Why won't you crimp?!?!


April 17, 2009, 03:03 PM
So I'm loading .38 on a Lee Pro 1000 and I can't get a good crimp! What am I doing wrong?

I've got the die adjusted all the way down, just before it touches the shellplate, and on some rounds, I can still push the bullet down with just the force of the calipers as I measure COL.

At this setting, it should be creating the tighest taper crimp...and it works on some cases, but not all. All cases are once fired winchester, and bullets are Berry's 125 FP.


If you enjoyed reading about "Why won't you crimp?!?!" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
April 17, 2009, 03:09 PM
Taper crimp, or even roll crimp will not make up for insuficient case neck tension in the first place.

Taper crimp is not what holds the bullet in place.

For whatever reason, your sized cases are not tight enough on the bullet to begin with. You should not be able to move a seated bullet with no crimp at all.

It is possible for too much crimp to make a bullet looser!

A brass case is harder and has more spring-back then a soft lead bullet.

If you over-crimp, you squeeze the case & bullet undersize, and the case springs away from it slightly when you pull it back out of the die.

Try seating and not crimping and see if the bullet is tight.
If it is, adjust the crimp just enough to roll back the case flair + just a frog-hair more.


April 17, 2009, 03:19 PM
yes. on some cases, I can push the bullet into the case before I seat the bullet.

Does this mean that some of my brass is bad?

April 17, 2009, 03:42 PM
If your adjusting the bullet seating die it is wrong to make it touch the shell plate. Only the Factory crimp die should be adjusted to the plate. The Factory crimp die is also a full length sizer and it could be swedging the plated Berry's bullet to a smaller diameter.

To help trouble shoot:
Remove the factory crimp die and use the bullet seating die as the taper crimp it was designed for. Place an empty shell case in the holder and raise the plate to the top position. Screw the bullet seating die in by hand until it touches the empty case. Then screw it in about 1/8 to a 1/4 turn and that just set your crimp. Tighten the lock nut and then adjust the bullet seater to the OAL you want.

This is the original way to crimp without using the full length sizer/factory crimp die. If this works for you then maybe the plated bullets should not be used with the full length sizer/factory crimp die.

I love the 38/357 factory crimp die when using Lead bullets and Jacketed bullets BUT you should not adjust you bullet seating die to crimp it first and then put it through a second crimp cycle. A double crimp does not work well.

To help a lot of misconceptions the dies should be labeled as follows:

Bullet Seating and Taper Crimp Die
Factory Crimp and Full Length Sizer Die

Both dies crimp and it would help if Lee labeled them as such.

Here are cut and paste from their web site FAQ's

Factory crimp die adjustment

The amount of crimp applied will be consistent if your press has mechanical stops built into the lever linkage, and you lower the lever to the stop every time. Start with the Factory Crimp die turned into the press until it stops against the shell holder with the ram raised all the way. Lower the ram, and turn the die in one full turn. Now try crimping a case, making sure that you raise the ram (lower the lever) all the way to the stop. You will feel slight resistance at the top of the stroke, as the crimp collet is forced up into the die body.

If the crimp is not firm enough, turn the die in another 1/4 turn and try again. If you turn the die in to the point where the four slits in the collet are closed when the ram is raised all the way, you have reached the limit.

Bullet Seating Adjustment

The trick is to set the bullet seating depth first, then the crimp. This is done as follows; With an empty, sized case in the shell holder, hold the ram at the top of its stroke. Turn the bullet seating die body down over the case until you feel it come to a stop. This will be when the case mouth contacts the crimp shoulder inside the die. Mark this position by turning the lock ring down against the turret or press frame. Now adjust your bullet seating depth. Once you have the bullet seated to the desired depth, back the bullet seater adjuster out about 1 turn. Now turn the bullet seating die body in to apply the desired crimp. Once this is established, hold the ram at the top of its stroke and spin the bullet seater adjuster down until it stops.

It is a good idea to carry this out with an empty case, so that after you have seated the bullet, you have a perfectly safe "dummy" cartridge (or gauge) to repetitively set seating depth and crimp on future occasions.

Once you have this "dummy" gauge, all you have to do is place it in the shell holder, raise the ram to the top of its stroke, turn the bullet seating body down until it stops, and then turn the bullet seating depth adjuster in until it stops. Since the crimp and the seating depth were already set, the die will return to very close to the same settings.

What they do not tell you is to back off the seating crimp if you are using a Factory crimp.

Hope this helps.

April 17, 2009, 03:46 PM
no factory crimp die...just the bullet seating and crimp die.

I already adjusted according to Lee's instructions...still doesn't want to work with berry's bullets.

I'm at a loss. I've adjusted the crimp die up and down, and I get the same thing...these dies are pretty old...but they should still crimp right?

April 17, 2009, 03:49 PM
Does this mean that some of my brass is bad?
It may be because the powder through expander is set to low ???

April 17, 2009, 03:51 PM
Did you measure the bullets to make sure they didn't slip in a few .356" by mistake? They do measure .357" ??

April 17, 2009, 03:52 PM
but if the powder through expander is not low enough, it doesn't move the disk enough to release all the powder...

right now, it's not moving the disk more than it needs to move to drop the correct powder charge.

April 17, 2009, 03:53 PM
all bullets are .357...I've tried using the 125's, and the 158's...

April 17, 2009, 03:54 PM
Are you loading 38SPL or 38S&W

April 17, 2009, 03:55 PM
.38 special

April 17, 2009, 04:00 PM
The powder through expander may need moved up a bit. I do not adjust it down as they describe. Install the original threaded funnel into the powder thru die and adjust the die out until the case is just belled out enough to start the bullet in. Then pull the threaded funnel and install the powder measure back on. It should be exactly the same set up. This should in no way effect the powder drop.

The less you expand your cases the longer they will last also.

OOPS I forgot to mention. You must used a sized case for this adjustment.

April 17, 2009, 04:02 PM
I'll check the expander...that's the logical explanation.

April 17, 2009, 04:03 PM
btw, I measured case mouth before and after the powder drop...no difference, so I put it down all the way to allow for full powder drops.

April 17, 2009, 04:04 PM
I did get this pro 1000 from my father in law...it is possible I might be missing something.

April 17, 2009, 04:06 PM
I shoot a bunch of Berrys bullets in .38 & downloaded .357. They work fine. Most likely either your sizer is not sizing the brass down enough, your expander is oversized, or you are running the expander too deep into the case.

Size a case. See if you can run the expander into it by hand. It should not go easily. If it won't go, then expand the case and seat a bullet. Do not crimp it. See if it has enough neck tension and will not push into the case. If that is OK, then crimp it and see if it is still OK.

If you are using a Lee CFCD, it might be causing a problem. The Berrys are dead soft and will have zero spring back, while the brass case will spring back, damaging neck tension, especially if you barely have enough neck tension to begin with.

rcmodel is right. No amount of crimp will make up for poor neck tension, and it can actually hurt it if overdone.

April 17, 2009, 04:11 PM
what is a CFCD? I'm probably belling the case too much, but like I said, my calipers showed no difference between a case before and after belling/charging.

The Bushmaster
April 17, 2009, 04:15 PM
No matter what they say about this. I had the same problem with jacketed bullets in .38 Special. I was able to solve the problem with a Lee FCD. Sorry guys but it did the job. I no longer have a loose bullet in my .38 Specials.

Hear that? Must be thunder and lightning. Or just a bunch of grumbling ol' folks.:evil:

April 17, 2009, 04:17 PM
FCD = factory crimp die.

I've only got a 3 hole turret! Where would I place this die?

April 17, 2009, 04:22 PM
I would repeat again.

If you have loose bullets before crimping:

1. Your sizing die is too big / out of spec for the cases you are loading.

2. Your brass has very thin necks.

3. Your expander is too big for the bullets you are using.

People were able to load perfectly good .38 Special ammo without loose bullets for about 90 years before the Lee FACTORY CASE CRUSHER was invented!

It is at best, a Band-aid for something else wrong.


April 17, 2009, 05:58 PM
If you only have 3 holes I would stick with them. No real need for the factor crimp die/full length sizer.
This is just going to be a matter of "set up tweeking". Nothing wrong with Lee dies. If there was they would be out of business.

April 17, 2009, 06:41 PM
I just heard some thunder, and it wasn't me this time. :D

The Bushmaster
April 17, 2009, 10:55 PM
Yeh...I know...That was rc admonishing me.:p But it did work for the time I needed it. I did figure out what I was doing wrong and have sense religated the .38 Special FCD to my "extra die" drawer...

April 17, 2009, 11:32 PM
okay, it's not the expander...

I tried putting a bullet in all of my brass, and in about half of them, the bullet would drop right in the mouth, and in the other half, the bullets can sit on the mouth, and only be pushed in by the seating die.

So which die is supposed to resize the case mouth down?

April 17, 2009, 11:34 PM
OK, I'll add to the noise, here.

Remember, he's working on a Pro 1000. Therefore, discussions of the FCD / a #4 die for separate seating and crimping are irrelevant.

In light of this, fourdollarbill's comment #21 is the place to start--i.e., it's possibly just a matter of tweaking.

My advice: Back out or remove the #3 / seater-crimper die. Back up the #2 / PTE die.

1. Get the #1 / sizing-depriming operation done first, and get it running smoothly.

2. Now add in setting up the #2 / PTE die--and this is where you may be having the problem. The die body has to be set so deep that it will not restrict full-stroke operation and resizing in #1. So, start high, then lower die until you get the bell you want. Make sure you have the funnel screwed in place so the expander does not retract when you do this.

3. Now make sure primer setup works properly. Since this is a separate issue (google here, in this forum), I'll leave it alone except to say that make sure the entire primer feed is clean, and that the trough from the tray is scrupulously clean and maybe slicked with a touch of dry graphite.

4. Once you can cycle out ten cases in a row, properly sized, primer inserted, and properly belled, now you can go on to the #3 / combined seater crimper.

Setting this die up in a 3-die setup is a PITA, IMO--i.e., the height of the die body also impacts the amount of crimp, and the seater stem does, too. Start with the body high on a dummy case (no powder, probably no primer), and with cases in all three stations, bring the die body down to contact, plus maybe a quarter-turn more. Check for any crimp--if there is any, you may have to back it out.

With the die body "this close," now tackle the seater--seat a bullet--again, with cases in all three stations--and repeat until you have your desired COL. Now, it's time to tweak in the crimp. Bring the die body down "x" amount--say a quarter turn--and turn the seater stem out about a half-turn. Check for crimp--does it look right to you, and does the bullet stay in place with a firm push?

At this point, you might try adjusting the #3 body and stem in tandem if you need just a hair more crimp--and the COL / charge load is not critical.

If this hasn't got your setup solved, it's time to look at other issues, like an out-of-spec expander, or the brass issues, etc.

Let us know how you're doing--

Jim H.

ole farmerbuck
April 17, 2009, 11:43 PM
I had the same problem, only with RSBS dies in 40 S&W. Bought 2 sets of dies and was having trouble not being to keep the bullet tight in the cases. Finally found out that the resizing die in the first set was not sizing the cases small enough. Both sets of dies are the same part numbers. RCBS is going to send me a new die i think.

April 18, 2009, 06:31 AM
Maybe the first decapping/sizing die was replaced with the "Lee Universal Decap Die" that does not size. They look the same from the outside.

Whats that I here? An RCBS die had a malfunction :eek:
Okay that was just for the "anti-red" members for fun :p

ole farmerbuck
April 18, 2009, 06:47 AM
Whats that I here? An RCBS die had a malfunction
Okay that was just for the "anti-red" members for fun

Yep...it had a malfunction alright! It's just a good thing i ended up with two sets of dies. I dont know how long it would have taken me to figure it out. The tech guys only wanted fired cases from my gun instead of resized cases. Still cant figure that out.

April 18, 2009, 06:51 AM
Dark Skies Ahead! I hear the Tornado Siren...

April 18, 2009, 09:19 AM
I tried putting a bullet in all of my brass, and in about half of them, the bullet would drop right in the mouth, and in the other half, the bullets can sit on the mouth, and only be pushed in by the seating die.

So which die is supposed to resize the case mouth down?
Was that after sizing? Which die did you use to size with? Here is a pic of a carbide Sizer & a pic of a Lee FCD die which also has a carbide ring, but no decapper. The FCD carbide ring has a larger ID and will not size brass sufficiently to hold bullets.


April 18, 2009, 01:10 PM
it's definetly a de-capping die. It even says .38/.357 on it...

I think it might be out of spec! I'll play with the de-capping/re-sizing die this morning and see what I get!

April 18, 2009, 09:49 PM
My first .45 sizer was kind of big. It worked with thick brass, but Remington brass was way to thin. RCBS sent me another no charge. It was much better.

April 18, 2009, 09:53 PM
Those are nice pics, Walkalong. What did the drugstore charge to print them?

Jim H.

The Bushmaster
April 18, 2009, 11:27 PM
Cheap jfh...He had Wally-World do them...:evil:

April 19, 2009, 12:43 AM
Thanks guys. After being called into work twice tonight, after going to bed, and again after going back to sleep, I needed a good laugh. Oh well, it's nothing but a little reloading/gun money... :D AC

If you enjoyed reading about "Why won't you crimp?!?!" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!