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The low down on the Lee FCD

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by XDRoX, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. XDRoX

    XDRoX

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    I just read this on another forum. I hear you guys makes jokes about the Lee FCD, but I don't ever get them. I assume there is some inside joke regarding FCD's:dunno:

    Would someone be so kind as to let me in on the story? Are they not good to use? I hear people on other forums suggesting them all the time, but not so much around here.

    Thanks
     
  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

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    There are lots of folks who swear by the FCD and feel that it is a necessary addition to their loading operations.

    They may have a valid point... of course that begs the question; How come there are people on this forum, (and others) who have been loading safe and reliable handgun ammunition for 40 and 50 years with nothing more than three die sets.

    Could it be that some people learn to ride a two wheel bike by jumping on and learning the skill while others never take off their training wheels?

    If you ever find the definitive answer to your question you may also be able to figure out where elephants go to die. :whistling:

    It's starting off as a slow week so the battle might as well continue. :supergrin:

    Jack
     

  3. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

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    I think like most things in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It does some good things, but is it totally necessary? Of course not.

    :)
     
  4. RustyFN

    RustyFN

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    Indy I think you nailed it there. Some people love them amd some hate them, there doesn't seem tobe a happy medium.

    I guess that could be true about a lot of things for example a powder cop die or small base die. Not needed but a lot of people like to use them.
     
  5. Bret

    Bret Crimping Master

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    XDRoX, I've read many posts by people who use the Lee FCD as a way to solve a bullet setback problem. In my opinion, there should be plenty of tension between the bullet and case to prevent setback. They need to solve this problem, not mask it by using a Lee FCD. I've also read posts from people who have case bulges that regular sizing dies won't remove. I personally consider these bulges a clue that the cases should not be reused and don't consider it wise to iron out the bulge using the Lee FCD. If someone has good tension between the bullet & case and wants to use the FCD simply to remove the flare remaining from the belling operation, then OK. But, they could have just used a regular taper crimp die to do the same thing. The bottom line for me is that I consider the Lee FCD to be a solution for a problem that should not exist to begin with if proper reloading procedures are followed. So, I obviously don't consider this to be one of those truth is somewhere in the middle things. Sometimes there's just a right and a wrong way to do things.

    Note: My opinion above does not apply to the Lee FCD for bottle necked rifle cartridges. I think they're fine devices that produce better results than typical roll crimping.
     
  6. dudley

    dudley

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    I use Lee Factory Crimp on everything except 357Sig and ammo for my bolt action rifles
     
  7. Three-Five-Seven

    Three-Five-Seven Señor Mombo Millennium Member

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    There are some problems in reloading for which the LFCD is the only solution (revolver bullets that have no crimp groove). There are other situations where using it is not necessary or desirable because of consequences that accrue from its use (swaging bullet diameter below spec). It always works great in the fifth station of the press as a quality control agent, however (if it goes through the FCD, it'll go through the gun).
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2010
  8. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

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    XD, if you do a search on this board for the combination of FCD and member Colorado4Wheel, you'll find that Steve is very opinionated as to their purpose in life and Lee's motives for marketing them. The humor you are referring to is usually someone poking fun at Steve.
     
  9. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    To talk intelligently about the subject you should know what the Pistol Carbide FCD does. In brief it's a simple device. It has a carbide sizing ring and a crimp section farther up in the die. Every round that you put in the die has to go through the sizing ring to reach the crimp section. It gets crimped at the very end of the stroke. The sizing ring is "generally" sized about .003 inch's smaller then the SAMMI spec for that caliber. There has been a great deal of debate by me and others about what that sizing ring actually does. It's actually pretty simple to measure it for yourself. I won't bore you with any details beyond that unless you ask. There are however a lot of misleading statements made about the FCD. Some people claim they can crimp their rounds and avoid the sizing portion of the die by adjusting the die. Thats impossible. You have to push the case through the sizing ring to get to the crimp section of the die. The only way the FCD does not size a round is if the round is small enough to not get sized. Thats kinda logical isn't it? That last statement is hotly debated. The reality is the FCD is designed to size rounds to SAMMI spec. So it has to squeeze them slightly below factory spec for that to happen because of brass spring back.

    The debate on the Carbide FCD is around these issues.

    1) Does it size a in spec round?
    2) Does a in spec bullet in a in spec round get squeezed? If it gets squeezed does it get sized smaller?
    3) Do you even need it?

    Plus a bunch of other stuff. The answer to all the above is "It depends".
     
  10. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    This shows a total misunderstanding of my intent. My intent has always been to educate people about what the FCD can possibly do, using the dial calipers they own and the die they have in their toolhead. AMAZINGLY, this has made me look like a a-hole. It's not a black or white type of tool. It really can depend on the die you actually get from Lee and the brass you use and the bullets you use in that brass. Of course Lee markets it as the best thing ever. They say pretty much the same thing about every product they make. I don't expect any less from them. Thats just logical. I use a lot of Lee products. Some meet my expectations some don't. I don't lie about the ones that don't. Believe it or not the FCD meets all my expectations. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. 100%. Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while. If you understand the above bolded statement then maybe you actually understand what I am saying. If you don't then you don't understand what the FCD does and what my opinion on the FCD really is.
     
  11. RustyFN

    RustyFN

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    Bret I have to agree with you. I hate the fact that it is advertised to fix ammo and that leads new reloaders to think, hey I'll just buy a FCD and that will fix it. I don't believe in using it to fix bad ammo either. What I do like about the FCD is the crimp I get from it and I like to use the post sizing ring as a case gage. I don't want to have to sit down and gage every round separate after they are all loaded. I have never had a problem at a match I was shooting using this method. For me there are some good reasons to use a FCD but it is not something people can't live without.
     
  12. Run&Shoot

    Run&Shoot

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    In the straightwall handgun cartridges, such as the 9mm Leger the OP mentions, the FCD applies a taper crimp the same as any other die (well except Hornady, I hear they ship all handgun dies with roll crimps). So if you like an RCBS, Hornady, or Lyman taper crimp then the FCD will be the same thing as far as crimping.

    If I was loading jacketed 9mm bullets I would not use the FCD. But I load mostly lead and I find the lube gets especially gummed up in a single seat and crimp die because it is doing two operations at the same time. Excess lube in the seating die eventually leads to variances in the seating depth as the lube builds up and then drops out in a blob.

    I find applying the crimp in a separate fourth step keeps the seating much more consistent. you could use the same die once for seating and once for crimping in a single stage. But I have a turret press so I want a fourth die so I can leave the seating die alone aftr it is adjusted for COL.

    You could buy two seating/crimping dies but that is sort of expensive when you load for several cartridge sizes. Getting a Lee FCD is much cheaper. So I like it for the affordability.

    Another thing the FCD does is size the case if it has been bulged out by crimping or an out of spec bullet. You could just slip every loaded case into the gun chamber or a max case gauge to check for this. but since the FCD has max sizing carbide ring built in it saves a step to just let the FCD do the checking and fixing. If cases and bullets are in spec then the FCD runs over the case without hardly touching it except to crimp.

    I wouldn't say I love them but I find they fill a useful role. If you prefer to crimp in the same step as seating (like for jacketed bullets) and final check your cartridges in a gauge or barrel then you have no need for the FCD. Or if you load on a single stage and don't mind changing the seating die from seating to crimp then you don't need the FCD.

    But if you load a lot of lubed lead bullets and want a separate crimp die then the FCD is a cheap way to achieve that.

    Most of the people I hear criticizing the FCD are people who have never used one, or have never read the instructions. The FCD is adjustable so you can have just a touch of crimp or as much crimp as you want. You do not have to crimp the crap out of a bullet if you don't want to. Some people seem to thinks the FCD has a will of its own and will destroy any bullet it touches. Only if you don't read the instruction and/or are ham handed.
     
  13. sig2009

    sig2009

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    I use the FCD on all my FMJ loads. The FCD is the best!!!! Taper crimp with lead.
     
  14. Mystic Knight

    Mystic Knight Mystic Knight

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    I use the FCD because if I didn't have something in that hole the lever would go down too far and my elbow would get jerked out of joint.:rofl:
     
  15. chris in va

    chris in va

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    I'm new(ish) to reloading. All I can add to the thread is there have been a few dozen loaded rounds that stopped my hand press pretty hard when pushing it through the FCD. I don't know if the boolit got loaded sideways a bit or what, but I was glad it caught the potential jam. My CZ isn't very forgiving.
     
  16. XDRoX

    XDRoX

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    Thanks everyone for your input. This thread saved me hours of reading searches to find this info.

    I have been having good luck with the 3 set dies, so I think I'll stick with them, but a FCD might be a handy tool to have laying around.
     
  17. dudel

    dudel

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    Some love em; some hate em. Get one and try it. It will only set you back about $10. If you don't like, it sell it.

    We're talking religion here. Everyone has an opinion, and no one's likely to change theirs. On this, you'll just have to use your own noodle and make up your own mind, and leave it at that. No need to come back here to tell everyone you love or hate it. Won't make any difference to anyone.
     
  18. kcbrown

    kcbrown

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    I think the biggest criticism of the FCD is that it might wind up swaging the bullet and reducing the tension on the bullet that would otherwise prevent setback.

    That may be a concern if the case in question is truly a straight-walled case like the .45 ACP or .40 S&W. The reason is that the sizing ring is attempting to size the base of the case to SAAMI specs, and for a straight-walled case the spec of the mouth size is almost the same as that of the base. For the die to size the entire case, it has to size the base to the proper dimensions and that means the ring will be slightly smaller than that to account for springback.

    Take the .40 S&W cartridge. The SAAMI spec for the base of the case is .424 in. That implies the sizing ring in a FCD would be .421 in (.003 in is used to account for springback). The bullet diameter is at least .400 in (which is what a typical jacketed bullet will measure). The SAAMI spec case wall thickness is .0115 in. So the mouth will have an outside dimension of .423 in. This means the FCD is attempting to reduce the mouth by at least .002 in. Now, that's not a big deal if you have a jacketed bullet in there (since it, too, has springback), but if you've got a lead bullet in there that doesn't have any springback to speak of, the FCD will swage the portion of the bullet that is inside the case mouth to .398 in. This increases the clearance between the bullet and the case mouth (the case springs back but the bullet doesn't) and reduces the neck tension on it. This may have an impact on the accuracy of your ammunition as well as on leading in the barrel.

    How much of a problem this is with bullet setback depends entirely on how much smaller than SAAMI spec your sizing die sizes the case. If it sizes the case small enough there won't be a problem.

    Now, the bullet itself would have to exceed a diameter of .421 in for the sizing ring to swage the part of the bullet that is in front of the case mouth. That's not likely. But the portion inside the case may be of some concern.


    Now, if you're shooting 9mm, then you've got nothing to worry about. Why? Because it uses a tapered case. The diameter of the base of the case exceeds the diameter of the mouth enough that the sizing ring in the FCD won't touch the case mouth even if you have a slightly oversized bullet in it.


    Bottom line: as with anything else in reloading, it helps to understand how and why something works when deciding whether or not to use it. If you understand the above as regards the carbide FCD, you'll know when it's okay to use it (generally, use with a jacketed bullet is fine) and when it may be best not to use it (when you use a straight walled case and an oversized lead round in order to minimize leading in the barrel).
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  19. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

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    NAME ONE!

    Other than it giving lee and extra revenue stream.
     
  20. kshutt

    kshutt

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    What I would like to know about the Lee FCD is this: Someone told me that they don't fit correctly on a Dillon 550. Not enough adjustment available for the lock nut to be applied anywhere but under the die? What is that nonsense all about, or is it just that, nonsense?