hey guys, i'm basically new to reloading handgun ammo and i have a few questions. first of all, do i need a four die set with a crimping die for reloading 9mm or can i get by with a 3 die set? also does anyone have any good recipes for lead bullets and powder type recommendations. i'll be reloading for practice rounds mostly. like i said i'm new to this so any other useful advice or product suggestions will be appreciated.
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April 6, 2008, 04:06 AM
A regular 3 die set with a carbide sizer die has worked just fine for me for eons. No crimp. Cast bullets only. 121 grain truncated cone cast work well out of my Inglis BHP. 3.5 to 4.8 grains of Bullseye. Accuracy load is 3.5 grains in my old Lyman book. It's a pleasant load to shoot, but doesn't drive tacks. Mind you, my Inglis isn't a target pistol. Issue fixed sights, but did the trigger.
April 6, 2008, 05:49 AM
I"ll assume you are talking about the LEE sets that include the Factory Crimp die. The answer is you don't "need" to have the FC die but its sure nice to have when loading for semi auto's. The Lee FC die makes sure there's not out of spec dimensions to the case and its about impossible to foul the crimp up.
The seeting die will crimp you cartridges and if you want to do it in a separate operation you can always back the die out a bit during seating and then use it later for crimping. It is possible to over crimp or bulge cases with a standard seating/crimping die and requires a bit more care and attention to your setup.
If you where reloading for revolver I'd say you wouldn't need the FC die.
April 6, 2008, 09:10 AM
One thing I started doing years ago on 9mm and .45 ACP cases was to add or re-establish a cannelure on the case to act as a stop on the bullet depth. This eliminated almost all the nitpicky crimping issues and bullet setback. A whole lot of factory ammo comes in cases with a cannelure to prevent bullet setback and the resultant high pressures.
I have reloaded 9mm in the past and used the 3 die set with no problem. Make sure the die set is carbide, much easier to use.
April 6, 2008, 10:16 AM
I use a 3 die RCBS Carbide set with a hand press. No problem, and the most accurate ammo I have put through my 9mm. I use 5.0 grains of Unique and CCI 500 primers.
April 6, 2008, 11:12 AM
There was a very interesting remark made by Nicholst55 in a thread concerning crimping .223 round. Nicholst55 said, ďI'm sorry, but the Lee Factory Crimp die, IMHO, is a solution in search of a problem, at least for 99% of rifle cartridges.Ē I agree with him completely and wish I had said those wise words. I have been reloading metallic ammunition since before 1960, and for most of those years, there never was a Lee Factory Crimp Die. A whole lot of folks managed just fine to reload good ammunition for all rifle and pistol cartridges using mostly two die sets for rifle and three die sets for pistols. Now some folks would have us believe you cannot load quality ammunition without a Lee Factory Crimp Die, and that simply is not the case. A 9MM three die set from Lyman, RCBS, Hornady, Pacific or most anyone else is able to reload ammunition far better than you can buy factory ammunition off the shelf. It will crimp or not crimp, however you set it for your purposes. You do not need any other crimping die.
There are lots of folks who tell how they depend on the Lee Factory Crimp Die to hold their 45-70 bullets in place in their cases. I have to ask those folks what they did for a hundred years before someone thought up the Lee Factory Crimp Die? I never had any 45-70 bullets wandering around the cases. My seating and crimping die did just fine with my 45-70 bullets all my reloading life, and it worked just fine for generations before me. Like Nicholst55 said, it seems the Lee Factory Crimp Die is a solution in search of a problem.
Load your 9MM with your three die set. It is all people have needed for more than fifty years. Donít look for a problem when you donít have a problem.
April 6, 2008, 11:34 AM
Big differance in the pistol FCD, and the rifle FCD. The rifle one does absolutley nothing but crimp, and yes, I use the rifle FCD in 303 and 7.62x39mm, and it does help some. Differant strokes.
The pistol FCD is also a final sizing die, with a carbide sizer built in. I have been using it for 9mm for years, and I consider it a vaulable tool. I would not hesitate to reccomend the FCD in a handgun caliber. Buy the Deluxe set, not that much more, and if you decide you don't like it, you can usually sell it here. Better to have and use, than not and wish.
As for cast, I cast wheel weight lead into a Lee TL356-124-2R , which drops at .360, allowing me to size for both 9mm and 38 Special. Good results with the 9mm have been with Accurate #7 and #2 powders, for me.
April 6, 2008, 11:47 AM
You might want to look into the Lee Classic Turret Press (try KempfGunShop.com - Sue will take care of you). The whole kit is $150, and with all of the other things you'll need, you'll be out the door for $250-300. This is a great little set-up that will yield, after some practice, 200 rounds/hour. You will break even after about 2500 rounds and then start saving about .10/round over cheap factory ammo and be shooting much better ammo tailored to your gun.
For powder and primers, buy 10000 small pistol and 8 lbs of powder from PowderValleyInc.com. Even with the Hazmat you'll be saving money there.
For bullets, get a case (3750) of Montana Gold for under $300.
Brass: pick it up at the range and tumble it (you'll need a tumbler).
You'll also need a scale ($50-100), micrometer (Ebay has them for $10).
Your initial investment in everything will be just under $1000 if you go this route, or about .26/round for your first 3750 rounds (about the price of decent quality factory ammo). Your second 3750 will be about .09/round, half the cost of the cheapest factory ammo (Wolf).
If you need any help on exactly what to get, where, and then how to get set up, feel free to send me a private message. Again, the Lee Classic Turret is a very popular option for new reloaders. How do I know? I started reloading myself about six months ago on this equipment, and this community helped get me set up.
April 6, 2008, 02:13 PM
I have loaded thousands of 9mm and I just use the 3-die carbide Lee set. I have yet to see the need for a post-crimp and resize when you are using properly resized brass, properly sized bullets, and some care on initial setup. All you want to do is remove the bell from the case mouth, nothing more, the 9mm is not a recoil abuser like a Magnum revolver is.
IMHO the Lee FCD is really not necessary for 90% of shooters, but is marketed as if it is a necessity.
As far as a rolled cannelure in the cases- again, no need if you have proper neck tension in the case mouth to hold the bullet, and use correct reloading processes and sized bullets. I have yet to see factory 9mm brass with a seating cannelure.
My advice for starting up:
Lee Pro-1000 progressive press with 9mm factory setup, $130 or so. Includes 3-die carbide set. Everything to start loading.
Pick up a powder check scale. A kinetic bullet puller. A brass tumbler. The Lee Case Collator funnel for the Pro-1K. Done deal, and you have spent maybe $250 on everything if you shop around, hit eBay for deals on the other stuff but buy the Pro1K new.
KEAD hardcast lead bullets for 9mm are IMHO the best deal going. $39 per thousand. Ships 3000 in one box for $11 flat rate USPS Priority Insured mail, $128 total.
Owner is ProCCW, a shooter himself, retired LEO, a real nice guy, and his bullets are top shelf.
Harder alloy and slightly oversized and PERFECT for Glock or HK polygonal rifled barrels as well as anything else.
Powder Valley for Wolf Small Pistol Primers, $90/5000. Plus choose your powder from PV also for the same HazMat fee. 8# is about $100.
Brass- range pickup for free (9mm is everywhere!) tumbled and ready to load, freebie.
Tumbling media: Zilla ground walnut shells at PetSmart for $10.99 for 11 pounds. Add a capful of NuFinish car polish to the running tumbler and some torn up used dryer sheets.
I load 9mm for $3.50 for box/50 rounds.
April 6, 2008, 02:28 PM
I'm with Bear. I have a Lee classic turret and it has been makeing great ammo over the last two years. The three die set will work fine but if you have a four hole turret it is a lot easier to use the four die set when you are experimentinting a lot with different bullet profiles. I can make 200 rounds per hour at a comfortable pace. Make sure you buy a carbide die set so you don't have to lube cases. The classic is very fast and easy to change calibers and primer size. Here is my set up.
I load a 125 grain lead Speer RN over 3.8 universal that is (according to the book) in the high 900fps range. I tried a couple at 3.6grains but got iffy ejection. Recoil sure was mild, tho:p The 3.8 Universal is still mild. Have lots of cases that land on my right arm (I shoot LH), and make me do a little off-hand wiggle. (BTW, if you're ever interested, that same 3.8 Universal under a 148 grain wadcutter in .38 Special is VERY pleasant). These are "target accurate" out of my MP9. Wouldn't want to shoot bullseye or bowling pins with them, but they sure are nice shooters for when I want to just relax and work on form.
I also load a 115 Winchester FMJ with 4.6 of Universal. I estimate this close to factory 115s - maybe just a tad short. I forget what the book says velocity is on this...1100-1200fps? Sharper than the 125 lead loads, but not obnoxious by any means.
April 8, 2008, 01:52 AM
hey thanks guys, you helped me a bunch!
April 8, 2008, 02:34 AM
As a beginner, I'd stick with powders that fill up your case and spill if you "oops" a double fill. With double base powders like Bullseye, 2 charges usually fit in the case without spilling. This is not good.
Powders I've tried in 9mm that overfill if double charged are Unique and Blue Dot. Blue Dot being at the upper end for oomph.
I don't want to discourage you from using low volume powders, their economy is the best, just be particularly watchful of your process. A Bullseye double charge fits in the case, a Unique double charge spills powder. I learned this here on THR and didn't see it called out yet and thought it a valuable tip to share.
On the loading note. If you load single stage, get a hornady lock-n-load single stage conversion kit and a pack of bushings. It'll be money well spent for quick and repeatable caliber swaps. Best investment you can make as a single stage loader IMO and I just bought mine a month or two ago after a couple years of progressive and single stage loading.