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The 4 Best Pistol Dies for the money – Reloading Die Reviews

Photo by Madison Scott-Clary / CC BY

When you have a pistol and the reloading press to reload your own ammo, the next step is usually to find the best pistol dies you can use on that reloading press.

With the right set of pistol dies, you can end up with more accurate rounds while you’re able to reload more rounds in a shorter amount of time.

Without the pistol dies, you don’t get to reload your own ammo, period. Whenever you pull the handle on your reloading press, these dies actually do the real work on your pistol rounds.

So, which ones are the best? Let’s take a look at some of the more excellent options:

Top 4 Pistol Dies: Comparison Chart

As you may have noticed, we stuck to the best 9mm sizing die options. That’s so we can focus on the differences in their features and quality.

Some of these brands do offer dies for other calibers, if you’re looking for best reloading dies for 357 magnum or for the best 223 reloading dies.

Each pistol die set offers a different number of dies, with their own functions:

Pistol Dies No. of Dies Types of Dies Pistol Type View on Amazon
Dillon Precision 14406 9mm Pistol 3 Three Die Set 3
  • Sizing/depriming
  • Bullet seating
  • Crimp
9MM Check Price
Lee Precision Taper Crimp Die Pistol Cal 9MM 1
  • Taper crimp
9MM, but available in other calibers Check Price
RCBS 20515 Carbide Die Set 3
  • Carbide sizer
  • Expander
  • Seater
9MMLUGER/9×21/9×23, but also available in other calibers Check Price
Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set 4
  • carbide full length sizing die with decapping unit
  • powder through expanding die
  • bullet seating die
  • carbide Factory Crimp Die
9MM yet also available in other calibers Check Price

Best Picks for Pistol Dies

A quick look through Google online will tell you right away that you have a lot of choices when it comes to pistol dies. To cut to the chase, we’ve compiled a list of the 4 best options you should consider.

Dillon Precision 14406 9mm Pistol 3 Three Die Set

Features
  • Sizing/Depriming Die
  • Bullet Seating Die
  • Crimp Die

Last update on 2020-10-30 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This will work for your Dillon 550 press, but the fact is that it works for any reloading press that uses standard dies. This set offers the sizing/depriming die, the bullet seating die, and the crimping die.

This Dillon set does come at a comparatively high price, and that’s not just because of the brand name. It’s also because the dies are made from carbide.

Everything here just about works perfectly, which is why this set has received virtually universal acclaim. The dies are made to last as well.

You even have a special design with the sizing/depriming die, as it has a snap spring that works perfectly even with hard primers. You won’t have to waste time stopping to fix primers that don’t eject.

You can also take out these dies from your press and clean them, and when you put them back in you don’t lose any of your adjustments. It sure is easy to use, but even vets will like how this makes it easy to reload lots of rounds in one sitting.

Pros
  • Made of carbide
  • Comes in a handy box
  • 3 dies
  • Works well with hard primers
  • Easy to clean without losing adjustments
Cons
  • Not exactly cheap

Lee Precision Taper Crimp Die Pistol Cal 9MM

Sale
Features
  • Package length: 11.684 cm
  • Package width: 8.382 cm
  • Package height: 3.555 cm
  • Product Type: SPORTING GOODS

Last update on 2020-10-30 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is just the taper crimp die. If you’ve already bought your sizing/depriming and billet seating dies, then this ought to be your next die to get.

Even if you’re only buying a single die, you at least get a plastic storage case for it. This has the standard 7/8 inch -14 threads, so it should work with most reloading presses.

It’s very simple to set up, and it’s easy to use as well. It’s dependable as heck, and it gives you the taper crimp you need. It sure is a convenient die to get that should speed up your 2-die reloading process.

This also works for just about every pistol round. It doesn’t matter if it’s jacketed, plated, coated, or cast.

Pros
  • Makes reloading easier and faster
  • Utterly reliable
  • Works for every type of pistol ammo
  • Easy to set up and use
Cons
  • Some people don’t really need a crimping die
  • Doesn’t come with accessories

RCBS 20515 Carbide Die Set

Features
  • Type: 3 die set
  • Fits: 9Mm luger
  • Series b 3-die carbide taper crimp set
  • Carbide Die Sets consist of a Carbide Sizer Die, Seater Die, and Bullet Seater Plug
  • Made from case hardened steel

Last update on 2020-10-30 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

With this 3-die set, you get the carbide sizer die, seater die, and bullet seater plug. RCBS is known for its high standards, so it’s not a surprise that these dies have been precisely drilled and reamed.

This is also a carbide die set, which is superior to other materials used for dies.

It’s essential for the sizer die, as it means you won’t need to lubricate your cases first. These sizer dies even have vents to prevent damaging your cases.

It also comes with instructions, and they do say that you ought to clean the dies every now and then. It’s just that even after 1,000 reloaded rounds, they’re still pristine and they don’t show any carbon or grit buildup.

This is truly meant to last for years, and it really works well with other RCBS reloading equipment.

Pros
  • Long-lasting
  • Made of carbide
  • Great for high-volume reloading
  • Doesn’t get dirty easily
Cons
  • No accessories
  • Somewhat rough finish

Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set

Features
  • Cartridge: .38 Special
  • Number of dies: 4
  • Die type: Sizer, Mouth expander, seater, crimp
  • Has an universal shell holder and powder dipper
  • Has a durable design that is made to last

Last update on 2020-10-30 /  Affiliate Links (#ad)  / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This time, you don’t just get 3 dies. You get 4 dies in flat plastic case, along with the shell holder, powder dipper, and load data sheet.

The freebies alone may convince you to get this set, but the dies themselves are the stars of the set.

First you have the carbide full length sizing die with decapping unit. This sizes the case while removing the old primer.

The sizing die is also made of carbide, which means you won’t have to lubricate the case first. That really speeds up the reloading process.

Then you have the powder through expanding die. This bells the case while you’re charging the case with powder.

Next is the bullet seating die, and finally you have the carbide factory crimp die. This die really makes sure that your rounds will chamber like it was made in a real factory.

The design here is truly high quality, with the factory crimp die an absolute beast and best in its class. This is without a doubt one of the best carbide pistol dies around.

If you’re nitpicking for a fault, then you need to know that there may be a drift of maybe 1/100 of an inch after every 500 rounds or so. After a few thousand rounds, you may want to tighten these dies just in case.

Pros
  • 4 dies
  • Lots of accessories
  • Fantastic crimp die
  • No need to lubricate cases
Cons
  • There may be some drift after a few hundred rounds reloaded

 

What Are the Best Pistol Dies?

The 2 dies you absolutely need is the resizing die and the bullet seating die. If you’re getting a set, it should include these 2 dies.

That’s actually why we included a long pistol die option in our list. If you already have these 2 dies, then you may want to consider a crimping die for your 3rd pistol die.

In general, the best picks are made from carbide. Carbide dies don’t require you to lubricate your cases before you size them.

You may still go with steel dies, but you need some lubricant on the case first. If you put the case in dry, it may get stuck in the sizing die.

What you should go for are solidly built dies that lessen the time you need to reload your ammo safely. These dies have to be exact in their measurements, plus they have to be durable.

What’s the Use of Pistol Dies?

Two-axis machining vise on drill press table.
Photo by Darron Birgenheier / CC BY

When you have a reloading press, you need to set up the dies on it so that it can then to a specific task needed in the reloading process.

The die may be meant to resize the case, to seat the bullet, or to crimp the round as the last stage of reloading.

If you’re using a 5-station progressive die, you may also add a case trimming die and a powder-through expanding die.

Things to Consider Before Buying Pistol Dies

depriming die and the best pistol bullet seating die
Photo by Hunting Mark / CC BY

When you’re buying pistol dies and reading pistol dies reviews, there are the considerations you have to factor in your choice:

Type of Pistol

While our selection focuses on pistol dies meant for 9mm rounds, you actually have to make sure your dies matches the rounds you’re working on. The pistol dies for 9mm rounds may not work for other calibers.

Type of Die

If you’re looking for pistol reloading dies, you need at least 2 dies. That means you have to get the resizing/depriming die and the best pistol bullet seating die.

If you’ve already bought these 2 dies and you want to get another die, then you’re looking for a crimping die. You don’t usually need this for rifle rounds, but it’s great when reloading pistol rounds.

We cited a crimping die here on our list, since you may need it. The need for these 3 dies is also the main reason why 2 of our options here come with 3 dies in the set.

Brand and Quality

If you’re into reloading, you may have noticed that the famous brands tend to offer the highest-quality equipment. That’s probably why these brands are famous in the first place.

This is especially true with pistol dies, as the brands we’ve mentioned on our list are all famous. If it’s an unknown brand, then you’re not likely to get dies that are just as good.

This isn’t really brand snobbery—it’s just what it is. You need a famous brand for the best dies for pistol.

Material

You do want to go with carbide dies if you’re going for the best quality. That’s because these dies save you the trouble of lubricating the case before you resize it.

Steel dies can still be a good option, especially if you have a limited budget. But going with carbide is a good investment, plus it saves you a lot of frustration.

Ease of Use

There are some dies that may be problematic for newbies. Of course, it may not take all that long to get used to these dies if you’re a beginner, but it’s nicer if it’s easy to use right at the start.

Price

Some brands are more expensive than others, and you may be tempted to go with the more affordable pick if they offer similar features and benefits.

But if you’re a serious reloader, then the price is rather low among your priorities. Don’t stick to the best inexpensive pistol reloading dies when you have a better option to go for.

How to Use Pistol Dies

If you’re using a single stage press, then you put in a die for a specific task. Then you remove it and replace it for another die that does another task in the reloading process.

For a single stage press, you start with the all-important resizing/depriming die. This will set the spent bullet back into the proper size, while it also pushes out the old primer so it’s ready for the new primer.

The other die you need is the bullet seating die. This aligns the bullet properly so you can set it nicely in the case.

You may want to go for a case trimming die, which is often optional. When your case stretches and gets longer over time, this die will trim the case to get it back to the right length.

If you have a progressive reloading press, you may also want a powder-through expanding die. Basically, it helps in funneling the powder in the case you’ve just resized.

The crimping die is also semi-optional, as often it’s the 3rd die people get. It’s especially needed for pistol rounds, as you’ll use it to tighten the neck of the case around the bullet.

Final Verdict

If you don’t have any pistol die yet, you can do yourself a favor and just get the 4-die Deluxe Carbide Set from Lee Precision. The quality is terrific, and you get 4 of them at once.

Your purchase comes with a nice handy case for all 4 dies. You also get the right shell holder, a powder dipper, and even a load data sheet.

Just about everyone who’s ever bought and used this set raves about it. It really is that good, and you’ll like to agree that this set offers the best pistol dies you can use for your reloading press.

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