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Old 09-10-2013, 11:29 AM
Ben_hutcherson Ben_hutcherson is offline
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Default 38 Special: Shaving Lead when Seating Bullet

I am reloading 38 specials using a Lee carbide 38 special/357 magnum die set.

I realize that I need to flare/bell the case mouth to properly seat lead bullets without shaving.

I currently have the expanding die set as far in as I can without touching the shell plate. I have read the directions that came with the die set, and have taken the die apart, and can't see any way to increase the amount of flair on the case.

Is there something I'm doing wrong?
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:13 PM
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There is quite a difference in die adjustment from a 38 to a 357 case and you have to get it right for each type of loading.

Most dies can be adjusted to make the case end look like a Bazooka if over done............ and this can happen if a 357 is placed in a 38 special die setting, while a 38 in a 357 setting will not receive any belling.

The setting ring HAS to be reset for each case unless you have a washer or spacer to use when doing a 357 load with a die set for the 38 special spec's.

Make sure your die is almost touching the collet/Ram when in the full stroke...............then turn down the belling section until you get results.
Go back to page one and read the manual one more time then try again. Good luck.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:45 PM
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The expander stem is adjustable. Screw it into the die to increase belling or amount of flare.
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Old 09-10-2013, 01:03 PM
Ben_hutcherson Ben_hutcherson is offline
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My problem is that-at least on the Lee dies-I don't see any way(obvious or otherwise) to adjust the amount of case flare aside from adjusting the depth of the die in the press. The expander plug is held in place by powder-through attachment on top, which I have screwed in as tightly as it will go.

The instructions also make no mention of adjusting the amount of flare other than just adjusting the depth of the die.

Here's a diagram of the Lee dies-is there something I'm missing?

Hand Gun Dies - Lee Precision
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Old 09-10-2013, 01:27 PM
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Dug my lee dies out and took a look,they are set up for 38 spcl and the expander plug IS bottomed out.Run the ram up and screw the die in until it touches the shell holder and then back off half a turn.If you can't get a flare yet,something is out of spec.Good luck!
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
My problem is that-at least on the Lee dies-I don't see any way(obvious or otherwise) to adjust the amount of case flare aside from adjusting the depth of the die in the press. The expander plug is held in place by powder-through attachment on top, which I have screwed in as tightly as it will go.

The instructions also make no mention of adjusting the amount of flare other than just adjusting the depth of the die.

Here's a diagram of the Lee dies-is there something I'm missing?

Hand Gun Dies - Lee Precision
If you are using a set of Lee dies for the 357 Mag. you won't be able to adjust for 38 Spl. Until the last 4 or 5 years Lee made seperate dies for the 357 and 38 and they wouldn't interchange. You might have that problem and the only way out is a new set of dies.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:46 PM
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Yup....What PecosBill said.
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:03 PM
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I've got my Lee dies in front of me. I have the four die set, part # 90964. "38 Special can load 357 Magnum". Flare die has plenty of room for more flare, and it is set for .38spl now.
On the Lee website there are separate die sets for .38 spl part 90510 and .357 magnum part 90511 both carbide dies.
The .38 spl dies can load .357 mag. But the .357 can not load .38 spl
See note from Lee below

Lee 357 Mag Pistol 3-Die Set includes Carbide Full Length Sizing Die, Bullet Seating Die, Powder Thru Expanding Die, Universal Shell Holder, Powder Dipper and Instructions/Load Data.

Note: The 357 Mag die set can load maximum cases. The 357 Mag cannot load the 38 Special.

Note: you may use the 38 Special die set to reload for the 357 Mag. You would have to back out the Powder Thru Expander Die, and the Bullet Seating and Crimping Die about 2 turns to compensate for the longer 357 case.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:13 PM
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Default This is a crazy question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
I am reloading 38 specials using a Lee carbide 38 special/357 magnum die set.

I realize that I need to flare/bell the case mouth to properly seat lead bullets without shaving.

I currently have the expanding die set as far in as I can without touching the shell plate. I have read the directions that came with the die set, and have taken the die apart, and can't see any way to increase the amount of flair on the case.

Is there something I'm doing wrong?
But are you using the seating die instead of the expander????
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:18 PM
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I see an M die in your future.
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
I see an M die in your future.
I agree! A Lyman M die will give the proper amount of flare without over expanding the neck. The bullet will also seat straighter due to the expansion below the flare.

The photo listed below is provided courtesy of Unclenick on TFL forum.


Last edited by jepp2; 09-10-2013 at 10:40 PM. Reason: add photo
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:14 AM
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Default Expander die separately

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Originally Posted by Pecos Bill View Post
If you are using a set of Lee dies for the 357 Mag. you won't be able to adjust for 38 Spl. Until the last 4 or 5 years Lee made seperate dies for the 357 and 38 and they wouldn't interchange. You might have that problem and the only way out is a new set of dies.
Or just buy an expander die, Lee# 90581, for 38 Spcl. That's what I did when I upgraded some of my old dies. (#90582 is for 357Mag.)
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:49 AM
Ben_hutcherson Ben_hutcherson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pecos Bill View Post
If you are using a set of Lee dies for the 357 Mag. you won't be able to adjust for 38 Spl. Until the last 4 or 5 years Lee made seperate dies for the 357 and 38 and they wouldn't interchange. You might have that problem and the only way out is a new set of dies.
I'm afraid that you've found my problem...I guess that's what I get for listening to the store clerk and not double checking on things, as I do have the "357 Magnum" die set.

From this thread, and from my reading around the internet, it looks like my options to fix this(short of buying a new die set) are

1. Lee 38 Special Expander die

2. Lee Universal Expander die

3. Lyman M die

All options are close to the same cost(the Lyman is the most expensive and the universal expander the least expensive), but not enough to really worry about. The Lyman sounds like the best option, so I'll try to find one locally and if not will order one.

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:33 PM
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I have the same situation with my Lee die set. I started loading 38 spl about a year ago, in the past I've always used RCBS dies but since they were notably less expensive I thought I'd give the Lee carbides a try. With the RCBS you can adjust the die up and down, and also adjust the expander ball up or down. With the Lee, the expander is just along for the ride- the only adjustment is the die. Even though I'd like a bit more flare on the case, I can live with what I get-- but I do have to be pretty careful when placing the bullet into the case for the seating stroke. Also, I seat the bullet in one operation, and use a second operation to put a pretty firm roll crimp one. I had trouble with deforming the loaded rounds when I tried to do both in one pass.
FWIW the decapping die says 38/357 but the expanding & seating/crimp dies say 38 spl.

Last edited by hotrod150; 09-11-2013 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:56 PM
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Ive got a set of Lees I bought about 8 years ago ,the sizer is labeled 38/357,but the belling and seating dies are labeled 357.All Ive loaded with these are 38s .The flare isn't much,but it works.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:06 PM
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Didn't read all the replies, but have you tried chamfering inside the case mouths? The sharp edge can cause shavings.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:22 PM
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Wait, don't buy anything yet...

The expander should be able to float inside the die and have some free space before stopping to flare the case mouth, this is the way they are made. Remove the plug at the top, with the hole for the powder to go through, and put something between the expander bell and the plug leaving enough room for the plug to catch some of the threads. (I believe a 5/16 nut will fit and should be all you'd need. If not try a nut and a two lock washers.) This blocks the expander from travelling it's full distance and lets you expand shorter cases.

I don't use this with their powder through tools and probably wouldn't trust it to pass all the powder through. In that case I'd find a solid piece of tube.

Last edited by Jellybean; 09-11-2013 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:08 PM
Ben_hutcherson Ben_hutcherson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellybean View Post
Wait, don't buy anything yet...

The expander should be able to float inside the die and have some free space before stopping to flare the case mouth, this is the way they are made. Remove the plug at the top, with the hole for the powder to go through, and put something between the expander bell and the plug leaving enough room for the plug to catch some of the threads. (I believe a 5/16 nut will fit and should be all you'd need. If not try a nut and a two lock washers.) This blocks the expander from travelling it's full distance and lets you expand shorter cases.

I don't use this with their powder through tools and probably wouldn't trust it to pass all the powder through. In that case I'd find a solid piece of tube.
I appreciate the idea. I had a similar thought, and stuffed a couple of folded cleaning patches in(all I could find handy without digging too much) and was able to get more expansion. I wasn't completely happy with it, though, as I think the patches have too much "give" and weren't expanding consistently.

I like the idea of using a nut, or something that won't have any give.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:22 PM
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I would suggest just parting with a few dollars and get this:

https://fsreloading.com/lee-precisio...8sp-90581.html

$11 and change plus shipping.
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:55 PM
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Ben, I would suggest that you try contacting Lee. Because of you have the 357 Magnum specific 4 die set it's possible that you'll also have issues with the bullet seating and the roll crimp die. So you may have 3 out of 4 dies that won't work properly with the 38 spl. If you look closely at your dies you should be able to identify what specific die you have for each station.

Lee has a reputation for being rather supportive of their customers so it's very possible that they will swap a complete 4 die 38/357 4 die set for your 357 mag/maximum die set. Nothing guaranteed here but all it will cost you is a bit of your time.

Another option is to take a look on Midway. Because the Lee powder through die and crimp dies are available as separate pieces. If all you need is the powder through die you can get that for about 12 bucks plus shipping. BTW, Midway charges rather high shipping and handling charges so I tend to "stack" my orders so that have as many items on my Want List that can be budgeted for.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:29 PM
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Thanks for that idea, Jellybean. I never thought about adding a washer inside the expander die. I never even took the time to examine how it works (shame on me).
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Old 09-12-2013, 01:20 AM
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Default Midway shipping fees

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Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
BTW, Midway charges rather high shipping and handling charges so I tend to "stack" my orders so that have as many items on my Want List that can be budgeted for.
If your order is below a certain $$ amount (I think it was $25?) they add a surcharge fee to the shipping (apparently small orders waste too much of their time?) fee, which makes the cost prohibitive, unless it's something you "just gotten have now". Like Scooter said, if you can wait a bit, add it to your Midway Wish List & then you can place a larger order all at once, & usually added items only make a small increase in shipping cost, if at all, depending on the weight of course. The trick, & hope, is that everything on your Wish List will still be in-stock once you decide to order.
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Old 09-12-2013, 09:20 AM
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You're both welcome.
The expander die was mainly designed to use on a progressive press to make the powder charging "case activated", secondly designed to use with a funnel, then thirdly for no powder tools at all.

The problem is the way the expander button travels and the amount of pressure needed to pull the expanded cases away from it, it rattles the whole bench and sometimes your teeth. I put the nuts and washers in all my Lee PTE dies to make them operate a lot smoother and with much less effort and, since I don't use any on-die powder tools it isn't a problem. If you've never used any other brand of expander die, try it out and see the difference for yourself.
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Old 09-12-2013, 09:43 AM
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Get yourself the Lyman Multi-Expander Powder charge Die. It should also include the Lyman "M" geometry for case mouth expansion. Lyman P/n 7767901 includes all the drop thru expanders for 32 cal thru 45 cal. List is $39.95 Midway has on sale and in stock for $28.49.
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Old 09-12-2013, 01:27 PM
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I never understood why the expander floated in the expander die. I guess it activates the powder-dispensing mechanism when it comes up? I shimmed mine up for zero float of the expander, the next time I expand some cases I guess I'll see how it works out.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:13 PM
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The purpose of the floating ring is to give the die a bit of a "knock" when it releases so you won't get any powder bridging or accumulation in the die. It's been my experience that it works quite well at clearing every bit of powder after each case is loaded so I wouldn't consider eliminating that feature.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:06 PM
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Tha's IF you use it as a "powder-through" arrangement. I don't.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:52 AM
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hotrod150,
You are correct, or were correct. The floating rings original purpose was to operate the Lee disk powder dispenser, which threaded on top of the die, as the case rose inside of it. The system had several issues and Lee eventually redesigned it to use a chain to operate the dispenser. I've never used the new system and am not sure what the purpose of the ring is now, other than a funnel, while attached to a dispenser.

The "knock" occurs when the case is pulled away from the ring so any powder that is stuck or bridged inside the disk would stay inside the disk as it would be at the bottom of the stroke and disk would be in the closed position.

Last edited by Jellybean; 09-13-2013 at 12:04 PM. Reason: 2nd paragraph.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:29 PM
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My RCBS Little Dandy powder measure is mounted to the loading press via a bracket which fits under the bullet seating die. I charge each case right before I seat the bullet. The Little Dandy rotor is oriented cavity-up between charges, operating the press gives a "knock" to the powder measure to settle the powder in the measure.
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Old 09-14-2013, 11:51 AM
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Thanks for the tip Jellybean. I have the same issue withe Lee expander die for the .44 Special. Dropped in a washer, reset the die and now I have enough bell to prevent the lead shaving.
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Old 09-15-2013, 10:42 AM
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MikeyB, you're welcome.

hotrod150, I used to do the same thing, cavity up while doing other things, without really thinking about it. I also had a problem with getting erratic powder charges even after the powder should have settled, then after a lot of head scratching I now leave the cavity down.
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:27 AM
Ben_hutcherson Ben_hutcherson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jellybean View Post
Wait, don't buy anything yet...

The expander should be able to float inside the die and have some free space before stopping to flare the case mouth, this is the way they are made. Remove the plug at the top, with the hole for the powder to go through, and put something between the expander bell and the plug leaving enough room for the plug to catch some of the threads. (I believe a 5/16 nut will fit and should be all you'd need. If not try a nut and a two lock washers.) This blocks the expander from travelling it's full distance and lets you expand shorter cases.

I don't use this with their powder through tools and probably wouldn't trust it to pass all the powder through. In that case I'd find a solid piece of tube.
I finally got around to playing with this again, and am happy to report that a 5/16" nut does take enough "slop" out of the expander plug to allow me to reliably expand 38 special cases to where I will not get any lead shavings.

I was able to load up 100 last night with no problems, other than watching out for missing lube on the bullets I was using
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:16 PM
Ben_hutcherson Ben_hutcherson is offline
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I'm following up with this thread again, as I've recently invested in a Lee Pro Auto Disk powder measure, and found myself in need of powder-through capabilities on my 38 special and 357 magnum die set once again.

Since I load for both calibers, I decided to just go ahead and order a second expander for 38 special.

I needed some other odds and ends from Lee(including a bullet seating plug) so ordered directly from Lee a 38 special expander die body, as well as expander plugs for both 38 special and 357 magnum.

The 38 special die body is noticeably shorter than the 357 magnum. In addition to this, the 38 special expander plug is longer in the "shoulder"(though not in the expander portion) than the 357 plug.

Here's the 38 special plug on the left, and the 357 plug on the right.
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:23 PM
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crankyoldlady crankyoldlady is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BLUEDOT37 View Post
Or just buy an expander die, Lee# 90581, for 38 Spcl. That's what I did when I upgraded some of my old dies. (#90582 is for 357Mag.)

Yup! I use the Lee Universal case expanding die with great results. I also prefer to seat and crimp in two operations rather than one.
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