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Old July 21, 2012, 07:45 PM   #1
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size issue

This is about an issue ive had over the last 2 weeks reloading .38 rounds. I was loading 158 gr tumble lube rn bullets cast from a 6 hole mold which is the third such mold ive had after sending it back twice due to out of round issues which Lee replaced for free both times. Every few rounds my crimp die would push the bullets down into the case farther after theyd beeen seated. so far theyve all shot fine that way but its just not correct to me to seat bullets deeper than called for. I emailed Lee describing the situation and asking if they knew of any suggestions i might try to correct the problem. This happened on saturday. The following thursday i recieved a new crimp sleave Lee had sent me in the mail for free. I installed the new sleave, and had the same problem. By this time the die had been dismantled and cleaned 3 or 4 times including the sleave so i took an old lswc i had left over from a different batch someone gave to me and found that it would pass all the way through the crimp sleave pushed with my fingers. it measured .358 with dial calipers. This was then cross examined with one of my bullets which could not be passed through the sleave, and measured .359 some were .360. Ive cast with this mold before and its made good bullets up until recently leading me to believe it might be dirty. Assuming things can happen while casting means it is not guaranteed all your bullets will come out perfect I decided to order a new single stage and a sizer. Then I had to use kinetic bullet puller on 50 rounds. Probably wouldve shot okay i believe, they have all along but it cant be great for a gun and probably harder on the dies i assume. hopefully thisll help solve the headache.
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Old July 22, 2012, 09:09 AM   #2
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This is one reason why you might want to crimp as a separate step. Leave the seating die two turns up and seat only. Then remove the seater plugger and crimp. Depending on how much lube you have on the bullet the lube may be binding or sticking to the crimp and pushing the bullet down more.
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Old July 22, 2012, 09:43 AM   #3
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You are running into normal tolerance issues. The standard lead bullet diameter is 0.358", and that's what Lee seems to have made the ring for.

Many .38/.357 revolvers shoot more accurately with cast bullets that are 0.359" or even .360" for the tumble lube designs. My own 6-cavity .38 WC tumble lube mold throws them .3595" and they shoot groups half the size in my Smith K-38 target revolver of the best commercial match loads. So the size you are getting can be a good thing. Assuming you are using a revolver, just drop them through the chamber throats. Ideal is a close fit from half a thousandth to the lightest bit of drag. For a self-loader, just be sure they chamber. Swaging a cast bullet down a couple thousandths is nothing. In military bore and bullet specs, guns are expected to be able to do that even with jacketed bullets. There are no safety issues with it and though it raises pressure a little, it is within normal pressure tolerances.

As to the Lee ring pushing the bullet in, that's a little annoying. You can probably send Lee your ring and a couple or three of your cast bullets and ask them to open it up a little. You can do it yourself just by splitting a 1/4" dowel and wrapping enough 320 grit wet/dry sandpaper over it to snug into the ring a little, then just turning the ring against it by hand until your bullets start to drop through. That crimp ring may not be as tight on a .357 diameter bullet as you would like, so I'd keep it special for your cast bullets.
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Old July 22, 2012, 10:45 AM   #4
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thanx folks. even though theyve all shot fine that way before one cant be sure how good it is to continue shooting like that. i thought about polishing out the ring but decided to try the sizer first and with my shooting i havent noticed a great difference shoooting out of sp101 2 1/4 at 25 yrds. I still have a half box left of the "bad" ones i may sandbag it and compare later. thanx for the lube tip also. Ill keep that in mind. Later one might have a problem like this maybe theyll find this thread.
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