Dec 19

Mobile Ammunition Production – The Lee Hand Press


Ammunition storage for SHTF is a must.  It is often recommended you store (at minimum) a thousand rounds of ammunition for rifles and five-hundred rounds for handguns and shotguns.  Having that number of rounds on hand is a great idea but what do you do when that stock is depleted?  Do you simply run out and buy more?  That would be a great idea under normal circumstances but after the SHTF that most likely will not be an option.  As such reloading becomes a way to maintain an adequate number of rounds for your weapons.

Here’s the catch, what if you have to move to a new location?  Most reloading presses and supplies are fixed to a bench in a work area.  You can’t load up a large press and work bench easily so what are the other options?  You need a mobile way to reload, some sort of portable, compact reloading system.  The solution is the Lee Hand Press, a compact, transportable and relatively cost effective way to reload in a mobile environment.

Lee Die and Press

The Lee Hand Press is an all steel, full sized reloading press which is designed to be held in both hands as opposed to it being bolted to a bench.  Put the Lee Hand Press with other reloading supplies and everything you need to reload ammunition can be placed in a few small portable containers.

Lee Reloading Supplies

Whether you are an experienced reloader or a new comer to the land of reloading, with the Lee Hand Press and some other supplies you can reload like a pro.  Even if you are a seasoned reloader you may have to learn to do things a little differently in a mobile world.

The Lee Hand Press provides all the benefits of any other reloading press but also allows for mobility.  You might be wondering how much strength it takes to operate the hand press, or what other equipment you might need in addition to it.  The press can be operated by any adult, it really is that simple.  Additionally as far as equipment goes, you  will need a die set for the caliber(s) that you want to reload.  These die sets consist of three dies:  De-Prime/Re-Size Die, Bullet Seating Die, and Crimping Die.  The Lee Three Die Sets also come with a powder scoop to measure the powder charge, a shell holder to hold the shells in the press, and a very detailed instruction sheet.  You will also need a hand primer, scales, reloading blocks to hold multiple shells (as you progress though the reloading process) as well as a funnel and some disposable supplies.  All of these supplies are readily available on any of the sites that sell Lee equipment.  Once you have your equipment on hand you will want to get started, make sure to wear safety glasses and follow the simple instructions below!

Lee Reloading supplies

Step 1 – Preparing used cases

Cases have to be prepared for reloading.  First inspect all cases for damage such as cracks or dents, then de-prime (removing the spent primer) and clean them.  You may have a de-priming die (which de-primes and resizes the case at the same time) in your set.  You will place the de-priming/re-sizing die in the Lee Hand Press.  After de-priming, the cases must be cleaned.  They make many fancy electric devises to do this for you, but you are concerned with a mobile way to re-load.  There are liquid based cleaners that allow cases to soak to accomplish this task, which is a much better option while on the move.  You can make this step simpler by purchasing a plastic bowl and a colander that fits in that bowl.  Place the cases in the colander, place the colander in the bowl with the liquid cleaner.  Once the cases are clean you can simply lift the colander out of the cleaner and rinse the cases off .  After the cases to soak allow them to dry completely and touch up any rough spots with some fine steel wool.  Cases cleaned.

Step 2 – Re-priming

Now you have to replace the spent primer with a new primer (type and size of primer will depend on the round you are reloading).  Lee makes a hand held re-priming tool.  Simply load the re-primer with new primers and place one case at a time in the re-primer and squeeze, now the cases are re-primed.

Step 3 – Charge

Now it is time to add the gun powder.  The amount and type of powder depends on the caliber of ammunition you are reloading, so refer to reloading recipe in your reloading manual.  Use a reloading scale and funnel to place the appropriate amount of powder in the case.

Step 4 – Bullet Seating

Before placing any case in your die set be sure to use Case Lube to lubricate the cases so they do not become stuck in your die.  Use the appropriate die and seat the bullet in the case.

Step 5 – Crimping

You don’t want the bullet to fall out of the case, so use a crimping die to crimp the case around the bullet.  After crimping is complete, wipe all case lube off the round.  Now you have a newly reloaded round, ready to be fired.

Still not comfortable reloading?  This is where Lee excels.  When you purchase a die set from Lee, the set comes with detailed instructions and several recipes for the round the die is designed to reload.  Still worried?  There are multiple reloading web sites that will answer any question that you may have which include (but are not limited to) MidwayUSA, Lee Precision, and Titan Reloading.


This post was contributed by JM, a certified Paramedic who is also a local EMS Coordinator.  Look for more posts from him in the future. If you want additional information on traditional reloading with Lee Equipment, check out this article which was written back in October 2012.


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    • Ranger W on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 PM
    • Reply

    As a new reloader I have to say it was far easier than I expected. I am not a mechanically inclined person at all and I was able to pick up right away. If you are new to guns and ammo dont think it is some mystical science. You probably had someone a few generations back in your family tree with less education that was able to do it no problem!

      • JM on December 19, 2012 at 6:17 PM
      • Reply

      You are correct Ranger W, when I first decided to start re-loading, I was pretty intimidated. But, I finally just said that I was going to do it and did some research and asked some experienced people for some pointers. Like you said, it is really easier then most would expect. Plus, the ammunition is more accurate,

        • PJ on December 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM
        • Reply

        Great point about the accuracy, bulk ammo is made to specs which favor mass production. It stands to reason that through trial and error (tweaking recipes) one could create a much more accurate combination of primer/powder/projectile suited for a specific gun.

  1. Nice article on the hand press. I have a Lee turret myself. Might check this hand press out. God knows, I feel I’ll be needing in the future as all patriots during these days!

    • Roger on October 11, 2015 at 11:30 PM
    • Reply

    I have a LEE reloader but it’s gathering dust in the closet, why, economics! To reload you still have to be buy/obtain the bullet, the casing, the primer, lub, cleaning fluid, different equipment,etc. It is far easier and (with a little foresight) cheaper to purchase ammo in bulk IMHO. Most of my firearms don’t require tack-driving accuracy and the ones that do (large-caliber rifles) I already have a large quantity of same-patch mass-produced ammo on hand! Could I run out of ammo, sure, but I could also run out of the components needed to make ammo. So for me anyway, the reloader will probably stay in the closet in case I happen across the needed components in a SHTF situation, then I’ll be happy I have it! If I had to bug-out, I’d rather carry 500 extra rounds than the equipment and components to make maybe 200 rounds! Good Luck!

  2. Nice step by step, I’ve just recently started playing around with this hand reloader just to see how it works out in the field. I don’t think that I would use this at home but it is fun to play with when I am out. Thanks for the nice article

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