If you’re just getting into the world of cartridge reloading, or if you have been using one of those slow single-stage reloading presses for a while and you’ve decided it’s time for an upgrade, you might find yourself considering one of the most popular turret presses, Lee’s Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Press.
But with the bewildering number of other options out there, how do you decide whether to buy one? This article will cover some of the most important features, bonuses, and drawbacks of Lee’s presses, and compare them to some similar products.
As their name suggests,Lee Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Presses are made of solid aluminum, making them both sturdy and lightweight.
The turret is secured by a solid steel ring with rifle-bolt lugs for extra durability. The press also includes a built-in primer catcher, a pleasantly comfortable wooden grip, and a new slightly longer handle stroke than before.
Unlike the basic 3-station configurations employed by some of the low-end brand alternatives, this press’ 4-station design lets you perform an extra task on each casing, such as crimping it with a separate crimping die.
The press is capable of loading rifle cartridges as well as handgun rounds, and comes with a priming tool with large and small primer cups included.
Its auto-index works with rifle cases that are up to 2.313 inches long, and you can load even longer cases if you deactivate the auto-indexing—it has a 3.5 inch ram stroke overall. You can also use a threaded powder measure to eliminate the need for measuring powder or a powder stand.
Though this press is lighter weight and not quite as durable as some similar presses, it is still strong enough to shape even the largest magnum casings without being damaged or distorted. In fact, it requires little effort to work.
- It’s easy to change out dies by simply taking out and replacing the whole turret
- Much faster than basic single-stage presses: over 200 rounds per hour
- More versatile and easier to use than progressive presses
- Same overall design as Lee’s award-winning Classic 4-Hole Turret Press
- Auto index makes for smoother, more rapid operation
- You can order extras of the most breakable parts with the press
- Includes both large and small Lee Safety Prime automatic primer feeder system
- Comes with Lee Precision’s 2-year warrantee and lifetime guarantee
- Primer catcher occasionally misses primers (despite Lee’s claim to the contrary)
- Bench plate must be ordered separately
- Powder measure and Auto Disk mounting riser must be ordered separately
- Safety Prime assembly can be finicky to adjust
- The ratchet parts that advance the auto-index are made of plastic and can break
- The instructions can be somewhat hard to understand
This product is about as simple and straightforward as it gets for a turret press, and with its aluminum construction, it’s designed to be lightweight and a value item.
However, it does have some special perks, including the auto-indexing, which automatically advances the turret to the next die each time you work the handle. It is not as big as the standard model, but it gains some versatility from the fact that you can disable the auto-indexing to fit larger casings in, which enables you to reload a broader range of handgun and rifle cartridges.
It won’t last forever—the plastic ratchet parts are prone to breakage—but it is quite easy to use, and you will find the interchangeable turrets a convenient and easy way to switch from one cartridge size to another. The press only comes with one turret, but turrets and die sets are inexpensive and readily available. You can buy a different turret for each caliber you work with.
Lee has built a market niche around high-value items, and this is the “value” version (largely because of its aluminum construction and smaller size) of its popular Classic 4-Hole Turret Press.In normal use, the smaller size and lighter construction should not be a problem. However, if you want a slightly more durable version of this product, you can go for the Classic press instead. Because of its larger size, it will be able to reload a larger range of cartridge sizes, as well.
Also, if you’re a first-time user and don’t already have the accessories like the die sets, bench plate and powder measure, you might try Lee’s Value or Classic Reloading Press kits.
If you want a higher-end product, you might want to try some rival brands’ offerings, like the Redding T-7 Turret press. It is made of thick iron and is one of the solidest and heaviest turret presses you can buy.
However, its primer delivery and seating system does not always work as well as the Lee Safety Prime and Autoprime systems. Another option is the similar, but somewhat more complex, Hornady “Lock-N-Load” AP Progressive Press, which is not actually in the same class; it is not a turret press but a progressive press, meaning that it loads several cartridges at once.
It will let you reload cartridges much faster, but despite Hornady’s patented quick-switch die adaptersit is a bitmore difficult to change from one cartridge size to another. It’s hard to beat being able to take the whole turret off and replace it!
It isn’t a high-end product, or the fastest and most sophisticated design, but Lee’s Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Press with Auto Index is probably going to be the best “bang for your buck.”
It’s alogical choice for the beginning reloader, and also the reloader who needs the versatility to change calibers fairly often and the reloader who doesn’t need to produce a high volume of rounds but wants something faster than a basic single-stage press. It’s reliable and will keep you producing cheap ammunition for years. Before you know it, you’ll have loaded up and you’ll be ready to get out on the range!