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Carbide Reloading Dies

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Tamitch, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Tamitch

    Tamitch Active Member

    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.
  2. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Well-Known Member

    Lee is about all I use anymore.
  4. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  5. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    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.

  8. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    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
  10. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    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.
  12. Muddydogs

    Muddydogs Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. mgmorden

    mgmorden Well-Known Member

    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 :).
  14. jack44

    jack44 Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. tbob38

    tbob38 Well-Known Member

    I use a mix of RCBS and Redding dies and am completely happy. I like the feel of quality.
  17. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    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.
  18. mgmorden

    mgmorden Well-Known Member

    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 :)).
  19. returningfire

    returningfire Well-Known Member


    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.
  20. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Fair enough, I forgot the OP was asking about handgun dies.

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