Carbide dies for Rifles?


April 22, 2008, 09:54 PM
I was having lunch today with a shooting pal. Between the two of us we have 80+ years experience reloading, and a question came up for which we have no answer.

No one that I am aware of makes a carbide sizing die for any bottle neck cartridges, nor for the longer straight walled cases like 45-70 or 405 Winchester.


There has to be a problem of some type in either the production, feasability or durability, but after some thought and discussion, we realized that while we have some opinions, we are a little short on facts.

So, anybody got the skinny on this?

And please, as my old Sgt Major used to say: "Don't tell what you think. Tell me what you know."

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Eric F
April 22, 2008, 10:25 PM
there use to be a reload shop where I live when I got into 45-70 I asked this question. He said several things most escape me now but cost was a big issue and also something about a thngth to thickness ratio for "large rifle cases" would just make the cases wrinkle instead of withstanding the processes. pistol cases are thinner but way shorter therefore stronger and able to withstand the stresses or resizing. Not so much what i think verses what the guy that told me thinks.

April 22, 2008, 10:29 PM
Dillon makes carbide sizing dies in several bottleneck rifle calibers. Actually, they don't make them themselves, but their subcontractors do. The dies for bottleneck cartridges have to be made in two pieces, and then pressed into the die body. Combined with the difficulty in machining carbide, this adds to the cost of making the dies, which is why they're expensive.

You still have to use case lube when using carbide sizing dies for rifle calibers, since there is so much bearing surface. It is easier to size the lubed case with carbide, but not that much easier. These dies are made for high production reloading operations.

The only carbide rifle dies I have are for .30 Carbine, a tapered case, and .308 Winchester, but that die only sizes the body of the case, and not the neck.

I do have carbide dies for two bottleneck pistol calibers, 357 Sig and 9x25 Dillon. I still lube those cases, as it's much easier on the brass.

Hope this helps.


April 22, 2008, 10:47 PM
Dillon makes carbide rifle dies for 308 and 223, but they still require lubrication. They simply last longer for "commercial" use.

Carbide dies for straight wall handgun cartridges (even ones with some taper) use a carbide ring to size the case to a cylinder, which is within tolerances even for tapered cartridges. The ring accomplishes two things: it reduces the amount of expensive carbide in the die, making it affordable, and it limits the area of the die that comes in contact with the case, reducing friction, and thus eliminating the need to lubricate the case.

Rifle cartidges have much more taper (even in "straight" wall cartridges), and require full contact with the die body, which results in too much friction to avoid lubrication even with carbide, so there is not much advantage to carbide in rifle dies, except for longevity.


April 22, 2008, 11:02 PM
Thanks, guys.

I learned something.

(I try not to do that too much nowadays. at my age it hurts!)

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