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!
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.
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.
|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.|