Help with bullet seating die

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by quadcrazy, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. quadcrazy

    quadcrazy New Member

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    Newbee here.

    I'm trying to set up my Lyman press for the first time to reload 38 special and I'm having troubles with crimping. No matter how far I set the bullet in the die, I can't seem to get the case to crimp. I've tried everything I can imagine yet don't seem to be getting any crimp at all.

    What am I doing wrong?
  2. Freebore

    Freebore New Member

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    Try setting the ram (press) all the way to the up position, and run the seating die down until it touches the ram, this will give you the maximum crimp that the die can provide (if it has a crimp feature)
  3. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

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    good point

    Since this is your first time you need to read the instructions for the dies again and follow them exactly. This should solve your problem
  4. Gearheadpyro

    Gearheadpyro New Member

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    I'm with the above. Not all bullet seating dies have a crimp feature. What kind of die are you using?

    You could always pick up a Lee Factory Crimp Die to crimp with. I use one for my .40's and love it. It also resizes the to ensure 100% feeding reliability.
  5. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    Gearheadpyro: I have never seen a bullet seating die that does not have some type of crimp feature be it a tapered or roll crimp. But then again there are a lot things I haven't seen.

    I am 100% with Freebore on what to do and would add that it sounds like you are trying to find the crimp by pushing the bullet further in instead of lowering the die which will then cause you to back off on the bullet depth.

    Ron
  6. Gearheadpyro

    Gearheadpyro New Member

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    I may have to eat my words here, muddober. I thought that the Lee pistol bullet seating dies did not crimp as Lee has the Factory Crimp Die for that.

    After digging a little bit more it turns out that the seating dies can crimp, but it is not the preffered method (as per Lee, http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/faq/index.cgi).
  7. quadcrazy

    quadcrazy New Member

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    Thanks for all the great advise. I have thoroughly read the setup instructions for the RCBS dies and they aren't real clear. I have run the shell all the way up into the die and I get no crimping. I should be getting a roll crimp but no matter what I try I'm not getting any crimp at all. I've had a couple friends read the instructions as well and they didn't understand them any better than I did. Is there any more information I can provide to get better guidance?

    Thanks again for all the help.
  8. Freebore

    Freebore New Member

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    Another suggestion....pull the die and remove the seating stem, you should be able to see the crimping shoulder inside the die. One last thought...are you by any chance using a .357 seating die on a .38 Special case ? OAL is .135" longer on the .357
  9. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

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    After reading the post that said these are RCBS dies, that was my first thought too.
    RCBS does make (or did make) a dedicated .357 Mag seating/crimp die that is too deep to allow crimping .38Spcl cases. They do seat bullets in .38Spcl brass just fine though.
    (I've got one laying around in one of my junk boxes).

    To the OP...Is the die (or the box for your whole set) marked .38/.357 or just .357Mag?

    RCBS seater/crimp dies for the .357 should do a fairly nice roll crimp (unless the brass is too short).
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  10. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

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    Also new to reloading and have just this week got thru my first batch. Maybe this will help, maybe not.

    1) Are you useing RCBS dies or Lee Dies? I think the lee dies intend for the fourth die to be a 'crimping' die, rather than the combo. RCBS uses the same die for seating and crimping

    The RCBS die should have a stamp on it. Make sure you are using the correct die. Make sure that you haven't confused the resizing die with the crimping die or something of that nature.

    2) If using RCBS (what I am using and getting familiar with):

    I am using a tapered crimp die Marked with "TC" on the die.

    After you have seated your bullets to the proper COL, back off the seating stem several turns. You can even completely remove it if you want. Now start adjusting the die down about a 1/4 turn at a time. Pull the lever. Each time, measure the case mouth with a pair of calipers. It took more turns than I expected before getting the adequate crimp dia. accomplished.

    As stated above, If you run the die as deep as you can, (do not let the die collide with the shell holder) you will acheive max crimp, but I'm sure that this would be too much, unless you have the wrong die.

    3) Are you actually measuring the case mouth? You can't necessarily 'see' the crimp. Look at a factory loaded round. You don't visually see any crimp, but if you measure, you will see a notable diff between the belled case and the finished case.

    4) Last but not least, take a finished round, observing ALL SAFETY RULES, drop it into an empty chamber. It should drop in fully without binding. If it binds, it is not crimped properly

    Many here with WAY more experience than me. Feel free to correct any misleading or mistated process here.

    Hope this helps......aka blind leading the blind !!! Yikes!
  11. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    I seat and crimp separately, using same Lee die. I back the die body out a bit and adjust seating stem to depth I need, and seat all boolits. Then I back out the seating stem and lower the die body to get the crimp I want. I do this with .38 Spec., 357 Mag. .44 Special, and .44 Mag. I don't like the factory crimp die because it sizes the round after the boolit is seated. Some of my ammo is "over diameter" for shooting in my over bore guns and I think th FC die sizes them down too much. Just my 2 centavos.

    The way I set up to crimp; put an empty case in the press and run the ram all the way up. Screw in the die with seating stem backed way out, until you feel the die contact the case (you will feel the crimp taper in the die hit the mouth of the case with good resistance) . Lower the ram, run the die in 1/2 turn. Fine tune (die up or down) until you get the crimp needed.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010
  12. quadcrazy

    quadcrazy New Member

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    Thanks again for the replies.

    Rocklinskier - These are some great suggestions... especially for a newbee like yourself.

    1) I am using RCBS dies (carbide 3 die set) and they are labeled 38spl/357. I double checked to see if I had the resizing die mixed up with the crimping die (great suggestion) and it was correct.

    2) I have done this. I slowly turned the die all the way down to the bottom and I was never at any point able to slide a round into an empty chamber. I haven't used my calipers I've just been using the "drop in the chamber method".

    You can now begin to see my confusion here. I'm starting to think I may have a die without a crimping shoulder. I still need to pull the crimping die and visually check to see if I can see a crimping shoulder. Other than that, I'm at a loss of what to do next.

    Quadcrazy going crazy.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
  13. 312shooter

    312shooter Active Member

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    Not sure but try this:

    1 - remove the seater plug from the seating die
    2 - turn locking ring to the top of the die
    3 - thread die into press 3- 4 turns
    4 - place sized shell into holder, raise ram to top cam over and HOLD THERE
    5 - while holding shell at top of stroke thread die down until contact is felt
    6 - back ram/shell down and screw die in 1/4 turn, hold die simultaneously lower locking ring and turn tight.
    7 - this should be the location of a crimp so you can fine adjust from here.
  14. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    quadcrazy: I am begining to think you have a bad set of dies. Any chance you can get your hands on a couple of 357 mag cases so you could try seating and crimping the a bullet of the longer case? Just a thought.

    Ron
  15. quadcrazy

    quadcrazy New Member

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    The directions from RCBS are very similar to your recommendation. The problem I'm having is when I raise the ram to the top of the stroke, I'm basically only about 1 thread deep when the die touches the mouth. Is this normal? It doesn't seem right.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2010
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