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Is there a worthwhile difference in quality of various die manufacturers?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by valleyforge.1777, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    Of the few rifle cartridges I do load (30-06, 223 and 300blk) I have never felt the need to go with anything more expensive than Lee dies. I started with all Lee dies on the LCT some 8-10 years ago and they have served me well. I've since retired the LCT and moved to a LnL but the dies work fine.
     
  2. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    They all use human machinists. Mistakes happen. Your own luck of the draw figures in. I bought a custom .22-243 Middlestead die set from Redding that scratched every case that went in....badly. Someone forgot the polishing step. I include this just to show that even the most expansive dies aren't always great. Just be thankful that all our reloading companies are always good to take care of you and fix the occasional slips they have.

    In my case only RCBS and Redding made the die set. Being custom they were both expensive, non standard. So I thought why not and bought the even more expensive Redding.....funny on me. But to be fair RCBS could have made the very same mistake.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  3. zeke

    zeke Member

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    It may depend on what you are attempting to do. There are so many differing types/brands, that generalizing brand preference may be difficult. Am not brand loyal, even with same type of die there can be differences between manufacturers other than general quality.

    As an example, if picking a comp seating die have a preference for Redding due to it's ability make concentric rounds. If picking a sb die, prefer RCBS because of the ability to bump shoulders back more. Like Lee dies for sizing most lever action rounds. Use Lyman sizing die for 45 acp and 40 s&w.

    Will personally never be able to try out manufacturers, but hey, we have the internet to ask others.
     
  4. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    I own RCBS and Hornady. I prefer the Hornady dies. I also own a few specific dies, Lyman Mdie, Lee FCD, Lee decapper, Mighty Armory decapper

    Hornady
    Sizing dies seem to be on the small side, so Ive never had issues with sizing enough
    Seating dies are great, the guide sleeve makes life easier. I dont use the micrometer addon.
    Expanders for pistol are terrible and were replaced with Mdie
    I dont taper crimp, so I use a FCD
    I think dollar for dollar, Hornady dies are hard to beat.

    As far as vs other dies?
    I have a friend that loves his Mighty Armory 223 sizing die, to the point he shelved his Redding.
    Redding seater dies have the sleeve just like a Hornady, but Im unconvinced that they are worth 3 times the price. Maybe you might see a little better run out. There are a ton of arguments to be made either way.
    Ive seen guys champion Dillon carbide 223 dies because they load 5000 rounds a year with them. I had a good laugh.
    Ive seen guys have issues with Lee 300 BO dies when forming brass, and they had to switch to a "better" quality brand to get it to work.

    So many stories like this. So my advice is simple. Buy whatever you want, Ill buy whatever I want. We will all be happier :)
     
  5. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    It is certainly possible to make sub-MOA rifle ammo with Lee dies - I've been doing it for a long time. If you're chasing sub-.5 MOA, you might need something more specialized - and you might want a different brand for each. You might want a Forster or Whidden die for sizing and a Redding comp seating die, etc.

    But since you mention loading on a 650, I will say that Lee dies have such a short body/thread length that you have to use the very thin Dillon (non-locking) lock rings for most of them, which is not ideal.

    Realistically, though, for a milsurp, Lee dies are likely to make ammo every bit as good as the rifle can shoot and then some.
     
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  6. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I missed the joke. What's funny there? The idea that 5k/year is high volume?
     
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  7. 375supermag

    375supermag Member

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    Hi....
    I have RCBS, Hornady and Redding die sets.
    There are a couple of sets of Lee .357Mag die sets in one if my cabinets but I don't use them. I don't like the o-ring on the lock nut because it doesn't work very well. One set came with my Pro 1000 that I bought decades ago. I couldn't get that press to run consistently and eventually gave up on it.

    I am using Hornady dies on both of my LnLs and so far they are working well. Once set in the LnL bushings they are easy to remove from the press and maintain their settings. They are turning out excellent ammunition in .45ACP and .357Mag calibers.
    I am using nothing but RCBS dies in my RockChucker for 40 years or more. I have recently acquired some Redding rifle die sets at auction but haven't used them yet.
    My RCBS dies have produced excellent ammunition in a large number of calibers, so I am not in a great hurry to try the Redding die sets. I will eventually get around to it...not a big deal. While the Redding die sets look to be new and unused, I only paid a few dollars for the sets at an auction so it's not like I have a lot of money tied up in them.
    FWIW, I find auctions to be a great place to buy reloading equipment if one is careful about inspecting the tools carefully. I bought a practically new Hornady LnL at auction last year for $200. I already had one set up for large primer and wanted another dedicated to small primer.
    I have bought new die sets for as little as $10 a set. I bought a carton full of Redding rifle die sets for, IIRC...something like $14 each as a box lot. I think there were ten die sets in the box. Some I don't even have rifles for, so I will eventually sell them.
    I bought a brand new RockChucker for around $50 a couple of months ago that is going to be used as a dedicated press for rifle load development. My other RockChucker continues to be used for handgun reloading until I get around to transitioning all of calibers over to the Hornady LnLs. Then it will be used for small batches,such as .45AutoRim and .375SuperMag and for working up loads. The LnLs will be used for the 500-1000+ batches for the semi autos and revolvers that get a lot of high volume shooting like .45ACP, .38Spl, .357Ma, 10mm, .41Mag, .45Colt, .44Spl and .44Mag.
    I highly recommend buying reloading equipment at auctions...great values to be found there. I am currently working on acquiring a Dillon 550 or 650 at auction to try out. Just haven't bid on one yet that sold for less than new... I am patient and will either win an auction for less than NIB or will simply buy a new one. I don't really need a Dillon...the Hornady LnLs work fine. I just want one...and that is more than enough reason for me.
     
  8. lightman

    lightman Member

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    My usual suggestion on dies is to buy whatever brand you have the most of unless you have a really special need. The reason for this is so that you can borrow a decapping rod from another die set if you accidentally break one. Or you can swap seating punches and try for a better fit on the bullet.

    Looking at prices, right now there is about a $3 difference at Midway between RCBS and Lee. Both are 2 die FL sets. The Lee comes with a shell holder and RCBS does not. So thats another $8. If you buy Lee and swap lock rings that puts the price back to about even. If you want a better die storage box than Lee supplies then you're out an additional 5 or 6 dollars. The Redding set is about 3.5 times more expensive. Personally, for a surplus rifle in 7.7 Jap I would buy the RCBS set just because of their fantastic customer service.

    I'm not a big Lee fan but I don't consider myself to be a Lee basher either. Someday I may just buy a Lee die set just to compare them with the brands that I already have.
     
  9. fotheringill

    fotheringill Member

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    I have found, up to a point, that the non custom dies give pretty much the same results. I have not tried Whidden and the like. I load only for .223.
    I use Redding since all is made in the USA. I have a Lee neck die and a set of RCBS. Overall, IMHO, of the ones used, Redding has the least runout and best target results.
     
  10. CMV

    CMV Member

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    I didn't remember that until reading this, but had same issue - my Lee 300BLK dies work fine, but I did have to buy a set of RCBS right after starting because my Lee sizing die was poor for forming cut down LC 5.56 -> 300BLK. Once formed and needing resized after firing, the Lee die does fine, but the initial reforming went MUCH better once I got the RCBS sizing die for 300 BLK. Could have been me doing something wrong....easier to blame the die though :)
     
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  11. CMV

    CMV Member

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    That's the way I read it....if 5k/year is litmus test, Harbor Freight could probably be selling outstanding dies :)
     
  12. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    I'm not sure what it would take to convince you, but loading Hi-Tek coated .358 bullets for .38Spl was enough to convince me that there was more than a little difference that justified the price of the Hornady Competition Seating die.

    The price difference between the regular Redding seating dies and the Hornady ones, in .38Spl, at Midway is only $6. The machining is nicer on the Redding but the body is longer on the Hornady, either way it isn't a huge difference.

    The floating seating stem contacting the bullet at the ogive and the .001" adjustability make the Redding Competition Seating die a pretty reasonable value for my use
     
  13. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    @CMV hit the point of it. Guys that might hit 25k rounds loaded on a die in its lifetime crowing the praises of the Dillon carbide die because they claimed they would "wear out" a steel die... :rofl:

    Yeah, it was just something weird about how the shoulder was forming with the Lee dies. But like you said, once its been fired once, they worked fine. I formed mine with a Hornady die using all LC brass, never had that issue.

    To each their own! If it works for you, thats awesome. I considered buying a set of Reddings for my 223 and 308, but that price tag is too hard for me to swallow, maybe. I go back and forth if I should buy a set because Im getting good results on what I have.
     
  14. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Do you get fewer of the little coating/lead shavings with the sleeved comp seater dies?
     
  15. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Oh, I see. I thought the primary point of a carbide die was that it was slicker and required less lube (or none for straight-walled cases).
     
  16. jaguarxk120

    jaguarxk120 Member

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    The Dillon carbide dies for rifle case's do require lube.

    But I have found out that a little spray wax on pistol case's makes resizing a lot easier.
     
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  17. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Yeah, you still need to use lube. If I was a brass processor, and resizing cases by the 100's of thousands a month, absolutely, Id buy in. But for us guys that are putzing around in our workshop, its a waste. Some of it is the Dillon "KoolAid" effect as well. Before anyone gets rowdy, Im not knocking Dillon, I own some of their equipment, just no dies.
     
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  18. blue32

    blue32 Member

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    I would get Dillon only if you expected to load thousands and thousands of rounds. I really like RCBS for anything else and would even say they're on par with Dillon. My only set for Hornady is in 40SW and I really like the seating die. The only way I'd spring for Redding is if I needed one of their competition dies which have the dial measurements for duplicating extremely precise seating depths.
     
  19. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    Yup that is what started me down the Redding path...well, that and the Dual Ring Carbide Sizing die

    When I'm loading practice and match ammo on my Hornady LNL AP every little bit helps. The Redding Dual Ring Sizer for neck tension without over working the rest of the case, the Expander (w/M profile) to keep the bullets in place between stations, the mouth bevel of the Progressive die set to avoid hiccups of cases catching, and the Competition Seater to avoid shaving coatings and correct slight mis-alignments in bullet placement. I haven't given in to the temptation to get the Micrometer Crimp die yet
     
  20. Laphroaig

    Laphroaig Member

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    To me, the Redding .45acp Competition Seating die is a godsend. The tolerances are so tight that is centers the bullet perfectly every time. My RCBS seater required me to use the Lee FCD, but I'm now able to use a regular crimp die (my old RCBS seater with the plug removed). I load better ammo now than before.
     
  21. berettaprofessor

    berettaprofessor Member

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    Nope CMV, I had the exact same experience. I bought RCBS SB 300 dies to resize cut down brass because the Lee dies wouldn't work; but they work fine on 300AAC reloads once the brass has been fired.
     
  22. cowboy77

    cowboy77 Member

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    I started out with Lee dies and still use some but prefer RCBS and Hornady. I’ve got 3 sets for a 300wsm all mentioned above. Was kind of disappointed that I spent 3 times the money for the Redding that Hornady makes better reloads with. I cast for 8 calibers also and found out last year that the Rcbs Cowboy dies go a long ways in getting a bullet a few thousandths over bore size to expand, seat and crimp with ease. My other dies on cast are usually scraping brass or lead on larger cast to bore size. Lee does have some decent collet crimp dies I like. Hornady guide system seems to give me less run out on all my rifle loads. Just my opinion from my own hand loading. I’m sure everyone has their perfect set up. I would like to have a Dillon 550 and use it for 9 mm only. Seems like the most tedious cartridge to load as I can’t ever load enough at one time.
     
  23. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I have used Lee and RCBS dies for many years and I was happy with them. Years ago I won a set of Hornady 45-70 dies but didn't own a 45-70. When I finally did use them I was surprised at how much I like the Hornady dies. I highly recommend them and the price is not high either. I use mostly Lee handgun dies. I like Lee rifle bullet seating dies.
     
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