Lee Dies Too Short for Hornady Progressive

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by English Bob, Aug 5, 2020.

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  1. English Bob

    English Bob Well-Known Member

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    Today I started fiddling with 9mm for the first time. When I decided to set up for it, I picked Lee carbide dies. I wanted to see if they were any better than Hornady. Now that it's way too late to send them back, I see that these dies are short. You have to screw them WAY down into the locking rings to make them work on a Hornady progressive.

    The answer other people have come up with is to move the locking rings to the bottoms of the dies. This is a pretty bad solution. It makes changing dies a real pain.

    I'm going to sell these dies and get something else. This is too aggravating.

    I have never had any problems with Hornady dies, but I thought I'd ask: is there something better out there that isn't TOO SHORT?
     
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  2. English Bob

    English Bob Well-Known Member

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    This has turned out to be an interesting day.

    I bought Missouri Bullet 125-grain semiwadcutters. Missouri Bullet doesn't publish load data, so you have to guess. I have load data for Oregon Trails lead bullets of the same weight, and the OAL is 1.130". I measured the difference in the length of the bullets, and the Missouri Bullets are 0.06" longer. I figure that means I have to add 0.06" to the OAL to avoid reducing the volume of the cases. That brings me to 1.190", which is longer than I want these things to be. I don't want any feeding issues.

    Guess I'll go pretty low on the charge and reduce the OAL a bit.
     
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  3. howlnmad

    howlnmad Old Guy Doing Things Moderator Supporting Member

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    Are you using the Lee rings? If so, try flipping the lock ring over.
     
  4. rawright54

    rawright54 Philogynist & Sycophant, Looking For Work Supporting Member

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    Although I like almost everything RCBS offers, I really like Hornady dies for pistol calibers. The sliding bullet guide in the seating dies really saves me some skin on my fingers. I wouldn't touch anything Lee except the Factory Crimp Dies for bottle-necked cases. They really are a superior design, unlike anything else I've seen from Lee. The FCDs for straight-walled cases are no better than anyone else's seating/crimping dies, and are of lower quality construction, so I don't bother with them. Unless you have a really significant reason not to, stick with Hornady; they make an excellent product.
     
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  5. vassago

    vassago Well-Known Member

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    You are correct and also way overthinking it :)
    As long as you stay within reasonable OAL's there is no need to calculate it like this. Pick an OAL that works for that bullet and a charge from the manual for that bullet/type/weight and you will be fine.
    Starting low and working up is always a good idea although it is harder than it sounds to see/feel when you are getting to max pressure.

    You can always locktite the dies into the bushings :rotfl:
     
  6. BAH

    BAH Active Member

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    I use Lee dies for my Beowulf in a LNL AP press without problem. Of course this is a rifle die so this doesn't help you any. I bought Lee because Hornady did not offer the .50 Beowulf at the time I needed.

    Is it possible that you may be able to modify your dies or locking rings on a lathe so that they will work? Otherwise I bet someone on TFF would love to have the die set for their Lee press in exchange for something they need/want.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. drymag

    drymag Well-Known Member

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    I have Lee dies (along with other brands) and all my Lee dies work in my Hornady LNL AP. The LNL works with the Lee lock rings and Hornady rings. I can load pistol and revolver and ar15 on the AP. I reload the bolt rifles on the single stage. The first time I used the Lee on the LNL, it was different seeing the die setting so low instead of so high on other presses. Once I got passed that, I just use them anymore. I also use the Lee Auto Drum and the associated die on the LNL and it works fine.
     
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  8. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

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    No offence intended, but if you have to "guess" or extrapolate and apply some formula, you are asking for trouble (and headaches). Guessing at a .060" difference in length is not anything a I'd do (even after 40+ years of reloading) and I doubt if the bullets are comparable with that great a difference. I looked on the Missouri Bullets site and couldn't find any 125 gr SWC in .356"-.358". What caliber are you reloading? I don't see any SWC in 9mm (or any other commercial caster). Find load data for a cast lead of the same weight, 125 gr. and begin with a starting load.Unless you have 12,000 rounds under your belt and have read copious amounts of texts on reloading/powder/charges/pressures and interior ballistics, I'd say K.I.S.S. and go by the book on load data, and find the OAL for a same weight, same shape bullet for OAL and begin with starting data.

    Go slow. Double check everything. Most important, have fun...
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2020
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  9. English Bob

    English Bob Well-Known Member

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    It's kind of amazing that Lee would deliberately make dies half an inch too short to go on a competitor's press. You would think they would be eager to see Hornady customers buy Lee products. It's not like running a reloading business is so hard you don't have time to look around and see what competitors are doing.

    I'm all done buying Lee dies. They might have sold me other calibers had they done the intelligent thing and created dies compatible with other companies' presses.

    I don't see any way to modify the dies. If they were too long, they could be shortened. They're too short, so there is nothing to work with.

    I did what other people have done. This is a known issue, so people have written a lot about it. I stuck the locking dies under the bushings instead of on top of them. It's a bad solution, but it works. It will allow me to make cartridges until I buy another set of Hornady dies.

    I just splurged on Redding rifle dies. Now I'm wondering if I'll be able to use them.
     
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  10. English Bob

    English Bob Well-Known Member

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    Keep looking.
     
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  11. gdmoody

    gdmoody Full Time Moderator Moderator Supporting Member

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    I use Lee dies in my Dillon press and I don't have to turn the lock nut over or run it in from the bottom. Yes, they do set pretty low in the tool head, but they work just fine. All the handgun dies that I use are Lee and they are all set in Dillon tool heads.
     
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  12. noylj

    noylj Well-Known Member

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    Gee, all Lee dies have worked perfectly in all my Hornady progressive presses, including the Lock-N-Load.
    Lee has new lock rings, but all I know are the old ones. Remove the o-ring and install the o-ring upside down. More than enough threads for any reloading job.
    125gn SWC in 0.356-0.358? I could be loading 9x91, 9x21, .38 Super, .38 Special, or .357 Mag, naming those cartridges where I have used such bullets.
    0.357" jacketed bullets work GREAT in 9mm.
    SAAMI groove diameter for 9x19, .380 Auto, .38 Special, and .357 Mag are ALL 0.355-0.359".
    Lead bullets generally need to be at least 0.001" over ACTUAL groove diameter, so for 9x19, you might need lead bullet diameters of 0.356-0.360", if your barrel meets SAAMI standards.
    You call the lead bullet supplier and ask them if they can supply the "right" bullet diameter. I generally order AS-CAST and unlubricated bullets, as I found sizing detracts from accuracy.
     
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  13. shootbrownelk

    shootbrownelk Well-Known Member

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    All my dies are RCBS. No problems with them ever. Great customer service is also another of their qualities.
     
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  14. English Bob

    English Bob Well-Known Member

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    When I installed the dies without putting the rings in the wrong place, the engagement was so short at least one of the dies wobbled. I have read that other people have had threads strip because of this, and I have seen claims that the rings are particularly easy to strip because of the way they're made. I don't know if this is true, but if Lee had made the dies slightly longer, there would be nothing to worry about.

    I can get more engagement by raising the sizing die so high it doesn't touch the shell plate. I didn't want that. Maybe I overlooked something.

    Hornady rings are very sturdy.

    When I went to the bullet website, I just looked at the 9mm offerings and picked one I liked. I didn't ask for anything special. I don't know if the Missouri Bullet people know what they're doing. I just assumed.
     
  15. English Bob

    English Bob Well-Known Member

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    It looks like my problems are solved, except for the problem of losing the money I spent on Lee dies. I had to buy a new set of Hornady dies, and because dies are so scarce, I had to buy a separate crimping die. The Hornady set with a taper-crimping die is unobtainable.

    I ran off several rounds today anyway, for testing. I don't think the seating die likes this ammo. When I crank the handle, it stops part of the way down, and I have to push it again to make it complete its travel. No idea what that is. Trying to figure it out. I am hoping I have something adjusted wrong, but I don't see how I could be producing ammo if that were true.

    The moral of the story is: don't use Lee dies on a Lock n Load AP. If I hadn't decided to experiment, I'd be sitting on 800 rounds of fresh ammo right now, and I'd be about $75 richer.

    The ammo came out at about 1080 fps on the first load. It looks funny with the first lube groove exposed, but I don't want to jam the bullets way down in there without some kind of support from load data. I guess I could try it and see how the casings look.
     
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