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Old December 27, 2008, 09:49 PM   #1
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General question about reloading dies

I posted this question in the 6.5x55 Swede thread because it happens to be the current caliber I need to buy dies for however the question is really about rifle dies in general.
I am attempting to discover which company's dies are best and why. Lee for instance makes large claims about their fully aligned bullet seating die and their extra factory crimp die, Hornady is claimed by many to be "micro adjustable" with the higher competition die price and easier to make adjustments, then there is the idea of just buying the comp dies to get the micrometer adjustment dies......cheaper than buying the wrong dies first then selling them off to buy the better set.
What can you experienced reloaders share to help a fellow addict?
Thanks for your time in advance.
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Old December 28, 2008, 08:50 AM   #2
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My favorite are L.E. Wilson dies using an arbor press. But that will only neck size and may not be an option for you. I use redding bump dies to bump the shoulder when necessary.

My favorite for conventional presses are Redding bushing type sizing dies and competition seater.
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Old December 28, 2008, 11:48 AM   #3
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As to which are the best, that is hard to answer. Best for what? I do not feel any of them are bad or junk. Some have added features that others do not. That being said, those added features may be most important to some, totally not needed by others. I reload over 30 cartriges and have no need for a micrometer seating die. I do like Hornady dies for the sliding projectile alignment piece in the seating die, nice feature, not required. Need a less costly set of dies that you will not load much for, go with Lee for the smaller investment. ALL of the Lee die I have worked very well and I am very impressed with them. Their carbide pistol dies are very good and for their price there is no reason to not go with carbide. My 6.5x55 are RCBS because that is what was available many years ago when I puchased them. If I had to do it today, I would get Hornady for the before stated reason.
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Old December 28, 2008, 12:20 PM   #4
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I have a lot of different brands of dies. They all work pretty well. I agree with Fred, it depends on what you want the die to do.

IF adjustable neck tension is what you are after then get a set of Redding Type S bushing dies. If you want to neck size only get a Lee Collet Die. If you need to bump the shoulder back on your neck sized brass get a Redding body die.

If you want to make it simple and get the best two(2) die set for the money there is none better than the Forster FL Bench Rest dies. These dies will size your brass nice and straight and the BR seater is hard to be. The price is right as well.


Last edited by steve4102; December 28, 2008 at 12:26 PM.
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Old December 28, 2008, 12:34 PM   #5
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Agree pretty much with the above. I use the Redding Competition Seater Die instead of the Forster. I've heard claims that it is no better, but it is the first sliding sleeve seater I ever tried and the improvement in bullet runout was so dramatic (from 0.0080" TIR with a standard seater to <0.0005" TIR in cases with uniform neck walls) that I just buy them reflexively now, and try not to look at the price tag. Redding has the best fit and finish, IMHO, but other products are good. Some of the Lee stuff, like the collet die and Factory Crimp die just have no equivalents for what they do when you need what they do done.

There are some more detailed comments on dies in this piece comparing progressive loading machines. Read Page 3 and especially the footnote 3 at the bottom.
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Old December 28, 2008, 02:47 PM   #6
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RCBS, Redding, and Hornady make excellent reloading dies. So do the custom die makers like Neal Jones, Wilson, etc. Just pick the style or features you like. I don't use Dillon or Lee equipment.
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Old December 29, 2008, 07:11 PM   #7
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I would have posted pretty much the same thing as Nick did, with one difference:

I've had the opportunity, or misfortune if you prefer, of testing a Lee, a Redding and a Forster FL sizing die on the same cartridge--yes I ended up buying all 3. I had a lot of trouble getting necks to remain concentric with the 6mm WSSM. Eventually, using the Forster, which has a different design as relates to the position of the expander ball, I was able to size cases to my satisfaction. I should have known better, since I use and have used Forster custom FL dies for 6ppc and 6 BR. My only excuse was that the time, dies for the WSSMs were scarce.

Just another observation: The finest seating die on the face of the earth will not align a bullet in an off center neck any better than the cheapest one.
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Old December 29, 2008, 10:23 PM   #8
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"I am attempting to discover which company's dies are best and why."

Since you ask the question in that way, I assume you are a beginner? You won't discover which is best, they are some differences but there is no magic nor any secrets in any dies. All the makers produce good dies, they are all within SAAMI specifications. The way we use them is far more important for accuracy than the color of box they come in.

It will take a lot of experiece for you to even begin to decide which features you would prefer. Get what ever you wish for not, at what ever price it takes to make you comfortable, and start making your own ammo! In five years or so, you may wish to change to another brand but then you will have the experience to get the features YOU want, not what we want.
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Old December 30, 2008, 12:16 AM   #9
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I've had one Redding die and that was for a 30/338 mag bench rifle built by Bob Pease on a Remington 40X. I had more problems with that set of dies than I care to comment about. They hit the garbage and I bought a set of RCBS and they have loaded ammo that shot a certified one hole group in the now imfamous Houston Warehouse so I guess you could say RCBS does a decent job. I have a set of Hornady dies for the 444 Marlin. It does a decent job as long as you stick to jacketed bullets. It won't load lead bullets at all. The seat die has a sliding bushing to align the bullet. Only problem is lead bullets are a larger diameter than the bushing. Otherwise, they do a decent job. I've always had better luck with RCBS rifle dies and Lee carbide pistol dies.
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Old December 30, 2008, 12:28 AM   #10
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I prefer RCBS dies, but on my bench right now are RCBS, Hornady, Lee, Lyman, and Redding. They all work, but I would rank the Lee as last in preference, I don't like the expander die for my 9mm, small thing I guess, and the only real complaint I have about them.
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