As ammunition remains scarce on the shelves of gun shops and sporting goods retailer nationwide, many shooters find themselves turning to a new hobby to produce their own ammunition: cartridge reloading. In the past reloading was often undertaken simply as a way to save money while enjoying the shooting sports, however nowadays it is sometimes the only way to keep a reliable source of ammunition. A single stage press may seem slow and not worthwhile for reloaders with some experience, so many reloaders are jumping into the hobby with a progressive (turret) press such as the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press.
It is our recommendation as the top turret press available considering price, versatility, durability, convenience, and ease of use. Check out our full review.
Lee Precision is one of the oldest names in cartridge reloading and even though they got their start with simple operation single stage presses, they have come into their own with their progressive models. Some feel the price of a reloader indicates the value that you’ll receive in return, but as you’ll see over and over, Lee is well-regarded and one will receive great value for a solid product throughout the litter of presses they offer. The price is always affordable for reloaders that don’t need all the bells and whistles.
The Classic Turret is part single stage press and part progressive. It has all the strengths of both systems and none of the weaknesses. It literally gives you the best of both worlds with the control of a single stage and nearly the speed of a full progressive.
Lee Classic Turret Operation
This four-hole progressive press (or turret press) is capable of loading any caliber up to, but not including 50 BMG by replacing the dies and shell plate. The Lee Turret Press gives the user the option of running this machine as either a single stage, which may be helpful when working out the calibration. It can also be used as progressive press which may be useful to many looking for additional speed, but is really intended to go from pistol and small rifle calibers to the larger rifle calibers.
If you choose, you can even go back to auto indexing as when loading single stage batches it is handy to have the dies in the turret. The opportunity to get extra turrets and keep your dies in position is extremely helpful.
The Lee Turret Press can be quickly tailored for each caliber in fewer than 10 rounds. When used with a cartridge headspace gauge or a drop gauge, you can determine whether your bullet is seated too deep or extended too far as well as how tight your crimp is.
Like many of Lee’s presses, the Classic Turret is upgradeable for a number of features, of particular importance is the use of the priming mechanism. This is much more robust than most hand priming tools and once you load your primers in this manner, you seldom if ever want to go back.
Realistically, a beginning hand loader should have no problem producing 200-250 rounds per hour with the Lee Classic Turret. It may not be as fast as more expensive progressive presses, but definitely beats loading rounds on a single stage machine.
Pros of the Lee Turret Press
The relatively low cost of the Lee Classic Turret Press makes it attractive for someone who is new to reloading as well as an easy sell for a reloader looking for an additional dedicated press for a specific caliber.
The ability to go back and forth between progressive and single stage is a plus in my book as I still load all my large rifle calibers on a single stage press, but if I was limited to one machine for all my reloading needs, the Lee Classic Turret would be a safe bet. The long stroke enables rifle cases exceeding 3 in long to be loaded using the automatic index. You can choose to load 38 specials, 45 acp, 45 colt 223, 308 and 30-06 on this press without an issue.
Lee claims the press’ ram is the strongest in the industry and I have no reason not to believe them. It is drilled through to dispense primers in a configured clear PVC tube. The solid cast iron construction imparts a definite feeling of strength over many of its competitors, assisting the ram with more than 12 sq. in of area.
Cons of the Lee Turret
I ran into no problems with this simple and easy to use press by Lee, but the printed instructions could have been better. Luckily, Lee has published some excellent instructional videos on their website to get a better idea of how to set up and operate the Lee Classic Turret, including top notch phone support. There are also some excellent YouTube videos that clearly outline the setup and use of the press.
Grab the Full Lee Precision Classic Turret Press Kit Instead?
The low price of the Lee Classic Turret Press makes this press a great bargain for the money. However, keep in mind that is for a bare bones press with no accessories. Should you decide it is not enough and you are starting out with no loading equipment at all, you may want to invest in the Lee Classic Turret Press Kit which includes Lee’s Pro Auto-Disk powder measure and riser and the Lee Large and Small Safety Prime for mounting directly on the press.
The kit contains case prep tools such as a Chamfer Tool, Primer Pocket Cleaners, Cutter, Lock Stud and Case Length Gauge. Finally you get some Lee case sizing lube, a powder scale and a hardcover copy of the latest Lee Reloading manual with new load data for 167 cartridges with over 28,000 loads.
The increased price of the complete kit still makes this a very attractive option for the neophyte reloader, as it is basically a complete reloading and case prep shop in one package.