How much do dies really matter in accuracy?

Bacarrat

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  • Jan 22, 2007
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    Picking up a new caliber soon and was thinking about switching brands of dies. Usually I would always use the Redding Type S Full length size die with the Competition seater. Really never had a problem with the Reddings, just wondering if the squeeze is worth the juice in some of the higher end dies like the Whidden, SAC or the LE Wilson dies or better yet, have a set of Newlon custom cut when I get the new barrel spun up. Has anyone done the upgrade and can say that X die definitely makes better ammo then Y dies. I understand some dies can produce better concentricity, but has any ever really tested that it does really produce better accuracy?. And FWIW, I have separated out the decapping and expanding out into it's own steps. A little more work but I like that control more.
     

    alamo5000

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    In skilled hands the reloader can make great ammo with almost anything that is remotely quality from any reputable source.

    A perfect die will not correct other reloading mistakes.

    In my opinion 'the big picture' matters more, especially once you get to a certain level of 'good tools'.
     

    DarinC

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    Scott Saterlee was on the Modern Day Sniper podcast a year or so ago and said he uses the normal $35 Hornady dies. FWIW
     
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    SWgeezer

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    I have found that the high quality sizing dies take less lube and scratch cases less than the economy lines.
     

    AllenOne1

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    I think the sizing die is very important in the reloading process. Having a die that sizes the brass to fit your chamber reduces the amount of sizing required, reduces run out, determines neck tension on the bullet unless you are finishing with a mandrel and assures smooth operation of the gun.

    I would leave the Redding behind and move to the Whidden or SAC sizing die if you have the budget to do it. The Hornady dies work fine for me if they size the brass to fit the chamber in your chosen rifle.

    Match it up with the seating die of your choice.
     

    Clark

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    Jul 4, 2003
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    I experimented with dies in 2009. I used my 223 die collection with populations of 20 pieces of brass and fired them again and again measuring case length growth and concentricity.
    Each population of brass was dedicated to one die, over and over.

    I had already tested my way to believing the biggest trick in handloading is not to use an expander ball on the case sizing step.

    No expander balls were used.

    My hypothesis was my dies were in a hierarchy
    A) Redding S die with bushing 0.002" smaller than loaded neck. Expensive and fancy looking.
    B) RCBS, LEE, FL sizer dies
    C) Lee collet neck die. Cheap and crude looking.

    The die choice was the independent variable.
    Case length growth and concentricity were the dependent variables.

    The data showed my hierarchy was upside down.
     

    smoothy8500

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    Oct 10, 2012
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    Wow, how do we make a decision based on this mess:
    One person thinks it makes a difference.

    A guru on reloading uses basic dies.

    Another says it makes a difference on lube and scratches

    Someone else did an empirical study and found an inverse correlation to cost and accuracy.....
     
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    sirhrmechanic

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    I’ve watched benchresters hammer cases in and out of Lee Load-all dies on the range. They’re shooting one hole with cases literally driven into the die with a hammer.

    Everything matters some. Errors are cumulative, generally not single point.

    But I will argue that your process, repeatability and attention to detail are far more important than the color of the box your dies come in.

    I have dies from every maker you have heard of and some English and Euro makers I’d never heard of. Never questioned whether some were better. I focus on consistency and process.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers.

    Sirhr
     

    918v

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    Jul 15, 2007
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    Wow, how do we make a decision based on this mess:
    One person thinks it makes a difference.

    A guru on reloading uses basic dies.

    Another says it makes a difference on lube and scratches

    Someone else did an empirical study and found an inverse correlation to cost and accuracy.....

    Dies are tools to prep cases for loading. How you use those tools makes a difference.
     

    Rust

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    While it's nice to have the fancy pants dies, I've loaded match grade low runout rounds using Lee dies. But I do use Redding micrometer competition seating dies because of the convenience in setting seating depth accurately, seat long, measure, set the die and GTG. Now if you really wanted to get fancy, get a chambering reamer, die reamer and gauges from the same maker, and have a custom sizing die made for your chamber.
     

    jrh84

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    I have no doubt the Redding/Forster/LE Wilson's/Triebel, etc are great dies, and I would never fault anyone for buying high quality stuff. That being said, I went distinguished, won 3 state championships (across the course, midrange prone, and long range prone) and shot lots of high master scores using Lee dies. It's what I had when I started shooting highpower, and what I kept using. Actually all but the long range state title was done on a cheap Lee press.

    I've since changed to an RCBS Summitt press and RCBS gold medal micrometer seating die, but those were more for convenience/ease of use than anything else. I can't say my scores are any better than when I was using all Lee stuff. I still use the Lee resizing/decapping die.
     
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    GhostFace

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    When I loaded for 5.56 (Mk262 clone) I used cheap Lee dies and I was surprised how accurate my loads were. I purchased expensive (to me) Redding Comp dies for .308 and my 5.56 loads were just as accurate.

    When I had a LR custom .30-06 built I bought standard Redding dies and I couldn't get my loads under 1 MOA. After playing with COAL I eventually purchased a Redding Comp Bullet seater die and my groups shrank dramatically.

    I longer buy cheap dies....
     

    sirhrmechanic

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    I have no doubt the Redding/Forster/LE Wilson's/Triebel, etc are great dies, and I would never fault anyone for buying high quality stuff. That being said, I went distinguished, won 3 state championships (across the course, midrange prone, and long range prone) and shot lots of high master scores using Lee dies. It's what I had when I started shooting highpower, and what I kept using. Actually all but the long range state title was done on a cheap Lee press.

    I've since changed to an RCBS Summitt press and RCBS gold medal micrometer seating die, but those were more for convenience/ease of use than anything else. I can't say my scores are any better than when I was using all Lee stuff. I still use the Lee resizing/decapping die.
    To echo JRH and Rust… a nice
    Micrometer seating die is where to invest….

    Love mine and don’t know how I got along without them (well, I do know. It took me longer.).

    But, yes, good seating dies are nice to have!!

    Sirhr
     
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    jrh84

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    Sirhr,
    When I was exclusively loading for service rifle across the course matches, I actually bought a 2nd set of Lee "RGB" does just to have a 2nd seater. They have a thimble like the micrometer, but aren't marked. All my ammo was either mag length 69 SMK's or long-loaded 80 SMK's that had to be single-fed for 600 yards. Rather than muck around with adjusting the unmarked die every time I swapped bullets, I just spent another $18 for a 2nd die that I taped to the right setting.

    Even if I had primo high dollar dies, I'll always have a cheap set of Lee dies as backups. They're too inexpensive not to have on hand.
     
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    Clark

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    Sliding sleeve seater dies can produce 0.001" better concentricity that simple seater dies.
    That has too small an effect for me to measure on the target.