Lee Precision Dies


John uses the Lee Collet Crimp Dies when loading 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, 10mm and .45 ACP.

It was definitely an “I coulda’ had a V-8!” moment complete with the required hand slap to the forehead. I was talking to one of my former editors about the price I had to pay to get a set of .455 Webley dies and he asked me why I didn’t check with Lee. Slap! I’ve used many Lee dies over the years with complete satisfaction and should have remembered! Instead I paid nearly three times what a set of standard dies should cost simply because the .455 Webley dies I ordered were classified as Special Dies. Well, at least I learned something, even at my age!

In addition to offering dies for loading just about any cartridge, Lee always provides a shell holder at no additional cost and also a powder scoop particular to a charge for the dies ordered. All of my reloading dies are in their respective manufacturer’s boxes and stacked in a cupboard in my reloading room, with the most-used dies found on my loading bench. Above my bench is a special rack my friend Denis made for me containing my Lee Specialty Dies. There you will find my 9mm Carbide Sizing Die as well as the Undersized Carbide Sizing Die for the .45 ACP. I won’t say how many different .45 ACP semi-autos and sixguns I load for but it’s definitely more than two, and this minimum sizing die ensures any cartridges I load will fit any one of those guns.

The .357 SIG can present problems to the reloader, however John has no problem loading this
cartridge when using Lee Reloading Dies and Collet Style crimp.

Do Or Die?

Most three die sets, especially for loading sixguns, are provided with a carbide or standard sizing die to size and de-prime at the same time. There’s also a case expanding die, flaring the case mouth enough to make the bullet enter easily, and a die to seat and crimp the bullet to finish the operation. Dies for bottleneck cartridges such as the .30-30 normally only have the first and third dies with no die provided to expand the case.

This “normally” works okay for jacketed rifle bullets, especially if they are of the boat tail design. However it leaves a lot to be desired with many jacketed bullets and certainly cast bullets. The answer is the Lee Universal Case Expanding Die. This die set contains two tapered expanders designed to flare any case from .22 to .45. This gradual taper gently flares the case mouth, and I find just a simple kiss of the case mouth with the proper expander is enough to facilitate seating both jacketed and cast bullets. Then simply seat the bullet and crimp using the standard crimping die. But for many cartridges, I just seat the bullet but don’t crimp using the standard die. Next up is the Lee Collet Crimp Die.

For loading the .45 ACP, the Lee Undersized Carbide Sizing Die and Factory Crimp Die are used.

Don’t Crimp Your Style

To crimp many cartridges, I use the Lee Collet Crimp Die. When done properly bullets will not recede into the cartridge case. The Lee Collet Crimp Die does not seat the bullet; this must be done with the standard seating die. Once the bullet is seated to the proper depth the Collet Crimp Die is used. It works on bullets with or without a crimping groove. It is very easy to set by following the directions provided by Lee.

The crimping operation consists of four splits in the Collet that are closed when the shell holder is raised. For some cartridges this is called the Collet Crimp Die and for others the Factory Crimp Die. They both work the same and I now use them for all semi-automatic pistol cartridges I load, including .45 ACP, .38 Super, 9mm, 10mm, .357 SIG and .30 Luger. It’s also used for lever action cartridges, not only the .30-30, but the .32 Winchester Special and the .32-20 as well.

Using the Universal Case Expanding Die and the Factory Crimp/Collet Crimp Die require extra time and extra operations, however they are well appreciated by the results afforded when shooting. This is especially true when loading the .357 SIG, .30 Luger and when using cast bullets in the .30-30 and .32 Winchester Special.

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