Using the Lee Factory Crimp Die


Corner Pocket
March 9, 2008, 07:42 AM
I'm just getting into reloading and am loving it! I've made several hundred rounds of .38 that have fired flawlessly, and the same for .357. No problems at all with any of them.

Last night, I decided to build a few "dummy rounds" for .45 ACP before building "real" ones with powder and primer. (BTW, those little help videos at are indeed very helpful.) Things seemed to go well until I got to the Lee FCD. I had to put a lot of pressure (pulling hard on the handle) on the single stage press to get the case to go up into the die. It was also somewhat hard to pull back out when I lowered the ram.

So, is the FCD supposed to work this way? (All the other dies work smoothly and don't seem to need much pressure applied to them.) Thanks for any ideas/insights/suggestions!

Corner Pocket

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March 9, 2008, 08:24 AM
Depending on the caliber and bullet used, the FCD can require a good bit of pressure. Loading .452's in 45acp, mine requires a pretty good tug on the handle. Same with .358's in 357. In 45Colt, however, the die doesn't seem to do much of anything.

March 9, 2008, 08:40 AM
On all the pistol calibers I use the FCD simply for piece of mind. I have been using them for about 5 years now.

Unfortunately I have not had this issue. I would say make sure that you have your sizing die adjusted correctly, the die you use before running it through the FCD. The FCD is just there from what I can see to resize the bottom of the case back to factory specs or at least as close as possible. On my 45acp FCD I usually do not get much friction at all except from the blazer brass. I think this is because they seem to be loaded a little hot causing the case to expand more. When I measure the once fired blazer brass compared to my other once fired they are usually a hair larger. Now I do get a lot of friction on the 40S&W which is one reason I refuse to load the brass more than 4 times before recycling. The friction is the resizing action which over time weakens the brass. I say take brand new brass and measure it, then compare it to the brass you are having the issue with and see what you get. I would say it is more because of the brass than the dies.

March 9, 2008, 08:51 AM
I see absolutely no need for the FCD in pistol calibers unless one is loading crooked ammo or cheap over sized bullets. Some folks will definitely disagree. :)

March 9, 2008, 09:27 AM

It depends on the situation. I had a terrible time chambering my 38spl and 357mag for my Puma Carbine. I tried a number of different type bullets. I tried the FCD and no more problems since they made a believer out of me. When I shop here locally carries them for a buck cheaper than midway and if you include shipping a few more bucks off, then LE gets 10% off everything in the store there was no reason for me not to.

Plus for me it makes it easier on me for die adjustment. I am not trying to get one die to seat and crimp at the same time. Seat with one then taper or rol crimp with the FCD. Like you said though I have been reloading for 18 years now and did without them that long until about 5 years ago, so it is a debatable topic.

March 9, 2008, 09:34 AM
I love the FCD in rifle calibers when the bullet has a canellure. I like a taper crimp die for autoloading pistols a little better, to assure that the case mouth is brought back "straight." I had really good luck in 357 mag with the FCD, but I had Lee custom make a crimping collar to accommodate the 358 bullets. Else I'd shave a lot of lead.

For autopistols, *IMO* the purpose of the crimp isn't so much to get a grip on the bullet, but rather to assure that the mouth is ironed out enough to chamber reliably. The grip should be supplied by a good sizing die, and just enough belling to allow ready seating.


March 9, 2008, 10:53 AM
I use the FCD in .357, 30-30 and .223 and love it. But then, I needed to load .431, oversize cast bullets for my Puma lever in 44 mag. And the troubles began. First FCD wouldn't even let the round go in. So I bought an over size FCD for cast bullets from Lee. Now, this die will seat the bullet deeper as it crimps. No amount of fiddling with it will get it to stop. The bullet will not fit into the carbide ring and so that ring shoves the bullet into the case. I like the factory crimp die when it works. I like seating and crimping in two different steps. I just can't get it to work for my 44 loads for my rifle. Works fine with standard bullets for the pistol.

March 9, 2008, 10:59 AM
I find it very interesting that the term "factory crimp die" is used interchangably with "carbide crimp die". They are critters of different stripes and do not serve the same purpose by design. Both good tools, but not interchangable.CCD is for pistol and revolver loading and FCD is for rifle loading. This has caused me to reread several threads in order to pick up the full context. Can be confusing and misleading to say the least. I know; I'm just picking Knits!!!!!!!!

March 9, 2008, 11:43 AM
It the only distinction between the two that one is for pistol and the other for rifle?

March 9, 2008, 11:46 AM
Well guess what? While trying to figure out my problem with the new oversized 44 mag FCD, I noticed the carbide ring in the standard die was thinner. The bullet will go into the carbide ring of the old die, but the round will not fit into the body of the die. The round will go into the oversize die, but the bullet won't fit into the carbide ring. So, I swapped the carbide rings and NOW I have a FCD that will work for my oversized cast bullets. The only thing I can figure is, somehow the wrong carbide ring got put into the new die.

March 9, 2008, 12:42 PM
The fcd does not have a carbide insert. The ccd does, it was specificly designed to size loaded straight wall handgun cartridges back to original outside dimensions after an oversized lead bullet as seated in the case. I use .431 dia. cast bullets in my 44's. They will not chamber in my carbines that way, so they are run into the ccd and then they chamber smoothly but the bullet will slug up to fit the bore tightly when they are fired..Nice tool to have on the bench.

March 9, 2008, 01:02 PM
You have a point MMCSRET probably should not interchange these terms probably causes confusion. As already discussed,

Lee Factory Crimp Die = Rifles and no carbide ring
Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die = Straight Wall Cases, Carbide Ring

March 9, 2008, 06:41 PM
Interesting. True they are very different. I just never heard them referenced other than FCD. Now we know. I still stand by my earlier post about the CCD, while I have no problem with the FCD. There did I get the terminology right this time. ;)

If you have to squeeze your rounds to fit, something is generally wrong that can be fixed a better way, IMHO anyway. :)

Vern Humphrey
March 9, 2008, 06:52 PM
I like a taper crimp for .45 ACP. I use the Lee FCD for revolver rounds -- especially those that need some resistance (like the .45 Colt) to generate a proper burn.

Steve C
March 9, 2008, 06:54 PM
The fcd does not have a carbide insert.

The Lee Factory Crimp die for pistol cartridges definitely has a carbide sizer that does a post sizing to maximum factory diameters. The following is directly off the Lee web page on this die.

I had to put a lot of pressure (pulling hard on the handle) on the single stage press to get the case to go up into the die. It was also somewhat hard to pull back out when I lowered the ram.

If the case is bulged from using a cast bullet in a thick walled case and/or a lot of case mouth belling, the post sizing can be a little stiff and is not unusual. Be assured that your ammo should chamber properly even in a tight chamber. You can remove the barrel from you pistol and use it as gage to compare with a factory round.

March 10, 2008, 12:04 AM
We cast, then size our .45acp bullets .452. The bullets tend to bulge the case as they should given jacketed bullets are .451.

You come along with a FCD and smooth out the case. Would someone tell me what they think the size of the cast bullet is after you squeeze the case down.

Pretty cartridges no doubt but....

Take Care

ps I use the FCD in rifles for my cast bullets. Works great.

March 10, 2008, 12:21 AM
I use the carbide FCD on my 38 and 45acp cartridges, sometimes it's difficult getting the case in and out and sometimes it seems the case never touches the die. I think this is normal, maybe not.

My Taurus 45acp revolver has very tight chambers and the FCD is very much necessary for it.

March 10, 2008, 12:25 AM
You don't want to crank down so much that you have a huge crimp of 1/4" or something crazy. Just enough to crimp the case mouth a little.

Corner Pocket
March 10, 2008, 06:22 AM
Thanks for all the responses. I suspect that the issue I'm having with the FCD is simply a matter of adjustment that can be overcome by gaining some experience on my part...


March 10, 2008, 06:59 AM
As others have mentioned, you may have it cranked down too hard or it may be a matter of the components you are using or youve put way to much bell in the case with your expanding die.
If you are using .452 bullets with Federal cases (generally thicker, and I believe the thickest in .45ACP) youll have to puch harder to squeeze all that into the die. Most important thing is that your finished round fits your chamber properly(pull out your barrel and check).

Hope this helps.

Doug b
March 10, 2008, 10:47 AM
Cast bullet shooters , give the Lyman M expander die a try.

Vern Humphrey
March 10, 2008, 11:03 AM
Cast bullet shooters , give the Lyman M expander die a try.

March 10, 2008, 11:34 AM
Cast bullet shooters , give the Lyman M expander die a try.
Lee also makes a die like that; I can't remember exactly what it's called. "Universal cast bullet expanding die", or something like that. It works great, and it's quick and easy to adjust.

March 10, 2008, 01:48 PM
I use the Lee Universal Expander die. Works really quite well for all my rifle and pistol needs.

Take Care


March 10, 2008, 01:52 PM
How much of a crimp are you putting on the rounds? Take a measurement with some calipers.

March 10, 2008, 01:52 PM
Cast bullet shooters , give the Lyman M expander die a try. Yep. Good stuff.

The Bushmaster
March 10, 2008, 11:25 PM
Oh...I'm sorry Walkalong...Was I supposed to make a comment on post #4?:evil:

By the way...Just to stay on topic. I use two Lee FCD dies. One for .38 Special and one for .30-30...For these rounds I like them. I do agree with Walkalong that if you are feeling the resizing ring when you are crimping you need to figure out what you may be doing wrong in previous operations......

There...Ya happy now, Walkalong??:D

March 11, 2008, 12:20 AM
For me I have not found a need for the FCD or any die that post sizes, but I am a low volume reloader. My goal is to reload ammunition that is tailored to my firearms which allows me to shoot ammo that is more accurate than most factory stuff, If I where cranking out lots of rounds for the purpose of making noise I could see a place for such a die.
As Walkalong said, if you need to post size, something isn't right.

March 11, 2008, 10:03 AM
I asked earlier and want to again. Would somebody on this thread who loads .45acp load a cast bullet, and then run it through the Lee FCD. Pull the bullet and let us know what the outside diameter was before and after leading and using the FCD.

Take Care


March 11, 2008, 10:37 AM
Just went and pulled a rd down for ya. I use a Lyman .452 sizing die and they mike .4525 before loading. After loading and using the FCD the pulled bullet miked .451. There ya go. That amounts to 1 & 1/4 thousands per side.

March 11, 2008, 10:45 AM
BTW I had problems with rds chambering all the way with a Ed Brown barrel, called Lee and they suggested going to the FCD and haven't had a problem since.

March 11, 2008, 11:06 AM
Thanks, that is what I thought was happening. Given cast bullets should be one thousands over bore to ensure good sealing and reduce leading I fail to see the advantage of the die save and except to make the rounds look good. Beyond that is some guns the die would lead to increased leadig from gas cutting and less accuracy. Used in 9MM I suspect, given my experience with this round, accuracy would fall off considerably.

Take Care


March 11, 2008, 11:10 AM
Yep. The brass springs back, and the lead does not.

There are better solutions to making rounds that fit. I have loaded 1000's of .452 .45 bullets in .45 & .356 in 9MM with nary a problem. That was before the FCD was ever invented, by the way. :)

Who's juggling the smileys around? :scrutiny: - :D

March 11, 2008, 11:33 AM
Me too! I think using a FCD in 9MM would be a disaster. Friend in Vancouver has a High Power made in Argentina with a .358 bore. He complained about accuracy to me. I asked him what he was sizing his bullets at and he replied, "Why.355 just like the jacketed bullets you buy." He went to lead because he couldn't get factory ammo to work! Lead was no better.

After we talked he went searching for a bullet mold that cast out at .360. I wished him luck and suggested he might want to replace his barrel. In the long run might be cheaper.

I have yet to have a problem chambering my .45acp cartridges in any of my 1911's. Biggest problem I see at the range is guys not having removed the belling on their cases with the cartridges hanging up on the barrel hood, dirty chambers, cartridges to long and to much crimp. The latter can lead to bullet set back as to much crimp can result in a looser bullet, case fit as the brass springs out from the pressure of the crimp.

Take Care


Vern Humphrey
March 11, 2008, 11:44 AM
I've been loading .45 ACP for a looooong time. I use a taper crimp die, and it produces reliable ammunition. I simply iron out the flare by feel, and that's all it takes.

March 11, 2008, 11:54 AM
" I simply iron out the flare by feel, and that's all it takes. "

Truer words have not been spoken. Applies to the 9MM and .40cal as well.

Take Care


March 11, 2008, 12:13 PM
I use the FCD w/ carbide ring for all my semi-auto rounds loaded with lead bullets. I size my bullets at least .001 over and sometimes more.
This can stop proper chambering if I don't use the FCD; BUT!!!, I never use hard cast bullets. My bullets are never over 11 BHN, I run max pressures and velocities and do not get leading in good barrels, also I do not mix jacketed and lead bullets without cleaning the previous bullet mat'l out of the bore. The soft bullets slug up to fit and this prevents gas cutting and erosion. I never use bevel base bullets.

Vern Humphrey
March 11, 2008, 12:28 PM
"Bevel based" and "hard cast" are advertising scams aimed at getting people to pay premium prices for sub-standard pistol bullets.

For cast bullets, I like wheel weights. Don't quench them, drop them on a soft towel. If you get leading, soften them by pre-heating the oven to about 400 degrees and letting them "soak" for an hour -- they will be noticeably softer.

March 11, 2008, 01:09 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with the bb and hardcast terminology with the notable exception of microgroove rifling and extreme loads in 454,475 and such as those used in hunting thick skinned and heavy boned game. I simply cut my ww alloy by 50% by adding pure lead. Tried quenching years ago, not worth the time and trouble. Bevel based bullets of any formulation promote leading,IMHO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vern Humphrey
March 11, 2008, 01:14 PM
There are indeed uses for hard-cast bullets -- but about 99% of handloaders use them for standard pistol cartridges, or reduced load rifle rounds, where hardness is a positive disadvantage.

Wouldn't if be great if bullet makers would offer us bullets graded by hardness matched to intended use?

March 11, 2008, 10:40 PM
Wouldn't if be great if bullet makers would offer us bullets graded by hardness matched to intended use?
Some bullet makers are making the effort :)
Here's one

March 11, 2008, 10:48 PM
Read thru the Missouribullet info, good ,except, they use magma moulds and they are bevel base unless special ordered. Bevel base bullets are prone to leading.

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