Reloading Ammunition with a Lee 4-Hole Classic Turret Press

Reloading Ammunition with a Lee 4-Hole Classic Turret Press

For my money, turret presses represent the best overall value both for new reloaders, as well as anyone with limited space.  They’re easy to set up and use, can reload both pistol and rifle ammunition, have a decent rate of production, and they’re highly customizable, with a range of components that won’t break the bank.

For the purposes of this article, the model I’ve decided to write about is Lee Precision’s 4-Hole Classic turret press.  As of the date of publication, I consider this to be the best turret press available.  It represents an excellent value for dollar, with the ability to use many manufacturers’ dies, and automatically index between operations.  As a 4-hole model it also provides enough room to use an entire set of Lee reloading dies, including the factory crimp die.  That’s a major time-saver vs crimping cartridges separately.  To me this is the quintessential example of what a turret press should be.


Operating Lee’s 4-Hole Turret press couldn’t be simpler.  The user begins by placing a spent casing in the shell holder, and running it up into the resizing and depriming die.  This removes the primer and resizes the brass back down to it’s original factory specifications in a single operation.

Immediately after this, and all other operations, the press will automatically rotate (‘index’) the tool head one quarter turn; effectively moving the next die into place.  This dramatically increases the speed of production, and allows the user to load a completed cartridge from start to finish without changing dies.

As the press handle is lowered, the ram will begin to drop; at this point the operator can pause to place a primer in the primer cup.  Alternatively, a primer can be added via the included priming tool.  Personally, I choose not to use it, as I find it unreliable and cumbersome to work around.  Regardless of how you choose to handle the primers, once one is in place, finishing the down stroke will seat it into the cartridge casing as the press bottoms out.

Next comes the powder charge.  Once again as the tool head indexes itself, the powder-through die and measure will rotated into place.  From here the operator raises the ram into the powder-through expanding die, at which point the case mouth is flared, and a pre-measured charge drops into place.

With the case mouth flared, the user simply places a bullet on top–  Even if it’s not perfectly aligned, the bullet seating die will automatically straighten it out.  As the cartridge leaves the seating die the bullet will now be perfectly straight, and seated at the correct depth, with the edge of the case directly atop the crimp groove.

Finally the operator will run the cartridge up into the Lee factory crimp die.  This will further crimp the case mouth into the bullets crimp groove, providing a smooth transition that will improve head-spacing and accuracy when fired.

Believe it or not, that’s all it takes to turn a piece of empty brass into a fully loaded cartridge, ready to fire.  Although it may sound complicated, the reality is that the operator is required to do little more than maintain a constant supply of components and pull the press handle.  Everything else happens automatically.


The entire process is extremely simple; each operation has it’s own die, in it’s own spot on the tool head.  Since every die is installed and changes positions automatically, there’s no need for the user to remove or replace them when reloading.  Even a first-time reloader can master the use of a properly configured turret press in no time at all.

Another great feature of turrets is that with only one cartridge being operated on at a time, it’s super easy to keep track of what’s going on, and make adjustments as necessary.  Powder didn’t drop?  Run the case through that operation again.  Forgot a primer?  Not a big deal, drop one in and seat it.  With no other cartridges in play, you don’t need to worry about getting mixed up or missing a step.

Turret presses are also more convenient than a single stage press in that you can load as many, or as few cartridges as you like.  Whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours, once you finish you’re left with nothing but completed ammunition, vs a single stage press where you could end up with a bunch of half-finished reloads sitting in a tray.

Whether you’re a brand new reloader or a seasoned veteran, I’d highly recommend you try a turret press.  Even after all the years I’ve been reloading, and with all the fancy and expensive progressives out there, I still have a place on my bench for a turret press, and don’t expect that’ll change any time soon.

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