View Full Version : Which portable press ??

05-10-2009, 03:23 PM
I'm fortunate enough to only have to go to my back field, about 150 yards, to shoot on my own "range". But when I'm working up loads I still come back to my bench to make adjustments. I am thinking about getting one of the portable presses to make up loads at the "range". I would probably only be making up 5 or 10 rounds at a time for each load adjustment. Having not used any of the small presses, I would like opinions of the Lyman 310, the Lee hand loading press and any others of like capabilities and price. I do like the fact that the Lee will take my standard dies, and don't know about the Lyman. Thanks for any experience or insight that you can give me on this. By the way, I've mounted an RCBS JR press on plywood for portability and really don't like that option.

05-10-2009, 10:10 PM
I have used the Lee hand press and one of the old fashioned tong tools (310?), but like any handheld option, they are a bit unweildy. FL sizing rifle cases is just about impossible unless you're into pumping iron. Weighing powder charges is a big question: I have found none of the handheld tools that operate consistantly or with anywhere near the accuracy of my bench mounted measures, unless the cases are in a block on the bench and I'm using ball or flake powder for handgun cases.

When I was young and lived on my dad's farm, I found that going back into the house to do up another ten rounds of rifle loads gave the barrel enough time to cool off so the target data was usable.

The portable setups that I have seen other shooters bring to various ranges are usually built around a solid plywood box that the tools store and transport inside and mount on for use, and they have featured (usually) small single stage presses, with normal powder measures and scales. I met one guy that kept a Dillon set up in the back of a Suburban, but I thought that was a bit overkill, though it was amusing to watch him reset everything to try a few rounds at a time and switch the load. He seemed to know everything except how to hit the paper at 25yds with a scoped revolver, so I just kept my mouth shut and enjoyed listening to him muttering under his breath. :mrgreen:

05-11-2009, 11:35 AM
Thanks versifier. I'm leaning toward the Lee hand press, because it looks like it provides more leverage than the Lyman 310. The Lyman 310 is the old Ideal tong tool. It has a lot of history, but I'm still more inclined toward the leverage. I still haven't been able to find out if the Lyman takes regular dies, or if you have to use special dies for it. I know that the Lee uses standard dies.

As far as powder handling, I have a system that works for me. I use an electronic scale, which I verify with my regular scale on a "before each session" basis. And I weigh each load at the range. It's a little slower than a measure, but we're talking about small scale reloading here (pun intended). This system has worked well for my board mounted portable reloading sessions.

I've also considered building a "truck portable" bench, but for now, I think that's a bit much for my purposes. :mrgreen:

Wayne Smith
06-04-2009, 06:29 PM
To use standard dies I think you are limited to the Lee or Fred Huntingtons.

06-05-2009, 01:31 PM
The Lyman 310 is good for its original purpose but does not allow full length resizing if I remember correctly. It may on original calibers like 38 WCF or 44 WCF, but I don't think it has the leverage design to do it for modern high pressure cartridges.

06-05-2009, 05:07 PM
The 310 uses it's own special dies.

FL sizing anything on a hand press, even pistol cases with a carbide die is still not easy. I would not again attempt it with rifle cases. I would be much more inclined to go with the small single stage mounted on plywood and C-clamped to the shooting bench at the range. If you weren't happy with that, I think you are going to be much less happy with a hand press. I can't help but feel that the hand press is more of a desperation kind of tool than a practical one. The biggest single issue beyond sizing is that there is no way to operate it consistantly, applying to the operating handle the same force and speed every stroke like you can with a bench-mounted press. The secret of accurate ammo is not so much the tools themselves, but the consistancy with which they are operated. Especially if I am testing ammo, I want it to be as consistant as humanly possible so the data generated is more accurate. I don't feel that you can do that with a hand press. Besides, you'll still have to let your barrel cool between groups (which can take 20-30min in warmer weather), and the exercise walking back and forth from your range to your bench doesn't hurt, either.

Let us know how it works out if you decide to go with it.

06-06-2009, 02:48 PM
Some years back Lyman made a hand press similar to the Lee but with the added feature of a small flange on one side that allowed mounting to a bench if needed. I don't remember the model or name that they called it. I thought at the time it would be a handy tool but let it pass and when I did want a hand press the Lee was the only one readily available. Maybe if you look around you might find one, I've looked but had no luck finding.

06-06-2009, 08:13 PM
why change things by using a different press?
just go out and cement a pole in the ground and build a small stand for your regular press.
mount your press with studs instead of bolts, and just use nuts to hold it in place.

06-10-2009, 01:49 PM
:oops:Some people (myself) just have to learn the hard way! Of course, Versifier was right again, but I had to try it. I got the Lee Hand Press and tried using it at my "range". It's a good piece of equipment, and I think that I will hold on to it for "emergency" use. But it's definitely NOT a quick and easy solution to the task of reloading rounds at the range for load work-up. It works much better sitting in a controlled environment with no distractions, so a full bench works even better. I suppose that the hand press's forte is in circumstances where a full bench is just not possible, such as an appartment or hunting cabin. For now I'm walking back and forth the few minutes between the range and my bench, but I haven't given up on the "range reloading bench". There has to be a good solution, I just don't see it yet.

06-11-2009, 02:06 PM
I am using and happy with a Lee Hand Press. One point proper lube is essiantial! I am using Hornady unique (wax type) on every 3 cases.
Rather than take a scale out to the bench, go to the nearest One hour photo lab and ask for a bunch of 35mm film cans. Premeasure one load into each can and then put all those of a given weight into a plastic bag along with a note about the weight and what powder it is.
Let us know how it goes.

06-11-2009, 03:05 PM
Chris, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that there was anything wrong with the Lee Hand Press. It just doesn't make things easier or more convenient for me than the short walk back to my bench. It does it's designed job very well, but you must admit that it's not as productive or easy to use as a full blown reloading bench. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Lee fan, as a matter of fact my favorite press is a Lee Classic Turret.

06-12-2009, 03:02 AM

What a brilliant idea! that would save a heckuva lotta daggone trifling with powder etc!

I'll remember that one,