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Lee 3 Die or 4 Die set?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by TC8500, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. TC8500

    TC8500 New Member

    Feb 9, 2011
    I am considering a set of Lee Dies for a .44 Mag, I am not using a Progressive Press. What thoughts and opinions are out there on 3 die or 4 die set? The difference in price seems to be around $15. Cartridges will be reloaded for use in a Marlin 1894. I would appreciate your input.
  2. noylj

    noylj Participating Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    I have always separated crimping from seating.
    However, you will be combining both operations, then the 3-die set is all you need.
    If you are going to separate the two actions, I would get the 3-die set and a Redding Profile Crimp die for the roll crimp.
  3. ArtP

    ArtP Active Member

    May 6, 2010
    Northern CA
    I have the three die Lee set for 44 mag, which means I seat and crimp with one stroke and one die. Since I have not used a dedicated Factory Crimp Die, you will have to take my opinion with a grain of salt. I load for a SBH and a 1894.

    I am completely content to not use the FCD. Using the seater die to lay on the crimp does mean that case length is very important. Cases that are longer or shorter will result in more or less crimp as the die will lay a heavier crimp to longer cases and a lighter crimp to shorter cases.

    It takes some practice because there are two adjustments; one adjustment for bullet depth and another for the amount of crimp. Depth is set by the screw-on seater stem and the amount of crimp is determined by adjusting the height of the die in the press.
  4. Seedtick

    Seedtick Participating Member

    Mar 23, 2009
    Central Arkansas
    I use/would use the 3 die set for loading on a single stage press.

    I use/would use the 3 die set for loading on a 3 station turret press.

    I use/would use the 4 die set for loading on a 4 station turret press.

    There now, did I make that confusing enough? :banghead:

    And as they say YMMV.


  5. tlen

    tlen Active Member

    May 12, 2008
    I use the FCD for another reason. I shoot lead bullets and occasionally [1 or 2 per 100] a cartridge might have a slight lead burr that makes chambering difficult. The FCD takes any burrs off...
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    I use a 4 hole turret press so I have room for the 4th die. I also like to crimp in a separate stage so I use the Lee FCD that's in the 4 die set.
  7. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Member

    Jan 22, 2010
    Alaska, Fort Wainwright
    The 4th die is a second sizeing die. You run your loaded round through it and it resizes one last time. It is not needed however, I use it on my 45acp, and it feeds great. I only use 3 die sets for wheel guns, they have no issues and do not benefit from the 4th die. I really don't think the 45 needs it either but it makes a really nice looking round. I use the 3 die set on my 9mm's and have no issue either. I picked mine up on sale, and I do like them but as I said for a revolver I would not use the 4th.
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    Yep. RCBS seaters also roll crimp really well. (Sans the stem naturally)

    The Lee FCD is not a sizing die. A sizing die would ruin the round. Just try it.

    The FCD for pistols uses a carbide ring to slightly squeeze down any rounds that are over spec. (This is the theory anyway)

    I am not a fan of them, but there is a good use for them. The IDPA guys like to use them to make sure they do not have any over sized rounds that would cause a failure in a match. It saves them the time of gauging all the rounds.

    Reliability is more important to them than that last tiny bit of accuracy.

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