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Old May 22, 2012, 11:30 PM   #1
Coyote WT
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Lee vs RCBS procedural steps

I'm still a couple pay days away from having all the gear I need to start reloading in earnest but I've been boning up on the process. I have a Lee turret press but RCBS dies. In my research I have found something that puzzles me.

In all of the videos I've watched and in the Lymans reloading book I'm using as my scripture they have the decapping tool in the resizing die. While I was tinkering and familiarizing myself with the individual steps, I discovered that with my RCBS dies, the decapping tool is part of the expanding die assembly.

My initial understanding of the system flow is as follows (abbreviated):
Step 1 decap/resize/prime
Step 2 expand
Step 3 charge (part of step 2 with my current set up)
Step 4 seat

Looking at the instructions included with the die set it seems like they want the system flow to be:
Step 1 resize
Step 2 decap/expand/prime
Step 3 charge
Step 4 seat

Now that I've rambled on, here is my question: Is it acceptable to expand before resizing?
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Old May 23, 2012, 12:20 AM   #2
mrawesome22
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No. If the case would even enter the die, you would just be taking out the flare that you just put on.

I have never seen a die set with the decap rod in the flare die.

You sure about that one?

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Old May 23, 2012, 12:21 AM   #3
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What caliber are you reloading for? In most dies the depriming and resizing are done in the same die (Die 1). The one with the pin that sicks out of the bottom. After you deprime and size you then reprime as a separate action. If you are reloading pistols then you flare the case neck (Die 2) and drop the the powder. On some expanders you can drop the powder through the expander. In others you have to drop the powder in a separate operation. You then seat and crimp the new bullet (Die 3).

For bottle neck cases like rifles instead of flaring the neck you debur it. Then you drop the powder as a separate operation and then seat and crimp the bullet in the second die.

Some dies come in sets of three (FL resizing, Neck Resizing and Seating) or four dies (FL, Flare, Seating and Factory Crimp).
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Old May 23, 2012, 12:26 AM   #4
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The old RCBS dies had the decapper in the expander die. At least my .357 set was like that until I broke the pin. They sent me a conversion kit that put the decapper on the sizing die as a warranty repair.

The second set of steps you list is correct if you have one of the older RCBS dies.

Call RCBS. They'll probably set you up with the conversion.
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:18 AM   #5
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PA-Joe: 45 ACP only for now but plan to get gear for my other pistols as well. Eventually I may start working on ammo for my 30.06 but that's down the road a bit.

mrawesome22: Yep. double checked both the die instructions booklet and the pin itself.

Sport45: Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give them a buzz today.

Everyone, thanks for your education and your input. It helped a lot.

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Old May 23, 2012, 07:18 AM   #6
Don P
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Just out of curiosity, why RCBS dies in a Lee press?
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:29 AM   #7
eldorendo
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Quote:
Just out of curiosity, why RCBS dies in a Lee press?
Just out of curiosity, why not?
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:31 AM   #8
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Why not? I have Lee and RCBS dies that I use interchangably in Lee, Lyman, and Dillon presses. It's not like they won't work.
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:49 AM   #9
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Two die sets for bottle-neck cartridges have the decap pin and expander plug on the same stem in the sizer die. Three die sets for straight wall cases may have the decap pin in the sizer OR combined with the expand/flare plug in the second die. There is no effective difference to either design, both work or they wouldn't be marketed. Follow the instructions - or the obvious clues - for your die maker's design and all will be well.

Our dies (and shell holders) are normally made to an agreed upon standard specifically so they can be interchanged on common presses. And, contrary to some strong personal beliefs, there is no average effective difference between die (or press) brands; common dies vary as much within a brand as they do between brands - ALL of 'em. Any experienced reloader is almost certain to have a collection of die and shell holders and presses in regular use without concern for the color of box they came in.

Last edited by wncchester; May 23, 2012 at 08:03 AM.
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:55 AM   #10
Don P
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Quote:
Just out of curiosity, why not?
Quote:
Why not? I have Lee and RCBS dies that I use interchangably in Lee, Lyman, and Dillon presses. It's not like they won't work.
Didn't say they would not work and its evident that RCBS does not have the tutorial guide that Lee does because the OP is looking for help here.
I was just curious because most folks use the dies made by the manufacturer of the press they use, thats all nothing more nothing less.
Tough crowd here on a Wednesday morning.
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:22 AM   #11
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In older die sets the decapper was in the expanding die. I'm not sure what year this was changed, but it shouldn't be an issue. You can probably use the Pacific die instructions to set them up. http://www.hornady.com/assets/files/...ading-Dies.pdf
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:45 AM   #12
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To answer Don P's well intended question about why I use RCBS in a Lee press...

I came into reloading by pre inheritance. Rather than waiting to die and fussing with a will, my folks are downsizing their stuff to my siblings and me. I got an ancient single stage press with a set of RCBS dies for a .38 special. I picked up a set for .45 at a local gun show. When I was having trouble finding shell holders for the old model, I decided just to get a new press. Knowing that the dies were universal (found out later that the lock rings were an easy to overcome obstacle), I went with what was on the table at the gun show, a Lee 4 die turret press.

I'm learning what I should have looked for and will be sure to look for that going forward. It's part of the process I have to work through since I really have no mentor (other than your collective input) to teach me hands on. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to pass what I've learned and will be learning on to someone else down the road.
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:55 AM   #13
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Many of us came by our reloading equipment a bit at a time and have an assortment of brands.

As you add to your collection keep in mind the .38 die set you have will work just fine loading .357mag. Check the older dies for a carbide ring in the sizer. If you don't see one, lubricate your brass before you size it.

Quote:
I was just curious because most folks use the dies made by the manufacturer of the press they use, thats all nothing more nothing less.
Tough crowd here on a Wednesday morning.
Nah, it just struck me as an odd question since most folks don't.

(Actually, I have no idea whether or not most reloaders try to match die manufacturer to their press. )
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Last edited by Sport45; May 23, 2012 at 09:44 AM.
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Old May 23, 2012, 09:01 AM   #14
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Sport45: Dad's set up included a lube pad so I'm pretty sure it's not a carbide. I was actually thinking of replacing that particular die for just that reason. I doubt I'll need to load .357 but it's good to know the dies are multitaskers. It makes sense since a .357 can shoot .38s.
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Old May 23, 2012, 10:11 AM   #15
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I don't know about the rest of the guys on the forum, but if I had pistol dies that weren't carbide (with the carbide ring), I'd toss them and get the carbide dies. I hate lubing cases, particularly pistol cases. I have zillions of pistol cases. Just get the Lee carbide pistol dies. They work fine and are a bit cheaper.
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Old May 23, 2012, 10:23 AM   #16
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603 Country: I'm with you. With as much stuff as I already have to focus on in the process it seems like a no brainer (for me at any rate) to let the tools and machines do as much as they can to reduce the chances I have to mess something up.
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Old May 23, 2012, 02:58 PM   #17
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update

I sent an email to RCBS this morning and, after confirming what was stamped on the sizer die, they are sending me a decapper!
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Old May 23, 2012, 04:10 PM   #18
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3 hole or 4 hole, autoindexing and which model, Classic or Deluxe?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote WT
Sport45: Dad's set up included a lube pad so I'm pretty sure it's not a carbide. I was actually thinking of replacing that particular die for just that reason. I doubt I'll need to load .357 but it's good to know the dies are multitaskers. It makes sense since a .357 can shoot .38s.
It occurs to me to ask, are you using your Turret press in continuous mode (one case goes into the press and doesn't come out until it is a finished ready-to-shoot cartridge) or batch mode (process a batch of cases through each step before moving the entire batch to the next step)?

The Lee die sets enable charging the cases with powder on the press (speeding up the continuous process considerably) with their Auto-Disk powder measure mounted atop their "Powder-Through" expanding die. The die and the measure work together and it is hard to use one efficiently without the other.

So, that is why many people seek out Lee dies to use on their Lee (at least the Turret models) presses and Lee Powder measure. While the dies and press can interchange with other brands just fine, the powder measure is clumsy or unusable on other brands. As a complete, integrated set, they are the cat's meow.

So, in your situation, I would consider getting a full set of .357 dies along with the Auto-disk powder measure (the Pro is better than the Standard, but both do the same job the same way).

Do you have the 3-station turret or the 4? Do you have auto-indexing? Is your turret press the Classic Turret (iron and superior to the Deluxe) or the Deluxe Turret (aluminum and actually the older of the two designs)?

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Old May 23, 2012, 05:42 PM   #19
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Lostsheep you almost nailed it with the exception of the getting .357 dies. With lee dies the .357 Mag die set the expander will not go down low enough into the cases of .38 spcl. I found out the hard way. I still have the .357 mag dies that some day will be used as trade fodder.

The .38 spcl/.357 Mag die set will work with both though.
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Old May 23, 2012, 06:23 PM   #20
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Lost Sheep: I have the continuous 4 hole Classic set up. Right now all my die sets are 3 piece so I'm probably going to get one of the automated powder measures eventually. Until then I'll charge by hand in the expansion stage.
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Old May 23, 2012, 10:57 PM   #21
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Quote:
Until then I'll charge by hand in the expansion stage.
That'll work fine once you've updated your dies. Otherwise, you'll have to prime after expanding/decapping before you can charge the case.
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Old May 23, 2012, 11:26 PM   #22
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Quote:
I don't know about the rest of the guys on the forum, but if I had pistol dies that weren't carbide (with the carbide ring), I'd toss them and get the carbide dies.
You can buy just the carbide sizer die by itself. Of course, its half the price of the full 4 die carbide set ($20), and then you still dont have the powder-through expander, you can add that for $12..... Or just get the whole set for $10 more than the two together.... Unless money is REALLY tight, I agree that tossing them and buying a whole new set is the way to go....
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Old May 24, 2012, 02:19 AM   #23
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Lee's 4-die carbide deluxe set

1) sizing, decapping
2) case-mouth belling/powder through charging die
3) seating/crimping
4) crimping, post-sizing (a.k.a. Factory Crimp Die or FCD)

vs Lee's 3-die standard carbide set
1) sizing, decapping
2) case-mouth belling/powder through charging die
3) seating/crimping

Some people don't like the post-sizing of the FCD, so they knock out the post-sizing ring. You can emulate the 4-die set without the post-sizing simply by buying a 3-die set and using the extra seat-crimp die from your old non-carbide set as the 4th die (just back the seating stem out so it doesn't touch the bullet nose, or take it all the way out).

Between the 3-die carbide set and the 3-die tool steel set, there is no difference between the 2nd and 3rd dies, only the #1 die is different.

So, if you have a tool steel 3-die set, you can turn it into a carbide set by simply buying a carbide sizing die.

If you have a 3-die carbide set, you can almost turn it into a 4-die set (lacking only the post sizing function) by adding an extra crimping die and using the seat-crimp die only to seat the bullet and the extra crimping die to crimp without seating.

Mix & match to fit your loading needs.

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Old May 24, 2012, 07:15 AM   #24
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Dang! You folks rock. I'm glad I posted this because I'm learning a lot and getting some good ideas.
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Old May 24, 2012, 08:47 AM   #25
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"... I'm learning a lot and getting some good ideas. "

Perhaps the best thing you'll have learned here is that reloaders have a lot more flexability in how to do the job than some seem to think. It ain't rocket science with only one way to do something or you get blown up without warning!

Have fun!
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