Review: Lee Steel 3 Die Set .357 Sig

The Good
  • Low price. Generally works.
The Bad
  • Decapping pin has a tendency to slip upwards.
The Ugly
  • Very susceptible to case scoring.
Our Rating
3 Nuns One Nun
Lee Steel 3 Die Set - .357 Sig

Lee Steel 3 Die Set - .357 Sig

Lee Steel 3 Die Set .357 Sig

Approximate Price: $35.98 suggested retail, less online.

I’ve got  number of sets of Lee reloading dies in various calibers and generally have pretty good success with them. Not so much with the .357 Sig 3 die set though. While the Lee .357 Sig die set is reasonably priced, usually about $25 online, the real value is somewhat questionable. While they work, there are a few issues to be aware of.

Like other Lee die sets, I appreciate the inclusion of the ‘extras’ not usually included in other, more expensive, die sets. The .357 Sig set includes a resizing and decapping die, a powder-through expander die, and a bullet seating / crimp die. The set also includes a shellholder, a plastic powder measure scoop, and a reasonably detailed load data table. While I have yet to use the powder measure, I do frequently use the supplied load data. Very handy to have on hand!

The Lee dies don’t include a locking mechanism on the locking rings, but once adjusted, I have not had trouble with die

movement in single reloading sessions. They tend to stay put longer than I can during a reloading session.

Lee Resizing Die Decapping Pin

Lee advertises their expander die as a minimal flare dimension, which is supposed to negate the need for a separate taper crimp step and I have found this to be true. Proper setting of the expander die, combined with the included bullet seating and crimp die yields a rock solid bullet-to-case fit, which is necessary for the relatively high-recoil .357 round. I have to confess that I did order a separate Lee Factory Crimp Die along with this set but I’ve found that it’s simply not necessary.

Being that .357 Sig has a bottlenecked case, the resizing die is steel only, which is no big deal. An extra step of case lube and all is good to go. To eliminate the need for cleaning lube from cases, I just fill a large Ziploc with cases and spray some Hornady One Shot in there and give a shake.

There are two noteworthy problems I’ve had with this set.

Lee Die Case Scratching

First, the decapping pin is held in position by tension alone using a locking nut against the smooth rod surface. Even when tightening the locking nut with all of my impressive strength, it will come loose after a hundred resizes or so. If you’re using a single stage press, this is not a big deal as its relatively easy to spot. However, I use a Hornady Lock N Load progressive press, and often times I don’t catch on to slippage of the decapping pin until I’ve made a dozen or so shiny new cartridges complete with old and used primers still in place. This causes turmoil in the house as I have to resort to pulling bullets and this makes me cranky.

Second, the resizing die seems to be unusually prone to scratching cases. I’m aware of the causes and remedy’s for case scratching during sizing, but for some reason, certain dies are far more prone to the problem. I sent one resizing die back for replacement and almost immediately experienced the problem again. Yes, I can polish out the galling and take steps to minimize risk of more scratching, but it’s just not worth the trouble, especially since I don’t have the problem with other brands of .357 Sig dies. While this does not impact the function of the die or resulting rounds, it does cause me to manufacture ugly cartridges. And this makes me cranky.

All things considered, I have to give the Lee Steel 3 Die Set in .357 Sig One Nun. Even considering the low price, there are better options out there for a little more money. I’ve had great success with Lee dies in 9mm, .380 ACP, and numerous rifle cartridges – just not the .357 Sig variety.

He said She said
Problems aside, I’ve loaded somewhere north of 2.500 rounds with this set. Excepting the noted troubles with the sizing die, the set works. It’s kept me in my man cave for hours and hours of reloading fun. This probably annoys ‘her’ so ‘her’ take on time spent in the man cave may be a little different than mine. I love it when he spends time in the man cave as it keeps my house clean.P.S. Somehow or another, this stuff makes bullets that shoot out of my gun.

The Micro Cannon in action

I have GOT to get one of these…

Cupid Upgrades To Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun


Cupid (Image:

Recent reports from the Island of Mythical Fairytale Characters indicate that Cupid has decided to make a major equipment change after nearly a thousand years of bow and arrow use.

Numerous sources have recently reported sightings of Cupid at the 2011 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. “I saw him in several different booths” claimed SHOT Show attendee Romeo. “First I saw him in the Barrett booth checking out the M107A1 .50 BMG. next thing you know, I see him at U.S. Armament checking out an 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun. I asked my fiancee, what’s up with that? Isn’t he supposed to be cute and adorable?”

Those close to Cupid claim that he has expressed frustration with the lack of performance of his bow and arrows on today’s more difficult love connection challenges. “I think his quiver only holds about six arrows” said close friend and confidant, The Tooth Fairy. He has to do two or three reloads just on Snooki and she still hasn’t been able to find true love.”

Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun

Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun

When we caught up with Cupid, he was more than happy to explain the recent sightings. “Yeah, I went to the SHOT Show” he admitted. “But then again, I spend a lot of time in Vegas, although nothing I do there seems to last more than a couple of hours.”

“It was about time that I caught up with current times” lamented Cupid. “My good friend The Leprechaun recently started carrying the Ruger LCBM for protection and he couldn’t be happier with it. So I figured I ought to check out the latest in equipment. I need something new, preferably made of composite materials for light weight. These wings aren’t designed for full combat load out you know.”

After an exhaustive search of the latest gear at SHOT, Cupid elected to go with the Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun. “Who can argue with the innovative dual tube magazine?” wondered Cupid. “That gives me 14+1 12 gauge love slugs without a reload. That might even help me out with challenging people like Paris Hilton without a time consuming run back to the Island for more ammo.”

Sources claim that Cupid has also been working a private label deal with Extreme Shock Ammunition and Safariland Body Armor to address the growing problem of commitment issues.

Benchmade Expands Into Tactical Office Supplies Market

DamaSteel Tactical Stapler

Benchmade DamaSteel Tactical Stapler

Frankfurt, Germany – The My Gun Culture investigative team has recently returned from the PaperWorld Expo, where our reporters learned of a new strategic direction for knife maker Benchmade. Building on the market success of the company’s Specialty Tactical Pen series, Benchmade intends to aggressively expand into the broader tactical office supplies market.

“The problem with most office supplies is that they are ridiculously uncool” observed Benchmade CEO Ben Cartwright. “I mean, really, think about your average stapler. It’s almost always black and has no style or tactical value whatsoever. And we’ve yet to see one equipped with laser sights. And when it comes to trying to fight with most office supplies, forget about it.”

Cartwright went on to reveal the first two products in Benchmade’s new lineup – the DamaSteel Tactical Stapler and the OC Combo Tape/Pepper Non-Lethal Dispenser. The DamaSteel Tactical Stapler features a 3×9 variable scope for both short and longer range office conflicts and and high-penetration dual-core titanium staples. The Non-lethal tape/pepper dispenser aims to be the first to market with a 15 foot effective radius.

Designed to appeal to the disgruntled cubicle worker market, Benchmade’s new lineup will be sold in vending machines of large office complexes. “We’re also looking at partnerships with other companies firmly entrenched in existing office complexes. Red Bull and UPS for example” explained company Marketing Vice President Don Draper. “Don’t tell anyone about this, but we have a product placement deal in the works with Dilbert.”

Cartwright continued “We’re always looking at innovation. Some things on our drawing board include a semi-automatic three-hole punch and a concealable protractor. As we always say, make it cool, make it solid, make it happen and definitely make it Benchmade.”

Smokin’ Hot Caliber – Welcome to!

Hot Caliber 5 Shot Diamond Pendant

Hot Caliber 5 Shot Diamond Pendant

One of the more fun events of SHOT Show 2011 for us was a cocktail meeting with Manos P. of Hot Caliber. Over a 2+ hour ‘business meeting‘ at the AquaKnox restaurant in the Venetian, we discussed the history and future strategy of the fresh and innovative company. You know, most people think going to the SHOT Show is all fun and games. Let me tell you, it’s strenuous work – the cocktail meetings, the casinos, the guns, the toys, and did I mention the cocktail meetings?

Hot Caliber was founded from a rare combination of interests – professional jewelry manufacturing and lots and lots of pistol shooting. The basic idea is custom and high end jewelry for men and women made from flattened bullets. You know, the really cool ones left over when you shoot at a heavy piece of steel just right. It’s kind of like when you throw Silly Putty against a wall really, really hard. Each properly executed shot leaves a one-of-a-kind and nicely textured lead disc. From this, Hot Caliber fashions pendants, cufflinks, key chains, and more. The smashed bullets are accentuated with silver settings and diamonds. It’s definitely a conversation piece – as is the intent of Hot Caliber.

As mailing toxic lead around is generally only done by cheap overseas toymakers, Hot Caliber has taken a different approach that avoids the toxicity issue and brings the jewelry up several notches in the excellent blingage department. Using a 12,392 year old secret lost wax casting technique, the actual lead bullets fired by the Hot Caliber staff are recreated in either silver or gold. Pieces are available in polished silver/gold or oxidized silver with a dark and very cool patina.

Hot Caliber Cufflinks

Hot Caliber Cufflinks

As the cocktails, flowed, we learned more about the inspiration for Hot Caliber jewelry. The generally accepted story is that the idea came from a spent, flattened bullet from a steel target shoot – inadvertently brought home in a pocket. As the ‘story’ goes, Mrs. Hot Caliber happened to see this and suggested that it might make a really cool centerpiece for jewelry. Being the crack investigative reporters that we are, we elected to have several more ‘one more rounds’ in a selfless effort to learn the real story. And we did. Apparently, after living in Santa Carla, California for years, Mr. and Mrs. Hot Caliber got completely fed-up with the out-of-control vampire problem and decided to take matters into their own hands. While owning a few Sig Sauer handguns provided adequate protection against local hoodlums, they were decidedly ineffective against The Lost Boys. Hence, silver bullet jewelry.

So, thanks to our dogged determination to learn the truth, you now know that Hot Caliber jewelry is 100% guaranteed to repel vampires in addition to looking simply hot. You can thank us later.

We would like to extend a warm My Gun Culture welcome to our newest partner – Hot Caliber!

Life working at a Gun Range…

From Shelley at Gun Nuts Media…

User Malfunction:

Here are some common reasons people ask range staff to fix their guns (or other miscellaneous range items), and what the range staff is actually thinking when they do:

‘It’s shooting low and left, I need to adjust my sights.’
No you don’t.  You need to stop slapping the trigger and flinching at every shot.  Here’s a .22.

‘It’s all over the paper, your ammo sucks.’
No it doesn’t.  The factory Winchester I just sold you is fine.  If you had listened to the range officer that just recommended you not use teacup Hollywood weaver while leaning backwards and rapid firing ‘the ammo’ would be a lot more accurate.

‘The gun is jamming a lot, you need to clean your disgusting rental guns.’
No I don’t.  I do that every week.  You need to stop limp-wristing my rental gun so the slide can cycle correctly.  Here’s a .22.

‘The rifle is hitting low, your scope is way off.’
No it’s not.  Stop trying to shoot a .223 with a scope at a 10 yard target.  Move your target out to 25 yards and it will hit spot on.

‘The rifle is hitting high, your scope is way off.’
#@$*%& I wish people would stop adjusting the sights on the rental guns!

‘Your gun bit me, now I’m bleeding.’
Gee, you mean you received slide bite from wrapping your support thumb behind the beaver tale like I just told you not to?

‘I’ve put 50 rounds through my 1911 to break it in and it’s still jamming.  You sold me a bad gun!’
No we didn’t.  Shoot it more.  If you didn’t have the patience to wait for the tolerances to loosen up a bit you should have bought a polymer gun.

‘I can’t hit a T2, I need a larger target.’
No you don’t.  Shoot your target at 3 yards instead of 10.  Here’s a .22.

‘I’ve put 300 rounds through my Taurus and it’s always runs fine!  You’re just telling people to try the SW M&P because it costs more!’
First of all, stop putting SW before M&P, either just say Smith & Wesson or assume I work at a gun range and know what an M&P is.  Second of all… No, forget it, I’m not talking to you anymore.

(Via Gun Nuts Media.)

You can help – Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

Laura's sister-in-law Cinny

Gun Industry friends at Laura Burgess Marketing are about to embark on a 39 mile journey in support of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Laura and Ashley will be participating in the event – one that hits much to close to home after the loss of Laura’s sister-in-law Cinny. Please consider helping Laura and Ashley by donating here.

Review: GAMO Platinum Raptor Power Pellets

3 Nuns

Gamo PBA Platinum pellets

Gamo PBA Platinum pellets

Gamo PBA Platinum .177 Pellets

Approximate Retail Price: ~ $11.00 (2 packs of 50 as shown)

I recently acquired a supply of Gamo PBA Platinum for intensive ballistic testing. As the PBA pellets are made of a lighter-weight, lead-free alloy, I have been keen on the idea of using them for practice in my hi-tech garage range and to deal the occasional rodent that tries to take up residence underneath our home. See The Rodent Chronicles for more info on that.

The most interesting thing about these pellets is the increase in velocity resulting from their lighter weight. Gamo claims that most airguns will shoot PBA Platinum pellets up to 30% faster than traditional lead pellets. Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday and there is not a chance I will drift more than 26 feet away from a TV set, I decided it would be a good time to run the Gamo PBA Platinums through the extremely rigorous My Gun Culture testing regimen.

Well, maybe the My Gun Culture testing regimen could use just a little improvement. You see, our test air rifle is an aging Beeman 1783 Silver Bear. Fresh from the factory, these are supposed to launch a standard lead .177 pellet at about 500 feet per second. Ours is just a bit worn, and manages about 360 fps on average. But hey, the Gamo ammo advertises a percentage improvement right?

So out came my shiny new Shooting Chrony Beta Master to check out the velocity performance claims. And yes, ‘she’ thought I was absolutely nuts setting up chronograph equipment on our back deck. It’s probably a good thing that we don’t have neighbors on either side or we might be writing a ‘man with a gun!’ arrest headline. I was multi-tasking with other productive work though – smoking a turkey for Super Bowl snacks in our Big Green Egg. Anyway, between hardwood charcoal maintenance, I ran ten rounds of Daisy .177 Precision Max lead pellets through the chrony and found that my old Beeman was putting them out at an average of 360 fps. Repeating the same test with the Gamo PBA Platinums yielded an average of… are you ready… 467 fps! A velocity increase of – you guessed it – 30%.

I felt it unfair to do any formal accuracy testing with my battle-worn Beeman. It’s a good rifle, but has seen better days. Suffice it to say, even with my well-ridden pellet popper, the ammo shot with Minute of Rodent accuracy. Or, in everyday terms, all shots would have been covered by a quarter at 30ish paces, even with the turbulent meteorological conditions in my garage.

The real purpose for the Gamo PBA Platinum ammo is of course pest defense. Given recent cutbacks in our testing lab due to economic conditions, we were forced to substitute a couple of apples and an egg in place of suitable rodents. In fairness to our methodology though, eggs are among the most dangerous and irritable of foods. And rodents come from eggs right? Some do anyway.

The results speak for themselves:

In summary, the Gamo PBA Platinums were pretty impressive. If I hadn’t done such a thorough job of pest elimination with my stash of .22 Colibri’s, I might have more opportunity to test them against real live critters.

He said She said
‘She’ actually encouraged me to shoot an egg on video tape. What else matters? Unfortunately, I am unable to review these bullets as I am terrified to shoot the Chrony. I am actually a really good shot but “he” would kill me if I destroyed it. Actually, “he” is super nice and wouldn’t be mad but I might see him crying in “his” pillow tonight. I agree with whatever “he”says. Oh, also, I did buy the apples and they tasted delish :)

Gun Tote’n Mamas Take Over Operations of MIB

Gun Tote's Mamas Now Known As Mamas In Black

Gun Tote'n Mamas Now Known As Mamas In Black

The crack investigative team of My Gun Culture has recently uncovered a surprise coup within the Intergalactic Security Organization previously known as Men in Black (MIB). Due to the recent Hollywood smash hits Men In Black and Men In Black II, covers of the MIB organization and those of its top agents, J and K, have been blown, rendering their future undercover effectiveness limited.

A new team has been brought in to run the top-secret organization. Fronting as a women-owned company catering to the female concealed carry handbag market, Gun Tote’n Mamas has taken over management and day to day operations. The new team will be focused on securing the 1,500 aliens known to be residing on earth, protecting planet Earth from alien enemies, and of course making a wide variety of adorable, yet functional ladies concealed carry handbags. Insiders say that while the organizations name will remain unchanged – MIB – it’s meaning will now be Mamas In Black.

Agent Zed, former head of MIB was complimentary about the choice for his successor. “They have been doing good security work in the concealed carry handbag business” stated Zed. “For example, their concealed carry purses have slash resistant straps. Features like that can really come in handy when doing battle with a Bug alien.”

Typical Bug Alien

Typical Bug Alien (Image: Columbia Pictures)

As part of the new role, all seven women of Gun Tote’n Mamas have voluntarily submitted to have every trace of their identity and existence purged. Not all on the team are happy with their new code names L, M, N, O, P, Q, and R. “I really wanted to be AAA” complained spokesperson for the Mama’s in Black team, Ripley, now known as R. “Then I could have told people it stands for Awesome Alien Avenger.

While the new team’s headquarters location is classified as Top-Secret, off-the-record sources indicate that the Mama’s In Black will move out of the groups Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority facility and operate out of an abandoned Bath & Body Works store.

The British may come for their back taxes? Uh oh.

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