Rifle dies -need some new ones - what do you use ?


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BigSlick
December 18, 2005, 09:08 AM
Hi guys,

I need to get new dies in .223, .308 and 30-06. I had mine stored in a box when setting up my new bench and they got stored in the garage for a few days.

It iced up, rained and sleeted for a couple of days and I completely forgot about them. I pulled them out this morning and a couple of them are rusted all to hell, the others have a good coat of surface rust started. I had just cleaned all three sets with Q-tips and brake cleaner and forgot to lube them before storage since I *thought* I would be loading again the next afternoon.

I can clean some of these up, but it's the time of year with Christmas sales and such, and a local dealer is running a 10% off sale on reloading equipment. He has Hornady, RCBS, Lee, Lyman, Forster and Redding dies.

I have looked at the Hornady dies and they look pretty nice, with the optional mic seater that can be added to any rifle seat die for about $20. I like the Redding (of course), but the mic/comp seat dies run $60-80 a set. Forsters about the same. Lee dies are what they are, simple, but priced inexpensively. RCBS is priced between the Hornadys and Forster/Redding with the comp dies ringing in at $85. The local dealer stocks Lymans, but only the two die std. sets. Dillon makes carbides in .223 and .308, steel in 30-06. Dillon .223 and .308 include a crimp die.

Are the carbides worth the bucks ? My initial impression is no.

What's the best bang for the buck ? My current Reddings have served me very well, but if there is a better product out there, I would love to hear a few first hand recommendations. Determining a die fit and finish is kinda tough to do from just an online pic. Understandably, the local shop won't open any of the dies that are sealed unless I buy them.

I predominantly shoot for 3-gun and hunting, with the occasional day punching paper to sight in a scope or wring out a new load. I like the mic dies, but *could* get along without them since most of the loads I shoot have been worked out for a while.

I load in small batches on the Rock Chucker or T-7 turret, with 3 gun .223 loaded on the 550 or 650.

Thanks for the feedback ;)

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calaverasslim
December 18, 2005, 11:44 AM
RCBS

Seeing as how your not gonna find those 3 cals. in carbide, that question is moot. BTW, did I mention buy RCBS?

However, if you decide to go straight wall calibers, then I strongly recommend Carbide. I still lube my cases when I resize, even though I use carbide dies.

After re-reading your post, I think I covered it all.

BTW, did I mention RCBS.

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

The Bushmaster
December 18, 2005, 12:18 PM
LEE

I HATE TO BE A PARTY POOPER, BUT I HAVE NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEM USING LEE DIES. ESPECIALLY FOR .30-06. ACCURACY? WHEN YOU ARE HITTING INSIDE A FOUR INCH DOT AT 200 YARDS, THAT KINDA SPEAKS FOR ITSELF...

DID I MENTION LEE?

LEE

:neener: :neener: :neener: :neener: :neener: :neener: :neener: :neener:

dakotasin
December 18, 2005, 01:32 PM
now, i use only rcbs and redding.

lee is not allowed on my bench.
hornady is kind of hit-and-miss.
haven't used forster or lyman.

Art Eatman
December 18, 2005, 01:44 PM
I've used mostly whatever's cheapest. They all seem to work just fine. I've bought as many used dies at gunshows through these last forty years as I've bought new...

Art

1911user
December 18, 2005, 02:13 PM
I've got some lee die sets that work fine especially the collet neck-sizing dies.

I recommend and have purchased hornady the last few times. The finish and machining is nice. The die lock rings are the best IMO; once set and tightened, they stay set! The expander ball is a teardrop elliptical shape which is easier on the case neck and also helps if the case mouth is dinged on the side. The seating die is an inline style seater that centers the bullet in a sliding holder as the round goes into the die before it is pressed into the case. You already mentioned the micrometer seating adapter; never used it, but seems like a good idea.

If you really want carbide dies (for very high volume use), Dillon sells 223 and 308 rifle dies with carbide inserts although you still have to lube the cases. You just won't wear out the sizer die. They are expensive though; $100+ a set.

donkee
December 18, 2005, 03:43 PM
LEE, unless you just want to spend extra money to be stylish. If I were to be stylish, I would go Redding......

Matt-man
December 18, 2005, 04:11 PM
I've got Redding, Forster, and Hornady here. For my match guns I mix and match brands to get what I like in each step of the process.

I use the Redding and Forster micrometer seating dies. They both work very well. I think it's easier to reset the zero on the Forster mic than it is on the Redding. I haven't tried the optional Hornady mic head for their seating dies yet. I did notice that the Hornady seating sleeve is not spring-loaded like the Forster and Redding, but I can't say whether it matters or not.

I use a Hornady sizing die for my .308. I like the elliptical expander because my M1A has a tendency to dent the case mouth, and the elliptical expander irons them out smoothly. I use a Redding Type S sizing die with the neck bushings for my bolt gun.

I wouldn't mind trying the RCBS competition seating dies, but they require an extended shell holder. Not gonna work on my progressive press, so I guess I'll stick with the Redding and Forster. They both work fine in a progressive.

For general-purpose loading I use the Hornady sets. Like 1911user says, they have the inline seating dies that can also be upgraded with the mic head, and the lock rings really are the best - I bought a bunch of the lock rings and put them on all my other dies. Again, the elliptical expander is nice. The die boxes are also larger than other brands so you can store the dies with the Hornady LnL bushings installed if you have one of the LnL presses. I'd end up buying the die box and lock rings separately if I bought another brand, so the fact that they are included with the Hornady sets makes Hornady the best buy for me.

trickyasafox
December 18, 2005, 05:01 PM
if your shooting off the shelf rifles like me, i cant justify any die set other then lee dies

tc300mag1
December 18, 2005, 05:09 PM
Lee and rcbs mostly

taliv
December 18, 2005, 05:32 PM
i don't mix and match, but otherwise, +1 what mattman said.

forester dies are excellent. redding's reputation speaks for itself. rcbs and lee are definitely in the "best bang for the buck" category. some of us want to spend more bucks to get more bang; some don't. whatever floats your boat.


i will say though, that i'd make sure i get a radiused mouth on if i was loading on a progressive press. to my knowledge, forester doesn't have that feature. that's the only strike against them (well, that and cost).

oh, and my experience with dillon dies has been less than spectacular. i wouldn't get them unless they come with a blue press

Vern Humphrey
December 18, 2005, 05:54 PM
I go with Lee -- the exception to that rule being when someone else has a specialty die that Lee doesn't offer (the RCBS X-Die which allows you to full-length resize without the case "growing" is a good example. I use it in M1 rifle loads and for .30-30s.)

The Lee Collet Die is the answer for some perplexing reloading problems -- it's the only one I'd use for .22 Hornet, for example.

And Lee pistol dies give good crimps in the same operation as seating -- and when you're loading thousands of revolver cartridges, that's a major advantage.

Matt-man
December 18, 2005, 09:59 PM
I figured out one reason why the Redding Competition and Forster Benchrest/Ultra seating dies are more expensive than the Hornady inline die: The sleeve in the Redding and Forster dies support the whole case during the seating process. The Hornady sleeve only goes just past the shoulder. Unless you're trying to get every last bit of accuracy out of your ammo, it probably doesn't matter.

The Lee Collet Die is the answer for some perplexing reloading problems -- it's the only one I'd use for .22 Hornet, for example.

Vern, could you expand on this a little? I understand how the collet die works, but I don't know why or when I would use it instead of a regular sizing die.

calaverasslim
December 18, 2005, 10:42 PM
Every one is right. You use what you want and hope for the best. The main reason I recommend RCBS is the lifetime warrenty. I had a 45acp carbide die break after I dropped it. It was 22 years old. No questions asked, New die. Good luck

newfalguy101
December 18, 2005, 10:56 PM
I use RCBS and Hornandy dies pretty much exclusively, with the nod to Hornady for NEW dies due mainly to cost.

I picked up a used set of .357/.38sp Pacific dies ( Now Hornady) and the first time I used them I found out they they were sold, the inside of the sizing die was so scratched that it scratched to the point of removing material from every case I ran through it.

I says to my self " Self, lets send this into Hornady and see if they will polish it or send you a new one" So I did, along with a couple scratched cases and instructions to polish if possible or replace if not, and asked them let me know how much it would cost me.

Long story shortish, they sent me a NEW sizing die with a bill for ZERO.

Ahhh customer service.

The plant is also only 50ish miles form me so I used to go there and buy "reject" bullets from them, cool

scotty
December 19, 2005, 02:14 AM
I have used dies from Lee, RCBS, Forster, Redding, Hornady, and Dillon. No complaints about any of them. All have been used to load ammo that is functional and accurate.

I always go with carbide dies for straightwall pistol cartridges. Dillon is the only one I've seen that offers carbide dies in bottleneck rifle cartridges and the only advantage they claim is a much longer service life. Having never worn out a set of dies, I don't know that this is a big deal for someone not loading huge amounts of ammo.

Vern Humphrey
December 19, 2005, 04:52 PM
Vern, could you expand on this a little? I understand how the collet die works, but I don't know why or when I would use it instead of a regular sizing die.


In a normal sizing die, the case is pushed up into the die, squeezing it back to proper dimensions. This means the force of the ram is transmitted through the walls of the case. Have you ever had a neck-sized only case refuse to go back into the chamber it was fired in (or go back with difficulty)? This may be due to the case being slightly bulged by the force needed to neck size.

Have you ever had a neck-resized (and sometimes a full-length resized) case where the bolt was difficult to close? This can be due to the expander ball being pulled backward through the neck.

With the collet die, the collet itself contacts the shell holder -- no stress at all is placed on the case -- and as the collet closes, the neck is sized radally. With some cases like the Hornet, this makes a big difference. In fact, with the Hornet, I put two washers on the shell holder. This causes the collet to close early, sizing only the last quarter inch of the neck. The rest of the neck is left expanded, and acts as a pilot, centering the case and bullet.

donkee
December 19, 2005, 06:24 PM
At this time, it looks like 41.3% of us are cheap idiots. When will we ever learn? :evil:

The Bushmaster
December 19, 2005, 09:28 PM
Donkee...Who you callin' "cheap idiots":neener: ...I come by it by birth...Scotsman and all that you know. I'm just "cheap". Besides. Let's face it...The (Lee) work...:D

HSMITH
December 19, 2005, 09:28 PM
I like Redding dies the best, but have one set of almost everything on the list.

You can buy good dies from anyone, but my money is on Redding anymore, consistently great dies.

Lennyjoe
December 19, 2005, 11:57 PM
I use Lee for full sizing and RCBS for neck sizing dies.

donkee
December 20, 2005, 06:38 AM
Bushmaster, I'm callin' you, me, and all the other LEE guys cheap! I really can't see buying anything else since it works and lasts. I have 1 Redding neck sizer die for .303 and 1 RCBS in 30-06. The only reason I got the RCBS dies was to compare the ammo made from them with ammo made with LEE dies. All my other die sets are LEE and have been great dies. I never have had an ammo related problem. LEE make good stuff and it has always worked for me.

db_tanker
December 20, 2005, 07:47 AM
I have a rainbow in my cupbord where I keep my rifle/pistol dies...but I have actually been ordering and purchasing Hornady's for the last 3 rifles...I like their sliding bushing that helps to keep the bullet from going cock-eyed and wrinkling a case...mind you, that I use with a 22 Hornet, 7-30 waters and 45-70 govt. and I am very pleased with these items.

They are a bit lower in cost than RCBS, but a touch more expensive than Lee...and they carry a lifetime warranty.


MTCW
D

USSR
December 20, 2005, 07:59 AM
Redding Competition Die Sets in all rifle calibers (6.5x55, .308, .30-06).

Don

444
December 20, 2005, 08:45 AM
From now on, I am going to buy dies based on how easy they are to use.

I was loading .223 the other day on my Dillon 550, using Dillon dies. The bullet seating die has a little thin nut on it that locks the bullet seater in place. I have two or three different die wrenches from various companies and none of them fit this nut. So, I used a 6" cresent wrench. But, the nut is so thin, it is really hard to get on the nut and the wrench keeps slipping.............. This is BS. I am sick of fighting stuff like this. The next bullet seater I get is going to have a micrometer that I can adjust with my fingers. IMO, these Dillon dies are the hardest to use. RCBS is close behind them. Followed by Lee. Hornady dies are among the easiest, but I think the easist dies to use are Redding.
Maybe it is just me, but I do use different bullets. In other words, I don't have one load that my dies are set for and I never need to adjust them again. For example in .223 I shoot many thousands of 55 grain FMJ for practice, but for serious accuracy shooting or varimint hunting etc. I load the 77 grain matchking. Which means I have to fight these little nuts etc. Same thing in '06 and .308. I buy bulk 150 grain bullets but also shoot heavier matchkings. I want easy to adjust dies with repeatable settings.
Dies last a long time, why not spend the extra money and get good ones ? We arn't talking about a lot of money here.

halvey
December 20, 2005, 11:22 AM
WHEN YOU ARE HITTING INSIDE A FOUR INCH DOT AT 200 YARDS, THAT KINDA SPEAKS FOR ITSELF... There it is ladies and gentlemen...Lee will get you 2 MOA. Wow!! Impressive!!! :)

Matt-man
December 20, 2005, 04:34 PM
Maybe it is just me, but I do use different bullets. In other words, I don't have one load that my dies are set for and I never need to adjust them again. For example in .223 I shoot many thousands of 55 grain FMJ for practice, but for serious accuracy shooting or varimint hunting etc. I load the 77 grain matchking. Which means I have to fight these little nuts etc. Same thing in '06 and .308. I buy bulk 150 grain bullets but also shoot heavier matchkings. I want easy to adjust dies with repeatable settings.

This is precisely why I love the micrometer seating dies. You can adjust them without tools, and they're marked so you can go right back to the proper setting for a particular load.

mrb302
December 20, 2005, 05:57 PM
I bought a set of Hornady New Dimensions 30-06 and the cases would not go into the full length sizer. I called tham and received excellent service. They sent me another sizer die body for free. Oddly enough, the cases would not go into it either. I tried my cases, my neighbor's cases from a different gun and a different brand case. Even tried nickel plated. Out of about 40+ cases tried, only 3 went in.

Picked up a RCBS full length sizer and have yet to have a case not go.

I'm not sure what's up with the Hornady, but I would buy their brand again based on customer service and thier willingness to help.

I actually use the RCBS sizer and the Hornady seater. The Hornady seater has the free sliding sleeve where as the RCBS just has the seater plug.

BigJakeJ1s
December 20, 2005, 10:25 PM
Hornady's micrometer adjuster screw works with any of their new dimension series dies, creating a "competition" style seater die for any caliber they offer dies for.

I got started in reloading by straightening the bullets in a bunch of S&B 7.62x25 ammo I bought. I have a CZ52 with an off center chamber/bore that will jam the bullet into the lead if it is not seated straight, and rotated to just the wrong orientation when chambered. (I got a couple of blown primers that way, but no damage. The bolt face left it's impression on the rear of the brass too.) Anyway, I started with using lee seating dies in a lee hand press. They did not straighten the crooked bullets very well at all (the seater plug had a lot of side-side play). Then I tried an rcbs set (30 mauser, but close enough), and it worked better, but still not consistently. Finally, I bought a hornady 30 lugar seater die (upper dimensions are almost identical between them), and it works perfectly every time.

YMMV, HTH, etc. ...

Andy

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