Carbide Reloading Dies


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Tamitch
February 12, 2013, 10:50 PM
I'm getting back into reloading after 20 years and everything is certainly different! I've decided on a Redding Boss II for my press. Now I'll need a little help on which brand of carbide dies to purchase. I load only; 44 Mag and 45 Auto Rim and I'll use both cast and plated boolits.
Terry Mitchell
Danville, IL.

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rfwobbly
February 12, 2013, 10:57 PM
All the dies available are first rate these days. When you pay more you get alternate bullet seating anvils and other added features. The bottom line Lee sets are great and it gets better from there.

ColtPythonElite
February 12, 2013, 11:02 PM
Lee is about all I use anymore.

ArchAngelCD
February 12, 2013, 11:02 PM
Welcome to the forum.

I use mostly Lee Carbide dies for handgun loading and RCBS dies for rifle loading. Lee dies look cheaper than the RCBS dies and many don't like the locking rings that come with Lee dies. I use a turret press so I have no need to remove the dies so the Lee rings don't bother me. If you choose something other than Lee for handgun dies I highly suggest RCBS dies. They are the best dies available for the price IMO.

James2
February 12, 2013, 11:08 PM
Lee and RCBS dies are what are usually available here locally. They are both good.

At present it may be hard to get anything. Good luck.

cfullgraf
February 13, 2013, 12:21 AM
Now I'll need a little help on which brand of carbide dies to purchase. .

Unlike 20-30 years ago, I doubt you could find steel resizing dies for straight walled handgun cartridges these days. Carbide or something similar are the norm these days.

All of the major manufacturers of dies make good dies as the others have said.

Personally, I do not like the o-ring lock rings on Lee dies but the dies themselves are good.

My preference these days is Redding with RCBS a close second. But I do not have any good reasons for those choices except my idiosyncrasies.

Any of the major manufacturer's dies will serve you well.

gamestalker
February 13, 2013, 12:26 AM
I really prefer Lee for handgun, and RCBS for bottle neck myself. Some years ago I after never getting my Lee set back from a friend I loaned it to, who eventually reimbursed me, so I went out to buy another but couldn't find a Lee and bought the RCBS instead. It doesn't have the powder thru die like the Lee, which I think makes charging a bit more time cumbersome. I've also never been happy with the roll crimp it produces, and adjusting the seating stem is a bit more cumbersome as well.

GS

Ifishsum
February 13, 2013, 01:28 AM
Lee Carbide sets are my preference for pistol cartridges - for me the powder-through expander is quite handy and speeds things up. I was given an older RCBS non-carbide .44 mag set, and if I shot the .44 more often I would probably upgrade to a new Lee set.

Lost Sheep
February 13, 2013, 01:47 AM
I'm getting back into reloading after 20 years and everything is certainly different! I've decided on a Redding Boss II for my press. Now I'll need a little help on which brand of carbide dies to purchase. I load only; 44 Mag and 45 Auto Rim and I'll use both cast and plated boolits.
Terry Mitchell
Danville, IL.
Hello again (you will get it when you read your other thread)

Thanks for asking our advice.

What settled you on the Redding press?

With all the endorsements of Lee gear, I hate to pile on, but if you open up the entire range of press makers I think the Lee Classic Turret makes a viable choice if you don't need more than 4 die stations per caliber.

The Lee Turret's disks are only about $13 each and you can have all your dies for one caliber mounted in a single gang.

The Redding may have more leverage, but the Lee is no slouch. For handgun rounds an all but the most robust rifle cartridges the Lee Classic Turret is just fine.

I used to load (since 1975) on an RCBS Rockchucker and two Lee Pro-1000 progressives. I have semi-retired the Rockchucker and traded off the Pro-1000s and set up my perfect loading bench with the best gear (for my needs) money could buy.

I did a lot of research.

After all that, almost everything but the calipers and the scale are Lee brand. Not because of any sort of brand loyalty, but because there is no better auto-indexing turret press currently made than the Lee Classic Turret (of course, it is the only one other than the somewhat inferior Lee Deluxe turret) and the Lee Powder-Through die works so well with it.

Good shopping.

Lost Sheep

mljdeckard
February 13, 2013, 09:48 AM
I use a mix of Lee and RCBS. I use RCBS for .45 acp, but I added a Lee FCD to increase consistency. Like someone said above, Lee for pistol and RCBS for rifle is probably a reasonable guideline.

Trent
February 13, 2013, 10:05 AM
I only use Redding for rifle - I really like their competition dies and collet neck sizer.

For handgun and small stuff? Mostly Lee, with a few calibers in RCBS (such as 5.7, the Lee dies were the wrong dimension early on and were causing 5.7mm handloaders lots of problems).

I use RCBS carbide with custom-turned locking rings in my Dillon 650 for 45 ACP and 9mm.

Muddydogs
February 13, 2013, 11:10 AM
Been using RCBS for years and never had a problem. I do have a couple sets of Hornady dies which are ok but I don't think there carbide sizer is as good as RCBS. I have a few Lee dies, FCD, universal deprimer but when I am looking for a die set I just can't bring myself to purchase a Lee set.

mgmorden
February 13, 2013, 11:12 AM
I've got carbide pistol dies from Lee, Lyman and Hornady (well those are "Titanium Nitride" but serve the same purpose).

Honestly the Lee's are a great value. They load ammo just as well as any other brand. The only thing that I don't like with them compared to the other brands is the expander die. The Lee expanders seem to bell the case mouth with a jerky motion. Works fine, but it just makes the press stroke "clanky". The Hornady expander is WAY smoother. I also like the split locking rings that the Hornady dies come with quite a bit.

The Lyman die set I have works fine too, but Lee and Hornady both have a depriming system that will push the depriming rod upwards to keep it from breaking if something isn't aligned right. Most of the others will just snap the pin (though the pins are generally cheap and replaceable - about $0.25 each for Lyman).

For the time being Hornady is running a promotion that really works out well - buy one of their die sets and you can send in a rebate to get a pack of 100 bullets. Given that the Hornady dies are only about $10 more than Lee, with that promotion active I'd say they're currently the better buy. Once that promotion expires I'll probably go back to buying Lee dies again :).

jack44
February 13, 2013, 11:12 AM
I like the rcbs die because I can tighten them up with the set screw - Lee are good also but they have a rubber washer that tighten them up.

JohnM
February 13, 2013, 11:15 AM
I've never been real happy with the sizing the Lee hand gun carbide dies do.
I've been replacing mine with RCBS and Redding
They do OK, especially for the price, but I just like what I get out of the other dies better. Picky maybe.

tbob38
February 13, 2013, 11:20 AM
I use a mix of RCBS and Redding dies and am completely happy. I like the feel of quality.

ArchAngelCD
February 13, 2013, 11:31 AM
For the time being Hornady is running a promotion that really works out well - buy one of their die sets and you can send in a rebate to get a pack of 100 bullets. Given that the Hornady dies are only about $10 more than Lee, with that promotion active I'd say they're currently the better buy. Once that promotion expires I'll probably go back to buying Lee dies again :).
I won't argue if Hornady dies are as good, better or worse than Lee because I have a set of 45-70 Hornady dies and they make very good ammo but I will argue the price. (bought them used at an auction before I had a rifle in 45-70 lol)

A Hornady 2 piece rifle die set will cost you ~$34.50. The comparable set of Lee dies is their RGB set which doesn't include the shell holder or scoop just like the Hornady set and will run you only ~$18/$19 for the set. Even the 3 piece Lee die sets are less than the Hornady dies and they include the shell holder and either a factory crimp die or neck sizing die.

To tell the truth, I have Lee, RCBS and Hornady dies and all do exactly what they should do and do it well. I'm not unhappy with any of them but I do like the prices of the Lee handgun dies.

mgmorden
February 13, 2013, 11:51 AM
A Hornady 2 piece rifle die set will cost you ~$34.50. The comparable set of Lee dies is their RGB set which doesn't include the shell holder or scoop just like the Hornady set and will run you only ~$18/$19 for the set. Even the 3 piece Lee die sets are less than the Hornady dies and they include the shell holder and either a factory crimp die or neck sizing die.

Well, to be fair though we're not talking about rifle dies right now - we're talking about carbide handgun dies :). From Grafs for example a Lee 3-die carbide set runs you $32. The Hornady set is $43. The Lee dies do indeed include the shellholder, but that's only a big thing for a while. Given the number of cartridges that share a shellholder after you get a few die sets you're mostly getting duplicate shellholders each time.

Working in the 100 free bullet deal the Hornadys come out to a better value, and I like them SLIGHTLY better than the Lee sets. Once that expires though I'd probably be back to Lee again.

For rifle dies I will admit that if I buy new I typically buy Lee sets, but since carbide isn't an option in rifle there are a lot of good used die sets out there and I'll often look used first (and hence I have rifle dies from just about every company except Dillon - whatever I can find cheap :)).

returningfire
February 13, 2013, 11:54 AM
Lee, every time. I have tried others RCBS Hornady and Lyman I still come back to Lee, I can't explain it. I load thousands of rounds every year and I prefer Lee.

ArchAngelCD
February 13, 2013, 11:56 AM
Well, to be fair though we're not talking about rifle dies right now - we're talking about carbide handgun dies :). From Grafs for example a Lee 3-die carbide set runs you $32. The Hornady set is $43. The Lee dies do indeed include the shellholder, but that's only a big thing for a while. Given the number of cartridges that share a shellholder after you get a few die sets you're mostly getting duplicate shellholders each time.

Working in the 100 free bullet deal the Hornadys come out to a better value, and I like them SLIGHTLY better than the Lee sets. Once that expires though I'd probably be back to Lee again.

For rifle dies I will admit that if I buy new I typically buy Lee sets, but since carbide isn't an option in rifle there are a lot of good used die sets out there and I'll often look used first (and hence I have rifle dies from just about every company except Dillon - whatever I can find cheap :)).
Fair enough, I forgot the OP was asking about handgun dies.

johnjohn
February 13, 2013, 12:08 PM
I have Lee,Lyman,RCBS,and Hornady. They all work well.

doubleh
February 13, 2013, 12:16 PM
All my reloading tools are RCBS with the exception of dies which are a mix of RCBS and Lee. I can tell no difference in the use of or the quality of my ammo between the two brands.

My only complaint is the O-ring feature of the Lee dies. It is a simple fix though. I just drilled and tapped all mine for a set screw and they are just as good as my RCBS dies now. If you don't want to do the drill and tap thing the other die manufactuers sell just the lock rings for their dies that will fit on the Lees. I just chose the cheap option.

hueyville
February 13, 2013, 01:06 PM
First of all since you say your only going to be loading 44 and 45 auto rime I am not going to start recommending rifle dies and the reasons for my choices. I will try to stay on topic for you kind sir. For loading day to day straight wall plinking ammo the brand name does not really matter much these days for dies. You will usually be better off with a four die set or a three die set with an added factory crimp die. I buy whichever is most convenient at the time usually. I do have specific bullets that need an odd bullet seating stem/anvil but for most bullets your set will have what you need in the box or as an add on.

That said, in some calibers I have as many as five sets. I usually have one set that is mounted on my caliber conversion kit for whichever progressive press I run that caliber on. The second set is set up on a turret for a Lee Turret Press. The third set is for the odd task I want to set up on single stage presses. This way I never have to change a "dialed in" progressive combination or change out and rest my dies on my turret.

Now in some calibers like 38/357 and 44, I have one setup for Special and Magnum. Then have to do a turret and a progressive setup for each. This where I end up with the need for five sets of somewhat identical dies. Sounds weird to some but I dislike completely changing my entire deal that has been tweaked to change from special to magnum. Don't like taking my dies from the progressive and moving them to a turret, etc.

My reasoning is this for the ones that wonder. I have well developed plinking loads for 38 special, 357 mag, 44 special, 44 mag, 45 acp, 45 LC, 454 Casull Mag, etc. Once that cast bullet/powder/primer combination is worked up into something that shoots well in a myriad of guns, I leave it alone and NEVER change it. Thus unless the powder company changes the way it makes a particular powder or the primer company changes its recipe, the loads I developed 25 and 30 years ago are repeated exactly the same to basically the absolute minimum/maximum tolerances/repeatability of the equipment. The 38 special or whatever caliber rounds I put in an ammo box today are the same as last week, last month, last year, ten years ago or ten years from now. The development and setup is done and over. I don't even move the powder measure. it stays on that kit forever also.

Then if I want to make something different than my every day cast plinking rounds I grab a pre-set turret for whatever caliber and other than making an adjustment for powder drop and bullet seating depth. Thus I need a box of hollow points or full house gas checked hard cast I don't mess up my progressive settings and can get on task quickly.

That final loose set will occasionally find its way onto a single stage press. Lets say I bought a new bullet type and want to work up a full house load right on the threshold of thermonuclear catastrophic results if I mess up, the load gets developed meticulously on the single stage presses. I will usually swap the bench to two or three rock chuckers and put a die in each press. I get my load developed and as perfect as I am personally capable of, make a box or three, then record the recipe for future use if I ever want more of that flavor.

Therefore I end up with minimum two and maximum five sets of dies for all of my popular handgun cartridges. Ones I seldom use no sense in having but one set. Loads I repeat on at least a monthly basis year in and out no sense in messing up and tweaked setup. But I admit this is overkill and not necessary but mighty convenient. Out of this I have lots of dies. Most of the dies that go on my Lee Turret Press are Lee dies with their factory lock rings. If I didn't like their rings I would buy dies with the rings I like.

I really like and if it is possible to love an inanimate object my Lee Press would be close to that category. I cannot trash talk the machine but I do have to admit that due to the construction not being cast iron, the tolerances in the fit of turret to press, etc; there is some wiggle or play in the machine. For knocking out a few boxes of hollow points or plinking rounds of a caliber that is not shot enough to run on a progressive it is quite acceptable. With care, you can load to very close tolerances on this machine but it is not a Lyman Crusher or a Rock Chucker Supreme. When I want to get that last 50 feet per second out of one of my large bore magnum pistols I will go to single stage presses and ensure every step is meticulous and do my best to keep tolerances in the thousandths of and inch even if all I really obtain is hundredths. It is point of trying to eliminate every variable I can in this instance.

So now I have defined that I really have three standards I load to. The progressive drop hundreds of rounds an hour that shoot well in almost anything you put them in. Next is the need 50 to 100 rounds of specific need ammunition or odd caliber run. Final is the exact, precise as possible, pull you out of your boots and put them all through one hole Voodoo/Black Magic bullets. So in this process I have become relatively familiar with most die manufacturers product. Lee makes a fine die set. If your on a budget then buy their four die set with the factory taper crimp die in it if your done. My all around favorite carbide pistol dies are RCBS. Same opinion of Lyman and Hornady and most comparably priced dies. Just can't really find anything to dislike about them. For progressive dies I usually buy the Dillon dies that are engineered to work with the presses I run them on. Makes being stupid a bit easier. Especially if you want to buy a press with the dies already installed and set to run... If you want the ultimate in precision, or at least darn close, break the bank on a set of Wilson Straight line Dies.

BYJO4
February 13, 2013, 10:46 PM
Virtually any carbide die set will work for you. Brand is really a personal preference. I have primarily always used RCBS as the quality is good and customer service is excellent. I do like the lock rings that Hornady uses better than other brands and they would be my second choice.

Hondo 60
February 13, 2013, 11:32 PM
The carbide HANDGUN dies allow you to skip the lubing - with no stuck cases.

For rifle cases, even with carbide dies you still HAVE to lube.

As stated above, any brand die set will work, even the inexpensive Lee dies.
(I have 11 sets of dies & 8 of 'em are Lee).
I've bought the expensive dies - 1 RCBS, 1 Redding & 1 Dillon.
They didn't do anything spectacular so I just don't see the reason to get the expensive ones.

jjjitters
February 14, 2013, 12:13 AM
I have die sets from all of the majors(mostly RCBS though), The pricier ones are generally nicer, smoother ID. Of all the dies I've boughten I only bought 1 Lee set (because I wanted to save money), and that was the only die set that I had to return due to mfg defect. I traded for another brand. After driving back to return them (gas costs), it would have been cheaper to have just gotten one of the others in the first place. I will never do that again. I prefer the Hornady seater die and Dillon crimpers, but the others are a toss up.

fguffey
February 14, 2013, 07:00 PM
I have 11+ sets of Lee dies, I do not use them, I took a pile of Lee equipment to the last gun show at Mrket Hll, no interest. I decided I would set up a set of 45 ACP dies and load complete with the factor crip die, no way, someone cleaned the dies, what ever they used was not compatable with the 'O'rings (brake degreaser?, something like adding engine oil to the brake master cylinder)), the 'O' rings came out but stuffing the ring back into the top of the die could not be done with 4 hands, seems someong would have removed one thread to facilitate a starter jump when gtting the die back together.

I had the oppertunity to get ahead of the curv on equipment, before the well went dry I purchases 40 pounds of dies, gages, case holders, trimmers etc for $20.00. again, as I said when attempting a good gesture, I dug out the Lee dies in an attempt to return them to the dealer, he would have no part of it, he made me a one better deal, he claimed I did not pay for the Lee equipment, he claimed he threw the Lee dies etc., in for free.

F. Guffey

HighExpert
February 14, 2013, 07:26 PM
I guess I will be the oddball here. I use Dillon exclusively and have been very happy. I have loaded many thousands of rounds over a 20 year span and have never had Dillon die let me down. The removable stems without loss of adjustment on the newer dies are fantastic. They allow you to clean or change seating stems without losing your adjustment. Good stuff.

jjjitters
February 14, 2013, 08:07 PM
Almost all of my crimp dies that I currently use steady are Dillon, they are good. Definitely pricey, but good.

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