Hand Loading Die Preference

wmfirefighter

New Hide Member
Jun 7, 2018
35
1
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#1
I have been doing a lot of reading and researching now that I have joined this forum. I still consider myself to be a newbie at reloading; I knew there was a difference between reloading and hand loading, but I wasn't entirely sure exactly what all different. Now that I have begun to expand my understanding about loading a round to a specific chamber by neck sizing instead of full length sizing; I wanted to ask a very simple question. Is there a specific die that is better to hand load with than another? I have looked at the Hornady Match Grade Dies (mainly because everything I have is Hornady) but wasn't sure if there was something that was better.

I wanted to see what you all that have done this more than I have had to say about it. Thanks in advance for your info!
 
Mar 16, 2017
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#3
I like Redding and have a few of theirs, I have Whidden (which are quite functional but can't say I am a fan of the fit and finish), and I have Forster.

I really like my Forster dies, I find them to be high quality and a good price. I only use non-bushing dies as well. I pull the expander buttons from all of them and then use a mandrel.
 
Feb 13, 2017
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Camano Island, Washington
#4
I have been doing a lot of reading and researching now that I have joined this forum. I still consider myself to be a newbie at reloading; I knew there was a difference between reloading and hand loading, but I wasn't entirely sure exactly what all different. Now that I have begun to expand my understanding about loading a round to a specific chamber by neck sizing instead of full length sizing; I wanted to ask a very simple question. Is there a specific die that is better to hand load with than another? I have looked at the Hornady Match Grade Dies (mainly because everything I have is Hornady) but wasn't sure if there was something that was better.

I wanted to see what you all that have done this more than I have had to say about it. Thanks in advance for your info!
If you are willing to use an arbor press, L.E. Wilson Neck sizer and Seating dies are superb;

https://lewilson.com/

And, the (Sinclair) arbor press breaks down and is small enough to fit in a range/tackle box. I do a lot of loading/load testing at the range, it's convenient as hell.
You can't full length resize with the arbor press, but Wilson does make Full Legth resizing dies. I shoot .223, 6x47L and .308 and haven't full length re-sized in many years. I finally throw my .308W Lapua brass out at 20 re-loads.

I started with Wilson dies 25 years ago and just love them. They are a bit more money initially, but you will get many years of use and performance out of them. In my opinion, they really are head and shoulders above other manufacturers like Redding and Forster. If you have a Match chambering reamer, you can send it to them and they will cut your dies using it.
 
Likes: wmfirefighter
Feb 22, 2017
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#5
I resize with Redding S type bushing dies in RCBS rock chucker, match case holders for setback control, seat bullets with L.E. Wilson seating die on arbor press
 
Likes: wmfirefighter

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
4,743
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#6
I use redding bushing dies, but I would like to have a F/L non bushing die with a custom cut neck tension. Redding doesn't offer this service, but I think other places do, like hornady and probably wilson
 
Mar 28, 2006
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SF Bay Area
#7
I tried out a set of Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Competition bushing dies with micrometer seater along with a Hornady bushing. I also own Redding, Forster, RCBS, and Lee dies (don't laugh - they're fine for pistols).

I've frankly been amazed at the quality of the Hornady dies. When measuring total indicator runout at the bullet ogive, I am seeing .001"-.003". Seating depth variation is also minimal. The die set also comes with two seating stems, one regular and one for VLD bullets.

The only gripe I have is that the decapping pin is for regular size primer holes and doesn't work with Lapua small primer hole brass. Chucking the pin in a drill and running it against sandpaper solved this problem in a few minutes.

I would buy these dies again in a heartbeat considering they are about 1/2 the price of equivalent Redding dies. I did buy a set of Redding competition shellholders so that I can fine-tune headspace.
 
Likes: wmfirefighter
Sep 6, 2006
2,349
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Southern California
#8
Ive got dies from almost every company that makes them. I bought Redding for years, and have nearly two dozen sets from them. I dont buy them anymore, unless I have to since their cartridge menu is huge. Just not happy with their internal finish or dimensions. There is no comparison between my Redding 6.5 creed FL die and my Hornady match grade creedmoor die for example. The hornady die matches my saami creedmoor reamer perfectly, and it has a beautiful internal finish. FL sizing in this die with some shoulder bump is a one finger operation. My only other dies that do this are the Whiddens and custom Neil Jones. That just isn’t so with the Redding. That’s a common theme for me when comparing my Reddings with other high quality dies like Whidden, Forster, and Hornady, in the same cartridges. For the money, Hornady and Forster are probably your most cost effective sets. Regarding Whidden, I absolutely love mine, but they have been getting some bad press due to shoddy QC, so kinda hard to recommend them.
 

arm017

Sergeant
Jun 5, 2017
415
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Texas
#9
Ive got dies from almost every company that makes them. I bought Redding for years, and have nearly two dozen sets from them. I dont buy them anymore, unless I have to since their cartridge menu is huge. Just not happy with their internal finish or dimensions. There is no comparison between my Redding 6.5 creed FL die and my Hornady match grade creedmoor die for example. The hornady die matches my saami creedmoor reamer perfectly, and it has a beautiful internal finish. FL sizing in this die with some shoulder bump is a one finger operation. My only other dies that do this are the Whiddens and custom Neil Jones. That just isn’t so with the Redding. That’s a common theme for me when comparing my Reddings with other high quality dies like Whidden, Forster, and Hornady, in the same cartridges. For the money, Hornady and Forster are probably your most cost effective sets. Regarding Whidden, I absolutely love mine, but they have been getting some bad press due to shoddy QC, so kinda hard to recommend them.
I second the Hornady die sleeper pick.
 
Likes: wmfirefighter
Mar 28, 2006
173
26
28
SF Bay Area
#10
I second the Hornady die sleeper pick.
Awesome. I'm glad others are seeing good results from Hornady dies. I second that Forster dies are also really good. I've heard good things about their custom honed necks:

"CUSTOM NECK HONING OF FORSTER FULL LENGTH SIZING OR NECK SIZING DIE
We custom hone the inside neck diameter by using a diamond stoning process. We enlarge the inside diameter to your specification to prevent over-sizing of the case neck due to thick neck walls. You may require this service for multiple reasons: 1) If you use some brands of brass cases which have thicker neck walls. 2) If you do not intend to outside neck turn case necks that have thickened after repeated firings. Please specify desired inside neck diameter. Note: 1) No more than .008″ stock removal from your existing die neck diameter is possible. 2) Honing is done in increments of one half thousandth of an inch (.0005″), meaning that your specified inside diameter must be either.XXX0″ or .XXX5″.
$12.00 plus actual return shipping cost & insurance Please allow 1-3 weeks."

The one minor nit I have with the Forster dies is that the micrometer head on the seater die is too large for my Hornady lock ring wrench to pass over.
 

arm017

Sergeant
Jun 5, 2017
415
104
43
Texas
#11
yep; the forster micrometer seater has given me issues in various calibers- OAL variation of upward to 10 thou in multiple calibers? and other friends have echoed similar issues. So then mainly moved to redding comp micro seaters- this keeps OAL +/- 3 thou (measuring based on OGive).

The money is LE wilson hand dies w/ an arbor press- All w/in a half thou OAL. But all of these seater dies are a supported chamber variety and I have found them (minus the forster) the most consistent.

FLS - I like forster over my hornady die based on the expander ball design. It is the only one that I have found that I can leave the expander ball in place and consistently have less than 1 thou runout. The expander balls in other dies can mess w/ concentricity, but forster's design supports everything all the way through. So I save myself time and run forster honed (or stock) for all my FLS.
 
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