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Thread: Newb handloader - Crimp and seat at same time or in separate steps?

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    Default Newb handloader - Crimp and seat at same time or in separate steps?

    Hi,

    I'm not really new to handloading, having hand loaded a lot for my S&W 500 ...but for the 500, I always did the crimping and seating in two separate steps, e.g. seat a bullet in each case, then separately crimp each one. The "trial and error" nature of seating and crimping in a single step scared me away from doing it that way. But now I'm about to build a bunch of .38 Spl and .357 Mag rounds, and a crimp is recommended. My Redding die set comes with a profile crimp that I plan to use. OK ...my question:

    As I understand it, the 'perfect' adjustment on the die slides the bullet the last few thousandths into the case right as the die forces the crimp on the case, kind of in unison, right? I wouldn't mind saving the extra step if this isn't too hard to set up, results in accurate LOAs, and has no downside risks in things like accuracy. I'm writing here to get feedback on why it might be better to seat and crimp in a single action, or to seat and crimp separately like I'm used to doing. I read in another forum that the Redding Profile Crimp does indeed shorten the LOA as it crimps, even if the bullet was seated to the correct LOA prior to crimping ...you have to back off the seater so it seats slightly long, and tune the seating until the crimping produces the correct LOA. Someone else said that doing the 2 steps separately improves accuracy. I'm confused ...Got many experts here ...what do you recommend??

    Brian

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Are you going to load cast or jacketed bullets? How important is accuracy to you? If loading cast, better accuracy can be had by seating and crimping as separate functions. Seating and crimping cast bullets is one step tends to shave lead and/or deform the bullet slightly which decreases accuracy and increases potential for barrel leading.

    The Redding Profile crimp die is my favorite die for crimping cast bullets; it only crimps, it doesn't seat. Any crimp die, regardless of whether it's a crimp only or crimp/seat die, shortens LOA ever so slightly by virtue of the fact that crimping shortens the case slightly.

    If you're using jacketed bullets, you can generally seat and crimp in one step without significant concern for damage to the bullet.
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    I've never seen any downsides to crimping along with the seating, (using a die that does both), No matter what kinda bullets I've loaded. if you shave lead, bell the case mouth, or use Gas Check bullets, or both.

    To do it in separate steps, using a die that does both, requires you to back off on the seating stem after you've seated the bullet, and readjust the body, for crimping. That means you hafta do a lot of unnecessary adjusting, every time you load a batch, and every time you make a boo-boo, and need to do something over again. It's better to adjust the die ONCE, so the loads are always the same.

    I load my 38 Spec using a die that seats and crimps at the same time, and adjusted properly to do THAT.

    With my 357 and 44 Mags. I use the Lee Factory Crimp die, which is a separate die, in a Separate Operation.

    Separate die, separate operation.

    Regular, Combo die, same operation.

    For me, the determining factor is what kind of die is being used, not some perception of better accuracy.

    "As I understand it, the 'perfect' adjustment on the die slides the bullet the last few thousandths into the case right as the die forces the crimp on the case, kind of in unison, right?" (( YES, that is correct. You are not shortening the OAL per se. )) ((It's just that some folks don't have the patience or understanding to adjust such a die properly.))

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    I always do separate steps if I crimp.
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    Thanks, Guys. I'm going to try my hand at adjusting the seater/crimper to do it in one step, and I think for the mostly-indoor range shooting that we'll do for practice, that accuracy will never be an issue. IF I decide to seat and crimp in separate steps, then it's OK ...I have my new Redding carbide set of dies, but also standard steel RCBS dies for 38 Spl/357 Mag. I can use the RCBS for seating, and the profile crimp from Redding for crimping, no re-adjustment back and forth along the way.

    I do have another question or two though ...the bullets that I got are a 2 letter brand name (sorry that I don't recall ....I'm just now getting back into this after 2 or 3 years off) ...something like H&K or J&M? They are the PLATED 125gr flat nose bullets that Sportsman's carries, and they do have a cannelure on them. From what I've read, I should use formulae for CAST bullets when loading plated bullets and this is what I'll do ...noting that we are going to load 800-900 fps target loads, so it's OK if the chamber pressure's a bit off, say if I should've used formulae for jacketed instead of cast... we're only talking about 3.x grains of Clays (or Trail Boss). Here's my new questions:

    - If you are familiar with these bullets (sorry about my bad memory on the name, but I'm too lazy to traipse out to the shop at the moment), is using the formulae for CAST the correct thing to do? Gonna load a few today and maybe crack open the box with my chronometer in it and see what I get...

    - You aren't supposed to roll-crimp on plated bullets because it can crack the plating (and cause multitude issues), but these are obviously handgun bullets and they do have a cannelure. I will let the profile crimp do it's thing and load with a slight roll crimp (probably don't need more than a slight taper crimp since these are just light target loads). Logic sound OK? I could adjust the crimping so it just does the taper part of the profile crimp's crimping, 'just short of the roll crimp finishing touch' and for these, that should be fine, I believe.

    Thx,
    Brian

    PS: I appreciate your help and knowledge!

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    Corrections: The bullets are plated HSM 125gr Flat Point bullets with a 'hahaha' cannelure:

    Attachment 82682 <= Click for picture of bullet

    I found loading advice online as well (Hunting Shack Inc):

    => I will avoid a roll crimp and will adjust my profile crimp for a light taper crimp and no more.

    "Plated Bullets
    Jackets on plated bullets are applied using an electroplating process and therefore are not
    as thick or sturdy as on jacketed bullets. These bullets fall between regular cast and
    jacketed bullets for load data. We recommend using lead bullet load data choosing the
    same weight and similar design.


    You should not exceed 1250 fps using our plated bullets.
    45 caliber bullets should be loaded to no more than 850-900 fps for best results.
    We recommend a slight taper crimp using the Lee Factory Crimp die. As the jacket is not
    as thick as a regular jacket, take care to not over crimp as it will deform the bullet and
    degrade accuracy.
    As with all handloads, you should start at 10% less than the maximum listed load and
    work your way up watching for any signs of pressure"

    Thx,
    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    I always do separate steps if I crimp.
    Until relatively recently, I didn't know you COULD crimp separately, using a die that did both. I heard about it on this forum. I just keep doin it the same way as I learned. (Except when using a separate die.)

    I like the Lee Factory Crimp Dies. There are at least 3, and maybe 4 of them that work differently, for different cartridge designs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    Corrections: The bullets are plated HSM 125gr Flat Point bullets with a 'hahaha' cannelure:

    Attachment 82682 <= Click for picture of bullet

    I found loading advice online as well (Hunting Shack Inc):

    => I will avoid a roll crimp and will adjust my profile crimp for a light taper crimp and no more.

    "Plated Bullets
    Jackets on plated bullets are applied using an electroplating process and therefore are not
    as thick or sturdy as on jacketed bullets. These bullets fall between regular cast and
    jacketed bullets for load data. We recommend using lead bullet load data choosing the
    same weight and similar design.


    You should not exceed 1250 fps using our plated bullets.
    45 caliber bullets should be loaded to no more than 850-900 fps for best results.
    We recommend a slight taper crimp using the Lee Factory Crimp die. As the jacket is not
    as thick as a regular jacket, take care to not over crimp as it will deform the bullet and
    degrade accuracy.
    As with all handloads, you should start at 10% less than the maximum listed load and
    work your way up watching for any signs of pressure"

    Thx,
    Brian
    That sounds good to me. I'm not familiar with plated bullets.

    Or that die, but anything from Redding is probably good. I'll keep that die in mind.

    Thanks
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    Bullets are all made. I cheated again ...and used my RCBS seater/crimper to do seating alone, then used the Redding profile crimp to try to get the 'taper crimp only' crimp. That die doesn't really do a taper crimp, but I adjusted it to just barely push the brass inward ...can see with your eye on some cases, and hard to spot without a magnifying glass on others. This is brand new Starline brass, but I came away saying to myself "Need to break out the Wilson case trimmer and uniform these cases before loading them again'. It's OK for now. I need to pick up a Lee Factory Crimp die, the one that the bullet manufacturer recommends, and a primer pocket uniformer for small pistol too ...and will spend a little more time with the brass before the next loading session. We're going to test-shoot these today and see what we get for fps... Hoping for right around 800-850 fps (3.2 gr Trail Boss, 125 gr (plated) cast LRNFP, overall length set by the fake cannelure as recommended by the bullet manufacturer).

    One thing that I noticed on these bullets is that the slightest little out of square, and I mean slight, on the bullet as you do the seating leaves a mark on one side of the bullet from the seating stem - and yes, I'm using one that's flat inside for seating flat-point bullets. I think I'll be even more careful next time, but will be ordering some Berry plated bullets for our future target rounds ...they have heavier plating than this (and heavier than the old Rainier plated bullets too)...

    Brian

    PS: I think I still like seating and crimping in separate steps instead of at the same time - and will need to after I get the Lee Factory Crimp die anyway - had to go slow anyway, double checking (and trickling) each throw of powder from the powder measure - those little Cheerios-shaped grains of Trail Boss don't always flow through the powder measure perfectly and you can be a tenth of a grain off now and then... maybe not a big deal, but will verify at the range later. (Yes, I'm using a baffle in the powder measure ...I should try it without too and see how Trail Boss works that way)

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    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    One thing that I noticed on these bullets is that the slightest little out of square, and I mean slight, on the bullet as you do the seating leaves a mark on one side of the bullet from the seating stem - and yes, I'm using one that's flat inside for seating flat-point bullets. I think I'll be even more careful next time, but will be ordering some Berry plated bullets for our future target rounds ...they have heavier plating than this (and heavier than the old Rainier plated bullets too)...

    Brian
    Most handgun die sets include an expander die that can be used to bell the case mouth slightly.

    Mainly, for seating Cast Bullets so they aren't damaged.

    This may also make for an easier start, and no making of the bullet. ?????

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Most handgun die sets include an expander die that can be used to bell the case mouth slightly.

    Mainly, for seating Cast Bullets so they aren't damaged.

    This may also make for an easier start, and no making of the bullet. ?????

    Smitty of the North
    I find that the mark occurred from one of 2 things, a) the shell close, but not all the way into the shell holder (off center), and b) bullet not square enough on top of the case. BTW, yes, I used the expander and put a very slight bell on top of each case before loading ...plated bullets are same as cast, but with a thin copper plating on the outside and it's necessary to open the mouth of the cases a wee bit.

    Since there's little room for error on the seating stem, I now really really make sure the case is 100% in, tight, in the shell holder. And I move the ram gently up until the bullet 'just touches' the seating stem and then go 'tap tap tap' with the handle so the flat surface on the seating stem taps the bullet into straighter alignment prior to finishing the seating. When doing this, only 1 out of the next 80 loaded got a mark on the bullet from the seating stem ..and it was very slight.

    Brian

    PS: And since I know from experience that Berry's Manufacturing puts a heavier plating on theirs, and their bullets are a little more forgiving, I ordered 1000 ea 125 gr FP from Berry's over the weekend... and a Lee Factory Crimp die.

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    I recently picked up a few lee factory crimp dies that I have yet to try, but will mostly just be using for my rifles. I have never in the past used separate steps for seating/crimping. I do most everything by hand and definitely don't add another potentially unnecessary step to my process. I just don't feel its needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    I recently picked up a few lee factory crimp dies that I have yet to try, but will mostly just be using for my rifles. I have never in the past used separate steps for seating/crimping. I do most everything by hand and definitely don't add another potentially unnecessary step to my process. I just don't feel its needed.
    The Redding die set that I received from Midway was shipped without a Profile (or Taper) crimp die as advertised on their web site ...and came with a roll crimp / seater die instead. I asked Redding about it and they responded today ...they said that a Profile crimp does NOT have a seater stem in it, and that they recommend crimping separately ...even with the roll crimp die. Go figure...

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    The Redding die set that I received from Midway was shipped without a Profile (or Taper) crimp die as advertised on their web site ...and came with a roll crimp / seater die instead. I asked Redding about it and they responded today ...they said that a Profile crimp does NOT have a seater stem in it, and that they recommend crimping separately ...even with the roll crimp die. Go figure...

    Brian
    Yes, as I said in post #2, Redding Profile Crimp dies are crimp dies only, they are not seating dies. Nor are they "taper crimp" dies. From their website:
    Profile Crimp Dies

    These handgun cartridge crimp dies were designed for those who want the best possible crimp. Profile crimp dies provide a tighter, more uniform roll type crimp, and requires the bullet to be seated to the correct depth in a previous operation.

    These dies are not for cartridges that headspace on the case mouth.

    http://www.redding-reloading.com/onl...ile-crimp-dies
    IMHO, they are the best roll crimp dies out there. This is the crimp they make:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Given that you said you were loading 38's and 357's, I'm unsure why you're trying for a taper crimp. IMO, 38's and 357's deserve a good firm roll crimp, just like the 500's you stated you have previously loaded. Regardless, if you want a taper crimp, Redding does of course make them, tho not for the 38/357, IIRC. With a few special exceptions, taper crimps are typically used only for cartridges which headspace on the case mouth. http://www.redding-reloading.com/onl...per-crimp-dies
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    Crimp selection: The manufacturer of the plated bullets suggests max velocity of 1250 fps and the use of a taper crimp or a Lee Factory Crimp light crimp. Keep in mind that these are very light target loads ...not the typical ammo you'd load for either 38 spl or 357 mag. For non-plated 38/357 bullets, yes, the roll crimp (or Lee Factory or Redding Profile crimps) are the key.

    Profile crimp (excerpt out of Redding's instruction book): "PROFILE CRIMP DIE Designed for revolver and straight wall rifle cartridges, a Profile Crimp Die applies a
    combined taper and roll crimp. This combination provides a tighter, more uniform crimp
    that has been shown to improve the accuracy of your reloads. (See Redding catalog or
    website for part numbers.)"

    Right from the horse's mouth, they say the Profile Crimp applies the combination of a taper AND roll crimp, but I don't think they recommend backing it off for just a taper crimp - I need to double check my email from their tech support on that. Regardless of anything, I decided on the Lee Factory Crimp ...it's versatile and can be used for the light crimp that you need for plated bullets ...AND high power loads. Got one on the way ... and my first order of Berry's plated bullets. The load that I'm discussing is just 3.5 gr Trail Boss behind 125gr bullets ...I will work them up since I want 800-850 fps, but they only shoot at about 700 fps out of my gun for now ...'bunny fart' loads. Probably don't need any crimp at all, but a slight crimp gives me peace of mind about bullets not unseating themselves. I'll probably want both the Profile and Lee Factory crimps at some point, but I'm good for now.

    I'm still a little disappointed that Midway USA sent a die set that is NOT what the web site says ...with a roll crimp/seater die instead of the Profile or Taper crimp (just for case mouth registered rounds) AND the dies were kind of grimy, and there were NO instructions in the set. Redding told me that the die set should've had instructions. They are looking into the product number for me to find out if Midway shipped the wrong thing, or if the Midway description is wrong for the product number... I'll survive, but a little disappointed. Redding sent me both a PDF of the instructions AND will mail them to me. Redding customer support has been entirely satisfactory so far, and they've responded within 24 hours to my inquiries. No complaints about Redding themselves...

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    Crimp selection: The manufacturer of the plated bullets suggests max velocity of 1250 fps and the use of a taper crimp or a Lee Factory Crimp light crimp. Keep in mind that these are very light target loads ...not the typical ammo you'd load for either 38 spl or 357 mag. For non-plated 38/357 bullets, yes, the roll crimp (or Lee Factory or Redding Profile crimps) are the key.

    Profile crimp (excerpt out of Redding's instruction book): "PROFILE CRIMP DIE Designed for revolver and straight wall rifle cartridges, a Profile Crimp Die applies a
    combined taper and roll crimp. This combination provides a tighter, more uniform crimp
    that has been shown to improve the accuracy of your reloads. (See Redding catalog or
    website for part numbers.)"

    Right from the horse's mouth, they say the Profile Crimp applies the combination of a taper AND roll crimp, but I don't think they recommend backing it off for just a taper crimp - I need to double check my email from their tech support on that. Regardless of anything, I decided on the Lee Factory Crimp ...it's versatile and can be used for the light crimp that you need for plated bullets ...AND high power loads. Got one on the way ... and my first order of Berry's plated bullets. The load that I'm discussing is just 3.5 gr Trail Boss behind 125gr bullets ...I will work them up since I want 800-850 fps, but they only shoot at about 700 fps out of my gun for now ...'bunny fart' loads. Probably don't need any crimp at all, but a slight crimp gives me peace of mind about bullets not unseating themselves. I'll probably want both the Profile and Lee Factory crimps at some point, but I'm good for now.

    I'm still a little disappointed that Midway USA sent a die set that is NOT what the web site says ...with a roll crimp/seater die instead of the Profile or Taper crimp (just for case mouth registered rounds) AND the dies were kind of grimy, and there were NO instructions in the set. Redding told me that the die set should've had instructions. They are looking into the product number for me to find out if Midway shipped the wrong thing, or if the Midway description is wrong for the product number... I'll survive, but a little disappointed. Redding sent me both a PDF of the instructions AND will mail them to me. Redding customer support has been entirely satisfactory so far, and they've responded within 24 hours to my inquiries. No complaints about Redding themselves...

    Brian
    That makes sense. Sounds like you've got it figured out. I've never had occasion to try backing off a Profile Crimp die to see what it would do. Everything I load demands a strong roll crimp. And with a roll crimp, I definitely believe seating and crimping in two stages gives the best results. A taper crimp might be more forgiving to seating and crimping in one operation tho, since you're not rolling the case mouth into the bullet while simultaneously pushing the bullet down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    Right from the horse's mouth, they say the Profile Crimp applies the combination of a taper AND roll crimp, Brian
    BUT, as IO pointed out they also claim it isN'T a Taper Crimp Die.

    I guess it's a Roll Crimp Die but with a bit of Taper built in.

    The Lee FC dies for Revolver cartridges have a sizing feature that works when the case enters and comes out of the die.

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    Yup ...got it all figured out. Why some bullets got a ring mark on them (see thread above), what the die set should've had from Midway, and what the various die do and which ones to use with plated bullets. Here's the follow-up and summary:


    • Berry's bullets are more consistent in weight and shape, and are plated heavier than Rainier or HSM (Hunter's Shack) plated bullets



    • Redding Profile crimp: It has a slight taper crimp with a roll-crimp finish ...Redding says 'do NOT' back it off to try to get a taper crimp



    • Redding recommends using separate steps for seating and crimping when utilizing their Profile crimp, saying that you will get more consistent results (cartridge length, crimp consistency, and the results at the range)



    • Redding's standard 38 spl / 357 mag die set comes with a Roll crimp. (Redding is going to contact Midway USA to correct their product description since the die set does NOT come with either a Profile or taper crimp die, just the roll crimp die)



    • All plated bullets are limited to around 1250 fps, and all can accidentally be crimped too tightly (breaks through the plating



    • You can use most any crimp that you want on BERRY plated bullets as long as you don't get carried away and crimp tightly enough to bust through the plating - and since you are limited to 1250 fps, you should never need a super strong crimp anyway. Their web site actually recommends a moderate roll crimp, and their email to me said the Lee Factory crimp is perfect



    • Rainer LeadSafe (and probably the thinly-plated HSM) bullets require a taper crimp



    • Plated bullets (all) are electroplated CAST bullets, so the rules for cast bullets apply to plated bullets:
      • Bell the mouth of the case slightly before seating
      • Use CAST bullet loading data, noting that if you use jacketed bullet load data that you will get 5 to 10 percent faster rounds (and higher chamber pressures)



    • Especially on thinly plated bullets, you can damage the bullet with careless seating:
      • Make sure the case is really all the way into the case holder before seating
      • Use a seating stem that has the flat surface inside the end for seating flat point bullets
      • Gently tap the handle of your press as the bullet comes into contact with the seating stem to do a final squaring up before fully seating the bullet


    I think that's it... now ...off to the range!

    Brian

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