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Old November 13, 2013, 08:36 PM   #1
Right to bear arms
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Need Help with RCBS 357 Magnum Dies

I've reloaded before, but forgot how to use 3 die pistol die set. I want to get started reloading .357 bullets. I bought rather impulsively a 1974 vintage RCBS #18206 357 MAG SWC Group B 3 die set. No instructions included. I've enclosed some picturesof what I got in the set. I understand the basics including the proper shell holder, depth settings, lubricant, etc. My question is in what sequence should I use these 3 dies. The 1st die says "RCBS 357 MAG" with a decapping pin. The 2nd die says "size #1" and the 3rd says "seat #3". Can anyone give me basic instructions as to the sequence to use in reloading a spent 357 magnum case since I can't seem to find any instructions for this old set? Many thanks to responders.
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Old November 13, 2013, 09:42 PM   #2
Nick_C_S
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My dies are from 1984. So maybe things were different with these dies. The pics are giving minimal information. It appears the die on the right is the seater? In which case, the middle die must be the resize/decapper. If so, you are missing the entire decapping assembly.

You'll need shell holder #6, if you don't have that yet. I just happened to look yesterday - Midway has them in stock for $6.xx (shipping will more than double the order lol).
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Last edited by Nick_C_S; November 13, 2013 at 09:48 PM.
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Old November 13, 2013, 09:45 PM   #3
BigD_in_FL
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Call RCBS and tell them you need a decapping pin for your die - they'll send you one for free
Step one - decap and reprime your brass
Step two - flare the case mouth ever so slightly with the second die
After dropping powder, use die #3 to seat and crimp bullet
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Old November 13, 2013, 09:52 PM   #4
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
Call RCBS and tell them you need a decapping pin for your die.
I think you need more than just the decapping pin. You need the entire assembly. (The shaft, and the screw-on pin)
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Old November 13, 2013, 09:54 PM   #5
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I think you have a (non-carbide) resizing / decapping die, a belling die (to open the case mouth a little so the bullet can enter without shaving lead or, in the case of a copper jacketed bullet, potentially crushing the case mouth), and a seating / crimping die.

You understand resizing and case lube. Bell just enough to allow the bullet to enter the case mouth nicely. Seating and crimping in one die is frowned upon by modern people (some of them) but used to be common. Your set says it is for semi wadcutters so the seating die stem should have a flat face.

Set it up (with a dummy round if you want) by unscrewing it until the crimp die is not in contact with the case (ram all the way up). Now lower the ram and start the bullet, raise the ram and keep screwing the seater stem down a little (you need to lower the ram each time) at a time and checking the overall length until you get the OAL you want.

The back the seater stem (that you've just carefully adjusted to give your OAL) out a few turns (loosing, but not really loosing, the setting), run the crimp die down until it touches the case (with the ram all the way up) and then a little bit more (lower the ram a little and give the crimper maybe 1/4 turn at a time), until you see the crimp you want. Lock it down with the locking ring.

Now bring the ram up and screw the seater stem down until it kisses the bullet, and lock it down - it should have its own nut for that. Your initial setting of the seating depth pays off here, because now you have set the seater to the OAL you originally wanted.

Someone who is more cogent and clear than I am will undoubtedly be along shortly, but this could be a start.

Have fun!
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Old November 13, 2013, 09:59 PM   #6
Nick_C_S
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That's a pretty good tutorial BobCat45. Good catch on the SWC on the die box <-- I mised that.

I also recommend watching some u-Tube videos on it. I believe RCBS may have some on their site also (they might even be the same videos as on u-Tube).

And even better yet: Find somebody in your area to show you in person. There is no substitute for direct hands-on.
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Old November 13, 2013, 10:54 PM   #7
Chaz88
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I used those for a long time, still have a few sets on the shelf. If you can, I would replace the sizing die with a carbide. Dad got me one for Christmas one year and it was a great gift. Lubing every individual shell with the old type of sizing die gets really old.
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Old November 13, 2013, 11:36 PM   #8
Jim Watson
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You show an old style RCBS die set.

In 1974 they put the decapping pin in the expander die instead of the sizing die. You have the expander plug and collet, you need only the little pin itself.

Run brass through the resizing die. If it is steel without a carbide insert, you must lube the cases. Spray lube is probably ok for pistol cases.

Run decapped brass through the expander with decapping pin. It should adjust to give you enough case mouth flare to start a bullet and decap the fired primer.

Clean case lube off the brass. (Good enough reason to buy a carbide sizing die.)

Reprime on or off the press, powder charge, block check that each and every case contains one and only one powder charge.

Set the seating and crimping die as Bobcat describes. If you are using conventional revolver bullets with a crimp groove or cannelure, you can do a neat job in one step. If you are using smooth sided plated or swaged bullet, you will need to seat and crimp separately. Best by purchase of a taper crimp die.
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Old November 13, 2013, 11:44 PM   #9
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
In 1974 they put the decapping pin in the expander die instead of the sizing die.
^^ That's why I prefaced my original post with mine being from '84 and yours may be different. ^^

I knew enough to know that I may not know.
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Old November 14, 2013, 08:21 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info. I believe Mr. Watson is exactly right about the type of dies. I found an old 1970's vintage RCBS reloading manual that says the same thing. It appears I have a complete set but will have to follow the correct sequence. My next question is about SWC bullets. I want to find a reasonable source for 158 grain SWC bullets. I can use cast, but know that I will have to clean lead more often. Also, I have loaded 44 mag cartridges before and used large pistol primers. I believe the .357 magnum uses small pistol primers, right?
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Old November 14, 2013, 11:08 AM   #11
BobCat45
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Jim Watson, Thanks! - I had no idea that they put the decapping pin in the expander instead of the sizing die. Good to learn something!
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Last edited by BobCat45; November 14, 2013 at 11:08 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old November 14, 2013, 11:19 AM   #12
Jim Watson
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I have been loading for a while, my press is date stamped '71. I have a couple of sets of RCBS dies like that. An EARLY purchase was a carbide sizing die.
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Old November 14, 2013, 02:27 PM   #13
Chaz88
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Quote:
I had no idea that they put the decapping pin in the expander instead of the sizing die.
Do not feel left out. I was confused when I went to set up Dillon dies in my 650 and the pin was in the sizing die. Made sense once I figured out that the powder dump was also the flaring tool.
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Old November 14, 2013, 07:23 PM   #14
BigD_in_FL
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Quote:
I think you need more than just the decapping pin. You need the entire assembly. (The shaft, and the screw-on pin)
IF that is the case, they will still send you the parts for free......forever
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Old November 14, 2013, 08:27 PM   #15
jamaica
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Size first. Then the de-capping and inside sizer+belling die, then after primed and powder thrown, the seater to seat the bullet.

I do believe your set should have the de-capping pin with the inside sizing and belling punch. I can see the end of the punch (die on the left) The pin seems to be missing.

Some die sets have the de-capping pin in the carbide sizer, and the inside sizer/belling punch is part of a powder through set up.

Last edited by jamaica; November 14, 2013 at 08:35 PM.
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