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1st set of Lee dies

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by thomis, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. thomis

    thomis Well-Known Member

    I own all the other brands of dies. I just ordered my first set of Lee dies for the .40 S&W. The price was just too good to pass up. A new, full set of dies including a carbide sizer, shell holder, powder dipper, etc. for $34 shipped. I thought it was a good deal.
    Anything I should know about these Lee dies? I wouldn't think so, but I know some folks say they are not as good as the others.
  2. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    The dies themselves are good.

    I dislike the lock rings as they do not have a locking feature to maintain your setting. Regardless of the propaganda from Lee, the o-ring is just not positive enough to hold the setting when installing or removing the die from the press.

    Some folks like that feature or not a problem if you mount the die a a bushing (Lee's breech lock or Hornady L-N-L) or some kind of tool head.

    Enjoy your new dies.
  3. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Well-Known Member

    Definitely do yourself a favor and get some Hornady lock rings to with the dies. RCBS lock rings work but they can damage the threads if you over tighten them.
  4. thomis

    thomis Well-Known Member

    This is exactly the kind of info I was after.

    p.s. i just got the Hornady lock rings on ebay for $7 incl. s&h, not bad
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  5. Friar Whently

    Friar Whently Member

    I agree with the Hornady lock rings. I have one for each of my 8 Lee dies.
  6. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Well-Known Member

    Yep. +1 on Hornady lock rings. They are the best. If only I could develop a tool like a long socket to extend down over the dies and engage the Hornady lock rings to snug them down into the press.
  7. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Once the lock ring is locked in place there's no reason to tighten the die/lock ring down that much. Finger tight is more than good enough.
  8. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    A number of people seem to have trouble with Lee's O-ring locking system.
    I've got several sets of Lee dies and never had a problem with settings changing.
    Takes a little different method of screwing them into the press than those locked up with steel rings, no big deal.
  9. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I basically agree and for sure, a deep socket, and the associated lever arm (aka wrench handle), is not necessary. Sometimes, when my hands hurt a bit from arthritis a little help tightening the die is gratefully accepted.

    Hornady and Sinclair International make wrenches that fit the Hornady lock rings. Both are aluminum so you do not want to "hog" down on them but they provided the little extra torque to keep the die from loosening in use.

    The Hornady wrench is also useful with items on the L-N-L progressive.
  10. chhodge69

    chhodge69 Well-Known Member

    Give them a thorough inspection when they arrive. My most recent purchase was saturated with machine oil and had not been properly cleaned after milling. I had to remove metal filings from inside the dies. I cleaned them up and they work fine. Oh - I also had to polish the flare die insert to stop it from being so "grabby" on the down-stroke but that's my personal preference - some say it's supposed to work that way.

    The o-ring lock nuts work just fine once you flip the nut over so the o-ring points up.
  11. joecil

    joecil Well-Known Member

    I agree as I have 4 dies for 4 different setups of Lee dies and use the Hornady lock rings and they work great.
  12. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    Doing that totally defeats the reason for the O-ring.
    Oh well, whatever.
  13. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Well-Known Member

  14. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I have a pile of Lee lock rings removed from Lee dies. I do find uses for them.

    The best use I have is on powder measures, I have 6 powder measures. I use the Lee ring and o-ring to hold the measure in place on the powder measure stand. With the Lee lock ring, i can get the ring tight enough by hand to hold the powder measure tight when I swap out measures. Also, I use them on my powder measure storage stand where the powder measures live when not in active use.

    I have one one my powder cop die on the Hornady Progressive. I adjust the die frequently at cartridge changes and the Lee rings let me do that quickly. But, I recently removed the o-ring because it slowed the adjustment process down. Without the o-ring, I can get the die locked enough to stay put.

    i have been know to use two Lee lock rings on a die, jammed together locked in the position that I adjusted the die for. Not as sexy as a clamping lock ring and more difficult to set, but it worked when I could not get clamping lock rings.
  15. tglazie

    tglazie Active Member

    Agreed about the inspection and clean. Disagree with removing the powder drop "jiggle" functionality that Lee designed. That "grab" shakes free any clinging powder for more consistent drops.

    The o-rings work fine for me.
  16. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    "Anything I should know about these Lee dies?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
  17. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    "Anything I should know about these Lee dies? I wouldn't think so, but I know some folks say they are not as good as the others."

    Yeah, and then they stop; no meaningful data to support the statement. Lee has been selling dies for a very long time, if they weren't as good as any of their type that wouldn't be true. Fact is, our guns will never know what brand of dies our ammo was made with! Most dies have small user trivial differences that some people like or dislike but, functionally, a die is a die so a competent reloader can use any of them quite easily.

    Those who don't understand why Lee's handgun expanders are made the way they are often 'fix' 'em to defeat the function they are made to preform but, if you're not using them on a progressive press, that won't matter. Ditto Lee's soft seat lock rings. Those who mistakenly think dies should be locked in with wrenches or pliers tend to hate 'em but there's no reason to install dies more than hand tight and for that the O ring design, properly used, works great. I have a lot of dies from a lot of makers and haven't felt a need to change a lock ring on any of them.

    I can't imagine using new dies of any brand without cleaning them first. (Ditto before shooting a 'new' firearm, etc.)
  18. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

  19. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    I have almost exclusively all Lee dies except for a single RCBS and a single Redding. I prefer the Lee over both of those. That being said, I think the Lee shell holders suck. Too sloppy. I find myself having to align cases to go into dies and then when going fast I have pinched a finger a few times.
  20. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    I like Ruger, Savage, and Lee---there those that would say I have poor taste.:banghead:

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