Lee Precision Load All Shotshell Reloading Press

The Load All has become one of most popular shotshell reloaders of all time due to its ease of use and low cost. Introduced in 1976, the first Lee Load All had a base made of cast aluminum and had a manufacturers suggested retail price of $ 29.98(Wahl 16).

The charge bar originially supplied with the first Lee Load-All machines only allowed for changing the weight of the shot thrown, the amount of powder dispensed by the charge bar was fixed. For the 12 gauge bar, the powder cavity was about 2.5 cc, which is about the volume taken by 18.7 grains of Alliant Red Dot.

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Early in 1977, Lee came out with a redesigned charge bar design and plastic bushings to retrofit the old machines.(Popular Science Mar 1977, 62) The bushing kit, which was and still is made of red nylon, sold for 8 dollars back then. The same charge bar and bushings were supplied with their new machines going forward.

The Load All II came out a year or two later, it differed from the original design in that the aluminum base was replaced with one made of extruded nylon plastic.

Lee Load All II

In spite of being made mostly of plastic, the Lee Load All II is considerably more durable than it looks.

Soon after I started reloading rifle cartridges, I thought that I would try my hand at reloading for shotguns as well. A flyer from Lee Precision advertised reconditioned 12 gauge Lee Load All II's for under thirty dollars so I ordered one. The tool came with a set of instructions, a number of plastic powder and shot bushings, a steel sizing ring, a primer seater and three bolts for mounting it to a bench

Although it is somewhat slow even for a single stage loader, it is easy to use. With it I have made some pretty decent reloads, which have functioned well in any gun that I used them in. In fact with the exception of some loads using the old cheap Winchester polyform plastic game shells, all shells loaded using the tool fed well from the magazine of any of my repeating shotguns including a couple of old semiautos, a Remington Model 11 and a Winchester Model 1911.

After 16 years of use and more than a few thousand shells, my Load All finally did wear out. Oddly enough , A few months after scrapping it, a friend of mine gave me some presses that he didn't need including two Lee Load Alls, one in 12 Gauge and and other in 20 Gauge. I fastened each one to a one inch thick 9 x 5 inch board so that I could clamp them to the bench as usual. Both do as good a job as the one that I bought previously. Currently the Lee Load-All II is only made in 12, 16 and 20 gauge where it currently retails for about $ 49 new. This is about $100 less than the the next step up, a Mec 600.

Using the Lee Load-All II

To set it up this machine to load, it should be first clamped to a work surface. A "recipe" is selected from a powder manual which lists the components necessary for a given load including powder charge weight, wad and shot weight.
The appropriate bushings are inserted into the charge bar for a given weight of powder and shot. A chart is provided with the machine which lists the charge weight of the most common shotgun powders dispensed by each numbered powder bushing and the shot bushings had their values marked in ounces. It has been my experience that any given Lee powder bushing will throw a charge that is a grain or two lighter it is supposed to be according to the provided chart. I make it a habit to use my scale to verify the weight of the powder charge being thrown by the bushing that I am using by weighing at least charges before adding shot to the machine.

Functionally, the original Lee Load-All with the cast aluminum base is the same as the Load-All II with its plastic base. There is a difference however. With the Load-All II, it is possible to change the shotgun gauge of the machine with a conversion kit that is sold separately for about 25 dollars.

Emptying the Lee Load-All

When I first got the press, I had opted to secure it to a scrap of thick plywood so that I could clamp it to my work bench, rather than bolting the press to the bench. This turned out to be rather fortunate. Although it is not addressed in the directions from Lee Precision, eventually the shot and or powder will have to be removed from the machine whenever one or both of the bushings are changed. As for myself, I never leave smokeless powder out when I am finished reloading for the day. I always put back in the originial container. I have found that the best way to empty this machine is to take off the cover and cover the powder hopper with a sheet of card board and tip it in order to first empty the shot hopper into a container and then the unused powder can then be poured out.

Wahl, Paul "Reloading Saves : On Target" Popular Science July 1976 p.16 Google Books
"On Target " Popular Science March 1977 p. 62 Google Books

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