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Old July 6, 2012, 11:13 AM   #1
tpcollins
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Range results with/without Lee crimp die

I loaded up 18 rounds - 3 each in .3 grain increments using IMR-8208-XBR pushing 60gr Sierra HP bullets using a 5x scope at 100 yards:

Charge Group

21.8 gr .774"
22.1 gr 1.594" crimped
22.4 gr .820"
22.7 gr 1.552" crimped
23.0 gr 1.137"
23.3 gr 1.830" crimped

I thought I was lightly crimping the cartridges and I really couldn't see any difference between crimped and uncrimped. Soooooo, I have a Lee 3 die set and will FL size all loads for my AR in .223. I'll check the mandrel on the FL sizer and maybe contact Lee to send it in to have it turned down a hair to maximize neck tension.

I'm going to have to play with the FCD a bit more and maybe pull some rounds to see what I think a light crimp actually looks like, we'll see. I was really disapointed with these results.
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Old July 6, 2012, 12:18 PM   #2
jcwit
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Ever see a winning benchrest competitor crimping his cartridges?

I never have, I neck size, and seat the bullet to within .002 of the lands. And I do not crimp, I use L.E. Wilson dies with a Sinclair Arbor Press. However I do not compete, just have a good time. I usually shoot for group size, but if you wish for a real challange try shooting for score, 1 shot per bull, and 25 bulls. Whole different ball game from shooting for group.
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Old July 6, 2012, 12:26 PM   #3
steve4102
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You know the OP is loading for an AR correct? Do you really neck size and load to .002 off the lands in an AR?
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Old July 6, 2012, 12:38 PM   #4
Brian Pfleuger
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While the results may be suggestive, they are far from conclusive. The variable of the crimp would have to be isolated. In other words, otherwise identical loads with some crimped and some not crimped.

While all of the crimped loads may have performed worse than any of the uncrimped, the uncrimped rounds were not consistent either. It is impossible to separate what could be differences attributed to charge weight from differences caused by the crimp.

Additionally, even with otherwise identical rounds, what you would have is the effect of THAT crimp setting at THAT OAL. More or less crimp at different OALs would be needed in order to determine if the over-all average affect is bad or good.
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Old July 6, 2012, 12:51 PM   #5
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Well, there it is; crimping reduces accuracy. No more need to wonder about that question anymore, right?
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Old July 6, 2012, 01:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
You know the OP is loading for an AR correct? Do you really neck size and load to .002 off the lands in an AR?
Yup, sure do know that, it says so right here

Quote:
I thought I was lightly crimping the cartridges and I really couldn't see any difference between crimped and uncrimped. Soooooo, I have a Lee 3 die set and will FL size all loads for my AR in .223.
But it also shows an improvement in accuracy by not crimping in this case. Was just bring out another point. Hope you understand now!
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Old July 6, 2012, 01:36 PM   #7
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Not in bottleneck rifle calibers.

Two completly different animals, the handgun FCD and the rifle FCD.
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Old July 6, 2012, 01:38 PM   #8
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Well, there it is; crimping reduces accuracy. No more need to wonder about that question anymore, right?
That cannot be true, the LFCD has mystical transformative properties: it makes bad bullets shoot good.

By swaging the bullet core, and shifting the center of gravity of the bullet, it automatically cancels all the out of round, inconsistent weight, and out of center issues found in bad bullets.

I saw results on another forum proving this.

So it must be true!
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Old July 6, 2012, 01:53 PM   #9
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Not really a big enough sample to draw any conclusions....

When I was working up my .308 hunting rifle load .3gr sometimes made the difference between a 2.5" group and a 1" group. working up in charge weight in .3gr increments, I would get one group that was 1.5 inches, then a 2 inch group, then a 2.5" group, then a 1" group, then a 2 inch group, etc.... The second to last load tried was 43.5gr which game me 1.5" groups, and the next, which is what I use for hunting was 43.8gr, which constantly gives sub moa groups, at 100 and 200 yards with the occasional .5 moa group...

All were done using the FCD. I have tried various charge weights without the FCD out of curiosity, and gotten the same variance in group size as with it, but I dont have the $$ to do another full workup just to satisfy curiosity, especialy considering I get such great shooting with the FCD.

To really prove it works one way or the other one would have to do two complete load workups, one without the FCD, and one with it, loading the same charge crimped and uncrimped.
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Old July 6, 2012, 02:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
To really prove it works one way or the other one would have to do two complete load workups, one without the FCD, and one with it, loading the same charge crimped and uncrimped.
That is probably what I'll do next time as I'm not ready to give up on it altogether. But it was creeping into the 90's this morning at the range so it's going to have to cool down some before I go back.

What really surprised me is looking at a target at 100 yards with just a 5x Leupy. I have been shooting a .204 and a .243 latley which both have varmint scopes and I usually shoot on 12x-14x. Next time I'll try some larger bullseyes as it may help to center the recticle a bit easier - we'll see.
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Old July 6, 2012, 03:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
That cannot be true, the LFCD has mystical transformative properties: it makes bad bullets shoot good.

By swaging the bullet core, and shifting the center of gravity of the bullet, it automatically cancels all the out of round, inconsistent weight, and out of center issues found in bad bullets.

I saw results on another forum proving this.
Well we are discussing bottleneck rifle FCD dies on this thread, not FCD as is used on pistol calibers. As I stated earlier, 2 different animals altogether.
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Old July 6, 2012, 08:23 PM   #12
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My last post on this matter was in the now-deleted thread where certain members started attacking another member.

I don't feel like typing it all up again. So...

A summary:
I re-ran a test I did a few years ago, with an established load.
.270 Win
140 gr Nosler Partition
55 gr RL-19
Win LR primers
OAL near max, but I don't remember the exact measurement
Sorted and prepped R-P brass, excluding flash hole deburring.

This load averages groups of less than 0.475" at 100 yards with the addition of deburred flash holes in fully prepped, weight and volume sorted brass.
Without deburring the flash holes, the group size nearly doubles.

I had a partial box of ammo, with 11 rounds in it (loaded last year). I put a very mild crimp on 6 rounds with a .270 Win Lee FCD, and left the other 5 as they were. There was no cannelure to crimp in, and only faint marks left on the case mouth from the FCD. There was no apparent bullet "crush", but I didn't pull any of them to double check.

At 100 yards,
the uncrimped group measured 0.862";
and the crimped group measured 1.631".

But, the strange thing about going from uncrimped to crimped, is that FCD-treated ammo likes to create distinctly different POIs within the same group. Where the uncrimped group looks like a normal group, the FCD group looks like it is showing signs of pressure spikes (different timing for the jump to the throat) or secondary pressure waves. Most of my testing results in three distinct POIs for the same FCD-crimped loads, where the uncrimped load prints at a single POI. The FCD groups-within-the-group are consistent, but the aggregate is usually about twice as large as the single uncrimped group. (Just as the group sizes above show.)

I do plan to do some more testing with other variables, but 95% of my testing in .270 Win (130 & 140 gr) and .30-06 (165 gr) shows a decrease in accuracy when a Lee FCD is used.



Before anyone starts inferring that other posters are idiots for crushing bullets with an FCD, I'd like to point out that for many years, Richard Lee advocated doing so, and uses the concept in multiple ways, in some of his propaganda literature. Lee FCD instructions and Lee reloading manual still include statements saying that it is not only possible, but preferable to form a cannelure in bullets that don't have one, or don't have one at that seating depth.
(I have omitted passages that are unimportant, tangential, or a waste of time.)

Modern Reloading: Second Edition. Richard Lee. 2009. "Factory Crimp". Pages 57-58. (Emphasis mine.)
Quote:
This tool duplicates the crimp found on most factory ammunition. It eliminates the factory advantage. It works so well that you can seat your bullet to any depth and it will form a cannelure in your bullet. It improves accuracy and your ammunition will function better.
....
Most important, it will never damage and render a cartridge useless, as a conventional roll crimper so often does.
Lee Factory Crimp Die instructions, propaganda description. (Emphasis mine.)
Quote:
The Lee Factory Crimper is so powerful that it will even crimp bullets in place that do not have a cannelure. Now you can seat your bullets to the best depth and the Lee Factory Crimper will form a cannelure in the bullet as it crimps the case.
....
Until now, handloaders had to obtain a uniform start pressure by seating the bullet so that it would just touch or nearly touch the rifling. A firm factory crimp supplies the uniform start pressure for ammunition loaded for different guns and is tolerant to rough handling. Now you can match and exceed the conventional factory accuracy with little effort.
Lee Factory Crimp Die instructions. (Emphasis mine.)
Quote:
-Bullets do not need a crimp groove as the LEE FACTORY CRIMP DIE will form one while crimping. However, it requires a harder push on the press lever to form the crimp.
-...When the four splits in the collet are closed, maximum crimp has been achieved.
Note that after 2011, Lee stopped using wording that referred to forming a cannelure in bullets, even though the tool's design and the instructions have not changed. Instead, the current literature uses variations of the phrase "a firm crimp".
Lee Precision, Inc. 2012 Catalog. Page 28. (Entire statement included for clarity. Emphasis mine - the Lee website has similar wording, now.)
Quote:
The Lee Factory Crimp Die crimps the bullet in place more firmly that any other tool. It is impossible to buckle the case as with regular roll crimp dies. Trim length is not critical. Tests demonstrate that even bullets which have no cannelure will shoot more accurately if crimped in place with the Lee Factory Crimp Die.
Factory ammunition is often more accurate and better able to withstand rough handling because the bullet is firmly crimped in place. A firm crimp improves accuracy because pressure must build to a higher level before the bullet begins to move. This higher start pressure insures a more uniform pressure curve and less velocity variation. Even powder selection is less critical. Until now, handloaders seated the bullet to touch the rifling to achieve similar results. This is not always possible nor desirable. The Lee Factory Crimp Die is included at no extra charge with Lee PaceSetter 3-Die Sets. It's just another added value that only Lee Dies offer.
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Old July 6, 2012, 10:48 PM   #13
dacaur
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Quote:
I had a partial box of ammo, with 11 rounds in it (loaded last year). I put a very mild crimp on 6 rounds with a .270 Win Lee FCD, and left the other 5 as they were. There was no cannelure to crimp in, and only faint marks left on the case mouth from the FCD. There was no apparent bullet "crush", but I didn't pull any of them to double check.

At 100 yards,
the uncrimped group measured 0.862";
and the crimped group measured 1.631".
Just like changing anything else, you cant take an established load and make a change and expect the same results. Crimping requires a load workup, as the pressures are going to be different crimped vs uncrimped.

As for crushing bullets, I have actualy tried by grossly misadjusting the crimp die, and cant get anything more than a faint line i can barely feel with my fingernail when I pull the bullet, a far cry from that pic of those crushed 6mm bullets that always gets posted....

Like it says in the directions, once the collet is completly closed, its not going to close any more, as long as the collet is sized correctly, you are not going to crush them like that no matter how hard you press. If that was done using a lee FCD, It would take using the wrong size crimp die to do that.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:48 PM   #14
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The real question isn't about accuracy, it is about whether a load needs the benefit of a crimp.

I was shooting some Mk262 Mod0 a few years ago and I experienced the dreaded "bullet push back" into the case from a mis-feed. The Mk262 Mod1 was adopted because it put a cannelure in the bullet to crimp into to prevent push back. I think that is the best reason to crimp.

So far in my match loads I have no reason to crimp as my AR doesn't mangle ammo, but if it became a problem I would start crimping.

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Old July 7, 2012, 12:56 AM   #15
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Quote:
As for crushing bullets, I have actualy tried by grossly misadjusting the crimp die, and cant get anything more than a faint line i can barely feel with my fingernail when I pull the bullet, a far cry from that pic of those crushed 6mm bullets that always gets posted....
I believe your FCD is defective or not adjusted correctly, then. Richard Lee says his tool should put a cannelure in your bullet.


Quote:
Just like changing anything else, you cant take an established load and make a change and expect the same results. Crimping requires a load workup, as the pressures are going to be different crimped vs uncrimped.
I didn't expect the same result, and I didn't get the same result. That test was to see what a mild FCD crimp did to that established load.

But, even if I did expect the same results...
Why can't I do it?
On page 59 of Modern Reloading (2nd Ed.), you'll find one of Lee's examples he uses to try to sell the FCD. His method was exactly the same as mine, except he had Hodgdon do pressure testing (trying to prove start pressures were better). He sent two lots of ammo for testing, with exactly the same load. (.308 Win, max charge of Varget, 150 gr bullet.) The only difference was that one lot was crimped with the Lee FCD.

I see no reason to work up an entirely new load, if the tool's designer didn't find it necessary, and claims that just crimping improved performance. Read it for yourself, but be mindful of the fact that he never mentions which load was more accurate.

In your own discussion of this subject, you have admitted that even you have never done a side-by-side load comparison of FCD vs no FCD (citing cost as a factor). All you say is that the FCD improves your loads. How do you know it is helping your loads, if you've never actually tested them against uncrimped loads?


All of that said...
I have worked loads up from scratch with the FCD, before. In 2009 I ran a side-by-side test with 150 gr Hornady Interlocks and W780 in .270 Win. When results with the FCD proved to be abysmal (even in a proper cannelure), I tried the load without any crimp. There was a definite improvement without the FCD, even though I declared the load an overall failure.

And, like with my 140 gr Partition testing, the 150 gr FCD groups showed up to 3 distinct POIs with each powder charge. So, one of the most important bits of information about using the FCD was apparent in both of those tests (as well as previous tests with 130 gr Core-Lokts and 140 gr Partitions).

As I said in my previous post, I'm not done testing the FCD. I want to find out why it destroys accuracy with certain loads, why it doesn't really affect others, why it (according to Lee and the internet) improves other loads, and where these different POIs are coming from. I'm not saying the FCD is trash. It just isn't all it's cracked up to be - a one-size-fits-all bandaid to magically improve accuracy, start pressures, and neck tension; and allow the creation of cannelures without harming accuracy.

One thing to keep in mind about my testing, is that I don't use off-the-shelf bulk brass, like most FCD users. My brass gets fully prepped and sorted. So, any problem with the load is much more apparent, and more easily attributed to variables that I may be testing (like using the FCD).
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Old July 8, 2012, 09:18 AM   #16
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One of the best tests of crimped vs no-crimped bullets was conducted by an arsenal making 30 caliber match ammo for M1's and M1903 .30-06 match grade rifles. Several hundred rounds of ammo using the same lot of bullets (with cut cannelures for crimping case mouths into them), cases, primers, powder & charge weight and assembly tools and dies were made with each type. Accuracy with the non-crimped bullets was 20 to 30 percent better than the crimped ones.

A few lots of non-cannelured bullets were made and loaded the same way but without crimping. These produced better accuracy than non-crimped cannelured bullets. So the arsenals quit crimping and canneluring those 172-gr. FMJBT match bullets.

It's easy to see how much crimping non-cannelured bullets get deformed and unbalanced. Crimp some bullets into sized cases without powder or primer. Use an impact bullet puller (with a rubber pad in its nose for the bullets to bounce off of so they're not deformed) to get the bullet out of the cases. Roll the bullets on a flat steel plate with a bright light shining on their far side then look at the gap between the plate and bullet. You may need a magnifying glass to see how the bullet's waist at the crimp point varies its gap to the plate. That gap's typically not uniform; evidence the bullet's been unbalanced.

If you want to shoot unbalanced bullets, do so. But they won't shoot very accurate.
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Old July 8, 2012, 09:38 AM   #17
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Just wondering if anyone has ever determined runout and es and sd of crimped versus non-crimped?

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Old July 8, 2012, 04:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
21.8 gr .774"
22.1 gr 1.594" crimped
22.4 gr .820"
22.7 gr 1.552" crimped
23.0 gr 1.137"
23.3 gr 1.830" crimped
to the o/p: wouldn't you have to shoot each load crimped vs. non crimped to see the results you're looking for, which i assume is is crimped more accurate than non crimped?

Last edited by the led farmer; July 8, 2012 at 04:19 PM. Reason: quote o/p
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Old July 8, 2012, 05:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
to the o/p: wouldn't you have to shoot each load crimped vs. non crimped to see the results you're looking for, which i assume is is crimped more accurate than non crimped?
That would make more sense but I was trying to kill two birds with one stone. I figured by crimping every other load range, I might see a trend develope.

And I did - plus I have to believe if I hadn't crimped those 3 loads, they might have grouped better. I'm not sure that's it's worth the time and effort to find out . . . .
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Old July 8, 2012, 05:52 PM   #20
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pistol FCD

I noticed a big difference in plated 10mm bullet shot through my glock. The pistol FCD (for straight walled cases) was resizing the plated bullets I suspect. Combined with pushing the top end velocity wise at 25m I would only get a few hits and those were keyholing. By contrast, FCD treated hard lead bullets (Beartooth, I think) and JHPs shot fine, very little difference crimped vs noncrimped.
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Old July 8, 2012, 06:53 PM   #21
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Dacaur, the following photos show the results of using my .270 Win FCD exactly per the instructions:
Screw in until contact is made with shell holder. Turn 1/2 turn more.
I went no further, even though Lee suggests a more "firm" crimp can be achieved by doing so.

The die:
(Note the oil coming out of the slots in the collet. - At the "starting point" this die is already close to maximum adjustment.)


The result in dummy rounds made with once-fired Winchester brass and 130 gr Sierra SPBTs:
(This brass was a consistent length (2.532"-2.535").)


Six dummy round were assembled. Only 3 were crimped. The striations on the bullets are from the collet-type bullet puller I used.


Starting bullet diameter was 0.2768". The "cannelures" were not consistent across the three bullets (likely due to case neck wall thickness variations and defects), and the "cannelure" on any one bullet was not consistent around the circumference. "Cannelure" diameter varied from 0.258" to 0.265" where it abuts the sharp edge formed by the case mouth.


The .30-06 and 7.62x39mm FCDs I have used seemed to have similar room for adjustment.
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Old July 8, 2012, 07:54 PM   #22
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Quote:
Before anyone starts inferring that other posters are idiots for crushing bullets with an FCD, I'd like to point out that for many years, Richard Lee advocated doing so, and uses the concept in multiple ways, in some of his propaganda literature. Lee FCD instructions and Lee reloading manual still include statements saying that it is not only possible, but preferable to form a cannelure in bullets that don't have one, or don't have one at that seating depth.
(I have omitted passages that are unimportant, tangential, or a waste of time.)

Modern Reloading: Second Edition. Richard Lee. 2009. "Factory Crimp". Pages 57-58. (Emphasis mine.)

Quote:
This tool duplicates the crimp found on most factory ammunition. It eliminates the factory advantage. It works so well that you can seat your bullet to any depth and it will form a cannelure in your bullet. It improves accuracy and your ammunition will function better

Most important, it will never damage and render a cartridge useless, as a conventional roll crimper so often does. .
Lee Factory Crimp Die instructions, propaganda description. (Emphasis mine.)

Quote:
The Lee Factory Crimper is so powerful that it will even crimp bullets in place that do not have a cannelure. Now you can seat your bullets to the best depth and the Lee Factory Crimper will form a cannelure in the bullet as it crimps the case.
....
Until now, handloaders had to obtain a uniform start pressure by seating the bullet so that it would just touch or nearly touch the rifling. A firm factory crimp supplies the uniform start pressure for ammunition loaded for different guns and is tolerant to rough handling. Now you can match and exceed the conventional factory accuracy with little effort.
Lee Factory Crimp Die instructions. (Emphasis mine.)


Quote:
-Bullets do not need a crimp groove as the LEE FACTORY CRIMP DIE will form one while crimping. However, it requires a harder push on the press lever to form the crimp.

-...When the four splits in the collet are closed, maximum crimp has been achieved.
Thanks, this certainly makes me feel better. I am one of those who has been told that I failed reading comprehension:

Quote:
Again we see the inability of Slamfire to read. He is unable to read the simple instruction that come with the Lee Factory Crimp Die….
Because I have been posting this picture of what the Lee FCD will do to bullets.:



I have never believed that swaging bullets in the middle improves accuracy nor do I believe the claims of those who post results “proving” that bullets swaged by the LFCD shot better.

I believe that these shooters cannot hold and shoot well enough to sort out the damage they have created by mangling their bullets. Any “improvement” is strictly delusional, another name is apophenia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophenia. Their proofs are made by editing their results to prove their hypothesis, or, what they are seeing is simply the results of their inconsistent shooting coupled with the statistics of small sample size.

Related to the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy:

http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/09/...ooter-fallacy/

This delusional thinking is induced by corporate advertizing, proving just how fallible and susceptible people are to the power of suggestion by an authority figure.
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Old July 8, 2012, 08:30 PM   #23
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"Introducing New Lee Elixer!!!!! This potent elixer will cure anything from runout to diabetes!!!!!! Just dip ailing shells for 3 seconds to cure all cartridge difficiencies!

Don't handload, but have an aching back? Just rub this powerful pain elliminator on affected area and be back to playing tennis like a pro in no time!!!!!!"

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Old July 8, 2012, 09:24 PM   #24
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I use the factory crimp die for semi auto rifles and pistols to prevent set back and my bullet bullets don't look like that. Those bullets have been overcrimped.

I'll cycle a round with no primer and powder, check overall lenth, adjust crimp a little and check again. I stop when the bullet no longer sets back.

No need to crush the bullets like that!

Last edited by testuser; July 8, 2012 at 09:35 PM.
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Old July 8, 2012, 09:36 PM   #25
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These threads made me want to re-test my loads, so I did it this morning.

First image list 26.2 Standard, which is my normal load. 26.2 grains TAC with a 53grain VMax, LC case weight sorted, wolf primers, light crimp with a Lee FCD. Shot through a Stag 3G upper with a Nikon M223 at 10X at 100 yards. 90 degrees.

Note: Group D is my initial scope adjustment check and to get some heat in the barrel. So, it doesn't count as part of the test.

Group A 1 7/16"
Group B 1 1/16"
Group C 15/16"



Second image listed as 26.2 PP Uniform, crimp. This means the same load as above but with a uniformed primer pocket.

Group A 1 5/16"
Group C 1 1/8"
Group D 1 3/16"



Third image listed at 26.2 PP Uniform, No crimp. Meaning same load but with uniformed primer pockets and no crimp.

Group A 1 1/16"
Group C 1.0"
Group D 1 1/4"



Each group is 6 shots. Each group of six were shot as two strings of three, in variable order. So for group A, three shots Standard, three shots No Crimp, three shots Crimp, cooling rest. Next set three shots Crimp, three shots No Crimp, three shots Standard, cooling, groups shot in no particular order. repeat until finished. Cooling periods were approximately one cease fire/target check or two cigarettes and miscellaneous screwing off.

Any of these three loads are plenty acceptable in my book and for my use, and these results are pretty typical of my previous tests. My standard load will hold 5.5 to 6.0" vertical at 550 yards and I'm giddy over that. My group may be 11 inches wide, but that's wind and not crimp.

What I take away from this is the same as I've always thought - use the FCD if it works for you, don't use it if it doesn't.

How hard is it to figure that out? I have no idea why some of you guys get so riled up over this.
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