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  #1  
Old 12-10-2012, 10:06 AM
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Die set for 38/357


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I have yet to load any 38/357 rounds but have somewhat mastered the 243. I have an old set of non carbide 38 dies but am going to purchase a set of carbides. I would like feedback on the RCBS roll crimb vs taper crimp and the Lee 4 die set. I have never crimped a bullet as of yet.
Thanks, Kurt
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2012, 10:21 AM
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I favor the roll crimp on magnum loads as it gets a good bite on the bullets to keep them from moving during sharp recoil. The taper crimp must be used if the caliber headspaces on the case mouth instead of the rim such as a 45acp or 9mm Luger. Loading pistol ammo is basically like loading your 243 but with an extra step of belling the mouth of the case if using lead bullets. I use several of Lee's four die sets with great success. Lee includes a powder scoop and a shell holder with their sets as a bonus.
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  #3  
Old 12-10-2012, 10:37 AM
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I did buy the Lee powder scoop set. Since I have been given a powder measure of unknown make. Looks to be in good shape. I need to look closer and see if I can find out a make and get some instructions. My 243 dies are RCBS. I am using a Herters press but do have a used 3 die Lee that I have never used. I take it that the roll crimp is just adjusting the die up so it rolls over the edge and the taper must be a whole separate deal. Seems that might be better as far as not having to readjust each time, but then I am pretty much in the dark ages when it comes to crimping. Are the RCBS taper and Lee 4 die basically the same? Lee probably costs less.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:54 AM
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I would suggest you buy a copy of the Lyman handloading manual. This one of the best books for starters and will answer most of your questions. I know our local public library has several copies.
andy likes this.
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  #5  
Old 12-10-2012, 12:09 PM
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I have it. I just am not sure which type of crimp die I want to go with. I also have the Lee manual and the Hornady. I was trying to get a feel as to what people prefer. Actually a roll crimp does not need an additional die as far as I can figure.
Kurt
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  #6  
Old 12-10-2012, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by battleax View Post
I take it that the roll crimp is just adjusting the die up so it rolls over the edge and the taper must be a whole separate deal. Seems that might be better as far as not having to readjust each time,
I'd buy a scale if you don't have one. It don't have to be expensive and a balance beam I consider a better tool for weighing powder charges. Given the small charges on some pistol loads the difference from a mid range load to maximum is quite close on certain powders. The scale will more than likely be needed to verify the charges when you get your measure up and running.

On my seating die I use a .060 shim under the die when seating bullets. When time to crimp, remove the shim, back the seater off several turns. The die is already set up to match my case length for a uniform crimp. After crimping the last round reinstall the shim and run the seater down until it touches the bullet. It will be ready for the next time if you are loading with the same bullets. The shim I use is a valve spring shim part # VSI A-201, available at about any auto machine shop or parts store. They run about .25 cents.
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Last edited by MontyF; 12-10-2012 at 12:16 PM.
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  #7  
Old 12-10-2012, 12:30 PM
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If you're loading for a revolver, get a die set that uses a roll crimp. No need to over-think this one.
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  #8  
Old 12-10-2012, 12:40 PM
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Yes, I am using a revolver. Thanks. As for scales etc., I have all that, I have been reloading 243s as mentioned. I have also loaded thousands of 12 and 20 ga. rounds over the past 3 or 4 years. I got into brass this summer for my 243. I re-read the Lyman book a bit ago. It says absolutely nothing about taper crimps that I could see. Those books are good for many things, but not all. Also Lyman says nothing about the Lee 4 die. That is why I was asking for advice. I believe I will go with the roll, but I also see the Lee might be good but don't know what it does. A factory crimp it says. Is that a taper crimp? I want to think this over fairly well before spending good cash on a die set.
Thanks,
Kurt
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  #9  
Old 12-10-2012, 12:54 PM
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Most revolver die sets that I've seen has a roll crimp built into the seater. Like was mentioned the taper crimp in handgun calibers are for cartridges that headspace off the mouth.
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  #10  
Old 12-10-2012, 01:21 PM
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Thanks Monty. I will pick up a valve spring shim part # VSI A-201 and probably an RCBS die set of the roll crimp variety. They do come both ways though for 38/357.
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  #11  
Old 12-10-2012, 04:34 PM
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I'm gonna say this about the powder scoops based on one person's experience, namely me. I'm picky as heck about my powder charge, if I want 30gr that's what I want, neither more nor less. I have had no luck finding consistency using the scoops, so I use them to dribble on to a scale. Time consuming I realize, but I have always weighed every charge since I started reloading almost 50 years ago and see no point in changing now. Actually I have a Lyman 55 mounted and handy and never use it. YMMV. Goat
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  #12  
Old 12-10-2012, 04:37 PM
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Iowaloha Battleaxe,
Nice to meet you!
Your head is right about what you want to do. Roll-crimp is the way to go for a revolver.

Non-carbide die set will do fine so long as you lube your empty cases. The "carbide advantage" is mostly about lube and really has nothing to do with the crimping operation. The lube part is about sizing the case!

Read and study any (old or new) reloading mannual and you will understand how it works.
Purdy simple stuff really.
Cheezywan
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  #13  
Old 12-10-2012, 05:17 PM
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Smart move getting a carbide die set rather than using the non carbide because with the non carbide, you MUST lube the cases or one will surely get stuck in the sizer die. You can size cases without lube in the carbide die although I give them a light squirt of lube just to help keep things moving smoothly.

The 38/357 rounds headspace on the case rim. Lead bullets, other than the full wadcutters, usually have a crimp groove so if you intend to shoot these the seater die with roll crimp is what most reloaders use. Jacketed bullets usually have a striated ring for a crimp groove meant to be used with a roll crimp. Crimp is necessary to prevent bullets from moving forward out of the case and tying up the cylinder. I'm not exactly sure why a taper crimp is offered with this cartridge, perhaps it's used with the full wadcutter bullet although a light roll crimp here would also do the job.

The RCBS 3 die set has a sizer die with a decapper, an expander die, and a seater die with a built in roll crimp. This is the die set that I use.

I don't have a Lee 4 die set so I'll let someone else fill you in on that. I'm guessing that it is similar to the RCBS with the exception that the seater die seats the bullet and that the 4th die is a crimp die.

Regardless of which die set you purchase, do get the carbide sizer die. Trust me on that!
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2012, 05:51 PM
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The Lee Factory Crimp dies are different for rifle than for pistol. The FCD in your caliber will give you a roll crimp (as will the Lee seater die that comes in that set)
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  #15  
Old 12-10-2012, 08:16 PM
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I have both. I have had such good luck with the Lee factory crimp dies that I bought them for every pistol caliber I load. While designed for the pistol cartridges that headspace on the neck, I use one for .38 Special and .357 now as well.

I am still using RCBS carbide sizing dies but i prefer the decapper on the Lee design. I use a lot of range recovered brass and am too lazy to sort them by headstamp so I break and bend a lot of pins....that just will not happen with the Lee design. I am also fond of the power thru die.
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  #16  
Old 12-11-2012, 11:58 AM
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As stated above, non-carbide dies require lubing the brass. Not a big deal, really. Personally I have no need for a Lee FCD, and use a roll crimp, or Profile Crimp by Redding for all bullets with a crimp groove or cannalure used in a revolver and taper crimp for all semi-auto cartridges.
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  #17  
Old 12-12-2012, 12:22 PM
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Thanks to everyone. I do use the powder cup and then trickle charge to the 1/10 grain as close I I can get to 0. In the case of the 4350 I am using (for 243) it sometimes does not get perfect as they are pretty heavy grains, but yes, I don't just depend on the cup. I bought 500 158 grain round nose lead for the 38. I have plenty of commercial jacketed loads in various weights etc. that I seldom shoot. Carry them when needed in the woods but usually shoot wadcutters that friends have reloaded for me over the years. I have friends that have loaded for years and still occasionally get a stuck brass, so I plan on using carbide as I am not looking forward to the day it happens but I suppose if I reload long enough it will. I have almost had it happen a few times but caught myself before I pulled the lever all the way down.
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  #18  
Old 12-12-2012, 01:43 PM
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I use the same Lee die set for .38 and .357. For .357 I like to do my roll crimp in a separate step. It's just easier for me to set it up to get exactly what I want. And since I have a 4-hole Lee Classic Turret press, it's a no-brainer.

For my 40S&W the seating die does the job perfectly without the need for a FCD.
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  #19  
Old 12-12-2012, 01:48 PM
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I'll toss a couple of things into the pot.

The reason to use a roll crimp in a revolver is to prevent the bullets backing out of their cases during firing and then jamming the cylinder rotation when they get far enough out. This happens because the bullets have inertia. When the gun fires, recoil pushes the cylinder back with the rest of the gun. The cylinder, in turn, pushes back on the rims of the cases. The bullet's inertia causes it to resist going backward with the case, with the result that the recoil will "pants" the bullet by pulling case backward off of it. Your hand returns the gun to position much less sharply, so the bullet remains sticking out and does not reseat.

A roll crimp will prevent that scenario. However, it should be noted that it takes sharp recoil to pants the case off the bullet. If you shoot a very light load and have a revolver heavy enough that it doesn't recoil much under that load, the roll crimp is unnecessary. For example, I used to shoot a revolver in conventional bullseye matches some. The load was a 148 grain LWC over about 3 grains of Bullseye in .357 Magnum cases, fired in a Dan Wesson 15-2 revolver. With it's 8" barrel and shroud in place, that gun has pretty solid heft. I used the taper crimp because in that situation, it was adequate to keep the bullets in place, and it made the cases last a lot longer. Roll crimping works the case mouth brass more, causing it to start splitting after several reloading cycles. I used to figure I'd get about half a dozen load cycles with magnum level loads in the same gun. With the taper crimps and light loads, four or five times that number of cycles was not unusual.

The Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die (LCFCD; that's its full name as distinct from the LFCD for rifle) can confuse the discussion of carbide dies because it has its own oversize carbide ring. That ring makes sure the cartridge diameter is small enough to chamber. The term "carbide die set", however, normally refers to a set that uses a narrower carbide sizing ring in its sizing die. The Lee 4 die set therefore has two dies with carbide rings, the sizing die and the LCFCD, and that's the potential source of confusion.

Frankly, I don't think you need that LCFCD carbide sizing die ring with revolver cartridges. It can save you grief if you load mixed brass for an auto-loading pistol because the gun has to feed those rounds reliably. With a revolver you do the feeding manually and can detect a bad round before you try to shoot it, where simply stuffing rounds into a self-loader's magazine sacrifices that layer of fit check.

One downside to the LCFCD is that if you are loading heavy magnum loads and need a lot of crimp and you overdo it, then you can get a bulge outward in the brass just below the crimp. When this slides backward through the sizing ring it, the bulge is ironed out, but the crimp is no longer as tight as it was. A couple of guys have mentioned removing the carbide ring from these dies, but once you crimp too far, the neck of the case just below the mouth isn't making good bullet contact anyway.

Two dies are made that address that last scenario. One is the Redding Profile Crimp Die, which constrains the case near the mouth while it is roll crimped. The other is Dillon's crimp dies which are a taper crimp that converts into a roll crimp if you tighten them down far enough. Note, though, that Dillon dies are 3 die sets for 4 die operation. That's because their expanding step is handled by their powder measure rather than a die. If you don't use their powder system, you would need a Dillon die set plus a Lyman Multi-expander or other brand of expander die purchased separately.

Controlling seating and crimping separately is something that's been tested in comparison to combination seating and crimping by a lot of target shooters over the years. The report that even though the COL is less tightly regulated by separating the operations, they have found doing it produces more accurate ammunition. Why is not immediately obvious.
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  #20  
Old 12-14-2012, 05:02 PM
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Lots of good info here. For others info, I have a 3 hole Lee turret press and a Herters. I have never used the Lee but thought that if I did get the Lee die set up I would use both presses. I will probably load very few 357s but some. Most will be light load 38 lead but I also eventually will be loading some jacketed. I am still not quite sure how a LCFCD crimps. Factory yes, but is this a roll crimp or taper. According to Stretch it is a roll, so I am going with that. Is this what they do in the factory then? Can't wait until spring so I can get started.
Kurt
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