Hi guys another question. I have ordered a Lymans manual should be here in a week or so. Now all my family(parents,siblings, in laws, wife) have offered to get me some equipment for Christmas so I have been doing my best to try and get a list together of items I will need. I have decided on the rcbs rock chucker master reloading kit. My question is about dies, I will be reloading first for .270 win. and .308 win. In reading about dies I am becoming confused about the differences in the rcbs ones alone they sell at midwayusa.com. Could someone break it down for me a little as I can at least start researching. One example I ran across is the rcbs competition 2 die set .308 winchester at midway. It was peiced at $83.00 I think, much higher than any others on that page alone. Any help or suggestions to help will be much appreciated, and dont worry I plan to read, read ,read before trying any loads, just trying to give 'ol santa a heads up on what Id like to have lol. God Bless.
I have used RCBS, Herter's, Lee, Lyman, and Forrester Bench Rest dies.
My choice for accuracy are Lee Collet dies. They are likely the cheapest but in my opinion, will produce the most accurate hand loads due to their system of neck sizing the case.
Other dies just press the neck into the neck sizing portion of the die and hope that neck sizes down in concentric fashion. However, given that a case neck is somewhat out of round, and/or can be somewhat softer on one side, the resultant resized case neck will not be concentric with the body of the case.
I have measured the concentricy of the fired case as it comes from the chamber of the gun and found that they are usually concentric with the case body indicating that the chamber of my guns are concentric in neck to body of the case. Then, I measure after neck sizing, some dies have produced as much as .017 inch out of concentricy (RCBS in .257 Roberts). My Lee collet dies will consistently produce hand loads with necks from .003 or less run-out. .003 or less can be considered match quality.
Also, buy Lee's loading manual too, and read all of it...you will understand why after you read it.
My question is about dies, I will be reloading first for .270 win. and .308 win. In reading about dies I am becoming confused about the differences in the rcbs ones alone they sell at midwayusa.com. Could someone break it down for me a little as I can at least start researching. One example I ran across is the rcbs competition 2 die set .308 winchester at midway. It was peiced at $83.00 I think, much higher than any others on that page alone.
Specifically on the RCBS dies, standard vs the competition grade...
On the comp grade dies, both the sizing and seating dies are finished up to a tighter quality control dimension that the standard dies. The key behind this is consistency being a major part of accuracy...they're targeting these dies to be able to reload the brass to a more consistent quality level than their standard series dies. The comp grade bullet seater dies also has a micrometer adjustment on the seating plug for (in theory) more precise adjustments to your bullet seating depth where the standard die has just a threaded rod & lock nut for seating depth adjustment.
That being said, I've always had good luck with standard grade dies (from many makers) for my hunting rifles. If you're loading for a target rifle, then you might want to consider the comp grade dies but otherwise the standard ones will probably work just fine for you too. Either one will work for ya, but the standard grade dies will let you spend a bit more on other reloading goodies.
My personal preference (and everyone has their own) is for Hornady brand dies...but I've got dies from several makers sitting on my shelf. I prefer the split locking ring setup they use over the set-screw type that RCBS uses or the o-ring locking setup that Lee uses...but I do have several RCBS and Lee die sets that I've outfitted with the Hornady lock rings too.
If you're ordering, I'd also recommend the Hornady reloading manual as a good reference to have on the shelf even if you're not using Hornady bullets. It has a very good section on the hows & whys of how a cartridge performs when you pull the trigger and what the assorted parts of the reloading process affect the final outcome. The Lee and Lyman manuals also have a very good overview of the reloading process but so does Hornady...again, just my personal brand preference.
Last edited by Bindernut; 09-22-2008 at 08:34 AM..
RCBS competition and gold medal series seating dies are "windowed" seating dies that you slide the bullet through a cut-out window in the side of the die body, then a sleeve inside the die captures the case body and bullet, aligning them before inserting the bullet into the case neck. Redding Competition series, Forster (all) and Hornady (all) seating dies have similar alignment sleeve, but you put the bullet on top of the case just like normal seating dies. Forster and Hornady give you the option of this capability without the extra cost of a micrometer depth adjustment. The Hornady and RCBS seating alignment sleeves do not engage as much of the case body as the others. If you like the windowed die concept, and reload 308-class and shorter cartridges, I would avoid the Competition seater in favor of the Gold Medal series, since the Competition seater requires an extended shell holder for those cartridges, whereas the Gold Medal seater only needs an extended shell holder for PPC calibers, 221 Remington Fireball, 22 Hornet.
Most other standard seating dies do not have any feature to hold the case mouth in alignment with the bullet as it starts seating; only towards the end of the seating. Lee claims their seating dies are very accurate by giving a lot of lateral play to the seating plug, allowing it to seek its own alignment with the case mouth. My experiences with Lee seating dies has not been good. If the bullet starts crooked, it will likely end up crooked. Their seating dies also share the same seating plug between ranges of different caliber cartridges.
RCBS Competition sizing die also differs from their standard sizing die, in that the expander button is located midway up the depriming stem, which means the neck will be expanded at a point in the press stroke that provides better leverage. Their Gold Medal sizing die is a bushing type with interchangeable bushings to customize the neck size. RCBS X die uses a stepped mandrel to minimize case growth during sizing, eliminating the need to trim brass after the initial size/trim.
RCBS lock rings use a brass set screw which will not mar the die threads, but is difficult to get tight enough to hold securely without stripping the brass allen head. Some users insert a piece of lead shot under the set screw to help it hold more securely. I prefer clamp style lock rings from Hornady and Forster. Ironically, RCBS a long time ago included clamp style lock rings with their dies. They are similar to the Forster lock ring, made of aluminum, but have a socket head cap screw instead of a phillips head on the Forster. The Hornady clamp style lock ring is made of steel, with socket head cap screw for clamping, and also has wrench flats.
Some "nice to have" items if you get the RCBS kit would be the square tray upgrade for their hand primer that loads from factory primer packaging more easily. I have not seen this upgrade on too many internet retailer sites, but it is on RCBS' website. Another upgrade is the quick change drum and inserts for the standard uniflow powder measure included in the sets. Finally, the Hornady LNL press conversion kit lets you use Hornady LNL quick change die bushings in any press that has a screw in 1-1/4" to 7/8" adapter bushing. Just unscrew the press's adapter, screw in the LNL adapter, and put LNL bushing on your dies to have quick, bayonet style die changes.
Last edited by BigJakeJ1s; 10-19-2008 at 12:28 PM..
The following are ADVANCED reloading techniques not suggested for a first time reloader:
1) neck sizing only dies like the Lee collet dies
2) Competiton dies
You got to walk before you run. Using anybody's regular full length sizing die set assures that the first ammo out of the press will work in the gun at hand for someone new to reloading if the directions packaged with the dies are followed.
I like RCBS and Hornady for regular full length sizing die sets. I don't like Lee dies because of their material choices...I have at least 30 die sets and the only ones that have rusted over the years have been the Lee dies (???).
I also recommend NOT to buy a single stage press for the first press. Chances are if you do it will get replaced eventually. I recommend a Turret press as it can be used either as a single stage press or in a faster reloading method as a turret press. If you reload any pistol cartridges you will appreciate the faster reloading method of the turret press for higher volumes that you typically will reload in pistol cartridges. After a time you will find yourself using the turret method for the rifle cartridges as well. Still better is a progressive press like the Dillon RL550B which would be the one and only press you would ever buy but the cost factor is much greater. It can be used as a single stage, a turret, or full progresive press.
Just my opinion based on the last 20 years of reloading for over 30 different calibers on several different presses and with all different kinds and manufacturers die sets.
Last edited by LDBennett; 10-20-2008 at 07:23 AM..
Thanks for the tip on the shot under the set screw. I have a few with the brass set screws. The only one that was stripped was on a set of dies I purchased used and didn't know it was stripped already when I bought it. I replaced the screw and try not to overtighten so the tip will help.
NRA and NAHC Life
"Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms." -Aristotle