With ammunition prices and availability the way they are these days it makes sense to start reloading your own ammunition. The brass cartridge case is the most expensive ammunition component to produce, so with a steady supply of brass you can begin reloading with a quality press. In this review we will look at the Lee Precision Load Master in 223 Remington.
Lee Precision is one of the oldest names in ammunition reloading and the Lee Precision Load Master 223 Remington Reloading Rifle Kit represents a lot of value for the money.
Operation of the Load Master 223 Remington Kit
Originally known for their pocket sized “Lee Loader” kits, the Lee Load Master represents extreme value when it comes to selecting an entry level or intermediate reloading press.
This five station progressive press (or turret press) comes from the factory ready to go with a set of 223 Remington dies, but the Lee Load Master is completely capable of loading any caliber up to, but not including 50 BMG by replacing the dies, shell plate and possibly the primer feed system if you change between small and large primers.
Once it is set up properly, the Lee Load Master will allow you to load approximately 500 rounds per hour. This speed is accomplished due to the case feed system and automatic primer feed as long as you keep your primer tubes full and top off your powder measure.
The Lee Load Master is relatively easy to calibrate with as little as 10 or 12 rounds. These initial rounds are not intended for firing, they are expendable casualties on the road to making quality ammunition. 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.
One thing to be mindful of when reloading for 223 Remington with a Lee Load Master, or any progressive press for that matter, is the presence of military primers if using surplus ammunition. These types of primers are crimped in place and require that the crimp must be removed so that a new primer can be seated.
There is not a station on the Lee Load Master for this operation, so any such brass should be set aside and processed before running it through the Load Master. Running crimped primers through a Lee Load Master can break the de-capping pin in the first stage and if unchecked can damage the priming system by trying to seat a live primer on top of the one that is in place.
The relatively low cost of the Lee Load Master makes it easy for someone who reloads for different calibers on a regular basis to set up additional presses and have each one dedicated to a single caliber without having to change dies and recalibrate a single press every time they want to change calibers. It’s also a easy set-up process, simple to switch from 5.56 to .300 with the five hole turret and produces bullets in the blink of an eye. The casing loader words for a wide range of case sizes. The kit is convenient because it has all the components you need to get started — the dies, shell plate, and case activated powder measure, automatic case feeder, etc.
Some of the parts on the Lee Load Master are made from plastic and can be prone to breakage. In this review of the Lee Load Master I recommend it for people new to reloading because assembly and set up can be challenging, but that is the world of reloading in a nutshell. Everything is a challenge in the beginning and setting up a press like the Load Master will ensure that the first time hand loader will know what each stage of the press is accomplishing and why each step is important. You also may want to hand tighten the components to make sure they are snug.
The instructions included with the Lee Load Master are not the best in the world, however and it is recommended to watch some of Lee’s instructional videos to get a better idea of how to set up and use the press. Many have been able to put the press together just fine because it comes with pictures.
Conclusion for the Lee Loader 223
My first introduction to hand loading was by way of a Lee Hand Loader for 12 Gauge Shotgun that I picked up at a yard sale for $5 in the late 1980s. As such, I have had a fondness for many of Lee’s products. As a commercial loader I would not have one in my shop due to the sheer volume of rounds produced and I used more expensive presses made by Camdex, Ammo Load, Dillon and RCBS. The little red press would not survive thousands of rounds a day, every day for years on end, but that is not a purpose for which the Lee load Master is intended.
My home reloading bench features a pair of Lee Load Masters due to their low cost. With a few modifications and upgraded parts they are every bit as durable as their competition in a non-commercial environment. They make it convenient to quickly and safely load the equivalent of a half a case of quality ammunition in under 2 hours.
At 1/2 to 1/3 the price of its competition, the Lee Load Master makes a lot of sense for beginners and advanced hand loaders.