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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone have any experience or opinions on the C-Bar Armory PTX? I found a lot of post about the PowderFunnel.com PTX but the website is either down, the URL changed, or the company is out of business. The C-Bar is the only PTX for the Hornady Lock-n-Load AP I could find that is "universal".

Additionally, since I am still trying to set up - I noted two things on the Hornady PTX. (1) some are listed as "lead" and others not depending not he website; and (2) the sizes are very limited, particularly there is no PTX for .41Mag and I sort of need one for that caliber - or do I?

Let's start with observation #1 - is "lead" PTX a marketing thing? i.e. I read at least one post (nearly 6 years old) that stated "the new lead PTX was shelved so I bought the Powder
Funnels.com universal expander . . . ." This would seem to imply either it is a marketing term for a new and improved version, or that the poster in question loads lead bullets and there is in fact two versions of the PTX. It also caused me to ask if the PTX is only needed if I load lead bullets. I am pretty fond of BTSP bullets for my rifles, no flare needed. Do all pistol bullets require the case to be flared or only lead/cast bullets? More succinctly, do I need a PTX or is this just another tweak in the set-up to make the process go faster? Is a PTX just a "go faster" tool? Or is it necessary? (I am aware I can use an expander die, I plan to use a Powder Cop and want to seat and crimp separately.)

Assuming the responses to part 1 are all "yes, you need one" and "no, it is not optional in pistol ammo reloading" - is it possible to use the .451 PTX for .41Mag and just barely kiss the mouth of the cartridge or am I relegated to finding a true "Universal PTX"- or in the alternative, the .41 rounds have to be made sans Powder Cop. FYI - I cannot give up the separate crimp on this round. I own a DE41 and a RedHawk. The RedHawk will eat almost anything but without the FCD, it would refuse 1 in 10 rounds made on RCBS dies and 1 in 3 would not chamber in the Desert Eagle.

BTW - the problem is confirmed the dies. I had a buddy with a lot more experience help me out. Bullets would literally come apart in the mag because the crimp was not sufficient, but 1/8 turn would buckle the brass. Even took the press to the range and tried to make a "extremely fine" adjustment - the margin was so small we could not get consistency - we did manage to find a sweet spot that would consistently feed the revolver though. The Lee FCD was the solution but on a single stage it became too much - ergo a LnL press followed me home from Cabela's one day and now I want to know if I need PTX or not.
 
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As long as you do not use a bullet feeder a universal die like the Powderfunnels would be perfect for your needs I would say. I can't find any information on the C-bar but if it is the same as the Powderfunnels one I would say go for it. (assuming price is right)

The "for lead" expanders usually expand a tad more so as not to shave lead if and how this applies to the Hornady PTX I have no idea since I do not load lead. For an universal die it does not make sense of course.

The PTX dies bell the case mouth but also expand the case to hold the bullet better. If you place a bullet on a caes expanded with the universal and advance the shell plate the bullet may tip, with the Hornady PTX it does not.
I do not think the .45 PTX will work for the .41, I will measure my 9mm PTX to make sure.
(There also is a .430 PTX but it will probably have the same issue)

Also, if your bullets are coming apart you are most likely not sizing the cases properly. Even uncrimped cases should hold a bullet very well. (Or you are over-expanding or over-crimping).
The Lee FCD for straight-wall cartridges is a clutz, in 99% of the time a fix for something you will be better off fixing somewhere else. (especially with lead bullets as they can get resized)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Vassago. The C-Bar Universal PTX is $15, I will get one ordered.

Don't use lead bullets, the Desert Eagle is gas operated, so lead is not an option. We never figured out the "kink" in the dies - I just stopped reloading .41 and plan to get new dies for that caliber. I simply could not get a crimp on the bullets though I did not try avoiding the expander step - that may have solved it.

So why not the Lee FCD? I was under the impression it is first a crimp die and second it just runs down the sides like a case gauge to ensure uniformity. Am I wrong on either assumption? I had to use one on my .41 dies because the RCBS kept kinking the cartridges so much it was visible to the naked eye. Every 10th round would not even chamber in my revolver. It just made bad ammo. The Lee FCD crimped, did not kink (or if it did it straightened out the issue on the up-stroke) and made the ammo usable. With it in the #5 hole, I could continue to use the RCBS dies for .41 mag, except for the fact these dies left a bad impression. I know there are others that love the brand - not me.

So, in your opinion, do or do not use the Lee FCD for the crimp stage? Redding makes Pro series dies that have a stand alone crimp die, and of course Dillon does that too. I have read over and over that seating and crimping in two separate steps makes better ammo - I have a 5 hole press, why not use it that way, but I have to figure out what dies to use. Any suggestions?

FYI: My new press is a LnL-AP. I plan to continue loading rifle on the Co-Ax, I simply do not shoot enough to justify the change for 7MM and 30.06 plus I am uber meticulous with those two rounds. The LnL will be for pistol only - .380, 9MM, .357 Mag, .41 Mag, and .45 ACP.
 

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I quit using the LNL powder measure as the Lee ptx die w/ the new Lee auto drum is so much faster and easier to clean. Adjustment is simple. I bought extra dums for each caliber so I don't have to do any setups between calibers. I'm thinking of getting some extra auto-loaders as they are cheap and just leave them in a plug/play mode.
 

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You can do the same for the LnL powder measure, buy a few inserts and set them to the charge you need.
Or buy the micrometer and keep records of the settings.
With the fine ball powder I am using the Lee either leaks or you strip the drum after a few changes because you need to tighten it so much. Mine is unemployed at the moment because of that.

@PlanoAttorney, the FCD does what you say it does however if the previous stages were properly done you only need a crimp. Not another sizing step to get the case to fit again.
I would use the stand alone crimp and find out why cases get deformed in one of the previous steps.
Which step is kinking the cartridges?

My Setup for a 5 hole press is: size - powder - powdercheck - seat - crimp, for 9mm I ditched the powdercheck for a bullet feeder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@PlanoAttorney, the FCD does what you say it does however if the previous stages were properly done you only need a crimp. Not another sizing step to get the case to fit again.
I would use the stand alone crimp and find out why cases get deformed in one of the previous steps.
Which step is kinking the cartridges?[/QUOTE]

I just ordered a set of Dillon dies for the .41. Have never tried Dillon dies so I figured this would be a good opportunity to compare. I also picked up a set of Hornady dies for the .380 for the same reason.

In your suggestion to use a stand alone crimp, are you referring to fixing the problem so that the FCD only crimps or find a "crimp only" die? To that last, I know Dillon ships with a sizer, seater, and crimp die only. I also know Redding Pro sets are the same or you can purchase a crimp only die separately from Redding. Other than those two, who makes a "crimp only" die? And at the risk of starting a firestorm - what , if anything, is the difference between the different brands of "crimp only" dies?
 

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Unless you remove the carbide ring from the Lee FCD you cannot set it to only crimp and not resize.

There probably is some minor difference between crimp only dies of different manufacturers but I have not found it yet.
Apart from Dillon and Redding, RCBS makes them I don't know of any other brands. But I have never really looked either :)

If you already have the Lee set you can crimp with the seater die if I am not mistaken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Unless you remove the carbide ring from the Lee FCD you cannot set it to only crimp and not resize.

There probably is some minor difference between crimp only dies of different manufacturers but I have not found it yet.
Apart from Dillon and Redding, RCBS makes them I don't know of any other brands. But I have never really looked either :)

If you already have the Lee set you can crimp with the seater die if I am not mistaken.
Thanks for the info/suggestions. I own .45ACP in Lee dies - those have been good to me. The problem I experienced was with .41Mag dies made by RCBS - I had to borrow a stand along Lee FCD to fix the ammo made by the RCBS dies. I just bought some Dillon dies for .41Mag and will be selling the RCBS product.

I ordered and just got in Hornady dies for .380ACP and I had Graf & Sons ship a Lee FCD for .380ACP in the shipment since I had free shipping. Should I send it back?
 

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I ordered and just got in Hornady dies for .380ACP and I had Graf & Sons ship a Lee FCD for .380ACP in the shipment since I had free shipping. Should I send it back?
I would say yes, you are sort of wasting your money with the FCD's for pistol calibers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would say yes, you are sort of wasting your money with the FCD's for pistol calibers.
What is your take on the Hornady stand alone crimp. According to the caliber chart on Hornady's site, there is a taper "crimp only" die P/N 044170 that will serve both 380ACP and 9MM Luger. One die, two rounds. Have you tried them or know anyone who has?
 

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I did not know that Hornady made a stand alone crimp die. If they make on for any pistol cartridges, it is a waste of money. Every bullet seating die made (that I know of) has a crimp die built into it so it is not needed. I do, however, use and like the FCD for bottle neck cartridges.
 

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Case expansion: a really misunderstood reloading step.
Take a case with a case ID of 0.350" and jam a 0.355" bullet into the case. Now, pull the bullet. Measure the case ID and bullet OD. In most cases, I find that either the case moth has opened up or the bullet has been swaged down (lead bullets swage down easily) or both, such that the difference between the two is almost always 0.001". This means that if the bullet is still 0.355", the case ID will be about 0.3535-0.354". This 0.001" difference is all the tension required to hold the bullet in place.
If you do this, report your results.
So, back at the beginning of reloading, EXPANDING the case to better fit the bullet was critical. So, it was developed that a sized case with an OD of 0.347" would be expanded, over the length of the bullet seating depth, to 0.353-0.354" and a case mouth flare would be installed (for a 0.355" jacketed bullet).
Now, since lead bullets are usually 0.001-002" LARGER than jacketed bullets, you need an expander that is about 0.002" larger for lead bullets than for jacketed bullets. Using an expander for 0.355" jacketed bullets will be too small for 0.357" lead bullets and you are likely to swage the lead bullet down and ruin accuracy and get a lot of leading. Rather than pull and check the seated bullet diameter, folks just blame the lead bullet (after all, they are perfect reloaders, so any problem has to be the lead bullet's fault) and write how horrible they are.
So, NO, Lead PTX is NOT a marketing scam.
Then there are the folks who don't even expand the case at all but just use a case mouth flaring tool (like the incorrectly named Lee Universal Expander). They tend to have a lot of bullets get seated crooked (or, at least, a lot of case bulges at the base of the seated bullet) and not chamber so they use a Lee FCD to iron out the problem.
The frightening thing is several new manuals seem to be written by folks who have NEVER talked to the die designers and also have no idea about the importance of proper case expansion.
 

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Stand alone crimp die?
Well, when I started reloading in the early '70s, I tried seating and crimping in one step. That was really about all there was as far as a new reloader knew.
Back then, sizing was done with one die, expanding and decapping were done with one die, and seating and crimping were done with the third die.
It took time to set-up the die. I got tired of it and got a separate roll crimp die for .44 Rem Mag when I saw an ad in one of the magazines. Accuracy improved and die set-up was much easier.
Tried it with 9x19 and .45 Auto and separate taper crimp dies and became so convinced that separating the steps was the way to go that when I wanted a progressive, I got the 5-station Hornady because I couldn't set up a 4-stations Dillon the way I wanted.
Going progressive meant all new sizing/decapping dies and all with carbide rings.
So, if you like seating and crimping in one step, fine, but don't criticize those of us who have tried both and know which we prefer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Case expansion: a really misunderstood reloading step.
Nolyj, now I feel like a nube and that is not a bad thing - if I never load lead bullets and I have not plans to do so. Do I still need to expand, or simply flare the mouth with something like the PowderFunnel (if I can find one) or the C-Bar Universal PTX?

So far, I have not put the first round through the LnL-AP. I have made many rifle rounds on my Forrester Co-Ax but I used boat tail bullets and don't concern myself with flare or crimp of rifle rounds. On pistol, I have made about 250 rounds of .41Mag, and maybe 500 rounds of .45ACP on the single stage. I think a case of "the wants", space on my work bench and a sale at Cabela's conspired to convince me I had to go progressive for pistol and the P238 that came home the same day sort of helped the argument.

I have read so much good and bad about the Hornady LnL so I want to set it up right the first time, learn all I can and ensure I have the right tools for the job, ergo my start of this thread related to expanding and you were most helpful. Whether the decision is right or wrong, I decided I want to crimp in a final stroke rather than try to seat and crimp in one operation (a large factor in my Hornady vs. Dillon decision; and I have a Dillon dealer less than 5 miles from my house who has a SDB, RL550, and RL650 on display, so I did get to check out the Dillon; which is another topic in itself).
 

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IF you don't expand the case (the case ID after expansion should be 0.001-0.002" less than actual bullet diameter), you may seat the bullet crooked, either leading to a case bulge on one side of the case that will interfere with chambering or simply poor accuracy). If you are shooting within 25 yards and don't need 3" or less accuracy and you run all rounds through a Lee FCD, to iron out the bulge and, maybe, swage down the bullet, you may still have rounds that meet all your needs.
If you seat a bullet in a non-expanded case and then pull the bullet, you will find that the difference between the new case ID and the new bullet OD is almost always 0.001". Thus, make things easy on the case and bullet and start off seating at that dimension.
Some folks don't expand or flare. They only shoot jacketed bullets, lightly chamfer the case mouth inside and out, and don't worry about straight bullet seating or such--they just like not having to expand, flare, or crimp. They can size, primer charge, seat, and shoot. I have tried it and it works, but the rounds seemed to have lost some accuracy at 25 yards--but it was sort of fun.
I LOVE the Hornady L-N-L. The only problem I ever had was seating primers with the original primer seating stems. I had to be sure to move the ram all the way down with some force. This was unlike previous Hornady progressives that primed perfectly. Note that priming is the weak spot for ALL progressive presses.
Hornady has reportedly fixed the issue.
The greatest factor for Dillon is NOT the No BS warranty, but rather the fact that they maintain their value. Since I don't plan to sell my presses, I don't care.
My opinion is:
If you don't want or need a case collator, get the Hornady.
If you want to load a lot of different cartridges, get the Hornady.
If you need a case collator, get the Dillon 650 or 1050.
If you do a lot of reloading using military cases, get a 1050.
If you want arguably the best press around, get a 1050.
If you really feel a need to rotate the shell plate yourself, thus possibly leading to NOT rotating the shell plate yourself and loading an unsafe round, get the 550. This is also a good press to slow the process down and eliminate powder spilling out of the case as the shell plate rotates around (for those who can't simply move the ram a bit slower or put a finger over the case as it moves).
For me, I want the following, at a minimum:
1) size
prime
2) expand, flare, and charge case
3) RCBS Lock-Out die
4) Seat
5) Crimp
Thus, ANY 4-station press would not meet my wants or needs.
Presses and technique are too individual for any one to tell you what is best for you. There are those who will swear that the 550 is the most perfect press there is--and it probably is for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
IF you don't expand the case (the case ID after expansion should be 0.001-0.002" less than actual bullet diameter), you may seat the bullet crooked, either leading to a case bulge on one side of the case that will interfere with chambering or simply poor accuracy).
Thanks Noylj; your response makes a lot of sense. I had never considered that not expanding could result in a bullet not seating straight. I assume since rifle dies do not come with expanders and the boat-tail design of the bullets which is f

The greatest factor for Dillon is NOT the No BS warranty, but rather the fact that they maintain their value. Since I don't plan to sell my presses, I don't care.

Presses and technique are too individual for any one to tell you what is best for you. There are those who will swear that the 550 is the most perfect press there is--and it probably is for them.
I have been too busy recently to spend the appropriate time to set up the LnL - it is out of the box, I have mounted it on the ultra mount and managed to set up the primer feed, which I cycled through 20 primers without cases just to verify it would operate correctly, but that is as far as I got. Have not even cleaned the powder system yet. I was starting to have buyer's remorse but your analysis really put it in perspective and reminded me why I chose the LnL: (1) five stations are a must have and (2) acquisition cost was more important than resale because I have no plan to sell it in the future.
 

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>I assume since rifle dies do not come with expanders...

Yes they do—it is the "ball" attached to the decapping stem. Being bottleneck, the expander can enter the unsized case neck and, when raising the die up from the case, the case neck is expanded. Expansion is JUST as important for bottleneck and straight--it is just that one die can size, decap, and expand.

PS: if there were no cases, you cycled the same primer 20 times—unless you pulled the primer out of the cup.
 

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>I bought separate dial caliper's for each case I have!

I don't think you meant what you wrote or it is a sarcastic response to a comment I haven't seen.
If I did that, I would have about 25000 dial calipers, one for each case.
No matter, all I need is one dial caliper.
 

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I have a few precision calipers and one that is delegated to the load bench but I rarely use it any more. My case trimmer is set up with different bushings for each cartridge I use. When I am reloading I just slip in the right bushing and the trimmer does the rest. I run every case through the trimmer instead of measuring each case and finding the ones that need to be trimmed. It takes no more time to insert the case into the trimmer than it does to check the case length with calipers. I have even found once fired cases that trimmed. I do keep my cases at the maximum case length instead of the "trim to length". It works for me.
 
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