Factory Crimp Die -or- NOT


April 18, 2009, 06:46 AM
A thread ago rcmodel brought up a very good point. He advised in so many words that the people have been loading good 38/357's for 90 plus years before the FCD so why have it now. I'm a fan of Lee equipment and use the FCD. If you asked me why I could not tell you. It was in the box and I screwed it in the holder. Well after that comment I loaded 20+ without it. Here is what I noticed. The bullet was nicley seated and crimped just as well and the loadmaster handle was easier to pull as it was not post resizing the loaded case. Well I parked the FCD for now, why pull a 4th function if not needed.

Can you offer a valid reason for this Factory Crimp/Full Length Post Sizing Die?

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ole farmerbuck
April 18, 2009, 06:50 AM
When my 9mm fcd arrived, i went over some 9mm's i had already loaded and it never even touched them. So......no i cant tell you.:)

April 18, 2009, 08:43 AM
It's over hyped and not worth the extra money Quality pistol and rifle dies do an excellent job of crimping. A few years ago the NRA Technical Staff did a study between the Lee's FCD versus the standard crimp die and found absolutley no difference in accuracy among several benchrest rifles used. I've reloading for over 40 years and don't use a FCD(I've tried them and scrapped them). I'll put my reloads up against any others using the FCD and the loser buys the beers! Just one man's opinion...YMMV. :)

April 18, 2009, 09:07 AM
I use it, and it works for me. Others may not, that's the freedom of choice we have.

April 18, 2009, 09:08 AM
don't use a FCD(I've tried them and scrapped them). I'll put my reloads up against any others using the FCD and the loser buys the beers!I'll second that.

April 18, 2009, 09:35 AM
The FCD is a "must have :uhoh:" for bullet casters using Lee "no sizing:cuss: required" load & shot bullet moulds. The fat:eek: oversize bullets must be sized soon or later so the round will chamber:barf:. So the FCD can fix this mistake:evil: by making it worse.:banghead:

April 18, 2009, 09:54 AM
1. I use it for my semiauto fodder--but not on the better stuff I build for semiautos.

2. I do use it on my revolver builds--but as a carefully-set-up, crimp-only die, as I have found that it allows me to dial in crimp better than a second (Lee) seater-crimper die.

3. What little .223 reloading I've done shows me I will probably use it there--but rifle FC dies are a different story.

With the right bullet and case selection, no post-sizing is done--and if postsizing starts occurring, I've got a warning about the (Lead) bullet QC control.

However, my respect for others' opinions about the non-need for the FCD suggests that I will again try some building without using it--at least in the Turret.

Jim H.

The Bushmaster
April 18, 2009, 10:05 AM
At present the only round I use the Lee FCD is with my .30 WCF rounds. It eliminates crushed shoulders on those thin walled .30-30 cases.

April 18, 2009, 10:25 AM
I used to use the factory crimp die in PISTOL calibers, had some feeding and accuracy problems. Got into quite a dicussion here few months ago regarding this and finally decided to try rc model, bushmaster and walkalong's advice. End result feeding problems eliminated and accuracy restored.

If you're using lead or cast bullets try this, load a round using the FCD then pull it and mic. the bullets dia. Nuff said.

Redneck with a 40
April 18, 2009, 10:28 AM
I use it on my 40 S&W reloads, it post sizes the brass so its guarantee'd to chamber, in any chamber. I'm getting good accuracy with it. I've cycled my brass through my XD's chamber enough now, that it barely touches the brass. When I first started out, it would grab the brass, so it probably made a difference then. It really works well on XTP's, with a crimp groove, I can really crimp them down, gives a good burn.

evan price
April 18, 2009, 10:38 AM
There are only TWO reasons to need the Lee FCD.

#1, your gun has a very tight Match grade chamber. Odds are this gun also sometimes has problems with some factory loadings, too. The FCD can be used to make sure reloads fit that picky gun.

#2, You are using it as a seperate step as a crimp-only die instead of seating & crimping in one operation in the same die, to get a more accurate crimp. The caveat here is that it is possible to set up a combo seat/crimp die for the same thing and it's not really necessary- but I understand why you might do it that way.

The vast majority of FCD users that from personal experience I have seen are people who use the FCD to correct the problems they made earlier in the reloading process- out of spec brass & bullets, incorrectly setup resize & expander dies.
In those cases the FCD is used to stamp out ammo that will function- but that's not right.

Post sizing cases with insufficient neck tension to prevent setback does not work. It creates more potential for setback because the brass case springs back slightly after sizing, the lead core of the bullet does not, so you undersize the bullet in the case even worse. I've seen finished rounds FCD'ed to under bore size and then the shooter wonders why the accuracy got worse with the FCD which was supposed to make better ammo.

There is no magic die that makes perfect ammo- that comes from patience and experience.

April 18, 2009, 10:47 AM
Not on rifle bullets! The FCD die will swage the midsections of bullets.

My pistol shooting is conducted between 25 and 50 yards. I shot offhand. Given the short distance and wobbly hold, ruining my bullets may increase my hit probability.

But not for rifle.

Still, I am going to continue using the regular taper crimp or roll crimp that came with my pistol dies.

6.5 SMK Lee Factory Crimp Die


April 18, 2009, 11:08 AM
243winxb, that's why I use the Lee push through sizers for my Lee moulded bullets, as my .356 drops at .360, allowing me to size them for either .358 and 38 Special, or .356 and 9mm. Works quite well, good accuracy.

April 18, 2009, 01:31 PM
I didn't exactly vote my real feelings.

I do like the Lee FCD collet die for lever-actions and bottleneck WCF revolver calibers.

But it is not the same thing as the post sizer Carbide FCD made for straight wall pistol cases. Which I don't feel is a great idea.


April 18, 2009, 02:43 PM
I like the FCD for my handgun rounds. I even use it on some rifle rounds.

The bullets in the picture were damaged by too much crimp. Back the die off a little and you won't damage the bullet.

April 18, 2009, 02:48 PM
I like the FCD for my rifle rounds.

I thought that the idea behind the FCD for rifles was to swage a canneulre into the bullet like the bullets shown above?

I use it for semi-auto rifles.

Redneck with a 40
April 18, 2009, 03:11 PM
Does it hurt or help accuracy to crimp .308 rounds? Some bullets have a cannelure, is it beneficial to crimp those? Right now, I've been loading with just neck tension and its worked out fine, I'm shooting a bolt rifle, not semi-auto. I would assume that you should crimp rounds for a semi-auto, with the bolt slamming into them.

April 18, 2009, 03:51 PM
I use Lee FCDs in my Classic Turret. I've loaded for years without the FCD, or any separate crimping operation, because I loaded on a single stage press and didn't want the extra step. With the Classic Turret I have to pull the lever four times either way, so I crimp as a separate step.

I don't use the FCD when I load on a single stage.

April 18, 2009, 04:17 PM
I use it on auto-loading pistol cartridges, where it makes a big difference in case uniformity and thus reliability. I use it not so much for the separate crimping feature but for the full-length resizing function. However, I do find the LOA more consistent when using a separate crimp die than with a single-step seat/crimp die.

It is also gun-dependent. On "service" grade gun/barrel combinations (a Beretta, Glock, etc. pistol in factory form) I do not find it necessary. With higher-grade barrels and custom guns, it becomes very important.

The bullet was nicley seated and crimped just as well

Did you actually measure them, or just eyeball them? The differences in what makes a round go/no go is usually not visible to the eye. But since you are talking about a revolver round, I don't think it's going to make a difference. I've never had a revolver cartridge reloading set-up give headaches. The real benefit of the FCD is for match-grade shooting and autoloaders.

April 18, 2009, 04:32 PM
When my 9mm fcd arrived, i went over some 9mm's i had already loaded and it never even touched them. So......no i cant tell you.
That's my same experience. I use the FCD for 9mm, 38 spcl and 45 auto and the post sizing ring never sizes the case and I like the crimp I get from it. If the FCD is making the handle pull that much harder every pull on a Loadmaster then it sounds like there are other problems.

Steve C
April 18, 2009, 06:53 PM
I use the Lee FC die for semi auto pistol cartridges, 9mm and .45 acp. I also use the rifle FC die for .223, 30-30, 8mm and .308 using cannelured bullets that will be fired from magazine fed military type semi auto's and tube fed Winchester 94 but not for hunting bullets to be shot from a bolt action.

I have a Lee FC die for .38 spl and .357 mag and am rather ambivalent regarding its use. Generally i just use the regular seatingi and crimping die to do it in one step.

April 18, 2009, 07:31 PM
If you have a heavy recoil weapon, and the bullet has a cannelure then crimp it. For semi-auto handgun, then use a Taper crimp, since the weapon headspaces off the neck of the cartridge. If you have a tubular magazine and a shouldered round then you can crimp lightly since the round headspaces off the shoulder of the case.

Good luck

April 18, 2009, 08:22 PM
Good Grief I was hoping to have an overwhelming answer one way or the other.
I'm so cunfused :confused:
Oh well! I'm just going to use the... OMG I can't decide :what:

April 18, 2009, 09:04 PM
Good Grief I was hoping to have an overwhelming answer one way or the other
No chance. :scrutiny:

It's not needed. Start without it. You'll not likely ever miss it. I do like to crimp in a 4th step in most apps, but I use a plain old crimp only die. Lee makes one of those also. Polish it up and it'll do fine. :)

April 18, 2009, 09:11 PM
Good Grief I was hoping to have an overwhelming answer one way or the other.
I'm so cunfused
Oh well! I'm just going to use the... OMG I can't decide

There is only one way to make a decision like that, flip a coin.:neener: Now you have to decide heads or tails.


April 19, 2009, 07:28 PM
I use the FCD on my 45/70 cast bullet loads, on my 7.62 Nato and 30/284 (7.5X55 Swiss) when the bullets have cannelures. I took one look at the FCD for straight wall pistol dies and just laughed. Yea, sure I want to squeeze my bullets down undersize so they will lead the barrel evenly and thickly. NOT! Post sizing is the answer to a question nobody in their right mind ever asks.

April 19, 2009, 08:15 PM
We talked this subject to death over on the ruger forum a while back and it yeilded someinteresting results.

First of all the issue with the Lee dies is NOT with the FCD, it's with the sizer dies. Basically they are ground to size the cases about 1-2 thou larger than other manufacturers dies are. I measured mine and so did a few other members and we all found we had the same dimensions for a given caliber.

So, on to the problem....
If you size your brass with Lee sizers it will be sized "loose", consequently it would seem that the Lee folks want you to use their FCD to "final size" the brass to specs at the last station in the reloading process.

in most situations this isn't an issue and most guys using their dies will never be aware of the dimensional differences. Sometimes it DOES have a noticeable difference. Case in point...Remington brass is thin, so thin that it will pass through the FCD with zero drag, no huge deal there really. That same brass when sized in the Lee full length sizer will often not be sized down enough to provide adequate neck tension of the bullet, in some situation there is actually NO tension at all and the bullet can be dropped into the case and hit the bottom. I noticed this with my .357/.38SPL reloads using the Lee 4 die set.

Thicker brass like Winchester seems to work fine and the added wall thickness decreases the i.d. which hold the bullet in the neck adequately. Winchester brass also will drag through the FCD every time which is yet another benefit of having a thicker wall.

I got really curious and picked up a set of RCBS dies and tried using the RCBS sizer in my reloading and the results were surprising to say the least. After sizing the brass with the LEE die and pressing in a jacketed bullet the "bulge" that usually shows up in the case walls where the base of the bullet sits in the brass was barely visible, indicating a potential for loose neck tension in the loaded round.

I did the same experiment using the RCBS does and noted that the bulge in the cases was very pronounced once the bullet was seated in the case, hence VERY good neck tension was apparent when using the RCBS dies. As a result of the increase in neck tension my handloads shot 1" smaller groups from my GP100 at the very next range session.

So, what do I use now for dies? I do not use the Lee sizer dies anymore but I do like to use the FCD as a final step. My reasoning is this, every so often I'll get a case that will not glide through the FCD and those are the ones that get a hard second look, sort of a final QC check of sorts.

Oh and one last bit of advice, DO NOT use the Lee die sets with lead bullets, especially the FCD as it will undersize your bullets in the cases, especially if your using the thicker brass like Winchester. Of course you want lead bullets to be larger than the bore by 1-2 thou and by using the Lee FCD you'll actually be sizing the bullet down to bore size, reducing your bullet to bore seal and increasing leading and decreasing accuracy.

Redneck with a 40
April 19, 2009, 08:29 PM
Bullit, that makes sense, when I size my once fired brass that I buy at gun show's in .308, with the Lee sizer, it won't chamber worth a damn in my SPS Tactical, which has a tight chamber anyway. I bought a RCBS small base die and now they chamber like butter. The Lee doesn't and won't size the cases small enough. I'd probably be fine for a semi-auto (loose chamber), but not for my bolt gun.

April 19, 2009, 09:30 PM
For pistol cartridges, I find that it is easier to get the right roll crimp for revolver cartridges using the FCD, but for taper crimp on 45 ACP it it not necessary and crimping in the seating die works just fine with one less step.

April 20, 2009, 09:01 AM
I bought a RCBS small base die and now they chamber like butter. The Lee doesn't and won't size the cases small enough. I'd probably be fine for a semi-auto (loose chamber), but not for my bolt gun.
You know there are people on this site who would, in some many words, call you a liar. They state emphatically that no one needs small base dies, because they have never needed a small base die.

As for the statement that semi autos come with big chambers: not all. The truth of the matter is small base dies will improve function in many semi's. If the case is an interference fit in the chamber, the rifle will either jam on feed, or jam on extraction. A case swaged into the chamber will darn near weld to the chamber case walls after ignition.

(Oversized reloads and the subsequent complaints have induced some barrel makers to cut their chambers large. Soon we will be stuffing sausage sized cases into Zeppelin sized chambers!)

Still, a small base die will oversize the case if the dies are not set up with case gages. And it is virtually impossible to small base size a case with spray on lubricants. I used RCBS water soluble or Imperial sizing wax.

Marlin 45 carbine
April 20, 2009, 09:51 AM
I use the FCD for pistol rounds - myself I think it's worth the trouble.
I use it for a LIGHT crimp on rifle rounds w/o cannelure also. I don't shoot a lot of rifle anyway so it's no trouble, the extra step I mean.

April 20, 2009, 10:02 AM
I will never load another round without one!

April 20, 2009, 11:26 AM
Not 'Scientific' by any means, but my 30+ years of reloading experience says that factory crimp dies help out my autoloaders a bunch.

I DO NOT use it on any of my NON-Autoloaders.
No real sense to seeing as I've never had a problem without the FCD, why start crimping now?

I purchased the factory crimp die to stop a particular problme in my autoloaders...

The RCBS dies I was using had a crimp built into them, and any variance in case length at all would screw up the crimp/shoulder of the case.

The FCD allows me to seat the bullet properly,
THEN apply a crimp to my Auto Feed ammo to keep the bullet in place through 'Rough' cycling (Like AR-15's!)

And since 9mm Semi-Autos, AR-15 & AR-10 rifles are about the only ones I ever had a problem with,
Those are the ones I use factory crimp on.... Problem solved!

My bolt rifles, lever guns, revolvers, ect. have never needed a 'Factory Crimp', so I STILL to this day don't use a FCD on them...

Now, Bench rifle guys have noticed you can change the muzzle velocity (very slightly) by using a hard factory crimp,
But the brass doesn't last NEARLY as long if you do!
(ask me how I know that! :( )

April 20, 2009, 12:24 PM
Whether or not I use a FCD or a CCD(handgun) depends on the cases, bullets and firearm. It does not depend on my opinion of the die itself, Lee Precision, or anyone else's opinion. I have them for every cartridge I load and use them as needed. Good tool, to be used as needed. Like every other tool it does not fit every application.

April 20, 2009, 12:30 PM
lever guns, revolvers, ect. have never needed a 'Factory Crimp'Say What?

You mean the factories have been doing it wrong for 150 years?

Lever-gun loads should always be crimped to prevent bullet set-back from recoil in tube magazines.

Revolver loads (above mouse fart level) should be crimped to prevent recoil pulling the bullets out of the cases.


April 20, 2009, 12:48 PM
I use 'em and like 'em fine in handgun and my lever rifles. Had a little merry-go-round last year with cast in 44 mag and the carbide post sizing ring on the FCD. It wanted to turn my .431 cast into .4295 and that didn't work for my carbine barrel. Called 'em up and ordered a second one for cast loading and had 'em open it up by .002, end of problem. In 45-70 the FCD let's me crimp cast independent of the cannellure position.

I'm going to echo the sentiments from another post, it ain't a cure all for everything, but it fits some needs well.

Joe over at Real Guns has had some interesting (http://www.realguns.com/Commentary/comar64.htm) articles (http://www.realguns.com/archives/112.htm) that discuss the Lee FCD's, may be worth some time.

April 20, 2009, 04:05 PM
I always use a factory crimp die. I never have had any problems. Even the couple of times I did not push the case all the way into the shell holder, and but a big bulge in their; The die sized it back to normal.

April 20, 2009, 06:21 PM
It sized it back, but not to normal. ;)

April 20, 2009, 08:30 PM
When I started using the FCD on my Auto Cartridges, I stopped having feeding and ejection problems. Since I don't want to load for individual guns, I use it on all mine. It works fine for me, and all my reloads work in all my guns. :)

April 20, 2009, 08:34 PM
Double Post

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