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Are high-end dies worth the money?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by whatnickname, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    I’ve been reloading for better than 50 years now. I guess I’ve used Most of the dies on the market at one time or another...CH, Texan, Lyman, RCBS, Hornady, Redding, Forester, Dillon and Lee. It would probably be easier to tell you the calibers I don’t reload than to list all the calibers I do reload. I have a few sets of each brand. Haven’t had much success with much of anything that had Lyman’s name on it. That said I have a set of Lyman All American dies in 30-30 Winchester that are better than 40 years old that are still as good as the day I ordered them from Gander Mountain. The Hornady New Dimension dies are kind of a lower priced economy proposition. Not all that wild about their sleeved seating die and there are some calibers (223) that I will never use that die on due to the way that they deform the bullets. Not too sure that the quality control on RCBS is what it was when Fred Huntington ran the show...but the RCBS dies I have generally get the job done. CH and Texan are little more than a footnote in the history book today. Lee is a good value for not a whole bunch of money. Dillon is hands down my choice in handgun dies...best taper crimp die I’ve ever seen. Redding and Forester are top notch and well they should be for what they cost. I’m leaning more toward favoring Forester...I like their placement of the expander button up toward the top of the die as a means of not pulling the case neck out of alignment with the case body...although I’ve never had any problem with that with any of the dies I own (brush the inside of my case necks and lube the neck with white graphite.) Forester’s Bench Rest seating die and Ultra seating dies are absolutely outstanding! So my question is: Are high-end reloading dies worth the money? If so, why? Kind of brings to mind a question a viewer on the Jay Leno Show asked the Fruit Cake Lady: “Is premium toilet paper worth the money?” The answer was: “Your a$$ ain’t gonna know the difference,”
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
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  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Sometimes they are, yes. Sounds like you agree.
     
  3. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Anyone who claims an ass can’t tell the difference between cheap TP and good TP has only ever used one or the other, not both. Assuredly, considering myself to NOT have a particularly dainty hind end, I can certainly tell the difference.

    I use a different means of measurement, but I can also tell the difference between proper and poor dies.
     
  4. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    My cheap 308 Lee sizing die produced ammunition with one thousandths of an inch case neck run out. However Lee does not make a small base die so I used a Lyman small base, which also gave outstandingly low case neck run outs.

    A bud of mine, a National F Class Champ in a multitude of categories, he paid a ridiculous amount for a set of custom dies. He sent the maker a couple of fired cases and the custom dies he received back were just awful and he tossed them in the corner. I think he went back to Redding dies.

    I have used all brands, as long as the rifle chambered the ammunition and extracted the stuff, the bullets went where they were supposed to go. However I am primarily a sling shooter and the bipod and sand bag crowd are seeing things that would have been within my hold.

    I will have to ask my F Class buds as to what dies they use, or shall I say, I will have to ask again as I forgot what they told me. As a general rule, everyone loves the benchrest type of seating die. I love the bench rest seating die where you can dial in seating depth and return to a setting. As for sizing dies, I have one Lee 30-06 die that produces cases that bend as much as a banana, but the other Lee dies I have produce straight cases. All my Lyman, Hornady and RCBS dies produce good accuracy ammunition. I have a few Redding die sets but they are very expensive, and I am cheap.

    I do believe the placebo affect is real, and when reloaders pay more for equipment, they expect more, so they will see evidence of more. Even when it is not there. People see patterns every where, even when they don't exist. Boots Obermeyer had a good story on this. I can't find it now, but Boots loaded a bunch of long range ammunition, did all the checks, probably bench rest stuff, sorted the ammunition out into good and culls. He then goes to a long range match and shoots outstanding scores. Maybe winning. At the end of the match he tells everyone how careful ammunition preparation made all this possible, pulls out his box of long range ammunition, and after reading the label, finds he had been firing his cull loads! :uhoh:
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  5. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Sometimes but not always.
     
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  6. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    The answer is entirely circumstantial and subjective. They are only "worth" what they are worth to individuals. For me? No.

    At the rather pedestrian level that I compete and given the vast room for improvement that remains in my lack of skill, my loading practices, and my relatively imprecise firearms, any increased precision that might possibly be afforded by high cost dies would be so incremental as to be lost. But I suppose like any other sport, if you have everything else nailed down and are in search of infinitesimal incremental gain, then yes. Or, if you want them. People should do with their own money as they darn well please.
     
  7. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    Well sir
    You’ve been reloading far longer than I have but after a couple of Forsters and a Hornday set , I switched to Wilson F/L bushing or Harrel’s as my go to brand producing consistent brass with minimal sizing and no stretching of the necks.
    Both are very reasonably priced also so I see no need to purchase Widden or Redding
    YRMV of course J
     
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  8. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    42 years in the biz myself, but I am not a high volume reloader, nor do I have high precision (i.e., one-hole 200 yard group) requirements so I get by 99% of the time with Lee or RCBS dies. But I can see where specific requirements and goals may be better met with a product at the top end of the spectrum, and for that I am thankful we have so many excellent manufacturers and products out there to choose from.
     
  9. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    It is diminishing returns. I have dies from many makers but usually buy Lee now as the price point it nice and I'm not a precision guy. Mostly doing handguns or rifles which I don't expect amazing performance from.
     
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  10. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    I can say when a specific die is busted or no.
    But an entire line or manufacturer? On price point?
    That is more difficult, for me.

    I have heard of out of spec dies from Forster, Redding and own two bad RCBS sizers. I would be more disappointed with top notch brand mistakes than Lee.
    To have lee dies come in too rough is an inconvenience. To have Redding dies come in unpolished is unforgivable.

    The extra price is to be certain of what one is getting. To have them fail that is “bad muda”.

    I am not wealthy and put my premium on the finished round, not the finish, or outward appearance, of the die set.
    #Hornadyaficionado.
     
  11. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Agreed. Those people need to start with the wax paper product they use on public transport in Britain. That particular TP is designed so that the user is so put out that they won't use much, if any. :D
     
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  12. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    I do on some occasions.
     
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  13. whatnickname

    whatnickname Member

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    Well there you go! Gets kind of hard to figure out sometimes.
     
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  14. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Having a full set of RCBS Cowboy dies for revolvers, at what I would call a premium price, led me to having lead bullet reloads the way wanted them. My Hornadys don't get used much. The Reddings are reserved for jacketed diameters, unable to preserve a full roll crimp on oversized revolver bulllets (lead).
     
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  15. Jack B.

    Jack B. Member

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    I only use one brand now and have only used 2 brands in 45 years of reloading. I don't like jumping around thinking this brand might be better than what I have. I've learned the brand I've chosen works best for me because I understand it and am familiar with it. I think jumping around and using different brands gets you lost and confused. IMO.
     
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  16. 375supermag

    375supermag Member

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    Hi...
    In my limited experience, I find RCBS dies to usually produce excellent ammuntion across the spectrum of handgun and rifle cartridges.
    I have very high regard for Redding dies...use one set for .375SuperMag. Very nice quality die set... expensive but you get what you pay for, IMHO.
    Bought a couple of Lyman die sets at auction... haven't used them yet, so don't know how well they work.
    Have not had any bad experiences with Lee dies...used them years ago when I first started reloading but I switched to RCBS after about a year of reloading.

    As I said, my experience is limited. I have only been reloading for a little over 35 years both rifle and handgun. I generally reload about 6000 rounds a year but this year has been particularly busy, so my son and I have easily loaded in excess of 9000 rounds based on the number of bullets we have purchased.
     
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  17. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    For me the answer is no.

    For those in the long distance game and Benchrest where they measure the winner with a hair I would say yes.

    I'm happy with a .33" group @ 200 yards where as that wouldn't even get the long distance guys on the leader board.

    I guess that puts me in the yes and no group.
     
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  18. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I have equipment to load north of 30 different cartridges. Here are the reasons I buy more premium sets of dies and it does not necessarily have to do with the real or perceived quality of the ammunition they produce.

    These days, I buy Redding and/or RCBS dies for the features they have. They generally are good quality but I've had a couple poorly made dies from each over the years.

    For rifle, I like dies with micrometer seaters for the easy repeatability of changing settings of the seater. The RCBS Gold Medal seater is the "cat's meow" but it is only made in a few cartridges.

    Lee dies are good but by the time I buy accessories to make them useful to the way I like, I've spent as much as for a set of RCBS dies.

    Both Hornady and Forster dies have features that I do not care for. I've probably had more quality issues with Hornady dies than any other brand and I only have a few sets of Hornady dies.

    I have one set of Lyman dies, 32 S&WL. They work.
     
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  19. xphunter

    xphunter Member

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    Depends on what you are trying to accomplish, and the weapon(s) you are loading for.
    I will use a Wilson type in line seating die with an arbor press that measure seat tension if I want to get tight.
    Typically use Redding comp dies or Whidden for serious shooting.
    I also use regular Hornady, RCBS, CH, etc... brand dies for other things as well.
     
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  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    I used Niel Jones dies for the 6 PPC when I shot Benchrest.
     
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  21. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I'm mostly a die cheapskate and use Lee dies by default. But every once in a while I will go upmarket, and I think there's some extra utility there in the right applications.

    For instance, switching to a Redding competition seater has really helped with consistent straightness of bullet seating on a couple of cartridges.
     
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  22. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    My hunting camp used to buy commercial brown-colored T.P. known to us as "John Wayne toilet paper" because it was rough as hell and didn't take crap off anybody.
     
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  23. Toprudder

    Toprudder Member

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    I have a bunch of Lee dies, and they generally do all that I need them to do. When it came to seating bullets in 30-30, though, I was getting terrible runout. I ended up getting a Wilson seating die, and I was sold on it. I ended up getting one for 308 and one for 223, as those were the calibers where I was interested in precision.

    I later purchased a Forster micrometer die for 223, and I believe it does as good or better than the Wilson die, and it is press mounted instead of needing an arbor press. But I do like the idea of using an arbor press with a force gauge to measure the seating force.

    But for the majority of what I load, expensive dies are not worth it, IMHO. I can’t see having a micrometer seating die for loading 45acp, especially since I don’t change bullet profiles often. And if I do need to adjust the OAL, turning the die is easy enough.
     
  24. Bat Rastard

    Bat Rastard Member

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    I have used all the common flavors of dies. I have been buying Redding for new projects.
    I like the bushings. They work my brass less.
    They seem to be a better mousetrap, but I won't be going back and replacing the old die sets.
     
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  25. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    Run out is normally introduced in the sizing phase.
     
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