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Thread: Lee .38/357 Factory Crimp Die

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Lee .38/357 Factory Crimp Die

    I purchased one of these some years ago, when maybe 5% of my reloads wouldn't chamber without a sometimes hefty push. I readjusted my reloading dies, and the problem seemed to mostly go away.

    I then started reading on the 'net, (a DANGEROUS thing!) and found opinion that the FCD will resize lead boolits, making them beaucoup smaller! That won't do much for leading/accuracy, sez I to myself.

    I figure if anyone knows, he/she will be right here on the forum. Lee FCD...good or bad? I've lost the instructions, so, are there any tips for better use, or...just don't use it?
    Thanx,

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Highly opinionated folks like to respond regarding the use of the Lee factory crimp die. I've learned not get involved in that argument. Best advice is to load up fifty rounds using it according to Lee's directions (those may be available online), and load up another fifty using only your die set. Don't crimp heavily with either method, just enough to prevent a bullet from moving under recoil.

    Compare accuracy after shooting benchrested groups at 25 yards. You'll have your answer and you'll upset no one.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy metricmonkeywrench's Avatar
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    Lots of variables to consider here, the Lee FCD ring crimps to a "standard" size (I believe SAMMI minimum) on jacketed bullets, I have the dimensions somewhere but a couple of checks with a dial caliper will tell the story of what is happening to your rounds pre and post crimp using your die. Theoretical worst case is an oversized bullet in a thick walled case that will likely resize the bullets. If you are not seeing any leading or accuracy issues then shoot on and pay it no further mind.

    Leading is a study onto itself and crimping is only one of the many potential causes...

    I shoot a lot of plated bullets (berrys/xtreme) sized to .358 and have never seen any sign of resizing of the bullets and have not seen any accuracy issues.

    Though there are detractors and opinions of anything that says Lee on it the FCD's do produce consistent crimps on the rounds potentially removing a variable from the equation.

  4. #4
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    I am one of the highly opinionated FCD members. For Revolvers I order the Lee Collet Crimp Die from Lee Precision directly from the Lee site. I also use the Redding Profile Crimp Die. For Pistols, semi-auto, I use the Lee FCD if I get any feeding issues. Otherwise I use a Redding Taper Crimp die. I crimp enough to get rid of any case mouth flare, however much crimping force that takes. Factory like crimp for pistols.

    +1 on post #3
    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Lots of good advice here. I check boolit diameters before seating, after seating and after using Lee fcd. So far I haven't had any issues with calibers I use them on (9mm, 38/357, 380acp, 45ACP, and 45 Colt. I did have an old RCBS 45 ACP seating die that would swage down bullets. I ended up polishing the inside of the die to relieve the issue (this was back around 72) I also polished out most of the taper crimp, but it fixed the problem.

    Sent from my SM-J700T using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    I use the Lee FCD on all my handgun loads. Apparently I have been lucky and managed to acquire dies that only size the case when things are substantially too large. The large majority of my loads never get touched on the sides by the die. It simply puts the finishing crimp on the case after seating.
    The Lee FCD makes it very easy to adjust the crimp to your requirements. Crimping after seating in a separate step makes things much easier and I have less problems.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I would echo what taxman said above. Everyone has their likes and dislikes - most of my dies are LEE for my pistol cartridges and I use the FCD. I prefer to seat and seat and crimp in two different operations so it works out well using the FCD. I've never had an issue with it changing boolit size (allI use is my cast) nor issues with leading. The only one I don't use it on is the 45 Colt (Long). My die set for that is a hodgepodge of different dies. I only have one 45 Colt pistol (Uberti Cattleman) and the chambers are quite generous. Once I do a full length sizing for the first loading of the brass (starling), thereafter, I neck size the casing to about the boolit seating depth. My rounds are accurate out of that pistol but I rarely have to use the ejector rod. For me, a Lee FCD on that carridge would be of little use other than the crimp capabilities.

    A lot of folks will praise them and a lot of folks will curse them. If I were thinking about using them, I'd order one and try it for whatever caliber you may have some issues with. They really aren't that expensive and if you don't like it, then sell it.

    I will also say that I keep a "cartridge gauge" on the bench for all of my pistol cartridges other than the 45 Colt. I load on a Lee 4 hole turret and try random loads in the gauge as I load. If you have an oversize round, that gauge will tell you and if needed, you can put in a Lee FCD to help out with the proper sizing of the round.

    In the end - there is no right or wrong . . . only biased opinions. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    I too have my likes and dislikes. I purchased a 44 Mag. FCD just out of curiosity and found it ruined my carefully sized bullets and the result was leading, which I had all but eliminated. I punched out the sizing ring and the resulting crimp was inferior to any roll crimp die I've used (even Lee's "regular" roll crimp die) and certainly no where near my Redding Profile Crimp. My FCD now resides somewhere in a landfill somewhere in So. Oregon. I have been reloading semi-auto ammo for 25+ years and have never needed to size my finished ammo to chamber in any of my 6 pistols. If I had a problem chambering, I found out why and fixed it...

    I really don't care what dies experienced reloaders use, but I object to them telling new reloaders to just cover up a problem with an FCD rather than diagnose the problem and fixing it..
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  9. #9
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    There is a long-standing Poll on this site and 2/3 of the members polled, use their handgun FCD. Basically what you are seeing here. Most have no problem using them under the right circumstances. As in all things, use common sense.

    Posts 7 and 8 exhibit common sense.
    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson

  10. #10
    Boolit Master dikman's Avatar
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    I've been using one for a few years (.38) with no problems, so I bought one for my .44-40. Absolute disaster, I could not get a decent crimp no matter what I did so I threw it in a drawer, never to see the light of day again!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I'm going to be the dissenter here and say that I am no fan of the Lee FCD. It's essentially a collet and a gimmicky one at that.

    I know some people like the things but I've never seen a Lee FCD do anything more than a standard roll or taper crimp die can accomplish.
    To further my dissent, I will say that there's really nothing factory about the Factory Crimp Die. It doesn't duplicate anything unique about factory loaded ammunition and it certainly doesn't perform the crimping function any better.

    Sorry, but I never bought into the Lee FCD. You can flame me about this but I've said my piece.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy MyFlatline's Avatar
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    I use one for every cast caliber with no issues, love them. Even the fat bullets don't mind..

    I don't use jacketed bullets so can't say there

  13. #13
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    No flame, but if you say collet you're talking the rifle FCD, while this thread has been discussing the non-collet handgun die.

    I have several of both. The handgun ones are sized for jacketed ammo and I use them for that only, and only where needed.

    The rifle version I sometimes use with cast when the crimp ring in my rifle die is too small, which usually happens when I'm loading more than .001" over nominal.

    I don't get angry or do infantile things like throw tooling away when the dimensions don't work for a load. I just take notes and keep it for when I need something a little bigger or smaller. I have multiple die sets for almost all cartridges I reload for. Sooner or later I get around to using all of them.
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

  14. #14
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    357 Magnum Collet Style Crimp Die

    "357 Magnum Collet Style Crimp Die. Incorporates a collet to apply a rifle type crimp to the case. Makes these very difficult to crimp cartridges a delight to reload. Bullets do not need a crimp groove, as the collet is so powerful it will form one. "
    https://leeprecision.com/357-magnum-...crimp-die.html

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmort View Post
    357 Magnum Collet Style Crimp Die

    "357 Magnum Collet Style Crimp Die. Incorporates a collet to apply a rifle type crimp to the case. Makes these very difficult to crimp cartridges a delight to reload. Bullets do not need a crimp groove, as the collet is so powerful it will form one. "
    https://leeprecision.com/357-magnum-...crimp-die.html
    These are a wonderful tool for hard recoiling revolver ammo. The only problem with them is that the crimp band inside the die is too wide. It is wide enough to crimp the case mouth and also the lower portion of the boolit in front of the case mouth. This is not good. What need will there EVER be to crimp the boolit in front of the case?

    I use these collet dies but I modify mine to make the crimp band narrower and I shorten the collet so it brings the crimp band down to slightly below the case mouth, here is a thread with lots of pics detailing the process on a 45 Colt collet crimp die, but it's the same for other calibers: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...=1#post2239315
    Got a .22 .30 .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/

  16. #16
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    ^^^ The modifications you do to these dies really make sense.
    The last thing you want is a bullet jumping crimp on a hot load and binding up your revolver. Like the guy in Alaska who got off a shot or two with his .454 Ruger and had a huge bear end up dead at his feet with his gun jammed because a bullet jumped crimp.
    Last edited by jmort; 06-12-2018 at 10:07 PM.
    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmort View Post
    ^^^ The modifications you do to these dies really make sense.
    The last thing you want is a bullet jumping crimp on a hot load and binding up your revolver.
    This life or death crimp is one thing the modded collet die does wonderfully. The other thing it does, and my primary reason for using it, it keeps really soft lead boolits from moving any little bit, which improves groups by removing a variable that affects pressure if the boolit moves even a tiny bit, and it provides a very slight resistance to the boolit pulling crimp which slows boolit movement down enough to lower the SD between loads, which also shrinks groups the smaller that number. Softer boolits need more crimp, as the boolit itself can swage into the crimp and allow the base of the boolit to move. Hard cast are generally fine with nothing more than a roll crimp but soft gas checked hunting boolits will move in the cylinder when a few full house H110 loads are fired, and by the time they get under the firing pin, you have more case volume and pressure changes, as does point of impact.. The modded crimp die actually helped with this scenario and I was getting readings on the chrony within 30fps using the Lee 310s in a SBH. It will also help to hold boolits in position when a magnum primer is used, it is easy for the primer blast to push a boolit forward before the powder has even lit good.
    Got a .22 .30 .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/

  18. #18
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    I think all of that is completely irrelevant with a cast bullet that has a crimp grove and the casing is crimped in that crimp groove. I see no evidence that the Lee FCD folds that brass into a crimp groove any better than a conventional roll crimp die.

    You are pushing that casing into that crimp groove and whether you do it with a collet (FCD) or a conventional roll crimp die is irrelevant EXCEPT for the fact that the conventional roll crimp die does the job with far less fuss and far more consistency.

    The Lee FCD is a gimmick. You can disagree with me if you like but people have disagreed with me before. Go ahead and disagree, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

  19. #19
    Petrol & Powder,

    I have to disagree, each die has its purpose. I have never used a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die, but I do use the Lee Factory Crimp Die on my 44 Colts. It is the best way to crimp a Heeled Boolit.

    AntiqueSledMan.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petrol & Powder View Post
    I think all of that is completely irrelevant with a cast bullet that has a crimp grove and the casing is crimped in that crimp groove. I see no evidence that the Lee FCD folds that brass into a crimp groove any better than a conventional roll crimp die.

    You are pushing that casing into that crimp groove and whether you do it with a collet (FCD) or a conventional roll crimp die is irrelevant EXCEPT for the fact that the conventional roll crimp die does the job with far less fuss and far more consistency.

    The Lee FCD is a gimmick. You can disagree with me if you like but people have disagreed with me before. Go ahead and disagree, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.
    I have to disagree here as well. The success I have achieved with the Lee FCD(not the collet crimper, the one with the carbide ring) speaks for itself.
    I don't have leading issues. I don't have accuracy issues. The consistency of my ammunition has improved by using this die. My chronograph shows decreased spreads when I use this die.
    What is not to like about my results?

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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