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About the Various Reloading Die Vendors

Anyone trying to reload a common caliber, such as 223 or 308, will notice that there's no shortage of vendors offering dies. Comparing and contrasting between them is difficult, as each vendor hypes up specific features of their dies and makes them out to be the ultimate space-aged ruggedized CNC-machined precision instrument. While to a degree this is true, there are distinct features of the various brands, which may be of greater or lesser value to the individual reloader. Like the chronograph article, I'm writing this solely because I find it difficult to keep the various values straight in my own head.

The Vendors

  • Dillon Precision: Dillon dies are generally among the highest priced dies in any given reloading catalog. Detractors usually write this up to "the blue kool-aid", however their dies do, on average, have a few features the others lack. For one, Dillon offers a large number of their dies in carbide. This generally reduces the amount of force needed to resize dies, and some brave souls take this to mean they don't need to lube the cases. Various forums I've read have indicated that, during resizing, brass can be dented by trapped case lube, however the Dillon dies include 'bleed holes' to relieve the pressure. Another quoted Dillon advantage is that the dies have wider tapered openings on the bottom than the average die from other manufacturers, which helps with progressive reloading presses where manually aligning each case will seriously impact throughput of loaded ammunition. Other reports claim that Dillon dies are more rust-resistant than the average.
  • Hornady:
  • Lee: Lee is the undisputed leader in low-priced dies. Their dies are a bit more prone to rust if not kept oiled, and a lot of their lower-priced die bundles do not include full length sizing. That having been said, they're cheap, and for low volume reloading it's probably all you'll need.
  • Lyman:
  • RCBS:
  • Redding:

-- SeanNewton - 21 Nov 2007

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Topic revision: r3 - 25 Jan 2008 - SeanNewton
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