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I just got set up with a reloading kit for christmas and am now looking to buy dies. I am looking at RCBS, Hornady, and Lee. RCBS and Hornady are about the same price and the lee is cheaper than both. Lets hear what you like or dislike about these brand of dies based upon your experiences with them. Any info is much appreciated. Also, can you pair a different brand shell holder with another brand die??? Thanks
 

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I have only used RCBS dies and I have not had any problems with them. I will say the RCBS customer service is the best I have worked with before.

bigpapacow said:
can you pair a different brand shell holder with another brand die??? Thanks
As for the shell holders it does not matter they all work the same way. the same can be said with the dies you can use Lee, Hornaday dies in a RCBS press and vise versa.
all a shell holder does is hold the rifle case in the ram on the press, nothing to do with the die it self.
 

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I have one set of Hornady dies and all the others have been RCBS. Both very comparible. Sage is correct. The equipment is interchangable. RCBS makes life long equipment.
 

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I really like Redding dies as of late, but they are a bit more $$. Very good tolerances and interior polish. Other than that I have used mostly RCBS dies successfully for years with no complaints.
Although in general I'm not big on Lee equipment, Lee has some interesting and worthwhile stuff - notably their collet-type neck size die which is a superior neck-only size type, and their Factory Crimp die for a separate crimping step if necessary on rifle rounds. I use that for the .223 semis. Their Dead-Length Seater die also has excellent reviews for reducing bullet run-out to match-grade specs in a popular-priced die (not $$ Competition-priced). Lee lock rings are weird to me, but can be replaced by RCBS or other types (often sold separately at Gallenson's etc.)
I didn't really care for my older Hornady New Dimension dies as compared to my RCBS, and sold the set I had.
Every die set on the US market will perform the basic requirements of depriming and sizing cases, flaring case mouths, seating bullets, and crimping the case mouth about equally well for the average user. The important differences are small.

Many of us use a mix of die brands and this was found to be especially true on the reloading forum at AR15.com. as preference poll results shown below attest:
For loading rifle cartridges,
resizing die: Redding with carbide expander
expander die (if used): Lyman M die
powder die (if used): Dillon powder die and funnel
seater die: Redding or Hornady With Micrometer seating stem
crimp die (if used): Lee Factory Crimp

Three other details surfaced during the discussion accompanying the poll. First, maybe the most important, is that many reloaders have no clear preference and use dies from every manufacturer and find it nearly impossible to single out a "best" or "favorite" make of reloading dies

The message of this poll boils down to this: dies from any current manufacturer will likely serve any handloader's needs, if the die is manufactured without defects such as rough interior surface finish or hasn't been damaged by the user. The major discriminators are cost, cosmetic features, and availability of accessories such as carbide or elliptical expander balls. Many choose LEE sizer dies because of cost coupled with the robust depriming pin and stem design, their provision for disassembling the die for easy removal of stuck cases, and because they work.
 

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I have used dies from most of the manufacturers, and find all of them to be OK.

The Lee dies are presently available here and are a less costly than RCBS. I don't especially like the lock rings on the Lee dies though. No set screw in them to hold them in a fixed position. They have a rubber O-ring that puts some tension on the ring, but if you take it out of the press you lose the adjustment. With the type with the set screw, you can take the die out and the next time you put it in, it is still in adjustment. The Lee dies work fine though. I have a set of Lees for 45ACP and a set for 38/357. They have carbide sizing dies.

I recently bought a set of RCBS dies for 44Spl/44Mag. They were $10 more than Lee dies, but available. Availability is a big plus when you want them. These have a carbide sizing die. A very nice set of dies.
 
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