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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Several things -

  • With cast bullets, you don't have to have the case mouth lined up in a crimp groove. Sometimes that helps things.
  • Getting every case trimmed to the same length is less critical, by far.
  • Will it crimp 'more' than a regular seating die? From my experience, it will.

Disadvantage: Extra step, but I seat and crimp in separate steps, so doesn't matter much to me. Then there's cost but I don't consider that a big problem, when I get what I want from it.

It is one of those things that you just have to find out for yourself, if there is any advantage to you. I can think of numerous examples of where it would be of no use whatsoever, but for the things I want it for, I consider it invaluable.

Edit: VERY important! There are TWO versions of this. The one that has 'carbide' in the name is basically a giant sizer die, as well as a conventional crimp die. It will resize the ENTIRE case, including the surface of the bullet under the case mouth (potentially). That can be a good thing to ensure that all rounds go in the chamber.... or it can be ruinous to accuracy, if you need oversized cast bullets for your rifle. The Lee Factory Crimp die WITHOUT the word 'carbide' is a stab-type crimp only, via a collet. THAT die does not resize the rest of the case and is what I am referring to above, as far as how useful it is. Unfortunately, it is easy to confuse the two types. However, they are VERY different in what they do. I don't know if Lee makes the 'conventional' FCD in .357 Mag or not.
 

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An absolute NO on the stab crimp. No need or use for it in handloads unless you're shooting machine guns and sitting on loose ammo.
 
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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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One of the things it comes in handy for is with cast bullets in rifles. If you want the bullet to lightly engrave the rifling when the lever/bolt is closed, the crimp groove may or may not be in the correct place. With the FCD, it doesn't matter and I do this for both my .35 Rem, and .30-30 cast bullet loads.

My experience is that cast bullet loads in rifles are more 'friendly' to develop if the bullet starts out in contact with the rifling. This might not be true for every rifle / reload, and you certainly DON'T want to 'jam' the lands with jacketed bullets (unless you REALLY know what you are doing), but it is perfectly safe with cast, in my experience.

The FCD-type crimp (I made the collet myself so not a Lee product but same idea) did seem to help reduce bullets creeping out of the cases when I was working up loads for the .500 JRH in my Magnum Research revolver. That thing, with heavy bullets/max loads, is an inertial bullet puller with few peers!
 

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I use the Lee FCD for my .45 auto and .38/.357 and .44 spl with Berry's bullets (no cannalure for crimp). I roll crimp my hard cast .38/.357 and .44 spl. I like the full case resizing on the final crimp. Smooths out any wrinkles, and helps a lot.
 

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An absolute NO on the stab crimp. No need or use for it in handloads unless you're shooting machine guns and sitting on loose ammo.
Not sure what a "Stab" crimp is, but I have crimped literally tens of thousands of bullets with no issue. Mainly .223 and Magnum Pistol. I bought a Lee FCD for a 35 Remington and was impressed with the "Feel" of it/

A decent crimp is imperative in certain loads.
 

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Note that the standard Lee Factory Crimp Die with crimping collet cannot be made short enough for pistol rounds. The collet fingers get too short to flex with reasonable force. So, initially, Lee came up with their Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die for handgun cartridges with its feed diameter-guaranteeing OD carbide ring. But that carbide die's crimp is provided by an adjustable hardened steel ring that doesn't make a crimp any better than any conventional seating die crimp shoulder does. So, they came up with what they call the Lee Collet Style Crimp Die for a half-dozen magnum and revolver/carbine cartridges and the 350 Legend. This uses a zig-zag cut to form the collet fingers to lengthen the bent portion to function over the shorter length. The bottom line is, there are three Lee crimping die designs to keep track of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I just loaded 20 rounds for the 357 and used the lee FC that came with the set. I put a pretty heavy crimp on my cast 158 powder coated bullets. I will try them if the rain holds off .but we need the rain.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Lee's position on the matter of "we can't make one that short" has been completely baffling to me. A few years ago, I was digging through their web site and couldn't find anything for the .44 Mag or .45 Colt, but guess what - they had one for the .44-40! I bought 5 of them before they could change their minds on the matter :p

The .44-40 FCD almost worked on a .44 mag, as-is, but the collet was a squinch too long. I turned a few thousandths off the bottom of the ring (where it's solid) and it works fantastic.

Filling the collet slits (temporarily) with some sort of glue - I forget if I used epoxy or one of the 'super' glues made it possible to bore out a second one to .45 Colt, and so on.

The collet slits in the .44-40 example measure right at 0.950," so any cartridge longer than that (plus 0.125" for the shellholder recess / deck height, plus a few more thousandths so the collet fingers don't fall out of the die) should work just fine... in my opinion.

Dunno why Lee claimed "it couldn't be done" (when they were already doing it) unless it was to avoid admitting a mistake, or cutting into the sales of the Carbide FCD, or perhaps the short collet fingers eventually flex enough to cause problems. No telling. But they made these things, without really admitting they could, for quite some time.

Corporate politics, maybe. :confused: Here's one of the .44-40 collets flanked by the .45 Colt on the left, and .44 Mag on the right. You tell me! :rolleyes:
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The Shadow (Moderator)
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Lee's position on the matter of "we can't make one that short" has been completely baffling to me.
It's like when someone tells you they "Can't" stop... insert vice they honestly don't want to quit.:rolleyes:

The 204 is "officially" to small in diameter to make a case length gauge for their trimmer. So I bought a 223RM and turned it down myself, which still has plenty of purchase on the cutting teeth and has worked fine for a long time. ;)

Cheers
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Here's the "ugly as a mud fence" version that I made for the .500 JRH some time ago. As I recall, the donor material was a rusty bolt.... that I found in the street! No idea what sort of steel, but the price was right and it works. And yes, the slit in it is not straight..... saw blade was getting dull (and has since been replaced). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I just loaded 20 rounds for the 357 and used the lee FC that came with the set. I put a pretty heavy crimp on my cast 158 powder coated bullets. I will try them if the rain holds off .but we need the rain.
Well.i got to the range. No rain,just hot and humid. So on to the report. 50 yards,158gr gas check. 13 gr 2400. Hate to say it but the results were poor. I didn't Chrono them thinking it was going to rain. Maybe to much crimp?? But they weren't as good as the ones with the regular crimp. I was hoping for better. Maybe try again with a little less crimp.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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What size are your bullets? You might want to (if you're curious) pull one from a loaded round that you used the carbide FCD on, to see if the diameter of the bullet was reduced. If it was, then there's the most likely culprit for less accuracy.

Marshall had MANY stories from customers who found the Carbide FCD ruinous to accuracy, with bullets sized much over nominal jacketed bullet diameter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
What size are your bullets? You might want to (if you're curious) pull one from a loaded round that you used the carbide FCD on, to see if the diameter of the bullet was reduced. If it was, then there's the most likely culprit for less accuracy.

Marshall had MANY stories from customers who found the Carbide FCD ruinous to accuracy, with bullets sized much over nominal jacketed bullet diameter.
All 358. I shot them all. I actually thought about that with my first shot. I will have to load one and check it.
 

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I didn't realize that 44-40 FCD ever existed. It makes me wonder if they had trouble with returns with broken collets. But, if so, I also wonder why there's no 44-40 version of the new Collet Style Crimp Die, unless the old one just never sold well. Lee has dropped a lot of products over the years.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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.44-40 shooters probably don't need the FCD, so I doubt it sold well. Low recoil, light (for caliber) bullets, and generally fast burning powders.... so dunno why they came up with it, either. Just glad I snagged a few if for no other reason than to have the die bodies to work with. My home-brew FCD for the .500 JRH uses a body from a .458 Win Mag FCD, but to make it short enough, what's left of it has to be screwed into the press from the underside. A minor inconvenience, when plowing new ground ;)

At least now I have a reasonable solution for the .44 Mag, .44 Special, and .45 Colt. One of these days I'll get around to making a collet for the .357 mag......

At the volumes I load, mine should last a long time. Even then, the collets are fairly easy to make if you aren't picky about material and appearance. I think I have more parts I've made or modified for myself with my FCDs and Lyman "M" dies than I have original factory parts.
 

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It's definitely necessary on the 32acp using berry's plated bullets, or they won't chamber.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Good to know. I have little doubt they have solved some problems, for some shooters. At one time I'm thinking the Carbide FCDs possibly could have been special-ordered for different diameters, as I bought one from another member (package deal with some bullets but I no longer remember who). It was noted as being for 0.431" bullets or such. Will have to dig it up.
 
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