LEE vs RCBS vs Other brand dies


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slowr1der
February 17, 2011, 08:20 PM
I've got a fair amount of RCBS stuff and really like it. I've also got a set of RCBS dies, that are fine. However, I tried a set of the Lee dies as they were so much cheaper. I found that I don't like the lock rings, but after changing out the lock rings to the Hornady lock rings, I like the Lee dies just as much if not more, and they still are half the price of the RCBS dies. Are the RCBS dies better, or is there something I'm missing? I'm just wondering if there is a reason I should pay more for the RCBS? A buddy that loves everything cheap, swears by RCBS, so that made me wonder too. He normally buys everything cheap, for example he uses Tasco scopes almost exclusively because they are cheap. I've never heard anything bad about Lee though, and I can't find anything wrong with the dies I've got.

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ColtPythonElite
February 17, 2011, 08:28 PM
I've got dies made by several makers. All of 'em work just fine. However, in the last decade or so, if I need new dies I always buy Lee, mainly because they are cheaper and work just as good.

Grumulkin
February 17, 2011, 08:30 PM
For crimping, I think Lee Factory Crimp dies are the best there is.

For neck sizing, I'm not that impressed with Lee Collet Dies though many swear by them.

For full length sizing, my Lee dies do just as well as my other stuff by RCBS, Redding & Hornady.

lightman
February 17, 2011, 08:40 PM
Every brand of die can give you good results if you learn to set it up correctly,and develope good technique.Everyone has their favorite,but good ammo can be loaded with them all.Have cofidence in your tools,and they should do the job you ask of them. Lightman

rfwobbly
February 17, 2011, 08:46 PM
Lee "lock rings" are unimpressive. Other than that, their dies are a great deal, especially for a caliber you may only load 30 rounds a year. The big draw back with Lee is that they have no warranty service on decappers and such. If you bust one, then you bought it.

On the other end of the scale, if you reload a lot, then dies with more features can be quite nice to own. I shoot a lot of different shape pistol bullets and having an exchangeable seating anvil is a very nice feature. I love that about Hornady and Dillon dies.

BigJakeJ1s
February 17, 2011, 10:05 PM
Lee dies with collets are great (neck sizers and FCD for rifle & bottleneck pistol cartridges), once I replace the lock ring, and polish the collet/closer a little to improve feel and consistency.

I only have a few RCBS dies, and they have been good.

I like mostly Forster for rifle, and Hornady for pistol (because Forster does not make dies for pistol cartridges). Lyman/Redding M-type expander dies are great too.

No matter what brand of die it is, it wears a cross-bolt lock ring from Hornady or Forster on my bench. I also pick up the original RCBS cross-bolt lock rings, from before they switched to hex nuts with set screws.

Andy

ranger335v
February 17, 2011, 10:20 PM
"Are the RCBS dies better, or is there something I'm missing?"

You aren't missing a thing, there is no average difference in the ammo that can be made with any common brand of dies. Lock rings of any type are no criteria to judge the dies by and a lot of people like Lee's rings quite well.

CHALK22
February 17, 2011, 10:36 PM
I love Lee dies, in fact the big brown truck just brought me my shiny new set of .40 S&W dies! I have never really had any trouble with thier o-ring lock rings, I just snug 'em down with a wrench and go. I always re-check my specs when I start a new batch of rounds.

I do have 2 sets of RCBS dies, one was given to me, and one I bought on ebay. I don't think I would pay retail for a new set of RCBS, unless I was going to load some wierd round that Lee didn't make.

REL1203
February 17, 2011, 11:09 PM
I run 7 sets of Lee Dies, and 1 set of RCBS (that were bought as a gift), and I like them all.. All quality stuff for cheap. Sure, the expensive ones might offer something a little better, but so far for me, Lee have been great.

NeuseRvrRat
February 17, 2011, 11:16 PM
this is like ford/chevy/dodge. they'll all get the job done. they each have pros and cons and a lot of folks will swear by one while stating that all others are junk.

it'd be pretty hard to argue that the hornady lock rings aren't the very best, though. put them on whatever dies you get :D

FROGO207
February 17, 2011, 11:18 PM
IMHO they all build ammo the same. RCBS will give you free replacement parts for your dies but you could buy 2 sets of Lee dies for one set of any of the others. I like that the Lee has sliding decapper pins and Factory Crimp die setups. Inexpensive too. I own 90% Lee for that reason alone.

pmec
February 17, 2011, 11:27 PM
To be honest, I've never used anything but Lee dies so I can't judge the others. I'm happy using Lee and will continue unless the die isn't available.

winchester1886
February 17, 2011, 11:38 PM
I use all brands of dies.I started out with Lee dies but there are features that I don't like about them. I don't like the O ring's and I have found that trying to make a super accurate load.With the seating die sometimes the bullet will be canted one side or the other.You can check the run out with a dial caliper .With a lead cast bullet of 45-70 the brass would have a slight bulge on one side. I switched to Lyman dies with a M die and it was great.Now I only you Lee dies on my turret press.

cfullgraf
February 17, 2011, 11:57 PM
Lee dies are ok and they make ammo about as well as any.

The lock rings are another story. I found that by the time I bought new lock rings and a storage box more to my liking I was spending about as much as I would for the other guys' dies. Plus, there was the aggravation of ordering three separate line items instead of just one and be done with it. Frequently, something was out of stock and I would incur an additional shipping charge.

That was 10-15 years ago and I think the base price difference between the base die sets are a bit larger today.

If you are using a Lee turret press, Lee breech lock or a Hornady L-N-L, the lock rings are less of an issue, but you still have to spend extra money for the turret or the bushings.

I prefer Redding dies but have RCBS and Hornady as well.

GLOOB
February 18, 2011, 12:49 AM
I started with Lee because I heard they were good and popular. I wanted to use what everyone else was using. I've had no issues. I've even been able to put the .40 SW FCD to use for debulging brass. That was a nice bonus.

I'm not usually a brand loyal type person, but the fact that all my 5 sets of die boxes stack together so nicely makes me somewhat lean towards LEE for any future purchase. Stupid reason? Yeah, probably. :)

Jech
February 18, 2011, 01:09 AM
Lee "lock rings" are unimpressive. Other than that, their dies are a great deal, especially for a caliber you may only load 30 rounds a year. The big draw back with Lee is that they have no warranty service on decappers and such. If you bust one, then you bought it.

On the other end of the scale, if you reload a lot, then dies with more features can be quite nice to own. I shoot a lot of different shape pistol bullets and having an exchangeable seating anvil is a very nice feature. I love that about Hornady and Dillon dies.

The lock rings don't have to be military grade when you've installed your dies in a turret on the Classic 4-Hole Turret Press ;) Since I started reloading in May, I have acquired 6 different turrets worth of dies from Lee...once I finished the initial setup, they haven't moved since! Also, I can't ever see the need for a warranty on Lee decapper dies/pins...they're virtually indestructible.

hancjamk
February 18, 2011, 07:17 AM
All I know is RCBS has great customer service... That is good enough for me.

Walkalong
February 18, 2011, 07:20 AM
We all end up with our own preferences and opinions. :)

BoilerUP
February 18, 2011, 08:03 AM
The big draw back with Lee is that they have no warranty service on decappers and such. If you bust one, then you bought it.

I had a stuck case in my 223 full-length resizing die on Monday this week and bent the decapper trying to get it out; I exchanged two emails with Lee (couldn't get through on the phone) and they said they'd mail me a new decapper at no charge on Wednesday.

ColtPythonElite
February 18, 2011, 10:45 AM
Lee has a pretty good warranty, IMO. If you wear it out or bust it in the first two years they will repair it or replace it for free. After 2 years, they will repair/replace for half the retail cost of new. That's just their written warranty. I have heard stories from several people like BoilerUp that just called 'em up with a minor problem and got new parts in the mail with no charge.

BigJakeJ1s
February 18, 2011, 10:38 PM
Lock rings are just one of the poorly designed and/or executed features of many Lee dies. Some can be worked around (a little polishing here and there) and others can be replaced (lock rings). Seating dies that use the exact same seating plug (you can check their replacement parts lists for all their dies on their website) for different diameter bullets are among their other examples of design and execution.

Some reloaders want to re-set their dies every time they use them, so they find Lee lock rings perfectly acceptable. Or is it the other way around?

But if dies really are all the same, why bother polishing this and replacing that?

If on the other hand they are different, then it does matter, and it is worth it to either fix them or get better ones.

Some Lee dies (the ones with collets) have the potential to be better than any other same-purpose die available, and are worth the extra trouble to get there. Others, not so much; just buy better ones and avoid the trouble.

Andy

RustyFN
February 18, 2011, 10:44 PM
I would say it depends on your needs. They will all make great ammo. For me I have only used Dillon and Lee dies and like the Lee dies better. The Lee dies are a lot easier to adjust than Dillon and I change bullet profiles a lot. If I was going to set the dies up and never change them again then the Dillon dies would be fine.

hiawatha
February 18, 2011, 11:27 PM
I started with RCBS dies before there were Lee dies. Never have had a problem with either, nor with one set of Redding dies.

amlevin
February 19, 2011, 11:16 AM
For my .308 I have RCBS, Redding, and LEE dies. The only die that I don't have decapping pin problems with is the LEE. For neck sizing the LEE collet die is the only way to go. No lube required. As for finished ammo and performance, the LEE seating die does a far better job than the others I own with less hassle. Ammo checked on a run-out gauge consistently shows less than .001" run-out.

With performance like this, why pay more? Wish I'd started with the LEE dies first.

My LEE loaded ammo shoots sub 1/2 MOA all day long.

Flatbush Harry
February 19, 2011, 11:23 AM
FWIW, I go with the Green Kool-Aid. My .30-06 de-priming rod in a 32-y/o die bent slightly...RCBS customer service sent me a new rod/expander ball and, as they have changed the design of the decapping pin assembly since 1980, a few new pins as well. They arrived by USPS in 4 days...no charge. I have had similar experiences with every issue I have ever called about. Oh, also their products are consistently great as well.

Customer service is as important as the product itself many times...and that's why CMP and RCBS are my two go-to businesses with which to work.

FH

54lariat
February 19, 2011, 01:25 PM
RCBS customer service puts them at the top for me, I have only had a few things break on my PRO2000, small things and they had another one at my door within 5 days, I also have some LEE dies and they do fine, I use the carbide dies from RCBS for my 9,40&45. Just cause I load alot of those caliber's. Never had problems with either so far. I use RCBS on rifle rounds too.

But again I drive a Ford, u may like a chevy or dodge ;)


Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk

lizziedog1
February 26, 2011, 10:26 PM
I like that Lee Dies come with shell holders. It seems like a small deal, but you never have to run back to store to get one.

DiMora
February 27, 2011, 12:07 AM
Lee "lock rings" are unimpressive. Other than that, their dies are a great deal, especially for a caliber you may only load 30 rounds a year. The big draw back with Lee is that they have no warranty service on decappers and such. If you bust one, then you bought it.

On the other end of the scale, if you reload a lot, then dies with more features can be quite nice to own. I shoot a lot of different shape pistol bullets and having an exchangeable seating anvil is a very nice feature. I love that about Hornady and Dillon dies.
Not true, I broke a universal de-capper...the safety slider collet failed to release the pin. Lee stands behind it, guarantees it unbreakable, and if you do break it, as I did, they replace it at no charge. Even if they didn't, it's a $13.00 disposable die.

Lee dies work great.

The ONLY issue I have is the decapper / sizing die in my Hornady LNL with LNL bushings has to be set very deep (.40 S&W)...the way I handled that to get adequate thread on the lock-ring is I removed the Lee rubber O-ring and flip the lock-ring inverted, then I tightened it with a small wrench once I had it adjusted to my liking.

BigBob3006
February 27, 2011, 01:27 AM
slowr1der,

I've been at this for over fifty years now. If there is one thing I've learned it is to buy the best on the market. It will do it right everytime. Today that would be Redding and RCBS in that order. Good work and materials don't come cheap, but it is much better in the long run.

If you enjoyed reading about "LEE vs RCBS vs Other brand dies" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!