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Old November 20, 2009, 08:06 PM   #1
Farmhand
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What Dies for Pistol?

I am getting set to start loading - got the press, scale, powder measure. But I don't have any dies. I have been looking on the forums and and reading catalogs trying to determine what I really need - I believe I will want a carbide sizing die so I don't have to lube the cases. I believe that is in most 3 die pistol sets - I know that Lee makes the factory crimp dies which I think is not included in the sets. I plan to start with 38 Super, but also will load if all goes as planned for 38 Special, 357 Mag, 10mm and 41 mag.

I see mixed opinions on Lee dies - with some negative posts.

What dies do I actually need - is the factory crimp die really a helpful/worthwhile die? I want to get good long lasting stuff that will work well and minimize the frustration that sometimes occurs when one tries a new venture.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:14 PM   #2
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Nothing wrong with Lee dies, most people are happy with them. Factory crimp die - absolutely... get it... for its price it is a wonderful tool to have.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:21 PM   #3
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+1 for Lee dies. I was a RCBS fan for decades but recently swiched to Lee and have had no problems. Lee's 4 die Deluxe Pistol Set includes a FCD.
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Old November 20, 2009, 08:27 PM   #4
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I have four sets of Lee dies and they work great for me. If you buy the four dies pistol set it will include the FCD. I use the FCD for all the calibers I load but you can load good ammo without it. One suggestion is if you use the FCD don't use it to fix ammo that you could otherwise fix by adjusting the dies right. I use the FCD as a crimp die and a final case gage. I figure if the FCD doesn't post size the finished round then it is in spec and should function fine in my guns. I haven't had any problems yet. Also if you are loading on a single stage press you might want to crimp in the seating die to save a little time, one less die change and step. Welcome to reloading.

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Old November 20, 2009, 08:55 PM   #5
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OK, just to state the other side of question, I don't use Lee dies. Have used mostly RCBS and some Redding dies. Have never needed the Lee Factory Crimp die. My reloads have worked fine in revolvers, semi-auto pistols, bolt action rifles, and O/U shotguns for over 45 years without it. Use it if you prefer or skip it if you don't. Same thing with seating bullets and crimping case with single die vs using separate dies and steps. Reloads can be made to work fine using both methods. It's your choice.
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Old November 21, 2009, 10:11 PM   #6
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For pistol cartridges, I like Hornady seating dies. They have a sliding alignment sleeve for easier bullet alignment to the case, easy disassembly for cleaning without affecting the settings, and they are the only sliding sleeve seater die that can crimp while seating. They come with great cross-bolt lock rings that stay put without buggering the die threads. Hornady has an optional micrometer adjustment screw for their seating dies to.

I also use Lyman expander dies and Redding crimp dies for pistol cartridges. Most carbide or TiN sizing dies work fine no matter who made them, but Hornady has the best stock lock rings of any pistol die.

I have not had good luck with Lee seating dies or their Carbide FCD die, and their lock rings are practically useless. But their collet-style FCDs for bottleneck pistol cartridges are absolutely great (after I put a real lock ring on them).

Andy
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Old November 21, 2009, 10:30 PM   #7
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Lee works for me. I use some Redding for rifles but Lee for pistol.
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Old November 21, 2009, 10:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
OK, just to state the other side of question, I don't use Lee dies. Have used mostly RCBS and some Redding dies. Have never needed the Lee Factory Crimp die. My reloads have worked fine in revolvers, semi-auto pistols, bolt action rifles, and O/U shotguns for over 45 years without it. Use it if you prefer or skip it if you don't. Same thing with seating bullets and crimping case with single die vs using separate dies and steps. Reloads can be made to work fine using both methods. It's your choice.
Another vote for other brands - been using RCBS, Redding and Forester for over 30 years - no issues, no need for anything other than the three dies that came with the set. My 9mm, 38, 357, 32, 380, 45 all work - all the time, every time. My shotgun reloads do the same.

Have a set of Lee dies - never locked down well enough for me to eep them from moving...YMMV
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Old November 21, 2009, 10:43 PM   #9
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All my dies are Lee (9mm, 38 spl, 357 mag, 45 auto, 45 colt, 460 mag, 223 rem, 243 win) except 44 mag....those are RCBS...not really by choice.... (just kidding...so RCBS snobs don't get your panties in a bunch... LOL!)

All the dies on the market will work. Some are more fancy and have a better finish, some are cheaper (way cheaper) and load ammo just as good as the expensive ones.

Good luck!
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Old November 21, 2009, 10:44 PM   #10
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Reloading Dies

I too have Lee loading dies in .38 special, 40 SW and .223 Rem. I love them. They have worked great. I have not had any problems shooting my cast reloads out of my weapons. As for the Lee Factory Crimp Die its shooter preference as it increases the pressure in the bullet. Happy shooting !!!!!!
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Old November 21, 2009, 11:02 PM   #11
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As for the Lee Factory Crimp Die its shooter preference as it increases the pressure in the bullet.
ftlewismp I was just wondering how the FCD does that?
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Old November 21, 2009, 11:21 PM   #12
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I started with mostly RCBS and one Hornady die. But for handgun cartridges I have mostly switched to all Lee dies. First I added the FCD so I can crimp in a separate step and lee FCd is pretty cheap for an add-on. Then I replaced the expander dies with Lee so I could use the Lee auto disk measure on them. Now when I buy a new set I just buy the Lee 4-die set.

Lee dies are inexpensive and do everything that needs to be done. There is a lot more differences in rifle dies, but handgun not so much. Any brand will do it, Lee is just a lot less expensive. In fact the only die set I am disappointed in is the Hornady set for .38/.357/.357 Max. The seat/crimp die is too long for .38 Special and I can barely get them crimped enough to take out the bell but not enough to roll crimp. Eventually I will replace that set with another Lee set.

Get whatever floats your boat. Lee is less expensive. Otherwise I would just get the same brand as you press.
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Old November 21, 2009, 11:38 PM   #13
Rusty W
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I mostly use Lee dies for reloading. I load for 380, 9mm, 38/357, 44mag, 45acp & colt. All use Lee dies. I use RCBS X dies for my .223 & .308 and soon for my .243, right now though I'm using the Lee RGB dies. I load for 30/30, 30/06, .270, & 45/70 with Lee dies. Their FCD for the bottleneck ctg is great but when I started casting my own bullets and needed a fatter than standard bullet their FCD for pistol just sets in the drawer now. When you get some brass that is a little thicker than usual and a lead bullet that is a little fatter than usual the FCD does just what it's designed to do. Size the whole works to factory specs. If you use jacketed bullets the FCD is fine and dandy and I use them alot in the 9mm and .45acp. My lead bullets are a different story. I have a Redhawk that needs a .432 lead bullet in order to fit the bore. If I run that loaded ctg through a FCD and the brass happens to be a little thick, it sizes the bullet to a .430 and I get a leaded bore. So I seat and crimp in seperate stages, no more leading.

The only downside to Lee I've had is the length of the die. On my LNLAP their's not enough thread on the Lee die in some calibers to get the adjustment I need.
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Old November 21, 2009, 11:45 PM   #14
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First time you get a stuck case in an RCBS die (usually rifle), you'll wish you had been using a Lee die. I use Lee dies, exclusively, for all my handgun reloading. Love my Dillon 650; don't use Dillon dies. Do have a Redding .40 Super set, but probably would have gone Lee, had they made .40 Super dies at the time.
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Old November 22, 2009, 01:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrustyFN
ftlewismp I was just wondering how the FCD does that?
This again?
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Old November 22, 2009, 01:50 AM   #16
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I've never really been impressed with the quality of Lee dies. Returned the only set I ever bought and ordered a set of RCBS dies. Used them exclusively ever since but Hornady dies are also very well reputed. Yes, lots of folks use Lee and probably many will be put-off by this post but there it is. Never had a need for an FCD or crimping in a separate step.
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Old November 22, 2009, 01:51 AM   #17
freakshow10mm
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Crimping in a separate step allows more control over bullet seating and crimping operations. Simple fact.
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Old November 22, 2009, 02:45 AM   #18
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Like I said, never had the need or thought I could justify adding another step to the process. Simple fact.
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Old November 22, 2009, 03:00 AM   #19
lll Otto lll
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To properly seat and crimp in the same step requires that all brass casings be trimmed to the same length. Not worth the hassle IMO.
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Old November 22, 2009, 08:28 AM   #20
Alleykat
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Quote:
've never really been impressed with the quality of Lee dies. Returned the only set I ever bought and ordered a set of RCBS dies. Used them exclusively ever since but Hornady dies are also very well reputed. Yes, lots of folks use Lee and probably many will be put-off by this post but there it is. Never had a need for an FCD or crimping in a separate step.
I can't imagine why any experienced reloader would be put off by the above quote. Not the way I load, nor is it the way Dillon recommends, but what do we know??
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Old November 22, 2009, 09:37 AM   #21
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Which pistol dies?

In my 39 years of reloading...
I know RCBS, Hornady are the dies I buy.

The last Lyman dies I bought had a FLOATING DECAPPING PIN.
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Old November 22, 2009, 10:19 AM   #22
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Most of the pistol dies I own are Lee carbide. I bought by price, and Lee are cheap. I use them in my Dillion 550B. I like the decapping pin on the Lee, it does not come loose. The brands with decapping pins that are threaded into the die body, the threaded joints will loosen up.

Lee dies are a bit short for my Dillion. I have to play around with different locking rings to get them to touch the shell holder.

Of the pistol dies that I have used, Dillion are the best. I really like the Dillion spring loaded decapper, it positively flings the primer out of the pocket. There are other little features that Dillion has built into their dies, all nice.

As for crimping dies, I use taper crimp dies for the autoloading cartridges. I use roll crimp on the revolver. I can't say one brand is any better than any other.
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Old November 22, 2009, 10:31 AM   #23
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I also like the Hornady seaters with the alignment sleeve. But I use several Lee sets as well. Neither gives me any problems.
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Old November 22, 2009, 11:39 AM   #24
CraigC
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Quote:
To properly seat and crimp in the same step requires that all brass casings be trimmed to the same length. Not worth the hassle IMO.
I have used my case trimmer one time in the last ten years. Seating and crimping in separate steps is "not worth the hassle, IMO".
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Old November 22, 2009, 12:50 PM   #25
Alleykat
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IF you're using a press with enough stations, what are you adding to the mix, by seating and crimping in separate stations? No hassle for me!
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