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Lee 9mm U Die: New User Setup...........


HOGRIDER
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I've used the search function, and realize there has been a ton of discussion on the Lee U Die, but I have some specifics that I hope will be answered by the many U Die users here!

 

I started out many years ago with the XL650 and Dillon Dies.  Did fine for 38S Unlimited Competition.  Many years later, got another 650 and set it up in 9mm using Redding Pro Competition Dies.  99% of my reloads were 147g/135g ammo in the 130-140PF range.  Did GSSF for many years with these fairly mild loads.  And to the best of my knowledge, I never had any issues with setback, bullet crimp, etc., using the Redding Comp dies.

 

Now, I've moved up to the RL1100 and want to set up my 9mm ammo with accuracy in the non-major power levels my primary goal.  Might dabble in some informal steel or limited matches.  And, I'll primarily be shooting the 2011 platform at the local range. 

 

Several years ago, I purchased an EGW U Die just to fill up a small order and had put it away in the cabinet for future use.  So after reading of the many, noted competition shooters using it,  I though now would be a great time to set it up in the 1100 along with my MBF powder funnel, Redding Pro Comp Seating and Crimp dies.  First thing I wasn't really happy with was having to mount the die with one lock nut below and one above the tool head.  It worked ok in a few test dummy loads, but that crazy decapping rod popped up a few times and it was a bear to tighten up without moving the die body from it's original setting!

 

I loaded up 10 dummy rounds using all the stations in the press, and was a bit concerned that 3 of the 10 had a slight bulge near the case head (They failed a Dillon Case Gauge) that I don't remember seeing during the manual placement of the cartridges in the shell feeder.  (My Case Feeder is inop at the moment waiting on parts from Dillon that were left out of the box.)  After taking a few more empty cases (once fired Winchester brass) and checking each station, I have confirmed that the U Die is not causing the bulge, but it's happening at Station #3 as I can also feel the case sticking against the expander part of the die!  So, now I'm wondering if the U Die (-.003") is causing this or is it the expander part of the Swage Die?  I have positively confirmed it's not "glocked bulge" brass.  The brass has been cleaned in Stainless Wet Media, primers still in, and lubed properly with Hornady One Shot....... 

 

This all may sound a bit odd, but I have measured the cases near the rim as they came out of each station, and all slight bulges occur after the Swage Expander die......so I'm a bit confused here and would appreciate any help/insight you may offer. 

 

Or should I just remove the U Die, and try everything with the Redding Pro Sizer/Decapper?  I did notice that one RL1100 user had removed the Pistol Backup Expander from Station 3, and had the expander machined down to a smaller non-expanding size to aid in his expanding/flare with the MBF Powder Funnel...........

 

Thanks for any help!

 

Ben

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Ben, have you inspected the Lee U die?  To verify if theres damage to it or quite possibly die itself is un-usable? The Lee U die is amazingly cheap, I suggest you buy another one or contact Lee directly and they may offer you a new one free or exchange.  EGW is made by Lee, to EGW specs...  Most Lee U die users will tell you that the EGW die is not worth the extra cost.  I too have the RL1100 and for the moment I am using it to process brass with the Lee U die, not single issue!  However, I use a Mark7 Evolution press to load my 9mm Major and at times minor loads as well.  On the Mark 7 I have a Dillon resizer/decapper in station 1 station in station 2 I have a Lee U Die..  A bit overkill but I'm anal about my loads... Go figure!  

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5 hours ago, HOGRIDER said:

First thing I wasn't really happy with was having to mount the die with one lock nut below and one above the tool head.  It worked ok in a few test dummy loads, but that crazy decapping rod popped up a few times and it was a bear to tighten up without moving the die body from it's original setting!

 

HAVING TO PUT A NUT UNDERNEATH IS COMMON AND DOES NOT CAUSE A PROBLEM.

  THE ROD IS SUPPOSED TO MOVE IF IT HITS A STUCK PRIMER. THIS KEEPS IT FROM BENDING. MY GUESS IS THAT YOUR WET TUMBLING WITH PRIMERS STILL IN CAUSES THEM TO FUSE TO THE CASE OVER TIME CAUSING THEM TO STICK.

  REGARDLESS IF YOU USE TWO WRENCHES ON TOP OF THE DIE THE COLLET HOLDING THE ROD CAN BE ADJUSTED AND TIGHTENED WITHOUT LOOSENING THE ENTIRE DIE.

 

I loaded up 10 dummy rounds using all the stations in the press, and was a bit concerned that 3 of the 10 had a slight bulge near the case head (They failed a Dillon Case Gauge) that I don't remember seeing during the manual placement of the cartridges in the shell feeder.  (My Case Feeder is inop at the moment waiting on parts from Dillon that were left out of the box.)  After taking a few more empty cases (once fired Winchester brass) and checking each station, I have confirmed that the U Die is not causing the bulge, but it's happening at Station #3 as I can also feel the case sticking against the expander part of the die!  So, now I'm wondering if the U Die (-.003") is causing this or is it the expander part of the Swage Die?  I have positively confirmed it's not "glocked bulge" brass.  The brass has been cleaned in Stainless Wet Media, primers still in, and lubed properly with Hornady One Shot......

  DEPRIMING BEFORE WET TUMBLING IS THE WAY TO GO.

 

Edited by Sarge
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4 minutes ago, Sarge said:

 

Sarge:

Always a pleasure to hear/read your comments..........:)

 

Guess my unfamiliarity with the Lee has me second guessing the procedure.

 

When I tumble my own brass, I always deprime first!  But, I happened to find a deal on a big box of wet cleaned, same headstamp Winchester brass (which I like) and did not think of inquiring about had they been deprimed before I purchased.  You know what "assuming" can do for us............  ;)

 

I've got some new Starline 9mm that I could try plus some other less popular headstamps also.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Sarge said:

Thanks! The LEE Die will work but it’s probably a little more complex to get everything just right on 1100. 
Maybe remove the swager and rod and do a test run?

When I was investigating the "bulge" from that test run of dummy rounds, I actually bypassed Station 3, on the next run, and there was not another test round that "bulged" and/or failed the case gauge!

 

But right now, I do want the benefit of the backup rod against the case during swaging.  IMO, the swaging function is one of the big advantages of the S1050/RL1100 line.

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5 hours ago, chgofirefighter said:

Ben, have you inspected the Lee U die?  To verify if theres damage to it or quite possibly die itself is un-usable? The Lee U die is amazingly cheap, I suggest you buy another one or contact Lee directly and they may offer you a new one free or exchange.  EGW is made by Lee, to EGW specs...  Most Lee U die users will tell you that the EGW die is not worth the extra cost.  I too have the RL1100 and for the moment I am using it to process brass with the Lee U die, not single issue!  However, I use a Mark7 Evolution press to load my 9mm Major and at times minor loads as well.  On the Mark 7 I have a Dillon resizer/decapper in station 1 station in station 2 I have a Lee U Die..  A bit overkill but I'm anal about my loads... Go figure!  

cff:

I actually called EGW, and the Rep reaffirmed what was in the description for the EGW 9mm U Die, in that it's the same dimensions (-.003" smaller) as the stock Lee 9mm U Die.  Said they get them straight from Lee, and they are not modified.......

 

👍

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3 hours ago, AHI said:

Remove the u die . Had a similar issue traced it back to the u die.

 

AHI, I'm trying my best to make this U Die work since many are using it successfully.  And of course, I've got the Redding Pro Sizer ready to use if needed.

 

I'm going remove the Expander, and see if that changes anything.  If it does eliminate all my issues between station #2 & #3, then I'll modify the Expander to remove that function of the die and keep using the Swager Backup function.

 

Thanks!

 

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I run the expander /back up die without any issues.

realy can not see how it could cause a bulge at the base except with stepped brass.

the lee die I had issues with was defective .   Lee replaced it. Never put it on the press

again.

Edited by AHI
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8 hours ago, HOGRIDER said:

AHI, I'm trying my best to make this U Die work since many are using it successfully.  And of course, I've got the Redding Pro Sizer ready to use if needed.

 

I'm going remove the Expander, and see if that changes anything.  If it does eliminate all my issues between station #2 & #3, then I'll modify the Expander to remove that function of the die and keep using the Swager Backup function.

 

Thanks!

 


The u die should work fine and do use the expander because without it the swage won’t be effective.

 

Do you use the stock or the MBF powder funnel?
 Dillon only bells the brass, while the MBF also expands it for better bullet seating. 
 

You might try this improved version:

https://shootingsportsinnovations.com/alpha-dropper-powder-funnel/
 

 

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55 minutes ago, HesedTech said:


The u die should work fine and do use the expander because without it the swage won’t be effective.

 

Do you use the stock or the MBF powder funnel?
 Dillon only bells the brass, while the MBF also expands it for better bullet seating. 
 

You might try this improved version:

https://shootingsportsinnovations.com/alpha-dropper-powder-funnel/

 

I'm definitely on board with using the swage backer portion of the die; just not sure how necessary the expander portion of the die is as yes I'm a firm believer of the MBF powder funnel and put it in use as soon as I set the 1100 up.

 

Here's where I was introduced to the MBF funnel and became a dedicated user:

 

https://forums.brianenos.com/topic/205711-fix-for-shaving-lead-bullets/

Yes, I have noticed the Alpha Dropper funnel, and am seriously considering ordering one just to see if it's as good as they claim.  I have been so pleased with the MBF funnel, as it's hard to consider an alternative!  Only downside I'm experiencing is the occasional "sticking" of the MBF funnel; but hope to polish that out.............

 

👍

Quote

 

 

Edited by HOGRIDER
sp
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18 minutes ago, HOGRIDER said:

I'm definitely on board with using the swage backer portion of the die; just not sure how necessary the expander portion of the die is as yes I'm a firm believer of the MBF powder funnel and put it in use as soon as I set the 1100 up.


After a lot of rounds fighting the bulge on the CBC brass I discovered expanding the brass prior to seating the bullet was the key. Some here use the “M” die from Hornady and another solution is getting an expander plug from NOE. One can customize the expander diameter to better match the bullet size being used. However, in the end the larger the diameter, greater than .355, and the longer the bullet the more gauging issues one will run into. 
 

https://noebulletmolds.com/site/

 

 

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16 minutes ago, HesedTech said:


After a lot of rounds fighting the bulge on the CBC brass I discovered expanding the brass prior to seating the bullet was the key. Some here use the “M” die from Hornady and another solution is getting an expander plug from NOE. One can customize the expander diameter to better match the bullet size being used. However, in the end the larger the diameter, greater than .355, and the longer the bullet the more gauging issues one will run into. 
 

https://noebulletmolds.com/site/

 

 

I guess my unfamiliarity with the 1050/1100 platform has me still wondering how the expander being utilized as a separate step, and then just a flare at the powder drop, is advantageous to doing both the expansion and flare at the powder funnel..........

 

As you can probably tell, all my formal reloading experience has been on the XL650 platforms.  Other than not having the swaging benefit, and of course the additional stations, I've never had any issues whatsoever producing quality, accurate pistol ammo on the 650 platform along with the MBF funnel.

 

Now, I am 100% satisfied with upgrading to the RL1100!  Have wanted one for a LONG time, and have no regrets purchasing it!  Just have to get my head wrapped around the idea of what benefits I will experience by using the EXPANDER part of the die ALONG WITH the MBF powder funnel.

 

HT:  thanks for your feedback!

 

👍

 

 

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I found no difference between my 650 and 1050, as far as the bulging issue went. The two major improvements, beside durability and speed, of the 1050 over the 650 has been the swaging station and being able to set primer depth. Worth every extra penny. 
 

Enjoy!

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36 minutes ago, HesedTech said:

I found no difference between my 650 and 1050, as far as the bulging issue went. The two major improvements, beside durability and speed, of the 1050 over the 650 has been the swaging station and being able to set primer depth. Worth every extra penny. 
 

Enjoy!

Yes, I think I'll truly appreciate the additional swaging and priming improvements you mention.  As many others have stated, I never was a fan of the 650's priming procedure; but I just made it work...........

 

👍

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Just an FYI:

 

Here's a close up, though a bit blurry, of the expander after a couple dozen test rounds.  Also, in case it's not clearly visible, the brass is being expanded by both steps.  Probably need to remove the die, later today, and do some careful measurements of those two steps of the expander............also, it is the correct expander stamped "F" on top...........

 

🤔

Expander.png

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15 hours ago, HOGRIDER said:

cff:

I actually called EGW, and the Rep reaffirmed what was in the description for the EGW 9mm U Die, in that it's the same dimensions (-.003" smaller) as the stock Lee 9mm U Die.  Said they get them straight from Lee, and they are not modified.......

 

👍

Hmm, good to know~  Thanks! 

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1 hour ago, chgofirefighter said:

Hmm, good to know~  Thanks! 

Wish I would have noticed this question earlier. There have been several discussions in the past that all came to the same conclusion in the end. Same die at nearly same price. Shipping cost helped me decide when I ordered. Total was a few bucks cheaper direct from LEE

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5 hours ago, HOGRIDER said:

Just an FYI:

 

Here's a close up, though a bit blurry, of the expander after a couple dozen test rounds.  Also, in case it's not clearly visible, the brass is being expanded by both steps.  Probably need to remove the die, later today, and do some careful measurements of those two steps of the expander............also, it is the correct expander stamped "F" on top...........

 

🤔

Expander.png

just checked mine and it only has one size .355 (upper part) no step. lower small part is .251

just finished 5k rounds  there is no brass build up on it.

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5 hours ago, HOGRIDER said:

Just an FYI:

 

Here's a close up, though a bit blurry, of the expander after a couple dozen test rounds.  Also, in case it's not clearly visible, the brass is being expanded by both steps.  Probably need to remove the die, later today, and do some careful measurements of those two steps of the expander............also, it is the correct expander stamped "F" on top...........

 

🤔

Expander.png

 

That seems like a lot of brass building up there...

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5 minutes ago, Sigarmsp226 said:

Especially since Hog said he has only run a handful (20 or so) rounds through this die so far....

 

Yeah.

 

Hog, what about cleaning that off and miking that die at several points starting at the base of the expander region and then moving up a bit?

 

I tried that on mine and I don't have the notes available but I seem to recall being a tad bit surprised at the diameter about where the top of your brass marked area is.

 

Mine is turned down in the expander area or I'd do it myself for comparison.

 

 

 

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I honestly think that my Expander Die is not to spec...........I decided to remove it so I could get a good position to measure it with the Starrett Micrometer.  And yes, it appears to me there is excessive brass build up for the couple of dozen rounds I've played with...........  

 

First pic is measuring the lowest "step" which is coming right in at .353".  I'm guessing that would be a good number......but not sure........

 

Second pic is raising the mic up to the second "step" and it's measuring just shy of .357".  Again, this seems excessive as if my calculations are correct, that brass after it comes out of the U Die should have an ID of approximately .352"-.353" depending on the thickness of the brass.  I'm using Winchester in this test sequence.

 

Again, I appreciate all the help coming from EVERYONE!

 

Thank you!

Expander Size1.png

Expander Size2.png

Edited by HOGRIDER
More.......
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9 minutes ago, ddc said:

 

Yeah.

 

Hog, what about cleaning that off and miking that die at several points starting at the base of the expander region and then moving up a bit?

 

I tried that on mine and I don't have the notes available but I seem to recall being a tad bit surprised at the diameter about where the top of your brass marked area is.

 

Mine is turned down in the expander area or I'd do it myself for comparison.

 

 

 

Just stuck a couple pics up, and I've confirmed the dimensions with both the Starrett micrometer and digital slide micrometer.  At this point, I'm going to contact Dillon first thing in the morning to see if maybe the expander is not correctly machined.  Then, if they say it's "within specs", then I'll just purchase another for a backup and have this one machined down to about .350" diameter.  The lower tip that meets the case head for swaging is coming in right at .250".

 

Thanks!

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