How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

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How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Blade on Tue May 10, 2011 7:53 pm

Hey guys

I have finally acquired my license for my .308 win rifle (Ruger m77 Hawkeye Left hand), fitted with a Nikon Fieldmaster 6-18x40 Very Happy

Now i just need to get the rest, like brass, bullets, powder, primers etc. etc.... I was wondering how exactly does the Lee case length gauge work. Does it have like a fixed setting to cut the cases at a specific length or can i adjust it somehow? I'm thinking of getting that to trim my brass a long with a zip trim and maybe a 3 jaw chuck.

Here's a pic of my brand new rifle Very Happy
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by hawcer on Tue May 10, 2011 8:14 pm

it has a set length ...one end screws into the cutter and the other end stops up against the shell holder base(through the primer flash hole). It may be possible to add small shims between the shaft and the cutter (just fit over the shaft threads) to cut cases at a longer spec...if you remove the anvil from a primer,remove the primer strike dent and reinstall it in the case...that will give you a longer case as well.

for shorter cases....youll have to remove a bit from the (pointy)end of the gauge shaft.....but that would be a point of no return.

Nice rifle BTW Smile

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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Daywalker on Tue May 10, 2011 8:17 pm

The Lee Length Gauge is a fixed length of rod with a point on then end. It is set to SAMMI specs for the length of the cartridge. You have a special shell holder that connects to a stud. The fix length of rod screws into the center of the cutter. You then slide this into the case and the end of the rod exits the primer hole and touches the shell holder. If the case is longer, the rod will not touch the shell holder base. You then turn the cutter until that rod bottoms out and no more trimming is being done. Quick easy and with a drill, painless. You just hold the cutter in one hand, the shell holder and stud goes into the end of the drill, turn it on start cutting until no more cutting is happening....

Hope all that makes sense...

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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Daywalker on Tue May 10, 2011 8:18 pm

Yea what Hawcer said. We both responded at the same time LOL....

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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by wallenba on Tue May 10, 2011 9:45 pm

If it was too long, the only way to adjust it would be to grind down the point on the pilot. But that should not be necessary. If it would happen to be too short, it could be unscrewed a bit at the cutter head. I've never had to do either.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Hughie on Tue May 10, 2011 9:49 pm

And they do work very well Blade I use them on some of my rounds . Works well just make sure you tighten the length gauge all the way down in the cutter . then trim a case and measure it to make sure its the right length and go at it. I like them Very Happy
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by eagle60 on Tue May 10, 2011 9:53 pm

Same here. Lee case length guage and cutter is all that I use and have no had no problems. The instructions that hawcer and Daywalker gave above is spot on.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by RemMan700 on Tue May 10, 2011 10:29 pm

I use them and they work perfectly.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Mohunter on Tue May 10, 2011 11:31 pm

Me too, I made the switch over a year ago and never looked back. I can trim a whole batch of rifle brass in a fraction of the time it took me to do a dozen on a bench top mini lathe type brass trimmer. Although the mini lathe types have micro adjustments, I don't think your case length needs to be dead nuts to be dead accurate. My experience with the Lee case trimmer has been that they are a few thousandths off from most specs, but as long as they aren't way over specs, it won't be a problem. At least they will all be the same as each other.

**With one exception and that is pistol brass that head spaces off the case mouth.**

One small recommendation that I might add is that you deburr the inside of your flash holes on the cases before trimming. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the cases with heavier burrs on the inside trim at a different length (usually longer) than ones that have been deburred. I think the burr holds the stud away from the base of the case on the inside a little bit so you don't get a uniform trim? I could be wrong?
Has anybody else noticed this?

I deburr all my flash holes anyway the first time around, so it's not a problem for me anymore.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by XbonesX on Wed May 11, 2011 12:11 am

i hated them, now they just sit there rusting

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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Mohunter on Wed May 11, 2011 12:18 am

XbonesX wrote:i hated them, now they just sit there rusting
Well pass them along to someone who likes them.........like me! Very Happy
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Blade on Wed May 11, 2011 2:25 am

Thanks for all the replies guys, much appreciated! Smile Sounds a lot easier then what i've expected.

A friend of mine has a special "recipe" which he keyholes his 308 rounds at about 100 yards. Hence the reason why i ask, because he trims all his 308 win brass to a exact length. Can anyone perhaps tell me to what length the Lee case length gauge for a 308 trim to?
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by dartfreak75 on Wed May 11, 2011 8:00 am

the lee length gauge is all i use i have a redding trimmer bolted to the bench that is just in the way i can trim 20 -40 brass whatever im loading faster that i can set up the redding after i lost about 10 30-06 brass trying to get the redding set up i just got the lee trimmers i can never seem to get the redding to trim the same every time i dont get it!
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Mohunter on Wed May 11, 2011 8:27 am

Blade wrote:Thanks for all the replies guys, much appreciated! Smile Sounds a lot easier then what i've expected.

A friend of mine has a special "recipe" which he keyholes his 308 rounds at about 100 yards. Hence the reason why i ask, because he trims all his 308 win brass to a exact length. Can anyone perhaps tell me to what length the Lee case length gauge for a 308 trim to?
I hope you don't want keyholing? That's the term we use when the bullet tumbles in mid flight and makes an oblong hole in the target shaped like a keyhole, that means something is bad wrong.

What you are looking for is clover leafs, like the clubs in a deck of cards. That's what you want your groups to look like. Very Happy

Get the trimers and don't look back, you'll be happy with them. If you don't have a flash hole deburring tool, order one of those as well while your at it.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by hawcer on Wed May 11, 2011 8:32 am

Be sure to keep the every thing with a light coat of oil on it when not in use or it rusts pretty fast.

Unless trimming to lengths other than saami specs the Lee case length gauges and trimmer will work great for you.


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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Blade on Wed May 11, 2011 9:09 am

LOL yeah sorry, thanks for the correction Mohunter. I meant clover leave.

I'll give the Lee case length gauge a go and see what happens. I already have a primer pocket cleaner and a deburing tool.


Last edited by Blade on Wed May 11, 2011 9:10 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling)
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Reload3006 on Wed May 11, 2011 9:17 am

the lee case trimmer will not allow you to play with the case length as its fixed. but IMO consistency is key to accuracy. So it will trim to the exact same length (with reasonable care) and that Is consistency. I have the RCBS case trimmer and IMO its a great tool but not as easy to use as the Lee case trimmers and it costs a lot more money. You will not be disappointed in the Lee.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Mohunter on Wed May 11, 2011 9:19 am

That's alright Blade, I know there's a language barrier between us. I'd rather help you out with the terminology here as your friend rather than have you use the wrong vocabulary on a different site and get teased about it.

I wanna see some tight groups and clover leafs from that new rifle, I know you will make us proud. Cool
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Mohunter on Wed May 11, 2011 9:22 am

Reload3006 wrote:the lee case trimmer will not allow you to play with the case length as its fixed. but IMO consistency is key to accuracy. So it will trim to the exact same length (with reasonable care) and that Is consistency. I have the RCBS case trimmer and IMO its a great tool but not as easy to use as the Lee case trimmers and it costs a lot more money. You will not be disappointed in the Lee.
That's kinda the point I was trying to make earlier Reload, but you said it better than I could find the words for.
My Lee case trimmers are usually about .002 over what my manuals say to trim them down to, but that little fraction doesn't mean squat as long as each one is really close to the same and your trimming them all the same. Then if you neck size only after they are fired from your gun, you shouldn't have to do much trimming for awhile afterwards.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by hawcer on Wed May 11, 2011 9:23 am

But hey...if you can make five bullets look like one key holed bullet....I'd say you are doing great Smile

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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Blade on Wed May 11, 2011 3:21 pm

Mohunter wrote:That's alright Blade, I know there's a language barrier between us. I'd rather help you out with the terminology here as your friend rather than have you use the wrong vocabulary on a different site and get teased about it.

I wanna see some tight groups and clover leafs from that new rifle, I know you will make us proud. Cool
Thank you Mo. It would have most likely happen on other sites, more like a "specific one". That's why i stayed with you guys. Great bunch of people Very Happy some a bit more crazier then others... lol

To be honest, i don't expect much for this Saturday at the range. After picking up my rifle + scope + bipod + sling + rifle bag + 20 factory rounds = no money left until the end of this month. I know factory rounds aren't perfect, but they should give me some idea of what my rifle can do. I bought the 150gr. Winchester Super X.

I'm definitely going to put the Lee case length gauge on my list for the end of this month and a zip trim, powder, more cases, bullets, primers, a die set and case lube+lube pad.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Daywalker on Wed May 11, 2011 5:07 pm

Let us know how that zip trim works. I have not personally used one nor have I fumbled around with one. I have "read" from others that their zip trim had broken after a few pulls of the cord.

Would be interesting to hear from a friend that has personally used one...

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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by Blade on Thu May 12, 2011 2:45 am

I will do that Daywalker, will only be at the end of the month though. The whole idea of getting the zip trim is mainly because of the deburing tool. Meaning, consistency is accuracy. Thus, one pull on the zip trim for inside and one for outside, then all my cases will also be as the same. If you guys know what i mean.

If it doesn't work for me. My father has a spare portable drill that i can use.

Will keep you guys posted on the results.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by scorge30 on Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:30 pm

While I have never used a Lee zip trim I have heard from a few people how it breaks too easily. When I inquired it was usually hearsay from a friend of a friend sort of thing.

I used to use the idividual case holders from Lee but I got the three jaw Lee chuck and put it in one of my corded 3/8" drills and it holds everything from .22 K-Hornet to .50 Peacekeeper.

I have never had a manufacturer issue with a Lee tool and have been impressed with thier customer service. Only issues I have had have been caused by operator error or pushing the tool past its design limits.

I use quite a few of the Lee case length gauges. For a few that were .002 oversize, I set them on a medium-grit diamond lap stone and removed enough material to bring them within tolerance.

Not sure the steel Lee uses but these things are hard, and even my Arkansas stones were having a hard time removing steel so used a diamond stone.

For someone like me who loads a lot of wildcat rounds, Lee does offer custom case length gauges. Average price is $20 (including S&H). I should have one coming soon for .357 Herrett.
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Re: How exactly does the Lee case length gauge work?

Post by tripples on Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:18 am

You can slightly adjust the length of the lee case trimmer, I have done this and it worked well. What I did is rested the pin on my vice, and hit the pin with a punch and hammer this will make the pin thinner gaining length. You are not going to gain .010 but can gain as much as .005 without the pin breaking. I have also used this method to bring a worn cutter back to length.

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