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LEE FCD question .40S&W

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by BowElkStalker, May 16, 2010.

  1. BowElkStalker

    BowElkStalker Member

    Hello all, have read many posts on THR and thought this would be a good place for help. New to reloading and have "practiced" loading .38 with my Hornady LNL with Hornady dies. I have loaded about 500 rounds of FMJ and hard cast and have learned much. I am now ready to start loading for 40S&W and here are the steps I have gone thru. Bought 1200 once fired winchester brass and all had a slight bulge at the base. I bought the Lee deluxe die set along with the bulge buster. I deprimed/sized cases and ran them thru the bulge buster. About 25% didn't even touch the FCD when passed thru, 50% did, and 25% were tight going thru but not bad. I cleaned the dies pryer to use and found out that the sleeve inside the FCD needs to go in the right way:banghead: I crushed three practice cases before I figured this out, yes I am a slow learner. So I have finally figured out the Lee dies and have made a pracice round(no powder or primer). I have set the FCD to one full turn for "heavy" crimp. Round looks good but if I give the round three good tapes on the top of my press the bullet will set back into the case about .002? I am "ass"uming that I do not have enough crimp. I am seating hornady XTP 155gn bullets.

    I know their is a love/hate relationship with the FCD but so far after learning with the Hornady die's and looking at the fit and finish between the Lee and Hornady it makes me want to get a new set of dies, but that is why I am here to learn from you guys.

  2. Roccobro

    Roccobro Well-Known Member

    If you can seat the bullet deeper by pressing it against your work bench by hand, you need more case neck tension. Crimping should only be used to A) remove any case neck flair used for seating the bullet- or B) put crimp onto bullets (and cartridges) designed to have crimps on them (crimp grooved/cannelured bullets, cartridges not- indexing on case mouth).

    With all that said, what kind of bullets are you putting in? What is the measured diameter of the brass's neck before flair, and also after "lite crimping"? Is it the same as a factory loaded Winchester round?

  3. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Neck tension does all the work holding a bullet in straight walled auto calibers that headspace on the case mouth. The "crimp" is to remove the bell and maybe a hair more. No amount of crimp will make up for poor neck tension.

    Your sizer can be too big (Get Lee to replace it), or your expander could be too big. (Polish it down) Another thing is to not bell the case any more than needed to seat a bullet without shaving lead. No more. That will help neck tension if you are over belling.

    Try sizing a couple of case and seating a bullet without using the expander. If it shaves some lead just cut it off. DO NOT CRIMP. Then test for bullet setback. If it still does it, your sizer is too big. If it doesn't, the expander may be where the problem is. (Most likely)

    Now size a couple cases and bell a minimal amount. (Just enough to get the bullet seated without shaving lead). Seat the bullets. DO NOT CRIMP. If they pass the bullet setback test now, the FCD crimp die is suspect. If it is adjusted to give too much crimp, it can hurt neck tension. (As can any crimper if adjusted to far down). If the carbide ring in the FCD die is too ittle, it can size down the bullet, which will not spring back compared to the brass case that will, hurting neck tension.

    Trial and error will find the problem. AC

    Welcome to THR
  4. sharptailhunter

    sharptailhunter Active Member

    I like the Lee products I have, but I LOVE my Hornady stuff. I have the Hornady three die set for my .40 S&W. If you can at all spring for them, I highly recommend it. They have that free bullet promo going on right now so you would get a 100 more of the same bullet that you're currently loading. I have seated jacketed, plated and cast bullets with the Hornady dies and they have worked beautifuly each time.
    Last edited: May 16, 2010
  5. pcwirepro

    pcwirepro Well-Known Member


    I have the same press and dies and started out with similar problems.
    I did a a trial and error check as Walkalong has described. I started belling the case mouth less, that solved most of my problem. Second I set the seat/crimp die down a bit bore so it was doing most of the crimping (or removing the bell as it were) this took care of the remaining 50% of my problem. Lastly, I dialed the FCD up so that the round passed through the carbide ring then barely got a taste of crimp and bam. Necks were tight as can be. For what it's worth, after getting the seat/crimp die right, the case barely touched the FCD. Before that die was working it's tail off. Right or wrong it worked for me.
  6. BowElkStalker

    BowElkStalker Member

    Thanks much,

    I will continue my search for the problem. I am using Hornady XTP jacketed bullets. I do not think I am belling the case to much but will leave no stone left unturned.
  7. NuJudge

    NuJudge Well-Known Member

    If you assemble a practice dummy cartridge (no powder or primer) without useing the FCD, is the bullet loose? Set up your Seating die to not just seat the bullet, but also straighten out the "Flair" or "Bell" at the case mouth. If you remove the barrel from your pistol, you will be able to test to find the minimum straightening necessary for easy chambering. In the 9mm, I've found that not quite removing all the flairing improves accuracy in a Beretta 92FS and Walther P-38.

    In some cases, I worry about a FCD actually loosening the bullet. There are diagrams in most reloading manuals on what happens if you overcrimp. I've seen revolver cartridges where the bullet is so loose it will rotate.

    I like a lot of neck tension on pistol bullets, be they for revolvers or semi-autos. I like my Sizing die to size the case probably more than necessary because of a bad experience long ago with thin brass. Cartridges I've loaded have a "wasp waist" look to them.
  8. BowElkStalker

    BowElkStalker Member

    I checked the practice round and could not press the bullet into the case with my thumb, but if I smacked the case three times on a the top of my press I can get the bullet to set back .001-.002? I measured the round compared to a factory round and they were the same.
  9. kutter

    kutter Well-Known Member

    You might try reading this link

    It actually addresses reloading for the 357 Sig round, which is very similar to the S&W 40. There is some very good reading about bullet setback and test he conducted and how to get the best/most secure results. He also talks a little about the fact the the S&W 40 round has more bullet setback than most people talk about.
  10. Roccobro

    Roccobro Well-Known Member

    "Smacked" like base of shell first or banging bullet first?

    I don't see what your trying to accomplish with this test. You might as well measure them then chamber them in your gun and see what "real" setback would happen. You don't really chamber the same round more than once... unless it is your carry ammo and your removing/replacing between training sessions. But even factory ammo will set back eventually under this repeated striking condition.

  11. Scrapperz

    Scrapperz Well-Known Member

    I agree, always do the real testing with the firearm your gonna use.
  12. BowElkStalker

    BowElkStalker Member

    Yes I was firmly tapping the base of the case. I am just trying to get a handle on how tight a crimp should be. I did chamber this load a few times from the mag and by doing this their was no evidence of setback so I guess I am ok.
  13. Roccobro

    Roccobro Well-Known Member

    Sounds like your Good to Go then. :)


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