CAVEMAN Reloading (No Press Required)

This article was written by Guy Miner

The compact and inexpensive Lee Loader has been available for decades. I still have the two I bought in the 1970’s when I had little money or space for handloading. In contrast to some of the advanced loading equipment seen here on Ultimate Reloader I thought It would be fun to look at a simple and inexpensive way of reloading rifle ammunition, and that’s what we’ll cover in this story!

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About the Lee Loader

It’s certainly possible to spend hundreds of dollars on a press and dies, but the Lee Loader sells for $33.71 at MidSouth Shooters Supply as of the writing of this article. The rifle versions only neck-size ammunition, and Lee cautions that ammo fired in one rifle may not fit the chamber of a different rifle. 

From the Midsouth Shooters Supply product page:

Midsouth offers Lee Classic Loader 30-30 Winchester. The Lee Classic Loader 30-30 Winchester provides everything the reloader needs to begin reloading the 30-30 Winchester. The Lee Classic Loader 30-30 Winchester is perfect for beginning or long time reloader. The Lee Classic Loader 30-30 Remington has all of the essential items needed to get started.

What’s in the box? 

It’s a simple kit with a few pieces.

Above: Guy Miner’s LEE Loader kit from 1974

Here’s what was included in the 1970s version of this setup: (mallet and green funnel not included)

  • Decapper
  • Decapping chamber
  • Priming Rod
  • Powder measure
  • Priming chamber/bullet seater
  • Sizing die
  • Instruction sheet
  • Recommended powder charges

Also needed: 

  • Mallet
  • Case chamfering tool

About the 6mm Remington cartridge

Developed in the 1950’s as competition to the 243 Winchester, it was originally introduced as the 244 Remington. It’s based on the 7×57 case, as is the 257 Roberts, while the 243 Winchester is based on the 308 Winchester case. Remington saw the cartridge as more of a super varmint cartridge, capable of handling deer sized game as well. The 244 rifles had a 1:12 twist, which often kept them from properly stabilizing longer 100 grain bullets. 

After taking a beating in sales compared to the 243 Winchester, Remington revised the cartridge and rifle, tightening the rifling twist to 1:9, and loading 100 grain bullets. The 244 and 6mm Remington have a slightly larger case capacity than the 243 Winchester, and a slightly longer neck as well, arguably a better cartridge design. External ballistics are quite similar to the 243 Winchester. However, the 6mm Remington never caught up to the 243 Winchester in popularity. 

My son’s hunting load differs from the load we’re putting together today:

  • 6mm Rem cartridge cases by Winchester, Remington, or Hornady
  • CCI 200 large rifle primers
  • Ramshot Hunter powder 46.9 grains
  • 95 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip
  • 3117 fps from the 22” barrel

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.

Today we’re using the same components except lightening up the powder charge to 41 grains and using the 100 grain Nosler Solid Base bullet, no longer in production. I’d anticipate about 2,800 fps from this load but haven’t checked it on a chronograph. 

About this Remington 700 BDL

This rifle has appeared on Ultimate Reloader before, and my son recently used it to take a mule deer here in Washington (see that article HERE). It was a birthday and high school graduation present to me, from Dad, in the 1970’s. Mostly I shot varmints with it, hundreds of them, usually with a 75 grain hollow point bullet from Hornady or Speer. I loaded much of that ammunition with this little Lee Loader. 

The rifle has changed little over the decades. I refinished the stock 20 some years ago, with 7 coats of True Oil. The scope was upgraded to a 3.5-10x about 15 years ago after my son started hunting deer with it. He was a bony kid, and the cushy recoil pad helped. 

Loading 6mm Remington Ammunition

Here’s about as basic a process as you’ll find for reloading bottleneck rifle cartridges! You’ll start with cleaning the cases – for years I didn’t have a tumbler and just cleaned the cases by scrubbing them with steel wool. I did that again for this article. There is so much pounding with a mallet in this process, it reminds me of “Whack a mole!” 

Decapping with the decapper rod – can be done with the cartridge case in or out of the die:

Next, neck size by pounding the cartridge into the neck sizing die!

(often I’ll trim the case as well, on my Wilson trimmer)

Chamfer the case mouth for easier bullet seating, with a Wilson chamfering tool. The case is removed by: you guessed it! POUNDING!

Prime the case by gently tapping with the priming rod. Gently! I’ve only popped one or two primers doing this but it can happen. 

Pour in the powder with the dipper. A wider variety of powder charges can be created by using Lee’s powder dipper kit or an adjustable dipper. Check the powder charge with an electronic or manual scale. I used the Lyman Brass Smith 500 mechanical scale, but I’ve also used the compact MEC 100-R digital scale. 

Seat the bullet with the bullet seater, tapping it gently. 

That’s it! We have reloaded a rifle cartridge! 

Shooting the 6mm ammunition built with the Lee Loader

This particular load will produce approximately 2,800 fps and 1” groups. Fun to shoot- a lot like 243 Winchester!

Conclusion

The 6mm Remington cartridge remains a fine choice for deer sized game, coyotes and varmint shooting. The Lee Loader is an inexpensive way to load rifle ammunition. The only real drawback is the pace of the loading, it’s slow. When I’m in practice with these tools, I can load about one round a minute, which is fine for someone not shooting a lot. For preparing ammo for competition or high volume varmint shooting, there are faster loading tools. 

Get the Gear

You’ll find the latest version of the LEE Loader at Midsouth Shooters Supply:

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Thanks,
Guy Miner

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