Lee 3 or 4 die sets for pistol calibers?


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CMV
January 3, 2012, 02:52 PM
I'm going to venture into pistol rounds soon. For use in autoloaders - .380, 9x19, .40, & .45 acp. Maybe .357Sig at some point too but have read it can be very challenging to get good results.

For $14 more the 4 die sets include the factory crimp die. Is that something I should have? As I understand it, the seating die will crimp if I want/need it to.

It looks like the FCD are about $4 more if I go back and purchase them separately. So either I should save $ buying the 4 die set & getting the FCD or save money by not getting an extra die I don't need.

It might be that only certain calibers benefit from the FCD so I'd want a mix of 3/4 sets?

I have the FCD for .223 & like it.

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cfullgraf
January 3, 2012, 02:58 PM
You can reload pistol cartridges fine with a 3 die set. There is crimp built into the seater die.

The Lee pistol FCD does not work the same as the rifle FCD. There is lots of discussion on the value of the Lee FCD die. Do a search of the forum.

I prefer to crimp in a separate step from seating. I use a separate taper crimp die with my pistol rounds.

1KPerDay
January 3, 2012, 04:15 PM
I use only Lee dies so far (LCT) and I have the 4 die sets in .45 and .40, and 3 die sets in 9mm and .380. I prefer to use the 4 die sets just for the rhythm of reloading with a 4th full stroke, but it's been easy to adapt to the 3-die. Setting up the crimp is a tad easier if you seat and crimp in separate steps, but it's not difficult with the 3-die sets either.

I personally like the FCD, though many here disparage them. I think it adds one more step of insurance that each round will chamber properly (particularly since I use mixed range pickup brass).

YMMV

BullfrogKen
January 3, 2012, 04:23 PM
I do all my crimping on a separate station, so I use that 4th die, and I do like it.

I've even gone so far as to buy it separately and upgrade some of the sets I bought before Lee introduced it.

You can certainly get away without it. I use it on all my autoloaders, and wouldn't even think of running ammo without it now. But if I didn't use it on revolver cartridges I'd be OK.

gspn
January 3, 2012, 05:11 PM
On the magnum pistol calibers I have the separate FCD. Most of my other loading is .45 ACP and a light taper crimp from the seating die is enough.

RustyFN
January 3, 2012, 05:57 PM
On a four station turret I would go with the 4 die set and on a single stage I would go with the 3 die set.

ranger335v
January 3, 2012, 06:06 PM
"Lee 3 or 4 die sets for pistol calibers?"

Yes. Both ways work fine. Which we use depends on both the type press we may have and/or our personal preference. There are valid pros and cons to both and both can be misused so there is no big or automatic advantage either way. I LIKE both the rifle and pistol FCDS so that's what I use but others disagree.

GLOOB
January 3, 2012, 06:10 PM
Buy it. You never know when you'll find a use for it.

1. Crimping separately. Even with a SS, you might want to crimp in a separate step. Some of your bullet types might deform if you try to seat and crimp together. The FCD means you will not have to readjust your seating die.

2. Push through die: The straight walled rimless caliber FCDs can be used to resize bulges of the base and/or burrs from the rim.

3. Those once in a blue moon irregularities. E.G. I loaded some wadcutters in some old military .38 brass I found. The brass was too thick, and they bulged in the middle. Some wouldn't chamber. I know the ultimate solution is to stop loading that combo, but it was a lot more fun to FCD'em and blast 'em rather than pulling them.

BeerSleeper
January 3, 2012, 08:27 PM
The Lee pistol FCD does not work the same as the rifle FCD. There is lots of discussion on the value of the Lee FCD die. Do a search of the forum.
I use Lee's pistol FCD. I think of it more as a "post loading sizing die". You can use it to fix rounds that might otherwise need to be pulled. I had a batch where I crimped a little too tight, and bucked some cases just enough to chamber poorly. "Fixing" them with the FCD was preferable to disassembling them.

It's by no means mandatory, but at the least, it's worth having, I think.

CMV
January 4, 2012, 07:53 PM
My press uses 4-hole turrets so I have space for either. Since I need to buy them all I didn't want to spend an extra $55+ if it was going to be for something I'd have no use for. Sounds like they're better to have than not, so may as well get the 4-die sets so I have them all together in one box.

Hondo 60
January 4, 2012, 09:48 PM
You can get by without the FCD.
Reloaders did so for a hundred years.
Just seat & crimp with the same die.



Having said that, I like seating & crimping separately.
So ALL my die sets have a FCD

steve4102
January 5, 2012, 09:57 AM
Get the 4 die set. The FC die will allow you to seat and crimp in separate steps.

The LFDC has a carbide post sizing ring at the base of the die. Many handloaders like this feature (me) and many do not. If you end up being one those that does not like the post sizing ring it's a simple fix. Drive the carbide ring out with a punch and PRESTO, you have a standard taper crimp die, for a lot less $$ than purchasing a different brand separately.

Jeff H
January 5, 2012, 12:12 PM
I don't use one on any of the pistol calibers I load for, but I primarily load lead and I don't want any post sizing happening to lead bullets. If I was loading jacketed bullets, I wouldn't have such a problem with the FCD, but it still is an unnecessary extra step.

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