Die sets

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by AR guy, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. AR guy

    AR guy Active Member

    Oct 25, 2012
    Joliet, Illinois
    Is there a big difference between the name brands of die sets. I see theres a big price difference but what about quality? is lee beter than rcbs or hornady, or what? Im looking for a 9mm set.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  2. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    I sense another rainbow war coming.

    That said, I have Lee, RCBS, Hornady, C-H, Redding and Lyman dies. They all produce quality ammo. Some say Lee uses inferior materials in their dies and that results in poor quality. I call BS on that. A lot of people don't like the lockrings on Lee dies, I'm one of them so I just replace them.
    There is more but I'll let others say it because I hate these tiny buttons on my phone. I'll just say, it's your money in the end.

  3. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Lee does use inferior materials, and that results in dies that may not last as long or may be damaged easier.

    All the name brands machine their stuff accurately, and all of them will produce quality ammo.

    I was given some die sets about a year ago that were all stored in exactly the same conditions (in their factory boxes in the same cardboard box in basement) for many years. The Lee dies had some surface rust; the RCBS set did not. The rust cleaned right up, and I don't think the dies are damaged at all (don't know for sure; I don't load for .45 ACP yet.. but I have a set of dies when I do :D).

    As howlnmad said, it's your money. Even as someone who acknowledges Lee uses cheaper materials, I still buy Lee dies. They're about half the price of many other brands, and I personally got in to reloading largely for the money savings.
  4. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    Let me clear up my confusing statement from above. I agree that Lee uses a lesser quality steel in the die bodies. I was calling BS on the lesser quality ammo.
  5. Cavallino

    Cavallino New Member

    Nov 16, 2012
    Kinda like asking if there if a big difference in automobile quality by brand. You do get what you pay for. Even in same brands, Dillon is an example, their standard dies are reasonable in price and quality, their carbide dies are more expensive but better quality. I've also heard Lee dies are just not as hard/durable as say, RCBS or Redding. I'd say don't skimp on quality dies, they'll pay for themselves in the long run
  6. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2012
    i have rcbs, lee, lyman, pacific, C&H and herters.

    I prefer rcbs the best.

    i have a few sets that are chromed.. I tend to like them less.

    as for lifespan.. can't add anything.... I do know that i've bought plenty of used die sets.. most are not lee.. don't know if that means lee don't make it.. or others make it better.

    my big complaint with lee are the silly excuse for a lock ring with a hollow nut and oring. I've simply repalced all mine as I get them with rcbs lock rings. I hav ethe nifty rcbs lock ring quick wrench.. so it makes it nice. I buy the lock rings in the multi pack.. ans since Ilike the wrench.. it is nice to just swap out all my dies with that style ring...

    I've made and shot ammo from all the brands Imentioned.

    other than usualy foul ups, like a broke decap pin here and there.. or a stuck case I experienced yesterday ( probably op error? ) I think they can all make ok shootable ammo.
  7. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I will chime in on this, too. I have die sets made by Lee, RCBS, Lyman, and Redding. They all perform the same job and they all perform that job very well. I have had to clean rust off of my RCBS dies and I have had to clean rust off of my Lee dies, does that make one of them inferior to the other? I have been using the same LEE .38/.357 and 30.06 die sets since I bought my first single stage LEE press about 35 or 36 years ago. I have had no real problems with any of the dies that I own from all four makers.
  8. RandyP

    RandyP Active Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Hyundai, Mercedes

    Those who hate Lee, hate Lee. I don't, and were they not around (a success for over 50 years by the way) I would not be able to afford to reload. Their products are made stronger than they need to be to get the job done. They also have superb customer service.

    I would challenge anyone to tell the difference in ammo made with the same components on every brand and style reloading machine. They ALL make safe, accurate and reliable ammo if the reloader does their part.

    Buy what matches your preference and budget.
  9. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    So far everyone who responded to this thread has praised their choice of dies and defended against an attack on all LEE products. Since no one YET has made that attack there is something lacking in this thread..... The attack of LEE. So someone has to step up and do it, I guess, and I'm qualified.

    LEE Dies:

    The savings gets eaten away when you have to replace parts and pieces of the LEE dies to make them workable (think never-really locking ring on die body and depriming rod). Their neck size only dies use a collet operating system and is not made of the right materials. Since all parts of the collet system are the same steel, it galls eventually which is a common problem in engineering when two similar metals are run against each other. While I like the rifle version of the Factory Crimp Die (for its innovative design) it too can suffer the same galling as it suffers exactly the same problem. When you inspect the interior of several sizing dies from several different manufacturers (the interior is the working surface of any die, not the exterior) the LEE machining suffers in that comparison. LEE dies are the "Harbor Freight" dies of the reloading industry. They do the job for awhile.

    Other LEE products:

    I have tried many of their products from powder measures to balances and all suffer from the use of the wrong materials (mostly plastic) whereas others make the equivalent tools of metal. Sometimes the operability of the LEE tool suffers as well as not being all that precision or durable.

    LEE stuff is cheaply made to a low price but is often very inventive. Too bad they don't use the right materials. But I give it to LEE because they forced the reloading industry to lower their prices. This happened decades ago when reloading tools were very expensive compared to now (adjusted for inflation).

    I still use LEE Factory Crimp Dies for rifle cartridges (not pistol FCD's because they are a completely different and less desirable design). The Rifle version work well until galling takes over on the collets.

    But we each get to choose. I typically pop for the better tools because I can. Your financial position in life may not allow that. But remember you kind of get what you pay for.

    LEE Bashing over and out. This thread is now complete.

  10. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    Thanks LD, we knew you wouldn't disappoint us.

    We did bash the Lee a little but since the OP was refering to 9mm dies, I didn't see a reason to bash some of the other products.
  11. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    Yes, we are complete, now!
  12. time2shoot

    time2shoot Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2012
    Brandon SD
    I have lee and RCBS.
    I like lee for handgun and RCBS for rifle. just my personel pref.
  13. AR guy

    AR guy Active Member

    Oct 25, 2012
    Joliet, Illinois
    Well all the replays were interesting. It's all personal opinion I guess. I don't really want to be buying extra parts in order for the die to work good. I'd rather buy 1 and have it last, so I guess if I can pick up a rcbs 3 die carbide set for $50 ill get it cuz it's a good price and its gunna last for a good while. After all its only 15$ more than the lee classic 3 die set. Well thanks again for all the interesting information.
  14. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    Don't forget to buy extra decapping pins for the RCBS dies, you will need them. Or wait til it breaks and call RCBS, they'll send you some for free.
  15. AR guy

    AR guy Active Member

    Oct 25, 2012
    Joliet, Illinois
    Ok will do thanks.
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum diff between lee 3 die 762 tok and 30 mauser sets? Jul 16, 2014
The Ammo & Reloading Forum ? on lee 8x57 die sets Dec 22, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum lee vs rcbs 455 webley die sets ? $$$$$$$$ Jun 18, 2013
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Die sets Oct 28, 2012
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Die sets Oct 26, 2012