Lee dies


September 3, 2009, 02:46 PM
I have numerous die sets. All are RCBS or Hornady. I am trying to find an RCBS carbide die set for M1 .30 Carbine, but, I've had no luck (all out of stock). I did find Lee carbide dies and noticed they are cheaper than RCBS. I am interested in knowing the difference, quality, etc in the Lee product and whether they will fit my RCBS press. Or, is there a site that might offer a review that I should read?



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September 3, 2009, 02:51 PM
They don't measure up to RCBS in fit and finish (IMHO), but they will load good ammo. I have some Lee dies, as well as RCBS, Redding, Forster, Lyman, C&H, Hornady....

September 3, 2009, 03:54 PM
I'm not a fan of Lee Dies. I purchased a Lee Carbide 30 Carbine die set and cracked the carbide sizer die in the first 100 cases sized w/lube. Lee replaced it and it too cracked after 200 cases. Lee did replace it the second time and I finally dumped the whole set on Ebay for two dollars more than I paid for the set. Bought a set of Dillon carbide dies and never looked back. Originally bought the Lee dies because they were cheap but learned that is no such thing as a free lunch! You get what you pay for! :cuss:

September 3, 2009, 04:17 PM
no such thing as a free lunch! You get what you pay for!

So you're trying to tell us all there is no such thing as value. Its very obvious you have never been in a purchasing position for a large company where a 1/4 of a penney makes the difference whether the vendor gets the business or not.

Did you lube the cases before resizing? I've loaded in the last 2 years somewhere between 10 to 20 thousand rounds of 30 carbine with Lee carbide dies with no problem.

Lee's biggest problem IMO is they have no bragging rights to your other shooting pals.

September 3, 2009, 04:30 PM
The 1st set of dies I ever bought were Lee carbide 45LC. Still got them and use them for 3000-4500 cases a year. I do own other brands such as RCBS and Lyman. I have had no problems with any of them. The only reason I bought the higher priced dies is that they were out of Lee dies and I ain't very patient.
I never lube my straight walled cases. If I was gonna I would not have bought a crabide set. jmo Bob

September 3, 2009, 04:45 PM
I agree with you about not having to lube straight walled cases but in the case of the 30 cal. carbine it sure makes resizing much easier. I lube with a spray of teflon, much easier than doing them one at a time.

BTW 30 cal. carbine is not straight walled but tapered.

If you check their catalog the Slap Chop Lee Loader in this caliber is listed as being more difficult to resize.

September 3, 2009, 04:53 PM
I didn't know the 30cal was tapered, my bad. thanks Bob

September 3, 2009, 05:17 PM
I went nuts and have bought 10+ sets of lee dies over the last year when I started into reloading. I'm thinking of trying out the other vendors for my more critcal calibers.
I have problems with two sets (out of 10!):
8mm Mauser FL sizing die was finished too deep, not bumping the shoulder back far enough and none of the brass would chamber in 3 rifles. I milled the top of the shell holder thinner to compensate.
7.62x54R bullet seating die, HUGE sharp burr in the narrowest section of the die neck. Severely mangling the bullet & brass. I'm using my 8x56R Hungarian die for the moment.
I haven't sent them back to fix as I didn't want to spend $8 shipping for repairs on two $8 parts.

September 3, 2009, 07:16 PM
I have several sets of Lee dies and find them to be an innovative design and an excellent product for the money, with never a problem.
I also have some Pacific, RCBS, Lyman, and Herter's, and they do need a decapping pin once in a while.


September 3, 2009, 08:42 PM
I have sized many, many thousands of 30 Carb. cases with my Lee carbide die set. Good product with good backup. I did buy a Lyman "M" die to ease loading cast bullets.

September 3, 2009, 09:11 PM
I use lee, rcbs, redding, and forster dies. I use the lee dies probably 90% of the time, with the others for relatively specialized purposes. They aren't always as pretty as some other manufacturers, but they produce just as, and in some cases, more accurate ammunition.

And yes, all dies will fit all presses.

September 3, 2009, 09:51 PM
"I am interested in knowing the difference, quality, etc in the Lee product and whether they will fit my RCBS press."

Mr. Essayons is correct in my experience as well. I have dies from Bonanza, Herters, Lyman, Hornady, Pacific, Eagle, Ruhr-American, Redding, RCBS, Foster, CH, Savage (yeah, they once sold dies too), Lachmiller, LEE and a couple of others I can't remember off hand. The ONLY ones that were out of SAAMI specs are the Savage and they didn't stay in the market long.

Externals vary quite a bit but it's the insides that do the job and my tests of several dimensions from all those brands, including duplicates in some cartridges, showed no average advantage to ANY brand of conventional dies. Meaning Lee's make as good ammo as any on average, and sometimes better. If you gage "quality" by the external eye candy others do look nicer. ??

Two brands of "BR/Competion" dies, Foster and Redding, are (slightly) superior to convientional types. Few facory rifles are good enough to see the difference tho.

All modern dies except one unsual line from Dillon (SDB ?) interchange in both presses and shell holders.

September 3, 2009, 10:10 PM
I currently own 20 sets of Lee dies, all work perfectly and have had no problems in the last 100,000 rounds loaded.:) I have other brands of dies and they also work well but at a larger price when purchased. Next time I will buy Lee dies again!:D If you treat a tool with respect and use it only for the use it was intended it usually will last a lifetime.:cool:

September 3, 2009, 10:36 PM
+1 to FROGO207

I own about 12 sets of Lee dies. I have loaded several thousand rounds of ammunition with them and no problems.

September 3, 2009, 10:37 PM
After using 5 or 6 brands of dies (new and used) I do believe Lee offers the best value in dies. I finally replaced my 9mm Lee dies earlier this year with Dillon dies, but I retained the Lee crimp die because it was simply better than the Dillon crimp die.

September 3, 2009, 10:41 PM
Have about 10 sets of Lee dies and one RCBS. No question, RCBS looks nicer and cost more but I've NEVER had ANY problems with Lee dies over 14 years of using them. The ammo they produce measures up to any other I've shot and Lee has great tech support.

I've called them a few times with questions and always have gotten very cordial and knowledgeable answers.

Maybe if I was a serious bulk reloader or benchrester I'd look at Dillon or Forster/RCBS, but I'm not. I've been real happy with all my Lee stuff - presses, primer and other accessories -- and haven't yet found a reason to go "upscale." JMHO, YMMV.

September 3, 2009, 11:12 PM
I have other brands I got that were "Pre Owned".

I like the Lee dies when I'm paying for them. I don't like their lock rings with the O-ring. There are ways around that including changing the lock ring.

September 3, 2009, 11:14 PM
Bottom line is, if Lee were as bad as some would have us believe they would have disappeared years ago, long before the Yugo.

Isn't it odd when a die set costing less than $20.00 has a flaw we tear into the manufacturer claiming his complete product line is crap. But we spend $15/20 thousand on a new vehicle and it has a major flaw we march down to the dealer for warrenty work and still think the manufacturer is building the greatest line of cars ever.

Lee may have had some defective products here lately but does anyone stop to think of the pressure they are under trying to just fill back orders, let alone trying to fill new orders.

Just my 2 cents

September 3, 2009, 11:26 PM
I like my 9MM lee dies and I plan to buy 357 sig lee dies

September 3, 2009, 11:32 PM
I have Lee in 9mm and .45acp and like them very much.

September 4, 2009, 09:16 AM
Jcwit: With all the changes in our current federal government since last November, I do believe we still have the right of free speech and expression. Having said that, all I have done is express my experience with Lee dies, and and at no time have I badmouthed any user of these dies. There is no possible way any person could possibly compare Lee dies with dies made by Redding...my dies of choice when not using Dillon dies for my two 550B's. Again, Mr. Jcwit, quality is in the eye of the beholder and I do not like Lee dies. BTW, I do currently own one set of Lee dies in 44-40 WCF. Lee was the only manufacturer in stock when I went to purchase dies to reload my two Colt 44-40SAA's. The dies do work well. :)

September 4, 2009, 09:55 AM
"There is no possible way any person could possibly compare Lee dies with dies made by Redding...my dies of choice when not using Dillon... The (Lee) dies do work well."

So, just for clarification, your comparision criteria for die quality excludes primary function, performance and durability even tho you agree Lee dies "do work well"?

September 4, 2009, 10:18 AM
Most cars sold will get folks from point A to point B (Home to work, right? ;)), so they all work for what is needed, but folks buy Jaguars as well as Pintos.

The big difference is some folks are willing to pay for better workmanship, even if it performs no better, although often times it does.

I do not prefer Lee dies, but I do have some because it was cheaper by far to try out a caliber in them vs say RCBS, but I have never said Lee dies don't work, and have at times complimented some Lee dies.

I have said they are not as well finished, and they are not. I have said that their expander dies are often times rough as a cob and "grab" at the case when pulling out of the case, which they do, but I have never said Lee dies do not work, because they do, and quite well most times.

One could go back and find where I have said more than once that Lee dies will load good ammo, and I mean that too. ;)

jcwit had a fine point as to how folks tear into the "budget" brands when there is a problem, and make excuses for the "top of the line" brands when they have a problem. It's human nature.

September 4, 2009, 10:37 AM
Jcwit: With all the changes in our current federal government since last November, I do believe we still have the right of free speech and expression

Just where did I say that one did not have this right.

Originally bought the Lee dies because they were cheap but learned that is no such thing as a free lunch! You get what you pay for!

This broad statement emplies that only the high priced product lines are acceptable, "no such thing as a free lunch". Ever buy something and realized you got more value "quality" than you paid for? This is/was the point I was/am trying to get across. I have a big problem with blanket statements covering everything. But then again thats just me expressing my right to free speach.

September 4, 2009, 10:49 AM
Nowhere. ;) :)

The Bushmaster
September 4, 2009, 11:20 AM
Other then My two scales and a case trimmer (RCBS) all of my reloading equipment is Lee. What's the problem? Broken carbide ring? Maybe you adjusted the die wrong...Just maybe. I have Lee dies sets from over 20 years ago and have yet to break a carbide ring...

September 4, 2009, 12:32 PM
All my "active" calibers are now Lee--I currently load for .38 Special, 357 Magnum, 10mm, .45ACP, and .223.

All die sets are in turrets--4-die for an updated Turret, and 5-die for the Load-Master, save for the .223--that's turret only, and can be loaded with the typical "prep" workflow with only the three dies.

Early on, I tried other die sets--but basically, I've stayed with the Lees. The Hornady (?) Nitrides appealed to me--but I found them to be of little practical benefit.

I even have the FCD setups, and find no fault with them for building good fodder when set up properly.

I now have several scales--but my daily user is the Lee scale; I've learned how to use it reliably, and its small size is a factor on my current bench. I do have a power Lyman trimmer--but it is largely unused since I do little rifle reloading yet, and I don't trim my (pistol) straightwall cases except as a wintertime project--maybe.

Jim H.

September 4, 2009, 01:32 PM
I have Lee die sets for all of the calibers that I shoot, 6 handgun, 380ACP - 45ACP, and 4 rifle, 223 - 300 mag. I have never had any problem with the dies except for the occasional decapping pin break. The dacapper pins only break when the shell is not pushed all the way into the shell holder. Generally this is caught when the shell first enters the decapping die, but not always as one starts getting faster as the reloading session continues.

I started reloading 15 years or so ago for accuracy and was very sucessful, but being retired, I reload now for economy at the range. Taking your grown kids to the range for some fun and practice when each wants to shoot at least a box of 40s, 45s or 44 mag is well beyond my capability without reloads. Lee being lowest cost in dies is a plus.

My experience with Lee has been exceptional, especially with their taper crimp rifle and pistol dies.

September 4, 2009, 01:40 PM
Jcwit: Let's discuss it over a beer...I'm buying. Unfortunately my training causes me to select quality over practicality in most cases. If I made a design error, and had a systems failure, hundreds could be injured or worse...hopefully you can see my point of view. :D

September 4, 2009, 01:49 PM
Sounds like a good idea, and we probably have alot in common, and would have a good time hashing over the worlds problems. With the quality/price of Lee dies being one of the more insignificant problems.

With that being said "dam I hate that phrase" I seriously doubt I'll get that far east again, but thats another story for another day.

September 4, 2009, 01:59 PM
I have one die set that uses a Lee sizer, a Redding expander, a Hornady seater, and a C&H crimp die. 9MM. Works great. :D

I'll buy the beer, but won't partake, if that's OK. Just let me know what the tab was jcwit, if ya'll ever get together. ;)

September 4, 2009, 02:15 PM
What brand of press is that conglomeration on? What reloading manual gave you all the info to do this? Just joking of course!

September 4, 2009, 02:59 PM
:scrutiny: :D

September 4, 2009, 03:11 PM
I've got a couple sets of LEE dies and couple sets of RCBS dies. They all are capable loading good ammo.

I actually prefer the Lees dies. They are easier for me to set up, maybe because LEE were the first dies I ever set up. I still have that first 3 die set (.45ACP) and have use them almost every week since 1995 and they are still prouducing top quality ammo. I don't expect them to stop anytime soon.


September 4, 2009, 04:01 PM
Nobody even asked me about my two sets of Bair dies in 30-06 and 38/357. I'm crushed. :(

September 4, 2009, 04:45 PM
What do you think of those Bair dies? Are they as good as my Herters? :)

September 4, 2009, 06:59 PM
See their I told you we probably had something in common. My first complete reloading set was a Bair in 38/357 set, press, powder measure, scales, dies, deburring tool ect. The set is all Blue, I even have the box for it yet. Was given to me by a salesman who rep'ed for Bair. I bought camping supplies from other companies he rep'ed. At the time I was a purchasing agent for a camping supply company.

Bair dies, made of tool steel and chrome plated and yes they will rust.

September 4, 2009, 07:19 PM
I have had problems with Hornaday dies also and they don't come cheap. I find the ammo for my 300 Win just don't work als well as from RCBS dies. I have aluminum dies even that work out okay for a 22 Hornet.

September 4, 2009, 07:20 PM
I have loaded all kinds of ammo with Lee dies and not one problem. They seem like a good value to me...

September 4, 2009, 07:40 PM
Who makes Aluminum dies?

September 4, 2009, 10:56 PM
Walk: "The big difference is some folks are willing to pay for better workmanship, even if it performs no better, although often times it does."

I wasn't trying to challange you, just wanted to see your point more clearly. You did that.

I too appreciate excellant machining and like "purty" things too - check my (now old) wife's photos in her youth!

But, as the saying goes, "beauty is only skin deep." I've found NO difference in function or accuracy with ammo made from some homley Lee dies and my flashier dies so I dislike seeing implications that those with less to spend are only getting "starter" dies when they buy Lee. Lee has`a purty all its own!

Lee ain't my favorite dies, that's Forster, but I DO have a few Lees. And, on AVERAGE, few rifles can tell any difference between ammo made with any die brand available. And I believe the loader's SKILL far exceeds the simple value of any brand of tools. So...?

We can NEVER get more than we pay for but we can, and often do, get LESS than we pay for! My limited experience with two Jaguars (one English, one American) didn't impress me.

September 5, 2009, 12:03 AM
We can NEVER get more than we pay for but we can

Here we go with a blanket statement again. Short story!!
I served in the Army with another chap who wished to buy a car for his future wife to drive back and forth to work. He bought her a used Renault from a private party for $10.00. The vehicle had less than 500 miles on the odmeter and was 2 months old from being sold new from the dealership. I know this for a fact as I was the witness on the title. This was in 1967.

Yes it is very possible to get more than one pays for something, it does happen.

BTW he and his wife drove the $10.00 car for 8 years, basic cost of the car per year $1.25.

September 5, 2009, 08:53 AM
Jcwit: We do have something in common. After I started loading, I went from a Lyman Tru-line Jr press and dies to a Bair O-type press(Grizzly I believe) and Bair dies to go with it. I used this press for case forming up to 3 years ago until I gave it to a friend who just started reloading and it's still running great. That press dates back to the mid sixties! The two sets of Bair dies I have are still in excellent condition, but are not used any longer. Jcwit, by any chance do you have any marriageable daughters? I have two very eligible sons looking. ROFLMAO! :D

September 5, 2009, 09:10 AM
I wasn't trying to challange you, just wanted to see your point more clearly. You did that.Wasn't feeling challenged, and I welcome everyone's honest opinions. I just though I would throw that analogy in.

Lee has`a purty all its own!"Pretty is as pretty does" they used to say, but I do believe some dies do some things better than Lee dies, or I wouldn't have them.

Lee dies are a great value in the reloading market and I never knock any one who uses them. At least I hope not, and don't believe I have.

I started with a RCBS single stage, then a Lee Turret, then quickly to a Hornady Projector, and now of course to the LNL, after many years of using the Projector.

The Lee turret is a super option for a new reloader, and I have recommended it often in the past here.


The Bushmaster
September 5, 2009, 09:26 AM
"The Lee is a supper option for a new reloader, and I have recommended it often in the past here."...........@#$%^&*!!!! What do you mean "...for a new reloader,...":evil:......:p

September 5, 2009, 10:14 AM
OK, experienced (old?) reloaders as well..........:D

September 5, 2009, 11:31 AM
it's been my experience that there's snobbery regarding lee equipment. loadedround admits that the lee die set he has works well, but prefers redding. no arguing that redding makes a great product, but lee's product does everything necessary to produce fine ammunition, too. i try to use the equipment that does the job most efficiently with cost in mind, and have no trouble matching lee dies to my dillon 550.

i love tools...a dillon 550, two dillon square deal b's, a chucker, and an orange crush sit on my bench but the press i use most is a lee classic cast turret...for runs under 100 rds, it's the most efficient for me.

there are lee products that i avoid...scales and powder measures come to mind (even though dillon pays a design royalty to lee for dillon's measures), but lee's innovations are hard to beat, i.e.:
1) shell holders included with standard die sets
2) nearly unbreakable decapping pin assemblies that double as stuck case removers
3) the gold standard for hand priming tools...have the hornady and use the lee exclusively.
4) factory crimp dies
5) lee collet dies

as a long time bullet casting hobbyist i've retired most of my lyman and rcbs gear in favor of 6 cavity tumble-lube/liquid alox pistol bullet molds; with gas-checked rifle bullets. i love the inexpensive and efficient push thru bullet sizers, again with the liquid alox lube...oh, yeah i retired a lyman 10 lb casting pot in favor of lee's pro 20, too.

the repair/replacement service advertised by lee isn't as comprehensive as dillon or rcbs, but in practice, the one or two times i've needed help, it was free.

in short, regarding lee equipment, you get what you pay for...and sometimes much more!


September 5, 2009, 11:16 PM
OK, experienced (old?) reloaders as well..........

Watch it..I resemble that remark..LOL

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