Is this round crimped properly? (pic)


John Wayne
November 9, 2009, 10:20 PM
Hello all. I recently got started handloading, and have loaded approximately 500 rounds of .38 Special using lead bullets. I have been very impressed with my results in that regard, and invested in a set of 9mm dies for my Lee press.

I follow the instructions included with the dies exactly, but my rounds just don't look right.

The load is 5.9 gr. HS-6 with a 125 gr. LRN BB bullet, .356 diameter. I have loaded less than ten rounds, and have not fired any.

Round on left is 115 gr. Magtech JHP for comparison. When I run my finger down the round, there is a noticable edge at the case mouth. My handloaded round on the right feels very smooth by comparison, almost exactly like a roll-crimped round.

-How do I check for headspacing using a pistol barrel?

-Is it safer to seat bullets at the maximum OAL for lower pressures?

-Should I use the Lee Factory Crimp Die instead? I watched an RCBS DVD on loading auto pistol rounds, and only a 3 die set was used (but with jacketed bullets)

-Is it possible to accidentally roll-crimp a round using a taper crimp die?

-Is this round safe to fire, or do I need to discard them all?

Thanks for any help!

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November 9, 2009, 10:47 PM
Looks OK to me, but that photo is HUGE! I couldn't wait for it to complete downloading, so I'm just squinting at the little one. FWIW - I use the Lee FCD on everything I load, but I'm also a neophyte compared to a lot of the long-time loaders here.

John Wayne
November 9, 2009, 10:55 PM
Sorry for the huge photo, don't know how to resize it. The rounds look OK in the little pic, but if you wait for the pic to load there is a pretty noticable difference.

The round has only been through the three die set, not the FCD.

November 9, 2009, 11:32 PM
What brand of pistol is it? It's not a polygonal rifleing is it? First thing I'd check is the OAL. It looks like the first band may bottom out in your chamber. I'd pull the bbl off and slide the cartridge in the chamber and see how it fits, it may not go all the way in the chamber. I ran into this once on a .45 swc. I had to seat the bullet deeper and get the shoulder flush with the case mouth, then taper crimp. If you're using a Lee die set it should have a taper crimp built into the seater die. It looks a little bit too much to me but only your chamber can tell the answer. I used to seat and crimp at the same time but I find it easier to use the Lee Factory Crimp Die. With cast bullets it too can lead to other problems, like if you have thick brass it'll size the bullet too, so I bought another seater die and now seat and crimp in different stages. If you're using a single stage you could just seat the bullet then back out the center part of the die, screw the die body down to crimp in seperate stages. I use a Lee Classic Cast Turret and a Hornady LNLAP so I found it easier to get a seperate die.

November 9, 2009, 11:39 PM
Thats too much crimp...

John Wayne
November 9, 2009, 11:46 PM
It's a Springfield XDM9, so no polygonal rifling.

I can seat the bullets a good bit deeper and stay within OAL specs.

It looks like it's seating the same depth in the chamber as a factory round...don't really know how to check other than just looking at it.

I am using a single stage press, so I might try seating and crimping in seperate operations, and backing off the crimp a bit. I have not used the FCD yet because of the problems you mentioned (I am using range brass).

Steve C
November 10, 2009, 01:35 AM
Your crimp looks fine. I'd shorten the lead bullet OAL so the case mouth meets the bullet where the straight wall ends and it tapers. See your modified image below. If it drops in and falls out and fits the same as a factory round you are good to go.

Sorry for the huge photo, don't know how to resize it.

A couple quick suggestions on the picture that are easy to do.

The modification to your picture as attached was done with Paint that comes with windows for free just to show what can be done. I just selected the close up portion and cropped the immage using the menu selections. The arrow was done using the line tool and the color was selected to stand out. The text was added using the text tool. The resulting image was then resized by 87% for something more appropriate to web viewing.

There are better programs to edit images and most cameras come with such a program when you get the camera. If you have Microsoft office you can use the image manager program in office.

Some hints. Most Cameras have an image quality setting, the lower setting(s) have more compression and make the files smaller. The cameras will have different picture sizes like 10m, 5m, 3m, 1.5m etc. Use the lower settings for smaller number of pixels, smaller file size and quicker viewing on the web. If you don't have software to make changes to image size and many cameras allow you to edit the pictures in your memory card and change the size and quality and some even allow you to crop and zoom. So the changes can be made to the image on the camera before loading it to the computer.

Around the common sized 640x480 is a good size for posting on a board.

November 10, 2009, 01:49 AM
I think the minimum crimp required to keep the bullet from moving (in or out) while chambering is ideal. While a heavier crimp can give more consistent velocities, it is more likely to damage the bullet and degrade accuracy. A few simple tests can tell you if you do not have enough crimp. For semi-autos insert a loaded mag (at the range) and cycle the slide to load/extract them all. Then measure to see if they changed length. If required, crimp a bit more.

In a revolver, you only need enough crimp to keep the bullet from jumping forward during recoil. This may mean you need a heavy crimp on the magnum revolvers.

Be careful with a factory crimp die, it is easy to crush the bullet. I loaded up cast 300 grain FN for a 44 magnum carbine. I used a heavy crimp with the Lee die and was very satisfied with the 6 fps standard deviation in velocity. I was very unhappy with the large amount of lead left in the bore and the 18" group at 100 yards. The cause was the deformed bullet that let gas leak by and melt the bullet. The cure was a slower burning powder and much less crimp.


November 10, 2009, 06:41 AM
+ 1 to Steve C's comments about Paint and camera settings.

Neck tension should do the vast majority of holding the bullet. No amount of crimp can overcome poor neck tension. That is more crimp than you need. It is not excessive, but is, IMO, a good deal more than it should be crimped. You want just enough to remove the bell and a hair more. The Lee FCD will not fix that by its self, better adjustment of the crimp die you have now will. That O.A.L. is just fine as long as the bullet does not get into the rifling and cause chambering problems. Steve's illistration of where to seat and crimp too is what you need to do if that O.A.L. proves too long to chamber.

How do I check for headspacing using a pistol barrel?
Headspace in pistol barrels link (

Is it possible to accidentally roll-crimp a round using a taper crimp die?
No, just a very severe taper crimp.

Is this round safe to fire, or do I need to discard them all?
Yes, as long as they chamber OK.

November 10, 2009, 07:33 AM
I'd say a tad too much as well, there is no defined edge for the cartridge to headspace/chamber on, like there is on the comparative round.

November 10, 2009, 09:07 AM
9mm arguably doesn't need a crimp. Load a round with no crimp, and then try and push the bullet into the case (set it back).

November 10, 2009, 10:26 AM
Too much.

November 10, 2009, 11:16 AM
My handloaded round on the right feels very smooth by comparison, almost exactly like a roll-crimped round.

What does the case mouth measure? Use your calipers, not your finger to determine the crimp. You can take sucessive measurements down the case to determine if you've created a bulge by overcrimping. Your finger is a nice, well-designed instrument but the caliper is better.

9mm arguably doesn't need a crimp.

It depends on how much you flare the case for bullet seating. In a high volume application, flaring is increased slightly to allow easier seating and a crimp is absolutely required to bring the round down to or under the spec.

chris in va
November 10, 2009, 11:51 AM
My CZ requires a taper crimp. Otherwise I get FTE as the spent shell hangs on the new round's rim. And yes it's been back to CZ USA.

November 10, 2009, 12:42 PM
It depends on how much you flare the case for bullet seating. In a high volume application, flaring is increased slightly to allow easier seating and a crimp is absolutely required to bring the round down to or under the spec.
Well, yeah I've done that too. You're not really crimping though. Just removing the flare.

My current XL650 setup uses a Lyman M die, and interestingly enough it flares in such a way that I can get a bullet started easily, but once fully seated there isn't enough of a flare left to need being hit with a crimping die to remove.

November 10, 2009, 01:31 PM

November 10, 2009, 03:37 PM
Small auto pistol rounds really don't use the crimp to retain bullets, normal case tension does that pretty well. All you need do - and what's ideal - for any rounds that headspace on the case mouth is to remove any flare you put on them to make seating easier, and you have done that.

Seating/OAL "problems" are manufactored stronger in loader's minds more than is justified. Seating vastly deeper and signficantly reducing combuston space or vastly further out and jamming hard bullets into the lands does elevate pressures but seating changes measured in a dozen or so thousanths are virtually meaningless.

We can't roll crimp in a taper crimp die.

November 10, 2009, 05:15 PM
You're not really crimping though. Just removing the flare.

Semantics, but I crimp every round in addition to removing the flare. There is little reason not to as others have noted, just removing the flare, which means putting the mouth at exactly the maximum 0.380" spec will not work in every single gun. I am willing to bet if we put calipers on some people's rounds who claim they only remove the flare, we'd find that they have crimped the case mouth slightly. I could be wrong.

November 10, 2009, 09:04 PM
Don't think you really need to crimp a lead bullet. Plenty of friction holding them in.

If you do, would seat the bullet a little deeper so the edge is over the groove and then use a smidgen of taper, just enough to remove flare and then a tiny hair.


John Wayne
November 11, 2009, 01:33 PM
Ok, I measured them at the case mouth. Didn't think I could measure them farther down the case for comparison, as 9mm cases are tapered.

Flared casing measures .374 at the mouth, finished round measures .371. I am uncertain of my accuracy in measuring (round objects are hard to hold still), and I am using mixed casings.

I tested the tension of finished rounds that had the bullets seated but no crimp applied. I was not able to push the bullet farther into the case. Just to be sure I turned the die another 1/4 turn down. Should I just skip the crimp if they're not moving? I just want to eliminate the possibility a bullet will get shoved deeper into the case on chambering and kB on me.

I am using load data from Hodgdon's website for a 125 gr. LCN (lead conical nose?) bullet. The bullets I am loading are marked lead round nose...hope that's not a problem.

November 11, 2009, 01:44 PM
Flared casing measures .374 at the mouth, finished round measures .371.

If these measurements are accurate, .374" O.D. at the mouth before seating is WAY too little, and will continue to shave bullets as shown; .374" is WAY too small after T/C-ing, and will continue with mouths curved in, and not square as shown.

John Wayne
November 11, 2009, 03:48 PM
I suspect my measurements are off, then. The bullets start by hand with little effort.

Any suggestions for more accurate measurements? I try to get the calipers as close to the middle of the case as I can, but I don't see how I can do it within the same thousandth of an inch every time.

November 11, 2009, 04:37 PM
Using calipers is a skill that you need to develop, the most important thing is a consistent application of the jaws to the object. Since the case is flared, you can use the widest part of your jaws to measure it. Simply insert it between the jaws and close them. Hold the round upright in your off-hand and close the calipers on it slowly with your dominant hand. Your eye will naturally center the mouth on the jaws, just relax and look at it. Do NOT force them closed, just close them gently. You can repeat the closing over and over and with practice should get good repeatability. Apply the same pressure each and every time, that is key to repeatability.

You measurements are way too small the brass thickness plus the expansion in the neck from the expander/bullet and the flare from at the case mouth should be well over 0.374" for 9mm (as measured at the case mouth after flaring). 0.371" at the mouth would indicate an extreme crimp being applied which on some taper dies will leave a bright ring on the mouth when the round is removed (which I don't see on your round).

How are you expanding and flaring?

November 11, 2009, 06:59 PM
I don't have a ton of experience but that round looks problematic to me. When I view the full sized photo, the case wall is crimped such that it appears to be flush with the bullet.

Too much crimp is my opinion but you only have to measure it to be sure. All you need do is measure a couple factory rounds at the crimp and then measure yours. If you are having trouble measuring this with a caliber, that is not a good sign things are going to go your way reloading ammo. You must be able to measure your work.

November 11, 2009, 08:45 PM
You can take these comments with a grain of salt if you wish, because I have not yet handloaded for a semiauto, only 38special.

Revolvers headspace off the rim, and the biggest risk is for the bullet to work loose (jamming the cylinder): therefore they are roll crimped.

According to the Sierra reloading handbook, semi-autos headspace off the end of the CASE. Therefore, the primer/case head will be at a distance from the bolt/firing pin (not sure what to call it) that is determined by the case length. Therefore, the Sierra reloading handbook states that all semi-auto ammunition that headspaces off the case should be TAPER CRIMPED rather that roll crimped. Roll crimping, presumably, would possibly shorten the caselength. Looking at your semi-auto round, it looks very much like the roll crimp that I put on .38 special rounds.

I know that Lee sells a 9mm taper crimp die for less than $20. I'm planning to start reloading 9mm and was planning to buy the 3-die carbide set and get the TAPER CRIMP die all by itself.

I do not know if your roll crimp has reallyk changed the headspacing enough to make any difference, I'm just saying that my reloading book recommends taper rather than roll. Other people have volunteered that the crimp may not be necessary at all if you have sufficent neck tension. I have no experience at all there, they know a lot more than me.

November 11, 2009, 08:50 PM
roll crimping would also not give the nice sharp EDGE for the cavity in the barrel to headspace off of. If you look at drawings of how the reamer makes the cavity in the barell, you'll see that they ahve a definite spot at which the case is supposed to "catch", setting the case at the proper position.

With the roll, your rounds would potentially go a bit too far in. Again, it may not make a lot of difference (unless you have a round get STUCK!!!!!!!!) but the firing pin may make a light strike. I would be more concerned that the roll would cause it to advance the case too far.

The factory rounds you wisely looked at have the nice sharp end of the case. I'd suggest you make yours the same. A taper crimp die would be better than a roll crimp.

After you reload several times, the case mouth may become somewhat work hardened and may not grasp the bullet as well (I have no experience in pistols, just in .223 remington rifles) and then the taper crimp would be of greater importance. Its only $16.

November 11, 2009, 09:43 PM
It's more crimp than I use but it looks safe. It might just be me but in the bigger picture the lead bullet actually looks a little crooked in the case.

John Wayne
November 12, 2009, 12:13 AM
I understand the difference between taper and roll crimping. I am not in any way trying to roll crimp a 9x19 autoloading pistol round. My post is concerned with how to properly apply a taper crimp to this round.

I want the minimum taper that will securely hold the bullet, and it is my understanding that you only want to remove case mouth flare, and nothing more. I was concerned with the case mouth on the round in the pic I posted--specifically that it might not headspace correctly, and be relying solely on the extractor to hold it in place (which I know is not good).

My dies are the Lee carbide 4-die 9mm Luger set, which includes the Factory Crimp Die. I have not yet used the FCD because some say it can cause lead bullets to work loose. That, and I know that autoloading bullets can properly be reloaded using only the 3-die set, so I want to do that first.

I want to maintain a nice sharp edge at the case mouth. I also want to make sure that the bullet is not pushed into the case when chambered.

These cases were expanded/flared by putting an empty, primed, sized case in the shellholder, raising the ram to the top of its stroke, screwing the Lee Powder Through Expander Die down until it makes contact, then gradually down until I can start a bullet in the case by hand. Even if my caliper measurements do not reflect this (because of my user error in using the calipers), the expansion has taken place--before, a bullet will not start at all and after it starts easily.

I tried measuring again using significantly less pressure on the calipers (wasn't crushing them before, just applying firm pressure). My measurements were .377 on the finished round. A factory round, measured the same way, measured .377 as well. Are these measurements within specs?

Again, none of these measurements reflect the round in the original picture. It has been discarded as unsafe to fire.

John Wayne
November 12, 2009, 12:19 AM
Sorry, more huge least they're easy on the eyes :o

One is my handloaded round dropped into the chamber of my XDM9 barrel. The factory round seems to protrude the same length. These are the same as in the picture next to it in this post.

Next is a pic of the newest batch of handloads (making them 5 at a time). Bullets were first seated, then light taper crimp applied. I did not want to seat the bullet deeper since it would then be under minimum OAL (which is listed at 1.125, but for a LCN bullet). The bullet and case look dinged up because the round slipped when I tried to push it againt a desk top to check for adequate tension...needless to say it didn't move. Can't say as much for the desk finish.

How do these look?

November 12, 2009, 01:31 AM
Hi John Wayne, congrats, that round looks good to me. If the bullets aren't sticking in the rifling of the barell, then they aren't too long. The edges of the case look good. Think you're on the right track.

I'm assuming you felt a reassuring bit of resistance as you seated the bullet, and from your (table) test you found they were in there pretty good. I have not enough experience to say anything more.

John Wayne
November 12, 2009, 01:47 PM
Yes, there was resistance when seating. Fired five of the above rounds today and all went well, the only difference between them and the factory rounds was that nice cloud of lead dust :)

November 12, 2009, 03:37 PM
My dies are the Lee carbide 4-die 9mm Luger set, which includes the Factory Crimp Die. Lee dies taper then roll crimp. Turn the die down to far and you get what is in your first photo,a little to much roll crimp. Great photos, not to large, they have to be large to see correctly. Go look at Lee's die info. Plus seat your bullet a little deeper.

November 12, 2009, 03:40 PM
added below

November 12, 2009, 03:47 PM
Its been this way since 1986. Here is the email. Re: 45 ACP DieWednesday, September 23, 2009 11:43 AM
From: "Lee Precision" <>View contact detailsTo: "Joe1944usa" <>The seater/crimper die in all of our Carbide Die Sets (including 45 ACP) does both a taper crimp and roll crimp as stated in the die explanation you have below.

Thank You
Lee Precision

At 10:16 PM 9/22/2009, you wrote:

HI, Does the seater/crimper die in the 45 acp Carbide die set do both, taper and roll crimp?? As stated in your Die set explanations? "Carbide die set

Carbide handgun dies contain the carbide sizer, the powder through expanding die, the seater/crimping die, a powder dipper, shell holder and load data. The seater/crimper die applies a modified taper crimp and eventually a roll crimp negating the need for a separate taper crimp die." Thank you, Joe.

November 12, 2009, 04:07 PM
Setting the COL using your barrel.

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