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Thread: crimp and cast bullets

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    crimp and cast bullets

    While pulling off all my Lee carbide taper crimp dies and replacing with factory type, it dawned on me: I don't have a clue what is enuff or too much of a crimp. I got calipers so is there a general rule of how much I should measure to see if enuff crimp is being applied to pistol ammo : 9mm and 45ACP ?

    Up to now, I was just swagging it.

    I do believe I was swaging bullets using the carbide crimp die which has been discussed on this board a bit. Or I have the Lee die perfectly adjusted incorrectly !!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master



    gray wolf's Avatar
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    The best answer is no crimp,

    Just remove the flare at the end of the case, the one you put there to help get the bullet started in the case. Then take the barrel out of your pistol and confirm that the round drops freely into and out of it under it's own weight.
    These rounds use a taper crimp, it does not tighten the hold on your bullet.
    What they can do is loosen the hold on a lead bullet, why ?
    because if it's over done the lead bullet is reduced in size when the brass is squeezed down,
    then the brass springs back but the lead does not.
    Bullet hold is achieved by friction, this is accomplished by using the correct size expander plug. ( bottom half of the die that flares the case mouth.
    So just crimp enough to remove the flare at the case mouth, crimp is not even a good word to use. The important thing is having the bullets function in your pistol.
    See above about dropping a round into your chamber.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I believe more problems are caused by the use of that "factory crimp die" than it EVER solved. I doesn't do much with j-word bullets, and nothing but harm with boolits.
    If you want to use your calipers, just measure the case barely below the "bell" then at the mouth of the case to be sure you haven't any bell left with the boolit seated.
    I'm talking of straight auto cases, ie .45 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, 10mm etc.
    Have fun,
    Gene

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I started reloading before Lee came out with their "Factory Crimp Die" for pistols, and there were prolly bizillions of 45 ACP rounds reloaded before that. When I began reloading for autoloaders, I studied and researched how to "crimp" them (I don't like to use the term "crimp" when talking about auto cartridges with new reloaders, but prefer "flare removal", because no "crimping' is done, just straightening out the flare of the case mouth). I believe the trem "crimping" causes too many problems for the new reloader, they may be looking for some visible change in the case. I have no use for a Lee FCD. Some fellers measure the mouth of the case to determine how much flare removal is being done (I've read .472", but have never measured mine). There is no magic involved, just de-flare the case mouth until you get the "plop" test success...
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master







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    I crimp for heavy recoiling loads in 357, 44M, 308, 06, 375H&H, 444, and 45-70. Don't really have to for 45-70 as I shoot a #1, but it shoots more accurately with crimp. Don't like blt jump in revolvers due to the possibility of cyl jam. Have seen it happen.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master fredj338's Avatar
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    You can measure, but most exp reloaders can eyeball it. If it looks like a crimp on a TC, it' too much, if you still see a flare.bell, it's too little. You can always measure it, but I never have. IMO, the LFCD is a solution to a non existent problem. My tests in 45acp shows a degredation of accuracy w/ softer cast & plated bullets.
    Last edited by fredj338; 05-13-2011 at 01:04 AM.

  7. #7
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    milprileb

    I consulted with the Lee Technical Dept on this very subject and was given a specific answer regarding my .458 Win Mag loads with the Factory Crimp Die and cast boolits. The representative told me to measure the crimp at the case mouth diameter and measure the case diameter 1/8 inch from the mouth. He recommended a .002" to .004" smaller diameter at the crimp and advised me that it is a very small area to measure accurately and to also use a magnifier to view the placement of the dial caliper jaws for the measuring.

    My crimp is into the flat of a driving band on a cast lead bullet and I set the die to crimp .003". This has worked well in my application. He said that is a good general rule to set the die to crimp .003" into a driving band on cast boolits but also warned that heavier than recommended crimping is likely to tear off Gas Checks when shooting loads with Gas Checked boolits.

    Gary
    Last edited by onondaga; 05-11-2011 at 04:25 PM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master




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    What grey wolf said..... My 45ACP rounds generally end up at .472 at the rim. I use a Lyman M die and Lyman "taper crimp die". Alls well... Mike
    Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reason. Benjamin Franklin

  9. #9
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    Good question. I'm pretty new at reloading and just started crimping for a 1911. I think I was in the ballpark but thanks to everyone for the answers.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Bullwolf's Avatar
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    I am going to echo a couple of others here for 45acp.

    Generally I will taper crimp to .473 at the case mouth for MY personal 45acp pistols.

    If the rounds are going to be fired in any guns, other than my own, I will taper crimp down to .471 so I know the boolits will always chamber reliably. I don't especially like to over crimp, it just overworks the brass for no good reason. I know that in my guns, .473 will always chamber.

    .471 taper crimp will consistently fit in my case check gauge though.

    I own a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die, but I have not had a reason to use it yet.
    If it isn't broken... there is no need to fix it.

    I typically like to use a RCBS 4 die set, and I seat, and then taper crimp in a separate step.
    (I seat in a backed off roll crimp die)

    My personal favorite TL452-230-2R 45acp boolits are sized at .452, and I like them to stay that way.







    I make sure I have enough case flare so I don't shave lead off my boolits, or size down my boolits when I seat them. I don't really trust the Lee factory crimp die not to size the boolits down either.

    One of my loaded rounds will not slide easily into a Lee FCD, yet it will fit, and head space just fine in my chamber. So the Lee FCD will be working either the brass, or the boolit down just a bit more than I really need it to.

    However, one day I might just use the Lee FCD as a check die, but for jacketed ammunition only.

    - Bullwolf

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks again

    I figured one more thread and I would go to bed.
    This one helped me build my knowledge base on "taper crimp".
    Maybe it should be called "friction fit" or something.
    I freely admit I have been doing it wrong (although the boolits flew out the muzzle end).
    Coming from revolver reloading I read about taper crimp, and still got the wrong idea.
    Didn't size cases properly and had to crimp the heck out of 'em to hold the boolits.

    I have measurements from another thread to check my expander plug and "crimped" .40 cartridges.
    It's starting to make sense!

    PS: I use my barrel as a case gauge, guess that's OK.

    PPS: Bullwolf, good looking ammo. I'll get me a 45 one of these days.
    Last edited by a.squibload; 05-12-2011 at 04:20 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Bullwolf's Avatar
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    Thanks a. squibload

    I lose more sleep from the "just one more thread before I go to sleep" thing myself.

    Speaking of which I should really go to sleep myself, just after this one more post.

    I tend to use my favorite 45's barrel as a head space gauge, and something of a case gauge too.

    If it fits in my Springfield 1911, it will fit in my old Colt 1911, and everything else I own as well. But I will use a SAMMI case check gauge, if I am making ammunition for someone Else's guns, other than my own.

    I notice quite a large variance in brass thickness too.

    I find that it often helps if you separate your brass, and work with batches that are all of the same brand and head stamp, if you can.

    It is annoying when I am using Winchester Brass and I get my crimp set just the way I want it, and I go and lock down the die... Then my next batch of brass turns out to be Remington and quite a bit thicker than what I was previously using, wrecking my perfect adjustments. Of course forcing me to go back and re-adjust my dies all over again.

    If I want to be consistent, I like to do batches using all of the same brand, and head stamp of brass, at the same time.

    However there have been days where I would just churn out a large quantity of low quality mixed range target fodder, while using a progressive press and random range brass, but it would often bite me in the rear later.

    It is almost always well worth the time it takes to sort into batches by manufacturer.

    - Bullwolf

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Just close the bell. maybe a fraction more. That's all.

    If you leave the edge up from the belling, there could be feeding issues from finicky feed ramps.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullwolf View Post
    .......

    It is annoying when I am using Winchester Brass and I get my crimp set just the way I want it, and I go and lock down the die... Then my next batch of brass turns out to be Remington and quite a bit thicker than what I was previously using, wrecking my perfect adjustments. Of course forcing me to go back and re-adjust my dies all over again.......

    - Bullwolf
    I'm not sure I understand this.
    How can the thicker brass wall effect the Outside Diameter?? It will tend to swage the boolit a little more but you can't increase the OD and not have been in error on the first crimp setup.

    The case trim length will effect the crimp far more than brass thickness. Make sure all your cases are the same length. They can vary considerably between manufacturer.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
    mdi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onondaga View Post
    I consulted with the Lee Technical Dept on this very subject and was given a specific answer regarding my .458 Win Mag loads with the Factory Crimp Die and cast boolits. The representative told me to measure the crimp at the case mouth diameter and measure the case diameter 1/8 inch from the mouth. He recommended a .002" to .004" smaller diameter at the crimp and advised me that it is a very small area to measure accurately and to also use a magnifier to view the placement of the dial caliper jaws for the measuring.

    My crimp is into the flat of a driving band on a cast lead bullet and I set the die to crimp .003". This has worked well in my application. He said that is a good general rule to set the die to crimp .003" into a driving band on cast boolits but also warned that heavier than recommended crimping is likely to tear off Gas Checks when shooting loads with Gas Checked boolits.

    Gary
    Gary, 458 Win. Mag. is a rifle round and uses a different Lee Factory Crimp Die, which uses a collet. The pistol cartridge FCD uses a carbide sizing ring ahead of a standard taper crimp...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Lee Factory Crimp dies have distorted far more cast bullets than a taper crimp ever did. A properly adjust taper crimp die will do no harm to cast bullet in the 45 ACP and 9 MM rounds.

    Here is how such a taper crimp die is adjusted. No need to fuss or measure.

    1. Insert a factory or military round into the press ram and lift to full height.
    2. Screw by hand, the TC die down on the round as hard as you can. Use only you hand and no tools.
    3. Set the die lock ring and you are good to go.
    4. Make of the case will make no difference

    Remove you barrel and use it as a bullet seating gauge. Seat the bullet a little at a time, until the case head is flush with the rear end of the barrel hood. Now try the round in a magazine and if it fits, you are good to go.

    Loading for the autopistol is not near as difficult nor confusing as many folks make it. We have been loading the 45 ACP round for 100 years and there are no secrets about how to do it.
    Last edited by Char-Gar; 05-12-2011 at 12:56 PM.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master sisiphunter's Avatar
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    I have never used the factory crimp die on pistol/straight case rounds. I do use a roll crimp in my 44mag carbine, works great and shoots best that way. As for rifle i almost always crimp. I tested in 303brit and found a good heavy factory crimp works best for accuracy. At least in my application. I have also found using the FCD on J-words also helps for me at least. In my 223 for example a Savage Edge, using without crimp gave my 1-1/2" grouos at 100m. Using the crimp tightened them up to .5" groups consistantly......

    Doesnt really address FCD in pistols, but my experience anyways.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master



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    Don't know anyone that separates 45 cases according to case length, or anyone that ever trims 45 cases. What would you trim to ? there all short after 1 or 2 re-size and shoot.
    Hate is like drinking poison and hoping the other man dies.
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  19. #19
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    Here's the dope on the Lee FCD for STRAIGTHT-WALLED PISTOL CARTRIDGES, the rifle FCD is a different animal altogether, and a great product for cast shooters.

    First, the pistol FCD has a carbide sizer ring in the base which is exactly the same size as the one in the sizer die. Usually the cast boolit expands the case more than the sized diameter because it is slightly oversized compared to jacketed stuff. When you run your cast boolit cartridge through the FCD, the ring swages BRASS AND BOOLIT together until the OD of the case is the same as it was before seating. The result is your .452" boolit is now .450", as an example.

    For .45 ACP and 9mm, all the crimp you need is just to straighten out the bellmouth, NO MORE.

    The difference between the automatics and the revolvers with regard to crimp is the inertial forces on the cartridges NOT being fired during a recoil event. With revolvers, static inertia of the unfired boolits during recoil will cause them to pull out of an under-crimped or insufficiently-tensioned case. That's why revolver designs have a dedicated crimp groove for the most part. Automatics, on the other hand, generally try to force the boolits DEEPER in the case under recoil, because the boolits encounter the front of the magazine under recoil and the static inertia of the CASE tends to drive the case down around the boolit. So, no crimp at all is necessary with the autos except to close the bellmouth enough so they will chamber.

    What IS important about loading for the autos is that the expander actually EXPAND the case down just past where the boolit base will be seated, thus creating a little ledge inside the case. Just the right amount of expansion is important, too much and there won't be enough case tension, too little and the boolit will be swaged undersized when seated in the case. This latter is a chronic issue with tough, high-pressure cases like the 9mm and the .40, not so much with the old .45 ACP. This ledge left from a correctly sized expander spud will prevent the boolit from going deeper under recoil, raising pressures when it's chambered and fired, and causing a Kaboom. I've had it happen, not good.

    GW, I agree fully! If you're trimming you .45 ACP brass, you REALLY have too much time on your hands! I've NEVER seen a .45 ACP case that wouldn't chamber due to being too long, and I've fired some dozens of times.

    Gear
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I used to trim them to 0.888 when I first started to load and only had pickup brass. The shortest ones were 0.888 so I trimmed them all to that. Then I bought 500 new cases and found none of them were Saami length, not even close. I let all the 0.888 cases lay at the range and havn't trimmed another one since.

    Bob
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check