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Dillon dies v. RCBS, Redding, Lyman, Lee dies?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jski, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. jski

    jski Member

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    Just curious if Dillon dies are worth their 2X price difference? And they don't deal with 3rd party retailers: MidwayUSA, Bass Pro, Cabela's, etc. You deal with Dillon ... period.
     
  2. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I don't have any Dillion dies but I have Hornaday and Lee. The Hornaday are a little more expensive than the Lee and other being a little nicer made and a nicer lock nut I don't see the value of the extra cost. In fact, I actually like the Lee dies better.

    Now I haven't done any super precision loads, so I can't tell if there's much difference. In fact, I'd say no, and if/when I get to that point I'd look at the Redding dies with the micro adjustments built in.

    There are many Lee bashers, and many Lee lovers. As I have gear from Lee, RCBS, Hornaday, and several others I'm not biased. I think their dies are a good value and are my first choice as I don't see the point in paying more for not getting any extra performance.

    So if the Dillion dies have something like the Redding adjustments, I'd ask you if that is worth the extra cost to you. If so then that's your answer. If not, then find the best deal out there on a good set of carbide dies and be happy using them.
     
    Tcruse likes this.
  3. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    The only Dillon die I would consider of the others would be there 357sig in carbide. As far as I know they are the only ones making a carbide die for this miniature bottle neck round.

    Most of my dies are RCBS and Hornady. My precision sets are Redding. I find that Redding dies just work without any special requirements. They hold a tighter tolerance than most other brands. I find there is not a need for a small base dies if you go with Redding. And there body sleeve for their Seating die insures that every thing is in alignment.
     
  4. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    My take on it is this. Rifle calibers come with a dedicated crimp die, which inflates their price. I don't crimp rifle rounds (other than tube mag cartridges) so I'd never buy them. I like their pistol dies for that same reason (dedicated crimp die), and bought them for calibers I started to load and didn't have dies for. Spread out the additional cost over many years and thousands of rounds and its not that big of a deal.

    There are other outlets for Dillon products but the prices aren't any better. Grafs is one.
     
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I own and use dies from Lee, RCBS and Hornady. (Maybe a few others too lol) I like features of each. I use mostly Lee handgun dies. I like the RCBS full length sizing dies for rifle cartridges but like the seating dies from Lee for rifle ammo. I use a full set of Hornady dies for the 45-70 and feel they do a great job. The nitride inserts used by Hornady in their handgun sizing dies makes sizing smooth as glass. For neck sizing on bottle neck rifle cases Lee dies work great for not a lot if money.

    I guess what I'm saying is, each have advantages but IMO paying twice or 3x for dies is uncalled for. Of course I'm not shooting Bucharest so micrometer seating dies are not in my tool box and are probably a good idea if you do shoot Bucharest because repeatability is a necessity there. I can't see paying
     
  6. Schwing

    Schwing Member

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    I have some of all and still find myself using the Lee dies the most. The one exception is my crimping dies for handgun (straight walled revolver rounds). For those, I use Redding profile crimp dies. I really love the RCBS lockout dies and really dislike the Dillon powder checks (they just take up too much space on the tool head.
     
  7. WelshShooter

    WelshShooter Member

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    I've used all sorts of die manufacturers over time. All of the die brands I have used have been pretty good in fairness, with little issues. Due to some frustrations with other die brands, I have mostly been buying Redding or Forster dies based on whatever is available to me at the time of purchase and have not been disappointed. You only buy a set of dies once, so you might as well get a good set which will make your reloading time easier and with less frustration.

    Lee
    Cheapest dies you can get. If you get a good set, they can work very well and do the job at hand. Had a set of Ultimate .308win dies (FL/neck size, seating die and crimping die) which were capable of producing <0.5moa ammunition at 100 yards. However, they don't have great quality control and you may be unlucky enough to receive a semi-finished die. The lock rings are poor and rely just on tension; no lock screw. Sometimes I've screwed the dies in/out of the press only for the locking rings to move. Comes with load data and a diagram of the cartridge illustrating max overall length and case trim length.

    RCBS
    More expensive dies, but come with great RCBS customer service. Dies work as expected, and I particularly like the carbide sizing dies for pistol calibres. Does not come with load data. Locking rings are OK but the brass screw can round quite easily even when using the correct hex key fitting. The locking rings have come loose quite a few times which is frustrating.

    Redding
    Excellent quality dies. Full length sizing can be performed in separate operations by using a body sizing die and neck sizing. Separate bushings can be bought to adjust neck tension accordingly. Seating dies can utilise the standard seating stem or the more expensive (and accurate) micrometer adjusting seating stem. IIRC, they use the same locking ring fastener as the RCBS, but mine have not rounded.

    Forster
    Excellent quality dies. Very similar to redding dies. Seating die supports the whole case and bullet for good alignment, rather than supporting just the neck and the bullet. Locking rings do not lock into the die, but rather act as a C-clamp around the die. Much more secure.
     
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  8. dgod

    dgod Member

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    About the Locking Rings... I changed all of mine out for the Hornady Rings. The Lee Rings have an O-Ring to set the rings (Doesn't stay put), RCBS has a set screw that can easily damage the threads on the die, (Suggest a piece of lead shot between the set screw and the threads). I'm not fortunate enough to have Forester Dies, but It seems that lock down very similar to RCBS dies. The Hornady Rings ($2.50 - $3.50) depending on source, act as a C-Clamp and secures the ring in place with no damage to the dies.

    Just my $0.02
    DG
     
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  9. hdwhit
    • Contributing Member

    hdwhit Member

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    It is my understanding that Dillon makes their dies to function on their progressive presses so that there are subtle differences (i.e. additional relief at the bottom of the die) to ensure they work right in an environment where the operator's hand isn't going to be steadying the case.

    If I was interested in using a progressive press, I would probably buy Dillon. And if I bought a Dillon press, I would certainly buy the dies they make to work with it. It seems to do anything else would ultimately be a "false economy".

    But, I don't use a progressive press and so I use dies from other manufacturers.

    My experience with Lee has been that their Speed Dies (no longer made) were simple and once you replaced the locking rings, pretty much bullet-proof. Beyond that, the regular Lee die set I tried was so disappointing that it was replaced with RCBS dies.

    My experience with Lyman regarding a pair of neck sizing dies would be enough to start its own thread. Their abysmal customer service - they wouldn't warranty a bent decapping stem and couldn't figure out how to sell me the replacement part either - made the experience even worse. If they were the only seller of reloading equipment, I would give up this hobby I have enjoyed for 40 years and start buying factory ammunition in bulk.

    My RCBS dies produce ammunition that fits and functions perfectly from the time they come out of the box. I've not tried any other dies beyond those already discussed because my experience so far has been RCBS works, RCBS works right, RCBS works right straight out of the box and the other manufacturers' products I've tried have not.
     
  10. mdi

    mdi Member

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    If the reloader is conscientious he can produce good, safe ammo with anything from Lee to Wilson, Forster, Redding, etc. dies. Mechanically, there is very little difference from the least expensive to the high dollar dies. I have dies from most manufacturers ans when I open a box of reloads and shoot them, I cannot tell which dies were used. I believe finish is the biggest difference and perhaps tighter tolerances (my Redding dies have nice sharp corners, no burrs and no tool marks. My Lee dies may not be as pretty, but function just as well) but in the end the holes in the target are pretty much identical. I've had very good performance with Lee lock rings as the design worked quite well for me; no die movement with finger tight lock rings. But I replaced all my die's lockrings with Sinclair and Forster rings because I use a Co-Ax...
     
  11. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Also, with Dillon hand gun dies, Dillon does not provide a mouth expanding die with their sets. This is accomplished by the drop tube in the powder measure drop die. This feature is specifically set up for a progressive press. Dillon separates the bullet seating and crimping steps hence their handgun die sets have three dies.

    Dillon rifle dies are more traditional.

    Dillon dies do have a nice feature for removing stuck cases.

    Personally, I like Redding and then RCBS dies. I have a few Hornady dies in service, even fewer Lee and even fewer Lyman.

    I've had issues with some Hornady sizing dies not performing as advertised and I do not like that the mouth expanding dies cannot be disassembled. The seater dies with the reasonably cost micrometer adjuster option are pretty good for standard work.

    Lee dies work fine but I do not like the o-ring lock rings or the storage boxes. By the time I replace the lock rings and storage box including shipping costs, I just about matched the cost of an RCBS set. Most of my Lee dies are pre-1990 vintage and they do not fit well in the progressive presses that I have bought since 2000 so they have been retired.

    I've bought Lyman dies when I could not source them from other manufacturers. I do like the M mouth expanding die and have a few of them.

    These are my idiosyncrasies and I'll agree that others will have different opinions on the dies.
     
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  12. 444

    444 Member

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    I have Dillon dies for probably a half dozen different calibers: all are handgun dies except one set of .223 dies.
    I also own dies from every major die manufacturer as well as some lessor known manufacturers like LE Wilson and others.

    FWIW: In my Dillon 550 toolheads, I have (over the years) replaced pretty much all the Dillon dies with Redding dies. So, obviously I wouldn't pay twice as much for Dillon dies since I don't even use the ones I have.

    My big thing with dies is how easily they adjust. Second with how precise they load ammo. I like to be able to make accurate adjustments to my dies and not just trail and error adjustments. So if a die is offered with a micrometer adjustment, I buy it.


    Not that you ask, but I will never buy another set of RCBS dies either. I don't like the way they adjust. I am a big fan of Redding dies. For less precise applications I like Hornady dies. And I use LE Wilson hand dies in a couple different calibers.
     
  13. gifbohane

    gifbohane Member

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    I also bought the hornady lock rings for my RCBS dies. The just seem more secure and do less damage to the threads on the dies.
     
  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  15. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    I don't own any Dillon dies but a friend that does prefers them in his Dillon 550 because he says the mouth of Dillon dies is radiused and makes them smoother in operation. I have all Redding dies in my 550 and they are smooth enough in operation and I prefer Redding dies.
     
  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Oh understand some loaders not liking the Lee lock rings but I have no problems with them. I have had some die sets sitting in a turret for many years without them moving at all. If you are loading on a single stage they are not good rings. When using them on their own turret they work very well. I use a Lee turret press for loading handgun ammo.
     
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  17. peterk1234

    peterk1234 Member

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    I had the Lee die on the my turret and now on the hornady LNL. I use a 1 1/8 inch wrench to get the dies better than hand tight on the plate, and now the bushings. That little added tightness appears to do the job. They have yet to move.
     
  18. 444

    444 Member

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    One thing the Lee dies have going for them is the O-ring. This keeps the die from coming loose and also allows the die to "float" a little bit.

    FWIW: I have added O-rings to some of my other than Lee, dies for this reason.
     
  19. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    I have Dillon dies for 3 handgun calibers. I think, but I'm not totally sure, that you sir and myself are in an exclusive club here as just about all of the other posters that have an opinion either didn't read the OP question or read it and decided that the actual question wasn't expertly crafted. But I digress...

    I basically agree with your premise. I use a LNL progressive press. Over the years I have tried numerous die sets and what I'm using now in 9mm for example is a hodge-podge of makes. To list, I use: resize (EGW U-die), expansion (either the Hornady PTX on the powder measure or an RCBS standalone die), Seating (Redding), Taper crimp (Dillon). As others have said Dillon dies are made specifically for progressive presses and to be installed on dedicated toolheads with high production not small runs in mind. Dillon dies are difficult to fine adjust but much easier to clean and keep the adjustment. I believe that Dillon dies are made by Redding. Redding dies are in my opinion the best made, while Lee dies (again my opinion) are sloppy in the tolerance department.

    But the question is are they (Dillon dies) worth the extra cost? My opinion again, as far as quality (form/fit/finish) they are well made. Once set up they are easy to keep clean and adjusted. They are made with a specific use in mind that is seat and crimp in separate operations which SS and turret press users may not want. Because you adjust the dies by moving the body in and out they are a bit harder to fine tune especially for seat and crimp. For the casual budget minded handloader they probably are not the best choice but for those who want quality and willing to pay for it and use a progressive press they are worth looking at. It should be noted that you can spend way more on dies than the cost of Dillon. Most of the die makers have premium dies that can add up to big bux.
     
  20. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...You deal with Dillon..." You also get their warrantee that's as good as RCBS'.
    The only thing Dillon sells/makes that nobody else does is carbide rifle sizer dies. They come in .223, .300 BO, .308, .30 Carbine(nothing unusual there) and .30-06. Horrendously expensive though. The .223 sizer die alone runs $137.95. $150.95 for the .308 and BO. $225.95 for the '06.
    Their regular dies are not 2x the price of anybody else. Pretty much the same.
     
  21. bds
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    bds Member

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    While I enjoy my Dillon 650 with ease of cleaning Dillon dies by pulling the top retention pin without having to remove the dies from the toolhead, I would gladly use my RCBS carbide pistol dies without hesitation.

    But to opine Lee dies are "sloppy in the tolerance department", let me share my "opinion" of Lee dies.

    - Yes they are cheaper than other brands but still made in the USA.

    - They have shorter threaded body section but you can use the locking ring under the toolhead.

    - Their carbide sizer rings have smaller radius at the die mouth to allow further resizing down towards case base than other brand dies.

    - Especially with overly expanded brass with expanded case base dimensions, my Lee dies will resize brass further down the case base with smaller OD than Dillon or RCBS dies.

    - Particularly with 40S&W "Glocked" brass, users of other brand dies need to "push-through" resize with FCD but my Lee resizing die will resize to under SAAMI spec dimensions to not require the FCD and it remains in the die box. For 40S&W cases expanded to .430+" at the middle and .423"-.424" at the case base, my RCBS carbide sizer will maintain the case base OD at .423"-.424" but my Lee carbide sizer will resize to .420" all the way down to case base.

    My shooting and reloading mentor taught me to reload on Dillon 550 and Lee Pro 1000 and my USPSA match pistols could not tell the difference. Over the years, other match shooters and I did many comparison tests of our match loads' finished dimensions (using same Montana Gold jacketed bullets) and my rounds were on par or better than rounds loaded on other brand presses/dies. Of course, eyebrows were raised when my rounds produced smaller shot groups than their rounds because my fixed volumetric Pro Auto Disk dropped within .1 gr variance consistently while their powder measures drifted during a 1000+ round reloading session.

    Most of the load development and comparison test rounds I posted past several years on THR have been loaded on Pro 1000 in "progressive mode" using Lee dies. The smaller radius carbide sizer opening haven't given me any issues the past 25+ years and with more consistent bullets like Hornady HAP, Montana Gold FMJ/JHP, Rocky Mountain Reloading FMJ/JHP, Speer TMJ, Zero FMJ, etc. my OAL/COL variance run less than .005" (using resized brass) with most falling under .002"-.003" (Hence why I often post 115 gr FMJ OAL variance at 1.130"-1.135"). With C-H 205 single stage and Lee seating/taper crimp die, I can reduce OAL variance to mostly under .002" using RMR 115 gr FMJ with 60-80%+ being spot on. I can also taper crimp to .001" variance unless the bullet is out-of-round and case wall thickness is not even. I can't hardly call these finished dimensions "sloppy" tolerances.

    So for the price, I find the "sloppy tolerance" of Lee dies quite acceptable for me and I would even gladly use Lee dies on my Dillon 650.

    But of course, this is only my opinion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  22. Schwing

    Schwing Member

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    What I didn't think of when I bought my Dillon press is the thickness of the Dillon tool heads. My Lee dies suddenly were not tall enough without removing the thicker Lee rings. I replaced most of them with the thinner Dillon rings (they are less than $1 each). The funny thing is, I found out later, that you can use the lee rings and still have enough height if you put the rings on the UNDERside of the toolhead.
     
  23. kerreckt

    kerreckt Member

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    I use all the major brands. I will mix and match die brands. FWIW, I have found that Redding .223 FL sizing die works best for me. It resizes brass that fits all our rifles. I reload for about 10 rifles between me and my sons. These include both semi-auto and bolt rifles. If other brands do this, I have not discovered it, yet.
     
  24. TheDomFather

    TheDomFather Member

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    I have not tried Dillon dies, Hornady's dies have worked well for me for pistol, Especially the Nitride coated dies, that being said I dont like their .45 ACP crimp and seat die and have switched those to a seperate Redding seat and seperate crimp die. Lee makes good stuff especially for their prices. Hornady is reasonable you should be able to get a 3 die pistol set for roughly $45 from Midway. On rifle I dont really care for the hornady dies and I am using Redding for .300 blackout and .223 and while they are ridiculously more expensive they simply work better. Especially if you get their micrometer and their carbide sizing button. I also have a couple of Forster seating dies and they are great to as their micrometer adjusts in .0005 increments for bullet seating.

    Hopefully you get some good feedback here. What I have found in selecting products is that its a lot of trial and error which can get costly. If you dont have a lot of friends who reload and are very knowledgable this and youtube are the best place to get information.

    I love Lee's universal decapping die as I pop out my primers before wet tumbling with stainless media to get cases clean inside and out as well as the primer pockets. I also like their factory crimp dies for .300 blackout and .223. There prices are fantastic just not top shelf stuff.

    I have not tried RCBS or Dillon and likely wont try Dillon as I either load on a Hornady LNL AP Press for Pistol and a Redding T7 Turret for Rifle or a small amount of pistol loads.

    I reload the following calibers: .380 ACP, 9mm, .38 Special and .357 Magnum, .45 ACP in various weights, .223 and .300 blackout.
     
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  25. Dudedog

    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    Happy with all my Lee handgun dies.
    Not saying there are not nicer dies out there but for the money I am perfectly happy with the Lees
    My 9mm Lee sizer is not as smooth as my Hornady 9mm size die, but sizes the brass tighter so I use it.
    Stuck case removal with Lee size dies is straightforward as long as the case still has a base, unscrew the nut at the top, squirt some lube in, and tap the deprime pin with a hammer.
    Currently my 9mm setup on my LNL is using Lee and Hornday and RCBS dies, a mix.
    I have RCBS and Lee dies for .45, I prefer the Lee sizer there as well.

    My .223 set seem to size fine for my AR and Mini14 no small base die needed.

    I doubt the Dillon dies load ammo that is 3X as accurate. Only you can decide if the extra cost is worth it to you.
    You didn't mention if you were planning on using them on a Dillon, that might be a reason to purchase them.
    (LNL 9mm set up, Lee decap/resize, RCBS lockout, Hornady bullet feed, Hornady seat/crimp, Lee FCD)
     

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