45 Colt Dies & Cast Bullets

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red rick

Aug 11, 2009
I received my brass this week and now all I need is powder ( maybe ) and I can make my first cartridge.

What is your favorite die set for loading cast bullets in 45 Colt ?

I read from a cast bullet maker not to flare the case when loading cast bullets. As it would cause shaving from the bullet rotating when seating.

They recommended the Lyman 2 set m expander die or the 4 die set when loading cast bullets and they don't sell Lyman dies.

I have the Lee 4 die set with the factory crimp die. They do not recommend using a this die.

Should I send these dies back and get back in line for another die set to come back in stock, or just not use the factory crimp die ?
Your standard Lee dies will work just fine. I too recommend against using the FCD.

I do not know why they would say not to flare the case with lead, as you pretty much have to if you do not want to shave lead. I do second the Lyman M die. Good stuff, but not critical to loading. Your Lee expander will work.

Just adjust your seater to crimp. It takes a little fiddling to get it right, but with good cast bullets with a proper crimp groove, seating and crimping together works just fine.


Yes, you will need to flare the case mouth when loading cast or any handgun bullet for that matter.
I have never read of not to bell for lead and just treat like I do jacketed ammo. Now I load a lot of 45 Colt from cowboy action to 300 gr WFN for hunting. Now I use Lee dies for most bullets up to 255 gr with either round nose or flat nose stardard cast bullets. For the larger WFN designs I use RCBS Cowboy dies (3 die set) and use the Lee powder through die for charging the cases. Now I use the standard Lee FCD for 9mm and 45 ACP but for 45 Colt I got from Ranch Dog Outdoors that had a collet design like comes with Lee Rifle FCD that won't shave a bullet at all. It works well for some bullets. They are still available from Lee's as I understand it as special order.
I have the Lee 4 die set with the factory crimp die. They do not recommend using a this die.

That die set is fine, but don't use the factory crimp die.
Just use the standard seating die and adjust it to give a slight roll crimp, like the one demonstrated in Walkalong's photo.
I've loaded thousands of cast bullet 45 Colt rounds using the Lee 4 die set. Like the others have said, I don't use the FCD since the regular seating die does what I need. (I do use the FCD on 45-70 rounds.) Can't imagine why any instructions would say not to flare the case mouth. I am careful not to use too much flare.

I use the Lee dies for 45 colt as well, but I do like to expand with an (M) die and just set my Lee expander so that it operates the powder measure. I sometimes use the FCD with the carbide ring removed for crimping, but the bullet seating die works just as well if you wont be loading different bullet types as you wont be having to adjust it. BTW after a couple decades of loading the 45 colt I can tell you that it's impossible to load for it without flaring the case mouth if you expect to shoot undamaged bullets...in fact you'll crush more cases than you'll load if you try to load with out flaring. They may be referring to beveled base bullets, but plain base is the way to go for standard loads or gas checked for really heavy stuff in firearms built to withstand it.
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Thank goodness I read this. I was really thinking about ordering some FCD`s from Lee. I have had very good luck with all the Lee products I have used. What is wrong with Lee`s FCD.
Thank goodness I read this. I was really thinking about ordering some FCD`s from Lee. I have had very good luck with all the Lee products I have used. What is wrong with Lee`s FCD.

Actually Ken nothing wrong with the FCD die however the standard pistol type will sometimes shave some lead cast bullets some not a problem. I use LRN bullets in both 9mm and 45 ACP and use the standard FCD dies with both. Now my 45 Colt I use either the standard FCD with some LRN however for the WFN or oversized bullets I use a custom Lee FCD die that uses a collet like the Lee Rifle FCD dies. It works well for me by the way though many cast bullets also work well with the Lee FCD not all will. Besides the seat/crimp die will also do a good job in most cases however it will also sometimes shave the lead on some cast bullets also.
There's nothing 'wrong' with the FCD. It sizes the finished round back to SAAMI chamber specs to guarantee proper chambering.

When bullets are inserted into a case for reloading, they can bulge the case a bit more on one side and cause jams. The FCD 'irons' out this bulge. As a side effect it can also squeeze down the bullet diameter a hair and people get touchy when it comes to fiddling with bullet diameters and proper barrel fit which affects accuracy.

Personally I have to use a FCD with my CZ as it has a tighter chamber than some other handguns. Cheap insurance to make sure it feeds reliably.
What is wrong with Lee`s FCD.

As mentioned it can squeeze down the diameter of a lead bullet, but you can special order the collet die in 45 colt. Original 45 colt bullets did not have a crimp groove and the case was rolled on the ogive to prevent inertia from moving it out of the case. I've been considering the collet die to try on original style bullets so that I can try more variance in depth.
I've only used one set of dies for the 45 colt and those rcbs dies have served well over the last 40 someodd years. I have taken a liking to Hornady dies.
The Lyman dies with the m die are great and I use a lot of those as well.
yes you do need to flare the case mouth for cast bullets, except for occasionaly a bevel based commercial cast bullet can be seated without flaring the cases mouth.
I flare.

In today's climate you buy whatever dies are available. My preference is the RCBS Cowboy. Designed for loading lead.
The biggest argument both ways with the FCD is the sizing of the case and bullet. Some of my cast bullets are on the larger side for caliber to allow for a larger bore on the handgun. IF I used the FCD on these it would size the case as well as the lead bullet down smaller than it started and I WILL get a leaded barrel. That said some bores are a bit on the tight side and some users have no issue what so ever in using the FCD to iron out the cases for a positive chamber.

With my 1911, and using cast bullets sized to .452, if I use MY FCD it will size the case and bullets down to .450'ish and I get leading. Joe Bob down the street might live in bliss with his, but the one I have simply don't cut the mustard.

I load and seat plenty of lead in 45 Colt and other calibers using standard die sets. In every case I roll, or expand the lip just enough that I can actually see the difference in the case neck when held up to the light. This not only is about the minimal I can get away with, but it also isn't overworking the lip of the case either. The bullets will just sit there atop with only the outer most edge of the lip showing around the bases. Any more, and I figure I am wasting case life. Like some of the others posting here, I have been loading for my handguns and rifles for close to 40yrs and these are simply things I have learned along the way. Nothing I hate more than a lot of brass with split lips after the first 5 loads. Nowadays, I usually loose them before I experience a split neck.
Some commercial cast handgun bullets have a bevel base and are easier to seat straight than flat based ,and require less flare.

The trick is in finding the correct amount of flare, enough to keep from shaving lead ,and yet minimal to save over working your brass and having premature case mouth cracks.

Most cast bullets for revolvers are designed with an angled crimp cannelure which has the same complementary angle built into the crimp portion of the seating die.

MY 2C, the Lee FCD has it's place, but is rarely needed shooting lead handgun bullets.
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