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Thread: Lee Factory Crimp die modification ?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Lee Factory Crimp die modification ?

    I load on a Lee Turret press, one of the cast ones. Love it. There are 4 stations, and I get better ammo when I crimp as a different step from seating.

    I have accumulated several calibers of orphan seating or crimp dies, to get the 4th die. I recently purchased one off Ebay, a Lee crimp die for 41 Mag. It turns out it's a Factory Crimp Die - the one with the carbide ring on the bottom - you know, the ring designed to destroy my cast ammo.

    My question - is it possible to modify the Lee FCD ?
    - Can I just knock the carbide ring out of the bottom, to get crimping without resizing ?
    - Better to take it to a machinist to ream out the ring ?
    - Toss the dang thing in the trash, and spend the $26 + freight to get an RCBS seat/crimp die ?

    Anybody try these options ?
    "Varium et mutabile semper femina." - Virgil
    Man, ain't it the truth....

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    You can knock it out with a punch from the top. It takes a few hard hits, but it will come out.
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialismóby vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    Mine doesn't bother any of my cast ammo, what's the issue?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by hockeynick39 View Post
    Mine doesn't bother any of my cast ammo, what's the issue?
    Some headstamps of 380 brass are so thick that the ring will swage the .357 cast boolit down. Some is not. I load the thick ones with .355 jacketed and use them where they will be lost.
    There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialismóby vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide. Ayn Rand

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjim View Post
    You can knock it out with a punch from the top. It takes a few hard hits, but it will come out.

    My first inclination was just this. I'll try knocking it out. If it doesn't work, I'm not out much.

    Thanks for the reply.
    "Varium et mutabile semper femina." - Virgil
    Man, ain't it the truth....

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I put mine in a vise lightly, with the lock ring acting like a stop. From the top I used a long punch and carefully punched the carbide ring out. (I still didn't care for the crimp so my FCD now resides in a landfill somewhere in So. OR). Went to a Redding Profile Crimp die...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  7. #7
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    I load cast 38, 357, 45 acp & colt, use the lee crimp die with no issues with 12 different cast boolits. If it wrecks ammo the boolits must be grossly oversized.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Well, I did knock the ring out. It was much harder than I anticipated.

    It turned out that the carbide ring was not only press-fit in, but had a crimp holding it in place. The combination of the press fit and the crimp made for a few hard hits to get it out. I ruined the lockring in the process.

    I doubt I will purchase any more Lee crimp dies. The risk of getting a Factory Crimp Die is just too great. Even if it's cheap, I consider it not worth the effort.
    "Varium et mutabile semper femina." - Virgil
    Man, ain't it the truth....

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    The Lee FDCs for rifles are good dies. I have 3; .223, 30-06 and a collet style for my .44 Magnums. My experience with handgun FCDs was my perfectly sized .432" bullets were swaged down to .430" and occasionally .429" depending on case wall thickness...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    If your original intent was to purchase one of the collet crimp dies, they are a special order item for .41 mag, but they will make them for you. I use them on both my .357 and my .41 and they are absolutely great.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    My original intent was to purchase a normal roll crimp die.

    I am perfectly happy with a roll crimp, and would be thrilled with just another Lee seat/crimp die, from which I would remove the seating cap, and use as just a crimp die.
    The problem is that 41 Mag is enough of an oddball that there aren't many orphaned dies laying around in folks "excess inventory" boxes. I normally purchase excess dies for just a few dollars each - 38 special dies are everywhere, for instance.

    If this modified die doesn't work, I'll purchase a new RCBS seater die, use it to seat, use the Lee seat/crimp die from my set as a crimp only, and call it done.
    "Varium et mutabile semper femina." - Virgil
    Man, ain't it the truth....

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I started using a FCD when I first started loading cast in .357. I really didn't know much about it and the cast coated bullets I bought were .362. I had all kinds of issues with trying to get a expander to work and then shaving coating when going through the FCD.
    I then got educated on the Lee .358 bullet sizer and since doing that all is well. FCD works great with the ring not touching anything.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I've been using the Lee FCD for quite awhile on 45-70, 45 Colt and 45 ACP. No complaints here.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I have used the OP's idea of just removing the seating stem from the seating/crimping die and roll crimped the cartridge. Works OK. Sometimes a plain old roll crimp looks good and works good...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I like the Lee collet crimp dies for two reasons, first they don't work the brass as much as a roll crimp but hold as good if not better and brass lasts longer, and second slight variations in shell case length don't have as much effect on how well they hold, unlike a roll crimp which requires brass all be the same length to get a consistent crimp. Now all this being said, a good old roll crimp works plenty fine as long as you keep your brass trimmed to the same length.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    This thread being about modifications to the Lee FCD which is the carbide ring FCD, here is a post detailing modifications to a Lee *collet style* FCD for handgun ammo:

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...=1#post2239315
    Got a .22 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throat reaming? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Shoot me a PM! Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    For future reference, the carbide ring dosnt need to be knocked out. It can be lapped a few thousandths bigger and left in place. This can be done by hand. Use a old case that's life is gone for reloading. Siz it and drill out the Primer pocket and tap it 1/4 28 install a allen head bolt with a jam nut inside the case. Measure ring dia and write it down. Coat case lightly with a medium lapping compound and work in using an allen wrench to turn it. Workj it back and forth rotating it every few back and forths. Also work it in and out while twisting back and forth. DO this for a few mins or until it loosens up on the case. Clean and remeasure a new measurement that is .003-.005 bigger should save the cast bullet from being damaged and still allow for a little help at the base if needed. Do not go in to the crimp ring just work the carbide ring at the base over like this.

  18. #18
    I load on the Lee turret and seat and crimp in separate stations as well. There seems to be some variation in the carbide ring size as my 44 Mag LFCD was sizing down my boolits but in other calibers I have it doesn't. I tried lapping it down with little success and time wasted. I knocked the ring out and haven't looked back. I also have the collet style and haven't settled on which I like most. They both function well but I like the look and the tradition of the roll crimp. I've been meaning to chrono loads with the different crimps and compare to see if there is any difference but haven't yet.

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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I use a Carbide Crimp Die for 45 Colt. I cast and size somewhat oversize so the Hornady seating/crimping die wasn't doing the job. I knocked the carbide ring out of the Lee die. Now I can set it to any crimp I want without changing the O.D. of my loaded round.

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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