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Lee dies ID

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by njl, Nov 28, 2011.


  1. njl

    njl
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    I had a used set of .38/.357mag Lee dies that came kind of grungy and with a bit of surface rust...so I just took them all apart, hit them with brake cleaner, a cleaning brush, synthetic steel wool, and made them all nice and clean. Now, I'm a little confused.

    This set arrived on a Dillon 550 tool head as a 4 die set (Lee sizer/decapper, Dillon powder die, Lee seater, Lee crimp). When I went to put things back together, I realized I couldn't tell the last two apart. Their only markings are LEE-357MAG-G9 and LEE-357MAG-H8. Other than the difference in markings, they're nearly identical. The G9's threads start about 1 thread closer to the bottom of the die.

    A bit of digging online, has me thinking these are both seat + roll crimp dies (of slightly different manufacture dates), and the previous user simply had one setup with the seating stem to just seat, and the other set up without a seating stem as just a roll crimp die.

    Does that sound right?
     

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    #1 njl, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011
  2. atakawow

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    A few things come to mind:

    - Maybe one is .357 only and the other is 38/357.
    - Different seating plugs.
    - Carbide and steel?
     

  3. njl

    njl
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    AFAIK, carbide (when used in dies) is only used in sizing dies...there's not much point to it in the others.
     
  4. WiskyT

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    The last two characters are the date code. Do they both have a seating stem and a screw adjuster?
     
  5. njl

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    Only one had a seating stem and adjuster...but both dies are threaded in the top for it. Just from looking at them, I'm reasonably sure the previous user somehow acquired a second seating die, pulled the seating stem and adjuster, and used it just as a crimp die.
     
  6. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan
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    Yes...

    I don't have a lot of experience with roll-crimped cartridges. When I load .38 wadcutters, I use a taper crimp die to close up the case mouth. Perhaps that is how this die set was being used.

    I thought that roll crimped cases were crimped at the time the bullet was being seated such that the roll would dig into the bullet cannelure (if any). I didn't realize that crimping could occur after the bullet was seated.

    This leads me back to the idea that the previous user was loading wadcutters and using a regular crimp die to close up the case mouth.

    I think I'll wait for the experts on this one!

    Richard
     
  7. GioaJack

    GioaJack
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    By its very nature a roll crimp die performs a taper crimp as its initial operation... it's just a matter of setting the die for what you want to accomplish.

    Conversely a taper crimp only die will not produce a true roll crimp.


    Jack
     
  8. WiskyT

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    http://leeprecision.com/xcart/Taper-Crimp-Die/

    Lee makes a taper crimp die. I have one for 30-06 and it does not have internal threads that could accommodate a seating stem.
     
  9. njl

    njl
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    Hmm...I guess I'm going to have to call Lee to clarify this.

    I wonder why they can't do .38 Special??

    These were sold to me by a guy on the BE forum as a .38/.357 setup. I just had another look at them, and the sizing die actually says it's for .38 / .357 and has what looks like a carbide sizing ring insert. The only way I could see these not being .38 special compatible would be if the crimp die is too tall for the crimp part to reach a .38 special case. I guess I could just setup the press for .38, size, flare, and and then see if the crimp die is able to un-flare the case.
     
  10. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel
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    I had a set if Lee dies that I loaded .38 and .357 with.
     
  11. Uncle Don

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    You can load 38 and 357 with a 38 special die set, but not the other way around. While the sizer is the same, the powder through die cannot be turned down enough to work properly if it is a .357. Not sure if the same holds true for the seating die.

    It's the same for 44 special being able to load 44 mag and not the other way around. 45 GAP will load both GAP and ACP, but the ACP dies will not load GAP, etc.
     
  12. Colorado4Wheel

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    So why even make the Mag version?
     
    #12 Colorado4Wheel, Nov 30, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  13. njl

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    Well, since I load on a Dillon 550, and don't use (or even have) the Lee powder through die, I guess this won't be an issue.
     
  14. RustyFN

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    The die on the front left is the FCD and the die on the front right is the seat/crimp die. Hope this helps.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. njl

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    I just did some experimenting, and it looks like I got screwed. The 357Mag seat/crimp dies are too long to put any sort of crimp on a .38 Special case. You just can't get the case deep enough into the die to do it. So, it looks like before I can load any .38 Special, I'll need to at least buy a crimp die.
     
  16. noylj

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    For roll crimping, get the Redding Profile Crimp die. It is just a little better than the Lee FCD (which, forgetting about the carbide-insert for post-sizing, does an outstandingly good crimp). Seating and Roll Crimping in one step was always rather dicey and I have always separated the two steps.
    If you stay with jacketed/plated bullets, the Lee FCD is excellent (but not quite as good as the Redding Profile).
    If you load over-sized lead bullets, you will be better off with a Lee taper crimp die (I have never seen any significant difference in taper crimp dies).
    Also, since the .38 Special head spaces on the rim, you should trim all your cases to the same length so the roll crimp will be the same for all.
    Don't trim any cases that head space on the case mouth unless, by some incredible miracle, it exceeds max length.
     
  17. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel
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    I have never done it but you can knock out the sizing ring of your FCD if you like. Seems kinda silly to me to do that but you can. 9mm is usually a non-issue for FCD.

    This is a picture of a 124 gr loaded to 1.130" The entire setup barely touches the carbide die.

    [​IMG]

    BUT LOAD LEAD SHORT (as sometimes required) and you end up with a different situation.

    [​IMG]

    9mm is a tapered case and the carbide ring is not that long in the 9mm FCD. It's a aberration as a result from the majority of FCD's and how they work.
     
  18. ColoCG

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    njl, maybe you can use your seating die to seat both .38 and .357 and your crimping die for the .38. I might have missed it but I didn't see where you said if the crimping die was .38/.37 or just .357.
     
  19. Uncle Don

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    Valid question, but as a matter of die setting, the proper die set for the proper caliber means everything is adjusted the same. That means for the 357 mag, you would turn the powder through die down to touch the shell holder and then back it off a half turn. If you use the 38 special set for .357, you would have to experiment to back it off to flare the case properly, but still give the full charge. That generally equates to about two turns. Many find it easier to simply buy the die set for the proper caliber without fussing with it - including me. The dies aren't that expensive so I have a set for each so I don't have to re-adjust the dies.
     
  20. Colorado4Wheel

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    I didn't even know they made two sets. Interesting to know. I do like my Lee dies.