As a 'counter point' ... I VASTLY prefer my LEE dies to my RCBS dies.
I like the container better (see through so you can look inside and
see what is where without needing to open them). Stand nicely on the
bench taking up little room. Adjust easily, since they don't use a
set screw to hold the 'nut' in place by crushing the die threads...
And my old RCBS dies had this crazy hex head screw to tighten a locking
ring, which had to be ground off so that the dies could be screwed in/out
of the tool head without having the hex head screws collide. I've been
told that they abandoned that bad idea some time ago (and my latest set
of RCBS dies confirms this...). Oh, and the LEE dies politely let the
primer pin slide into a collet if the force is too high (like if you
try to de-prime a Berdan 9mm case...) while the RCBS dies rudely break
the pin and leave you in the lurch. Oh, and RCBS charges you an EXTRA
$5 or $6 for the shell holder, that LEE give you for free, and that
fits nicely in the LEE box so there is no clutter of lost shell holders.
And ... you get the idea...
Some folk prefer RCBS for reasons that escape me... The biggest
'advantage' I can see to RCBS is that they give the dealer bigger
profit margins, better follow on sales of things like shell holders
that you really need, and don't sell mail order like LEE does so
the dealer doesn't have to worry that his price gouging will be cut
short by direct competition...
E. Michael Smith e...@apple.COM
'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has
genius, power and magic in it.' - Goethe
I am not responsible nor is anyone else. Everything is disclaimed.
[convenience of Lee vs. RCBS comments deleted]
#Some folk prefer RCBS for reasons that escape me...
The reason is that RCBS, Redding, and Bonanza dies are (usually)
right _inside_, where it counts for accuracy work. Hell's bells,
if I wanted _convenience_, I'd buy factory ammo or at least use
a bench-mounted press instead of Wilson dies and a weenie
arbor press. Lee dies are cheap, not just inexpensive. They
can produce _decent_ ammunition, but I've never seen a Lee die
at a benchrest match (I have seen the other brands, at least
for FL sizing). That's not to say Lee doesn't make some
useful stuff -- lots of benchrest shooters use their priming
tool. Nobody claims they're the best, but they're adequate.
If you're happy with Lee dies, you've saved some money. If not,
you've lost some money. Now, how about a thread on the merits
of the Lee "factory" crimping die :)
Well, to be contrary, I have to say that in my (limited) experience, I
prefer RCBS. One reason is precisely that set screw you don't like--the
RCBS dies hold their adjustment, while the Lee dies are always slipping
around. And I _hate_ that stupid round plastic box; I much prefer the flat
| Die Welt ist alles, was Zerfall ist. |
Peter Cash | (apologies to Ludwig Wittgenstein) |ca...@convex.com
#for FL sizing). That's not to say Lee doesn't make some
#useful stuff -- lots of benchrest shooters use their priming
#tool. Nobody claims they're the best, but they're adequate.
Yeah, they do make some ingenious accessories. For example, their case
chamfering tool is really cheap (much cheaper and simpler than the
competitition), but works fine.
: As a 'counter point' ... I VASTLY prefer my LEE dies to my RCBS dies.
Mr. Smith's counter point is well taken. Lots of folks prefer their Lee
dies, etc., to others. Here's more reasons why I prefer RCBS dies:
* Full-length sized cases are rounder.
In measuring the sized case for roundness at the neck, shoulder and
pressure ring area, RCBS dies consistantly produce cases that are
more round. Keep in mind that using a conventional micrometer or
dial/digital caliper to measure roundness ain't kosher. A v-block
with dial indicator perpendicular to the `V' is the only thing that
gives correct information. This is important for accuracy. As
most chambers (including match ones) are not perfectly round, it's
important that a very round, full-length-sized case be inserted if
any shot-to-shot repeatability is desired. If out-of-round cases
are used, accuracy can degrade by 1/8th to 3/4ths MOA.
* Metallurgy is better.
RCBS dies (Redding, too) keep their inside surface finish for a
much longer period of time before they need polishing to remove any
micro-scratches from micro-abrasives some cases have on 'em. And
there ain't no outside (or inside) cosmetic plating to chip off.
* Die-to-die dimensional uniformity is better.
Having measured several makes of dies using correct tools and gages to
check diameters, RCBS dies vary over a smaller range. This is a good
thing if you use several full-length sizing dies with their necks
lapped out to different sizes. You can depend on the case body to
be quite uniform regardless of what die you use.
And the 7/8ths by 14 thread on RCBS dies is a better fit in my RCBS
Rockchuckers and Junior presses.
I think the first objective of a sizing die is to produce usable, accurate
cases. All other objectives the maker chooses to meet and market is IMHO
a long way back in second or lower place. I could care less about how the
die is boxed. Nor is the lock ring's mechanics important. Fixing any
shortcommings in usability is easy; I want uniformly sized cases. It's
a lot like ball vs. extruded powder; sure, ball powder meters easy from
a powder measure, but I'll put up with having to weigh extruded powder
charges to get better accuracy off the shoulder. But other folks can
sure set their priorities and objectives as they wish.
With a properly aligned and adjusted decapping assembly, I've never had
a pin break with RCBS dies. On each of those few occasions where a pin
broke, analysis of exactly what happened identified one of these causes:
* Flash hole not centered in base of case.
This happens more often with military cases than commercial ones.
* Primed case not completely put in shell holder.
The decapping pin encountered the case base just off center and did
not enter the flash hole. Evidence was the bright dimple next to
the flash hole.
* Decapping pin not aligned with the flash hole.
I think the best way to align the decapping pin is to:
1. Find a case with a perfectly-centered flash hole relative to
the case head; not the primer pocket that might be a tad off
center. A case with its flash hole on the small side is best.
2. Back the decapping assembly up to where the pin won't go into
the case when the ram is all the way up.
3. Insert the case in the shell holder, then raise the ram to put
the case fully in the die.
4. Reposition the decapping assembly to where the pin enters the
flash hole well centered and far enough to push out a primer,
then lock the decapping assembly in place.
: Now, how about a thread on the merits
: of the Lee "factory" crimping die :
Goodness, gracious. This is easy. Lee factory-crimping dies have one
merit; they reduce the waistline dimension of non-cannellured bullets.
Kinda like a bullet's `slim-fast' program. Perhaps the analogy is
something like `Tiny waists means tiny groups.'
At a big highpower match last weekend, this subject came up. Someone
mentioned that Messers Berger and Cartiruccio had got phone calls and
letters asking if their bullets would shoot more accurately if they
were installed using a Lee factory-crimp die. Seems that the local
paramedics in their respective locals made emergency calls as both
went into severe cardiac arrest. And both their associates were reported
to have traced down the folks asking such questions; they ain't quite
able to ask such questions any more.
: Yeah, they [Lee] do make some ingenious accessories. For example, their case
: chamfering tool is really cheap (much cheaper and simpler than the
: competitition), but works fine.
I've never seen a made-for-prepping-cases chamfering tool that leaves the
inside edge smooth enough to prevent bullet jackets from being shaved in
about 78.49% of the seated ones. I prefer to use a No. 4 or 5 easy-out.
That has a usable angle and when case mouths are chamfered with it, none
of the bullet jacket gets scraped off. If any bullet jacket is scraped
off, that bullet is permanently unbalanced before it's shot; it won't
There are some tricks to using the Lee type of locking rings - and
with proper handling they keep their adjustment. The Hornday lock
rings have a set screw which doesn't touch the threads on the die
body - and I prefer them when I want a lock ring to really stay put.
I am absolutey not a reloading expert. I fact I own a RCBS Rock Chucker
with RCBS dies for .357 and .45 ACP since one month.
I am progressively learning the "art" of reloading. Both the press and
the dies appear to me as very well made and convenient. The small rings
with the screw that someone criticized allow to keep a fixed adjustment.
That's really convenient.
Learning and practicing reloading with these tools is really fun and I am
very satisfied of them.
Laboratoire d'Intelligence Artificielle | e-mail: baec...@lia.di.epfl.ch
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne | or: baec...@liasun6.epfl.ch
MA-Ecublens | Standard Disclaimer
CH-1015 Lausanne Switzerland
Ban the bomb. Save the world for conventional warfare.
>Goodness, gracious. This is easy. Lee factory-crimping dies have one
>merit; they reduce the waistline dimension of non-cannellured bullets.
>Kinda like a bullet's `slim-fast' program. Perhaps the analogy is
>something like `Tiny waists means tiny groups.'
[Amusing and surely fictitious story deleted :-) ]
Perhaps we could open the scope of this discussion a bit. I am admittedly
naive, having only loaded 9mm a bit.
The only way I think they keep bullets in cases, is with friction. And, at
least for handgun bullets, that is done with a crimp of some sort.
It seems to me that any crimp die *WILL* certainly deform the bullet. But
if done right, perhaps not permanently, .... if done right.
I think that seating a bullet in a slightly undersized case neck will also
deform the bullet and the case.
So, is the criticism of Lee's "factory crimp" dies specific or generic? I
ask because I note that Redding also sells crimp dies.
If the criticism is generic, applying to all crimps dies, then why do we
have crimp dies?
The bottom line question:
Is there a time and place for crimping rifle bullets? And, if so, how
should it be done?
David Post da...@hpfcpp.fc.hp.com hplabs!hpfcla!post
>The only way I think they keep bullets in cases, is with friction. And, at
>least for handgun bullets, that is done with a crimp of some sort.
They can also be cemented in, historically with asphaltum cement.
You may still find military service ammo with this black gunk
holding the bullets in really securely. It helps meet bullet-pull
force specs without crimping.
gus Baird, College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Georgia, 30332
: Perhaps we could open the scope of this discussion a bit. I am admittedly
: naive, having only loaded 9mm a bit.
: The only way I think they keep bullets in cases, is with friction. And, at
: least for handgun bullets, that is done with a crimp of some sort.
Both handgun and rifle bullets can also be held in place by case neck
tension. Cartridge brass is springy; otherwise it wouldn't reduce itself
in diameter enabling it to be extracted from the chamber. For example, a
308 Win. case mouth that's sized to be .002-in. smaller than the bullet
diameter will hold the bullet by spring tension well enough to be used in
rapid fire. The bullet won't move forward as the rifle recoils back, nor
will it move back as the front of the magazine impacts it from recoil.
This is for bolt action rifles; with semiautos, the mouth needs to be about
003-in. smaller than the bullet diameter else the bolt slamming the round
into the chamber might cause the bullet's position to shift a little bit.
For slow fire using a bolt gun, the case mouth can be as little as .0005-in.
smaller than bullet diameter and the bullet will still be held in place
very well for normal handling. Many highpower and benchrest folks use
cases so dimensioned and get excellent results. The reason is their bullets
are not deformed in any way; their axial center of form is in line with
their center of gravity. That's needed if the bullet is expected to spin
without wobble that would otherwise move it at right angles to a normal
path. The centrifugal force generated at 150,000 to 250,000 RPM is quite a
bit. Only a tiny bit of unbalance means the difference between one-hole
groups and something similar to the hole pattern on a dart board.
: It seems to me that any crimp die *WILL* certainly deform the bullet. But
: if done right, perhaps not permanently, .... if done right.
Well, the lead core has virtually no elasticity like the jacket does. Any
dimensional change from reducing its diameter at any point tends to remain
unchanged. That's why the lead core can be pressed into the jacket, expand
the jacket a tiny amount, then when the bullet is removed from the forming
die, the springy jacket reduces in diameter a bit and holds the core very
solidly in place. There is some evidence that bullets several years old
shoot more accurately than when new due to the jacket slowly squeezing the
core down a bit due to its elasticity; the bullet will be more uniformly
dimensioned after the jacket has stablized and not shrunk any more as held
in place by the lead core.
: I think that seating a bullet in a slightly undersized case neck will also
: deform the bullet and the case.
How much is `slightly?' Every standard sizing die has an expander ball
that is about one to three thousandths of an inch smaller than the bullet
diameter it's designed for. If the mouth is sized to the same diameter as
the bullet, the loaded round will be difficult to transport, handle and load
with any acceptable degree of consistant accuracy. The bullet will move
in one of two directions; jump to the rifling will vary considerably. And
in some `cases,' the bullet will fall out of the case with the powder soon
to follow; not a good thing. Tests have shown that a bullet seated in a
case mouth that's one or two thousandths smaller than bullet diameter, and
has a very slight chamfer and smooth edges on the mouth, will not be deformed
in any way. If they were, benchrest and highpower competition rifles would
not be able to shoot sub-quarter MOA groups through 200 yards for the life
of the barrel.
: So, is the criticism of Lee's "factory crimp" dies specific or generic? I
: ask because I note that Redding also sells crimp dies.
Specifically to Lee for their outragous claims. Generic to all dies that
are used to crimp bullets in place.
: If the criticism is generic, applying to all crimps dies, then why do we
: have crimp dies?
Because some applications require them. For example, the .458 Win. Mag.
Those 500-gr. bullets won't stay in place with that much recoil. Nor will
most pistol and revolver bullets. If the recoil moves the firearm enough
to dislodge the unfired bullets in its magazine/cylinder, crimping is
needed, but at the expense of accuracy. Folks accept this, for the most
part. There ain't no free lunch.
: Is there a time and place for crimping rifle bullets? And, if so, how
: should it be done?
Lee claims their factory crimp die produces more accurate ammo than any
other die. If this was true, then all the top 50% of benchrest and highpower
competitors would immediately start using it. Just about all die makers
sell crimping dies. And most standard rifle seating dies have a crimping
ring. That's because some cartridges are reloaded with bullets having a
cannelure (crimping groove) around their mid section and need to be held
in place by folding the case mouth into that groove to prevent the bullet
from shifting during action cycling or recoil. The proper way to crimp
such bullets in place is to first trim all resized cases to the same overall
length, then adjust the seating die so the case mouth is just folded into
the cannelure WITHOUT reducing the diameter of the bullet at that point.
For bullets that won't be crimped in place, the die is backed out a few
thousandths so the crimping taper doesn't touch the mouth at all.
Consider what happens when the Lee factory-crimp die is used. Take a bullet
that's perfectly round and has a homogenous lead core inside of a uniformly
thick jacket. Now take a case whose neck wall thickness varies only .0005".
Then take the lee collet type factory-crimp die whose collet jaw dimensions
vary a thousandth of an inch. Next, put this `near perfect' bullet in the
case mouth and close the Lee collet around it. The dimensional variables
add directly and we have a thousandth of an inch or so difference in radius
dimensions from the center of the bullet to the jaws of the Lee collet die
and we're applying pressure radially to the bullet. The soft jacket and
softer core reduce in diameter; the core stays at its smallest dimension
and the jacket springs back a little. We end up with a bullet that's been
reduced in diameter at various places around it and those dimensions are
not the same; the bullet no longer has its center of mass aligned with its
center of form. This adds up to an unbalanced bullet before it's even
loaded and fired. Unbalanced bullets don't shoot straight. Competition
bullets typically are round to less than .0001-in. and their jacket thickness
has the same dimensional tolerance. All that perfection has been squeezed
away when a non-perfect collet clamps down on non-uniform case necks. Even
the military arsenals quit crimping their match ammo in the 1950s because
accuracy improved about two-fold when the bullets were no longer deformed
by crimping. The arsenals also found out that velocity spread was higher as
the crimp added another variable; release tension wasn't as uniform as when
the bullets were sealed in place with an asphalt sealer.
If folks get better accuracy with Lee's factory-crimp die, that's fine by
me. But I also think if they evaluated their reloading tools and the way
they're used, improvements in accuracy could be had that would negate the
use of the factory-crimp die. Of course Lee wants their products to be
considered worthy of purchasing. Whatever marketing scheme they come up
with that sells their products will certainly increase their revenues. But
knowledgable accuracy buffs wouldn't dream of deforming top-quality bullets
with anything; sledge hammer, hydraulic jack, or Lee's factory-crimp die.
: They can also be cemented in, historically with asphaltum cement.
: You may still find military service ammo with this black gunk
: holding the bullets in really securely. It helps meet bullet-pull
: force specs without crimping.
Military ammo still has asphaltum cement holding and sealing the
bullet in. Even Lake City Arsenal's match ammo has it. Frankfurt Arsenal
made some match ammo years ago without this sealer. Accuracy was
better with fresh ammo, but worse with older ammo as the powder deteriorated
due to not being in an air-tight space. So, the arsenal went back to
sealing bullets in with asphaltum.
Not to mention providing a degree of waterproofing.
Anybody else ever use "stab crimping?"
Kirk Hays - NRA Life, seventh generation.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to
do nothing." -- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
[I do not speak for Intel, not being an officer of the corporation.]
Huh? I thought the asphaltum was there as water proofing. While it might
help to retain the bullet, the position of the bullet is maintained by
crimping the case mouth into the cannelure.
how critical is this? I reload .308 for both a Rem 700 BDL (bolt-action)
and an FN L1A1 (semi-auto) using the same dies (RCBS) at the same settings & I
don't use a separate crimp die.
| Keith P. de Solla, P.Eng | "Be sure brain is engaged before |
| CMC | putting mouth in gear" |
| ke...@orion.ic.cmc.ca | |
: how critical is this? I reload .308 for both a Rem 700 BDL (bolt-action)
: and an FN L1A1 (semi-auto) using the same dies (RCBS) at the same settings &
: I don't use a separate crimp die.
As long as your reloads work as you desire, you're doing all the right stuff.
: Huh? I thought the asphaltum was there as water proofing. While it might
: help to retain the bullet, the position of the bullet is maintained by
: crimping the case mouth into the cannelure.
All of Lake City and Frankfurt Arsenal match ammo did/does not have any
crimp on the case mouth. If you pull one of the bullets, then clean out
the asphaltum sealer from the case mouth, then clean it off the bullet,
the bullet will drop easily into the case mouth to where it was originally
positioned. The exception to this was the first M2 bullets had a crimping
groove in them. It wasn't removed until the 1950s when the arsenals found
out match ammo was more accurate without the crimp. Not only were the
bullets deformed and unbalanced by the machine process that put the
crimping groove (cannelure) in the bullet (as proved in machine rest tests
with bolt action rifles and non-crimped cases), but they shot even less
accurate after being crimped into the case.
No cannelure, no crimp on 45ACP, for example.
My school pals and I spent a hard little while trying to get a bullet
out of one of these (we didn't know the trick of seating the bullet
a little *deeper*, first, to break that seal), discovering that the
cement hung onto the bullet lots harder than the case mouth could.
We never did get the bullet pulled - finally *sawed* the sucker open!
gus Baird, College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Georgia, 30332
If you have the setscrew-touches-the-threads type of locking ring,
just put a small piece of lead shot between the screw and the threads.
(Some manufacturers used to do this -- guess it cost too much? :-)
"Gun control is not logical" -- Mr. Spock
Interesting you should say that Bart. While working on those 308 Palma brass
I went down and scoped out the Esay Outs. I bought a #4 (the #5 was way too
big) and used it on some sample cases. It was amazing how easy the test 155
boattails entered the case. Very little metal is removed as the Easy Out
doesn't really have sharp edges. I now own one of each of the major kinds
of case chamferers, the Wilson/RCBS (too sharp and wrong angle on the inside
case mouth), the Lee (not too sharp, but still the wrong angle - also too
light, my fingers get too tired) and now the Easy Out.
I chucked the Easy Out in my drill press at 600 rpm and ran 120 cases over
it about 5 min. The lack of sharp edges makes doing them by hand a bit
tiresome. but all the more safer to do them in the press.
\ Bill Burge bu...@qdeck.com / ^--- "and his dog Spot" /
\ NRA#: BKC2376M (&IVOTE) \ "Combat Tupperware keeps my shooting /
\ USPSA#: A-17395 / skills fresher; longer" - "BURP" /
\ \ /
\ Lefty, Glock-lover, combat / "Sure Hon', put down the Casull /
\ 9 Major shooter, NNITO. \ and we can talk about it..." /
\ / (short discussion with my wife) /