I recently bought a 3-die set of Lee .357 dies, stock number 90511. Grabbed them off the shelf without reading the fine print. Realized too late that this set is for .357 Mag and .357 Max. :banghead: I should have got stock number 90510 for .357 Mag and .38 Special, since I do want to load .38 and don't want Max.
Do I need to start over with a new set? Or could I just add a .38 crimp die? I don't have any empty .38 brass on hand right now to see if the 90511 expander works.
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February 21, 2013, 04:19 AM
Your problem would be the length of the seating die body and ability of it to roll crimp the 38 SPL. The sizing dies all size the same diameter. If you are shooting really soft 38 SPL loads the crimp might not be needed if you get no bullet pull when shooting anyway. So is the cost of adding the extra seating die cheaper or trading the set in for the correct one your best choice with all costs involved? Your choice I guess.:) Might be an availability one instead.
February 21, 2013, 07:52 AM
I'm surprised you found a set of those dies on the shelf, they are discontinued. I have a set of each on their own turrets for quick change loading but I only bought the 357 only dies instead of a second set of 38/357 dies because they were on closeout. (very cheap) Can you return the dies you bought for the ones you need? That would be you're best bet or buy a second set like I did. I'm only recommending buying another set of dies because Lee die sets are very inexpensive compared to buying their dies separately.
February 21, 2013, 09:51 AM
As of yesterday, the shop where I got them had an RCBS die set for .38/.357, so I could exchange them IF that is still there tomorrow, which is the earliest I can get to the shop.
OTOH, I was planning to order some stuff from Midway, so if adding a .38 crimp die to what I have will work, I can do that as part of that order. The cost of that is pretty much a wash: They have a cheap Lee taper crimp die or the Factory Crimp Die that are backordered until tomorrow, or a slightly more pricey Lyman crimp die which is in stock, or an RCBS seating/crimp die in stock. The Lee taper die saves a few bucks, the other choices would be virtually the same as trading in the set locally.
Will the 90511 expanding and seating dies work with .38? (I know the seating die won't crimp, but will it seat?) If so, that gives me lots of options
February 21, 2013, 10:07 AM
I would NOT buy a taper crimp die under normal circumstances for revolver ammo, a roll crimp is best. I like the Lee FCD although many do not when loading lead bullets. The "normal" .38 Special seating die includes a roll crimp.
February 21, 2013, 10:27 AM
I have also been looking to load revolver rounds, and had doubts about which die sets to buy. This is what I have recently learned about the Lee die sets.
The Lee 44 mag and 357 mag sets may not work with 44 spl and 38 spl. You may not be able to adjust the powder through die or the crimping die down far enough to do the shorter special cases. The boxes of these that I've seen are marked only for 44/357 mag. No mention of 44/38 spl is made on the box... for that reason.
The Lee 44 spl and 38 spl die sets will work with 44 mag and 357 mag. You just have to adjust them up to allow for the longer case. I understand you can even buy shims for this so you don't have to readjust your locknuts. The boxes of these that I've seen are marked for both 44/38 spl and 44/357 mag.
February 21, 2013, 11:04 AM
Arch, I've got an FCD die I use for .38 Spl loads, does s splendid job too. This die is used for 158 gr. SWC bullets.
Take .450" off the bottoms of the powder-through and seating dies and you are good to go.
February 21, 2013, 01:31 PM
Lee tech support confirmed that 90511 will not expand or seat .38, so I'm going to return the set and order the Lee 4-die set 90964 for .38/.357.
February 21, 2013, 02:21 PM
If Lee Precision has those dies in stock, you might try ordering it there. They have the standard warning on their website about availability, delays, please try to purchase from your local distributors, etc. But when I ordered a die part on Monday night, I received shipping verification the next morning.
If you can't find that die set in stock anywhere, another option would be to just buy the parts that are different. I'm fairly sure all you'd need to buy would be a 38SP expander plug (the stem is longer, so it reaches down farther; I think the expander die body is probably the same, just stamped different) and a 38SP seater die body (die body is the part that has the crimp in it; the seater plugs and screw top are probably the same). That's $3.00 and $11.98, respectively. A Lee rep might be able to tell you for sure.