Grades of Dies?

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

  1. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    In my opinion, standard dies will serve you well for most circumstances. If you are competing, then higher quality dies may be in order.

    Here are my exceptions to the above rule...

    I like micrometer seater dies particularly where I might change bullets and cartridge overall length frequently. I record the setting of the seating stem and it makes returning to that setting easier. But for cartridges like for my M1 Garands that I do not change bullets, a standard seater die works fine, it never gets adjusted. Hornady has an economical solution with a micrometer head that replaces the stander seating stem adjuster. An economical upgrade.

    RCBS Gold Medal seater dies are great for loading rifle cartridges on a progressive. You put the bullet in a window in the side of the die and it gets seated. I load 204 Ruger on my RCBS Pro2000 with one of these seater dies. They are a bit pricey for some cash limited folks.

    For semi-auto rifles like the AR-15, I get small base dies if they are available for the cartridge that I am shooting. I have AR-15's in at least 8 different cartridges. Small base dies are cheap insurance against chambering problems which I have had. I do not see any loss in case life with small base dies. If you buy them from the get go, they are not any more expensive than standard dies.

    I have some bushing dies for a cartridge or two. It is a nice idea but cases need to have uniform case mouth thickness from case to case. I do have a 22 x 6.8 wildcat rifle that I use a bushing die to reform the 6.8 SPC case down to 22 x 6.8.
     
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  2. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    I work with several dies, the Brand doesn't matter to me only how much sizing results.
    Learn how to measure your chamber and your brass before and after firing and sizing, then define your mission as in a semi auto needs more than a comp bolt gun, then hunting needs are slightly more sizing than a comp rifle etc.
     
  3. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Member

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    AFAIK those are just marketing words.
    Of course there'll be some who swear by those words.

    Just know every gun is different.
    Something might work great for you
    and will be horrible in my gun.
     
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  4. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    Realized when you asked, I didn't have an answer. I'd only shot it a few times off shaky rests and makeshift targets. I also had not been shooting it as he was down to less than a box of ammo, and I wasn't going use that till I could replace it. By chance, I recently scored a box of Federal Match ammo, so went to the range this morning to take a few shots.

    This is what the last 5 looked like with Match ammo......Federals with 175 gr Sierra Match King.........at 100 yards. Looks to me like 1 MOA or close to it.......and I don't claim to be a good shooter. Was using front tripod, which left me too high......had to improvise an elevation block to rest rear bag on to get on target, which left entire rig about 3 inches high on the bench. Before I got that sorted, had another 5 shot group closer to 2 inches......using hunting ammo.

    But looks to me like gun is capable enough...........in the hands of a shooter.

    308 group.jpg
     
  5. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    BTW, I already have dies by RCBS and Bonanza in other calibers, and the budget Hornady dies, so to get a feel for others, have ordered a set of Lee dies for this 308. Only way to learn is to try them?

    Bullets I have found so far in 308 are Hornady 165 gr Interlocks.
     
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  6. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Target bullets are very different than hunting bullets. Compromise is made in hunting bullets for terminal performance that is completely unnecessary for killing paper. The smk is a great bullet and if you shoot those your working the problem from a good angle. I'm trying to understand your target because normally the blocks are one inch. That center section does not relate to the same scale as the rest. My factory 308 is capable of 1 moa 10 shot groups. In a target situation 10 shot strings are a good indication of system and shooter combined performance.
     
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  7. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    Probably some kind of optical induced error from being too close with cell phone. Those are all 1 inch blocks. Left his scope settings as I found them, and it was shooting 3 inches high at 100 yards. BTW, glass is Vortex Viper.....4 x 16 x 50.
     
  8. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    I guess what I learned was........since most guns sold with a sub MOA guarantee stipulate you must use factory Match grade ammo.......that is the starting place for accuracy. So if average (or worse) shooter like me got close to to 1 MOA or better, gun is capable enough. So that is one variable out of the way. So when switching to my reloads.......whatever I come up with........I now have an established benchmark to compare to. If I can meet it or beat it, I've done OK.
     
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  9. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    Accuracy shooting is mostly testing and practice. You may have thousands of rounds down range before primers cases and dies make one bit of difference. Barrels and bullets always matter. Read about ocw and seating depth testing would be a far better use of your energy than dies ever would.
     
  10. Blackrock

    Blackrock Member

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    I load .223 Blammo Ammo for the grandkids and precision ammo for myself. I like to try for sub moa .222, .223, 22-250 and 6mm Rem. I have a selection of dies in Lee, RCBS, Forster and Redding. Several specialty seating dies and body dies and some fancy neck sizing dies. I use them all for different applications such as hunting, Prairie Dogs 'or paper punching for fun. It's fun hobby that I love to play around with.
     
  11. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    I used the Lee 3 die set to load 308 for years in a CETME and a Rem700 PSS. I got them both loaded to their liking and both were exceptionally accurate, but I never got them out past 150 yards. The 700 would do 10 shot groups averaging .85” at 150 and the CETME would do 3” at 150 if I did my part. Lee dies will get you started, and maybe you will feel the need to upgrade, maybe you won’t. Quite often we ourselves are the limiting variable in getting a good gun to shoot.
     
  12. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    I am happy with my Lee dies for 308 that I bought 30 or so years ago. I get 3/4 MOA ten shot groups if I pay attention andconcentrate each shot. That is the best I can shoot though. Have a friend that can shoot a 3 shot cloverleaf with my 7400 so I know the loads are better than I am.:(
     
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  13. Howa 9700

    Howa 9700 Member

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    The influence of the shooter becomes apparent real fast when its you doing the shooting. When shooting the group above, scope cranked up to 16X......even from a solid cement bench and gun anchored as best I could get it, I found the crosshairs hovering all over the 1/2" circle I was aiming at. The three shots that were touching may very well be the potential of the gun and ammo.

    But even if the gun is capable of sending accurate ammo to the same hole, unless you are able to aim at such a small spot, and you manage to get gun to go off while you are, bullet is gonna follow your error to it's destination. Any errors you make along the way will open up the groups.

    I can see how the challenge makes for an interesting hobby........if you don't go bankrupt......or mental.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
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  14. irishlad

    irishlad Member

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    I've always bought Lee 4 die sets for my pistol rounds and rcbs fl sizing die and their competition seating die for my rifle rounds. I did buy a forester fl sizing die for my 6.5 creedmoor.
     
  15. Skgreen

    Skgreen Member

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    And folks think I'm nuts using a 50X @ 100,,, I tell 'em there ain't no such thing as scope shake,,, just a shaky shooter,,
     
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  16. AJC1

    AJC1 Member

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    My NF br only goes to 42x but I give it all shes got captain. ;)
     
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  17. Saluki91

    Saluki91 Member

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    Like you, I'm a newbie to reloading... I loaded shot shell with my father 40 years ago, then got back into reloading (pistol and rifle) in December. I come at this with the same perspective that I did building golf equipment (pre-back injury). I'll need to spend thousands of hours in lessons and practice before I will ever be better than my equipment... but tinkering is half the fun!

    In these wacko times, availability has become my leading criteria for purchase. None of the cool stuff matters if I can't buy the die!
    9mm - Hornady Custom Grade Nitride with a Lee factory crimp die... because they were available when nothing else was.
    .45acp - Redding Competition Pro Series... because they were available when nothing else was.
    .223 - Forster full length sizing die with Dillon seating and crimp dies... because they were available when nothing else was.

    Based on advice I received here, I picked up a Lee .223 full length sizing die on the cheap, because a case may (or may not) have become stuck in my Forster. I will neither confirm nor deny that... ; - ) I found that to be great advice. Cases get stuck - it happens to everyone eventually. Having a spare die on hand keeps you in the game when your first-stringer goes down.
     
  18. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

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    I have used standard dies since 1977 and have had Zero issues with them.

    You may need premium die sets if you are seriously intending to go after game more than 1,000 yards away.

    For the person hunting their annual deer at 100 to 200 yards, the regular dies are more than sufficient.
     
  19. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

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    Be honest with yourself.

    What kind of shooter are you, really?

    We constantly see posts about people "needing" a "sub-MOA" load, or bullet, or loading.

    I think most of them are looking for equipment and technology to make up for their own shortcomings.

    If, like me, you are a 4 MOA (3 MOA on a really, really good day), then a rifle that promises "sub-MOA" accuracy is essentailly worthless to us as we can't fully utilize its capabilities. Similarly, dies that deliver marginal improvement are likewise worthless if your native ability can't exploit the additional precision.

    Oh, but might each increment of precision aid in getting a better outcome?

    Yes, but the increase is marginal; not transformative! If you are a 4 MOA shooter, the most precise rifle in the world, coupled with the best optic, shooting the most carefully loaded cartridge is NOT going to materially change the results.
     
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