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I want to get started in hand loading. My plan is to pick up a Lee hand press initially. I have to wait about 6 months before I have a space dedicated to reloading and the hand press will allow me to start after the new year and the dies will be usable in a proper press. In addition, I'm certain the hand press will be useful later on anyway. I also plan to start with the .44 magnum due to the severe cost of factory ammo, then add .38/.357 and so on.
All that said, I am confused between the difference between 3 and 4 die sets. Does a 4 die set just separate the bullet seating and crimping into two operations? If so, it would seem a 3 die set is a lot faster for a single stage press. I understand that carbide dies are preferred.
I apologise for the length, and thank you in advance for any help.

Andy
 

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Hi, Andy:
You've got it right. The separate crimp die can make a better crimp than the combination die. According to Marshall, the Redding Profile crimp die will keep a .44 Magnum bullet from jumping the crimp and tying up the cylinder when others won't. However, lots of good ammo is loaded with combination dies.

You won't save that much time. At that stage you're done diddling with primers and the powder and bullet are in the case, so nothing can spill. Just whip them through.

Lube isn't neccessary with carbide dies, although a trace doesn't hurt. That's why they're preferred for pistol cases. Hornady uses titanium nitride and Redding uses titanium carbide instead of regular tungsten carbide.

Bye
Jack
 

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Andy,
The Lee handpress is a good choice to start out. I like mine so well I rarely use my bench press. When loading with the hand press I try to split up the activities. I decap as a seperate step because you have to remove the shell holder to remove the spent primers from the ram. Then i full length re-size. The next night I will bell case mouths and prime the cases. My wife often dips powder for me while I seat the bullets. I prefer to use a seperate step for crimping regardless of the die used. If you are just starting out I suggest Imperial sizing die wax for external lubricant on your cases. You will probably end up using it in the long run anyway. I use Lee case sizing lubricant for the inside of my case necks, easy to apply. The Lee hand press has a good lever that you can operate with your leg while using your hands to help start the bullet into the case and hold the press. For just a few hundred cases per session you will find the Lee ram prime (or Lyman or RCBS) very satisfactory. You can load good ammunition on single stage presses and you can do it quickly once you develop a routine. You will find that with the right case lubricant you can form cases, or even full length re-size big cases without difficulty using the Lee handpress. Just remember, if it requires extra force to operate you dont have enough lubricant down around the base of the case.
 

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I use a Lee Hand Press for both pistol and rifle ammo and also split the tasks up.

It's portability lets me decap and size all of my brass while sitting on the couch watching TV.

I will then switch dies and bell the mouth of all of my .357 brass.

Last step is to use a Lee hand primer to prime all of my brass.

This way, when I get ready to load I can charge each case using a powder funnel and immediately seat a bullet.

After all the rounds are done I change to the crimp die and run them all through as I box them.
 
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