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

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by wacki, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. wacki

    wacki Well-Known Member

    Lee, Lyman, RCBS, Dillon, Hornady, Wilson... the list goes on.

    Is there a difference? Does it matter what I buy?
  2. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. readyeddy

    readyeddy Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. Havok7416

    Havok7416 Well-Known Member

    +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.
  5. Mike 27

    Mike 27 Well-Known Member

    I have just about all of them. They all work. I like my RCBS and Lee's the best.
  6. wacki

    wacki Well-Known Member

    Why is redding your favorite?

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  7. GT1

    GT1 Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. Constrictor

    Constrictor Well-Known Member

    Yes it matters. But everyone has their criteria.
  12. carbine85

    carbine85 Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    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.
  14. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. dragon813gt

    dragon813gt Well-Known Member

    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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  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. lightman

    lightman Well-Known Member

    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
  18. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. grubbylabs

    grubbylabs Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. kerreckt

    kerreckt Well-Known Member

    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.

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