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

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GLOOB...Yes, I have the Lee Pro Auto Disk unit attached to my powder die. And appears I'd be adding another step in the sequence.
Here's why I believe 9mm is one of the worst offenders when it comes to improper flare.


Because of the taper of the case (and the shortness), many 9mm cases tend to get thicker near where the base of the bullet is going to sit. Once this case is pushed through a carbide ring-sizer, this extra brass gets squished inward to a way smaller interior diameter than necessary. If you flare just the mouth, your bullet is going to have to expand that thick brass out, by itself. This is how the base of a cast 9mm bullet can get squished down to 4-5 mics too small! That would be impossible in a 45ACP case with a sizer die and brass that isn't extraordinarily out of spec.

Also, I have some DAG 9mm cases that get suddenly thicker right behind where the factory bullet sits. It's almost like a ridge. With deep seated bullets, they take the coke bottle effect to new levels.
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As the previous poster stated the 9MM case is probably the worst offender in regards to cast bullets and one that garners by far the most questions on the Cast Boolit board. The Lyman "M" die prevents the case from sizing the bullet smaller and is way better than most of the expanders in die sets which are designed for jacketed bullets. If any caliber really needs the "M" die or similar expander it is the 9MM!
I purchased the 38 SW expander, and I expanded a few cases.
While I havent seated any boolits, or made any loads yet, i can see a DEFINITE improvement!
This look like just the ticket! Do you guys also flare the care mouth using the traditional 9mm flare die, or is the 38 expander sufficient without shaving any lead? is it possible to get more flare from the new expander die by inserting a spacer, since the die itself will bottom out?
Sorry for the questions all at once, I work a lot recently and I feel like I need to get this thing right the first or second time out on the range..

I cant wait to work up some loads! when I compared the expanders side by side, I knew I had a winner. :D:D
Dr. Z. Sounds like you bought the whole 38SW expander die? You were supposed to buy just the plug. http://leeprecision.com/pm-expan-plg-38-s-w.html

Take apart your 9mm flare die. Take out the 9mm plug. Put in the 38SW plug. Now you have the 38SW expander plug at the right depth for a 9mm case. It will flare the mouth, too.
Naw, I purchased just the expander plug. I made a dummy round with no shaving lead or lube off the boolits, and pulled the boolit with no swaging even when seated to 1.07
I'm very happy, thanks for the reccomendation!

How many rounds per charge workup do you think is necessary to gauge leading? I'm thinking 15 rounds per .2 gr increment, with chore boy in between workups.
I'm not too worried, because the boolits are sized perfectly to bore, and lubed pretty well, but this is going to be my first experience shooting proper lead.

I almost swore off lead forever when I bought some .38spl PPU rounds, the leading was so horrendous I was keyholing at 10 yards within 14 rounds.
I pulled a few to see the boolits were almost as soft as pure lead, sized .353, with absolutely ZERO lube. Needless to say, for someone who had never experienced leading before, this was an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
I lucked out when I hit a local gun emporium and they
had 5 Lyman M dies in their junk dies box for $2 each.

I spent more money getting the right plugs to open up
cases to the right sizes for the stuff I load than I did
on the dies. But all told I spent less on the five used
dies than I would have spent on one at Midway.

I've been following the GLOOB/Dr.Zubrato posts re the 38SW plug. I ordered one today plus a spare 9mm PTE die. I do not get shavings with my original Lee PTE die setup but my accuracy is questionable. I also ordered some barrel slugs from Dardas so I'll be checking the barrel(s) in the near future. I have a spare Lee Pro Auto Disk setup, so I'll put the new PTE die/38SW plug on it then do a side-by-side product comparison.
I was thinking "Why don't I just stick with plated bullets?????" because the current route seems like a lot of work. But it's fun work and I'm learning!
Nevadabob: There's a great trick i learned on Castboolits for slugging your barrel, I reccomend you head over there and do lots of reading.
Trick is, put some fishing weights into a fired brass case for the caliber you're slugging, as much as you can get in. Melt it down with a propane torch and use a bullet puller to remove the lead once its cooled.

Now you won't have to worry about cramming an oversized slug down your barrel! Remember to lube the slug, and to lube your barrel.

Also: Wait about 1-2 weeks minimum before you try to seat any boolits to check for case swaging. The alloy will harden over time, so if youre going to size, do it soon, and let the lead age harden.

I almost exclusively reloaded plated bullets when I started due to cost, but realized the real cost savings lie in cast boolits, especially for plinking.
Save your jackets for screamers like 223, but anything else really, I think lead is perfect. If you're doing things right, you can take your boolits over the plated 1250fps speed limit.

@Buck: Powder, nuthin'! Gluing an office chair to the ceiling proved to be the real challenge :D
I'm having two seperate issues with 9mm so far. Found titegroup at Cabelas, so I bought 2lbs (lucky!) and when working up loads i noticed some rounds would setback WAY too easily (hard finger pressure) all the way to 1.02 from 1.12, and some would fail the plunk test until I ran them through the Lee FCD with the carbide ring.
I set the rejects aside and kept the rest, but I'm a little concerned now. I am using mixed brass, and the rejects show no brand patterns. Lead boolits are lubed up quite a bit and pretty easy to setback i hear, so case neck tension is important.

I'm guessing its going to be a battle between my expander, and the fact I don't size my boolits.

Any ideas?
Dr. Zubrato:

Regarding setback and neck tension:
Put some calipers on your bullets and your new expander plug. The plug should be at least 1 mic smaller in diameter than your bullets (I think; maybe someone else can chime in, here). It sounds like your bullets are either dropping on the small side, or your expander plug is on the larger side. If this is the case, you may either choose to sand down the expander plug or make your bullets bigger (hone out the bullet mold or change alloy and/or temp).

As for your plunk test woes, there could be many reasons. I would measure and experiment with taper crimp before messing with the FCD. It might be a simple fix. But first things, first. Measure bullets, measure expander, measure the OD of your taper crimp.

I am using mixed brass, and the rejects show no brand patterns
The neck tension is now dictated largely by the expander plug, not the brass/sizing. Your neck tension should be fairly consistent between headstamps, so long as the brass is at least thick enough to be sized far enough to begin with. So it's not surprising that your neck tension problems are not headstamp dependent.
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Don't know if anyone is still interested, but just figured I'd post this for anyone in the future with similar problems.
I ended up shooting em with no issues, except one of my starting loads was a bit below the minimum, which prevented the base from fully obturating, and caused a bit of lead fouling. Super accurate and put a hell of a ringin on those steel plates, even my 38 won't ring em like that!

What I did: Using a 38 s&w flared Win case I screened size of boolits, as I haven't sized them and some drop bigger than .357(alloy temp most likely, I don't use a thermometer) so I put these aside. By doing this, I was able to eliminate my problem with bulged cases and failed plunk test.

With regard to the neck tension issue, upon loading 500 more cartridges with my pet load, I did notice a very significant difference in neck tension between manufacturers, with RP and PMC brass having the least neck tension and being most prone to setback.
This is where I sized my extra large boolits to .358, relubed, and seated with no issues in neck tension. My cases no longer bulge, and my boolits don't set back.

Loading lead 9mm is definitely an investment in reloading knowledge, and a pretty big initial time investment in tinkering with what works and what doesn't, but it most definitely pays off when you see the end result, and you can load a few hundred for a fraction of the cost of FMJ/plated rounds.

Thanks for the advice Gloob! Definitely needed someone with experience to help me out. Good luck to anyone toying with the idea of lead, it's tons of fun and plenty rewarding!
Thanks for the update. I installed the 38 S&W plug and it would "catch & bend" one side of the case mouth. Tried to keep the case going up & in straight as possible, but 5 of the 10 I tried became junk.
I ordered the Lyman M 2 step expander die and will try that route. Should have it in a couple of days.
Good thread! I too use the .38 S&W expander in my Lee dies on my Lee Pro 1000 press. I also had issues with bullet setback and cases not fully chambering using the .38 S&W expander. I added a little more crimp during seating and everything is GTG now! 9mm and cast lead is an adventure!
Now that your adventure with the 9mm is over. What are your going to do with all your spare time? Tackle the casting temp issue and build a PID controller for your lead pot! Pandoras Box is now open!
Reloading is a gateway drug. I reload because I shoot, I cast because I reload, I tinker because I've mastered everything else! Give me more!
Well I am very interested in this thread. I shoot about 1k of cast bullets each month with 9mm being what I shoot most. 9 is the most difficult by far as far as accuracy goes.
After reading this I'm going to try the Lyman expander die, the 38S&W expander for Lee's powder through expander die is almost as much, and I have an empty station. Lee wants $9 for shipping!
40 and 45 are straight walled cases, 9 is tapered. Do you see this causing any problems as the bullets push out the case as they are set? One thing I am going to have to do is pull some loaded bullets and mic them. And then compare them to new/unloaded ones and see if they are bing swaged down as I am setting them. Keep this thread going! Its one of the most informative ones for us cast bullet loaders.
Springfield, I think i may need a tinfoil hat as well, because you've read my mind, thats exactly what I've been reading about for the past few days on CB..
it doesn't end, does it? :D
the only project im keeping my distance from (for now) is cast 223.

sexybeast: What kind of alloy, quenching, and aging do you have going? If you're loading freshly cast alloy, you may have swaging issues either way, so I would wait at least 2 weeks in between casting and seating (tough, i know)
Having said that, before using the 38SW expander plug I definitely noticed a bulged coke bottle appearance which plunked just fine, but looked suspect to the virgin eye.
Dr Z, I don't cast 9mm or 40. I usually only cast .45 because I don't know the hardness of the lead as I mined it from our local range. I believe .45 is more forgiving. And also its the only caliber I have a mold for!
I have used mostly Missouri bullets, both 115 and 125gr. Weideners has 3k of 122gr 9s at times for $159 delivered, and before they went out of business I tried some Velocity bullets. All of them used Magma molds.
I just placed an order from Dardas for their 126 swc and 147s both sized to .357 which I have always wanted to try.
So I guess the longwinded answer is that I don't "age" my bullets.
Up until now I have been using a Lee factory crimp die to finish and clean up any bulges from flaring. From what I read on Darda's website the use of a factory crimp should be avoided. I think I have a taper crimp but have never used it.
Since were discussing flaring and expander dies, what do you more experienced loaders think about finishing/crimp dies. I leave the factory crimp die wide open and use it to just clean up the flare.
Shhhh...don't tell anyone...I use the Lee FCD. Over on the Cast Boolits site, under the reloading equipment section, they've got a thread/poll asking folks if they use it: 377 aye's to 110 no's.
What I thought was the Lyman expander die arrived yesterday. Like a kid at Christmas, I eagerly opened my AMAZON.COM shipment and found a Lyman crimp die!!! I checked my paperwork and I had ordered the m die....but got the wrong part. THANKS AMAZON!!!
Well, it happens to the best of us. Got ahold of them, they credited my account and sent the free shipping label. Today it gets returned.
Got back on the computer and ordered a m die from Midway. What I should've done in the first place!!! Life is good.
Received the Lyman M die from Midway yesterday and did some preliminary tests between it and my Lee feed & expander die. The Lyman works as advertised...but so does my Lee. At this point I see no need to switch to the Lyman.
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