Brand names for reloading dies... does it matter?


February 24, 2013, 12:43 AM
Lee, Lyman, RCBS, Dillon, Hornady, Wilson... the list goes on.

Is there a difference? Does it matter what I buy?

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February 24, 2013, 12:49 AM
Die brands are like truck brands. They all have their quirks and benefits. I have used several different brands over the years. There is no perfect die brand.

I've used Lee, RCBS, Dillon, and Redding. I use Redding nearly exclusively. I like Lee's universal decapping die and their collet sizing dies for rifle. RCBS dies are just boring and reliable. Nothing much. They just work. Dillon dies are nice because you can remove the die inserts to clean them without changing your die setting. Pretty neat feature. I like the spring loaded decapping pins too. I like the Redding bushing dies and the competition seater dies.

February 24, 2013, 12:51 AM
I use Lee. No problems and gets the job done. Others swear by the more expensive dies. For me 1 to 1/2 MOA is enough. If you need one hole groups, then maybe the more expensive dies will give you tighter tolerances.

February 24, 2013, 12:53 AM
I use Lee. No problems and gets the job done. Others swear by the more expensive dies. For me 1 to 1/2 MOA is enough. If you need one hole groups, then maybe the more expensive dies will give you tighter tolerances.
+1 to this. I use Lee exclusively and so far no serious problems related to the dies. There is nothing wrong with other brands however unless you count price in my opinion.

Mike 27
February 24, 2013, 12:59 AM
I have just about all of them. They all work. I like my RCBS and Lee's the best.

February 24, 2013, 02:48 AM
Die brands are like truck brands. They all have their quirks and benefits. I have used several different brands over the years. There is no perfect die brand.

I've used Lee, RCBS, Dillon, and Redding. I use Redding nearly exclusively. I like Lee's universal decapping die and their collet sizing dies for rifle. RCBS dies are just boring and reliable. Nothing much. They just work. Dillon dies are nice because you can remove the die inserts to clean them without changing your die setting. Pretty neat feature. I like the spring loaded decapping pins too. I like the Redding bushing dies and the competition seater dies.

Why is redding your favorite?

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February 24, 2013, 02:52 AM
I have RCBS, Lyman, and Lee dies.

While finished look externally might not be the same across brands, internally I don't see much difference in the rounds they make. But I'm just punching paper/plinking.
Maybe the guys that shoot 4-5-600' and beyond can tell, everyone else is only justifying the extra expense in their mind.

But it's all good. Buy what makes you happy. Lee dies work great in my xl650, and the price can't be beat.

February 24, 2013, 05:39 AM
I have no particular use for a lot of Lee stuff, but I use their dies almost exclusively. The collet die is REALLY slick for bolt or levers actions. Gotta set it up according to directions.

I basically gave away almost all my Hornady dies. If you don't use Hornady bullets, they can crimp a ring around the tip of the bullet. Screwed up my loads every time I load Nosler BT's in .223.

Dillon are nice for pistol because they have more chamfer on the sizing dies. They also work best with my 550.

RCBS are rather poorly finished and rust while you watch.

February 24, 2013, 07:52 AM
1. RCBS; I've never had them rust. Their lock rings are of pretty poor design but their dies are good. The resizing die has a tiny relief hole so if you get too much lube on the case, it's less likely to dent the shoulder. I also like their die boxes best.

2. Redding; have no relief hole. Their die boxes have the depressions on the top that are handy to stick your case in, at least if about 30/06 head size, while reloading but they make the interior of the die box less roomy.

3. Lee; I have some and by and large like them. I don't like their round hard plastic die boxes. Their Factory Crimp Dies are the cat's meow but I'm not impressed with their collet dies.

4. Hornady; I'm not unhappy with the quality but Hornady goes with the once size fits all philosophy so if you're loading for a small cartridge you still get a big clunky die. Their lock rings are the best; I discard those by RCBS, Redding and Lee and use Hornady lock rings. Their die boxes are also big and the plastic used is a bit slick which makes stacking them tenuous.

So, my first choice is RCBS with Redding coming in second.

February 24, 2013, 08:55 AM
There are specific features of each brand I like best:

For resizing dies I'm not picky except to say that I like the tapered elliptical expander in the Hornady rifle dies.

For a neck expender die in a three die set I vastly prefer the Lyman M-die for any rifle caliber where there's even the remote chance I will shoot cast lead bullets. If it's a pistol round then I like the Lee version because I can use it with the Auto Disk powder measure.

For rifle seaters I really like the Hornady sliding alignment collar design, with the Lee design a second choice. For pistol seaters I like that RCBS provides seater plugs with different bullet nose profiles.

February 24, 2013, 09:01 AM
Yes it matters. But everyone has their criteria.

February 24, 2013, 09:07 AM
I have RCBS, Lyman, and Lee. I can't say that one is better then the other. Lee is a lot cheaper and they seem to work as well. I don't care for Lee's other equipment. I think it's cheaply made and prefer some of the other brands.

February 24, 2013, 09:08 AM
It is hard to beat RCBS dies. I have never had a problem with one. I can't say that for other pistol dies. I can say that for Forster rifle dies. I like the Lyman M dies, as well as their carbide sizers. The sliding sleeve on the Forster actually works, vs the sliding sleeve on the Hornady. The Redding Competition seaters are very good, and I have a couple for pistol calibers. I like being able to dial back and forth to various bullets. I also have the Hornady pistol seaters with their micrometer top, and they are handy. For rifle I prefer the Forster seater, standard or micrometer top, but I have RCBS rifle dies and Redding rifle dies, and they work very well.

The Lee FCD for pistols is a pox. (Let's not debate that here, opinions only. There are pages of debate if anyone wants to search.)

The Lee FCD for rifles works, and case length isn't important as long as it isn't over max.

These days, after years of buying some of everything, I look at RCBS first for standard pistol dies, and Forster first for standard FL rifle dies.

That is for threaded dies. For hand dies look to Neil Jones or Wilson.

February 24, 2013, 09:11 AM
In a way it matters. As far are quality goes here's the list from good quality to awesome quality. Lee, Pacific, RCBS, Redding,(RCBS and Redding are the closest 2 in my book) and Dillon.

Lee is the Geo Metro of reloading world
RCBS and Redding are the Ford of reloading world (I'm not a Chevy guy)
Dillon is the Cadillac Escalade and Land Rover of reloading world.

I'm a Ford diesel guy so I'm in the middle with RCBS and Redding. I have some die sets that are Lee , but I find it easier to work on the RCBS and Redding and tune them.

February 24, 2013, 09:39 AM
I have them all but buy Lee first. Their dies just plain work so I never understand when others say they don't. I have Lyman M dies for pistol and RCBS expanders for rifle. These are essential if you load cast bullets. Only thing I don't like about them is they rust almost immediately. I live in a humid climate and the steel they use is the absolute worse. They all do their job and the ammo always goes bang. So buy what fits your needs/budget and go from there.

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February 24, 2013, 09:44 AM
Yes it matters. But everyone has their criteria.

That is an excellent way of putting it.

I prefer Redding dies with RCBS a close second. When adding a new cartridge to load, I buy which ever I can find. I have never had a problem with either manufacturers' products and their customer service as been great. If i buy a micrometer stem seater, I really like the operation of the Redding Competition die. I like the micrometer stem seaters for cartridges where I change bullets frequently.

Lee dies themselves are good but i dislike the o-ring lock rings and the Lee storage boxes. I stopped buying Lee dies in the 1990's because by the time I replace the lock rings and the storage box, I have pretty much paid for an RCBS set. Add in the frustration of the lock rings or replacement die boxes being out of stock and having to pay extra shipping charges, buying Lee dies is a pain and not cheap for me.

Recently, I bought some Hornady dies and have had some quality control issues with them. Hornady dies are also off my list at present.

I have one Lyman die, an M die. It works great. I have one Forrester die, a micrometer stem seater. Except for the size of the die, it works fine as well.

Except on my Dillon SDB presses, I have no experience with Dillon dies. If I ahd a Dillon 650 press, I would probably try a Dillon set. Dillon 7/8-14 look like they are optimized for use on their presses. Since I do not have a 650, I see no need to try them.

I have equipment for loading 28-30 different cartridges.

So, there is my criteria.

February 24, 2013, 09:45 AM
The short answer is no, it does not matter.
The long answer is that its mostly personal preference. All standard dies are made to the same industry specs. This does not include custom made dies. Everything I have ever used from Dillon, Lyman ,Hornady, Forster, Redding, and RCBS have worked fine. I don't personally own any Lee dies, but they are also made to the same industry spec. The size, shape, and finish are different. The expander ball on some brands have a different shape. A few have added feateres like the vent hole in RCBS sizers. A few offer custom honing on their sizer die. They all claim that these special features make a difference. They all make good ammo, if used correctly. They all can make ammo better than factory, if used correctly.
There is some advantage to using the same brand. Lets say that you are loading 223 ammo, for a weekend shoot, and something in a case that you did not see breaks/bends your decapping rod. This can happen to anybody. If you have the same brand dies, you can borrow your decapping rod from another set, like a 22-250 and keep loading.

I have had 2 sets of dies in my life that would not work. I don't remember which caliber was which brand. Grandpa bought them back in the 60's. One was a Herter's and one was from Minnesota Shooters Supply. Anyway, the 45acp would not size the case small enough to hold a .452 jacketed bullet. The 22 Hornet sizer was machined wrong and you could not screw the decapping rod up far enough to clear the web of the case. I replaced these with RCBS and never looked back. That is mainly the reason that most of my dies are RCBS. This 'save' could have been any of the other major die brands and I would have felt the same. I hope this rambling was some help, Lightman

February 24, 2013, 09:47 AM
Well Escalade is a piece of crap that cost way to much. I'm not sure about a Dillon since I've never seen one.

I use Lee tools & like them. It is nice to get cheaply made & quality at the same time. I shoot 1 hole groups with all Lee tools.

I had all RCBS dies & went to all Lee. I like Lee lock rings, seater, & powder through dies.

February 24, 2013, 10:31 AM
I have only used RCBS and Hornady dies and like them both well. The only thing that sets one above the other for me is case and storage. I really like that when I open my Hornady die box there is a shell holder in there and I can store the shell there.

My last set of dies were RCBS though, and the only reason is I wanted to try the X-die.

February 24, 2013, 10:36 AM
The only thing that matters is to use the die you like. After that they are all basically the same. I have a variety from various manufacturers and like some better than others but there really is no rhyme or reason to my preferences. They all get the job done.

February 24, 2013, 10:57 AM
I have used almost all brands. They will all load a cartridge. It is a matter of what you want from your reloads. Do you want mass quantity or are you looking for target quality. Personally, I love the Redding micrometer seating dies. I waited too long to try one, now I have them for all my bolt action calibers. It would also matter if you are using a progressive press as those presses have their own quirks, e.g. powder checking dies, and crimping pistol loads. Ask a more detailed question for more detailed answers on dies. The best dies for a 1911 pistol might be different than say for a SAA revolver or a 40X bolt rifle. They all have their own best brand or style of die for each circumstance. I guess it is what want out of it. For some it is price or cost savings only, for some it is reliability, or ease of use and some it is accuracy. Good luck,

February 24, 2013, 11:08 AM
The dillon dies are what I prefer, but I have lee dies for quite a few calibers and they work fine.

Tolkachi Robotnik
February 24, 2013, 11:39 AM
I have dies by Pacific, Lyman, Lee, and RCBS. The only one with a problem was a 30-06 die by RCBS, and the company sent a replacement pronto, very good service. Even after that, I would say RCBS is a little higher quality, but also more expensive. They seem polished up finer and work with less effort on the handle.

The Lyman die was used and scratched cases. I cleaned it some and it quit scratching.

I have no Redding dies but they are probably quite high in quality.

February 24, 2013, 12:26 PM
Well Escalade is an underpowered piece of crap that cost way to much..
There, fixed it for ya. :D

February 24, 2013, 12:36 PM
Lee, Lyman, RCBS, Dillon, Hornady, Wilson... the list goes on.

Is there a difference?

Lee and Lyman don't warranty their tools for life. I prefer to buy from companies that stand behind their products.

February 24, 2013, 12:45 PM
When reading different forums, 2 die brands seem to have more problems then others. Lee & Hornady. :uhoh: Just how i see it. :) Some problems are because the person is new to reloading. There is a learning curve involved also. I like RCBS. Many different types of RCBS dies at link.

February 24, 2013, 12:59 PM
I think most new to reloading go with Lee & that is why we see more problems that talk about Lee dies. They usually end with use helping them fix there issues when they listen. Seems the Hornady normally had to go back in tho.

February 24, 2013, 01:48 PM
I'll toss in my $.02 for what it's worth. By cartridge:

* .357 Magnum: I have Hornady and Redding dies. Zero issues with the Hornady but the Redding resizing die is out-of-spec so I don't use it. Redding would possibly replace it if I sent it in but I just haven't gotten around to it. I do use the Redding Profile Crimp dies for the .357 and I like them a lot.

* .40 S&W: It's been a couple of years that I have reloaded for this but nonetheless I have Hornady dies and had zero issues with them. I also use a LEE Factory Crimp die with the .40 which works very well indeed.

* .405 Winchester: I initially bought an RCBS die set (used) at a local gun show which works fine for the most part but I must note that the resizing die seems a bit overzealous at squeezing the brass. So I snagged a new Hornady set and they work fine as well, and the resizing die doesn't squeeze quite as hard but the rounds chamber just fine. I use the LEE Factory Crimp die with this cartridge as well and it is very good. Additionally, I picked up a Lyman 'M' Series expander for when I start casting for the .405 but have never used it.

That's all I had.

February 26, 2013, 04:32 PM
RCBS, Lyman, Hornady, Dillon. I haven't had good luck with Lee dies in the past. Maybe they are better now.

February 26, 2013, 05:27 PM
I've only used RCBS and Hornady for pistol dies, and despite all the hype I have been unimpressed with Hornady's premium pistol dies, but have had great luck with the RCBS carbide dies

February 26, 2013, 05:31 PM
I use Lee. No problems and gets the job done. Others swear by the more expensive dies. For me 1 to 1/2 MOA is enough. If you need one hole groups, then maybe the more expensive dies will give you tighter tolerances.

I'm like readyeddy, I can shoot MOA sometimes sub MOA with my stock Rock River AR 16". I have only used Lee and Dillon and like Lee better. Lee dies are easier to adjust if you change bullet profiles a lot. I use Lee dies on a classic turret and Dillon 550. I think it's safe to say I'm not a good enough shooter to be able to tell if other dies would make more accurate ammo.

highlander 5
February 26, 2013, 05:48 PM
My die sets are RCBS,Dillon or Redding. Wrote Lyman off my list ages ago,tried Hornandy dies for pistol had a titanium nitride coating on it IIRC they worked all right but I prefer tungsten or titanium carbide. Someone earlier said it I buy from companies that offer a lifetime warrantty that way thee's no problems at a later date.

February 26, 2013, 08:33 PM
What I 'prefer' is meaningless so far as what can be done with any die brand. On average there's no difference in what can be done with any brand of dies. They are all cut to produce ammo within SAAMI specs and anything inside those tolerance limits are fully as "precise" as any other; there's as much variation between dies of the same brand as between brands. Those who go ape over pretty external polish and knurling are paying more for cosmetics, not precision ammo.

ONLY Forster and Redding's comp rifle seater dies are consistantly very good because only they have a full body and bullet alignment sleeve that virtually duplicates what can be done with hand dies. And that performance advantage is due to the design, not the tolerances.

February 26, 2013, 09:55 PM
They all have quirks and specialties. Research your specific caliber based on desired end result. If you are looking to shove cheap bullets in range ammo as inexpensively Lee is it. But is that the goal. I have been switching existing dies sets for Dillon to be used on my Dillon progressives. Been adding quite a few RCBS X-sizer dies in certain rifles cartridges to eliminate the trimming step. This feature does somehow work. Then you have your micrometer seating dies. Most brands who offer these are good. I use some of all but if was going to standardize to one brand only, RCBS would be it. I own 3 sets for every one of somebody else's.

February 26, 2013, 11:31 PM
How about beginner rifle dies for the following:
223 (AR)
308 (for Garand)
30-06 (for Garand & bolt)

I'm a newbie so I don't know how many dies I need for each rifle caliber. On the pistol press (Lee Classic Turret) I will have the Lee Deluxe 4 Die Sets.

Ill be using a Lee Classic Cast for the rifle reloading. May do .223 on the Lee Classic Turret.

So on the single stage how many different dies for each caliber & brand?

February 26, 2013, 11:39 PM
For the autos is just get the Lee RGB dies but the bolt I'd get the deluxe.

February 26, 2013, 11:42 PM
How about beginner rifle dies for the following:
223 (AR)
308 (for Garand)
30-06 (for Garand & bolt)

If you do not have dies already, I would recommend small base sizing dies for the Garands and ARs, basically the semi-auto rifles.

While lots of folks say it is not necessary, the small base dies will prevent some problems of rounds not chambering under certain circumstances. Since you do not have any of those dies at present, it will not cost you any extra.

Why take a chance on problems.

The small base resizing die will work just fine for the 30-06 bolt rifle.

If you already had dies, my answer would be different. Determine if you really need small base dies before investing.

Standard resizing dies for the 243 and 270.

February 26, 2013, 11:58 PM
I have dies by Lee,Hornady,Lyman,RCBS, and Redding.They all load ammo that shoots better than I can.. No problems with any of them. My last 5 sets have been Lee because they work and are the best value. My next ones will likely be Lee as well.

March 16, 2013, 03:57 PM
Well yes, there is a difference. According to PRECISION SHOOTING Mag (just so I am not attacked for telling the truth...again, or is that still?) the best dies are Redding, Dillon, Forster (not in any order). Then RCBS and Hornady, with Lyman and Lee bringing up the rear. Admittedly Hornady does seem to have some problems with their new design of dies, but the old ones I have seem fine.

I own a LOT of Lee dies. Where the lie came from that I hate Lee I have no idea, but am regularly slandered with it. I have owned or used nearly everything Lee makes, so I have informed opinions about their stuff (OMG! An INFORMED opinion!! How did THAT happen?!) that seems to offend some who seem not to have tried the item under discussion and then am viciously attacked for telling the truth. Other than the occasional broken decapping pin, I have had minimal problems with Lee dies. The major problem is that you either need to buy a few back up rods w/pin or call Lee to get another decapping rod w/pin. With other brands of dies you just replace the pin and keep going. I am especially fond of the Lee FCD. Some people claim you don't really need them, and that is true, but they make life easier so I like them, just like the Lee shell holder kit and (old) primer tool. Some of the other stuff, especially the presses, seem to be, to quote kingmt, "cheaply made", in my experience. Just an INFORMED opinion, not made up BS.

Every problem I have had with used equipment from RCBS, Redding, Dillon, etc., etc., such as dies and presses being messed up or damaged has been taken care of under the LIFE TIME warranty of the company. Have a Redding/RCBS/Dillon die (even bought used) that is screwed up? I have NEVER had a problem with any of them repairing/replacing it! Same with press problems or other gear. Lee has an (according to the piece of paper that came with the equipment I got at least) "UNLIMITED two year warranty". Else where in the HANDLOADING section here is a person who has a three month old Lee bushing press. Go read what they have to say about the service they got. Here is a hint: same "service" as I got and am regularly attacked for reporting on.

Triumph asked about dies for .223 (AR), .308 (M1 Rifle), .30-06 (M1 Rifle), .243, .270. Personally if I didn't have any dies yet, I'd get a set of small base dies for the auto rifles. He might not need them, but would have to buy a set and see, and if he does, he is out twice the money. RCBS AR dies or any of the above "best" die brands should be fine. As for the .243 and .270, some people like RCBS for rifle and Lee carbide (because it is cheaper) for handguns. Personally I really have not had any problems with either RCBS or Lee rifle dies and buy the Lee deluxe four die sets when possible.

The bottom line here is that if price didn't matter, I would own only Dillon, Redding, Forster, RCBS dies and equipment, along with my 40+ year old RCBS ROCKCHUCKER. These companies have LIFETIME warranties they actually stand behind and give excellent service and no BS when there is a problem. Since I live in the real world, and not a world of make believe, I avoid junk that will wear out quickly, that the company will NOT stand behind, even, or especially, under warranty. As I am too old and too broke to buy even "cheaply made" stuff that I will have to replace sooner (usually) or later, no matter how "cheaply" it is sold, the high cost (and high quality) stuff is much cheaper in the long run.

March 16, 2013, 08:28 PM
"Well yes, there is a difference. According to PRECISION SHOOTING Mag (just so I am not attacked for telling the truth...again, or is that still?)[/I] the best dies are Redding, Dillon, Forster (not in any order). Then RCBS and Hornady, with Lyman and Lee bringing up the rear."

Well, that's according to one man's opinion in his article in that excellant magazine anyway. So far as the average results, there are two grades of dies; Forster and Redding are tied for first place and every thing else is tied for second. The differences aren't great nor are better results automatic, the user has to have excellant reloading skills AND a very accurate rig to see any difference on his targets.

Of course my die appraisal doesn't give any weight at all to personal tastes on such 'critical' things as the size of the box they come in, the lock rings or the shiney externals and really neat knurling. But no matter how much some people care about those, no one should think they matter to the ammo the dies can make.

As a side issue, all makers 'stand behind' valid manufactoring defects. RCBS and Dillon will replace (some) of their stuff forever but it's not for free to us nor does it make a lot of difference to them - we pay for the average costs of 'free' parts when we buy the tool. So, if we don't routinely bust or bend our tools, we pay for those who do! Meaning lifetime warrantees are a really good deel if you tend to mess your tools up no matter how long you've used 'em. Otherwise a standard warrantee of one or two years is easily enough time to detect a valid defect. I don't abuse my stuff and I can't afford to pay extra to take care of those who do! ??

March 16, 2013, 09:15 PM
I have used C&H, RCBS, Lee, Herters, and Redding.

All have been satisfactory.

Hondo 60
March 16, 2013, 09:30 PM
I have to admit that I like being able to take apart the Dillon dies for cleaning with out having to change settings.

But is that worth the added expense?
Not for me.

I have 10 sets of Lee dies, 1 RBCS & 1 Dillon.
I don't think the RCBS or Dillon dies are worth any more than Lee.

March 16, 2013, 09:40 PM
I solved the problem to my satisfaction guys. I mostly buy Lee dies. For the price they can't be beat. I order a set of deluxe dies and a set of RGB dies at the same time.:) Still cost less that the nearest competitors basic dies. For handgun dies I buy Lee deluxe die sets. FWIW I also own RCBS, Forester, Bair, Herters, Pacific, and Lyman sets and they all work fine as well. I still like my Lee dies best. Or you can pay more up front once and get lifetime warantee dies.

March 16, 2013, 11:25 PM
You guys do realise this thread is a month old?

Just another thread that Legion489 has dug up to try to start something. Taking words out of context & quoting is not bring truthful.

March 17, 2013, 02:09 AM
Each brand has specific features, some you may find more usefull.

1. Some bullet seaters don't have a lock ring on the seating plug. It's possible for the screw to turn itself out a few 1/1000 over one reloading session.

2. Hornady seating dies have a guide sleeve, that helps the bullet alignment straight during seating.

3. Some bullet seaters don't crimp

4. Some bullet seaters do not support the case wall fully while seating, causing case bulges.

5. Some brands of sizing die size a bit smaller than others. [ RCBS small base is one ]

6. RCBS X-dies limit case length on full-length resizing [ you should look at this if you reload .223 for semi-auto, or if you find case trimming a boring job ]

7. For bottleneck brass, you can get a neck sizer only , instead of a full-length sizer

8. Some brands offer a micrometer measure on their seating dies

9. Pistol sizing dies can have either carbide or nitride sizing rings

10. Some decapping dies have replaceable decapping pins

11. Some decapping dies have the pin and rod in one piece

Over time, you'll find you prefer certain features, or dislike certain others, and you'll end up with specific die sets or combinations of die sets that best suit for what you reload.

March 17, 2013, 05:00 PM
I'm still a bit of a nob, but I would gladly steer anyone to Lee for pistol dies. They come with a shell holder, and for .45s I have added the factory Crimp Die to my RCBS carbide set anyway.

For rifle cases, I would still steer people to RCBS, I have found they are less likely to be sticky and difficult. (I do still have Lee 30-06 and .270 dies still in the box I haven't tried yet.)

Wil Terry
March 17, 2013, 05:07 PM
THE LAST TIME I COUNTED about ten years ago I had used 28 different brands of loading dies. ONLY one set would not load good viable ammunition as they were received. It took a bit to figure out what and where to cut steel but it was easily fixed.
AT the same time I counted 135 die sets in service at that moment in time.
And so it goes...

March 18, 2013, 12:46 AM
I like what Otto said about the warranty. Now that being said, just buy a set of dies and try them out if you don't like them you can always sell or trade them for something else. I don't see too many used sets out there for sale that don't sell for a reasonable price. (Except for nowadays but this should pass) You may be like most that have several different die sets for the same caliber rifle or pistol.

Andrew Leigh
March 18, 2013, 01:13 AM
For me it did.

Two years ago my Dad gave me his old RCBS 30-06 dies, probably produced in the late 70's. Would take three seperate depressions on the press handle before they FL sized and with significant pressure. Why I simply do not know, cleaned them, inspected them but to no avail. My brother had two sets from the same period, the .303 used to shave the cases while the 7mm used to collapse the neck (he is an experienced reloader) so it was not die setup. We can only put it down to there being a factory problem late in the 70's as RCBS is a great brand.

Bought a set of Hornady, even with the FL sizer all the way down the cases were still a lttle tight in the chamber. Like the bullets seating die though. Gave the set away to someone less fortunate than me and he is dead happy with them.

Bought a set of LEE and no problems.

My chamber in my CZ550 30-06 I think may be very tight and was not tolerant of cases that were not sized to the bottom end of the spec. I think that conincidently the LEE's just happen to fit my particular chamber best.

My experience hardly makes for being a statistic but it is my experience none the less.

The next set I bought was for my 6.5mm and here I bought LEE and no problems although I am sure most other brands would have worked.

March 18, 2013, 01:29 AM
Well. From my experience, lee makes great pistol dies... But I've had horrid luck with lee rifle dies. In rifles, hornady has been my bread and butter. I love them.

March 18, 2013, 02:38 AM
When I started shooting a little o er 2 years ago I was unsure if I would be successful in reloading or would enjoy it so I bought a Lee 50th Aniversary kit for $89.00 and dies in 9mm, 40 S&W, and .45ACP.
I enjoyed reloading enough to buy a Hornady LnL AP Progressive setup and a bunch more dies.

I had no problem with Lee pistol dies so I bought a set of their .308 Win. dies and had great success with them.
I also own Hornady dies for each caliber that I reload on the progressive press.
I find that the Hornady dies are deeper and fit that press well.

I own a couple of sets of RCBS dies for calibers that I didn't find in Lee dies in stock when I needed them.

As for what I think are the best rifle dies I will go with Redding for a couple of reasons.
Micrometer seating dies for when you are seating more than 1 type of bullet and you want to be able to go back to a different seating depth.
Neck bushing dies for the most repeatable neck tension with match grade ammo.

I still love posting this 100y photo which reminds me that if I do everything else right it doesn't matter whose dies I use.
That's (3) 5 shot groups and a pair in the lower right target.

Arkansas Paul
March 18, 2013, 10:05 AM
If you need one hole groups, then maybe the more expensive dies will give you tighter tolerances.

I actually prefer Lee dies and have shot many one hole groups with ammo loaded with them. Now, I don't have experience with all the different brands, but I can't tell a difference in RCBS and Lee as far as accuracy. The RCBS do seem a little more refined, but that means nothing to me. The Lee dies are great. I love the easy seating depth adjustment knob, the powder through expanding dies for handgun stuff, and the lockrings (I know, most people hate them).

I'm not a Lee fanboy either. Their equipment is serviceable, but I generally prefer RCBS or Lyman as far as presses and tools go. Their dies however, are my favorite.

March 18, 2013, 12:21 PM
"If you need one hole groups, then maybe the more expensive dies will give you tighter tolerances. "

Not so, they all make dies to SAAMI tolerances. The tolerences are a range, not a spot figure they try to get close to. Anything inside the tolerance range is as 'precise' as anything else. Therefore, individual dies vary within the same brand as much as they do between brands.

Who knows if it's better to have dies cut nearer the large or small side of the tolerance range? That would depend on the chamber tolerances of the individual firearm the ammo will be used in and chambers also have a SAAMI specified range of tolerances!

Anyone counting on the air bleed hole in a sizing die to prevent oil dents will likely be disappointed; that hole is too small to let out enough lube fast enough to matter.

March 18, 2013, 04:07 PM
And is often covered up by the lock ring anyway. :)

March 18, 2013, 09:48 PM
Does it matter what I buy?

Not to me.

March 18, 2013, 11:37 PM
- Some dies have mouths that bell more than others, which can be an advantage when working fast.
- Seating dies have different seater profiles, so some are better suited for different bullets nose profiles.
- An easily noticed difference is in the type of lock ring.

March 19, 2013, 09:37 AM
I have ~ 250 dies.

After buying zillions of dies, I have fallen into a pattern.
Typically for a new rifle cartridge I want a Forster FL die honed out at the factory, a Forster seater, and a Lee collet neck die.
Typically for a new pistol cartridge I get a Lee die set and a Lee factory crimp die if it is a semi auto.

Lately, for my wildcats, I have been making my own dies.
I like the store bought dies better.

March 19, 2013, 10:13 AM
The only thing I would add is that Lee will work for just about everything except they can be difficult to adjust in a progressive press which has a thicker die plate (Hornady, Dillon, not sure about RCBS).

I used exclusively Lee dies on a Lyman T-Mag turret press and was very satisfied. I upgraded to Hornady when I went to a progressive, but I never had a problem with Lee before that.

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