Dies- Lee or RCBS?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by rocklinskier, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Received an RCBS loading kit for Xmas!! WOOO HOOO:D

    Now I need to buy couple of die sets. Ive heard good things about the Lee Carbide sets and the price seems to be attractive. Any reason not to use these with the Rock Chucker?? Is there an advantage to the more expensive RCBS dies.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. steve4102

    steve4102 Former Guest

    Jan 27, 2006
    What are you going to be loading?

    For pistols I use a lot of Lee Carbide Dies, I like the 4 die set that come with the Factory Crimp die. I have never had any problems with my Lee Carbide Pistol dies in my RCBS presses.

    Rifle dies are a different story, IMHO, Lee rifle dies suck, except for their Collet Die and Factory Crimp Die. Their Collet neck die is the best neck die I have ever used. It produces very concentric brass with almost zero runout. Other than these two dies, I hate Lee rifle dies. For rifle dies at a reasonable price, it's hard to beat the Forster BR FL set.

  3. Old Guy

    Old Guy Member

    Mar 19, 2009
    As long as the threads are the same there is no reason or problem using the Lee dies. If you really get into reloading and feel the need to spend more money then get the RCBS dies.

    Old Guy
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    The purchase of anything made by Lee is controversial, at least to me.

    Some people, like me, don't like Lee products because of past failures of them in actual usage. Others swear by them. The controversy goes on!

    My reasons for not liking their dies is that they seem to be made of inferior alloys of steel, as best I can tell. I have had their dies, based on collet operation (like their neck sizing only dies), gall up on the collet surfaces to the point the dies would not work. I have had their regular dies rust while being subjected to the same environment as other dies from other manufacturers that did not rust. That being said, I use and like very much their Factory Crimp Dies. They work as advertise and the galling (these are collet operating too) has been minimal. I have over 30 sets of dies from many different manufacturers. Initially I bought Lee dies almost exclusively but through the last 20 years I have slowly replaced most of them with RCBS or other dies.

    My hat is off to Lee as they forced other manufacturers to get more in line with Lee's pricing and for that we only pay a little more to get RECB dies. 30 years ago the price differential might be 100%. That is not true today and the RCBS dies are now a bargain and of better quality than Lee dies.

    But we all get to choose and I choose RCBS over Lee.

    But others may have had different experiences than me (??) but it is pretty hard to avoid poor materials in the dies, I would think.

  5. Freebore

    Freebore Member

    Apr 18, 2009
    Land of the Free
    I do not have any issues with Lee dies in particular, but feel they come up pretty short on other products they make, the problem I have with RCBS is that they have moved some of their production now to China, (that erks me), maybe you can possibly consider Redding, Hornady, or CH, they also make very high quality dies.
  6. army mp

    army mp Member

    Jan 30, 2009
    western Pa,
    I too don’t have a great deal of faith in Lee. Thousands are in use . I even have a set in 9MM & 380. All the rest of my Dies are Lyman and a couple RCBS. Like a lot of Lee products they cut corners to keep the price down. The Lee Dies I have work OK. It just seams they are cheap made. Like a lot of Lee Equipment.
  7. rocklinskier

    rocklinskier New Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Hmm...sounds like some mixed reviews. I don't like buying junk, that's for sure.

    Now, the Lee carbide dies, are they better than the standard dies, or does the above complaints include the carbides as well. I saw a really low price on the 4 die carbide sets from Lee, but maybe that's not such a deal.

    I will do a little shopping today and compare the above mentioned brands.

    I am primarily (at least for now) loading pistol. I will be loading some rifle in the future, but gonna cut my teeth on the .45ACP and 9mm.

    My first adventure in rifle reloads will likely be .303 British for my No.5 Enfield, but that won't be for awhile yet.
  8. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    The only problem I have with the Lee carbide pistol dies is those pesky o-ring locked lock rings that they use.
    I don't like the RCBS set-screw type lock rings either though...
    I've replaced them on all of my dies with the Hornady style split-rings that have wrench flats on em. (Midway and Graf's put the rings on sale every so often)

    I've never bought a set of the Lee rifle dies so I can't comment on em.
  9. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    I have used all types of hand tools all my life. I have found that any tool (reloading die) can be ruined if mistreated or used improperly. I have Lee dies that have not given me a problem in 20+ years of use. I have purchased used RCBS dies that were definately POS, because the previous owner played gorilla with the lock nuts and distorted the threads. P.O. also somehow got the sizing die imbedded with grit to really gouge up brass. Every piece of Lee equipment I have used properly has never failed to produce very good to excellent ammo, if I do my part (everything from bullet molds, I have 4, to die sets, I have 6, to Lee presses, I have three, to Lee Loaders, I have 4). FWIW, if you read the instructions, keep them clean, used sanely, there is no reason Lee dies won't last your reloading lifetime.
  10. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    I have to say that I'm not real impressed with the o-ring locking system on the lee dies either, I have replaced all of mine. I haven't had any problems with the pistol die sets that I have, 9mm, 38/357, 40mm and 45acp. I do use RCBS on all my rifle cartridges. Just my .02 worth.:D
  11. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 New Member

    Aug 23, 2003
    I have only used Lee 3 die sets for straight wall pistol cases (carbide insert). I see no need to change and am very happy with how they work.
  12. Gearheadpyro

    Gearheadpyro New Member

    Oct 11, 2009
    Charleston, SC
    +1 Steve 4102,

    That's exactly my opinion, although I did go with the high end Redding Competition rifle dies for my .308.
  13. JohnTheCalifornian

    JohnTheCalifornian Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    I use Lee dies for all my reloading. I have not had one problem with any of them. The 4 die set for pistol cartridges, which are carbide work just fine. Steel rifle dies work fine for me as well.
  14. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I would have to say that 90% of the dies I use are Lee. I have used just about all of the brands mentioned above and still buy Lee most of the time.
  15. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA


    I detected a carbide die vs standard dies issue that you MAY have and not understand.

    Carbide dies use an insert in the mouth of the die rather than just the tool steel the rest of the die is made of. The carbide ring eliminates the need to lubricate the cases during sizing. But it only works with straight walled cases. Bottle necked rifle cases can not gain from the use of carbide rings in the die mouth since you would still have to lubricate them as they work the brass over their entire length. While they may be out there, I have never seen any new non-carbide dies for straight walled pistol cartridges. The carbide dies are common place and used almost exclusively for all straight walled pistol cartridges. Don't even consider using non-carbide pistol dies, is my recommendation.

    Some rifle dies are listed as "carbide" but the fact is only the expander button on the de-priming stem is carbide. While that helps some, the reality is a correctly lubed bottle necked rifle case is no problem for sizing and the extra cost of the carbide expander button MAY be wasted. Besides there is a graphite based lube system from NECO that can minimize any sticking of the brass on the expander button if you have that problem.

    Now you have to pick your friends or your enemies and decide which advice about Lee to go with. :) :)

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