Lee dies ID [Archive] - Glock Talk

PDA

View Full Version : Lee dies ID


njl
11-28-2011, 22:31
I had a used set of .38/.357mag Lee dies that came kind of grungy and with a bit of surface rust...so I just took them all apart, hit them with brake cleaner, a cleaning brush, synthetic steel wool, and made them all nice and clean. Now, I'm a little confused.

This set arrived on a Dillon 550 tool head as a 4 die set (Lee sizer/decapper, Dillon powder die, Lee seater, Lee crimp). When I went to put things back together, I realized I couldn't tell the last two apart. Their only markings are LEE-357MAG-G9 and LEE-357MAG-H8. Other than the difference in markings, they're nearly identical. The G9's threads start about 1 thread closer to the bottom of the die.

A bit of digging online, has me thinking these are both seat + roll crimp dies (of slightly different manufacture dates), and the previous user simply had one setup with the seating stem to just seat, and the other set up without a seating stem as just a roll crimp die.

Does that sound right?

atakawow
11-28-2011, 22:37
A few things come to mind:

- Maybe one is .357 only and the other is 38/357.
- Different seating plugs.
- Carbide and steel?

njl
11-28-2011, 23:20
AFAIK, carbide (when used in dies) is only used in sizing dies...there's not much point to it in the others.

WiskyT
11-29-2011, 15:00
The last two characters are the date code. Do they both have a seating stem and a screw adjuster?

njl
11-30-2011, 00:00
Only one had a seating stem and adjuster...but both dies are threaded in the top for it. Just from looking at them, I'm reasonably sure the previous user somehow acquired a second seating die, pulled the seating stem and adjuster, and used it just as a crimp die.

F106 Fan
11-30-2011, 09:45
A bit of digging online, has me thinking these are both seat + roll crimp dies (of slightly different manufacture dates), and the previous user simply had one setup with the seating stem to just seat, and the other set up without a seating stem as just a roll crimp die.

Does that sound right?

Yes...

I don't have a lot of experience with roll-crimped cartridges. When I load .38 wadcutters, I use a taper crimp die to close up the case mouth. Perhaps that is how this die set was being used.

I thought that roll crimped cases were crimped at the time the bullet was being seated such that the roll would dig into the bullet cannelure (if any). I didn't realize that crimping could occur after the bullet was seated.

This leads me back to the idea that the previous user was loading wadcutters and using a regular crimp die to close up the case mouth.

I think I'll wait for the experts on this one!

Richard

GioaJack
11-30-2011, 10:13
By its very nature a roll crimp die performs a taper crimp as its initial operation... it's just a matter of setting the die for what you want to accomplish.

Conversely a taper crimp only die will not produce a true roll crimp.


Jack

WiskyT
11-30-2011, 17:32
Only one had a seating stem and adjuster...but both dies are threaded in the top for it. Just from looking at them, I'm reasonably sure the previous user somehow acquired a second seating die, pulled the seating stem and adjuster, and used it just as a crimp die.

http://leeprecision.com/xcart/Taper-Crimp-Die/

Lee makes a taper crimp die. I have one for 30-06 and it does not have internal threads that could accommodate a seating stem.

njl
11-30-2011, 20:07
Hmm...I guess I'm going to have to call Lee to clarify this.


Lee 357 Mag Pistol 3-Die Set includes Carbide Full Length Sizing Die, Bullet Seating Die, Powder Thru Expanding Die, Universal Shell Holder, Powder Dipper and Instructions/Load Data. Note: The 357 Mag die set can load maximum cases. The 357 Mag cannot load the 38 Special.


I wonder why they can't do .38 Special??

These were sold to me by a guy on the BE forum as a .38/.357 setup. I just had another look at them, and the sizing die actually says it's for .38 / .357 and has what looks like a carbide sizing ring insert. The only way I could see these not being .38 special compatible would be if the crimp die is too tall for the crimp part to reach a .38 special case. I guess I could just setup the press for .38, size, flare, and and then see if the crimp die is able to un-flare the case.

Colorado4Wheel
11-30-2011, 20:58
I had a set if Lee dies that I loaded .38 and .357 with.

Uncle Don
11-30-2011, 21:25
You can load 38 and 357 with a 38 special die set, but not the other way around. While the sizer is the same, the powder through die cannot be turned down enough to work properly if it is a .357. Not sure if the same holds true for the seating die.

It's the same for 44 special being able to load 44 mag and not the other way around. 45 GAP will load both GAP and ACP, but the ACP dies will not load GAP, etc.

Colorado4Wheel
11-30-2011, 21:27
So why even make the Mag version?

njl
11-30-2011, 21:35
Well, since I load on a Dillon 550, and don't use (or even have) the Lee powder through die, I guess this won't be an issue.

RustyFN
11-30-2011, 21:36
The die on the front left is the FCD and the die on the front right is the seat/crimp die. Hope this helps.

http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a1cf11b3127ccefee83137b83300000030O00DZOGblm4Yg9vPhI/cC/f%3D0/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/

njl
11-30-2011, 22:50
I just did some experimenting, and it looks like I got screwed. The 357Mag seat/crimp dies are too long to put any sort of crimp on a .38 Special case. You just can't get the case deep enough into the die to do it. So, it looks like before I can load any .38 Special, I'll need to at least buy a crimp die.

noylj
12-01-2011, 00:36
For roll crimping, get the Redding Profile Crimp die. It is just a little better than the Lee FCD (which, forgetting about the carbide-insert for post-sizing, does an outstandingly good crimp). Seating and Roll Crimping in one step was always rather dicey and I have always separated the two steps.
If you stay with jacketed/plated bullets, the Lee FCD is excellent (but not quite as good as the Redding Profile).
If you load over-sized lead bullets, you will be better off with a Lee taper crimp die (I have never seen any significant difference in taper crimp dies).
Also, since the .38 Special head spaces on the rim, you should trim all your cases to the same length so the roll crimp will be the same for all.
Don't trim any cases that head space on the case mouth unless, by some incredible miracle, it exceeds max length.

Colorado4Wheel
12-01-2011, 11:03
I have never done it but you can knock out the sizing ring of your FCD if you like. Seems kinda silly to me to do that but you can. 9mm is usually a non-issue for FCD.

This is a picture of a 124 gr loaded to 1.130" The entire setup barely touches the carbide die.

http://i145.photobucket.com/albums/r215/98sr20ve/DSC_3318.jpg

BUT LOAD LEAD SHORT (as sometimes required) and you end up with a different situation.

http://i145.photobucket.com/albums/r215/98sr20ve/DSC_3317.jpg

9mm is a tapered case and the carbide ring is not that long in the 9mm FCD. It's a aberration as a result from the majority of FCD's and how they work.

ColoCG
12-01-2011, 12:12
I just did some experimenting, and it looks like I got screwed. The 357Mag seat/crimp dies are too long to put any sort of crimp on a .38 Special case. You just can't get the case deep enough into the die to do it. So, it looks like before I can load any .38 Special, I'll need to at least buy a crimp die.


njl, maybe you can use your seating die to seat both .38 and .357 and your crimping die for the .38. I might have missed it but I didn't see where you said if the crimping die was .38/.37 or just .357.

Uncle Don
12-01-2011, 14:30
So why even make the Mag version?

Valid question, but as a matter of die setting, the proper die set for the proper caliber means everything is adjusted the same. That means for the 357 mag, you would turn the powder through die down to touch the shell holder and then back it off a half turn. If you use the 38 special set for .357, you would have to experiment to back it off to flare the case properly, but still give the full charge. That generally equates to about two turns. Many find it easier to simply buy the die set for the proper caliber without fussing with it - including me. The dies aren't that expensive so I have a set for each so I don't have to re-adjust the dies.

Colorado4Wheel
12-01-2011, 14:50
I didn't even know they made two sets. Interesting to know. I do like my Lee dies.

njl
12-01-2011, 21:20
njl, maybe you can use your seating die to seat both .38 and .357 and your crimping die for the .38. I might have missed it but I didn't see where you said if the crimping die was .38/.37 or just .357.

I don't think either one really is a crimping die. What was setup in the tool head as the crimp die was just another 357Mag seat + crimp die with the seating stem and adjuster removed. I tested both of those dies, and neither one can put any sort of crimp on a .38 special case. Since I will probably shoot jacketed, but might shoot lead, I'm thinking of just ordering both roll crimp and taper crimp dies from Midsouth. It's about $30 delivered for the pair.

ColoCG
12-01-2011, 22:21
I don't think either one really is a crimping die. What was setup in the tool head as the crimp die was just another 357Mag seat + crimp die with the seating stem and adjuster removed. I tested both of those dies, and neither one can put any sort of crimp on a .38 special case. Since I will probably shoot jacketed, but might shoot lead, I'm thinking of just ordering both roll crimp and taper crimp dies from Midsouth. It's about $30 delivered for the pair.

OK, so both of the crimp dies you have are for .357. Why not just order a new .38 seater/crimp die that should come with a roll crimp, that's what I use. You shouldn't need a taper crimp die for .38spl.

PCJim
12-01-2011, 22:58
FYI, the 38/357 RCBS dies that I have came with a spacer that is used for the 357 reloading. Supposedly, you use the same 38 reload setting for the 357 loads if you slip the spacer beneath the lock ring. I've not tried this, always having re-set the dies without using the spacer.

Same applies to the 44/44Mag set.

njl
12-02-2011, 08:19
OK, so both of the crimp dies you have are for .357. Why not just order a new .38 seater/crimp die that should come with a roll crimp, that's what I use. You shouldn't need a taper crimp die for .38spl.

I don't see that either Midway or Midsouth sell just the seating die. They sell the sizing die and crimp dies separately.

ColoCG
12-02-2011, 11:02
I don't see that either Midway or Midsouth sell just the seating die. They sell the sizing die and crimp dies separately.


Midway lists an RCBS roll crimp seater die for .38/.357 item #156222 for $23.99 here: http://www.midwayusa.com/Find?userSearchQuery=.38+special+crimp+die

You can order a .38spl seat and crimp die direct from Lee online die body part #sb2290 $11.98 and the .38 seating plug part #sb2281 for $2.00 plus $5 shipping here http://leeprecision.com/xcart/3-DIE-SET-38SP-CARBIDE-PARTS/


Hope this helps.

WiskyT
12-02-2011, 16:40
I don't think either one really is a crimping die. What was setup in the tool head as the crimp die was just another 357Mag seat + crimp die with the seating stem and adjuster removed. I tested both of those dies, and neither one can put any sort of crimp on a .38 special case. Since I will probably shoot jacketed, but might shoot lead, I'm thinking of just ordering both roll crimp and taper crimp dies from Midsouth. It's about $30 delivered for the pair.

You could prolly just grind down the bottom of the die to make it shorter.

WiskyT
12-02-2011, 16:42
FYI, the 38/357 RCBS dies that I have came with a spacer that is used for the 357 reloading. Supposedly, you use the same 38 reload setting for the 357 loads if you slip the spacer beneath the lock ring. I've not tried this, always having re-set the dies without using the spacer.

Same applies to the 44/44Mag set.

I have a set like that for 38/357 and the spacer is close, but no cigar. The dies still have to be adjusted so it's pretty much worthless.

PCJim
12-02-2011, 16:55
I have a set like that for 38/357 and the spacer is close, but no cigar. The dies still have to be adjusted so it's pretty much worthless.

Thanks, Wisky. You have comforted me - I didn't waste my time setting the dies up correctly, instead of trying the spacer.

WiskyT
12-03-2011, 07:23
Thanks, Wisky. You have comforted me - I didn't waste my time setting the dies up correctly, instead of trying the spacer.

You can try it, I can't say for sure it won't work. It's just that I have tried it several times and it didn't work well enough to eliminate adjusting.

njl
12-03-2011, 07:53
You could prolly just grind down the bottom of the die to make it shorter.

Don't think I didn't consider that. I'm sure someone with the right tools and skills could turn a 357Mag seating die into a 38 special / 357Mag seating die...but I'm not that guy. I actually do know someone who I'm pretty sure could cut a half an inch or so off the bottom of the die, put it in his lathe and rechamfer the base of the die...but I'm not sure it's worth the hassle given the cost of a new roll crimp die.

Like I said, I can get both the roll and taper crimp dies delivered from Midsouth for $30.

The guy with the home machine shop is at least a 2 hour drive, and I'm sure he has better things to do than modify dies.

BTW, if I did just buy a Lee factory roll crimp die, can that be used to taper crimp for loading lead just by backing off the die a bit?

Actually, I wonder, if using a hacksaw to do the cutting, and a dremel to do the chamfering would work. It's not like I have anything to lose. The chamfering probably doesn't have to be perfect...it just needs to help a flared case make its way into the die.

WiskyT
12-03-2011, 07:59
You don't need that chamfer on the bottom of the die. It would take about two seconds to grind off enough of the unthreaded part on the bottom to allow you to crimp the 38's. It's only about 0.12" I think. It might look like a home made job, but it would work great. It would save you $30.00 and save you the waiting around for the new dies to get there.

njl
12-03-2011, 08:07
The wait's not an issue. I don't have any .38 bullets or even any guns in .38 yet. I bought the dies/toolhead/conversion because I plan to eventually have some .38s and a friend who doesn't reload has been giving me his brass.

What tools would you suggest for grinding the die? You think grinding would make more sense than cutting?

WiskyT
12-03-2011, 08:28
A file would be the slowest and neatest way to do it. I would just use a bench grinder since I have one. I wouldn't worry about the interior chamfer because most of the flare will be removed by passing into the previous seater die. Also, it would be easy to "break the edges", or chamfer the interior with a file.

If you don't have a bench grinder, you could probably get one for the $30.00 the new dies will cost and they are very useful. I can sharpen a mower blade in about a minute. One of my dog's legs was longer than the other two, no problem with my handy grinder.

njl
12-03-2011, 08:53
I've been thinking about getting a small HF bench grinder. Wouldn't it be hard to keep the die's bottom flat? Do you just keep turning the die against the wheel so you grind around the die.

WiskyT
12-03-2011, 08:57
It would be very hard to keep the bottom of the die flat, impoosible really. Fortunately, in this case, it doesn't matter. For things that actually have to be "right", like the deck of an engine block, only a trained machinist with the right machines can do it, but for something like this, you just need to make it shorter. As long as you don't go into the threads, it shouldn't matter.

Colorado4Wheel
12-03-2011, 09:52
Don't think I didn't consider that. I'm sure someone with the right tools and skills could turn a 357Mag seating die into a 38 special / 357Mag seating die...but I'm not that guy. I actually do know someone who I'm pretty sure could cut a half an inch or so off the bottom of the die, put it in his lathe and rechamfer the base of the die...but I'm not sure it's worth the hassle given the cost of a new roll crimp die.


The difference is 1/8 a inch basically. All you need to do is take off about that amount and it should work fine. A lathe would trim that off easily. A file would take some time but would do the same thing.

GioaJack
12-03-2011, 11:08
Okay, I'm confused. If one of the dies is a .38/.357 seat/crimp die why aren't you using that? Just readjust it when you want to do your magnums. There is no reason what-so-ever for a separate crimp die.

Maybe I'm reading this thread all wrong... it was a late, hard night.

(There is absolutely no reason for separate taper and roll crimp dies.)


Jack

WiskyT
12-03-2011, 11:20
Okay, I'm confused. If one of the dies is a .38/.357 seat/crimp die why aren't you using that? Just readjust it when you want to do your magnums. There is no reason what-so-ever for a separate crimp die.

Maybe I'm reading this thread all wrong... it was a late, hard night.

(There is absolutely no reason for separate taper and roll crimp dies.)


Jack

Lee makes a 357 only die that is too long to crimp a 38 case. That is what the OP got (used) in an equipment purchase. He can shorten the die body, or replace it.

GioaJack
12-03-2011, 11:25
AH-HA! Okay, I'm going for a nap.


Jack

ColoCG
12-03-2011, 11:49
Don't think I didn't consider that. I'm sure someone with the right tools and skills could turn a 357Mag seating die into a 38 special / 357Mag seating die...but I'm not that guy. I actually do know someone who I'm pretty sure could cut a half an inch or so off the bottom of the die, put it in his lathe and rechamfer the base of the die...but I'm not sure it's worth the hassle given the cost of a new roll crimp die.

Like I said, I can get both the roll and taper crimp dies delivered from Midsouth for $30.

The guy with the home machine shop is at least a 2 hour drive, and I'm sure he has better things to do than modify dies.

BTW, if I did just buy a Lee factory roll crimp die, can that be used to taper crimp for loading lead just by backing off the die a bit?

Actually, I wonder, if using a hacksaw to do the cutting, and a dremel to do the chamfering would work. It's not like I have anything to lose. The chamfering probably doesn't have to be perfect...it just needs to help a flared case make its way into the die.


In answer to the seater die with roll crimp, if you decide to go this way. You can adjust the roll crimp as light or heavy as you want. Adjusted correctly it will work fine for lead, cast,fmj, or plated if they have a cannelure. I've never used any other type of seating die for .38spl. in 44yrs.

njl
12-03-2011, 13:24
I didn't feel like going out to HF, so I started WECSOGing one of the Lee seat/crimp dies.

I started out with a hand mill file, and after a few minutes determined that might work, but not in the time scale I was interested in. So...I figured the main difference between a bench grinder and a dremel tool is just scale. Dies are small...so is the dremel. Should be a perfect match. So, I checked out my dremel attachments, and the best I could come up with was some coarse grit drum sanders. Those worked reasonably well. I shortened the die by the difference in .38 and .357 case lengths plus a little extra. Put it back in the press and found that the modified die wasn't tapered enough to "seat" in the shell plate...so back to the grinder. I profiled it as much as I could without getting into the threads, and back to the press. Now, I can get it low enough to put some serious roll crimp on a .38 special case (using a pulled 9mm 147gr plated bullet, since I don't have any .38 bullets), but there's still a gotcha.

The roll crimp portion of the die is so high in the die, that after shortening the die and screwing the die in enough to do some crimp, there's nothing left of the threads for a lock ring. I thought I'd read of people putting the lock rings on the bottom side of the tool head in such cases, but I can't do that (tried it), because it'll interfere with the press's ejector.

Considering the tools I used, I think it looks pretty good...but I don't think it's going to be usable unless I absolutely had to load some ammo and had no other choice. I'm going to have to buy something to replace it as the crimp die.

ETF typos