Which Dies Are Best?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Gone Ballistic, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Gone Ballistic

    Gone Ballistic Well-Known Member

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    I've just started shooting a newly built 300 RUM. I am presently using a F.L. Hornady sizing die and a Hornady seating die with a micrometer adjustment. I'm not using these dies for any other reason than they were the only ones immediately available to me when I started loading for this rifle.
    I know that many of you have your favorites in the die selection arena and would love to hear what is the most preferred for LRShooting. I've reloaded for close to 50 years and have always used neck dies to prolong case life. I've owned several Ackley Improved rifles where I've fire- formed the original case and then neck sized from there after. As my LR shooting prior to this past year has been limited to 600 yards or less I'm no expert on what's best for 1000+ yards.
    If you don't mind sharing your two-bits worth, throw something in the ring on this thread and lend me some of your great advice. You just might help a host of us out. And, if anyone can advise me on how to post a picture on this site, it would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Mike6158

    Mike6158 Well-Known Member

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    I'm discovering that the better dies (I think your Hornady dies fit into this category) each have their pluses and minuses. I use Forster dies in a Forster Co-Ax press. I use their benchrest micrometer seating die. While the die gives me nice control over seating depth I still have to sneak up on the final setting for each round due to variations in bullets. If I decide to seat .020 off of the lands and I seat .021 or .019 it bugs me. So I back the die off each time and gradually approach seating depth. In other words, it's not just the die. A good die will give good results. The finest result comes from the care of the reloader to ensure that everything is done correctly. That's my 2 cents on the "which die is best" question...
     

  3. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    Well, I suppose the custom type hand dies like Wilson's would be best. There really isn't t lot of difference, on average, with threaded dies tho.

    They are all made to SAAMI tolerances, meaning you'll find as much average difference between dies of the same brand as between brands. And you will rarely find that one set will have both a very good sizer and a very good seater. Actually, what we get with any of them is pretty good but exactly what we get in any individual boxed set is pure luck of the draw, not brand or purchase price.

    Actually, design means more than brand. At the risk of causing some people to have heart palpations, Lee's sizers and seaters are both very well designed and well made too. :D

    Have fun with your new rifle!
     
  4. Gone Ballistic

    Gone Ballistic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks,
    I appreciate the info. Has anyone used RCBS's Competition Seater die? It's the one that you can place your bullet in the side of the die before seating. It appears to me that it would be a time saver, particularly when loading smaller bullets like .224 on a progressive press.
    I generally reload my .223 and .22-.250 on a Dillon 650 and have been known to drop a bullet or pinch a finger or thumb once in a while. The smaller bullets make my hand cramp when loading several hundred or more at a time.
     
  5. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "Has anyone used RCBS's Competition Seater die? It's the one that you can place your bullet in the side of the die before seating. It appears to me that it would be a time saver, particularly when loading smaller bullets like .224 on a progressive press."

    I haven't, as such, but I've used a Vickerman which is what RCBS copied. I didn't think it was a bit faster than the normal way of seating, in fact it seemed a tad slower than the normal way. I mean, it doesn't take long to sit a bullet on top of a case mouth and push it home while putting a small bullet into a specific slot in the side of the die at just the right time can't be as fast.

    Thing is, the old Vickerman seaters died out of the market because they were costly then too, and didn't add a damp thing to the speed of loading nor the quality of the ammo. I see no reason to think that has changed in the last 45 years! :D
     
  6. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Well-Known Member

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    I've heard this several times before, so I went to the saami.org website. They appear to have all of their standards listed there, but make no mention of reloading die standards. The only relevant standards are for cartridge and chamber dimensions, with tolerances.

    I've heard of some users who have had custom guns made, and had a set of dies made from the same reamer that cut the chamber of their custom gun.

    My question is this: If the brass cartridge expands upon firing to fit the chamber, and then springs back to a smaller size, how would a sizing die cut with the same reamer resize the fired case to be smaller than the chamber?

    I can see where, with a tapered body, you could simply advance the cartridge further into the sizing die, and make it smaller. But wouldn't the shoulder be set back too far then? What about the neck, which is not tapered? How would you resize the neck down from the fired diameter to a size necessary for acceptable neck tension, if the sizing die has the same neck dimension as the chamber that fired it (and is already larger than the fired cartridge neck)?

    Or am I missing something entirely?

    Andy
     
  7. Moosetracker

    Moosetracker Well-Known Member

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    I have tied all kinds of dies over the 40 years that I have been reloading. For the best relative price/quality/precision, I now purchase the following dies when I can:

    Lee Collet die
    Redding Body die
    Forster Ultra seater
     
  8. eaglesnester

    eaglesnester Well-Known Member

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    In my humble opinion they are all the best ones to use. In other words they are all good.
     
  9. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

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    "I've heard this several times before, so I went to the saami.org website. They appear to have all of their standards listed there, but make no mention of reloading die standards. The only relevant standards are for cartridge and chamber dimensions, with tolerances."

    Good job. But, would you accept that SAAMI's standards includes more than the few drawings they put on that public web site?


    "My question is this: If the brass cartridge expands upon firing to fit the chamber, and then springs back to a smaller size, how would a sizing die cut with the same reamer resize the fired case to be smaller than the chamber?"

    The answer is that most custom chambers are, or should be, cut with two reamer sizes, used in succession.

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    "In my humble opinion they are all the best ones to use. In other words they are all good. "

    Indeed, on average they all are. Some individual dies are great, all are okay. What we actually get in our box is luck of the draw, same as the guns we buy. The ONLY way to get the BEST sizer or seater is to have a pool of dies we can load with and measure the results, picking the best and leaving the rest. And all that can do is find the best in that pool. But purchasing a brand or model of dies because "Everyone says they are the best!" is almost laughable!
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  10. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps, but can you provide a reference to a SAAMI standard for a reloading die?

    Nowhere on their website do they even list, let alone provide, any standards, drawings, documents or activities except for firearms, ammunition, ammunition components, and legal/technical assistance to political/governmental organizations regarding same. Their list of member companies does not include one manufacturer of reloading equipment except those that also make ammunition components (e.g. Hornady and ATK). If they did govern reloading die standards, don't you think they'd at least mention it, and they'd have memberships from at least one of Redding, Lee, Lyman, Wilson, et al?

    The two reamers used to cut firearm chambers (as well as most tapered or non-cylindrical holes) are referred to as "roughing" and "finishing" reamers, and differ by far more than mere size of the finished hole.

    While the roughing reamer would cut a smaller chamber, the dimensions would not be precise nor the surface quality acceptable without following up with a finish reamer. Roughing reamers are designed with fewer, larger flutes with serrations to quickly remove the majority of the material from the chamber (after starting from a cylindrical hole), removing chips easily and quickly. Surface finish and accuracy of the roughed chamber is purposely sacrificed for these other properties.

    The finishing reamer is designed to remove very little material to achieve the finished dimensions only when starting from a rough-reamed chamber, and therefore need not be designed to clear chips well, but will give an accurate, smooth, finished chamber. Compared to roughing reamers, finish reamers have more, smaller flutes with no serrations.

    In short, only the finishing reamer would be capable of providing the accuracy and finish (prior to honing/polishing) required in a reloading die, and if it is the same one used for the rifle chamber, a reloading die made with it would be almost exactly the same size and shape as the rifle chamber.

    Andy