So I'm considering getting a new set of dies. I see the Lees RGB dies are about half of the price of the RCBS standard dies. Is there anything better about the RCBS or are you just paying for the name? Can you crimp with the Lee dies? I see the more expensive set of Lee dies comes with a factory crimp die. Is this the die set I'd need if I wanted to crimp?
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April 12, 2010, 02:47 PM
IMO, the RCBS dies are better. Higher quality. I have had trouble w/ the Lee seating die (inconsistent OAL).
You can also consider the Hornady offerings, which is where I tend to spend my die money.
April 12, 2010, 03:08 PM
I have several sets of Lee dies that work fine for me. I can't compare them to RCBS as I don't own any of those. I would spend the extra on the more expensive Lees than the RGB though, simply because they include a shellholder, powder dipper, loading data, and the factory crimp die, which I like much better than crimping with the seating die.
April 12, 2010, 03:25 PM
I have several varieties of dies..including LEE,and RCBS,also Lyman,the best set I find are the LEE 4 die sets,but I must add,I take the screw type lock nuts and use them on the Lee dies,
April 12, 2010, 03:33 PM
The Lee dies are very good but with the RGB you only get 2 dies. I gather you are looking to load rifle caliber? For the few extra dollars get the Pacesetter and or the collet neck sizing.
If it is bolt action and only for that gun you can get the collet (neck sizing dies)
If it semi auto then the Pacesetter dies are good.
RCBS makes fantastic products and a absolute no BS warranty on anything they make. For the average Joe shooter I think the Lee dies are better than I can shoot and saves me enough money to buy just about every handgun caliber and 5 rifles calibers.
Bottom line, they all will work, depends on your wallet.
April 12, 2010, 03:48 PM
Did you check out Redding TC dies? I can recommend them.
April 12, 2010, 04:22 PM
"Is there anything better about the RCBS or are you just paying for the name?"
Yes. RCBS has a better external finish and some really nice knurling, plus the name/snob appeal to those affected by that, but they are good dies, on average. Lee's are also good dies, on average. There's really no average functional difference.
I have sevaral sets of both brands and several others. I've actually measured the finished results from several examples of all our brands of dies, including on targets, and find there is as much - or as little - variation between dies of the same maker as there is between makers. That's a fact, not an opinion based on how nice they look. Seems ALL dies are made to SAAMI specifications, +/-, no better and no worse, so what you actually get becomes a matter of luck, it's not brand dependant. Any maker will let a lemon get by from time to time but they will all correct it quickly, IME.
The DESIGN of the Forster/Redding die set twins is slighly superior to all others but the differences aren't massive and few rifles will ever notice any difference even with them.
So, I believe I can prove that the best rifle die set deal on the market is the Lee Delux set. It includes a "free" shell holder, a normal FL die and an excellant "collet" neck sizer which many of us who actually use it think is better for factory sporters than the current rage of expensive "bushing" sizer dies.
The Lee rifle "Dead Length" seaters don't crimp but you may purchase Lee's terrific Factory Crimp Die seperatly for not much...but most rifle cartridges really don't need to be crimped. Any OAL inconsistancy with Lee's seater is due to variations in the bullets or improper setup, not the die.
Only Dillon makes TC sizer dies for bottle neck cartridges (at about $200) and then only for .223 and .308 but they still require case lubing. I don't think anyone has made non-TC pistol dies for years.
April 12, 2010, 04:29 PM
Over the year's, I've used RCBS-Lyman-Redding; and the factory crimp dies
as made by Lee. I have owned more RCBS and Lyman dies than ay other~!
All have worked flawlessly for me, thus far. Now, I'm gett'in ready to invest
in a set of RCBS rifle dies in caliber .223 (5.56); as I now own two AR's, and
quality ammo is not cheap~! :uhoh: ;) :D
April 12, 2010, 04:39 PM
I have LEE , RCBS and Lyman. They all work.
However , I have had problems with one particular die. Small base sizer X die in .223 from rcbs, currently awaiting the third return from cust service for stuck case. The cust service has been great ,they remove case , polish die & send it back , but it is a pia sending it back over and again. I think it was a lemon from the gitgo & hope they send me a different die this time. I have had no problems with the cheapo RGB .223 set I use in the interm. Go figger.
April 12, 2010, 05:06 PM
RCBS is better IMO , Spring sale at Midwayusa Now > http://www.midwayusa.com/Promotion/default.aspx?promotionid=270292&utm_source=RCBS_Spring_Sale&utm_medium=reloading
April 12, 2010, 07:57 PM
You can ride in a Hyundia-Kia-Yugo or a Lexus-MBenz-BMW. All will get you where you want to go. Drive what you can afford and are willing to spend.
Redding & Forster are the top class, RCBS, Lyman & Hornady are the middle class and Lee is the value class. Drive what you can afford or are willing to spend.
Most of my dies are Redding, Forster, RCBS, Lyman and Hornady.
April 12, 2010, 08:23 PM
I use both brands of dies,consider them to be equal to each other.I use only carbide dies.
April 12, 2010, 08:37 PM
RCBS has a better external finish and some really nice knurling, plus the name/snob appeal to those affected by that, but they are good dies, on average.
This is the first time I've ever read RCBS and snob in the same sentence.
Based on the price spread between the different makers, RCBS must be "entry level snob" dies.
April 12, 2010, 09:27 PM
I have a few Lee dies. They work well. The rifle dies are quite a deal. I have loaded some good ammo on them. The neck size only and coming with the shell holder is a plus.
I think the biggest problem with the Lee:
Lock rings don't lock to the die. There are several fixes and maybe a non issue it you leave the dies setup or have a bushing system.
The Decapping pin can slip too easliy on some of them. I fixed mine. Not a deterrent to buying more.
I like the RCBS & Redding I have as well. I think the decapping pins & lock rings are better. I bought some used so price was not really a consideration.
April 12, 2010, 09:31 PM
"...RCBS must be "entry level snob" dies."
Ed, you gonna tweek some RCBS snobs even worse than I did! ;)
April 12, 2010, 09:40 PM
If you do buy Lee, go to Midway.com & buy the screw lock rings. My Lee's have a problem staying set.
All the dies are good, in their own way. If you are just starting, get the Lee. Six months from now, if you are still hot for handloading, move up to another brand (maybe even buy them used, to save a little $)
April 12, 2010, 10:29 PM
RCBS over Lee.
April 12, 2010, 10:57 PM
I prefer Lee for handguns and RCBS for rifles. I usually buy Lee shell holders because they are about half the price of the RCBS and are clearly labeled. I also like the Lee case trimmers and cutters. I do agree that the RCBS dies give me more consistant results, especially in OAL.
April 12, 2010, 11:03 PM
I have been at this " save your money-spend all your money on this hobby" for many
I am loading 30 car. today--using dies from 3 different Mfr's
I always find one die I like better than the one in the set & I change it.
Mark my words----------in time-you will do the same thing.
Lee costs less--works good...
April 12, 2010, 11:20 PM
i only load pistol ammo, and prefer lee carbide dies.
I have considered a Lyman expander die because of the flare shape preventing scraping; "M" series i believe.
Redding and Forster are sexy and work very well. I still prefer Lee first though
April 13, 2010, 12:05 AM
We have both and I like the Lee dies. Granted, all I've loaded with the Lees are pistol stuff. Our rifle dies are all RCBS.
I like the lock nut feature of the Lee a lot. I hate those little brass allen head screws.
April 13, 2010, 01:06 AM
If you like Lee lock nuts ...
then you would not like the Forster or Lyman cross bolt lock nuts at all.
April 17, 2010, 12:11 PM
I can't believe it:what: A whole thread on dies and no one mentioned the, oh so great Blue one:D
April 17, 2010, 12:40 PM
I have both Lee and RCBS sets, actually I have several types of both makers' dies. The plain vanilla dies from both makers are good.
If you load much rifle ammo, you'll grow to hate trimming, and if so look at RCBS X-dies.
Lee has their Collet die, which is working well for me in bolt-actions where all I need do is neck size.
There are other higher technology dies, such as the Redding bushing dies, where if your neck wall thickness is uniform you choose one of many precise internal diameter bushings to size the outside of the neck, which also gives you the precise neck internal diameter you want, working your brass a lot less than the common set-up with an expander would.
April 17, 2010, 08:12 PM
I always find one die I like better than the one in the set & I change itMy 9MM set is a Lee sizer, a Redding expander, a Hornady seater, and a C&H crimper. I have numerous mixed sets of dies.
April 17, 2010, 08:16 PM
I started reloading with Lee dies, and they will work fine. However, over time, I am gradually "upgrading" all my dies to RCBS and Reddings.
Truthfully, I prefer Reddings over RCBS.
April 17, 2010, 09:17 PM
load a lot of 45 lc and 45acp using the 4 die system,, the buldge buster factory crimp 4th die , wow what a system for 45 acp! dam, all the rounds are perfect, even if ya get a bad one you know it when your crimping ,way before a failure to load or eject! thats the name of the game, sort out the bad ones fire the good ones! you can pay more, but hard to beat lee!!!!!! I am loading 300 rounds a week, every week, lots of 45 acp 45 long colt 357 38 sp and 32 mags .243,22-250 270 shootem if ya gotem people! go USA! thank god for our great armed forces!
April 18, 2010, 05:47 PM
Same here. Nobody seems to make all the best dies I like. Lee makes great collet-type neck sizing dies for rifles, and collet-type crimp dies for rifle and bottleneck pistol cartridges. Lyman and Redding make excellent expander dies for pistol cartridges. Forster and Redding (comp series) make the best rifle seating dies, and Hornady makes great seating dies for pistol cartridges. Forster and Hornady put the best lock rings on their dies.
April 18, 2010, 05:53 PM
"I do agree that the RCBS dies give me more consistant results, especially in OAL."
Now, THAT puzzles me.
April 18, 2010, 09:03 PM
If I had to pay 5X or 6X as much for Redding dies as Lee dies, I'd GLADLY pay it!
There just isn't any comparison. I own, and use, Lyman, C-H, Hornady and RCBS dies as well, and they're all superb dies. But even they don't compare with Redding, IMHO.
A set of dies is a lifetime investment. Why not get the best??:confused:
April 19, 2010, 01:18 PM
i have a lee speed set for .38spl-,357 magnum and one for 9mm.... i like lee dies and they work very well for me... i will stay with lee dies and presses because they have done very good by me when i've needed them..... i have seen the other brands and while they seem prettier my lee dies work just fine thank you..............
LIFE IS SHORT.....
April 19, 2010, 01:48 PM
I have several sets of each brand. I like the locking rings on the RCBS dies as the Lee's can be moved . My solution to that is a mark with a magic marker on the ring and body to make sure everything is still where it is supposed to be. I can tell no difference between in the quality of ammo loaded with either brand.
April 19, 2010, 10:20 PM
I have used both RCBS and LEE. I have found that lee dies are a little smoother inside than RCBS. I have gotten cases stuck in the RCBS die, never LEE. no I did not change lube or amount of lube. as far as lube goes, I use hornady unique. lasts a long time and it is GOOD.
April 19, 2010, 11:52 PM
both are great dies i use both.
LEE NOT SO MUCH ON THE WARRANTY SIDE :(
RCBS LIFETIME WARRANTY :)
April 20, 2010, 12:18 AM
I have over a hundred die sets sitting in the reloading room mainly because I find I like a particular feature of one brand and another feature of another brand but in the same calibre.
For example I like the Lee carbide pistol die and the expander die for use in a progressive press but I like the Hornady bullet seating die.
Other posters have sort of ranked the die brands on "quality" but have tended to disregard individual features.
Where I disagree with most of the posters is that I no longer buy standard RCBS dies. I will buy X dies on occasion if I need that feature, but I think the standard of the RCBS external finish sucks. Maybe I got a few bad dies but they were so bad that I gave them away. Couldn't bear to handle them, the threads were an embarassment and simply should not have passed quality control.
All the other brands make good ammunition within their limitations which an experienced reloader will understand.
To answer the OP, I do not hesitate to buy Lee dies even though they occasionally need a mild deburring of some of their sharp edges.
For most rifle cartridges I end up with a Lee set(s) for the Collet NS die and the Factory Crimp die and a Forster set for the Seating die.
April 20, 2010, 11:45 AM
I'm too old and been doing this too long to drink any makers Kool-Aid. I have no blind loyalty to inanimate objects or brands, just give me my features.
otblue: "Other posters have sort of ranked the die brands on "quality" but have tended to disregard individual features.... All the other brands make good ammunition within their limitations which an experienced reloader will understand."
Exactly so. The average "quality" of all dies is equal if we ignore trivial externals and consider the quality of the ammo that can be made with them.
User features do matter but saying something I don't personally care for is a "quality" issue is silly, it's a personal taste and nothing more.
"For most rifle cartridges I end up with a Lee set(s) for the Collet NS die and the Factory Crimp die and a Forster set for the Seating die."
Add a body die, any make, and your list is also my choice. I frequently modify a standard FL sizer by boring out the neck a few thousanths over normal size to make my own body die and the Lee Delux die set is great for that. I just add a Lee FCD and Forster seater to complete the set I want.
April 20, 2010, 02:36 PM
I'm curious.... what is it about the forster seating die that makes people substitute it in to a set ? I only load pistol cartridges (but am gearing up for rifle very soon), so I'm curious. As pistol seating dies go, you could pretty much get away with a block of wood for a seating die, let alone a forster die.
is it the ease of depth replication / ogive engagement method ? I've heard complaints of varying seating depths in rifle bullets due to ogive variation and plug design in the seating die.
April 20, 2010, 03:01 PM
Short of the hand dies, the Redding Competition seaters are the best, followed very closely by the Forster.
That's why. :)
April 20, 2010, 05:28 PM
best how ? all they do is push the bullet down. Short of geometry issues, i don't see how one seating die can be better than another. Amplify please :)
ETA: OK, I can also see how adjustments in thousandths via micrometer instead of thread-guessing would be handy for competition and such.
Other than that, i still don't see why a 100$ die is better than a 10$ lee die.
April 20, 2010, 06:53 PM
Concentricity of loaded ammo.
April 20, 2010, 07:33 PM
ah. that does actually make sense. thx
April 20, 2010, 08:55 PM
"I'm curious.... what is it about the forster seating die that makes people substitute it in to a set ?"
Walk is correct, it's a concentricity thing. Not a vast difference but, on average, a clear difference.
The Forster seater was designed with a full body chamber (works much like a Wilson hand die) that slides under spring pressure inside the die body. The case is fully enclosed before the bullet contacts the seating plug so the seating is virtually as straight as with a BR type seater. The Redding seaters are direct copies of the Forster system, they stated that after the Forster (originally Bonanza) patents expired. And ONLY the Forster/Redding Comp. seaters work that way.
The micrometer seating heads, all of them, add nothing to the quality of the seating, it's a user convience and that's all it is. I paid for a mic head on my first Forster seater, haven't done so since, I find it easy enough to set my OAL exactly as I wish just using my caliper.
April 20, 2010, 09:12 PM
I have Forster seaters in .22 Hornet, .222, .223 & .222 Mag. None have the micrometer top since they were not available back then. I do not have any Redding Comp seaters for rifle as of yet, but know folks who do. I plan on getting one in .308. I have been loading .308 with standard Redding dies for a hunting rifle and playing, but my nephew bought a very nice .308 bolt gun which may be able to benefit from the better seater. My sons father in law just bought a Steyr .308 as well and I told him I would help him load for it.
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