Why I Do Not Use the FCD for My Pistol Loads

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Blacksamwell

Why I Do Not Use the FCD for My Pistol Loads

Postby Blacksamwell » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:02 am

I use commercial cast lead bullets in my 9mm and 45 ACP loads. The 9mm load that I favor uses a 147gr bullet that sits deep into the case with a overall length of 1.160". Here you can see the coke-bottle shape of the resulting round:
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This 147gr round chambers easily in all of my 9mm pistols.
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I've slugged my 9mm chambers and bore and I know that for one of my guns the lead bullet would ideally be 0.359". That's rather large for 9mm bullets and since I don't yet cast my own, I'm stuck dealing with the 0.356" bullets I buy. I want to avoid any further sizing with these commercial bullets.

If I attempt to use the FCD I find that the round will not go into the die very far and certainly not far enough to use the crimp ring without squeezing down the case AND bullet. The case with seated bullet will only go so far into the FCD:
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Using some sharpie marker I investigated where on the case the carbide ring hits and would resize. You can see that the FCD carbide ring hits the case right where the base of the bullet sits. If I use the FCD I will end up with the base of the bullet resized even smaller and I will ruin the neck tension.
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So for my purposes the FCD is not helpful. Sizing the case is necessary. Sizing cast bullets is often useful. Attempting to both size the case AND the bullet together at the same time though results in poor outcomes.

Perhaps if I was using short jacketed bullets the FCD wouldn't cause issues. But then again, what exactly would the carbide ring be fixing that should not have been fixed during the regular sizing steps? I'd prefer to complete the sizing correctly in one stage at the start rather than attempting to patch over my error with a second sizing step at the end.

Anyhow, that's what I've found. Hopefully these pics can help others make their own decisions on whether or not they'd find the FCD useful.

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daboone
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Postby daboone » Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:48 am

I do cast, not that that has anything to do this as I agree with your findings. Indeed I rarely FCD any cast bullet as it tend to size the boolit which causes poor bore fit and leading.

Your "plunk test" picture indicates just a hair more hang out than I do. Again I can't find anything wrong with what your doing as long as the case bulge isn't significant post firing. But in this context how does just the case "plunk test" fit with out the bullet?

Blacksamwell

Postby Blacksamwell » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:10 am

daboone wrote:But in this context how does just the case "plunk test" fit with out the bullet?

If I understand your question correctly, you're asking how the resized case fits into the chamber before seating the bullet. It fits exactly the same as after seating the bullet into the case. In both instances the case headspaces on the case mouth.

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daboone
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Postby daboone » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:06 am

Then your good to go as that's the bottom line IMO.... for what's that's worth. :roll:

Horseman
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Postby Horseman » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:35 am

That is the issue that many have found with the FCD and "oversize" cast bullets....many discussions on it's use and the problems it can incur..however it will work in many cases ( pun intended :) ) ( I get no "resizing" of my cast bullets in 45 colt for instance, but they are sized to only .452 but I have read that for those that size to .454 the resizing does occur...a good way to check for possible post sizing is to measure the carbide ring dia. (I use pin gauges) add the bullet dia. plus twice the brass thickness and see if they are smaller than the carbide ring.... it would seem to me that most manufacturers design they're reloading dies (plus a lot of other stuff) for the use of commercial jacketed bullets sized to SAMMI specs and for those the FCD will work just fine....I would also like to see some sizing dies that are a little more user friendly for the use of cast bullets (not so much case sizing)...supposedly, from what I read anyway, RCBS cowboy dies are made for this purpose but I haven't tried them so just conjecture on my part...

Blacksamwell

Postby Blacksamwell » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:51 am

Horseman wrote:... it will work in many cases ( pun intended :)...

I agree. 9mm might be the worst case scenario with the tapered case and tapered case walls. With truly straight walled pistol cases and light jacketed bullets the FCD likely won't cause any bullet sizing issues.

However... I still don't understand what "work" the FCD carbide ring is supposed to be doing that shouldn't be taken care of with proper sizing in station one. A visual comparison of my 9mm FCD with the 9mm sizing/decapping die shows the carbide rings in both to be mounted in the same place and instructions for each die has them both turned down to touch the shell plate. Is there something different about the FCD carbide ring when compared to the sizing carbide ring?

As I see it, the FCD works best when the FCD carbide ring doesn't touch the round at all. In which case one doesn't need the FCD at all, they just need the plain taper crimp die. Unless there's some other feature of the FCD that I just don't understand...?

Blacksamwell

Postby Blacksamwell » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:56 am

Horseman wrote:I would also like to see some sizing dies that are a little more user friendly for the use of cast bullets (not so much case sizing)...supposedly, from what I read anyway, RCBS cowboy dies are made for this purpose but I haven't tried them so just conjecture on my part...

With those 147gr bullets I've been using in 9mm I did have issues with the case sizing down the base of the bullet when seated. A long thread over at castboolits.com followed one member as they cobbled together a custom powder through expander plug. In the end they discovered that the expander plug for the 38 S&W was exactly what was needed. I've swapped out for the 38 S&W expander and don't have any issues with the case squeezing down my cast bullets any longer.

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daboone
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Postby daboone » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:58 pm

Blacksamwell wrote: I've swapped out for the 38 S&W expander and don't have any issues with the case squeezing down my cast bullets any longer.


Interesting find. Thanks for that tip. I've been using M-dies, in fact I'm a huge M-die fan. I have a retired machinist friend who cut me 2 custom expansion plug. On the other hand trading out "on hand" parts is the very essence of what true handloaders do because we love to be frugal. Isn't that what we started reloading for in the first place? :D

Again thank for that tip. I'll be investigating other possibilities as a result of that gem. :idea:

rowe_s
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Postby rowe_s » Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:17 pm

Blacksamwell.... Hope this will help explain what the FCD is doing.

When it swaghs the bullets further it is correcting the OD of the loaded cartrige.
The loaded rounds we salvaged were sized with a Dillon sizing die so maybe the FCD carbide is a bit lower. The purpose of the FCD is to make sure rounds will chamber in all chambers. I our case that is what we need.

It is hard cast bullets we are using and they do get swaged smaller when going through the FCD. But the primary goal is met, they chamber in all the pistols we shoot em in. The leading we get is acceptable for the dollars saved, and the accuracy loss is neglagable at the ranges and targets they are used on.

I do load my own 40s with the same cast bullets but a different load. They are very acurate even after going through the FCD. I am going to start casting some of my 40s which will have the coating that CL introduced us too. On those I plan on knocking the carbide ring out of a FCD and just use the crimp in it. It works better than a taper crimp because case length does not effect how deep the crimp gets pushed into the bullet.

Hope this made sense, and maybe answers your question.

Blacksamwell

Postby Blacksamwell » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:56 pm

rowe_s wrote:Blacksamwell.... Hope this will help explain what the FCD is doing.

I think I understand what it does. I just don't understand why anyone would want to do what it does.
rowe_s wrote:When it swaghs the bullets further it is correcting the OD of the loaded cartrige.

Why not simply set things up such that you're not creating an out of spec round in the first place? If you're using a bullet that results in a round that's too big to chamber, then you're using a bullet that's too big. Why not size it to the correct spec from the beginning?
rowe_s wrote:The loaded rounds we salvaged were sized with a Dillon sizing die so maybe the FCD carbide is a bit lower. The purpose of the FCD is to make sure rounds will chamber in all chambers. I our case that is what we need.

I would ask what's out of adjustment with your loading process that created an out of spec round to begin with?
rowe_s wrote:It is hard cast bullets we are using and they do get swaged smaller when going through the FCD. But the primary goal is met, they chamber in all the pistols we shoot em in.

Exactly what is keeping your rounds from chambering? Is it that the crimp is too light, that the bullet bulges out the case and that hits the chamber, or is there a bulge in the case that isn't ironed out during the standard resizing? All of these causes have fixes that don't involve post sizing with the FCD.
rowe_s wrote:The leading we get is acceptable for the dollars saved, and the accuracy loss is negligible at the ranges and targets they are used on.

I could go along with that IF there were not already well established methods to obtain consistent loads without the FCD and IF the bullet swaging the FCD causes did not also cause loss of neck tension and risk of bullet set back.
Maybe, if I had a bunch of rounds I'd already loaded and they had some flaw that kept them from chambering I'd consider applying the FCD instead of using my bullet puller to start over. But in reality I will plunk test the first rounds through my press to verify that all is well and they will chamber. If they don't, I will fix the issue right there so I don't continue creating flawed rounds.
rowe_s wrote:...I plan on knocking the carbide ring out of a FCD and just use the crimp in it. It works better than a taper crimp because case length does not effect how deep the crimp gets pushed into the bullet.

You might want to double check the details on how the FCD works. For rifle rounds it does include a collet style crimping mechanism where the length of the case doesn't matter. But for all of their pistol caliber FCDs the crimp is just a taper crimp where the length of the cartridge does affect the crimp. Granted, the length of the case doesn't matter as much as it does with a roll crimp, but it still makes a difference.

Just to reiterate, I am in no way shape or form arguing that anyone that chooses to use the FCD is wrong in doing so. I appreciate getting details from everyone on why they do or don't use one.

Personally I prefer to correct loading issues at their source instead of using the FCD to patch it up later.

For cases that won't chamber, the cause is usually because the OAL is too long, the case mouth is still too big after flaring, or the bullet is too big. Each of these has a fix that doesn't involve the FCD. In the case of the bullet being too big and causing a bulge that won't chamber the FCD fixes the chambering issue but also potentially creates another (and possibly dangerous) problem of reduced neck tension and increased likelihood of bullet setback.

Blacksamwell

Postby Blacksamwell » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:05 pm

I read on another forum that the crimp ring from the FCD can be removed and placed into the powder through die to create a crimping die without the sizing ring. I think it would be interesting to compare the crimp shape provided by the FCD crimping die against the crimp shape provided by the regular taper crimp die.

I also read that other reloaders have removed the carbide ring from their FCD and compared it to the carbide ring that's in the sizing/decapping die. According to these reloaders the carbide rings are exactly the same size. If that's the case and one really wanted to use post sizing as a fix you could do it with the sizing/decapping die you already own instead of paying for the FCD. I think I'll size some fired cases with the sizing/decapping die and the FCD and see if the resulting cases are any different in their dimensions.

I'll post my results here for further discussion.

rowe_s
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Postby rowe_s » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:27 pm

blacksamwell, Do you have 45, or 380, or 40 FCD you would like to sell?

Blacksamwell

Postby Blacksamwell » Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:29 pm

rowe_s wrote:blacksamwell, Do you have 45, or 380, or 40 FCD you would like to sell?

No. I used to own one for 45, but I already sold it off with a complete 4 die set.

I just have the 9mm one left over and haven't gotten around to posting it for sale.


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