Lets talk about Dies


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HKGuns
March 24, 2005, 11:24 PM
So, who makes the best dies? What makes a die better than another?

I bought a Hornady LNL AP and bought Hornady Dies as well. Did I make a mistake by buying the Hornady dies? Are they pretty much all the same?

Educate me please. Why are rifle sets 2 dies and pistols sets are sometimes 3 or 4?

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swifter
March 24, 2005, 11:40 PM
Rifle dies are usually 1) sizing (neck or full length). And 2) seating. Most seating dies will crimp, if you find that desirable.

Pistol dies are often: 1) sizing.
2) belling, or case mouth expanding.
3) seating.
4) crimping, roll, taper, or profile.

I think the best commercial dies are made by Redding, and the very best are custom dies.
I don't like Hornady dies especially. I had a bad experience with 'em once, and I no longer bother. There are much better on the market. :D

Tom

trickyasafox
March 24, 2005, 11:44 PM
i use lee dies, certainly not the best, but i'd argue the best for the money :) swifter pretty well nailed why dies come in different numbers for pistols and for rifles, understand though that some rifle die sets are 3 die sets, and these are on straight walled cartridges.

great press! happy loading :cool:

HKGuns
March 24, 2005, 11:53 PM
Swifter,

I know this may be subjective, but what is it about the redding dies that you like? I didn't even consider them because you don't hear them mentioned very often.....Do they even make a press? I was kind of concerned about buying dies that wouldn't work in my press also! Nothing more frustrating than buying something that doesn't work.

Just curious as to why you like the redding dies. It surprises me...I sort of expected to hear "RCBS" or something else.

Is there any advantage to a 4 vs. 3 die set for pistol or is that purley subjective as well?

Thanks for the reponses guys. Keep em coming.

bogie
March 25, 2005, 12:20 AM
This is really all very simple.

You shove a thing into a forming device, and pull it out.

The forming device should be close to perfectly round, straight, etc.

The puller should do so with a straight motion.

Frankly, darn near any mass-market press/dies will do.

(disclaimer - I shoot benchrest - I use a Harrell custom bushing die ($70) with skip's carbide bushings ($30 each, available in half-thous) in a Harrell press (about $150 or so), and seat with a Carstensen seater ($135).)

HKGuns
March 25, 2005, 04:31 PM
Come on.......there has to be more people with opinions on Dies. Speak up and be heard......not trying to start a fight, just trying to get some opinions.

model 649
March 25, 2005, 05:32 PM
All my dies are Redding since the early 90's. They do a little better job holding tolerances than most. But most any dies will get the job done. As you spend more time handloading, you'll develop your own tastes and opinions in equipment. Dies are alot of fine machining for the money and they all have to be at least to a certain level to function at all, so large differences between the makes will be rare. Try some, and enjoy!
Josh

steve4102
March 25, 2005, 05:52 PM
Do they even make a press? I was kind of concerned about buying dies that wouldn't work in my press also! Nothing more frustrating than buying something that doesn't work.


To the best of my knowledge all of the newer Dies and presses have the same threads. You can use RCBS dies in Lee, Redding, Hornady presses and vis-versa. If you have an older press, the threads could be diff.

redneck2
March 25, 2005, 07:01 PM
I typically buy whichever are the most cost-effective (read cheapest)

I have RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, Lee, and Dillon. So much for brand loyalty.

I will say that I like Dillon in my 550 for pistol because they have a bigger bell and start cases easier. IMO, I suspect RCBS are on the lower end. Lee is one of the cheapest, but guarantees them to be as accurate as anything made.

Then again, I kinda like the Hornady 'cause they got the little slide thingy (technical term) that starts the bullet

If you like (or can justify) spending $50-80 apiece on Redding, have fun. My shooting isn't good enough to be able to tell the difference. My ammo holds minute-of-soup can and that's good enough.

Black Snowman
March 25, 2005, 08:42 PM
Most of my dies are Lee, but lately I've been getting the Hornady dies. I also have some RCBS.

I like the Hornady rifle dies for the eliptical expander. I like all of the Hornady dies for their lock rings and the floating seating and criping dies. I have to work a LOT harder to mess up a case or bullet using the Hornady seating dies and can get away with using less expansion letting me get a firmer tension on the bullet w/o any crimping.

lycanthrope
March 25, 2005, 09:40 PM
I find RCBS sizing dies superior to the Dillon for my pistols. The RCBS size the cases a bit farther and I don't need the Lee Factory Crimp die to correct the problems.

Other than that, for general purpose I don't think it will matter that much.

Bullet
March 25, 2005, 09:48 PM
I have Hornady for pistol and Redding for rifle. I've also used Dillon. They all seem to work. I use the Lee factory crimp dies too. I like the Redding seaters with the micrometer.

Wil Terry
March 25, 2005, 09:55 PM
All of them but one die set loaded perfectly acceptable, viable ammunition. The set that didn't was quickly replaced by that company, which is still in business, even though I had modified the first set to make them work as I was on a schedule and didn't have time to wait.
There is one company today who's dies are a PITA to adjust and whose " carbide " die ain't really a carbide die per se'. On the other hand this company's products seem to be quite popular so I guess I am in the minority there, or it's just a personal problem.
Loading dies are the crown jewels of handloading and their correct manufacturing originally and their correct adjustment by the user will be where the rubber meets the road in producing good ammunition.

taliv
March 25, 2005, 10:11 PM
i've been very happy with forster, hornady, dillon, wilson and lee dies.

in terms of concentricity (measured), the forster has a slight edge on the wilson, and both are quite a bit (relatively) better than dillon.

I've become dissatisfied with both of my dies that have built-in micrometers, so I won't be buying any more of that type.

one thing i particularly like about the forster is their little ring doohickey, where the screw doesn't touch the die threads.

i've heard plenty of people speak highly of redding, and i plan to buy a redding die shortly after my next gun purchase. even so, i don't think you can go really wrong with any of them.

cookiemonster
March 25, 2005, 10:13 PM
I use the Lee Carbides for pistol...and RCBS for rifle...I haven't had much of a problem yet...

Now there is one thing you need to rememeber...what you put in is what you get out...literally...so don't try to slam a dirty piece of brass in ANY die....

Best thing is to get a universal decapper...get all the brass deprimed and then tumble it in whatever concotion you want...I prefer straight walnut...gets in good and gets the nasty stuff out...then if your like me, go in with a plastic bottle brush modified and chucked up in a drill... :) Lazy side of me...

Or, in the short of it...case prep will extend ANY reloading die's life...and when your done...wipe 'em out and spray 'em down with some CLP if your not going to use them for a while...

MTCW and YMMV

Darrell

swifter
March 26, 2005, 01:12 AM
Shoudek,

I find Redding dies to be a tad better finished. I also like bushing dies. When I have a rifle custom chambered, I buy a set of Redding competition dies and send 'em with the rifle to my gunsmith, so he can ream the sleeves with the same reamer he cut the chamber. In standard chamberings I'll buy a Forster seater, they're a bit less$, but as good as Redding...

I have a lot of RCBS dies, but keep replacing them as my rifles change...

For handgun, I'm not so particular, even using Lee for rounds I don't load much :D Reason? I don't expect tiny groups from a handgun. :what:

Tom

pignock
March 26, 2005, 07:53 AM
I use Dillon pistol dies because they are easier to clean than all the others I've tried (Lee, Lyman, RCBS). This is important to me because reloading pistol rounds with lead bullets is messy - bullet lube and lead build up inside the dies. With Dillon dies you can pop out the insert, clean the insert and die with a nylon bore brush - without losing your adjustments.

I've got Redding and RCBS rifle dies and have no preference.

Wil Terry said:
There is one company today who's dies are a PITA to adjust and whose " carbide " die ain't really a carbide die per se'. On the other hand this company's products seem to be quite popular so I guess I am in the minority there, or it's just a personal problem.

Okay WT, pony up - this place takes no advertising so except for loyal owners, you ain't gonna upset anybody. Which brand is it?




Keith

Rico567
March 26, 2005, 09:58 PM
I started with a set of Lyman dies in .30-30, then got carbide sets in .38/.357 and .45 ACP. Then, for some reason, I switched brands and got some assorted RCBS rifle sets (.222, .223, 6mm Rem., .25-06, .270, .30-06), and a Redding set along the way in .243. Then some Lee dies blew in the door: .45 ACP, .38/357, .45 LC, .40 S&W. In recent years I've been using some Dillon carbide dies in .45 ACP and .223.
In all these dies, over 35 years, I cannot point to a single set that wouldn't turn out quality ammunition if I did my part. As someone already pointed out, but it bears repeating, dies will only function well with proper case prep. The cases should be CLEAN before they see the inside of a die. I scratched up a perfectly good .223 sizer die with dirty cases.

Matthew748
March 27, 2005, 06:50 AM
Most of the dies I have are by Lee, but I do have a few sets by Hornady, RCBS, and Lyman thrown in for good measure. Most of the shooting I do is informal target shooting, so I do not require best of the best just yet. One thing I would like to try in the future are the RCBS X dies. If there is one thing I don’t like about reloading its trimming cases.

BluesBear
March 27, 2005, 08:56 PM
Like Will Terry I have used a bus load of different brands over the past 30 years. I don't know if I've used 30 but I've never seen a brand of 7/8x14 dies that I haven't owned or used. Most of them ain't even around anymore.

Now I ain't gonna badmouth any one company but there's one well known and well used company that I'll never own another die set, press or primer tool from. I know a lot of folks here use them and I wish them well. I just have higher expectations for my ammo.


I prefer Redding dies. I just plain believe they're better. I honestly believe that their profile crimp die is currently the best out there.

But I have also had good results with Lyman, Hornady and RCBS dies. I still own a few sets from all three.

I really like the M-expander die that Lyman produces and often substitute it in a Redding set.


Yes Redding makes a press. They also make a fine powder measure. In fact they are a full line company.

For those of you who say you haven't heard of Redding, you haven't read all the way through your Blue Press. Dillon has been recommending and selling Redding dies since long before Dillon had their own brand.

Redding makes some serious precision rifle dies. Perhaps not as fancy as the custom guys do but dang near close. I'd hate to live or die on the difference.

But to each his own.
Load Safe. Load Smart.
Shoot Safe, Shoot Often.

ftierson
March 29, 2005, 12:49 AM
It doesn't help much when someone says that they have had bad luck with and, therefore, won't use, some well known company's dies...

I'm not sure what the secret is...

Personally, after initially using some Herters dies when I first started reloading, I started accumulating RCBS dies and have a couple of dozen sets of them in many different calibers. I have always been quite happy with them. I have had only two "problems" with RCBS dies... The first was with an early 9x19mmP carbide sizer, which left a distinct ring on the case (which I didn't like). The second was when I sent a .223 Rem. sizer back to be repolished (after loading tens of thousands of rounds through it). RCBS repolished it for free, and I was quite happy until a few years after the repolishing when I attempted to use the die and found that they had polished out the neck enough so that a case resized in it wouldn't hold a bullet. Bummer... However, the die was worthless anyway, so I really don't hold that against RCBS.

Several years ago, I started to buy Lee die sets. I now have "replacement" Lee die sets for everything that I load, and I have been quite happy with them. I especially like the Lee Carbide Pistol dies, the factory crimp dies, and their decapping die.

I still use a Herter's die in 6.5x55mm Swedish because it doesn't size the head quite as much as the RCBS die set that I have.

With proper care, most die sets work well and will last a long time.

By the way, I do think that Redding produces about the highest quality die sets available, short of custom made competition sets...

30Cal
March 29, 2005, 12:59 PM
I own over a dozen die sets from Redding, Forster, Lyman, RCBS, Lee and Dillon. Only one set (Lee) ever gave me headaches (an oversized expander ball). I have other dies from them that work great, and they do make good if there are problems--as does everyone that makes reloading dies. I don't think one set is better than another, although I do have personal preferences on locking rings and other features.

Ty

halvey
March 29, 2005, 01:32 PM
but what is it about the redding dies that you like? I didn't even consider them because you don't hear them mentioned very often.....Do they even make a press? I was kind of concerned about buying dies that wouldn't work in my press also! Nothing more frustrating than buying something that doesn't work. Many questions can be answered by a simple google search or going to a company's website. :banghead:

If you want precision rifle ammo, Redding or Forester is the way to go without talking about some of the high end custom stuff.

To make great pistol ammo fast: Dillon. Remember I put "fast" in there.

Otherwise, if you are just concerned about ammo going 'bang', anything will get you there.

landon74
March 30, 2005, 08:28 PM
I own several sets of RCBS dies, and several sets of Redding dies. My dad has been reloading for 30 some years, and has had virtually zero problems with either of those brands, so upon his recommendation those are the one's I've decided to go with. As for a difference in the two, Redding's die sets can be a bit more expensive than RCBS, but I don't know of any major difference in quality. That being said, I'm not a benchrest shooter or anything, but I the ammo produced out of either manufacturer's dies works well, and produces the accuracy I'd expect out of the firearms I load for.

BigSlick
March 30, 2005, 09:00 PM
I use Redding, RCBS and Dillon. I do use the Lee Universal decapping die.

I think the fit and finish of Redding is pretty darned good. I use a set for 500S&W and even for such a large straight wall case, it (with a little one-shot) glides glass smooth on the resize. I first purchased a set of RCBS for the 500, but wasn't overly impressed with them. They functioned OK, for the most part but you can definitely tell the difference when using the Redding.

One thing I find is that RCBS dies of current manufacture compared to those made say 15 years ago aren't exactly the same animal (at least the ones I have) where fit, finish and overall quality is concerned.

I use Dillon for pistol calibers on the 550 in the calibers they make - slicker than owl snot. Easy to clean, easy to swap seaters and fit and finish is as good as any I have ever seen.

I never liked Hornadys after I broke one (it cracked) when in the middle of resizing a few 30-06 cases a few years back. I have purchased the LNL bushing thingy for the Rock Chucker and it works pretty well.

Foresters are fantastic dies, but pricy. I don't do benchrest anymore so I don't have any of current manufacture to comment about.

If you want hell for stout dies, CH makes some calibers (or used to) in the 1ΒΌ" size. I think you could resize a muffler with those things with almost zero effort.

Just my experiences...

BigSlick

The Bushmaster
March 30, 2005, 09:45 PM
Lee

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