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Thread: Best dies for 9mm

  1. #21
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    Thanks for all the help guys. Thanks for clearing up the 38 special vs s&w, I glazed right over that.

    Cast my first boolits last night and got what look like 200 keepers and 50 culls.

    I measured my slug again last night and it either shrank by .001" or I measured it wrong the first time somehow. I made the slug by melting down some splitshot in a 9mm casing, pulling it, swaging it, then driving it through. I guess its possible it shrank. Thoughts? I need to order a boolit resizer and was going to get a .358, now I wonder if I should get .357. Guess I could slug it again.

  2. #22
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    What about seating the swc with the round seating die that came with the Lee set? Dont I need a flat surface to get consistent seating?Click image for larger version. 

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    Some internet searching suggests to use hot glue or epoxy to make a custom seating die. Im leaning towards doing this.
    Last edited by Bashby; 11-10-2019 at 11:05 AM.

  3. #23
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    With some flat point 9mm designs, I noticed that the rim of the flat contacted the ogive of the round nose seating stem concentrically, and I could get consistent seating depth. It most certainly did not work with every design, and if there is any significant run out in the die, it's a no go.

    I have used a custom molded seating stem for my new favorite 9mm cast design, a round nose. Following recommendations I read here, I put a dab of JB Weld in the cleaned stem and screwed it into the die body, then ran an oil lubricated good round into it on the ram, letting it sit until cured. Trimming the flash and redrilling the vent hole left me a stem that helped solve the tilt and crush and run out issues I was having with my set up.

    I learned the hard way to be sparing with the JB Weld and liberal with the lube: the least aggravating problem is gluing the boolit to the stem, and it only gets worse from there...
    Last edited by kevin c; 11-10-2019 at 08:04 PM. Reason: Clarity

  4. #24
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    My slug size changing was bugging me, so I slugged it again and Im coming up with .3555". I guess I read the mic wrong. Now Im torn on the resizer I should get, .357 or .358.

  5. #25
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    Sizing to .357 is common for cast 9mm, and works for me. Of course, that's just a rule of thumb/the conventional wisdom, and in my particular case the boolits are going through polygonally rifled Glock barrels that I didn't bother to slug, so YMMV.

  6. #26
    Boolit Buddy Phlier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bashby View Post
    My slug size changing was bugging me, so I slugged it again and Im coming up with .3555". I guess I read the mic wrong. Now Im torn on the resizer I should get, .357 or .358.
    I'd start with .357, but don't be surprised if you end up needing to go up to .358. Lee push through sizing dies are cheap, though, so there's not too much sting involved if you have to get a second one.

    .357 sized boolits work just fine in my gun, but even with the larger 38 S&W expander, I end up getting some boolit swaging, so I use the .358 boolit sizer, and end up with .357 after I've pulled the boolit from a loaded round. Prior to when I powder coated my boolits, I could get away with .357 size just fine; I was using a hard enough alloy (around BHN 15-17) that they weren't getting swaged down by the case. I've since gone to a cheaper (less tin and antimony) softer alloy since I started powder coating, and now the boolits are getting swaged down a bit further than they were. That's also another tool you'll want to keep in your kit... if you boolits are getting swaged down to too small of a diameter, you can increase the hardness, but do so *very* carefully. Hardness is another one of those "sweet spots" you'll need to shoot for. Too soft, and you'll get leading and swaged boolits. Too hard, and you'll go back to getting leading again. If I were to start the madness that is beginning to reload/cast for 9mm again, I'd start out with a BHN of 12, then if I had swaging/leading issues, work up in steps of 2 until they were solved. But adjusting the hardness of your boolit won't have any effect at all if you're not shooting the proper *size* boolit for your barrel. Keep that in the back of your mind before you start messing around with hardness.

    So answering the question of what sizer to get becomes one of those "it depends" kind of answers... It depends on what size your barrel likes, it depends on how much case swaging effect you get. And it also depends on one more thing we need to talk about:

    And of course there has to be one other little thing to consider... throat size. You might find that your gun will feed .357 boolits fine, but will simply choke on .358. There is a member here who will ream out your gun's throat to accept larger diameter projectiles should you run into this problem.

    9mm is kinda considered to be a collegiate level reloading and casting caliber, but it's nothing you can't handle if you just work through it step by step. And all the reading and question asking you're doing here is a sure-fire way to get off on the best foot possible.
    "Things sure are a lot more like the way they are now than they used to be." --Yogi Berra

  7. #27
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    Phlier, thanks for "taking me under your wing" (Avatar related pun intended). A couple bits of info that may make a difference: i am using range scrap and dont know the hardness. I read a tip here somewhere about using drawing pencils to check hardness, I may pick some up to get an idea of what Im working with. I am also planning on powder coating my boolits.

    Just ordered the 38s&w expander and 357 and 358 sizers from the link you provided earlier. 358 was on sale so I went ahead and got it.
    Last edited by Bashby; 11-11-2019 at 10:56 AM.

  8. #28
    Boolit Buddy Phlier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bashby View Post
    Phlier, thanks for "taking me under your wing" (Avatar related pun intended). A couple bits of info that may make a difference: i am using range scrap and dont know the hardness. I read a tip here somewhere about using drawing pencils to check hardness, I may pick some up to get an idea of what Im working with. I am also planning on powder coating my boolits.

    Just ordered the 38s&w expander and 357 and 358 sizers from the link you provided earlier. 358 was on sale so I went ahead and got it.
    The parrot in my avatar is 22 years old now, and we've had him since he was a baby. He'll outlive me, as his type of parrot usually lives to be 70+ years old. He's sitting on my shoulder as I type this, sharing my morning coffee with me.

    Eventually, you'll want a tool that'll give you a pretty good indication of the hardness of your boolit alloy. I've been using a Lee Hardness Tester for years, and have no complaints.

    I think I read somewhere that you'll be powder coating your boolits... that's a great choice. IME, it allows you to shoot softer alloy without leading, and the range scrap you'll be shooting will definitely come in on the soft side. You can try to water quench it, but keep in mind that in order for water quenching to increase the hardness, the alloy has to have at least a bit of antimony in it. The lead that you get from cores of FMJ's is pretty much just pure lead, so no antimony (or even tin) to be found. But it doesn't hurt to give water quenching a try, as it only takes a trace of antimony to make water quenching work... at least to a degree.

    Since you're going to be shooting some pretty soft boolits, I think that you'll find the .358 sizing die to be a great fit.

    You will want to have the ability to increase the hardness of your alloy, though, as you might very well find that range scrap (even powder coated) might end up giving you leading issues, accuracy issues, or possibly both. Who knows, maybe it'll work great for you, but let's plan on the possibility that you'll need to increase the hardness a bit.

    I harden up my range scrap (and other alloys) using RotoMetal's "Super Hard" bullet alloy. RotoMetals also has other alloys, too, but I particularly like the Super Hard, as it's meant to be added to other alloys to harden them, whereas their other alloys are meant to be cast directly.

    When you get a chance, you'll want to read "From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners" The entire book is worth reading, but in particular, you'll want to read about boolit casting alloys. And after reading that book, you'll never use anything other than just plain saw dust to flux your melt again.

    It only takes about an hour to read that book, and IMO, you won't spend a better hour in your life learning about casting.

    You might also find that a lead alloy calculator is helpful in determining how much of what to add to your alloy to get the desired hardness. There are several threads around here discussing the various choices.

    I had been using various powder coating powders, but just recently switched to powder that is sold by a member here.. in fact, let me get you a link to his sales thread...http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...owder-For-sale. After using Smoke's PC, I won't use anything else ever again.
    "Things sure are a lot more like the way they are now than they used to be." --Yogi Berra

  9. #29
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    I have read some of Ingot to target. It has a lot of terms that are new to me so I will need to read over it a few times before it all comes together, if that makes sense.

    I placed an order with Smoke the other day and it should arrive tomorrow.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phlier View Post
    Hey Bashby, I think you'll have great results with the Lee set. I have a bunch of 9mm dies... two sets of Dillon (used in my 550 and 1050), a set of RCBS (used them in my old Rockchucker), and a full set of Lee that I use in my Lee Classic Turret press.

    I just wanted to make sure that you knew there is a difference in the expanding dies that guys have been recommending.... You DO NOT want the expander die from 38 Special/357 Magnum, you want the expander die from 38 S&W. This part right here: http://fsreloading.com/lee-precision...8-s-and-w.html That's the exact die I ordered from the exact place I ordered it from.

    It'll expand your case more than the expander die included with your Lee 9mm set, and also a bit more than 38 Special. The part number that I linked you to is a powder through expander, so you can use it either in a stand-alone expander die, or you can use it with your powder-through die... you can take out the powder through expander plug in your new set of Lee 9mm dies, and just drop the 38 S&W one in.

    IMO, it's pretty important to use the 38 S&W expander, especially since your barrel slugs out at .356. That expander will prevent the cartridge walls from swaging down your boolit to less than the desired .358 diameter you'll be wanting for that barrel.

    When you're getting all set up, load up a test round, then pull the boolit. Measure the base of it and make sure it's not getting swaged down below .358. If it is, increase the depth of the expander.

    If you have some military brass, you'll want to make sure to do the above test with it, as military brass typically has thicker case walls and has a tendency to swage boolits down more than typical 9mm brass does.

    As to the Lee FCD, you'll hear guys here swear by it, and others swear at it. IME, the only time I have ever had a problem using the FCD is with military brass. Occasionally, the FCD with military brass will swage the boolit down below the desired diameter. But IME, it only happens with the military brass, and only occasionally. Other guys will say that it happens all the time, while another group of guys say they never have any problems with the FCD at all.

    I *do* use the FCD for cast boolits, and have never had any problems with it, except for military brass. But I don't have much of that anyway, so it's really not a problem. Give it a try, and see how it works for you.

    Edit: Oh, forgot to mention.... not only do you want to pull a boolit and measure the base of it, but you'll also want to verify that you have enough neck tension, too. Take a finished round and measure the OAL. Then press the tip of the boolit into something like the edge of your reloading bench, and push pretty hard. Then measure the OAL again. It should be the same. If it is shorter, you'll need to make adjustments so that you're getting better neck tension. There's a window you're shooting for here... you don't want the case so small that it swages down the boolit diameter, but you don't want the case so large that you're not getting adequate neck tension.
    Thanks for that great explanation. I have a 9mm and have not started reloading for it yet. Am aware of the woes of too small of a bullet/swaging the bullet down when reloading. Your solution is very practical, economical and well explained.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master Traffer's Avatar
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    What did you measure it with. More of a chance that your measurement has varied than it shrunk. I use cheap calipers a lot and when they batteries get weak they still work but start getting jiggy. A bit erratic in their measurements. If you are using a digital caliper maybe your battery needs changing. it is far better to measure with a micrometer if you have one.
    Your process of making the slug yada yada sounds good enough. I do something very similar. Just make sure you use soft lead and make the slug a bit bigger than the bore and it should register the size if the bore well.
    I would not size to .357 in a 9mm but I am not the expert on that. Most folks say .002" over or even more. My gun slugs at .356" and I would use up to .3585" cast bullets.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master
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    Mine sizer sizes to .3575 and shoot well. Would prefer .358. You can always get a .357 and if not happy open it up a little at a time. http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-Lee-Sizer-die

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffer View Post
    What did you measure it with.
    Measured with a micrometer

  14. #34
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    You can raise the sizer die so it doesn't size as much, as the 9mm sizer is tapered. Then check the sized cases to be certain they chamber in your pistols, as they should. You have to experiment a bit as to how deep that you screw down the sizer die.



    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Luber View Post
    Most any sizing die will work for jacketed but few work well for lead. They typically make the case too small and the slug gets damaged in seating. I use the Lee FCP minus the guts, but as a sizer. You can jimmie up a sizing pin to fit it if you're clever. I think my expander and flare plug is .357 diameter. Cases matter too, most are tapered inside limiting seating depth before you bulge. Federal are straight wall. I have had good results with 3.0 of BE. Good luck

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wally View Post
    You can raise the sizer die so it doesn't size as much, as the 9mm sizer is tapered. Then check the sized cases to be certain they chamber in your pistols, as they should. You have to experiment a bit as to how deep that you screw down the sizer die.
    I tried this but I use range brass. It would work on some brass but others needed FL sizing. If it was all your brass this would work.

  16. #36
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    True, perhaps you should size it all up not fully sized and see what will fully fit in the chamber, those that don't, size them a tad more, You may find that few will not fit. Maybe worth a try. I shoot on my land and reuse my own brass; so I don't have any issue not fully resizing 9mm brass to be used with cast bullets sized at .358". Good luck!

  17. #37
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    I have an old set of RCBS, run them on my 650 with a MBR stepped funnel (M type). It works great & I am sure I would be served well with Dillon, Hornady or even Lee.
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  18. #38
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    Hey Bashby, any chance you've gotten an opportunity to shoot your first cast boolits yet? If so, how'd it go?

    This past weekend, Target had a sale on Hamilton Beach 6 slice toaster ovens. Regularly 130 bucks, on sale for 80. I went ahead and picked one up, and I cannot imagine an oven that is more suited to powder coating boolits. It's really a sweet deal. It comes with a perfectly sized "air fryer" mesh basket, that'll hold 20 pounds (nearly 1,100 rounds) of my 9mm boolits. It comes with a non-stick "catch pan" that is really nice, too... You just set the mesh basket on the catch pan, dump your boolits out of the container that you used to coat 'em, then just shake the mesh basket a bit over the catch pan, pop 'em in the oven, and you're set.

    It appears to be PID controlled, too, as the indicated temperature was always within 5 degrees of my IR thermometer I used to verify the oven's temp.

    So if you're in the market for a toaster oven for boolit PC'ing, I can't recommend it highly enough. Here's a link to the actual product, and it looks like it's still on sale for 80 bucks. https://www.target.com/p/hamilton-be...n/-/A-54639402

    This is such a good oven that I think I'll actually start a thread about it.

    Anyway, enough of my ramblings... let us know how things are working out for you when you get a chance.
    "Things sure are a lot more like the way they are now than they used to be." --Yogi Berra

  19. #39
    Boolit Master trixter's Avatar
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    I have been casting 9mm boolits for some time using Lee TL 356-124-2R which I powder coat with Eastwood Ford Light Blue. After I powder coat them I run them through a .356 Lee sizing die. I use the expander die that comes with the set. I talked with the folks at Starline Brass and they polished it for me and it works great. I was told by Lee Customer Service that the expander should be a little sticky to be sure it sizes properly, but I like 'smoothe'. I do not use the FCD as I learned with a 3 die set on a Lee single stage. Now I use a Lee Classic Cast Turret press and I also use the RCBS Bullet Feeder, so there is no room for the FCD. The powder coated boolits work great and do not hang up in the feeder. I am very happy with the setup and also installed a 'reverse rotation' kit from Inline Fabrication. This set up allows me to inspect the process at every stage of production. It is a little slower than a progressive, but much more reliable for me.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phlier View Post
    Hey Bashby, any chance you've gotten an opportunity to shoot your first cast boolits yet? If so, how'd it go?

    This past weekend, Target had a sale on Hamilton Beach 6 slice toaster ovens. Regularly 130 bucks, on sale for 80. I went ahead and picked one up, and I cannot imagine an oven that is more suited to powder coating boolits. It's really a sweet deal. It comes with a perfectly sized "air fryer" mesh basket, that'll hold 20 pounds (nearly 1,100 rounds) of my 9mm boolits. It comes with a non-stick "catch pan" that is really nice, too... You just set the mesh basket on the catch pan, dump your boolits out of the container that you used to coat 'em, then just shake the mesh basket a bit over the catch pan, pop 'em in the oven, and you're set.

    It appears to be PID controlled, too, as the indicated temperature was always within 5 degrees of my IR thermometer I used to verify the oven's temp.

    So if you're in the market for a toaster oven for boolit PC'ing, I can't recommend it highly enough. Here's a link to the actual product, and it looks like it's still on sale for 80 bucks. https://www.target.com/p/hamilton-be...n/-/A-54639402

    This is such a good oven that I think I'll actually start a thread about it.

    Anyway, enough of my ramblings... let us know how things are working out for you when you get a chance.
    I havent loaded any yet. Still waiting on PC supplies from Smoke and sizing dies. I picked up a $20 toaster oven at Goodwill yesterday.

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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