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

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

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  1. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    The North Country
    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.

  2. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

    Mar 18, 2009
    Central Arkansas
    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.
  3. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    "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.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    And is often covered up by the lock ring anyway. :)
  5. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Not to me.
  6. twofifty

    twofifty Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    a few other differences

    - 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.
  7. Clark

    Clark Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Where I5 meets the rain forest
    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.
  8. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    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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