the Krag.

I can't listen to the Beatles' Revolver album without the smell of IMR 4064 coming to mind. 

Rubber Soul brings Channel No. 5 to mind . . . but that's another story.

Charlie P.

Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.

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