Grades of Dies?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Howa 9700, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    So was perusing ebay for some rifle die upgrades.......and keep running into various options. And I should note I was looking at Bonanza and Forster, but see some of these from RCBS, Hornady, etc.

    Standard dies, vs. Bench Rest, vs. Bench Rest National Match, vs. Precision with Micrometers. And then there is Small Base.

    If I'm just starting out, do I need anything but the standards? I'm guessing standards for me is fine......but who uses these others and why? (Small base......if those are to make cases smaller to enable them to feed better in semi-auto, pumps, lever action, etc......I think I understand that one).
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Standard will work just fine
     
  3. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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    I use standard and small base dies. People who need 1/4 MOA and have the rifle and know how uses the $300 dies.
     
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  4. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    Every die I have ever owned in 30+ years has been the standard Lee dies, some 3 die sets, some 4. Never have I felt the need to buy any better dies, and they have produced some exceptional accuracy for me over the years in both rifle and pistol. I’d definitely start with Lee and once you are comfortable with what you are doing reevaluate your results and decide if spending more on another set of dies is worth the expense.
     
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  5. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    I always tell new folks to buy features, not colors, brands, or pricepoint pride.

    I really like micrometer seating dies for rifle cartridges, so I have them for ever rifle cartridge I load for. The color doesn't seem to change the product quality at all.

    For one rifle, Redding's the only mfg I could find, so I bought their die. When I wanted the XDie feature, I bought RCBS. When I want pistol dies, I buy Lee.

    Buy features, not Brands.
     
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  6. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Some national match dies are small base. I would encourage you to read the descriptions on the manufacturer's page. My forester 308 national match is small base. Small base may work well for you if you shoot semi auto rifles or are a brass chicken and you shoot range pickups. Small base sizing dies choose function over all other considerations. I like to find a brand that I stick with for swapping components. Like that micrometer top on the seating die, hornaday makes that interchangeable. They also make more options for seating stems for rifle bullets than anyone else I know. I started with rcbs for pistol so my seating stems for 9mm 357 and 38 are all interchangeable. If you plan to cast or use cast bullets rcbs cowboy dies are great. Some companies "forester" will hone your neck of your sizing die for a reasonable price. If your brand new to loading I would consider buying single dies that exactly fit your need.
     
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  7. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    I use a Redding Type S full length bushing die for my 243 Win. Accuracy is better when comparing standard RCBS to Redding bushing die in 2 different rifles. I get longer brass life because the neck area is not over worked. Brittle brass necks crack.

    Just ordered Redding 6.5 CM dies. A bushing die & a standard 2 die set. Will see how that goes when i get the OK to shoot again.

    Standard dies work well. I still use them for basic hunting rifles, that dont get shot a lot, if at all now.
     
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  8. Dale Alan

    Dale Alan Member

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    If you have plans to shoot serious competition someday I would buy the best you can afford now in hopes it will be the first/last dies you will ever have to buy . If that is not the plan then standard dies will be plenty fine . I use Wilson and Forster for my bench guns , for my hunting/casual shooting I like Lee , RCBS, etc . . If you could give a little more info with specifics it would help . Some dies may be a waste for you and others may be needed .
     
  9. Ruger 15151

    Ruger 15151 Member

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    As mentioned by Dale Allen, your die choice should be based on the type of ammunition you are looking to produce. If you just want it to go bang, buy a set of Lee or RCBS dies and call it a day. If you are looking to produce precision loads that are very constant and have very little run out once they are sized, look for a set of Wilson or Forester dies. Guys rave about Redding but my personal experience is that its really the luck of the draw as to whether you get a good one or a bad one. I use Redding dies for 5 pistol calibers. However, I haven't had much luck with their rifle dies.

    I have owned RCBS, Redding, Hornady Completion Grade, Forester, Wilson, and Dillon. By far my favorite dies for the money are Forester. I replaced all my rifle sizing dies with Forester Full Length sizing dies and had the necks honed to the final diameter that I want by Forester for another $26. They are the smoothest rifle dies I have ever owned and they introduce almost zero neck run-out. Their Micro seating dies are fantastic as well an much cheaper that Redding.
     
  10. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    Not sure I worded my question correctly. I'm aware of difference in say Lee, Lyman, older brands, etc, then a step up to Redding, Bonanaza and Forster. What I'm looking to upgrade from is a set of Hornady American series dies which they themselves describe as an economical choice.....bought cause they were what I could find when I was looking. From what I can tell, economical is a good description. Locking ring does not lock......it is held in place by a rubber O ring. And apparently, an actual box to store the dies was also considered an extravagance.....came in a clear clamshell package. So yes, would probably achieve BANG........but not what I was looking for. But that is the entry point with Hornady. Then they have their Custom Series.....and Match Series. So three different grades?

    But picking one brand......say Forster.......they start with standard dies, then Bench Rest dies, then Bench Rest National Match dies, and lastly dies with micrometer settings. And ballpark of an increase of $60 for each step along the way. What benefit do I get for the step up in price?

    Micrometer dies.......I kinda get. The ability to quickly and accurately change seating depth. Have seen the videos that explain that one. But seems once you get the dies dialed in for a seating depth that works with that gun, the micrometer goes to waste? But if you wanted to experiment......or use same dies for different guns, it may make sense.

    But what about the other steps in grades? What do you get and why does it matter?
     
  11. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    Long before all the new features loading dies came with there were just loading dies.

    Part of the problem here is will your rifle notice the difference? There are rifles that the dies make a difference and rifles that it matters not because where you are is as good as it gets. Only you know your rifles and what you are loading for. Then factor in everything else beyond the dies like primer, powder, bullet and even brass.

    What you get is an improvement in uniformity of the loads and you need to decide if that improved uniformity works better for what you have.

    Ron
     
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  12. Mark_Mark

    Mark_Mark Member

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    I’m buying a bunch of dies, don’t really matter brand, just as long as The Price is Right
    2977307-630x410.jpg
     
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  13. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Maybe the most important question is does your seating stem fit the bullet your using perfect or are you deforming bullets. Does your die have a seating sleeve to prevent pinched fingers and give alignment. There are other factors that require test equipment to verify improvements like run out. A chamber seating die is considered superior. Does adding an arbor press sound good. Value is a difficult and subjective. My forester sizing dies feel the best of any I have used but I cant compare to widden because I never used them before.
     
  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    If a custom full length sizing die is made from 3 fired brass, that came out of your rifle, all the other dies are just over priced standard dies.

    Save your money on dies till you get a rifle that can put 5 shots into an inch at 300 yards.
     
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  15. Dale Alan

    Dale Alan Member

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    A good die is needed to achieve that goal , a good rifle , and a good shooter ... and good wind conditions, etc . . Let's stay real, the OP is new to this and has serious questions.
     
  16. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    Actually, his comment made very good sense to me......that plus all the others.....picture just got a bit clearer.

    Finding that with reloading, there are lots of places to blow a lot of money in a hurry......dies would be one place......case trimmers would be another....... but finding you don't always need to throw money at it to get good results.
     
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  17. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I have many brands of dies in my reloading room. Some came to me used and some new. They ALL worked well for reloading good ammo. You do need to spend good money on things like a good scale, accurate calipers, a good rugged press, etc. Start out with a standard set of dies, that is all I use after 30+years reloading ammo for 200-300 YDS max use. Your future intrests will dictate your future purchases.
     
  18. Dale Alan

    Dale Alan Member

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    Seems you have it figured out already.
     
  19. n2omike

    n2omike Member

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    Stocking replacement parts (decapping pins, etc) for ONE brand simplifies things. Most of my stuff is RCBS, but some others as well. That being said, I have a Lee factory crimp die for most calibers, as I really like them, and the cost is only around $20.

    It can be a PAIN adjusting a standard die to consistently crimp on the seating stroke... and it brings out my inner OCD. LOL. The Lee Factory Crimp die just seems to work better and is more forgiving. I don't mind the extra step, as it's a quick process.
     
  20. Skgreen

    Skgreen Member

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    What caliber(s) is the OP working with?
    Hunting? Benchrest? Blasting ammo?
     
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  21. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    The weapon in question is a 308 Win. that is my oldest kids.....who is currently out of country. While he is away, I'm playing with it. It happens to be a heavy barreled gun he bought for hunting and targets. He shot Expert in the Marines and has an interest in long distance shooting along the lines of the PRS game, but for now, not competitive. But if we can load ammo to deliver 1 MOA or better, and weapon will deliver, it could morph into something more.
     
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  22. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    If Your not shooting a top quality bullet in a good barrel everything else doesn't even matter.
     
  23. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    With that in mind I would focus more on working up different loads. Powder, bullets, primers and brass as I mentioned earlier. Using my heavy barrel Remington 700 which I trued I get 0.5 MOA at the hundred using a plain 3 die RCBS set and AA 2495 powder, GI brass (WCC 10) and Sierra 168 grain BTHP Match bullets. I would just start by working up a few loads and seeing what happens.

    Ron
     
  24. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    What is our point of origin here. How big of groups are we working with now. Are we at 1moa or are we at 3.
     
  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Standard dies will load great ammo, but if you have an accurate gun, and will get serious about loading for it with quality bullets, then a set of RCBS MatchMaster dies will do you right.

    My buddy Jeff uses a set to reload 6 GT for PRS matches.
     
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