Best Reloading Dies: Which One to Get in 2024

Best Reloading Dies

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Reloading your own ammo is a great way to save money, increase accuracy and learn more about shooting. To get the maximum results, you need the best reloading dies.

Reloading dies run from cheap junk that produce ammo good only for plinking to dies that will last a long time and deliver precision reloads each time.

Reloading dies and equipment are made by just a few companies across the world because this is a very specialized market.

In this article, we’re going to look at the best reloading dies. Let’s get right into it!

Product Reviews

It’s important to note that the size of the die is irrelevant to the quality. 

For instance, a Hornady .44 mag die set is just as good as a Hornday .380 die set. The difference is the caliber of bullet each reloads. Therefore, make sure you buy the die size for the caliber you intend to reload. 

Most shooters will never know the difference between die sets from the top makers. Competition shooters know the difference, but they also have a lot of other tools beyond a set of dies. These other tools are just as important to their ability to craft the most accurate ammo possible. Without the other tools, any set of dies is good enough.

Order a set of standard dies from any of these companies and it will fit any company’s standard press.

1. Carbide

Carbide

RCBS, Lee, Redding, Lyman, Hornady and Dillon make carbide dies. Carbide metal is harder than the steel that makes the rest of the die set. These are the best reloading dies.

If you plan on reloading ammo like you are Jerry Miculek, I’d recommend getting carbide dies. If you plan to reload a few hundred rounds a year, plain steel works just as well.

Specifications: 

  • It’s worth noting that carbide is more expensive that plain steel dies. The harder metal resists scratching and last longer. Some people say you can use carbide dies without lubing the case.
  • Always lube the case before reloading. Carbide dies may let an unlubed case slip free. Eventually, one will hang up and you will rip the case apart, leaving part of it inside the die.

Pros

  • Carbide will last much longer than plain steel dies. These are for high volume reloaders.

Cons

  • Carbide dies are more expensive than plain steel reloading dies. 
  • Carbide dies are not made in as many calibers as the plain steel dies.

Summary: Get carbide if you want to reload thousands of a specific cartridge every year.

2. RCBS

RCBS Reloading Dies

RCBS or Rock Chuck Bullet Swage, is the most popular reloading system in North America and likely the world. The familiar green reloading die boxes are instantly recognizable to reloaders. RCBS’ offerings are certainly among the best reloading dies you can buy.

Specifications: 

  • The factor that pushes these dies to top of the list is the lifetime warranty
  • RCBS dies now come with a set screw on the locking ring. This is handy if you plan to reload more than 100 at one sitting. 
  • Once you get the depth set, tighten the screw. This locks the locking ring in place even more securely. You get the same depth on every load until you change the dies.
  • RCBS makes dies for just about every round you can think of including a few very popular wildcats.

Pros

  • The case the dies come in is a semi-hard plastic. 
  • It will not break if you drop it. 
  • It has a lifetime warranty to the original owner.
  • The locking lock rings are standard.

Cons

  • You get the dies, but no scoop or shell holder. 
  • You have to order extra decapping pins separately.

Summary: You simply cannot go wrong with RCBS. These dies will last 10s of thousands of rounds, even more than 100,000 rounds with proper use.

3. Hornady

Hornady Reloading Dies

Hornady is best known as a bullet and projectile manufacturer, but it also makes dies. It offers the best warranty in the business, including lifetime replacement if they ever wear out.

Specifications: 

  • Hornady offers two versions of mass manufactured dies, Custom Grade and Match Grade. 
  • Custom Grade is the standard set, while Match Grade is for precision and competition shooters that want the most accuracy possible. 
  • Match Grade has two different sets, full-length sizing and shoulder bump neck size. Both come with interchangeable, self-centering neck size bushings so you can adapt your die set to the brass’ neck thickness.
  • Brass varies in how thick the neck is, and this does make a difference in accuracy. It is only one factor in the reloading process. If you want ultimate accuracy, you need several more tools at your reloading bench. For instance, by changing the sizing bushing, you can control how much the brass is resized.
  • Hornady also offers the Lock-N-Load quick change system for progressive presses. Switch out your dies immediately without having to release the locking ring.

Pros

  • The dies come with the set screw to hold the locking ring place even more securely.
  • Semi hard plastic case protects your dies. A top layer foam cushion adds more protection.
  • Hornady has a huge selection of calibers, including some you have likely never heard of like the 10.3X60R SWISS.

Cons

  • You have to order decapping pins separately. 
  • For maximum accuracy, you need several different sizes for resizing bushing for the Match Grade.

Summary: Quite simply, these are another can’t-go-wrong die set that could last longer than you.

4. Dillon

Dillon Reloading Dies

Dillon, the Big Blue in reloading, is a leader in progressive reloading equipment. Progressive reloaders allow you to create a loaded round with each pull of the press handle once you get the press completely set.

Specifications: 

  • The new Dillon sets come with a fast-change seating stem. 
  • This is especially handy for people who load handgun ammo. You can go from a round nose to a semi-wadcutter  without unscrewing the seating stem, and the same goes for the crimping die. Pull the pin and the inset comes out. You can clean residue without having to change the die settings.
  • Dillon dies are also tapered internally for use with progressive reloaders. Other dies will work on a progressive, but you will find Dillon is a bit smoother.

Pros

  • The dies come with a lifetime warranty.
  • Each reloading pack comes with an extra decapping pin. You will eventually need it.

Cons

  • Dillon’s die selection is quite limited compared to other companies if you shoot a less-common caliber. For instance if you have a .257 Roberts, you may not find a die for that.
  • The locking ring does not come with a set screw to lock it in place.

Summary: Dillon is best for people with a progressive reloading press. The dies will work on any other press. 

5. Lee

Lee

Many reloaders consider Lee Precision die sets to be a starter set. Others used Lee for years and years and see no need to change; I am one. At the same time, some reloaders use Lee Precision and have worn out more than one set of dies. 

Specifications: 

  • Lee includes a powder scoop with each set of dies. 
  • The scoop measures out a preset amount of powder. The charge will vary within a few grains from scoop to scoop. If you must have extreme accuracy, then the scoop is only a starting point for the powder.
  • It’s important to note that you need a measuring scale to get the same amount of powder in each round. However, if you are just plinking, loading for home defense or loading for hunting a short to moderate ranges, the scoop will serve just fine.

Pros

  • Each set comes with a powder scoop. The case has a clear plastic top so you can see into the case without opening it. Leave the user manual on top and you can see the die sizes without opening the case.
  • Each set also comes with the appropriate sized shell-holder.

Cons

  • The case is a hard plastic, so if you drop it, it will break.
  • You have to order extra decapping pins separately.
  • The Lee lock ring does not come with the set screw to further secure it. 

Summary: Lee has all the major cartridges and a good selection of ones you have probably never heard of. Most of my die sets are Lee Reloading. They work for me. These dies work and deliver good ammo. What more do you really want?

6. Redding

Redding

What sets the Redding dies apart from the others is found in precision shooting. What this means is that brass thickness varies from maker to maker. The brass can be 008 to .010 inches different in brass to brass. This difference is important in the neck of the cartridge for precision shooters.

Brass thickness and the resizing that must be done to reload the cartridge does affect accuracy. 

This ability to change bushings to make the brass thickness at the neck is only one of the tools competition shooters have. It is an important one.

Specifications: 

  • Redding offers sizing bushing that offers maximum control when resizing the neck.
  • You can get sizing bushings for a set of dies available in .001″ increments. You can also adjust the decapper to resize however much of the neck you want.
  • You can order dies with a  TIN (Titanium Nitride) coating which Redding says improves the “lubricity” of the die. You still need to lube the brass.
  • Redding offers reloading dies for some calibers you probably never heard of. The 219 Donaldson Wasp is a SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) accepted round and Redding has the dies for it. 
  • At the same time Redding does not have dies for every SAAMI-listed cartridge including some well-known ones, for instance it does not have the .500 Nitro Express.

Pros

  • Give you the most control possible when resizing the brass. 
  • The locking ring comes with the set screw to lock it down.

Cons

  • Redding has a limited selection of dies compared to SAAMI accepted rounds, whihc is several times the cost of other die sets. 
  • You have to order decapping pins separately.

Summary

If you shoot competitions for money regularly, these are the dies you need. You also need a lot more tools.

7. Lyman

Lyman

What sets Lyman apart from other die makers is the MSR (modern sporting rifle) die set. An MSR is a modern semi-auto rifle with a detachable mag, like the AR-15 or the AK47. Some of these guns, especially precision rifles, are notoriously finicky eaters.

While a standard AK47 will run anything, some ARs with competition chambers will not. This feeding issue becomes more apparent with handloads.

Lyman’s MSR 3-die and 4-die sets are meant to correct this. You can set the dies to load ammo that reliably functions in your semi-auto. You may go through a few reloading sessions to dial this in.

Specifications:

  • The 4-die set also includes a “go” gauge. If you build your own rifle, especially in AR platforms, you realize how handy this is.
  • The drawback to the precision set is that it is limited. The 3-die set is only for .223/5.56, 6.8 Rem. SPC, .300 AAC Blackout, .224 Valkyrie, and .308 Winchester. 
  • The 4-die set, which includes a separate crimp die, is for .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM, 9mm, 350 Legend, and .50 Beowulf. All these calibers run in AR platforms.
  • The die carrying case is hard plastic, which will break if you drop it. However, the case is lined with foam which delivers tremendous protection to the set. If this was a semi-hard plastic case, Lyman would be the best in packaging.

Pros

  • The locking ring comes with the set screw to lock it down.
  • Lyman offers black powder rifle dies sets for the .40 and .45 shooters.

Cons

  • There is very limited selection in the MSR die set. 
  • There is a limited black powder cartridge die set. 
  • The die offerings are also limited compared to others. The smallest die set is the .204 and the largest is the 8mm x 57.
  • The locking ring does not come with the set screw to lock it down.
  • You have to order decapping pins separately.

Summary

While there is a pretty limited selection of dies, this is the place to go if you need one for a common black powder load.

Buying Guide

When you decide to buy reloading dies, you have some points to ponder. Bear in mind a set of dies is one of many decisions you make before turning out loaded ammo.

1. Why am I reloading?

If you are reloading for plinking, then any set of standard dies will do. Look over the manufacturers to the find the caliber you need. Any set of caliber-appropriate dies will work.

If you reload for hunting under 300 yards, the options are identical.

If you reload for hunting past 300 yards, you need to start looking at precision dies. You need the accuracy these can deliver.

If you reload for competition and shoot competitions for money regularly, you need match-grade die sets. You must wring every bit of accuracy out of that round possible.

2. What am I reloading?

Reloading for pistols and rifles is done on the same press with different dies. However, reloading for the .45 ACP even for tournaments is different from reloading a 6.5mm tournament rifle. The .45 ACP, even with match grade dies, cannot come close to the same tight groups as a 6.5mm reloaded with all match-grade supplies and consumables.

3. How much ammo do I need?

If you reload less than 1,000 rounds a year, then a set of standard dies will serve you well. If you are cranking out ammo like you are a factory, then get something with a lifetime warranty. Get carbide dies as well.

4. What other tools do I need?

At the minimum you need a reloading press, the dies and a way to measure powder as the tools. As you learn more about reloading, you will buy other things like deburring tool, case trimmer and other stuff.

If you are a beginner, you can skip the advanced tools. For instance, the Lee Precision Anniversary Challenger Kit II has everything you need except consumables and the die set. Consumables are the brass, primers, powder and projectiles.

5. What will this cost me?

Your biggest investment is your time spent reloading and learning. As you learn more, you will begin to fine-tune your ammo for the specific gun, the weather and the kind of shooting you will be doing.

Hunting ammo is not the same as plinking ammo and neither are the same as precision and competition ammo. You can make all 3 on the same press with the same set of dies

6. Do I need a reloading manual?

You need a good reloading manual. Yes, you can download reloading information  from the Internet. However, having your electronic device sitting right next to a bunch of gunpowder is not a good idea.

A reloading manual gives you more information than just reloading data on the cartridge. I actually read a new manual when I buy one like I’d read any other book.

FAQs 

Below is the list of FAQs you must include in your article. This section should come up to around 150 words. 

Are all reloading dies the same? 

All reloading dies are not the same. To get the best results from your reloaded ammo, you need quality dies as well as quality components. Carbide dies last longer.

How good are redding reloading dies? 

Redding dies are good with most users reporting above average satisfaction with them. They are not as popular as RCBS, Lee and Dillon. If you pay attention to what you are doing, Redding dies will get the job done.

How many dies are needed for rifle reloading?

How many dies you need for reloading depends on the caliber. At minimum, you need two. You need a decapper & sizing die and then a bullet seating die. If you crimp the brass, you need to get a third die to crimp the cartridge mouth.

You also need a set of dies for each caliber.

Conclusion

Reloading can save you money and it is relaxing, at least to me it is. Better yet, reloading will let you fine tune the ammo to get the maximum accuracy from your gun. A difference in neck sizing can be the difference between being an also-shot and being the winner in a shoot competition.

I use a lot of Lee dies. My shooting is almost always under 250 yards and Lee gives me enough accuracy to hit my target at that distance. For precision shooting where .001 inches is the difference between a win and a loss at a competition, I will use RCBS carbide dies and several other tools to make sure my ammo is as precision-loaded and possible.
If I shot professionally with money on the line, my press would have Redding or Hornady dies with a lot of resizing pins for each caliber..

Pro tip: Order extra decapping pins, like a dozen or so. They are cheap and you will need them if you reload a lot.

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