Question about Lee .38/.357 dies


The Wiry Irishman
December 16, 2009, 12:03 AM
A friend of mine is getting into reloading soon and I want to get him a set of dies to load for his Model 19. I was under the impression that you could use the same dies for .357 and .38, but I'm seeing that Lee has separate dies for both calibers. Will either of these die sets function for both calibers?

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December 16, 2009, 12:05 AM
Same dies for 38 Special and 357 Magnum. You might be seeing the 357 SIG die set.

The Wiry Irishman
December 16, 2009, 12:09 AM
This is where the confusion is coming from:

.38 dies:

.357 dies:

Are they different dies, or has Able Ammo just listed them wrong?

ETA: I see the Lee site lists them as the same die set, but I'd like some confirmation before I put in an order.

December 16, 2009, 12:13 AM
Huh. You got me. It's listed like that on Lee's website too. Hmm.

EDIT: Lee has a parts list for each die set. One difference is the loading data they send with it. They're also listing a different expander die body for 38 and 357, a different expander plug, a different seater body.

When I bought my set, it said 38/357. That was ~7 years ago.

December 16, 2009, 12:14 AM
If you want to do both, get the 38 dies. Its just a matter of adjustment to do the longer brass. You cannot do 38 in the 357 dies. The seater is longer and the 38s won't go in far enough to crimp.

December 16, 2009, 12:30 AM
Lee has at least two, possibly three different sets of .38/.357 dies, if you count the .357 Maximum ones....

Jim H.

December 16, 2009, 12:41 AM
about 6 months ago i bought a RCBS die set, 38/357. i was under the impression that to go from 38 to 357 all you need to do is add a spacer(looks loke a thick washer) to allow for the 357 mag case(it is slightly longer than 38)

i am new to the reloading game so do not take my word as law but i have heard this alot so i will do mine that was when i fire enough 357 to relosd... but i have reloaded about 500 38 spl and had no problems to date...

December 16, 2009, 12:52 AM
If you get the RCBS 38/357 dies they come with a spacer to put under the expander and seat die so you don't have to readjust the dies when switching calibers. Just set the dies for 38 and place the spacer under the lock ring for 357.I have them and like them.

The Wiry Irishman
December 16, 2009, 12:58 AM
He's looking at getting a lee single stage or turret. Will the RCBS dies work for him? Or should I just go allout and get him the Dillon .38/.357 dies I'd been looking at as well? He deserves the Dillon dies, and I'd really like to get them, but I think the price would make him uncomfortable, especially since I don't think he's getting me anything.

December 16, 2009, 01:12 AM
i have the RCBS carbide 38/357 set and have no complaints, but i never used Dillon or lee to compare but as i said RCBS works well in my single stage press

The Wiry Irishman
December 16, 2009, 01:17 AM
Does RCBS sell a die set that has everything he will need for turret or single stage reloading? He doesn't know what press he will get, but he knows it will be a lee (limited budget) Will I need to get a Lee shellholder to go with non-lee dies?

December 16, 2009, 01:39 AM
if you look enough you can find a new or used set with the shell holder in it, i just ordered 1 tonight for my 40 cal. here is a ebay link i just found, it might be worth looking into..

December 16, 2009, 02:44 AM
The dies don't come with a shellholder. Lee is the only one that I know of that includes the shellholder. Shellholders are not expensive tho, less the $5. Any dies will work on any press except the Dillon Square Deal B. They have their own special dies.

evan price
December 16, 2009, 03:06 AM
If he is getting a lee press, the lee dies with the powder-thru-expander feature work best with the lee powder measures. Also lee dies, despite being inexpensive, are very good.

December 16, 2009, 03:23 AM
Given what you has been said about his press purchase, evan's advice is good--i.e., the Lee dies with the PTED will work nicely with a Lee (Pro)AutoDisk measure. And, they are good dies. Get him the .38 / .357 ones--p/n 90964 is the 4-die set, as his turret will almost assuredly be a 4-die package.

Jim H.

December 16, 2009, 08:45 AM
The .357 dies will only do .357. The .38 dies that jfh gave the stock number for will do both, but of course I would just get the 3 die set without the FCD. ;) You must use spacers or re-adjust the dies, but they will do both.

Redding, and I think RCBS, does the same thing as far as having .357 specific dies. They are fine if you get two sets, but most folks get the combo die set and load both with it. I finally bought a second .38 set after using one set to load both for many years.

All the die makers make good stuff. We all have our preferences of course, but none of the stuff out there is junk.

December 16, 2009, 08:47 AM
Lee Tech Assistant for questions on All Lee Products > Interchangeable dies

Frequently, dies from caliber may be used to load other calibers. Due to the locations of crimping shoulders, the operation may only work for dies of the shorter caliber to the longer.

You may notice a label depicting the shorter die in your set for the longer version of the cartridge, we do this to reduce costs.

45 Colt - 454 Casull *
44 Special - 44 Magnum
38 Special - 357 Magnum
357 Magnum - 357 Maximum
38 Super - 9 mm Largo
44 Russian - 44 Special
40 Smith & Wesson - 10 mm - 41 Action Express
32 Smith & Wesson - 32 S&W Long - 32 H&R Magnum **

*The 45 Colt expander die will also work for the 454 Casull, by backing the die out approximately two turns to compensate for the difference in case length.

**Our dies allow the use of .308 bullets in the 32 H&R Magnum. The other bullet diameter commonly used is .311 and that is the expander that comes with the set. To use .308 bullets, it is necessary to purchase an additional expander and turn it down to .308. This can be done using a drill press and emery cloth or if you buy the additional expander from the factory, we will do it for $10.00.

December 16, 2009, 09:22 AM
:neener: but I like to see newbies learn to seat and crimp separately. Maybe get him the three-die set (p/n 90510), and then get him a second seater-crimper.

Two-plus years ago I set up a die set with the 357 dies as well--and I swear I bought a set of 357 maximum dies. (I wanted to ensure full-length resizing on the 357 Magnum cases I was burning through.) I don't see a listing for that now, however.

At any rate, If he gets the now-more-or-less-standard 4-die configuration for his (turret) press, he will appreciate filling all the holes, so to speak.

Jim H.

December 16, 2009, 10:15 AM
RCBS sells .357 Maximum dies, but they are very expensive.

.38 or .357 dies will work for .357 Maximum.

Any crimp only die or seater die with built in crimp will fill that 4th hole nicely for crimping seperately. ;)

December 16, 2009, 12:30 PM

I just bought the Lee 38 special deluxe 4 die set. I am using it on my Dillon 550. When setting up the dies to load some 38 I got curious about 357 so I put a couple of 357 shells through and the dies worked like a champ. Just needed to do a bit of extra adjustments.

If you do decide to go with another color of dies PM me with an address and I will send you the shell holder from the set I have. I don't need it and it will save you a couple of bucks, you can always pay it forward for someone else in the future.


December 16, 2009, 04:13 PM
As said already you can load both .38 and .357 mag with the Lee .38 dies, you can only load .357 with the .357 dies.

I have a 4 die 38 set that I load both on, the decapper has .38 /.357 on it the seater and FCD are the difference. You can adjust for the longer brass when using the .38 set

December 16, 2009, 04:31 PM
The Lee 38spl dies do 38spl and 357 mag brass, the Lee 357mag dies do 357mag and 357max.

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