Caliber 357 Case Expanding Die : Lyman M Die, Redding, or Lee Universal with NOE insert

Which do you own ?

  • Lyman M Die

    Votes: 16 59.3%
  • Redding Case Expansion Die

    Votes: 2 7.4%
  • Lee Universal with NOE Insert

    Votes: 14 51.9%
  • RCBS Cowboy die

    Votes: 1 3.7%

  • Total voters
Not open for further replies.


Mar 18, 2018
Cincinnati Ohio
I am looking at Caliber 38/357 & shooting factory lead or powder coated bullets.

I will be putting the die into a toolhead/ turret so I will probably not being moving it.

Lyman M-die- They invented it ! They are priced near the bottom.

Redding Case Expanding die - They copied it, make it black, and charge more. Is it worth it ? How is it better ?

Lee Universal with NOE Insert. - Does allow conversion to other calibers & sizes. By the time I order a Lee Die and then an insert from NOE it is about the same price for a Lyman M Die. NOE charges the same shipping if you order (1) or a dozen, Flat rate shipping.

I watched a YT on the RCBS Cowboy die and it did not expand the case like you get from the Lyman & Redding. So I discounted it.
I like the LEES I have loaded over 80.000 rounds on LEE and have never had any trouble with any of there dies I do take them apart and clean every 2 years 32 S&W long up to 500 & a DAN Wesson 375 in hand guns In long guns 223 up to 30.06
I’ve been loading .38 Special and .357 ammunition, almost exclusively with lead bullets, since about 1980. I have not tried the dies you listed, although I do have a Lee Universal Expander Die that I use to load cast coated bullets in .300 Blackout.

My first .38/.357 dies were an RCBS carbide three die set. The expander plug is threaded into the top of the Die which gave lots of adjustability. The profile of the Lyman M Die is supposed to be optimized for lead bullets but the RCBS plug always worked fine. Easy to clean, too.

I started shooting cowboy action in 2010. I’m using .38 Special ammo with (mandatory) lead bullets. I decided to step up to a progressive press (a Hornady) and to buy a new set of dies-a Hornady three die set but not the “cowboy” version. In this standard set the expander plug is built into the Die body itself. The only adjustment is by the depth of the Die in the press/toolhead/turret. Initially I could not get the desired amount of bell on a .38 Special case even with the Die at full depression in the press mounted bushing. Hornady fixed it for free and now it works as well as the RCBS.

Other cowboy shooters I know use all different brands of dies with few complaints. I’ve heard very few people say they paid extra for the “Cowboy” dies sold by RCBS and Hornady.
I have the Lyman M dies in 45 Colt and 9mm and if I was going to buy one for .38 Special I would choose another Lyman M die. I have some of the NOE expanders and wish he would have used a system similar to Lyman (fixed in place) rather than the Lee Universal die (floats in the die).

For .38 Special I use some old RCBS dies and they are very similar to the Lyman M dies and do a better job expanding for lead bullets.
Im a Lyman M die user. Nothing wrong with the NOE expanders, but honestly I buy, set and forget my M dies for each caliber. Having to reset the Lee universal with a different expander everytime sounds like a PITA.
I watched a YT on the RCBS Cowboy die and it did not expand the case like you get from the Lyman & Redding. So I discounted it.

I have, and use a Lyman now. But when I started years ago I used a standard RCBS die set where the expander die only flared the case mouth. I can't say I've noticed much of a difference either way.
If you already have the plain old Lee expander die it works well for me. If you don't own one and are buying i would buy the Lyman M die without a thought.

I can't see paying more for the Redding copy of the Lyman M die.
Do you need a powder thru expander?
If the answer is yes then either the Lee Die with the Lee insert or the NOE insert.
I have loaded coated bullets in .38/.357 with my Lee dies using the Lee powder thru die with the insert that came with it with out issues.
If it does not need to be powder thru then the M die.
One advantage of going the Lee/NOE way is if you decide it needs to be powder thru later you are already set.
I've just always used the case mouth expander that came with my Lyman 357 Mag. die set. It works just fine with cast lead bullets PC'ed or not. It has the step already built onto the expander plug.
Fifth option. Lyman universal powder through expanding die. I like mine alot. Works on just about everything and i dont shave lead when using softer lead bullets for my 45-70.
Not open for further replies.