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.The Lee collet neck and factory crimp dies do require a little understanding of the mechanism, and some subtlety in setting them up.
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.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?
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!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.
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. 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.
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.
I also use the LFC die on .260 and .22Hornet without problems.
That is very interesting. I'd expect that ES reduction to be detectable in the vertical dispersion. Clearly these things can work.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.
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.