Poll: What pistol dies do you like most?

One of the most important components when loading pistol ammunition is the dies that are used. Different die sets offer different features and finishes, so selecting the right dies can be a difficult purchasing decision for sure! So, please take a moment and let us all know what dies you prefer, and please leave a comment describing why!

What is your brand of "go-to" pistol dies?

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47 thoughts on “Poll: What pistol dies do you like most?”

  1. I’ve been using RCBS carbide dies for quite a while now. The small extra expense of going with carbide pays off in time saved.

    1. Gerry,

      Where is the time savings? Is it with stuck cases? I am looking to expanding into pistol reloading.

      Thanks,
      John

      1. John,
        pistol cases do not need to be lubed prior to sizing when using carbide dies. This saves time due to not having to lube the cases and then again by not having to clean the lube off the sized case.

        1. That being said, you will still have to lube with .357 Sig or other bottleneck pistol cartridge even if you have a carbide die set. Hornady one-shot lube does a great job.

          S

          1. Although lubing always makes sizing cases easier, I’ve used the following setup in my Hornady LnL AP to eliminate the need for case lube when reloading .357Sig.

            -Station 1: Redding .40S&W TiC sizing die (can’t bat the finish of Redding’s sizing dies). Sizes the majority of the case length without the need for case lube.
            -Station 2: Hornady .357Sig sizing die w/decapping stem removed: Sizes the neck and bumps the bottleneck shoulder to the proper dimension
            -Station 3: Powder charge and PTX (.355)
            -Station 4: Seating Die with crimp backed off
            -Station 5: Lee Factory Crimp Die for .357Sig. (Not absolutely necessary, but I gives me the neck tension I need to avoid setback)

            Thousands of rounds loaded with this setup and never a stuck case.

  2. I’ve used RCBS dies since I started reloading but I do use Lee dies for .357Sig and .30-06 and I must say… they are GREAT dies for the $$.

  3. The best investment I made for .357 Sig was with the Dillon dies. Understand their extraordinary expense but it sure has been worth it in my opinion. I do use other dies for pistol with Hornady and RCBS running second and third. I have a couple Lee dies that I think are worth their weight in gold for crimping purposes.

  4. I use the RCBS dies for all my reloading,pistol and rifle as well.Have never had an issue with them, I agree with Gerry,the carbide die is worth the extra expence for time saved.

  5. I have both RCBS and Hornady. Used both but prefer Hornady when loading pistol. I have the full Hornady lock & load setup and these dies just seem to be more user friendly.

  6. Loading 357 Sig, I have had near flawless execution with Lee. I seat and crimp with the bullet seating die.

    I used both Lee and Hornady for .45 ACP. For the above reason, I like the Lee better. It is probably my lack of tuning in with Hornady, but I almost feel I need a separate crimping die with Hornady seating die. That said, I had to sell the Lee die set with my Loadmaster when I replaced it with the Lock n Load.

    S

  7. I have and use Lyman, Rcbs, & Lee dies. I prefer the Lyman carbide dies for 45acp and 38/357 mag. I use Lee dies for my 7.62×25.

  8. I have also used Dillon dies for 45 ACP, 10 MM & 40 S&W on my SDB for production quantities for more than 15 years with never a stuck case, broken decap rod or failure. I have used carbide Lee dies for single station press pistol load development and .308 & 30-06 rifle loading since 07. The production thus far is relatively low but haven’t had a problem. I am beginning to load larger quantities of 5.56/.223 and wish I had carbide dies for this caliber although I haven’t had a problem so far and may not need them. I may add a turret or progressive press such as the Dillon 550, Redding T-7 or Lee Classic Turret after I’ve done enough rifle caliber loading to have a better feel for what fits my needs and likes. I tend to like precision loading although I want to load some in quantity for stock and practice for higher volume 5.56. I want to teach my grandkids to load and KISS is the main theme for keeping the young folks interested so complex routines and expensive equipment will be out for them.

  9. I use LEE pistol dies almost exclusively, you can’t beat them for the money. My .45 dies are RCBS carbides, but they were given to me. Can’t beat them for the money, either!

  10. I have used Lee presses and Dillons. Seating and crimping in the same station on a Lee is a joke. Better keep the primer feed clean or they will start flipping out of the blue. I have never had a problem with two different Dillons. (rant off) :>)

    1. I am in agreement with you. I also started out with Lee (Pro1000) and loved the value of the Lee equipment, for the price they are pretty good and you save some money, Same guy that gave me the Lee also gave me a Dillon 550 to load .44 Magnum rounds for him and it came with Dillon dies. When I first loaded with the Dillon, after loading quite a few pistol rounds on the Lee, I really didn’t like it. Hard to get used to manual indexing after using auto-indexing for so long. Wasn’t crazy about having to use a pickup tube for the primers either. After gaining more experience with the Dillon, I found that the things I initially disliked were now the things I liked about the Dillon. I load a lot of handcast bullets so dies getting jammed up was always an inconvenience. With the Dillon dies, just pulling a pin let the guts of the die drop in your hand for cleaning, no messing up the setting. That convinced me. I have now switched over to Dillon for all my pistol loads (9mm; .38s/.357 magnum; .45 Colt; & .44 Magnum. I load my rifle rounds (.204 Ruger; .223 Remington; .300 Blackout; & .308 Winchester) on a cheap single stage Lee press. Hopefully will convert the Dillon to load ,308 in the near future. I still think Lee has a place in the community for those of us who can’t afford the other equipment, dies in particular.

  11. I’ve changed over to Redding competition dies for my 45acp and 44 mag and will stick with them from now on…much better results… perfect seating depth that is quickly changed for different bullets and exact crimp every time. well worth the extra money.

  12. Sizing dies: Hornady New Dimension or Lee. Both go down the case further than other dies.
    Powder-Through Expander: Whatever powder measure you like. I find Lee, Dillon, and Hornady to all be equally good.
    Standard Expander die: RCBS for jacketed bullets. Lyman M-die for lead bullets.
    Seating die: While I really like Dillon’s seating dies, I find Hornady and Lee makes “better” ammunition. In both .38 Special and .45ACP I worked through a whole set of loads comparing different die, generating at least three 5-shot groups with all the variables and the Hornady New Dimension and Lee kept coming up with slightly more accurate groups.
    If you have over-lubed your lead bullets and lube builds up on your seating stem, then the Dillon dies are for you since it is so easy to remove the seating stem without losing the die adjustment. The Hornady can do this also, but not as conveniently.
    Crimp die: Any one’s taper crimp die, but ONLY the Redding Profile Crimp Die for roll crimps.

  13. I use LEE dies, for the money I think you can’t beat them.
    I tested them with others and found they do a better job.
    And I haven’t had a problem with them.

  14. Voted Redding but specifically it’s their “Competition Pro Series” for numerous reasons: the type of carbide they use, made for progressive presses, actual tapered sizing die for 9mm Luger and the killer is their comp seater. Have several different 9’s to load for that required different OAL’s, i.e. 1911’s opposed to Glocks that place some restriction on the OAL simply due to their mags while those for Govt. Models need to be a longer OAL, much the same reason .40’s are loaded long. This multiplied by different bullet weights & profiles used makes the easy & precise adj. & repeatable settings a real time saver.

    As far as the question of not having to use any lube with carbide dies, Hornady “One-Shot” makes cases run thru one of the Dillon’s markedly smoother & with less effort whether one uses mixed brass or not. Virtually all of volume USPSA/IDPA shooters know or shoot with use the stuff, FWIW.

    1. I recently purchased a blue progressive press and haven’t tried .223 on it yet. I have the RCBS carbide dies for pistol cartridges and they work fine on the press, but don’t want to be running lubricated .223 cases through the press to cut down on potentially coating the auto-feeder assembly. I would like to buy a nice set of .223 dies, but haven’t started looking… does Redding make a nice set of carbide dies or my .223 application? Brian (two replies after your post) states the Redding dies are “Titanium Carbide” coated, is that a different composition versus the RCBS stuff?

  15. dillion,load thousands of rounds so i need something i can do this.use on all my pistol loading on my 550

  16. I use a combination of Redding and Hornady dies. I prefer Redding sizing dies because their Titanium Carbide can’t be beat…dull brass going in comes out with a mirror finish with a minimum of effort. I like the Hornady seating dies because they are easy to adjust and easy to clean without losing your depth setting.

  17. Personally, I really like the Hornady sets. Granted, I am relatively new to reloading and they are all I have experience with, but I found them very user friendly and easy to set up and use for someone with no experience. I am sure that others are also good, but the lock and load system also makes it very fast to change dies and calibers. I currently reoad both 9mm and 45 Colt. Great website by the way. You have taught me a lot

  18. I really like the Hornady New Dimension Dies. I have updated my 9-40-45 set to the Taper Crimp Die. So far they all run like a top.

  19. Lee Precision….Howbeit some people think Lee Precision is cheap…I remember when RCBS thought they…RCBS…ruled the roost. And that was probably the case until Lee Precision came out with rifle/pistol dies/presses/etc and the result was reloading equipment became more reasonable in price from other manufacturers(Makes one wonder if we weren’t ripped off!). I cannot quote prices but I simply noticed how the Big Boy/s had to get on track because people started retooling with Lee Precision. So…thank Lee Precision many times over for bringing down the cost of reloading equipment.

    We/I shot a lot of metallic silhouette in times past…hunter pistol…and howbeit we’re not talking shear target/accuracy shooting…accuracy was first on the list….we always performed well using Lee pistol dies. (Anyone remember what RCBS carbide dies cost before Lee came out with carbide pistols dies? It wasn’t cheap!)

    I certainly do not know everything there is to reloading…but I spend a whole lot of money on reloading. If Lee Precision did not deliver…I wouldn’t use Lee. But your moeny is your money. If you feel like RCBS or Hornady will perform better…go for it.

  20. I have only used Hornady dies, so I can’t compare them to other brands. I reload 5 pistol calibers, 0.380acp, 9mm, 40S&W, 45acp, and 44 mag.

    I really like the Hornady seating dies since they have the alignment collar that guides the bullet into the die. This feature allows me to load faster since I don’t have to be as precise with placing the next bullet in the case mouth. If the bullet is cocked slightly the alignment collar straightens it up before pressure from the seating plug is applied.

    The resizing / decapping die is also nice since it has the Titanium coated sizing ring. The Zip Spindle on this die is a nice feature. When I start with a new caliber and am setting up the dies for the first time, I can leave the decapping rod tightening nut loose, bring the ram up, and it pushes the decapping rod to the depth I need. I’ll generally back it off another full rotation and then its set. I’ve loaded over 6000 cartridges over the last year and have never had a stuck case, and do not use case lube. That being said, these are all straight walled cartridges.

  21. I like the Hornady bullet seating die over other dies which I have used because of the drop down bullet guide built in

  22. Most of my 25-year collection of dies are from RCBS. Lately, though, I’ve preferred Lee dies because of their value and innovative features.

  23. I like Dillon for progressive press pistol loading. I like Redding for most of my rifle loading, but I have RCBS and Hornady dies that work very well. I use them almost exclusively in my Forster Co-Ax single stage press, and I have not found more accurate ammunition. Every set of dies I own (excluding the odd, almost extinct, calibers) have been matched to Lee Factory Crimp Dies. I also have several sets of Lee Dies for both rifle and pistol. They work very well in any of my single-stage presses.

  24. I only have RCBS and Lee dies. I found with my .357 and .44 Mag (Ruger’s Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk) I starting using a RCBS resizing dies then use Lee to expand and seat/crimp. I can’t remember why or how I started that either.

    Just bought a Ruger SP101 with the 4.2 inch barrel. Doing the same thing out of habit.

  25. I’m not fussy but most of my die sets are Lee and they work brilliantly. I bought a few sets of Hornady dies a few years ago when I had a Dillon 550 as the Lees I had at the time didn’t seem long enough. No problem with any of them, however the Hornady don’t like having a strong crimp on the 44Mag loads and popped the spring clip off the bottom. They work better when the crimp is applied separately (they all do in fact). I have pistol/revolver dies by Lee predominately, also by RCBS, Hornady, Lyman and Simplex (Australian manafacturer of reloading presses and dies, etc).

  26. Gavin,

    I am a new reloader and have a question regarding bullet seating and crimp dies. I notice in your videos you have a dedicated bullet crimp die and separate bullet seat die, yet there are two and three die sets for sale. Do I need to purchase a dedicated crimp die or are the bullet seat/crimp dies offered in the set sufficient? Any further clarificatin would be greatly appreciated regarding the amount and type of dies needed. I will be working on a single stage press.

    Thanks,

    John P.

  27. I prefer Redding dies but have to admit I really like Dillon’s 45acp dies. My older dies (circa mid 1990’s) are mostly Hornady but I’ve been buying Redding dies since 2005 or so.

    I recently purchased a set of dies from CH4 for my new toy, 50 Beowulf as I couldn’t get dies from AA. I haven’t loaded for it yet but hope to soon.

  28. I own hornady, Lee and, rcbs dies and I have to say the rcbs are far superior in design and quality. I know people seem to rant and rave about the Lee, but I will never buy them again. I find them very cheesy, and poorly designed, the case mouth flaring die is not fixed inside so it makes for clunky operation, there are no set screws to hold the dies where your want them, instead they use a chincy o-ring that turns the die when you’re trying to tighten it. You have to put an obscene amount of torque on the nut that keeps the recapping pin in place, and for people who load lead the factory crimp die doesn’t work well. And as far as the cost, as gun owners we all knew what we were getting into, it’s an expensive hobby. But most serious gun owners don’t go out buying cheap, poor quality guns and accessories, there’s no reason to go cheap on reloading equipment. It’s an extra 20 bucks to go with the rcbs over Lee for most calibers and they last pretty much forever. It’s a smart investment. The rcbs dies are great quality, designed well, and are easy to use.

  29. I use, for 45acp on my LNL:

    Lee Resizing Die
    Hornady Case Activated Powder Drop
    RCBS Lock out Die
    Hornady Seater
    Redding 45acp crimp die

    RCBS resizing dies break decapping pins and rods constantly. They’re expensive and time consuming to replace. Lee never breaks. RCBS seater sucks. Lee seater sucks. Hornady is great.

  30. How’s this for a response?

    Rifle (bottleneck):
    -Redding for FL sizing w/ carbide expander
    -Redding body die for shoulder bumping
    -Hornady New Dimension for bullet seating
    -Lyman M-Die for expanding certain necks

    Handgun (straight wall pistol):
    -Anything carbide for FL sizing
    -Redding GR-X debulge where applicable
    -Lyman M-Die for expanding necks
    -Lee Carbide Factory taper crimp

    If I had to choose just one brand, I don’t know what to tell you.

  31. I have a Hornady LNL AP but I prefer Lee dies because of the price and quality. The others are good as well but so far I have not yet been disappointed by Lee.

  32. 1st – Dillon dies have a very smooth large radius at the mouth of the die , when using a progressive press which equals alignment of casing to the die even if your bullet is not perfectly in casing when seating
    2nd- quality,no burrs (I have had many Lee dies with burrs ,just plan crapy matching and craftsmanship (that’s why I don’t buy them anymore you get what you pay for

  33. I use a mix of RCBS and Lee. Slightly more of my die sets are Lee.
    I factory crimp almost all my rounds, and due to this even if I use RCBS dies for most of the reloading operation I still have Lee Factory Crimp Dies in all my calibers that I use on the final step.

  34. Started with RCBS in 1982, then found Hornady and won’t buy any more RCBS unless absolutely necessary. Hornady appears to have taken every shortcoming of RCBS dies and improved on them. From the lock ring all the way to the storage box, Hornady beats RCBS, in my view.

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