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Old 02-04-2020, 05:59 PM
Zackary Zackary is offline
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Default Breaking Lee Carbide 38/357 sizing die

I was doing some reloading this afternoon and was almost finished when the pin that removes the spent primer broke. I'm not really sure what exactly happened . I just noticed the new primer wouldn't seat into the case. When I looked, the spent primer was still in the case. I noticed the pin had snapped off inside the die. I'm trying to figure out exactly how I did it. Has this ever happened to anyone else? Thanks.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:05 PM
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I've broken several over the years. All my dies are made by RCBS and the decapping pins are replaceable. I would assume they would be replaceable with Lee dies.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 824tsv View Post
I've broken several over the years. All my dies are made by RCBS and the decapping pins are replaceable. I would assume they would be replaceable with Lee dies.
Yup. Call Lee and they'll probably replace it free of charge. Their customer service is pretty good.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:28 PM
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The Lee dies are designed differently than many of the others. When they are set up properly... the Lee dies are much less likely to break a pin than most of the others. (Back off, color warriors, I’m not saying any brand is better)

They work like this: the Lee decap pin itself is not a replaceable part, the entire rod is substantial and held in place by a collet. The design is meant to work so that if there is an obstruction, the entire rod slides upward unharmed.

You can snap the pin off -IF- the collet is tightened too far, which doesn’t allow the rod to move.

If you take a picture of the broken rod and e-mail to Lee through their website, they will mail a new rod.

When you install, only tighten the collar as much as necessary and no more.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:31 PM
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Another tip:

While waiting for your new one... there’s a great chance that if you have a Lee carbide sizing die in a different caliber, you can take the decap rod from that die and get back to work with almost no down time.

(TAKE NOTE of how far the collet was tightened!)
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:41 PM
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Yes, the lee pistol die decapping rods are the same, they have the same part number. So, if you have another Lee pistol die set you can swap a rod from another set and be good to go. I have a couple extra on hand just in case so I have no down time waiting for a replacement. They cost about $3.
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Old 02-04-2020, 06:54 PM
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Lee pins are designed to slip before they break. Are you sure it broke?
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:07 PM
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I replace all my broke decapping pins with finish nails cut and filed to fit......Never will buy another one.
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Old 02-04-2020, 07:30 PM
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I guess the Lee pins are OK, but I'd rather have the RCBS system where only the small pin needs to be replaced. But no quarrel with Lee dies themselves. I always keep 4 or 5 spare RCBS-type depriming pins of each size (small and large) on standby. Alternatively I have something like 30 die sets, so I can rob a pin from another set if needed. I am a sucker for cheap used die sets I find at gun shows for $5-$10 and will sometimes even buy them in calibers I have no guns for - just in case. I have maybe a half-dozen orphan die sets like that. One of my most useful dies is a .45-70 sizing die which I can use for depriming about any caliber case as it is so large that about any case will fit into it.

One other thing that can break pins is if a Berdan primed case finds its way into your empty brass bucket.

Last edited by DWalt; 02-04-2020 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
... One other thing that can break pins is if a Berdan primed case finds its way into your empty brass bucket.
Yup. Learned this the hard way. I think I ordered 3-4 extra from Lee but haven't needed them yet.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:57 PM
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They do break, normal wear and tear. Order a few from Lee
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:30 PM
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Make sure you didn't have a Berdan primed case. I've run into those before in range pickup brass.
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Old 02-05-2020, 07:45 AM
Zackary Zackary is offline
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I've added a picture to help . I installed the die years ago in the turret as the instructions described from Lee. I will contact them and see if the can provide some directions on how to repair it. Thank you for the information.
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Old 02-05-2020, 08:44 AM
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I've broken so many over the years that I went to a universal de-capping die and haven't had any problems with it, it is however one more step in the process.
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Old 02-05-2020, 09:20 AM
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Of course , depriming pins don't last forever .
Keep an eye out for :
Berdan Primers ...they break pins every time !
Crimped in primers they are hard on pins
Offset flash holes , a hole that is not centered in the case .

Manufacturers of ammo aren't that concerned about reloading the brass so you need to inspect each case carefully and take the necessary steps to cull the bad ones before resizing them .
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Old 02-05-2020, 09:23 AM
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To break a Lee decapping pin, you really, really have to try hard and do something extreme.? They are stronger than any others and designed to "pop" up. They are modified roller bearings
They have a life time guarantee.
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zackary View Post
I was doing some reloading this afternoon and was almost finished when the pin that removes the spent primer broke. I'm not really sure what exactly happened . I just noticed the new primer wouldn't seat into the case. When I looked, the spent primer was still in the case. I noticed the pin had snapped off inside the die. I'm trying to figure out exactly how I did it. Has this ever happened to anyone else? Thanks.
Plenty.

I normally keep a spare pin for each of my sizing dies. I also have a lee decapper that does nothing but punch primers out, doesn't size anything. I use that one on 5.56 military brass with crimped primers. It's a HD pin for tough stuff.
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:20 AM
Zackary Zackary is offline
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Thanks for all the feedback. I went to Lee's webpage and found the video on how to replace the pin. I did have to soak the nut with some penetrating oil before I could loosen it. I think that the pin had some " junk' build up around it and is simply didn't slide up as posters mentioned it should have or the nut was too tight to allow it to move as it was designed. I did order 4 just to be safe. Thanks again.
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Old 02-05-2020, 12:45 PM
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The worst cases I ever had to deprime was Korean .30-'06 military brass. The primers were crimped in so tightly it was nearly impossible to punch out the primers. I broke several pins that way. Aside from the primer removal problem, the cases are so hard that it is very difficult to re-size them. Not worth the effort. Someone gave me several hundred of those cases, and I ended up throwing them away.
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Old 02-05-2020, 01:20 PM
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The decapping stems are mass produced, probably in the tens of thousands of pieces per run. So, if someone breaks one the "failure ratio" is very, very small. I have been using Lee dies for well over 35 years and tens of thousands of rounds combined (Lee dies in 10 different calibers) and broke one. Actually I have had to replace twice as many RCBS pins than I have Lee stems (two!). But as mentioned above Berdan primed cases and cases with off center flash holes are pretty hard on decapping pins/stems. Case inspection is the best way to keep your tools in good working order...
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostintheOzone View Post
I also have a Lee decapper that does nothing but punch primers out, doesn't size anything. I use that one on 5.56 military brass with crimped primers. It's a HD pin for tough stuff.
I had earlier mentioned that I use my .45-70 sizing die as a universal deprimer. The pin holder is straight and does not do neck expanding so it can be used with about any brass of any diameter or length. There are some cases I prefer to deprime as a separate operation. And I always prime everything separately.
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Old 02-05-2020, 03:35 PM
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I own and use dies from Hornady, Lee, RCBS, old Pacific and Redding. The bulk of my handloading over decades has been handgun ammo and my sizing die of choice since 1989 has been the Lee Carbide size die.

In over 100,000 loaded rounds I have broken one Lee decap rod. I did that by bending it and then folding it over with a Berdan primed 9mm case that I had missed. The worst part is that I don't have a good excuse... the rod did exactly what it was designed to do with the first few times I had hit a Berdan primed case. But because I wasn't bright enough to do a much better job of inspecting my brass, I over tightened the collet and when back to sizing brass and hit it repeatedly with a different Berdan primed case.

So the one Lee decap rod that broke on me was 100% my fault, even after the design worked perfectly and I was too dumb to get out of my own way.

For decades back, long before I was even alive, the old salty handloaders always kept a back-up supply of decap pins for their sizing dies because it was normal wear & tear to snap them off.

I don't own a single back-up decap pin for any die and I don't imagine I'll need any soon, but never say never I suppose.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:41 AM
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Never broke a Lee deprimer stem...been using Lee since 1979. Call their customer service, they’ll probably help you out. Great US company.
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:08 PM
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I found some bad brass with off center or small flash holes (and one new brass that had no flash hole at all). That's where I broke a few, also on military crimped brass. I always keep a few on hand as you never know when you will break one.
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