4 die set or 3? Factory crimp die?


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PappyDC
July 26, 2009, 09:17 PM
Getting back into reloading and need to by 38/357, 45 long colt, and 45 acp dies.

I used to have 3 die sets (rcbs), but wonder about buying the 4 die sets like Lee offers to get the separate factory crimp die.

Does it make that much difference? I'll be loading on a Dillon 550B.

Pappy

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Walkalong
July 26, 2009, 09:25 PM
I crimp most calibers in a separate step, but it isn't needed really. It makes no real difference in straight walled auto calibers. It helps when roll crimping in jacket cannelures, and may do a little better job roll crimping in lead bullets with a good crimp groove.

It really helps with long heavy taper crimps, almost a necessity really.

It is easier to set up, and I think that is the appeal for most folks.

I am not a fan of the Lee FCD die. I would recommend crimping in a 4th step with a standard Lee, or other brand, crimp die without the post "sizing" feature.

Many folks like the FCD, think it's the cure for all reloading ailments, but I am not one of them. :)

JCisHe
July 26, 2009, 09:26 PM
I've got the Lee 4 die sets and I just use the 3... the 4th is a redundancy.

Floppy_D
July 26, 2009, 09:27 PM
I load on a similar press, good machine. The revolvers cartridges prefer a roll crimp, no need for the FCD. Seems like there are two camps in regards to the FCD; some folks like 'em and some don't. I use them to put a very slight taper, and it feels nice and smooth.

Odds are you can get by with the 3 die sets. If your 45 loads won't chamber, it may be reason to consider the Factory Crimp Die.

Walkalong
July 26, 2009, 09:32 PM
If your .45 reloads won't chamber, most likely something else is the real cure. ;) :D

Mark whiz
July 26, 2009, 09:41 PM
I like the Lee Factory die for Auto loading cartridges (.45acp, .9mm, etc) and if I'm loading plated bullets in revolvers (.38Spcl or .357Mag) I use the collet crimp die so I don't perferate the plating with the standard roll crimp. But for lead or jacketed revolver rounds - the 3 die set is all I use.

Floppy_D
July 26, 2009, 09:45 PM
If your .45 reloads won't chamber, most likely something else is the real cure.

I did say "may." :)

novaDAK
July 26, 2009, 11:01 PM
I use 3-die sets for revolver cartridges, and the 4-die set for semi-auto cartridges. I like the factory crimp die because it makes each cartridge uniform. I've never had an issue with any of my 9mm or .45acp loads. I've never had an issue with my revolver loads either but they don't have to worry about feeding or headspacing on the case mouth either.

bobotech
July 27, 2009, 12:00 AM
I only use the Lee FCD with my gas gun rifle cartridges. I have FCD dies for a few of my handgun cartridges but I haven't ever used them. I find I can crimp and seat just fine with proper adjustments.

lgbloader
July 27, 2009, 12:12 AM
I crimp most calibers in a separate step, but it isn't needed really. It makes no real difference in straight walled auto calibers. It helps when roll crimping in jacket cannelures, and may do a little better job roll crimping in lead bullets with a good crimp groove.

It really helps with long heavy taper crimps, almost a necessity really.

It is easier to set up, and I think that is the appeal for most folks.

I am not a fan of the Lee FCD die. I would recommend crimping in a 4th step with a standard Lee, or other brand, crimp die without the post "sizing" feature.

Many folks like the FCD, think it's the cure for all reloading ailments, but I am not one of them.


yup!!

LGB

Steve C
July 27, 2009, 12:27 AM
I agree with Mark whiz, the FC die works great with semi auto cartridges. No real need for the FC die on the straight wall revolver cartridges that are roll crimped.

PO2Hammer
July 27, 2009, 01:58 PM
For revolver cartridges I use 4 dies with a separate crimp after competition seater.

For autos I use just two dies with jacketed/plated bullets (size and competition seater).

PappyDC
July 27, 2009, 09:02 PM
Thanks everyone for the great information. Looks like I'll try and find a Lee FCD or similiar and at the same time continue to reload and re-learn.

It's been about 15 years since I reloaded. My main reloading notebook was lost in a basement flood and with it was lots of notes regarding specific loads...:banghead:

Not sure if I'm any smarter now (just ask my wife:eek:) but I do see the advantages to using both kinds of crimp procedures.

Thanks, Pappy

Mags
July 27, 2009, 09:08 PM
I use the Lee 4 die set when reloading 9mm and 45ACP I like to give em both a real light crimp with the Lee Factory Crimp Die. I do just enough crimp to slightly taper the casing, just rememeber if using plated bullets if a smaller OAL may be desired later the crimp will skin the bullet if you try to seat it deeper. I have never had a problem loading this way.

jfh
July 27, 2009, 09:45 PM
But, each setup is tweaked differently.

I load 'range-fodder' on my progressive, using the recipes I've optimized for my various guns. I have a LOT of older bullets that are not necessarily the optimized product, even if they work 'just fine.'

For the autoloaders, the FCD may be needed for post-sizing, when it shouldn't be needed at all. I still have a lot of early 10mm 200-gr LSWCs that need some post sizing, it looks like.

For the rimmed cartridges (38/357), the bullets are more recent, and typically sized properly. On these turrets, the FCD is set high, and I can dial in crimp only, and there is no post-sizing, period.

FWIW, as noted before, I have tried a (Lee) seater-crimper as a 4th / crimp-only die, and it did not work as well as the FCD does. But--once one has their recipe and bullet specs sorted out completely--with sorted and trimmed brass, the FCD should not be need at all for post-sizing.

IMO.

Jim H.

robriboflavin
July 27, 2009, 09:48 PM
Loading on a 550, you need a 3-die set that includes a decap/sizing die, a seating die, and a crimp die. Case expansion is done with the powder drop die (included in the conversion kit).

You might note that some manufacturer 3-die sets consist of a decap/sizing die, an expander die, and a combined seating/crimp die - not an ideal combination for a 550. Look for sets with individual seating and crimp dies, which is more typical on a progressive press like the 550.

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