Problems with lead bullets. Help!


April 24, 2006, 09:35 PM
I bought a bunch of .452" diameter 200gr SWC hard cast bullets to make up some .45 ACP practice loads. I'm loading in a Hornady L-N-L progressive with a Lee 4-die set.

Here's my problem:

The Lee set uses a powder-through expander (I don't need the powder-through capability) die that won't bell the case mouth enough. I have it screwed down as far as it will go in the press and I get lead shavings all over the place. You can see on the inside of the case where the expander has been (it's shinier than the rest of the case wall) but after expansion, the inside diameter measures out at .451".

Can I use an oversized expander for these bullets? If so, where can I get one? Will this shorten the case life?

Thanks in advance for your responses.

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April 24, 2006, 11:05 PM
is the base for the powder measure screwed all the way down because it holds the expander down
it may not expand it enough, looking at the inside of mine it does not look like it will expand very much

April 25, 2006, 12:19 AM
Look on Lee's website they have a die for expanding cast bullets .
Perfect for you if you are not measuring powder as expanding .

Good Luck , Bill

April 26, 2006, 10:16 PM
I just went out and checked my bullets. They are marked .452 and measure the same. I am not having those problems with my Lee 4 die set. I can get way more bell on the case than I need. Something must be amis with your set.

April 26, 2006, 10:51 PM
Are you using the lock ring above the die? If so, it may be that your die is short enough you'll have to remove the lock ring and modify the LnL bushing with a couple set screws to hold the die.

I haven't had to do this before with an expander die, but it's been done with other dies. Not a difficult thing to do. Just use the "meaty" section of the bushing to drill and tap for a couple of set screws on opposing sides. Put a small piece of leadshot in the hole before you screw the set screw down so you don't damage your die threads.

Loosen the newly installed set screws enough to set your die depth. Once you get it set, remove the bushing with some slip joint pliers and tighten the screws.

Once you're done, you'll never have to adjust the die again for that press.

Hope this helps,


April 27, 2006, 12:18 AM
also if you cant get the die low enough you could pull the powder through fitting off the top and put a washer inside the die ( the floating expander pushes against the bottom of that piece for a stop) so that would make the expander lower in the die

April 27, 2006, 11:56 AM
Just out of curiosity, have you measured a sample of your bullets to determine actual diameter? I had bad lead shavings with several brands of .45 bullets. I found out that while many were fine at .452" several of the bullets ran as large as .4535".
If the shaving problem is intermittent,that might be an issue. I never really saw significant shaving with bullets only .001" over. I started casting because I got tired of lead shaving occuring with most of the local bullets I bought.

April 27, 2006, 01:07 PM
The lee powder-though-expander die has to have either a powder measure or the supplied al. nut installed on it's top. Without this it won't expand or bell.

It's a common problem with the lee dies being too short for some loaders. I have to put the die lock ring on the BOTTOM of some of their dies on my dillon 650!

Take the lock ring completely off the die, screw the die all the way down into the bushing, if it comes through far enough to get the lockring on the bottom, you should have it down far enough to bell properly. Otherwise Dave's procedure will have to be done. Having never seen a LNL bushing, I don't know if it would work as I suggested.

April 28, 2006, 08:20 AM
Thanks for your responses. I think I have it figured out (MattCat, you hit the proverbial nail on the head). The powder through expander "floats" inside the die and can move up about 1/2" before it contacts the stop and starts to expand the case. As a result, the die was too short to allow the expander to float up and still come down far enough to expand the case. I made up a spacer and dropped it in between the expander and the stop. Problem solved.

I did order one of these ( however.

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