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Lead Bullets: Do you load using the Lyman 2 Step Expander Die?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by nevadabob, Sep 29, 2013.

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  1. nevadabob

    nevadabob Member

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    Been loading plated 9's for awhile and now going to lead. One manufacturer of lead bullets stopped me dead in my tracks when his website stated to only use the Lyman dies and in particular, the Lyman 2 Step Expander Die. The site stated to not flare the case mouth and this die does the job correctly. When I looked up the Lyman die, their website states "By adjusting the neck expanding plug slightly deeper, the second step also provides a slight flaring of the case mouth for reloaders using cast bullets." I'm confused. Do you guys only use Lyman dies for reloading cast bullets? Can I keep my Lee set?
     
  2. Thompsoncustom

    Thompsoncustom Member

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    I've used both the lee expander and the Lyman M die, Both work just differently. I would say the lyman M die works better than the Lee die if you have the right expander plug in it but I would just try your lee and if it doesn't work you can get a Lyman M die or a different Lee expander plug.

    As long as you bullets are not being undersides it doesn't really matter.
     
  3. steve4102

    steve4102 Member

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    He did not mean "do not flare the case mouth".

    He meant, do not Just flare the case mouth, expand the case and flare the case mouth.

    Some say that just flaring the case mouth for lead bullets is not sufficient to keep the brass case from swaging down the lead bullet. Hence the Lyman "M" die recommendation.

    I have a few "M" dies, but prefer the Redding Expander, it is one piece and seems to be less sensitive to case length. YMMV
     
  4. nevadabob

    nevadabob Member

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    Steve...He specifically states: "Thou Shalt Not Flare Case Mouths For Cast Bullets!"
     
  5. mbopp

    mbopp Member

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    I added a Lyman "M" die to my 357 Herrett set for reloading cast .358" bullets.
    For 45ACP and 38/357 I'm using the factory RCBS expander.
    I've heard there are machinists over on CastBoolits who will turn your expander and make it a 2-step design a la Lyman.
     
  6. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    The Lyman "M" die isn't a necessity, but it makes it easier to load cast bullets correctly. To flat out make a statement like that shows a lack of experience, in my opinion. I've been casting my own bullets since 1968, and reloading since 1963, and I didn't have a Lyman "M" die on my bench until about 10 years ago. I like them, but to say you can't load cast bullets without one is nonsense.

    In the years I was actively shooting PPC matches on our department pistol team, I loaded about 30,000 rounds of HBWC, all without the benefit of an "M" die. As long as I did my part, the bullets went into the X ring at 50 yards and closer.

    Don't worry about it if you don't have the "M" die for now. You can always pick one up later if you decide you need one. Just add enough bell to the case mouth to allow the bullet to seat without shaving lead, and then enough taper crimp to remove the bell.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  7. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    The M die is for bottle neck type rifles cartridges, when using cast bullets. Rifle dies dont bell/flare the case mouth.
     
  8. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    only is Lyman's M expander the best design available, it's so good Redding copied it for their handgun dies and I believe RCBS did for their "cowboy" dies. Making it flare a case mouth, handgun or rifle, is simply a depth adjustment. The short second step of the expander plug is about 1/16" long and is made slightly over normal bullet diameter to insure the critical heel of flat base bullets of any kind aren't damaged during seating. Only if a lead bullet is overly large would the third step flaring part ever be needed.

    While M expanders obviously aren't "necessary", they are indeed helpful. I have one for every handgun and rifle caliber I load for, .224 to .458. They work well for both jacketed and lead bullets.
     
  9. Otto

    Otto Member

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    Yeah, he also says: "Lyman 4 die sets are the only dies manufactured that will reload cast bullets and jacketed bullets interchangeably and correctly."

    Personally, I don't buy that....but you're free to believe anything you want.
     
  10. Thompsoncustom

    Thompsoncustom Member

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    The first bullets I reloaded I used a lee classic loader and a punch to flare the case, it worked enough that they didn't lead so it can be done with many things many ways.
     
  11. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Yeah, that's total BS. I use the cheap Lee dies for .45 Colt, .40 and .38 Special and they load both cast and jacketed just fine.
     
  12. wgaynor

    wgaynor Member

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    I use the Lee universal Flaring Die and I have no problems. I load Cast Bullets 95% of the time. Before I bought the flaring die I used a pair of pliers. Only difference? Saves me time.
     
  13. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Member

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    I like the M die for 45acp. I don't need it for .38 though because for whatever reason the bullets seat straighter.

    The expander on the dillon powder die is at least as good as the M die.

    J.
     
  14. Crashbox
    • Contributing Member

    Crashbox Member

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    I purchased a .357 Magnum Lyman 'M' die and it sure made a difference in seating cast bullets, and I also have reason to believe it helped with their accuracy.

    I also have one for my .405 Winchester but haven't put it to use yet.
     
  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Sometimes a regular expander die doesn't do a good job for cast bullets. Just a fact. They might work fine for you, your sizing dies, your brass, your gun, and your bullets. So try and see.

    My Lee 357 and 45ACP dies do a good job. But the 10mm expander is mediocre. And the 9mm is completely unacceptable (and this is mostly due to the sizing die, as I'll explain.)

    My Lee 357 expander works fine because it expands most all the way through where the bullet seats, not just the mouth. (This is similar to how the M die works, only the M die is even better.) But none of my Lee autoloading handgun expander plugs come close. They only flare the mouth.

    You might think a flare just on the mouth is ideal. More neck tension is better, right? Well, you don't get more neck tension with cast bullets beyond a point. After that, the brass just swages the bullet down.

    My Lee 45 ACP flaring die works fine with cast bullets, partially because my Lee 45ACP sizer die barely sizes the cases to begin with. With the thinner cases, the neck tension is actually noticeably loose with jacketed bullets. Perfect for cast bullets, though, with all my brass.

    My Lee 9mm sizing die really cranks down those thick 9mm cases. And then the flaring die will only touch the mouth. Seating cast bullets squished the bases down to as little as 0.353". This caused poor accuracy and lead fouling. Instead of an M die, I bought the 38S&W expander plug, and I use that for my cast 9mm. It was only a few bucks, and a couple days in transit. Lee Precision ships fast, IME. Note, the 38SW/9mm expander plug swap is a unique situation where there is a cheap solution. In has been posted in many forums. You can't order a stock plug to "fix" most other Lee flaring dies.

    A good rule of thumb for your cast pistol reloads: if you are getting leading and bad accuracy, take a look at your reloads. If your expander only flares the mouth AND your reloads look like a snake that swallowed a cow, you might wanna investigate a little further by pulling a bullet and putting calipers on it. A good flare die will make your empty cases look like the "coke bottle" before you seat the bullet.

    So as you can see, folks could load cast pistol bullets their entire lives and see no need for anything but a stock expander. But that may be little more than dumb luck, and it could have as much to do with their sizing dies and brass as it does the shape of their flaring die. Their dies just happen to work well for what they're shooting.

    I use an M die for all rifle reloading, cast or jacketed. Wouldn't do without it.

    Because bottleneck rifle expander plugs expand the entire neck, you can more than likely shoot cast rifle bullets just fine with your regular dies (with a couple exceptions). You may just need to put a little flare on the mouth to avoid shaving, and to prevent the bullet from tipping while seating, is all. Also, the gas check which is used on most cast rifle bullets would effectively protect the bullet from case-swaging, anyway. But the M dies are awesome on a stick for rifle cartridges for a couple of other reasons - in addition to the fact they flare the mouth perfectly for holding the bullet straight with no shaving.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  16. nevadabob

    nevadabob Member

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    Thank you everyone for your replies! I appreciate the info.
     
  17. steve4102

    steve4102 Member

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    Yes I know, Lets just say he could use some help with the written word.
     
  18. dickttx

    dickttx Member

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    I basically load nothing but lead. The three way Lee die expands the case a short distance (depending on caliber), flares the case mouth, and is a powder through die. I never used the Lyman M die but have never had a problem with the Lee die.
    On the other hand, if you have to pay an additional $20 for it then it has to be better.:D
     
  19. Dr.Zubrato

    Dr.Zubrato Member

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    GLOOB, thank you! I've been scratching my head and wondering what I'm going to do with my 124 TC TL Lee bullets!
    I'll be ordering the 38S&W expander, but can you use it normally for plated and copper jacketed bullets as well, and forget about the original 9mm expander? will a .38 special expanding die work in place of the .38 S&W expander plug?
    I'll be reloading for the glock OEM barrel, btw. I know people flip lids about it, but many do so successfully so long as BHN, sizing, pressure and velocity are in spec. Any other advice?
    Do you use the Lee FCD in 9mm, or do you simply use the seating die crimp?

    I'll be using ice water quenched wheel weights, tumble lubed twice in 45/45/10 loaded under IMR 800x or Blue Dot
     
  20. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    The 38/357 expander plug is not the right length. It's too short, IIRC.

    Yes, you can use the 38SW expander for jacketed bullets. I would adjust the depth to make sure you don't expand below the base of the bullet, though. This to minimize your chance of a setback.

    I don't use the FCD.

    I use the same bullet as you. I use the same lube. I also shoot out of a stock Glock barrel. I'm using WW, too, but air cooled. I might use about 4.5gr Unique, but don't take that as gospel. I set the bullet so that the first lube groove is completely exposed. The second lube groove is just peeking over the case mouth on shorter brass. This puts the base of this bullet where the 38SW expander plug bottoms out. It fits my stock Glock barrels and my LW Glock barrel.

    With the 9mm flare die, my reloads shot a 12 yard pattern at 100 yards. They were tumbling, for sure. Fouling was so bad that Chore Boys didn't dent it. I scraped the lead out with a piece of brass tubing. After using the 38SW flare plug in the 9mm die, the accuracy is about as good as anything else, and the fouling is minimal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  21. moxie

    moxie Member

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    "Steve...He specifically states: "Thou Shalt Not Flare Case Mouths For Cast Bullets!""

    What a bunch of hooey!
     
  22. Dr.Zubrato

    Dr.Zubrato Member

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    Awesome! Very glad to have wandered back here after lurking and asking on CB.GL.
    What has your glock slugged at? Mine is .357, so I haven't sized my bullets. I think as a result of this, my rounds only pass the drop in test at a little under 1.10.
    So, I may be looking at undersized cast, even with the S&W expander bottomed out?
    Thanks again for the quick reply!
     
  23. DeadFlies

    DeadFlies Member

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    When I used to load lead 9mm I used the Lee Powder Through Expanding Die; it works great. When I'm doing 30-30 I open the case mouth a bit with a pair of needle-nose pliers and finish it with the Lee FCD; that seems to work just fine too.

    Reloading can be as complicated or simple as you want or need it to be. I have no need for the Lyman M die. YMMV.
     
  24. nevadabob

    nevadabob Member

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    If I decided to go with the Lyman M Expander Die, in what sequence would I use it? I have a Lee single stage press, Lee 4 die set (9mm), and a Lee Pro Auto Disk. Obviously I'd use it before dropping powder. Since the Lyman expands/flares, what happens at powder dropping? My Lee powder die allows the powder drop and expands the case mouth as well. Looks like I'd disable the case mouth flare function on the Lee die. Hope this is clear.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  25. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Curious. Are you mounting a powder measure on top of your SS press? Which one?

    If that's how you roll 'em, the Lyman M die will add an extra step. FWIW, flaring can be batched on a SS press quite fast if you orient your shellholder so that the flared case is pushed out when you put in the next case.

    Dr. Z: I have yet to slug a bore or size a pistol bullet. I really don't care if my bullets are exactly 1 mic larger than the bore. They shoot straight or they don't. If they're not shooting straight, making them smaller isn't going to help.
    I dunno what your Glock is like. Mine doesn't care about OAL. If it fits in the mag, it will fit in the chamber. The freebore is all the same diameter. So I'm not sure how your drop test is dependent on the OAL, unless you're already at the rifling. And we all know the Glock rifling starts about halfway down the barrel. Maybe your barrel needs a cleaning?
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
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