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Old July 28, 2011, 11:11 PM   #1
Fish_Scientist
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Dies - RCBS vs. Lee vs. others...

I'm a new reloader and have only been reloading .45 acp for a few weeks now. I'd like to start reloading .30-06 for hunting; I have plenty a Speer manual and a Lyman 49th manual, so no worries about loads, powders. bullets, etc. My question is what's the difference is between die manufactuers?

There's an RCBS two die set; the Lee deluxe three die set; Lee pacesetter; Hornady; and yet even more. What's the difference? Which one is best? Is this something that I, as a new reloader, need to learn and research on my own?

Would I be best served in buying the Lee deluxe version because it includes a bunch of "extras?" The RCBS two die set? Is it all about brand loyalty?

I'm just a bit overwhelmed with the options.

Lastly, has anyone bought dies, bullets, and powder to build rounds for firearms they don't yet own? I've been debating on buying .45-70 dies so that I can tell my wife "but honey, I've got all these .45-70 rounds but no .45-70 rifle!"

Thanks for your thoughts -

Fish
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Old July 28, 2011, 11:52 PM   #2
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While Lee has some decent products I’m not much on their dies. Their locking rings turn me off, I think they are poorly designed, therefore hard to adjust. Also I’m not big on plastic parts, which some Lee dies have. I would rather have something that was made of all steel not aluminum and plastic. I’ve got many different brands of dies, but no favorites.

I’ve got dies for every caliber pistol and rifle I’ve ever owned, but never bought any for cailber I didn’t own.
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Old July 29, 2011, 12:33 AM   #3
Jim243
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Quote:
What's the difference? Which one is best?
That is very subjective!!

I would go with Lee dies, the Deluxe 4 die set for pistol since it also have the Factory Crimp Die, and the Pacesetter dies for Rifle since it has the FCD for rifle.

Quote:
Their locking rings turn me off
They work and better than my RCBS rings.

Quote:
I would rather have something that was made of all steel not aluminum and plastic.
PLASTIC??????, I know I haven't purchased a set in a while, but when did this happen????????

Between Lee and RCBS, I would go with Lee, cheaper to buy and work for me much better.

Jim
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Old July 29, 2011, 12:39 AM   #4
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I own and use Lee, RCBS, and Lyman die sets. I prefer the Lee dies because I think they are the best buy for the money. RCBS dies have a lifetime warranty and prettier outside finish, and some folks prefer their locking ring system. RCBS dies cost more (partially due to the lifetime warranty, something I'm not worried about on a steel reloading die), and don't come with a shell holder.

Lee has several levels of rifle die sets to meet different needs and budgets:

RGB (Real Good Buy): Two die set; full length sizing die and bullet seating /roll crimp die. No shell holder, etc. Good deal for someone who already has equipment and just needs the actual dies. For instance, I load .270, so I have a shell holder for .30-06 already, so I have the shell holder I need.

Pacesetter: This is a three die set; full length sizing die, bullet seating/roll crimp die, Lee Factory Crimp die. Mostly for auto loaders. Includes a shell holder, powder scoop, and load info.

Deluxe Rifle Die set: Three die set; Full length sizing die, collet neck size only die, bullet seating/roll crimp die. Also includes a shell holder, powder scoop, and load info.

Collet die set: Two die set; collet neck size only die, dead length bullet seater. Includes shell holder, powder scoop, and load data.

If I was buying new dies currently, I'd buy the Lee deluxe rifle set. You can spend much more money, but it's hard to beat Lee dies for the money.

For the record, I like my RCBS dies, I just don't think they're worth the premium. I own many different brands of loading equipment, I buy what I believe meets my needs for the best price. I have a Lyman press, a Hornady scale, and an RCBS hand primer tool, each purchased because they did the best job for the money.
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Old July 29, 2011, 01:05 AM   #5
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I'd get the Lee Deluxe. Both Full length and neck sizer, bullet seater and a shell holder . I just bought a set for .223. RCBS are good dies but I believe the Lee is the best value. I have dies from Lee,RCBS,Redding,Lyman,and Hornady. They all work fine but I mostly buy Lee now.
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Old July 29, 2011, 04:16 AM   #6
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I also have Lee, RCBS and Redding dies, they're all good and you won't be unhappy with any of them.

With that said, at least around here replacement parts for RCBS dies are easy to find. If I break a decapper pin in a Lee die, I have to mail order the replacement part from Lee.

Tony
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Old July 29, 2011, 04:42 AM   #7
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I like Dillon dies,Lee dies are OK but seem sticky for me
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Old July 29, 2011, 07:15 AM   #8
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I started with all Lee dies - .243, .40 S&W, .308 Auto, and when I went to get a .204 set, all Cabelas had was RCBS. The sizer worked ok but the adjustment for the bullet seater was the worst dang thing I've ever used. Took it back, order the .204 Lee Collet die - couldn't be happier.

Some people like Fords, others like Chevys . . .
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Old July 29, 2011, 08:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpcollins
Some people like Fords, others like Chevys . . .
Ah! So that's what it's all about! I had a hunch.

Thanks for the input. Now to research which die is most like my 1973 Ford F100.

Fish
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Old July 29, 2011, 08:44 AM   #10
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There are three basic differences. Lee dies have innovations that increase bullet/case concentric (Lee neck size carbide mandrel). Lee dies are cheaper than RCBS. RCBS are cosmetically superior in that they are plated.
RCBS die design have not changed in over 70 years (except for carbide pistol dies). They have a neck size set (traditional, design that often results in excessive bullet run-out), and a full-length set. I have found that the Lee neck size set produces more concentric ammunition than the RCBS neck set, or the RCBS full-length set.
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Old July 29, 2011, 09:17 AM   #11
twins
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My preference is with Redding dies but I own mostly Lee dies. The Lee deluxe set works well for the price but the fit/finish of the Redding dies are outstanding. I don't own any RCBS dies but have used a friend's RCBS setup (press & dies) and they're also good.

Bang for the buck, Lee deluxe set.

Overall fit/finish/feel/warranty, Redding.
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Old July 29, 2011, 09:36 AM   #12
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I myself prefer RCBS or Hornady for rifle dies. I like Hornady Dies the most as they have the better bullet seating setup. It offers less pinched fingers than any other dies.

Lee's Factory Crimp Die is the best crimp die on the market.
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Old July 29, 2011, 02:20 PM   #13
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Of the common and easily affordable dies, I find Redding to be the best.

RCBS is a good compromise. They're cheaper than Redding, but have a good warranty. They're finished better than Lee dies, but not much more expensive.

I won't touch Lee dies, unless I have no other choice. I'll spare you the details, as we've gone over it many times in this forum. The short version is: I wasted money on several bad dies from Lee, and their customer "service" failed to address the issues to my satisfaction.

I've never found Hornady dies to stand out from others, for any reason. It's nothing special, but I do like the sliding collar seating dies.

Lyman makes some very nice dies... but the Redding version is always priced lower.


A good example of how I use different brands of dies, is a wildcat I load with .243 Winchester dies. I bump the shoulder on .243 brass with a Redding FL die, then squeeze the base with an RCBS small base die, and seat bullets with a Hornady sliding collar seating die. I mix and match to get the desired "best" result.


Quote:
Their locking rings turn me off
Quote:
They work and better than my RCBS rings.
Come on, guys. You know that's just personal preference.


Quote:
Some people like Fords, others like Chevys . . .
When applying that argument to something, remember: Ford and Chevy have traditionally tailored their trucks to different segments of the population (though there have been times, where the vehicles didn't do their designed jobs well).
Traditionally, Ford designed their vehicles to be more of a "work truck". As such, they had undesirable ride characteristics, and more of an "industrial" feel. And, Ford generally designs their truck engines with a focus on torque.

Traditionally, Chevy designed their vehicles to be more of a "people's" truck. As such, the ride was much nicer, and the feel was more car-like. And, Chevy engines are generally designed with a focus on Horse Power, not torque.

They appeal to different people, and are useful in their own ways. It's not always just an emotion-based reflex response. For some people, Ford really is the better truck. For some people, Chevy really is the better truck.

The same arguments can be made for any die manufacturer. They all have their own design focus, and intended use. For some people, <insert any die brand> really is the best.

Take into account what it was designed to do, and how it is being put to use, before you condemn an entire brand. (I had my own reasons, to write off Lee.)
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Old July 29, 2011, 02:32 PM   #14
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I use Lee dies (4 die set for handgun and 3 die set for rifle), but I'm not fond of the locking rings either, so I put Hornady lock rings on them. They work great for me. I reload for .45 ACP, 9mm, and .223.
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Old July 29, 2011, 03:17 PM   #15
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I have both RCBS and Lee. I initially bought Lee because of the price point but have never beena big fan of them. Over time I've transitioned over to mostly RCBS and Hornady and one Lyman set for my .41mag. To me the RCBS are the easiest to set up but I hate their lock rings, specifically the brass allen screw. I normally will remove those lock rings and replace them with a set of Hornady lock rings.

In the end, it really comes down to user preference. Availability of parts is a non issue in most instances because of the internet and immediate mail order. Warranty does go a lont way IMO though and RCBS has a top notch warranty program. I sent in a powder measure that I had put into storage, it had completely frozen up, probably my fault, but RCBS sent me a brand new one and an extra baffle free of charge. Dillon is the same way, though measurably more expensive for most of their products.
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Old July 29, 2011, 04:26 PM   #16
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Redding is my favorite, with RCBS in second. I have some Hornady, but don't plan to buy more. My Lee dies are just for pistol calibers, and they work Ok but I don't hold them in the same regard as Redding and RCBS.
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Old July 29, 2011, 04:50 PM   #17
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For fit and finish? Redding.

I use Lee, RCBS, Lyman, CH, Pacific... probably some other oddballs in there.

Of all those, I have found the Redding to be the "nicest"...
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Old July 29, 2011, 06:11 PM   #18
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I have used Lee, and RCBS rifle dies. So far with my shooting I can not tell a darn bit of differance.

Oh and None of my Lee Dies have plastic other than the rubber Oring used for the lock ring.

The Collet Die is a great thing for bolt actions. No lube, or tubeling needed for brass fired from your rifle. Makes loading for mine a lot less time consuming.
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Old July 29, 2011, 07:59 PM   #19
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Buy the lee's and if you don't like them you can always sell them on ebay or this cite and then go buy something else. They all make ammo, unless you are wanting the dies with micrometers then that would mean you have a lot of money anyway so the price of the dies or how many dies sets you buy won't matter.
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Old July 29, 2011, 08:08 PM   #20
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Reloading dies

Since the mid-1970's, i have only used rcbs, redding, or hornady dies. They all have been trouble-free.

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Old July 29, 2011, 09:27 PM   #21
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300, 302, 351, 400, or 460 in your F100? Automatic or manual tranny? 2 or 4WD? Long or short bed?
Pretty fond of Dillon, RCBS, Hornady and Redding dies but have only bought Redding and RCBS recently so my preferences mean little. All the big guys make good dies, a few companies make awesome dies and they've all made a crappy die or two. We all have our preferences and I've had some dies that didn't work for me but other members have had good service from dies from that manufacturer.
I buy what works for me regardless of what color box it comes in. Lee's products are IMHO underrated even tho I don't use his dies. I should probably try them again, I like everything else he makes.
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Old July 30, 2011, 12:25 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXGunNut
300, 302, 351, 400, or 460 in your F100? Automatic or manual tranny? 2 or 4WD? Long or short bed?
[off topic]

Patience is my project. She's also my first project, so it's been a long process. I've learned a lot about wrenching since I've had her and I've got a lot more to go. She's got a 390 (yes, I've checked, but it's not original; the 360 was original), 4-spd manual (granny first), Dana 21 x-fer case, true dual exhaust, and a long bed.

She's a solid truck, but has some minor bed rust. Right now I'm putting in a new steering linkage and she needs new exhaust manifolds to quiet her down, but she runs well. Looks like total crap inside and out, but I've always been one for having a solid runner with looks secondary rather than a looker that runs poorly.



[/off topic]

Hmm. It really does sound like dies selection is based upon personal experience. Thanks for the input, everyone.

Fish
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Old July 30, 2011, 02:45 PM   #23
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Been reloading since the early 1970s...

Started with Lyman, (which I still have and use), and have lots of RCBS dies also. A couple of sets of Lee (which I don't really like much) and even an old set of Herter's dies (6.5x55) which still do their job just fine.

RCBS has changed their features several times over the years. Some older dies have split lock rings (round, with a flathead screw), later dies have hex nuts with an allen head screw.

Decappers spindle has canged also. Older RCBS dies have the year mfg marked on them also.

Some of my Lee dies do have plastic parts. The bullet seating stem in one .357 set is plastic.

Lee dies are a little cheaper, but if you don't care for their features, its false economy.
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Old July 30, 2011, 05:19 PM   #24
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I have RCBS and Lee dies predominantly, plus one set of Redding dies and one set from Dillon.

For my purposes, all work just fine. I generally replace the Lee locking rings with Hornady Sure-Loc Die Locking Rings I pick up from Midway.

After using all of the above, I must say that I prefer Lee's sizing/decapping die. If I miss catching a Berdan-primed case or encounter a Boxer-primed case that is swaged extra hard, the decapping rod simply backs up in the die rather than bends/breaks the pin. Also, if I stick a case (which I've only done once), Lee dies only require a 3/16 rod and a hammer to remove the stuck case. Simply loosen one bolt and drive the stuck case out using the decapping rod.
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Old July 30, 2011, 05:25 PM   #25
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I think I'm sick. The more I use the Lee Lock rings, the less i dislike them.
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