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Old September 5, 2002, 11:01 AM   #1
Mikul
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Lee Factory Crimp Die: Worth It?

Is the Lee Factory Carbide Crimp die worth buying? I am considering getting on for 9mm for use on my Dillon 550b. Is there anything that I should be aware of?
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Old September 5, 2002, 11:21 AM   #2
jjmorgan64
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The only problem with the Lee FCD is that you have to wait for them to show up from midway, nobody local stocks em for me.

You definately will produce more accurate higher quality ammo with the seperate crimping die.
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Old September 5, 2002, 11:40 AM   #3
Mikul
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The Dillon 550b 4th station is a separate crimping station, so I already have a separate crimping die, but it's a taper crimp. I have been trying to make loads as accurate as ProLoads, but try as I might, I haven't been able to do it. I am wondering if the factory crimp might perform better than the taper crimp.
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Old September 5, 2002, 02:18 PM   #4
Jim Watson
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The Lee Factory Crimp Die in pistol calibers IS a taper crimp. The difference is that it also has a carbide sizing ring to iron out any irregularities caused by uneven brass, uneven bullets, or uneven seating. I consider it essential for cast bullets in autoloader calibers, to ensure free feeding and chambering. I don't see where it would help accuracy or make much other difference with jacketed bullets unless components were pretty bad to start with.

What bullet and brass are you loading to try to duplicate Proload?
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Old September 5, 2002, 03:05 PM   #5
Mikul
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I'm not exactly trying to duplicate ProLoad, just the accuracy. I've never shot anything as accurate as that ammunition. I'd like a 124gr RN version that's just as accurate: 0.5" at 10 yards.
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Old September 5, 2002, 06:16 PM   #6
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I have a .40 with a tighter than usual chamber. If I have any bulge at all when loading , including jacketed rounds, they sometimes cause a failure to go to full battery. After using the factory crimp die, I had no FTF's at all. The carbide sizer while doing the final crimp is the niftyest ( probably no such word) thing since sliced bread. I bought one for my other pistol calibers. It is darn nice bullet "finish and crimp" die.
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Old September 5, 2002, 08:00 PM   #7
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Yes, I think it is worth buying. Not that expensive and a good die, have been pleased wth the performance of mine.
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Old September 5, 2002, 08:36 PM   #8
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Yes, they are great. Have them in all my pistol calibers.
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Old September 6, 2002, 10:25 AM   #9
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How often do you need to take the Lee Factory Crimp die apart and clean it?

I have one for 45ACP and it seem to be occasionally binding after about 800 rounds. I also notice very fine brass shavings on the turntable(550B).

thanks,
LW
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Old September 6, 2002, 11:57 AM   #10
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I vote for NOT WORTH IT. Sure it is only ~$15, but if your other dies do the job they're supposed to, the FCD is unnecessary.

I always read that the FCD will size the case down further than most sizing dies. This is very misleading. It WOULD size further down IF the carbide size ring inside the FCD was the same size as a regular sizing die....but it isn't. It has a larger inside diameter to accomodate the extra girth of the bullet that you just seated.

No reloading gurus or grandmaster shooters that I know of use them. I wish I wouldn't have wasted my $$$ on them....
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Old September 6, 2002, 01:46 PM   #11
john kilgore
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BY ALL MEANS GET THE FACTORY CRIMP DIE.

I use one exclusively on my Lee Loadmaster. I have loaded many thousand rounds (100k +) over the last 10 yrs. and have never taken it out of the die plate. It takes the swell out of the base of the 9mm case left by firing it in the chamber. I now only have two S&W Performance Center match grade 9mm's, but still, a "9" is preferable to one or more "0's" in a match due to a stray case fired from an odd gun (easy to happen due to hasty picking up scattered brass on the range during match).
To duplicate the pro-load, I recommend using the same combination they use. I believe they are using either a Hornady or Sierra bullet (lost/misplaced my reference round). They are, according to the round I pulled down, using 5.5gr.'s of W-W Superfield powder. However, like all manufacturers, they are subject to change without notice.

Set the sizing decap die to only size slightly more case neck-length than the length of the bearing surface of the seated bullet. Only expand the case the minimum to allow insertion and seating of the bullet. Seat to same OAL as reference ammo, and then only crimp enough to turn the neck back down to remove flare and slighty more to eliminate any possible hanging on feed ramp.
The crimp die body should be previously adjusted to "smooth" out the buldge of the case to nearly equal the diameter of the case head forward of the extractor groove. I have found that using the above combination with Win sp primers that with either Hornady or Sierra bullets, that either of my "Smiths" will shoot 1" or better at 25yds.
Good luck!
Also, 4.9-5.0 of Win 231 or HP-38 (same powder-different labels), or 6.5-6.6 grs of HS-6/Win 540 will give similar accuracy/velocity.
Also, I use only Win., Fed, or Starline brass. I used to use Fed 100 primers but had a firing pin extrusion into the pin hole cost me big time at the '98 PPC nationals, so, now I only use Win.'s in the 9mm's - due to the 28,000+ PSI. CCI's are ok, but tuned match guns may not pop some hard lots, same for Remington 51/2's.
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Old September 6, 2002, 03:09 PM   #12
Mikul
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John, thanks for the tons of information. It's interesting that ProLoad is using WSF. I recently switched to that as my powder of choice. 5.5gr is barely over max (5.3).

They're using Speed Gold Dots for bullets.
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Old September 6, 2002, 03:24 PM   #13
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Thank you for your advice, gentlemen. I went ahead and ordered it. I figured that I could spare $14 for a good cause. Somehow my order totalled $113 when I was all done. I don't know how that chronograph got in there.

In addition to the seating die I ordered some 95gr bullets and I'm going to push them to 1500fps. Of course, how will I know if I get there unless I chrono them?
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Old September 7, 2002, 08:57 AM   #14
MARCUSHOSS
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LEE FACTORY CRIMP DIE

THEY ARE GREAT AND I USE ONE FOR ALL OF MY AUTO LOADERS. THE ONLY THING THAT I LIKE TO ADD TO THEM IS A RCBS OR REDDING LOCK RING. I DON' T CARE FOR THE STOCK RINGS ON ANY OF THE LEE DIES. WITH MY SINGLE STAGE PRESS, I ALWAY HAVE TO RESET THEM. IF THEY WERE MOUNTED IN A TOOL HEAD I GUESS THEY WOULD BE O.K., NUT THE RINGS ONLY COST ABOUT 2 BUCKS
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Old September 7, 2002, 09:25 AM   #15
tonyz
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For accuracy try using a West Coast or rainer copper plated bullet, 124Gr Flat Nose, I have several targets that are .5 or smaller using my Beretta 92 FS. One of my most accurete loads in 9MM is:

124Gr FP West Coast Bullet- 4.7Gr H. Universal Clays
OAL 1.080 Lee factory Crimp Die.

One other is:

124 XTP Hornady Bullet 4.5 W231 OAL 1.120 Factory Crimp Die

Tony
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Old September 10, 2002, 09:37 AM   #16
Mikul
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Tony, my standard 124gr load is nearly identical to your Hornady load except I'm loading FMJ... although I recently switched to 5.0gr of WSF.
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Old September 10, 2002, 11:55 AM   #17
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Mikul
My manuals and Winchester Guide show 5.7gr of Superfield as maximum with the 115gr bullets. It gives a little under 1200fps. My PPC-9 shows 1180 +/- 15fps, my P-5906 gives 1140 +/-. Atlanta Arms uses 5.25gr. (exactly, I pulled 5!) and they are loaded right at SAAMI spec's. I normally use the 5.2gr load with the 115 but substitute 4.9 Win231 if I run out of Superfield).
A fellow competitor uses a load that Georgia Arms loads for him and it is loaded down using 4.8gr and the Speer 124 GoldDot bullet (Win. max is 5.3). He still holds the NRA PPC distinguished- auto National Record and he and his son still hold the 2-man auto team title. I watched him shoot the 25yd 18 shot stage. Through the 10x binoculars, I could see the bullets going through the same 1.5" hole at 25yds !!! If my memory is right, C.S. with Ga. Arms told me they use Superfield for all their 9mm and .40S&W ammo. He put me onto Superfield for the .40S&W back in '95. My most accurate .40 load is 6.3 WSF with a 155gr bullet, and 5.5 with 180gr. These are 85% of max. which is as close to a magic formula for developing match pistol ammo as I have found.
Many of the Custom and small ammo manufacturers are using the Superfield powder. Precision Delta uses 4.5gr with their 147gr Match load, as does Anderson Munitions. These are the two most heavily used ammo in PPC competition. It is odd though that both these companies use Win-231 in their 115gr match ammo (both use 5.0 Win231, probably as an economy measure as their ammo is very reasonably priced- cheaper than you can buy the components (new starline brass, WinSP primers, and Hornady bullets) and load them yourself.
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Old September 10, 2002, 03:19 PM   #18
Mikul
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John, thanks for the tons of info. My max charge in my previous post was for a 124gr bullet.

I'm going to revisit the 4.8gr charge of WSF.

Suddenly I'm feeling a lot better about WSF. When I told the guy at the store that I was going to use it for 9mm he looked at me like I was an idiot.
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Old September 10, 2002, 03:58 PM   #19
David Wile
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Hey folks,

I hear many folks sing the praise of the Lee Factory Crimp Die because it can crimp a bullet (jacketed or cast) even if it has no cannelure. And they also cite the fact that a bullet that bulges the case can be run up the die and the bulge disappears. Well folks, all that tells me is that the Lee Factory Crimp Die is capable of resizing bullets that you have already paid plenty of money to get in a particular size. How that can help accuracy is beyond me. If I am shooting my .357 Mag, I want it to be shooting .357 bullets. I do not want to shoot bullets that have been swaged down to eliminate a bulge in the case. If you have bulges in finished cartridges as a result of seating the proper bullet, then you should be finding out why the case is bulging instead of simply resizing case and bullet to eliminate the bulge. You may be making the finished cartridge look better, but that does not mean it is going to shoot accurately. Such use of the Lee die just does not make sense to me. I have always been able to get proper crimps with my regular dies as long as the cases are at the proper length and the die adjusted properly. I just do not understand why so many folks think they can change the size or shape of a bullet by swaging it in the Lee die and then not expect to get deleterious results. I suspect folks are taken in by the idea that they can crimp a bunch of cartridges without making sure the cases are all the same length. That is not crimping. It is bullet swaging.

Best wishes,
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Old September 10, 2002, 06:37 PM   #20
TBAUS
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David, it may not help you. It may not make sense for you to buy the die. I am no expert about Lee dies, but as I understand it, it does not resize the bullet. We don't want to resize the bullet. Its carbide sizer ring, sizes the case. The ring is not as small as the one on the sizing die. If a bullet is off center when loaded, then it can and does cause a lump on one side of the case. It is fairly common on .45acp and .40 S&W. The Lee die straightens this out. It gets the bullet centered in the case again. Before I bought one, I used to get some ftf failures with my reloads in a .40 of mine that has a "tight" chamber. After using the Lee die, I get ZERO ftf's with my ammo in this gun. Seems to me that getting the bullet centered in the case would probably help accuracy. Since I cannot get each round perfectly centered on my own, I rely on the Lee Factory Crimp die to get the job done. Shooting in an IDPA match or shooting bowling pins, I want my semi-auto to function all the time. Don't get me wrong, I do not advocate using reload for carry, but for matches shooting reloads is a reality for a lot of us. It may do nothing for you in a wheel gun. It is worth it's weight in Gold in an auto!
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Old September 11, 2002, 02:56 PM   #21
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Hey Tbaus,

I also load for auto pistols. Actually, I load for several autos from the little .25 to the 10mm and .45. I also load for a bunch of rifle calibers. I am also familiar with the fact that bullets sometimes make a bulge in the case when loaded - especially in auto cases. In my experience, however, that problem seemed to occur more often with a particular brand of brass which was too thick and required reaming.

I have also noticed that sizing dies can sometimes size a case too far, and, when the bullet is seated, it leaves a bulge. I have one set of dies for the 45-70 that sizes the cases fairly tight, and, when the bullet is seated, it leaves a slight but obvious bulge in the case at the base of the bullet. The bullet, however, is not seated off center. When I use a different set of dies for the 45-70, there is no noticeable bulge. In any case, finished cartridges from both die sets function properly in my 1895 Marlin Cowboy.

If your bullets are being seated off center, you have a problem with your seater die. If, however, your cases are bulging when a properly sized bullet is seated, I would be more suspect of cases with walls which are too thick. I have encountered this problem several times with PMC pistol cases, yet, when I tried a different brand of brass, the problem was not evident.

Yes, I do understand the importance of the feeding function in autoloading pistols, and I can state that all the ammunition I make for my autoloaders functions reliably in my handguns. I use standard dies for all of them, but I insure that my cases and bullets are of proper size and shape to promote a reliably functioning cartridge.

I know folks often speak of the fact that they can crimp their bullets at any place on the bullet when they use the Lee Factory Crimp Die. In fact, they seem very happy about the die having enough force to crimp a jacketed bullet even though it has no cannelure. If that is the case, I submit to you that the very process of using enough force to crimp a bullet where there is no cannelure is in fact swaging that bullet out of its original shape, and that just cannot enhance its performance.

If one states that he cuts a new cannelure on a jacketed bullet with a tool designed to do just that, I can understand how that may be a benefit without changing the shape or size of the bullet. The cutting tool simply cuts a grove in the jacket instead of swaging a groove which has to affect the whole bullet.

To me, using the Lee die to "fix" the problems you have described is not good reloading practice. To me, the Lee "solution" is ignoring the problem and simply covering over the symptoms of the problem.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile
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Old September 12, 2002, 11:21 PM   #22
TBAUS
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Hey David,
I too think over-crimping a bullet without a cannalure is not a good thing. In pistol, I reload for 9mm, 38 Super, 9x23, .40 S&W, .45acp, & .45 colt. My reloading gear is not the most sophisticated. I would love to someday have a Dillon press, but for now have to make due with my RCBS and Lee gear. In my .40 reloads I have seen the bulge ( off center) with Speer, PMC, Winchester, S&B and other brass that I can't recall right now. The brass was properly trimmed to length and the bullet was seated to the proper oal. In all cases except perhaps S&B, the problem was not too thick of brass. (the S&B brass is pretty thick and sometimes forms a "belt" where the sizer stops. ).. I have two competition barrels with the chamber quite tight. If too much soot gets in the barrel, the round will cause the gun to not go into full battery. In those guns, I had a couple failures to go into full battery with my reloads. I then bought the Lee Factory Crimp die and started using it to do one final sizing on my brass and to put a crimp on the bullet in the final operation. ( I used to crimp before, just not with the Lee die.) My accuracy has not suffered at all. I no longer have failures to go into full battery, unless I allow the barrel to get REALLY dirty. The competition barrels would not make good carry guns, but put the bullet exactly where it is supposed to go in competition. Most barrels have pretty loose chambers in autos, so they will feed and function fine even when cruded up. Perhaps those guns will not benefit from the factory crimp die. Maybe my RCBS carbide dies overly aggressively resize the case so I get the bulge phenomenon. I don't know. All I know is this $16 marvel made my gun function as it should when before I would lose a match because the gun would malfunction. ( Before, other competitors would say," Yeah, look at the junk gun he is shooting." Now they say, What gun is he shooting?") I only bought factory crimp dies for my semi-auto pistol calibers. I too reload rifles, including .45-70. I haven't gotten any bulges in my .45-70 rounds at all. In fact, I just loaded up 40 rounds of .45-70 last night, using IMR 4759 with Mt. Baldy 405gr. hollow base cast lead bullets. Perhaps the Lee Factory Crimp die is not for everyone. The crowd I run in all use them for our semi-auto pistols and the story is pretty much the same for all of us in that our FTF's have diminished. Having said that, I also reload .38/.357 and don't own a Lee Factory Crimp die for that caliber since it is a wheel gun. I don't plan on buying one for that caliber either. Just my two cents.
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Old September 13, 2002, 03:36 PM   #23
Mikul
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TBAUS,

Thanks for your info. I agree that some dies provide too much resizing, especially in 9mm. Have you found a 9mm resizing die that you're happy with? My Dillon die leaves me with a rather pronounced hourglass shape that sometimes makes me wonder if I'm shooting a belted cartridge.
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Old September 13, 2002, 04:34 PM   #24
TBAUS
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Hey Mikul,
In 9 x19 I have a Lee Carbide die set. It does not seem to give as much an hourglass effect as you describe as my RCBS dies in .40 S&W. I can't say none of it is there, but it seems to be less. Perhaps others can make more recommendations to us.
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