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Old March 7, 2007, 05:12 PM   #1
steelrat
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Lee Factory Crimp Die

Does anyone use a Lee Factory Crimp Die? What does it do different than a seating/crimp die from RCBS? Sounds like an extra step.
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Old March 7, 2007, 06:17 PM   #2
amamnn
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It is an extra step. Most precision handloaders prefer to crimp (if using a crimp) as a separate step. The Lee Factory crimp as designed for the rifle works by squeezing a collet around the top little bit of the neck of the case. It can work with both cannelured and non-cannelured bullets. A very large number of first time LFC die users apply much too heavy a crimp using the LFC die. If possible, you should adjust the LFC in the press so that it is only possible to apply a light crimp before the press cams over or runs out of ram travel. This is not possible on many (cheaper?) presses. If you crimp a non-cannelured bullet too heavily, it will deform the bullet which negates the design of the smooth side.

Lee used to also advertise that the LFC helped to ensure bullet to case concentricity, though I have not seen and Lee ads with this claim recently. It can and does apply a good precision crimp without disturbing the rest of the cartridge, a definite advantage over other crimping dies.

http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/cata...ies-crimp.html

Lee's pistol crimp dies offer no advantage over other brands of crimp dies that I can see, really. If you are looking for a very precise taper crimp, you can't do better than the Redding taper crimp die and for a roll crimp, the Redding profle crimper.
http://www.redding-reloading.com/pages/crimpdies.html
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Old March 7, 2007, 06:39 PM   #3
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Yes it is an extra step. I prefer to seat and crimp in seperate steps so I use the FCD. I have a four hole turret so it adds maybe 2 minutes per 100 rounds. No big deal.
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Old March 7, 2007, 07:51 PM   #4
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It make the ammo, look, like factory ammo.
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Old March 7, 2007, 08:15 PM   #5
benedict1
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Lee Factory Crimp Die--

For handgun ammo it does something that is invaluable--it not only will put whatever crimp you want/need on the round, it post-sizes it so it will chamber, guaranteed. Why do you have to worry about this?

Case length variations can cause problems if you try to seat the bullet and crimp with the same die. I had all kinds of problems on a Dillon SDB with this problem and was always having to run everything through a case gauge. Once I switched to Lee equipment and incorporated the Factory Crimp Die in my loading, slight case bulges due to case length differences were post-sized completely. Now use the case gauge for a paper weight.
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Old March 7, 2007, 11:13 PM   #6
BigJakeJ1s
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I've tried the Lee FCD in 45 colt, and did not like it as much as my hornady seating die, crimping while seating. I do make sure my cases have uniform length. The FCD seems to quit rolling the case mouth in too soon, letting it "slip by" the crimp ring/ledge, but roughing up the mouth quite a bit too. I've seen bagged, no-name ammo at gun shows with that look, but never boxed, name brand ammo. If you have problems the post sizing solves, your problems are elsewhere (like non-uniform case length, or improper crimping adjustment), and the post sizing is just a band-aid.

The collet style FCDs for rifle and bottleneck pistol cartridges is a completely different animal, and is the best crimping die out there. Too bad they don't make the collet style for straight wall pistol cartridges.

Andy
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Old March 7, 2007, 11:32 PM   #7
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I have never seen the problem of roughness, or whatever, in thousands of rounds of .45 ACP, .38 Spec., .357 Mag or 9mm which have all come out of Lee Factory Crimp Dies. I also don't know how many rounds you shoot but for most of us who shoot upwards of 1000-1500 rounds per month we're not into case trimming so the FCD is the most practical way to go. It is not a 'bandaid' for other problems. It works just fine.

I use mine all the way from very mild taper crimps to big time roll crimps for .357 Mag rounds. Do you have any pictures of what you describe as being a problem with your .45 Colt rounds? I for one would like to get a look a them so I can look for it in my own ammo.

Not trying to argue, just trying to understand the problem you've had.
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Old March 8, 2007, 10:17 AM   #8
HSMITH
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I load thousands and thousands of rounds per year without the FCD and don't have any problems with the case gauge. If you NEED the FCD to make quality ammunition something is wrong, make no mistake about it.

The FCD isn't needed, adjust your dies correctly and you won't have any problems.
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Old March 8, 2007, 11:35 AM   #9
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I've been using a FCD in 9mm and I like it.

The bullets I've been using are Hornady's 147gr XTPs with a boat tail profile - so they don't need a ton of bell to seat properly anyway. I can actually drop my rounds into a chamber gauge before crimping, and they work just fine.

However, my Sigs will 'guppy' some of my brass, and I like the fact that the post-sizing ring will take care of that.

I've seen better taper crimpers, but this one's okay.. I don't apply that much of a crimp anyway.

No, I don't NEED the FCD, as I suspect, most people who use them don't. It's just very nice to have and it's cheap insurance.
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Old March 8, 2007, 12:24 PM   #10
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I like the crimp adjustment on the FCD. Rarely do I feel the sizing ring doing anything.
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Old March 8, 2007, 08:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
The FCD isn't needed, adjust your dies correctly and you won't have any problems
HSMITH, please tell me how I can adjust my FL Die to hold the bullet more securely so the bullet stays put during the violent cycling action of my auto loaders. If there is a way to adjust my FL dies to increase neck tension to equal that of the Lee Factory Crimp Die I would like to hear about it.

How many calibers and cartridges have you loaded for using the LFCD? I would like to know what your personal experience with this die is and how it has affected your accuracy.

Thanks
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Old March 8, 2007, 09:54 PM   #12
Bullet94
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Quote:
HSMITH

If you NEED the FCD to make quality ammunition something is wrong, make no mistake about it.

The FCD isn't needed, adjust your dies correctly and you won't have any problems.

I agree with HSMITH, but I like to crimp in a separate step. I use the Lee FCD.


Quote:
steve4102

please tell me how I can adjust my FL Die to hold the bullet more securely so the bullet stays put during the violent cycling action of my auto loaders.

I believe when taper crimping the crimp only removes the flare from belling. What holds the bullet from setback is the case tension. I use these dies to help with bullet setback –

http://egw-guns.com/catalog/product_...products_id=40
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Old March 8, 2007, 10:21 PM   #13
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Benedict,

Thanks for the info. I have no experience with FCD in other than 45 colt, which is roll crimped, similar to your 38/357 rounds. I don't have any pics, and the last of my ammo that I used it on is long since gone, but occasionally I still see brass that still has that signature on it. I'll keep a look out for it and try to get a pic.

I suspect the problem is related to roll crimp FCD's, or maybe just mine is out of spec, but like I said, I've seen the tell-tale signs on no-name bagged ammo at gun shows too. It looks almost as if there was a collet crimped area of smaller diameter, about .01-.02" wide all around the outside of the mouth, except the collet types don't leave the roughed (scraped looking) surface on the brass. It looks like the lip of the crimper is a little to big in diameter, and rough, and lets the edge slip under it after turning it in just a little.

I only reload 5-600 rounds a month tops, and my revolver loads don't stretch the case much, so trimming every time is not required, and is not a big chore when it is needed. I also reload on a co-ax, so crimping while seating saves me an extra step, whereas if I loaded 1000-1500 rounds per month, it would be on a progressive, where the separate crimp die is no more effort than crimping while seating.

I don't have any experience loading taper crimped cartridges that headspace on the mouth, but it sure seems that if there was enough case length difference to cause problems crimping while seating (with a properly adjusted die), it would also cause problems chambering and firing. But, I don't have any experience reloading that stuff, so who knows? I will say that I like the the hornady seater/crimper much better than Lee or RCBS seaters, the only others I have tried. The Hornady is the only die with a sliding alignment sleeve that will also crimp, so maybe that has a lot to do with it.

Andy
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Old March 8, 2007, 10:35 PM   #14
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I agree that the FCD is a bandaid. If you need it for your cartidges to chamber, you messed up somewhere. More than likely, your problem was overexpansion, or shaving lead/copper upon bullet seating.

I used to use it on several cartridges, particularly the 45acp. I was having problems getting cartridges to chamber smoothly. Once I figured out that I was the problem, and corrected that problem, I have taken it off of my press.

For roll crimping, I have never tried the Redding Profile Die, but the RCBS (which is the only brand of pistol dies I use) seating die makes a superior crimp to the FCD, IMO. I have NEVER trimmed a pistol case of any caliber. I do have the equipment for each caliber, however, if I do decide to one day. Even without trimming, crimping is consistent.

If trimming is important for a perfect crimp (which it is) I don't see how a FCD would be superior to any other form of crimping. There is nothing wrong with the FCD, but if you need it to get your rounds to work, there is something wrong with your procedure. If you just like to crimp in a seperate step, then knock yourself out. I personally like to take out as many variables as I possibly can, without trimming cases, that is
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Old March 8, 2007, 11:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
If trimming is important for a perfect crimp (which it is) I don't see how a FCD would be superior to any other form of crimping. There is nothing wrong with the FCD, but if you need it to get your rounds to work, there is something wrong with your procedure. If you just like to crimp in a seperate step, then knock yourself out. I personally like to take out as many variables as I possibly can, without trimming cases, that is
I would refer you to "Modern Reloading" by Richard Lee, 2nd. ed. for an excellent discussion on how the FCD works. He ought to know since he invented it. I would not ever be without one -- I have loaded hundreds of different .38 Spec. cases from all kinds of sources and with the bullet seating/crimp die properly adjusted it is entirely possible to get occasional bulged cases that will not chamber, at all, in a modern .38 Spec. chamber. Either get the bullet puller or run them through the FCD. If you haven't run into bulged cases because of length variation then you either have surprisingly uniform length brass or you are not putting much crimp on the round. That may be okay for .38 Spec but when you get to .357 Mag pushing a 158 gr bullet you'd better have a darned good roll crimp. I much prefer what is obtained from the FCD and I have the added insurance that there will be no chambering issues whatsoever.

I have read this 'bandaid' criticism before; I can only conclude that it comes from some source where Lee's discussion of his invention/creation has not been read, or understood. The FCD crimps and post sizes to factory specs, SAAMI specs, if you will. Why that is a 'bandaid' or somehow is covering up a poor procedure is beyond me.

I would sure like to see some data on the harm a FCD does; I have only seen the good they do over the course of over 5000 rounds of ammo since last October.
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Old March 8, 2007, 11:11 PM   #16
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Steve, I have used the FCD in 9mm, 40, 45, 38/357. 44 and 45 colt. I still own one, and it is in 45 colt. The rifle FCD's are another story, they are actually a useful and viable tool. The following applies to the FCD in handgun cartridges.

This is blunt, but is the plain simple truth. If you don't have enough case tension to hold the bullet after the case leaves the sizing die you will NEVER get it from anything else you do. Sizing the case down enough to hold the bullet securely is your only option, Now, if your expander is too big you just ruined everything the sizer did for you, or if you bell the case heavily you can ruin everything the sizer did for you.

The Factory Crimp Die can only HURT case tension, it has NO mechanism to hold the bullet better. Think about this, the bullet is a soft lead slug covered with a soft copper jacket. The case is cartridge grade brass. Put the bullet into the case crimp the case mouth down a couple thousandths smaller than the bullet diameter, the soft lead and copper will take this sizing and stay within a couple ten thousandths of a inch of where the sizing put them, the brass case on the other hand has a certain amount of memory or spring to it. It WILL spring back some. Now you have LOST the case tension that you had on the portion of the bullet and case affected by the crimp. Now apply the same theory to a bullet seated slightly off axis, sure the FCD will smash it into a chamberable shape but what happens to the case tension?

I had no accuracy problems with the FCD when used correctly with jacketed bullets, and that is not according to the directions in some cases BTW. The directions tell you to overcrimp if you follow them to the letter when using autoloading pistol cartridges. Taper crimp should ONLY push the case back against the bullet, any more than that is overcrimping. With lead bullets the FCD would swage the bullets down in the case and they would be undersized, Horrific leading, poor accuracy and general misery.

The one FCD I kept? You can load autoloader type bullets without a cannelure in 45 colt with it, and create a cannelure in the bullet with this die by smashing the case into the bullet. It DOES prevent bullet pull pretty well, but bullet pull is another animal all together. The FCD is fairly unique in this case, it will smash the case mouth into the bullet and creat a cannelure without bulging the case much at all, and what bulge it does create is smashed out of the case when the sizing ring passes back over that area.
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Old March 9, 2007, 12:27 AM   #17
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I use the FCD when loading ammo for semi auto pistols only. But in that application, I love it.

BTW, this is the ONLY thing made by Lee that I use.
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Old March 9, 2007, 10:55 AM   #18
Abstract
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Quote:
HSMITH, please tell me how I can adjust my FL Die to hold the bullet more securely so the bullet stays put during the violent cycling action of my auto loaders. If there is a way to adjust my FL dies to increase neck tension to equal that of the Lee Factory Crimp Die I would like to hear about it.

How many calibers and cartridges have you loaded for using the LFCD? I would like to know what your personal experience with this die is and how it has affected your accuracy.
I'm not Smith, and I do use the FCD, but I can tell you, as Smith would, that the FCD has NOTHING to do with neck tension. I use the FCD for 9mm and .45ACP reloading, primarily.
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Old March 9, 2007, 11:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
I agree that the FCD is a bandaid. If you need it for your cartidges to chamber, you messed up somewhere
I don't see the FCD as a bandaid. I don't use it because I have trouble getting my rounds to chamber. I use it because I like to seat and crimp in seperate steps. I know others that use it for the same reason as I do. I will agree that if you are using it mainly because of chambering problems then you need to figure out what you are doing wrong. I don't agree that it's not needed if you aren't having problems.
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Old March 9, 2007, 12:46 PM   #20
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Ok I will agree the Lee FCD is not a necessity. I will also agree it's a big help. it makes the process of seating and crimping easier. if your changing bullets, seating depths, and the like a lot it makes the process simple and changing seating depth doesn't interfere with crimp or vs a vs. If your Johnny one note and only load one load at one seating depth and one crimp all the time it's value is limited. if your loading on a single stage press it adds time as it adds a step. For the biginner, by separating seating and crimping it simlifies set up, one more die but still simlified.


For all of your that hate anything and everything Lee, Get a life!
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Old March 9, 2007, 02:20 PM   #21
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rwilson, try a Redding Competition Seating die and the Lee standard crimp die. For that matter everyone should try it. Most of my die sets now are made up of a Lee standard carbide sizer or a Undersize carbide sizer, Redding CSD, and a Lee standard crimping die. It just doesn't get much better IMO. Why the Lee sizer? They will size the case down low enough to take care of any problems. Why the Redding? It seats bullets DEAD straight every time, it is micrometer adjustable too so if I change bullets I can look at my chart, dial in the setting and it is within a thousandth for seating depth. Why the Lee standard crimp die? It works great, and a full set of Lee dies gets the sizer and the crimper for about what you would pay for an individual die from anyone else.

Using the set I describe I have about a 1% fallout rate in the case gauge, and 99% or more of the fallout is due to case rim dings. Case rim dings are something no sizer or FCD will take care of. If it weren't for case rim dings I wouldn't even case gauge my competition ammo any more, the ammo is dead solid reliable.
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Old March 9, 2007, 08:22 PM   #22
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What the Inventor has to say about the Lee FCD

I recommended above that folks should look this up--for your reading pleasure I have copied this from a post I made at The High Road some weeks ago when all this was being rehashed there, ad infinitum.

Quote:
What the Inventor Says about the Lee Factory Crimp Die
Quote:
Competitive shooters and hunters need ammunition that's dependable. The single operation in the reloading process that damages the most ammunition is the crimp operation. Attempting to crimp too much either buckles the case or forms a slight bulge just behind the crimp. Either way the round will not chamber.
The Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die overcomes these problems. It cannot bulge the case and it post sizes the case just in case a oversize bullet or thick case wall makes the cartridge over maximum cartridge size. It requires an extra operation. If you are loading on the Lee Load-Master or four hole Turret Press, it's no problem, because there is a station for the Factory Crimp Die. This die allows unlimited crimp with never a chance of a bulged case because it will be ironed out as it is extracted. The carbide sizer is slightly under minimum chamber dimension, so the rounds will fit any standard chamber but will not squeeze the bullet within the case. It's priced so low that it's unlikely anyone else will produce one like it.
Richard Lee, "Modern Reloading" 2nd. Ed. page 78
This is what the die does. All this discussion of neck tension and scruffy crimps, etc, all unmeasured or unmeasurable, just confuses the real purpose of the die. If you trim cases to exactly the same length all the time, yes, you wouldn't really ever need it. But if you don't, it's a little wonder-worker.

For those with other ideas or questions about the die, I suggest you call Lee Customer Service and ask for Pat--he is an engineer and knows the internal design and workings of this type die intimately and can verify what his former boss says above.
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Old March 9, 2007, 08:39 PM   #23
steve4102
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Quote:
The Factory Crimp Die can only HURT case tension, it has NO mechanism to hold the bullet better. Think about this, the bullet is a soft lead slug covered with a soft copper jacket. The case is cartridge grade brass. Put the bullet into the case crimp the case mouth down a couple thousandths smaller than the bullet diameter, the soft lead and copper will take this sizing and stay within a couple ten thousandths of a inch of where the sizing put them, the brass case on the other hand has a certain amount of memory or spring to it. It WILL spring back some. Now you have LOST the case tension that you had on the portion of the bullet and case affected by the crimp. Now apply the same theory to a bullet seated slightly off axis, sure the FCD will smash it into a chamberable shape but what happens to the case tension?
I just did a little test with the LFCD. Here is what I came up with.

7.62x39
Ruger Mini-30
Lapua Brass
Sized Brass (Redding Bushing Die) .331 neck Dia.
Seated Bullet .335 neck Dia.
Seated Bullet OAL (Stoney Point #'s) 1.775in
Bullet 150gr Sierra RN . Not seated to cannelure.

I placed the uncrimped round in the mag and manually cycled it through the action 3 times and measured OAL.
#0 1.775in
#1 1.782in + .007
#2 1.786in + .004
#3 1.793in + .007
Total increase .018

I then reseated the bullet to 1.775in and applied a light to medium crimp with the LFCD.
#0 1.775in
#1 1.777in +.002
#2 1.777in +.000
#3 1.779in +.002
Total increase .004

I started with .004 neck tension. That should be enough neck tension to hold the bullet securely. It clearly was not.

The use of the LFCD did not in any way reduce neck tension. It performed as it should and held the bullet in place.

Sorry, but I think your theory is just that a theory with no basis in fact.

I can only speculate that if I were to do this test using live rounds to cycle the action the the result were be even more dramatic.
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Old March 9, 2007, 08:40 PM   #24
rwilson452
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Redding competition seatig die

I see for the price of this one die I can get 4 sets of Lee RGB dies or 2 Delux die set.

A bit pricey for me. If I was headed for Camp Perry I might consider it. I haven't noticed any problems seating bullets with my lee seating dies. Maybe I'm just lucky.

Now I'm going to tell you something that will have you agast!. AS soon as I have a load developed I plan on chucking out bunches of .223 stuff on my loadmaster for my AR. Just stuff them in and watch them fall out the only thing I will watch closely is to insure a good powder drop. Yes I will use a perfect powder measure and a universal charging die. Ah, but I'm only after minute of soda can. can't expect much more than that with my eyes and a holo sight.

rwilson, try a Redding Competition Seating die and the Lee standard crimp die. For that matter everyone should try it.
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Old March 9, 2007, 08:41 PM   #25
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Benedict,

Thanks for steering us to the Lee propaganda. I'm sure it is an unbiased account of what a wonderful product that it is. On the website he mentions that trim length is not "critical." Trim length is not critical to make any crimp, but for a perfect crimp, you will need one with any crimping die.

It is a post-sizing die, that happens to crimp. The crimp is not bad, just no better than a seating/crimping die. Again, if you like to crimp in a seperate step, knock yourself out. It will do nothing to help other than that.

If you need a post-size, then you messed up somewhere. Address that issue, and you will NEVER need an FCD again.
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