lee factory crip die crushing shoulder on once fire lapua 6.5x55 brass

banus

Well-Known Member
loaded 50 rounds today and destroyed four cases,dont know why ? the cases before the 4 were fine the cases after were fine ,any ideas?
 

banus

Well-Known Member
good morning,i have taken the die apart and it is clean,gave it a wipe over no problem found.i will try again tomorrow with just the bullet in the case and watch what happens.thank you for your replies.
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
The Lee collet neck and factory crimp dies can be pretty roughly made.

Where the collets engage with the die, mostly the conical bearing surfaces slide against each other, working as desired.

However sometimes they don't, and jam up, leading to these sorts of problems. Instead of squeezing the collet fingers together the thing just pushes back, even to the point of crushing the shoulder.

Or of course you can over adjust them, so that full press pressure closes the collets as required, but keep on pushing and there is nowhere for things to go, other than pushing back the shoulder.

First thing I do with all of mine is polish up the bearing surfaces on the collets and inside the die, with fine wet and dry, spun up in a drill, knock off the sharp edges on the collet fingers, thorough clean, then lube with a high MoS2 content grease (For car CV joints). Then they behave as designed.

Basically, as supplied, I regard them as a starting point. Well worth the small effort to fettle them up. They are a good design, but not necessarily perfect out of the box.

And do require a little understanding of the mechanism, and some subtlety in setting them up.
 
Last edited:

Klenchblaize

Well-Known Member
The Lee collet neck and factory crimp dies do require a little understanding of the mechanism, and some subtlety in setting them up.
Wise words. It took me a little while to workout the importance of neck length when attempting to crimp hornet cases that had been trimmed to less than factory spec. The only solution being to trim either the die base or shell holder.

K
 

Namman

Active Member
Could the brass be over annealed/too soft in the neck/shoulder area? Never had this problem in loading thousands of .243 , ,270 , 7mm Rem Mag , .308 , .300 Win Mag with factory crimp die. Have had one or two collapsed shoulders seating tight bullets however.
 

banus

Well-Known Member
good afternoon ,yes all cases were trimmed to the same length, it could be over annealed as two cases collapsed when seating the bullet,i bought them once fired,cleaned deprimed and annealed.not sure how they were annealed but will try and sort the factory crimp die and see how I get on.
 

Outback

Well-Known Member
From what your last answer is , It would appear that they were to soft ( over annealed ) can you see a different colouring on the necks as an indication of over heating as you see the colours run when heating for annealing .
 

Andy RV

Well-Known Member
The factory crimp die should not apply any longitudinal force into the case. It relies on bottoming out on the shell holder to collapse the crimp collet.

Perhaps you had some cases with long crush lengths or your shell holder is shallow so the case sits further out?
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
A suggestion: Never use an annealed case until you have put it through a full length size afterwards. Maybe twice. Depending on how it was annealed, if actually done properly it will be dead soft. Which is not what you want.

One trip through a full length sizer is probably enough to work harden it just enough to start to become usable again. Two goes might be better.

There are plenty of people offering very expensive annealing machines, and advocating annealing every reload. Well I have a completely opposite view, as in only anneal when it becomes obvious that it is needed, then work harden it a bit with e.g. an FL resize, or two, before putting back into use, keep notes, and don't be afraid to scrap brass just before end of life. It will not last forever.

No matter how much you spend on some esoteric automated annealing gizmo. Better put that money towards buying new brass, and learn the basics of say twiddling a case in a battery drill whilst wafting a blowtorch over the neck. It does work, and basically costs nothing, if you already own a drill and a blowtorch and have any sort of skills.

Likewise stuff like case cleaning. No they do not need to be squeaky clean inside and and out, every time, ultrasoniced, wet steel pins, primers removed and pockets perfectly clean.

Fact is it makes very little difference, the primer pocket cleanliness thing being a particular irritation to me. Yes they look a little dirty after each firing. Is that important ? Well not until it has built up to the point that the primers aren't seating properly. Which takes quite a few firings, if ever, IME. I suspect the cases will be worn out before that happens in most of the calibres I have experience of.

There is a lot of OCD amongst some reloaders, and plenty of businesses willing to supply kit to satisfy that itch.

Back on topic, if you don't set up the Lee factory crimp die (rifle type) correctly, which is quite subtle, several things can go wrong.

Such as damaging the end of the neck by applying too much pressure, so the brass gets squeezed down. Instantly visible, you have created a ridge at the neck. You have just ruined those cases. And actually made a weaker crimp. And possibly damaged the bullet in the process. The crimp should be invisible, if you can see marks at the end of the neck then you have over-done it.

Annealing the neck to dead soft almost makes this inevitable. You are unlikely to be able to crimp dead soft brass into a typical bullet, which is made of stronger stuff.

Or keep on cranking down, crimp made, then over-done, brass damaged, then keep on going even until you eventually crush the shoulder.

The fact that this has happened suggests quite clearly to me that the FCD is being used quite incorrectly, in a far too forceful manner.

Whereas use them with finesse and they can be good. However I no longer use them with jacketed bullets, having tried, then thought about it, and realised that they are a solution to a problem that does not exist, for me.

Decent neck tension is the important thing. Trying to crimp soft brass into tough bullets to compensate for poor attention to detail elsewhere is not a correct engineering solution IMO.

They are reserved for plain cast lead bullets now, for me, where they do seem to serve a purpose, and certainly work. Pull a few bullets after using one, inspect, and you'll soon see whether they are doing anything. If there is no mark on the bullet then clearly they are doing nothing. If there is a mark on the bullet, well, has that improved it's exterior ballistic performance ?

No. I don't think so.

Basically my message is, that for reloading jacketed lead bullets, they might just do something, whether improving anything I don't know.

For the non toxic monolithics we are increasingly using I don't see how they can possibly work, bullets being solid and made of tougher material than the case neck, but fundamentally why do you need a crimp ? I suspect it is just a crutch for poor technique elsewhere.

Just another variable to mess up basic reloading principles. Interesting gadgets, but not absolutely necessary IMO (and I do own quite a few)

Others are fanatical about their supposed benefits. OK. I do not have the experience to decide whether they are the best thing since sliced bread. Or otherwise.

Bottom line is, just try for a while not using the Lee Factory crimp die. It is not compulsory, and you might discover that you can manage quite well without it, or any other crimp method.

As for using genuinely once-fired, then annealed, brass as it comes, well I'd suggest you contact the vendor and try to establish exactly what you have actually got.

Fundamental being that a fully annealed case is not suitable for use IMO until it has been work hardened a bit, e.g. by a trip through a full length resizer, whatever. And that no, annealing before every reload is bonkers, unnecessary. Just my personal opinion.

I'd say that the advocates of annealing every firing, the necessity and supposed benefits of a Lee factory crimp, perfectly cleaned cases and primer pockets, weighing powder to within less than the weight of even one kernel, (of course using a multi £100 electronic machine to "save time") etc. might be missing the point, and fundamentals, of how to reload. Or just enjoy collecting, using, or selling, expensive toys.
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
The factory crimp die should not apply any longitudinal force into the case. It relies on bottoming out on the shell holder to collapse the crimp collet.

Perhaps you had some cases with long crush lengths or your shell holder is shallow so the case sits further out?
You might think that. but you might be wrong. The FCD certainly does apply longitudinal force. More correctly it requires longitudinal movement to work. Correctly set up this is invisible to the user, and the spring in the case shoulder is sufficient to take up the movement necessary.

Mess it up by over tightening it, cranking down on the press with excessive force, blasting the shoulder dead soft in annealing, many other obvious things not to do, and problems can happen.

Simplest thing is to stop using the things until you understand how to use them correctly. Once you do, you may still decide that they are more trouble than they are worth. Or not, and become an evangelist for their supposed benefits, which are what exactly ? Facts and data please, not just anecdotery.
 

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
@Sharpie. I have never annealed and limit case cleaning to that which is necessary. I give the primer pockets a swift twist with the pocket cleaner tool.
I am not a target shooter so the amounts of ammunition that I load per year are modest. I do load .243 with N160 and Speer 85 grain bullets for my friend, my brother and myself.

When I first had sooting problems with my newly acquired but used Sako 75 Finnlight, it was mainly caused by 'lands chasing', which a few words from Muir cured.:thumb:

I did some side by side tests with the Finnlight on crimped/not crimped loads, however the samples were relatively small. The comparisons consistently showed the Lee Factory Crimp loads to produce a small increase in velocity, a more significant tightening of groups and a reduction in extreme spread of muzzle velocity.

I did record the results at the time but not sure that I have kept them but will have a look.

I did find N160 to be a bit mucky but less so with crimped loads. I couldn't quantify that for you though.

As I load less than 500 rounds per year, I am never in a hurry, so use the LFC die quite gently. I have pulled one or two and checked for a mark on the bullet, which was definitely present. In a previous discussion, where someone was concerned about this, I recall Muir pointing out that the bullet was about to get a 50,000psi kick up the bum, that would make the crimp mark insignificant, or words to that effect. :tiphat:

I also use the LFC die on .260 and .22Hornet without problems.
 

Namman

Active Member
A suggestion: Never use an annealed case until you have put it through a full length size afterwards. Maybe twice. Depending on how it was annealed, if actually done properly it will be dead soft. Which is not what you want.

One trip through a full length sizer is probably enough to work harden it just enough to start to become usable again. Two goes might be better.

There are plenty of people offering very expensive annealing machines, and advocating annealing every reload. Well I have a completely opposite view, as in only anneal when it becomes obvious that it is needed, then work harden it a bit with e.g. an FL resize, or two, before putting back into use, keep notes, and don't be afraid to scrap brass just before end of life. It will not last forever.

No matter how much you spend on some esoteric automated annealing gizmo. Better put that money towards buying new brass, and learn the basics of say twiddling a case in a battery drill whilst wafting a blowtorch over the neck. It does work, and basically costs nothing, if you already own a drill and a blowtorch and have any sort of skills.

Likewise stuff like case cleaning. No they do not need to be squeaky clean inside and and out, every time, ultrasoniced, wet steel pins, primers removed and pockets perfectly clean.

Fact is it makes very little difference, the primer pocket cleanliness thing being a particular irritation to me. Yes they look a little dirty after each firing. Is that important ? Well not until it has built up to the point that the primers aren't seating properly. Which takes quite a few firings, if ever, IME. I suspect the cases will be worn out before that happens in most of the calibres I have experience of.

There is a lot of OCD amongst some reloaders, and plenty of businesses willing to supply kit to satisfy that itch.

Back on topic, if you don't set up the Lee factory crimp die (rifle type) correctly, which is quite subtle, several things can go wrong.

Such as damaging the end of the neck by applying too much pressure, so the brass gets squeezed down. Instantly visible, you have created a ridge at the neck. You have just ruined those cases. And actually made a weaker crimp. And possibly damaged the bullet in the process. The crimp should be invisible, if you can see marks at the end of the neck then you have over-done it.

Annealing the neck to dead soft almost makes this inevitable. You are unlikely to be able to crimp dead soft brass into a typical bullet, which is made of stronger stuff.

Or keep on cranking down, crimp made, then over-done, brass damaged, then keep on going even until you eventually crush the shoulder.

The fact that this has happened suggests quite clearly to me that the FCD is being used quite incorrectly, in a far too forceful manner.

Whereas use them with finesse and they can be good. However I no longer use them with jacketed bullets, having tried, then thought about it, and realised that they are a solution to a problem that does not exist, for me.

Decent neck tension is the important thing. Trying to crimp soft brass into tough bullets to compensate for poor attention to detail elsewhere is not a correct engineering solution IMO.

They are reserved for plain cast lead bullets now, for me, where they do seem to serve a purpose, and certainly work. Pull a few bullets after using one, inspect, and you'll soon see whether they are doing anything. If there is no mark on the bullet then clearly they are doing nothing. If there is a mark on the bullet, well, has that improved it's exterior ballistic performance ?

No. I don't think so.

Basically my message is, that for reloading jacketed lead bullets, they might just do something, whether improving anything I don't know.

For the non toxic monolithics we are increasingly using I don't see how they can possibly work, bullets being solid and made of tougher material than the case neck, but fundamentally why do you need a crimp ? I suspect it is just a crutch for poor technique elsewhere.

Just another variable to mess up basic reloading principles. Interesting gadgets, but not absolutely necessary IMO (and I do own quite a few)

Others are fanatical about their supposed benefits. OK. I do not have the experience to decide whether they are the best thing since sliced bread. Or otherwise.

Bottom line is, just try for a while not using the Lee Factory crimp die. It is not compulsory, and you might discover that you can manage quite well without it, or any other crimp method.

As for using genuinely once-fired, then annealed, brass as it comes, well I'd suggest you contact the vendor and try to establish exactly what you have actually got.

Fundamental being that a fully annealed case is not suitable for use IMO until it has been work hardened a bit, e.g. by a trip through a full length resizer, whatever. And that no, annealing before every reload is bonkers, unnecessary. Just my personal opinion.

I'd say that the advocates of annealing every firing, the necessity and supposed benefits of a Lee factory crimp, perfectly cleaned cases and primer pockets, weighing powder to within less than the weight of even one kernel, (of course using a multi £100 electronic machine to "save time") etc. might be missing the point, and fundamentals, of how to reload. Or just enjoy collecting, using, or selling, expensive toys.
What a post! I agree with all you say, especially about gadgets and OCD with reloaders. As you say brass doesn't last forever. Spend your money on new brass and not these wonderful gizmos!
 

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
@Sharpie. I have never annealed and limit case cleaning to that which is necessary. I give the primer pockets a swift twist with the pocket cleaner tool.
I am not a target shooter so the amounts of ammunition that I load per year are modest. I do load .243 with N160 and Speer 85 grain bullets for my friend, my brother and myself.

When I first had sooting problems with my newly acquired but used Sako 75 Finnlight, it was mainly caused by 'lands chasing', which a few words from Muir cured.:thumb:

I did some side by side tests with the Finnlight on crimped/not crimped loads, however the samples were relatively small. The comparisons consistently showed the Lee Factory Crimp loads to produce a small increase in velocity, a more significant tightening of groups and a reduction in extreme spread of muzzle velocity.

I did record the results at the time but not sure that I have kept them but will have a look.

I did find N160 to be a bit mucky but less so with crimped loads. I couldn't quantify that for you though.

As I load less than 500 rounds per year, I am never in a hurry, so use the LFC die quite gently. I have pulled one or two and checked for a mark on the bullet, which was definitely present. In a previous discussion, where someone was concerned about this, I recall Muir pointing out that the bullet was about to get a 50,000psi kick up the bum, that would make the crimp mark insignificant, or words to that effect. :tiphat:

I also use the LFC die on .260 and .22Hornet without problems.
I have had a look at my records. The Lee factory crimp die increased velocity by an average of 33 fps and reduced extreme spread of velocity from 57 to 15 fps. I have not kept the targets so cannot say how much the groups tightened, however I distinctly remember it being noticeable.
 

Sharpie

Well-Known Member
I have had a look at my records. The Lee factory crimp die increased velocity by an average of 33 fps and reduced extreme spread of velocity from 57 to 15 fps. I have not kept the targets so cannot say how much the groups tightened, however I distinctly remember it being noticeable.
That is very interesting. I'd expect that ES reduction to be detectable in the vertical dispersion. Clearly these things can work.

I too am not greatly experienced with them, and certainly made errors initially in using it too forcefully. Thereby deforming the end of the neck, creating this ridge. Which I considered more likely to reduce neck tension than improve it. Just my theory at the time. I also thought that with repeated reloadings the end of the neck was thinned further and further each time. I didn't think that this was good. Well maybe I just didn't like the look of it.

Once I started using it more gently so that it wasn't marking the brass I pulled a few bullets and couldn't see any signs of a cannelure having been impressed onto them. I did try, with .223, .306 and .303. This was using target bullets and FMJ, which I suspect are tougher than expanding hunting versions. When pulling some bullets to inspect, I couldn't detect any difference in how hard I had to whack the kinetic hammer compared with uncrimped ones, but that was the limit of my testing, and probably a useless observation.

I also have a theory that trying to create a cannelure in the bullet this way is quite tricky to do effectively. Even if you can manage it, the brass may spring back a little, so it's effectiveness be lessened.

Now if Lee could make something like an FCD but for directly creating the cannelure on the bullet itself, so that you could subsequently use a normal crimping technique, that might be of interest. I can imagine how to do it fairly simply, with fine adjustment for preferred seating depth. And it could be a universal die, for each specific bullet diameter.

So basically I did try, but eventually gave up, and am probably trying to rationalise my poor technique by wild speculation about how they might or might not work.

I had bought the FCDs in excitement, hoping to see obvious improvements, but became a bit disenchanted. I also spent a fair amount on other things that were supposedly going to make a difference, e.g. VLD chamfer tool, flash hole deburrer, primer pocket uniformer, special wire brushes to clean the primer pockets, even a failed experiment with a tiny ultrasonic cleaner from Lidl.

I was very keen in those days. Now I try to be as minimalist as possible, use as few processing stages as I think are necessary, reduce the opportunity for variability, and think hard before buying any new gadget.

I never got as far as performance testing, didn't have access to a chrono, and in those days I was probably the weakest link regarding accuracy on paper. Neither were my rifles those semi-mythical 0.25 MoA custom jobs, just factory Howas, and a Lee Enfield no 4 mk 2. So even if the crimps had been helping, I'm not sure I could have detected it.

I have even thought about trying to replicate the way the military surplus 7.62 ammo that I used to shoot was constructed. I.e. the bullets glued into the neck with I think an asphalt sealant. Certainly they needed some very hard whacks with the kinetic hammer to break loose. Far more than any ordinary crimp could produce. If I could source some, or try a substitute, maybe a drop of blue Loctite, that could be interesting ...

The idea of course, as with the FCD, to allow the pressure to "brew up" much higher before the bullet is released from the neck, instead of it being blown out into the barrel by a relatively feeble and inconsistent puff, before the powder has started to get going properly.

I was pulling them in order to re-weigh the powder to be more consistent, and even tried replacing them with match bullets, but again fairly soon decided that I was wasting my time, took the advice of one of our best members, who showed me just how well they actually shot, and just used them as-is. I do remember that they were very inexpensive.

Apologies for rambling on, but as you can imagine I have rather a lot of time on my hands at the moment, so any distraction is welcome.
 

stubear

Well-Known Member
I have Lee FCDs for everything I reload for - for every cartridge apart from .45-70 I set the die to perform what Lee refers to as the "factory crimp. Basically seat the die until its just touching the ram and then go another quarter turn.

As Sharpie says that leaves an almost invisible crimp on the neck which I do purely to replicate factory loads. You can literally just about see a hair wide line around the neck where the die has just feathered the neck.

For .45-70 I'm reloading into a tube magazine so theres much more of a need to make sure that the crimp is there and that its solid because you dont want the bullets pushing back into the case while they're in the magazine.

For that I went an extra 1/4 turn on seating the die and basically tried to copy the factory crimp on the ammo. This is a noticable crimp and one you can clearly see with the naked eye.
 

Edinburgh Rifles

Well-Known Member
You might think that. but you might be wrong. The FCD certainly does apply longitudinal force. More correctly it requires longitudinal movement to work. Correctly set up this is invisible to the user, and the spring in the case shoulder is sufficient to take up the movement necessary.

Mess it up by over tightening it, cranking down on the press with excessive force, blasting the shoulder dead soft in annealing, many other obvious things not to do, and problems can happen.

Simplest thing is to stop using the things until you understand how to use them correctly. Once you do, you may still decide that they are more trouble than they are worth. Or not, and become an evangelist for their supposed benefits, which are what exactly ? Facts and data please, not just anecdotery.

How?
The collect is not deep enough to contact the shoulder
it is activated by the shell holder pushing the inner tube assembly vertically, the collet acts laterally

the only way the die could impart force on the shoulder is if the incorrect length was allowing the collect to grip the neck whilst the vertical motion of the ram continued to push the case up

set the die up so that it only just crimps at the cam over point
Arm down, ram up with a loaded round in teh shell holder
screw FCD down to meet bullet
when it stops, lift arm an inch or so, screw down

the arm should engage the bullet about an inch before full travel
any more and you can overcrimp

I leave the die floating to allow for thikcer necks and a fine tuning of die depth depending on resistance of the stroke of the ram

Crimp vs non crimp data suggests a clear reduction in ES
that can only be a good thing
 

Top