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357/38 Special carbide die opinions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Orange Boy, Jul 29, 2010.

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  1. Orange Boy

    Orange Boy Member

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    I have dies from Lee, RCBS and Redding. I'll buy what works well and if I have to pay a bit more it's worth it to me. That said, I don't like to throw money away either. I have a single stage rock chucker and I'm looking to get into 38 Special handloading/reloading with the occasional batch of 357, but that is less important to me right now.. Most of my shooting will be at an indoor range in the 25-50 foot distance. I'll probably use wadcutters (full and semi) to start.

    I was just going to go ahead and order the RCBS carbide die set (#18212), but in reading some of the reviews there were some that say it doesn't resize the full length of the cartridge and can also be problematic if you resize brass not originally fired by you.

    I'm not locked into any manufacturer so I'd like to ask what you all think is a good carbide set for my purposes?

    Thanks!
    Bob
     
  2. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Go with RCBS , there sizing die has the hardest carbide availible. Others may be just a coating, or softer. The web area is not normally sized on 38/357 brass. Tho there seems to be a need for special dies in 40 s&w.
     
  3. JimKirk

    JimKirk Member

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    As long as a carbide die has .0001 clearance between the die and the shellholder, it will size the brass the same as a steel die. I say .0001 because that is about a frog hair off the shellholder and provides that the carbide insert is not crushed. Carbide is hard and will shatter if placed under extreme pressure. Some dies like the older Lyman has the carbide insert recessed enough that the die may touch the shellholder.

    I have several different brands of carbide 44 mag dies and have never had any problem with them not sizing the brass as they should. I have 1 set of 38/357 Lyman dies that have the insert as I described above and have never had any problems with them either.

    I've been using some of those dies for 30+ years.

    Jimmy K
     
  4. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Member

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    I like my RCBS .38/.357 dies.

    I called RCBS and as an added bonus if you pony up about $16 and send them 5 bullets, they'll make you a custom seater for your hollowpoints that won't damage them when seating. The roundnose seater tends to close XTPs a little, and the wadcutter seater flattens them.

    It's a decent company.

    -J.
     
  5. Sidewinder72

    Sidewinder72 Member

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    RCBS and never regret it. Great to do business with and very helpful. Customer service for me has been fantastic. (no I do not work for them)
     
  6. JimKirk

    JimKirk Member

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    Redding uses Titanium Carbide in their 38/357 dies.

    RCBS uses Tungston Carbide

    Lyman uses Tungston Carbide

    Lee uses Tungston Carbide

    Hornady/Pacific used Tungston carbide (older Dies)

    Hornady now uses Titanium Nitride


    If you buy "carbide dies" it will be made of with a carbide insert, if you buy "nitride" dies it will be a coating.

    Jimmy K
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Not true.

    No brand of carbide die sizes all the way to the case rim.
    That part of the case is down inside the shell holder.

    rc
     
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Hard to beat RCBS. Buy em, you won't regret it. Hogwash about their (or other makers) dies not sizing brass fired in another weapon enough for yours.
     
  9. moxie

    moxie Member

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    I've been using an RCBS .38/.357 carbide set for about 22 years. No problems. Works great.
     
  10. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Radiused Opening on FL sizing Pistol Dies

    A radiused opening type sizing die may not sized down as far as non-radiused dies. Last i looked, only Dillon & Redding had a radiused opening. Maybe the rest do now, its been a while.
     
  11. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    Hornady TiN pistol sizing dies have a TiN treated sizing ring (just like carbide dies), not the entire interior of the die.

    Anybody's carbide or TiN dies work well. Hornady pistol seating dies work exceptionally well.

    Andy
     
  12. rbernie
    • Contributing Member

    rbernie Member

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    I have, and am using regularly, a Lee 38 Special carbide die set that I bought in the late eighties. I have literally loaded tens and tens and tens of thousands of rounds thru that die set, and never had an issue with any aspect of the set.

    For my purposes (making range and outback carry ammo), I see no reason to get anything else.
     
  13. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    For .38/.357 the Lee should work as good as any unless you're looking for 1" groups at 50 yards (and maybe even then). The fact Lee dies come with a shell holder is a plus.
     
  14. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    Loaded with Lee dies, fired 25 yards, two hand hold, standing. I'd say the Lee dies do just fine. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  15. lwknight

    lwknight Member

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    Carbide sizing dies are worth every penny.
    You do not have to lube the cases but , I do anyway cause it makes then sooooo easy to resize.
     
  16. DickM

    DickM Member

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    I had an RCBS carbide .38/.357 sizing die that I used regularly for about 30 years. One day, when I extracted a sized case the carbide sizing ring popped out as well. I sent the whole thing back to RCBS asking if they'd remove the case and set the ring back in the die for me. Nope, they wouldn't do that - they sent me a brand new carbide sizing die at no cost whatsoever. Gotta love a company like that (and I recognize that most of the other brands would likely do the same thing).
     
  17. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    I first switched to a carbide die some 35 years ago when I was shooting bullseye matches on a regular basis...I thought I'd died and went to heaven! :D
     
  18. otblue

    otblue Member

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    I have 38 or 357 die sets in all the usual brands except Dillon. All of them work well but I find I use the Lee dies in a progressive press and the Lyman dies for everything else. The Lee dies have just the right radius to allow ease of case entry into the die on a progressive, and the Lymans the least which means that they size more of the case but only work well on a single stage press. The Lyman also has the best expander.

    Contrary to many of the others posters above, the only die brand I no longer buy is RCBS. Old (10- 20 years) RCBS dies I have are very good but recently manufactured dies are hit or miss. Terrible finish on some of them. Should not get past QC.

    I suppose if you are set on buying RCBS then as long as you can inspect them before purchase then that might be OK, but if you are ordering sight unseen by mail order then it's potluck.
     
  19. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    Yeah, I've experienced great customer service from RCBS too. In your case I imagine it was cheaper for them to send you a new die than to try to put the old one back together.
     
  20. wankerjake

    wankerjake Member

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    I like my Lee carbide die set in .38/357. Only a couple thousand rounds loaded so far but accuracy is excellent. No trouble whatsoever, and I believe they are the cheapest.
     
  21. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Member

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    I'm sure the RCBS dies would work just fine for you, but why spend the extra when Lee dies will work just as well?

    I've loaded thousands of rounds in .38 spl & .357 mag with Lee dies. Never had any issues where I thought a more expensive die set would work any different.
     
  22. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    RCBS Carbide dies are great as are Lyman, Redding, Hornady and Dillon BUT I use Lee Carbide dies because the price is right and they work just as well as the others... Redding does make a great Competition Seating Die though... Like said above, why spend the extra money when the Lee dies work just fine. For under $27 you can buy Lee Carbide pistol dies anywhere...
     
  23. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Another vote for Lee dies. I have every pistol set available in carbide and have had zero problems in 25 years and many 100K's of rounds later.
     
  24. Orange Boy

    Orange Boy Member

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    Do all Lee seating dies have that floating seater center mandrel design? The set I have for .380 does. I hear and feel it jiggle as I seat my bullets. That said, it works just fine, it just feels odd to me as I bring the press up.
     
  25. 918v

    918v Member

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    It does too resize the full length of the case. The reason people say it does not is because they do not understand what they are seeing:

    Standard carbide sizing dies are designed to resize the case to the SAAMI spec minimum. The case wall is composed of brass which is thicker at the base than at the case mouth. When the carbide die swages down a fired case, the carbide encounters these different levels of wall thickness. The thicker the brass, the harder it is to swage and the greater the rate of brass springback. Therefore, post sizing, the case is smaller at the case mouth than at the base by as much as .002".

    Appearancewise, the base looks bulged in comparison to the case mouth, but this is entirely due to brass springback. If you made the carbide ring any tighter, the exterior appearance of the case would remain the same, i.e. the case mouth would be .002" smaller than the base and the base would still look bulged.

    I shoot swaged HBWC for the most part out of my 38/357 revolvers. Standard sizing dies size the case too much in my opinion because lead bullets are larger in diameter than jacketed. I contacted Lee with my problem and they made me a carbide sizer die with an oversize carbide ring. It sizes a fired case .003" less than standard (meaning the resized case remains larger in diameter). Cases sized in this die look like unfired virgin cases, i.e. no bulge at the base. My lead bullets fit perfectly and the case is worked less so it should last longer.
     
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