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Lee 45 ACP Dies: Flaring and crimping

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Jumping Frog, Mar 10, 2008.

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  1. Jumping Frog

    Jumping Frog Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Allright, this is one of those questions where I have just accepted that I am going to look stupid, but I will ask anyway.

    Start with the expander/powder die. I have followed the Lee instructions in the website video while setting up my Loadmaster:

    I have played with the flare position on several cases, going from one full turn out to all the way into the press.

    When I compare a case that has been primed/sized to a case that has been primed/sized and flared, I can neither see nor measure any differences in the case.:banghead:

    What am I looking for? Is the difference visible to the naked eye? Does anyone have a photo?
    Similarly, when I follow the Lee instructions for the Carbide Factory Crimp Die (i.e., pistol):

    Similarly, I have played with the crimp position on several cases, varying the amount of crimp.

    When I compare a cartridge where the bullet was seated in station #4 but not crimped in station #5, to cartridges that have been crimped, I can neither see nor measure any differences in the case.:confused:

    What am I looking for? Is the difference visible to the naked eye? Does anyone have a photo?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. rhubarb

    rhubarb Member

    May 28, 2005
    South Texas
    I just compared an unsized fired case to one that has been resized and flared. The unsized case measured .575" outside and the sized and flared case measured .570" outside at the mouth and .568" farther down. Sorry, I don't have any bullets or I'd load one up and measure it.
  3. pinkymingeo

    pinkymingeo Member

    May 31, 2007
    You should see the flare plainly. The die won't flare unless the powder-thru is threaded into the top. You won't see a taper crimp. You can either measure it, or push the crimped bullet against your table top. If it moves, you need more crimp.
  4. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Northeast TX
    Don't measure, just feel. If you see the flare plainly, that's too much flare. After the expander/powder die feel the case neck as compared to one that's not flared yet. You should just feel a bit of flare and that's plenty. It should be just enough to not shave any lead off the bullet when you seat it. If the bullet seating die shaves lead, screw the expander/powder die in a little.

    Leave the FCD as is. Sometimes they meet resistance on a loaded round sometimes they don't.
  5. jfh

    jfh Member

    Aug 28, 2003
    Maple Plain, MN
    This bears repeating: The die won't flare unless the powder-thru is threaded into the top.

    Here, the powder-through is the screw-on funnel that comes on the die. If it (or a Lee powder measure) is not installed while you're trying to set up the PTED, the expander inside the die body just rises up as the case goes into the die body and does not stay in place to force the expander into the case.

    Setting up all the dies on a Load-Master can be time consuming--make sure you start with the decapper / sizer set properly before you try to set up the PTED, and make sure your seater and the crimper are not screwed down too far, either. Get the seater and FCD die bodies set to the proper depth, and make sure the stems (center knob) are backed up more than is needed.

    It helps a lot to manually index the shell plate while you are doing these operations, and to have no primers in the tray / trough. Try building some dummy cartridges as you work your way through setting the dies--when one looks good, then put the indexer back in and try building one continuously, and finally with more cases in the stations.

    If you have the funnel screwed in, and the other dies are properly in place, and you still see no change to the flare, then the PTE die body is not screwed down deep enough. Try screwing it down until a case really has a funnel in it--too much, in other words--and then back it out until the bullet you want to seat just sits barely inside the rim, and isn't shaved when the seater puts it in.

    IMO, it will take at least two setups to get all dies in the proper place--one go-round to get things kind of running right, then a second one to adjust the dies so that cartidges at the beginning and at the end of a run are not much shorter (more variance than +-.0004) than the ones in the middle.

    As for the FCD: If the FCD is set up properly--to provide minimum taper crimp, then you might see a bit more brightness to the brass at the mouth, next to the bullet, than the cartridge body.

    Jim H.
  6. darwin-t

    darwin-t Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    I believe the instruction to turn the die up one full turn is overkill. Try 1/2 to 3/4 instead. Like others have said, you must have the funnel or powder measure installed for it to flare. I like it where I can just feel the flare as I run a finger up the side of the case. Just enough to prevent shaving stuff off of the bullet and to allow the bullet to sit upright on it's own.

    Another tip - throw away the rubber O rings and use a wrench or slip joint pliers to really tighten those lock nuts. RCBS sells a wrench for $6.96, if I remember correctly. I actually do the same thing with the shellplate nut,too.

    If you install the dies in order you should have room to get a wrench on them until you get to the last one.
  7. rero360

    rero360 Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Fredonia, NY
    I flare my cases just enough for the bullet to seat, very small amount, it doesn't seem to me like I'm putting a real crimp on the cases but I haven't ran into any issues yet.
  8. 1911NM

    1911NM Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    Northern NM
    I taper crimp to .469 +/-.001
  9. Steve C

    Steve C Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    The case needs to be both expanded and the mouth flared. The expander portion of the die as shown in the picture below sizes the inside of the case to accept the bullet. The flaring portion bells the case mouth so that the bullet enters the case without bending or crushing it. If you are not getting any belling of the case mouth you need to adjust the die so that when you reach the top of the press stroke the case mouth is reaching the belling portion of the die. More than likely you are feeling the resistance as the case is being expanded and believe it is being flared.

    If you are getting any belling of the case mouth you should be able to sit the base of a bullet slightly below the rim of the case mouth.

    As far as crimping, you should be able to easily see the taper reduction at the case mouth of your reloads IF you are giving it crimp. Its usually a little brighter ring on the case where the die is squeezing it. This picture illustrates it fairly well I think:
  10. Quickdraw McGraw

    Quickdraw McGraw Member

    Apr 13, 2007
    Very well explained Steve C. Nice pics.
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