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Old June 17, 2012, 07:53 PM   #1
losixxx
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Pistol Lee die set 3 or 4 ?

Ive been looking at .38 special sets and I noticed that lee offeres a 3 or 4 die set. Im new to this so if I am wrong please correct me. On the 3 Lee die set you dont have the crimper and on the 4 die set you have the crimper.

1)Now do you not have to crimp with pistol ammo ?

2)Rifle you do not its optional for the rifle right or wrong?

To me I realy feel that the 4 die set would be the proper die set to purchase, also I noticed that they also sell the crimper alone. I am looking at Cabelas's website also for the purchase of the dies.

Thanks ahead of time for any information tips or help.
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Old June 17, 2012, 08:08 PM   #2
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There is no disavantage to getting the 4 die set if you have the money. But you don't need to use the Lee Factory Crimp die if you don't want to. With the standard Lee seating die you can add anything from a slight taper crimp all the way to a full roll if you adjust it so.
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Old June 17, 2012, 08:23 PM   #3
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I usually buy the 3-die sets. I seat the bullets and crimp at the same time. I sometimes reluctantly go back and buy the 4th die if I'm using oversized cast bullet and having trouble getting them to chamber.

The 4th die is used as a quality-control measure; any cartridge that gets resized more than just a kiss goes in my "blasting ammo" pile, the others go in the good pile, and all of them in both piles will work. It's faster than sizing all the bullets.
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Old June 17, 2012, 08:27 PM   #4
Lost Sheep
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Not necessary 99% of the time, but convenient.

Lee Precision's thoughts on the matter can be found in these threads:

One thread contains a lively discussion of the FCD and the function of the post-sizing carbide ring in the FCD. The phrase "9mm" is in the thread title, but don't let that dissuade you. It contains responses direct from Lee Precision, too. Read the whole thing. It is worth it.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=465091

this thread contains a poll

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=465603

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Old June 17, 2012, 08:34 PM   #5
CrustyFN
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With both die sets you can crimp with the seating die. The four die set gives you the option to seat and crimp separate.
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Old June 17, 2012, 08:44 PM   #6
Lost Sheep
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And the extra function

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrustyFN
With both die sets you can crimp with the seating die. The four die set gives you the option to seat and crimp separate.
The Lee four-die set also includes another function, completely unrelated to separating the seating and crimping. It sizes the finished round (post-sizing because it is done after everything else has been done) to make certain the cartridge is within SAAMI specs (that is, the case has not been bulged by having an oversized bullet squished into it).

Added by edit: If your rounds are not out of spec, the post-sizing ring does nothing, not even touch the cartridge. Thanks, CrustyFN, post #13.

If you don't want that function, there are five solutions.

Have Lee ream the sizing ring larger.

Knock the ring out of the die

Purchase another brand of dedicated crimp die

Seat your die with the seat crimp die adjusted to apply no crimp and then crimp with the same die, adjusted to apply no seating.

Buy an extra seat/crimp die. Seat with one seat/crimp die and then crimp with the other seat/crimp die. This last solution is super cheap if you can find a tool steel 3-die set because you can usually get the tool steel set SUPER cheap. The only difference between a tool steel die set and a Tungsten-Carbide set is the #1 (sizing) die. The other two dies are the same.

So simple. So easy.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; June 18, 2012 at 08:47 PM.
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Old June 17, 2012, 08:58 PM   #7
losixxx
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So basicaly the 3 die set will complete a .38 special round ready to take to the range and fire and the 4 die set is jus in depth very presice method of seating and crimping correct
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Old June 17, 2012, 09:00 PM   #8
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Right....
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Old June 17, 2012, 09:00 PM   #9
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When using a 3 die set for loading Hornady XTP hollow-points in 40S&W, I have to adjust the seating die higher to avoid deforming the tips of the bullets because the crimper grips the case too tightly to allow the bullets to be seated properly. I'm buying a dedicated crimp die to avoid having to re-adjust everything 2-3 times just to finish the rounds. I have no problems loading round-nose bullets with the S/C dies.
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Old June 17, 2012, 09:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
So basicaly the 3 die set will complete a .38 special round ready to take to the range and fire and the 4 die set is jus in depth very presice method of seating and crimping correct
The 3-die sets will seat the bullets and crimp them just as precisely, even if you seat and crimp at the same time. It's just a little tricky adjusting the die (2 adjustments affect each other) until you figure it out.
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Old June 18, 2012, 12:26 AM   #11
Lost Sheep
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z'actley as zxcvbob says.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zxcvbob
Quote:
So basicaly the 3 die set will complete a .38 special round ready to take to the range and fire and the 4 die set is jus in depth very presice method of seating and crimping correct
The 3-die sets will seat the bullets and crimp them just as precisely, even if you seat and crimp at the same time. It's just a little tricky adjusting the die (2 adjustments affect each other) until you figure it out.
Also, if you are using lead slugs (which are usually a bit oversized, to ensure they fill your bore) and your brass happens to be a little thicker, you can get a bulge in your cartridge which prevents reliable chambering. The post-sizing cures that but, (as has been said before) sizing the slug down inside the casing, sometimes more than you want.

Therefore, it is important to know what your sizes are, (bore, throat, bullets and brass). Calipers are good for that.

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Old June 18, 2012, 07:45 AM   #12
David Bachelder
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I have a three die set by LEE. I'll sell it reasonable.

PM me if interested.
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Old June 18, 2012, 07:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
It sizes the finished round (post-sizing because it is done after everything else has been done) to make certain the cartridge is within SAAMI specs (that is, the case has not been bulged by having an oversized bullet squished into it).

If you don't want that function, there are five solutions.

Have Lee ream the sizing ring larger.

Knock the ring out of the die
It only sizes a round that is out of spec. A case that is badly buldged and oversized lead bullets. If you have the other dies set up right you will never have the post sizing ring size a finished round with jacketed or normal sized lead bullets. At least thats my experience in all the calibers I use them in and I'm just your average reloader.
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Old June 19, 2012, 12:23 AM   #14
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For the minimal price difference I would get the FCD. Seat in one step and crimp in the other. Also if the bullet your are seating has a pretty deep depth you can bulge the case a little at times. Especially wadcutters. The FCD takes the excess off and the rounds will chamber better. What are we talking in price difference? $10?
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Old June 20, 2012, 10:48 PM   #15
Lost Sheep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrustyFN
It only sizes a round that is out of spec.
Absolutely true. 100% agreement.

So, using one SHOULD be no detriment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrustyFN
A case that is badly buldged and oversized lead bullets. If you have the other dies set up right you will never have the post sizing ring size a finished round with jacketed or normal sized lead bullets.
or brass whose walls are not thicker than they should be.

My friend shoots 500 S&W and bought some 500 Special brass for lighter loads. We found out that the brass near the base of the cartridge is thicker and if we seated bullets to the crimping groove, the brass was expanded out enough to prevent chambering. Frustration ensued.

The post-sizing function of the Lee FCD would have cured that .

Such things happen. Even to experienced loaders.

Now, I agree, the FCD cures problems that, if loading were done properly in the first place should not happen, and the FCD should not be relied upon to cure them, either. Once identified, the problems the FCD cures should be fixed in the first three dies. Bad practice not to do that.

Insofar as the FCD HIDES problems, it is a bad thing. This is a notion I don't often point out, but it is true.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrustyFN
At least thats my experience in all the calibers I use them in and I'm just your average reloader.
I have read your posts. You seem to me to be to be quite more knowledgeable than average.

Respectfully,

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Old June 21, 2012, 12:21 AM   #16
chris in va
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My CZ's have a very tight chamber and short leade. Any slight bulge or spec difference will cause a jam, and my 75bd simply won't run without it when using Lee lead molds.

Let's face it, range pick-up brass varies greatly and no matter how exact your dies are, lead bullets don't always go in straight and off center seating is a common issue. A regular seating/crimping die doesn't iron out the issue.

Bottom line, I would rather deal with slight inaccuracy issues from swaged-down bullets being returned to SAAMI specs than have to deal with the occasional misfeed during a match or (God forbid) a SD situation.

On a side note, it's been proven the rifle FCD tightens up velocity spreads slightly.
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