Need help in selecting dies


December 5, 2006, 07:26 PM
I was wondering if many of you use one type press and another manufacturers dies? I'm using a Dillon press, but was wondering if I could use Lee, Forster, RCBS etc dies in it for pistol loading (or even rifle for that matter). I realize the conversion kit needs to be Dillon, but the dies? What about the powder die? Dillon because of the powder funnel / expander or someone elses altogether? Do all of you stick with the same manufacturers product all the way or do you mix and match and what are the results? Thanks....

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December 5, 2006, 08:07 PM
You can use just about any brand of dies in your Dillon unless it is a Square Deal B, which uses proprietary dies. My personal die preference is Lee carbide dies.

December 5, 2006, 08:16 PM
+1 what .41Dave said.

December 5, 2006, 08:18 PM
I tried Lee dies and RCBS dies.....both of my presses use only Lee now.;) ;)

December 6, 2006, 06:06 AM
Typically with my 550...

#1 resizes and decaps, insert primer on return stroke

#2 uses the Dillon measure/funnel to resize the neck and insert powder

#3 seats and may crimp bullet

(optional) #4 can use Lee FCD die if you choose

I've got Hornady, Lyman, Lee, RCBS, and Dillon dies

December 6, 2006, 06:59 AM
Treebeard, is your choice an economic or quality based decision? For me, not even having purchased dies yet, it looks like the $6 difference is simply to buy an RCBS quality service lifetime warranty- which may be worth it.
Performance is a different matter, and could be a tie-breaker.

December 6, 2006, 01:46 PM
I own a 650 complete set up. I use Dillion Dies for all my pistol and revolver reloading. I use RCB's for rifle. Using the RCB's save you some money.
Just remeber it nice to have a company(Dillon)for customer service...

December 6, 2006, 06:54 PM
One thing I didn't mention was pistol vs rifle. For pistol, I'd go with Dillon as the chamfer is larger and you'll crush less cases. Loading will go faster and smoother.

Rifle...I like Hornady because of the little slide thingy for bullet seating. They have good prices. IMO, RCBS are a little more crude. They'll work, but for the same money I'll pick Hornady. Actually, I think Lee (particularly the collet dies for rifle) are a great pick. The finish on Lee is noticeably better than RCBS.

Some guys are gung-ho for Redding. I was always too cheap to cough up the bucks, so I don't know.

As for the warranty....what's ever gonna go wrong?? Either they work or they don't. Every mfg stands behind them AFAIK.

December 6, 2006, 10:03 PM
Can't help you with die choices for Dillon press but I have always used RCBS dies in whatever press I was using at the time: CH 3 station H, Bair 3 station H, RCBS Rock Chucker, Hornady ProJector, Hornady L-N-L, etc.

Good shooting and be safe.

December 7, 2006, 02:40 PM
Redding dies for my Dillon 550B

December 9, 2006, 12:18 AM
Hornady New Dimension pistol dies on my 550.

December 9, 2006, 09:54 AM
I would like to jump into this discussion with my two cents please. I load for numerous rifles, and at last count, nine(9) pistol and revolver cartridges. These are loaded on two Dillon 550B's that are set up for large and small primers. Over the years I have found that Redding dies are about the best made dies on the market and use only Redding dies for all my rifle loading. However, I have found that Dillon pistol dies work best on my 550B's. Reasons are the more open die mouth on the sizing die makes it faster to use and no mouth crushing, also the expander die in a three die pistol set is useless on the Dillon, the self contained different seatiing stem for different bullet styles on the seating die and finally the ease of disassembly to clean the dies after loading lubed lead bullets that most of us use. I sold all my Redding and RCBS pistol dies on eBay several years ago. JMHO

December 9, 2006, 10:32 AM
Hey, Loadedround, not to disparage Dillon dies (I understand they're excellent) but I've loaded thousands upon thousands of 45 ACP without crushing a case using Lee and currently Hornady dies. The one or two times I did, was when my cartridge spring was too tight against the case not allowing the case to self center in the sizing die. I do like the Dillon die features, but a little too pricey for me.

Ben Shepherd
December 9, 2006, 11:31 AM
Bronson7- THANKS!! I think you've told me why my 650 crushes the occasional 357 case mouth. It's been driving me nuts. Totally random occurence. Hadn't thought of that.

As for dies, I use mostly RCBS, a couple redding, and I have used the lee *factory crimp* dies on occasion.

The Bushmaster
December 9, 2006, 11:59 AM
Lee and RCBS

December 9, 2006, 12:09 PM
Hi Ben, I'm talking about the 550 in particular. Honestly, I don't know how the 650 works.

December 9, 2006, 01:49 PM
Bronson7: I respect your opinion and have no desire to refute it. However after using my first Dillon 550 for over fifteen plus years starting with Lyman 45 ACP carbide dies, switching to RCBS dies, and then finally to the Dillon dies, is when I noticed a great difference in smoother and faster operation. Granted the Dillon dies are more expensive but for me they do a much better job in producing match grade ammunition. Just compare the Dillon sizer die to a Lee or RCBS and you see the difference in quality right away. BTW(1) if you buy any other brand of dies what do you do with the useless expander die, and you still need to buy a separate crimp die. So what savings? BTW(2) H ave you priced Redding dies lately? Almost as much as Dillon dies. YMMV Merry Christmas!

Ben Shepherd
December 9, 2006, 03:17 PM
Button locators. But it's something that may be the cause. Maybe just one particular headstamp is a little too large.

highlander 5
December 9, 2006, 03:46 PM
I use Dillon for most of my pistols Redding for my rifles and RCBS for my 45 Schofield ammo Had Lyman 357 mag but didn't care for them but can't remember why

Ben Shepherd
December 9, 2006, 04:00 PM
On the original subject:

For those of you that load heavy/nasty 357, 41, 44 stuff, you owe it to yourself to try a redding profile crimp die. Wonderful.

It does a slight taper crimp that finishes with a good roll crimp. Extreme spread numbers go down, accuracy comes up a tad, and brass life increases. The last benefit there due to you not having to put that heavy crushing roll crimp on them, with the addition of the taper crimp that helps hold those big slugs in place during recoil.

December 10, 2006, 10:21 PM
With Dillon dies, you do not have the option of seating and crimping in one station, which means you also do not have the option of moving that op to station #4 and using a powder cop at station #3.

I don't have a progressive press, so I cannot comment on the relative merits of Dillon's wider opening in their sizing dies. But I use Hornady dies, and really like them, especially with lead bullets. Like the Dillon seaters, they come apart without tools to clean, and go back together without requiring readjustment. Unlike the Dillon, the have a floating alignment sleeve like Redding and Forster precision seating dies, and they take an optional micrometer adjusting screw like them too. And they give you the option of crimping while seating, and therefore using a powder cop on a 550. Note that to seat & crimp in one step, you need to keep your case lengths consistent.


December 11, 2006, 05:52 AM
I use the Lee carbide dies for my revolvers:D

December 11, 2006, 12:23 PM
I think the smart thing to do is to figure out what cartridge you're loading for, how you want the final cartridge to turn out and then make a decision on what dies to use.

I started focusing more on making cartridges that fit specific firearms better, are more convenient to reload, have specific features or are for rifle/pistol etc., I've found I don't always want to use a single brand of die. In some cases, I have a set of dies on my press based on 1. Not wanting to trim (RCBS x-die.) 2. Wanting guided bullet seating (Hornady seating die and 3. Separating seating and crimping - (Lee Factory Crimp die)

So I say don't sweat which brand you buy, but rather focus on the results you're trying to achieve, research the available dies on the market and pick those that will do what you're wanting to do.


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