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Old 04-27-2017, 03:18 PM
kornax kornax is offline
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Default reloading 357 with 38 dies

hi folks,

i am relatively new to reloading, but i have done probably about 750-1000 rounds now of varying caliber and had success.

I have a question i thought i would ask here:

I bought 38 special lee dies (4 piece), that state they can reload 357. And i have done this as well with 44 special and 44 magnum, without issue. I am finally getting to reloading some 357, and it is my first time using the 38 dies.

My process is:

-Clean casings (with used primers still in)
-inspect all casings
-Carbide Sizing and decapper
-Clean primer pocket (with tool)
-Expanding die
-re-prime
-powder
-bullet seat die

I am early in the process and am having issues with the carbide sizing and decapper. I have had a tough primer in the past here and there, and had to reset the pin that knocks out the primers. But this time, I am about 8 casings in and i have had to reset the pin 5 times. Is this typical? I have never had such trouble removing primers. For a moment i thought maybe it was just chance after the first 2 did that. and each time i have reset the pin, i have tightened the decapper clamp pretty hard.

Just wondering if anyone else has had this experience or any advice to offer. Maybe i just need to stick it out and it will get better?

Thanks!
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:21 PM
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I'm guessing they are Lee dies? If so,make sure the pin is centered in the primer hole and really tighten it as tight as you can get it
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:28 PM
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Don't forget that you have to adjust your dies down about a 1/10 of an as the 38 special case is that much shorter than the magnum case
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:29 PM
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They are Lee dies. I will tighten more! I just didn't want to get going too rough as to strip it or something. Wondered if maybe it was a common issue with 357 that i might just not have read about yet. Still learning.

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DGinVT View Post
Don't forget that you have to adjust your dies down about a 1/10 of an as the 38 special case is that much shorter than the magnum case
This i am prepared for. I had to do this with the 44 dies as well when i did magnum, but that is only referenced for the expanding die and the seating die. It does not mention that for the resizing and decapping die. Is it necessary on that die as well?

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:35 PM
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Early in my reloading career I have had the same experience as you describe with decapping pin. Final solution - Tighten that #$%^& as much as you can and then tighten it some more. Haven't had an issue since.
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kornax View Post
They are Lee dies. I will tighten more! I just didn't want to get going too rough as to strip it or something. Wondered if maybe it was a common issue with 357 that i might just not have read about yet. Still learning.



Thanks for the reply!


It was either my 38/357 or 44/44 mag dies that were doing the same thing until I really muscled em lol
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Old 04-27-2017, 04:03 PM
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Hey there I would suggest maybe a different recapping die if your still haven problems with the lee set. Like others say make sure the decapping pin is centered. I don't have much experience with lee dies but I can tell you rcbs and hornady custom grade dies you set it and forget it with them. No going back re tightening all the time. I have heard good things about lee dies but haven't used any just my experience with other brands. Also you can buy just a universal heavy duty de capping die. Hope you get it working good

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Old 04-27-2017, 04:39 PM
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What brand brass are they? I had Speer 357 Sig (I know you are loading 357 mag but....) that caused me problems when using a RCBS .40 die to size and de-prime. I determined the flash holes were smaller than other brands. Just a thought.
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Old 04-27-2017, 04:43 PM
e3mrk e3mrk is offline
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Lee decapping Dies are made to slip to prevent breaking the pin.
I think You would be hard pressed to break it tho because I am guilty of helping mine along with a hammer if the Pin wont remove the primer without slipping up.
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Old 04-27-2017, 05:02 PM
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If you decapping pin slips excessively, remove the stem, de-grease with brake clean (or acetone, lacquer thinner, or other aggressive de-greaser). Also de-grease the collet. Reassemble and tighten the collet pretty tight. But be aware if the stem doesn't slip there is a chance the pin will break if a solid item is struck during decapping (off center pin or flash hole, or a Berdan primed case mistakenly slipped through). I've found a "happy medium" for how tight to tighten my Lee die's decapping stems...
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Old 04-27-2017, 05:11 PM
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I had the same problem w/Lee dies. My solution was to buy an RCBS carbide sizer/decapper and chuck the Lee. I have found Lee dies to be unnecessarily labor-intensive (they do work, but ya gotta fiddle with 'em continually), and now stick to RCBS, Lyman, Hornady in that order.

Larry
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Old 04-27-2017, 05:35 PM
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Looking at your process flow, make sure to 'crimp' after seating bullet
Karl
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Old 04-27-2017, 07:39 PM
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Default I'm hearing the other side of it....

I complained about Lee dies a ways back and most people said they never give trouble. Well, that's true, IF you know the differences between Lee and the other makes of dies. I had a fit with the decapping pin and in the process of tightening it the rubber o-ring that I didn't know was there frustrated the fool out of me. It was my mistake to assume they were the same as other makes and I should have read the instructions more carefully. Lee dies are fine if you know how to use them right. I've got a 7.7 Japanese set that works great.

Oh, they make a spacing ring that you put under your resizing die to raise it the right amount to do .357 magnum cases.
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Old 04-27-2017, 07:45 PM
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I have a 38 spl. die that has a large "Hard washer" from work
from a 7/8" bolt, that I used while in the field as a Union Ironworker.

It works but I finally got a real .357 Magnum die so that the
full size die would work on my high pressure loads in the long cases.

We don't all shoot 42,00 CUP loads......
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  #16  
Old 04-28-2017, 01:04 PM
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I don't bother with cleaning primer pockets on pistol ammo but I'm not shooting bullseye matches.

Not necessary with carbide dies but I've found a light spritz of Hornady One Shot lube makes life easier when sizing.

Watch... somebody is STILL gonna jump in with "You don't need lube with carbide dies."

If you don't already have 'em go ahead & buy a few combo wrenches of the proper size. Adjustable wrenches will just make for frustration.
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Old 04-28-2017, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kornax View Post
This i am prepared for. I had to do this with the 44 dies as well when i did magnum, but that is only referenced for the expanding die and the seating die. It does not mention that for the resizing and decapping die. Is it necessary on that die as well?

Thanks for the reply!


No, the sizer /decapper die does NOT move when switching from .38 to .357, because the HEAD of both cases is in exactly the same place in the shell holder, and you need to size all the way down. The other dies move up 1/8" because they operate on the MOUTH of the cases, and a .357 case is 1/8" longer than a .38 cases. My RCBS dies came with a precision 1/8" washer to raise the die without fiddling with the adjustment.
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Old 04-28-2017, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikld View Post
If you decapping pin slips excessively, remove the stem, de-grease with brake clean (or acetone, lacquer thinner, or other aggressive de-greaser). Also de-grease the collet. Reassemble and tighten the collet pretty tight. But be aware if the stem doesn't slip there is a chance the pin will break if a solid item is struck during decapping (off center pin or flash hole, or a Berdan primed case mistakenly slipped through). I've found a "happy medium" for how tight to tighten my Lee die's decapping stems...
^^ Ditto this ^^

The ability of the decapping pin to slip allows it to act as a "fuse" - it slips rather than breaking. Not a bad thing IMO.
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Old 04-28-2017, 07:19 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay View Post
I'm guessing they are Lee dies? If so,make sure the pin is centered in the primer hole and really tighten it as tight as you can get it
I'd say just like Arjay!
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Old 04-28-2017, 07:41 PM
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... slightly off subject but I bought a separate set of Lee dies for 357. A small investment to not have to readjust from 38 to 357. And yes, the decapping pin needs a gorilla touch to keep from slipping.
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Old 04-29-2017, 05:36 PM
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Default Lee dies

Kornax,
I use the same dies you are using. Even though you don't need to lube with carbide dies I do anyway. Read your instructions carefully, tighten your de-primer stem down as tight as you can and you should be good. I also use the factory crimp die that's included instead of crimping with the bullet seater die. I've added Hornady lock and load adapters to all my dies so not to have to reset everytime. Good luck.
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Old 04-30-2017, 07:21 AM
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As mentioned in the post above, lube those cases first! Makes all the difference in the world in the decap/resize operation. Other than cleaning and tightening the decap it is as simple as that. The only pistol cases I do not lube are 9, 40, 45 (run thru big blue). All my revolver cases are done on a Lee single stage and get lubed. After decap and resize then I clean.
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Old 04-30-2017, 11:07 AM
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A little lube and two wrenches will help. Put one wrench on the die body ( it has flats for this ) and the other wrench on the top nut holding the rod , and tighten that rascal until it no longer slips.
In theory carbide dies don 't need lube....in practice , it helps big time.
Dissolve Lee case lube in alcohol , put in spray bottle and spritz cases , roll around , let dry and size.
Don't forget to adjust dies for 357's longer case.
Gary
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Old 04-30-2017, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e3mrk View Post
Lee decapping Dies are made to slip to prevent breaking the pin.
I think You would be hard pressed to break it tho because I am guilty of helping mine along with a hammer if the Pin wont remove the primer without slipping up.
I use Lee dies almost exclusively and have done so for over 25 years now.

The only problem I have ever had is with 9mm in a progressive press. I am constantly breaking the decapping pin. No other calibre in either my turret or progressive presses does this. Not sure why but sets of 3 replacement pins only cost a few dollars.
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Old 04-30-2017, 04:05 PM
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"... slightly off subject but I bought a separate set of Lee dies for 357. A small investment to not have to readjust from 38 to 357. And yes, the decapping pin needs a gorilla touch to keep from slipping. "

For MANY years I have used a set of RCBS .38/.357 carbide dies. The die set came with a thick washer spacer that allows the expanding and bullet seating dies to always remain set for the .38 Special, and it works just fine. No reason whatsoever to have two die sets in the same caliber.
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Old 04-30-2017, 08:27 PM
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My Lee dies in 38/357 work fine, I have reloaded literately 10's of thousands of rounds. Do you tumble your brass in walnut media? Or something similar? Often a piece of media gets stuck in the flash hole deflecting the de-capping pin. As others have said tighten the lock nut up hard.
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Old 05-02-2017, 12:03 PM
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Lots of different ways to go about this. Some people decap first and then clean their brass. Once the brass is clean they resize. The theory being that you get a cleaner primer pocket if you use fine walnut shell as a medium. Of course if you use a power pocket cleaning tool it doesn't matter. I have and use a Lee universal decapper. A berdan primer won't break it. They will break a std. decapping/sizer die pin. Ask me how I know this. I load a lot of military brass from outer space.

Lee Universal Depriming Decapping Die

This is an extra step but so is seating and crimping with different dies.

I got tired of adjusting my seater die for 38 to 357 and back so bought another set of dies. Yeah, I've got money to burn.

One thing about dies, you can always sell them here for half of what you paid for them.
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Old 05-02-2017, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike0251 View Post
As mentioned in the post above, lube those cases first! Makes all the difference in the world in the decap/resize operation. Other than cleaning and tightening the decap it is as simple as that. The only pistol cases I do not lube are 9, 40, 45 (run thru big blue). All my revolver cases are done on a Lee single stage and get lubed. After decap and resize then I clean.
If you resize before you clean a case you run the risk of putting grime into your dies from dirty cases. Everything I have read recommends that you clean your cases first before you resize. Maybe you aren't using carbide dies, don't know, but if you do I would recommend cleaning your cases first.

I'm not sure how lubing a case will make punching a cap out any easier. The lube only interacts with the surface of the case and the surface of the die wall. The pin freely goes thru the case until it hits the spent primer, no friction involved there. I lube tapered cases but it isn't to help the decapping pin do it's job.

I'm not saying it doesn't help, just don't see how it can.
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Old 05-02-2017, 09:55 PM
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When I started reloading 38 and 357 I decided to spent the money to get both sets of dies, they are set up for each caliber, the only adjustment I need to made is seating depth.
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Old 05-04-2017, 02:35 PM
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Wow, i didn't have time to check back in a few days. Thanks all for the comments and suggestions!

I went with the tighten down hard method and all worked well. Went through all the rest of the cases just fine knocking out all the primers without issue.

A couple of comments to respond to others:

So far I have only used Lee dies. No issues at all save this issue, and it was just an experience issue. I have read many reviews and most say lee are the same quality as any of the other brands. That being said, when i buy my next set of dies, i will try another brand of the heck of it!

I clean with with primers in because I had read many different articles looking at both points of view, before decapping and after. Ultimately, I chose to clean with primers so that I don't have to worry about media getting stuck in the primer hole, and I know the cases won't gum up my dies. Honestly I think its 6 to one, 1/2 dozen to the other there.

As for cleaning the primer hole... I inspect every casing after they are clean. I do so after cleaning so I know I can see all cracks, bulges, or other things that would make me toss that brass out. After decapping, i typically do a once over on them with a hand cleaning tool (i put it in a drill) and only clean any that look to be excessively dirty. Most look fine.

I don't load enough to warrant the purchase of all the extra dies. And I go through the set process each time to make sure its correct. I look at it as a safety issue. I am loading explosive powder and caps into a casing with a bullet that would certainly hurt if something went wrong. Might as well take the extra minute or two to make sure everything is correct. Some might poke fun at that, but... this process so far has worked for me!

Again, thanks for all the responses. I don't post here much, but whenever I do, there are plenty of people around who offer help. Great community!
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Old 05-14-2017, 06:13 PM
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Lee dies you really need to tighten the decap pin down tight. The top of the pin should be level with the top of the screw when you tighten it. Don't know what press you are using but why clean, then sizing and depriming and then checking primer pockets? Sounds like you are on a single stage press. If you want to do it that way just get the Lee universal depriming die ( really cheap), clean brass, inspect after cleaning and if you must, clean primer pockets then. I personally don't clean primer pockets.
I use universal deprimer, clean all brass of one caliber only, inspect all including primer pocket and punch out media if present, since cleaning media has some Cabela's shine stuff added I don't do additional lube, carbide resize and prime, then powder die (Lee Auto Drum-very accurate), bullet seat die, factory crimp die. When you start doing 45 ACP this method works very well in separating your small - large primer cases.
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