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The 5 Best Reloading Dies for the Money

Best Reloading DiesWhen it comes to reloading, you certainly will need to get the best reloading dies you can find to make sure you’re able to do the work. You need a set of dies for your reloading press, or else your press is nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

You can even argue the fact that the dies actually do the real reloading work. Each die has its specific function, and all these functions make up and speed up the entire reloading process.

The best dies let you do the work with the greatest efficiency and the least frustration. You can then have a nice rhythm going with your reloading press, while you end up with serviceable or even extremely accurate rounds.

And what you have to keep in mind is that not all dies are the same in quality.

Top 5 Reloading Dies: Comparison Chart

Check out our handy overview of the features you can expect from the best dies for reloading on our list.

Die Brand Number of dies Die types Calibers View on Amazon
Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set 4
  • Carbide Full Length Die
  • Bullet Seating Die
  • Powder Thru Expanding Die
  • Carbide Factory Crimp Die
7 different calibers Check Price
Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension 2-Die Set 2
  • Full Length Sizer Die
  • Seating Die
47 different 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 Precision Carbide 3 Die Set 3
  • carbide full-length sizing die
  • bullet seating die
  • powder through expanding die
Standard, 45 ACP, .380 Auto Check Price
RCBS Full Length Die Set 2
  • full-length sizer die, with expander-decapping unit
  • seater die with bullet seater plug
21 different calibers Check Price

Best Picks for Reloading Dies

A quick check through Google will most likely tell you that when it comes to reloading dies, you have a lot of options to choose from.

So where do you start? Simply reading the reloading dies reviews for all these dies will just waste too much of your time.

Instead, start with our list of excellent reloading dies. These are all in sets, and they’re made by reputable brands with long histories in the reloading industry.

Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set

Sale
Features
  • Country Of Origin: United States
  • Product Type: Sporting Goods
  • Item Package Dimensions: 8.636 L X 26.67 W X 32.258 H (Cm)
  • Item Package Weight: 1.61 Kilograms

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

Let’s start of this list with a set that gives you a whopping 4 dies at the outset. While you can get dies for your 45 ACP and 38 Special, we picked the set meant for 9mm Luger to try out.

This may well be the best reloading dies for 9mm, as these dies are great.

This set should get you well on your way to reloading without wasting too much time. It starts with the full length sizing die with decapping unit, meant to resize your case properly while it removes the old primer.

Since this die is made of carbide, you won’t have to lubricate the case first before you set it through this die. That should save you a lot of time and effort.

The next die in the set you’ll likely use is the powder through expanding die. This die will “bell” the case as it charges the casing with your powder.

Then you have the crucial bullet seating die, seating the bullet in the case properly. Finally, you have the factory crimp die that’s also made from carbide.

This tightens the case around the bullet like it was made in a factory, so that you’re sure your rounds will chamber smoothly. This carbide factory crimp die works without any issue at all, and its quality is truly terrific.

Some people have mentioned that if there was a problem with this die set, it’s the potential for “drift”. The die may move a little bit, so that every now and then you may have to tighten the dies in place.

This is a very tiny problem, however, and you may not even notice it. The drift may be as tiny as just 1/100 of an inch, and you may notice this only after 400 or 500 rounds.

Aside from the 4 dies, you also get freebies like the shell holder, powder dipper, and even a load data sheet you can use for your 9mm rounds. Your 4 dies are also set in a nice, handy plastic case, for convenient storage and easy portability.

If you’re looking for the best 9mm reloading dies, you can do worse than this one.

Pros
  • You get plenty of dies to us—4 of them
  • The carbide sizing die removes the necessity of lubricating cases
  • The factory crimp die works perfectly
  • You get lots of freebies, even a load data sheet
  • The set comes in a handy case
Cons
  • There’s a small issue regarding die “drift”

Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension 2-Die Set

Features
  • 546228 Series I
  • Series Die Set
  • Type Full Length Die Set
  • Country Of Origin: China

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

Hornady is one of the most respected brands in the reloading industry, so it’s not surprising for this die set to make an appearance on this list. Their dies aren’t just made for their rounds or for their reloading equipment.

In fact, it’s very likely that you’ll find a die set here that works for your favorite calibers, even if these calibers aren’t that common. Whether you’re looking for the best 308 reloading dies, the best 45-70 reloading dies, or the best reloading dies for 223, you can find them here.

 

The Custom Grade dies from Hornady represents the most premium dies you’ll ever find. No need to look for the best custom reloading dies you’ve found them already.

Each one features precise machining, with some of the best internal finishes in the entire reloading industry.

You’ll find that adjustments for these dies are easier to make, you get much better alignment, and they all function smoothly.

In this set, you get the full length sizer die along with the seating die.

The full length sizer die features the “Zip Spindle” design, which ensures a lock that basically makes die slippage impossible.

You have the Sure-Loc lock rings, which clamp around the whole die to keep it locked in place. The locking ring tightens the lock ring without touching the threads, so that you don’t inadvertently damage it when you use pliers.

Because of the smooth finish, you won’t have to worry about case sticking or too much friction. This is great for soft pistol brass and you won’t scratch the case.

You also have the elliptical expander here for smooth neck sizing. Because of this feature, you don’t need a separate expander die.

The seating die also has the Sure-Loc, along with the excellent seater adjustment screw, compression lock, and taper crimp adjust screw. It’s easy to make various adjustments, while everything remains tightly in place.

Pros
  • Available for many different calibers
  • Comes in a plastic box
  • The dies never slip
  • It’s easy to make adjustments
  • The smooth finish minimizes friction and scratches
  • The seating die pre-aligns the bullet and case for more accurate seating, and applies a crimp as well
Cons
  • It’s not cheap (though it’s arguably a worthwhile investment)
  • No freebies

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

The RCBS brand is another highly regarded name in the biz, and this die set gives you an example of why so many people like the brand.

This gives you 3 dies to work with, starting with the sizer die made from carbide. That means no more lubricating the cases prior to sizing.

The other dies in the set are the bullet seater die and the bullet seater plug. The bullet seater plug lets you seat the bullet as close as you can to the rifling, so you obtain the maximum overall length needed for the best ballistic performance.

These dies are extremely durable, and even after long use they don’t show any grit or carbon buildup. While it’s prudent to clean the dies regularly (according to the included instructions), these things continue to work smoothly to help you with your high-volume reloading.

Pros
  • 3 dies with bullet seater plug
  • Carbide sizer die eliminates lubricating the cases
  • Extremely durable
  • Doesn’t get dirty too quickly
  • Allows for smooth reloading
Cons
  • The finish looks a bit rough
  • There aren’t any accessories

Lee Precision Carbide 3 Die Set

Sale
Features
  • Product Type: Air Gun
  • Country Of Origin: United States
  • Item Package Weight: 1.05 Pounds
  • Item Package Dimensions: 14.732 L X 12.7 W X 3.555 H (Cm)

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

Ever since Lee Precision was launched, it has steadily increased its fanbase due to its consistently high-quality reloading equipment. This carbide set of 3 dies is a good example of what the brand can offer.

Get this if you’re working with the .380 Auto and 45 ACP calibers. You need to use these things for calibers with a straight-walled design, because for other designs the carbide material isn’t really ideal.

With this set, you get the carbide full length sizing die, which means no case lubrication needed. You also get the dependable bullet seating die, along with the powder through expanding die.

The dies work perfectly, which is often a nice surprise for plenty of reloaders. The fit is nice and perfect, along with the bullet depth.

Lee dies tend to be on the affordable side, but the quality sure isn’t cheap. They may not look all that impressive, but this set may give you the best reloading dies for the money.

Plus, you also get a universal shell holder and powder dipper along with this purchase, and there’s a load data sheet too.

If there’s any drawback to this set, is that it’s missing the crimping die. It’s cheaper to just buy the 4-die set than to get this 3-die set and then get the crimp die separately.

Pros
  • 3 dies
  • The dies allow you to work very smoothly
  • The carbide sizing die means no more lubricating the case
  • It’s a very affordable set
  • You get freebies
Cons
  • No crimp die included

RCBS Full Length Die Set

Features
  • 14801 full length DIE set
  • Series rifle
  • Type full length DIE set
  • Made from case hardened steel
  • Precision-drilled and reamed to the same exacting standards as the finest gun mechanisms

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

RCBS offers many different die sets, with various groupings. We went with the Group A with 2 dies: the full length sizer die and the seater die.

The full length sizer die actually comes with a decapping unit, and it sizes the outside of the casing while it removes the primer. It then expands the neck of the case so it accepts the bullet more easily.

This die has vents to minimize any damage to the case, which can happen when you use too much lubricant or when you have trapped air.

This also has minimum tolerances for the headspace, so that when you’re doing full length sizing you don’t change the length of the case body.

The bullet seater die seats the bullet to the right depth, with the bullet seater plug. It also has a built-in roll crimper, so it secures the bullet inside the casing even while you’re seating the bullet.

Pros
  • Plenty of die group sets to choose from
  • The sizer die does a lot of work: sizing the case, removing the primer, and expanding the case neck
  • Vents in the sizer die help prevent case damage
  • Minimal headspace tolerances to avoid inadvertent changes to case body length
  • Bullet seater die also crimps the round
Cons
  • Not really easy to adjust the dies

 

What is the Best Reloading Die?

What you first have to understand is that what’s best for others isn’t necessarily the best for you. That’s actually true for a lot of things, mind you, but it’s especially true for reloading dies.

Let’s start with your reloading press. The first requirement is that the reloading dies have to actually work with your reloading press.

If the dies don’t work with your press, then they’re no good.

Then the dies have to be set for the caliber you’re working with. Usually, if you’re working with a pistol round, then dies for rifle rounds aren’t going to work. If you’re working with your 38 Special, then dies for the .44 caliber may not work either.

Finally, it has to do the job you’re want to do. If you’re looking for a sizer die, then a crimping die won’t work regardless of its quality.

How Does A Reloading Dies Work?

The reloading die actually does the specific task you want to do with your reloading press. A sizer die will set a used casing back to the right size, a bullet seating die will align the bullet to set it in the case, and a crimping die tightens the neck of casing around the bullet.

You will need to set the reloading die on the reloading press. If you have a single stage reloading press, you have to change the die to another die to do a different task.

If you have a progressive press, then you can set a different die on each of the stations. The round then moves from one station to another, letting each die do its job as you pull on the handle each time.

Things to Consider Before Buying Reloading Dies

It’s a mistake to assume that all reloading dies are the same. That’s just not true, as some are definitely better than others.

To make sure you only pick from the best options, here are the factors you should pay more attention to when you read product spec sheets and customer reviews:

Brand Name

No, this isn’t about brand snobbery like you’d find in the fashion industry. It’s simply the acknowledgement of the accepted fact that the most famous brands are the likeliest sources of the best reloading dies for accuracy.

How do you think these brands became famous and survived all these years in this industry? They achieved this by offer consistently superior reloading equipment, including reloading dies.

Caliber of Reloading Dies

The set of dies you get must be made for the caliber of the rounds you’ll be reloading.

So, if you’re looking for dies to reload the ammo for your 9mm pistol, you don’t even consider the dies that are meant for .223 caliber. They’ll be very different, and one set won’t work for a different caliber.

Type of Press

It’s true that this shouldn’t be a concern, since most reloading presses accept dies with the standard 7/8″-14 thread.

But some reloading presses may work with other dies with different threads in addition to the standard thread. You may even have a reloading press that doesn’t work with the standard 7/8″-14 thread.

Types of Dies and Die Sets

Dies and Die SetsEach die is meant for a specific task. If you already have a resizing/depriming die and you’re happy with it, then there’s no reason to get another one.

You can then get a bullet seating die, or a crimping die.

This brings us to die sets. Lots of die sets are available, ranging from 2 dies to 4 dies for your press.

Buy a set and you get all the dies you need at once. You may also get a discount when buying 4 dies instead of buying each die separately.

Some dies also do 2 functions at once, which saves you a lot of time. Your bullet seating die may have a crimping function, for example, so that you don’t have to get a separate die for that function.

Freebies

When you buy a set of dies, you may also get a few free accessories that you may find useful in reloading. Usually, this freebie is the storage box that houses all the dies when you’re not using them, as you get a handy container for storage and portability.

You may also find free powder measures, and other assorted accessories.

Material

It’s great if the die is made from carbide, especially for the sizing die. This removes the need for lubricating cases first before you resize them.

Stability

The dies should stay in place once you put them in, so you don’t have to tighten them too frequently. If you do forget to tighten them, you may end up with a botched reloading.

Ease of Adjustments

It should be easy enough to turn and adjust the dies as needed. These adjustments shouldn’t cause any damage issues.

Durability

While nothing lasts forever, it would be nice if these dies last for years to come without any issues.

Types of Reloading Dies

There are several ways to categorize reloading dies.

Caliber Types

One way is to differentiate the dies meant for pistol rounds from the dies built for rifle rounds. Some dies are meant for very specific calibers.

Material

Then you may also type them according to the material they’re made from. Most dies are made from stainless steel.

But some dies, especially sizer dies, are made from carbide. With this material, there’s no need for you to first lubricate the case before you set it through the die.

Tasks

Most of the time, dies are categorized by the task they’re meant to do.

  • Resizing/depriming die: This is perhaps the most important die you need to get, as it sets the spent case back to its proper size so it can be reused. At the same time, it also takes out the spent primer from the case so you can put in fresh primer.
  • Bullet seating die: Next to the sizer die, you need this one. Its job is to align the bullet correctly to set it properly inside the casing.
  • Case trimming die. Lots of people don’t bother with this one, but it’s nice to have especially when you have a progressive reloading press. Over time, cases can stretch as you reuse them, and the case trimming die will then trim back the case to its proper size.
  • Powder through expanding die: This is a die you may want to use after resizing the case. Its job is to help funnel the powder into the case, once you’ve resized that case.
  • Crimping die: Once you have the resizing and the bullet seating die, you may want to consider getting this die next. You need this for pistol rounds, as it tightens the neck of the casing around the bullet you’ve seated inside.

Lee Dies vs RCBS Dies

Both are very good dies, as they both have the brand name and the high quality you want in your dies. Seriously, there’s really no big difference in how they work.

Upon inspection, you may find on average that RCBS brands tend to look better. The external finish looks nicer, and some of these dies can feature some rather impressive-looking knurling.

But these differences are about aesthetics, and not about function. In this reloading die comparison, both die sets work equally well.

However, when it comes to brand name snobbery then RCBS does stand out a bit higher in the reloading community. The RCBS brand has been around for longer, and it’s also part of a larger group of companies that works with military weaponry.

Still, you’d find a lot of fervent Lee fans out there. The typical Lee reloading dies review often express surprise at how well these things work, even though these are cheap reloading dies.

Lee vs Hornady Dies

Hornady is another old brand in the reloading industry, and its brand name may carry a more prestigious cache than the Lee Precision brand. In fact, you’ll find some reloaders only using Hornady equipment.

Hornady dies have this reputation of staying in place after you’ve set them. You don’t really hear about “drift” issues with them.

However, you may read about a few drift issues when it comes to Lee dies every now and then.

This means that the die may shift a little bit, which means that you may occasionally have to retighten the dies. But in the case of Lee dies, the drift may be very minimal, as in 1/100 of an inch after 500 rounds or so.

A few people have noted that adjusting Hornady dies can seem a bit more involved compared to adjusting Lee dies.

Full Length vs Regular Reloading Dies

When you go and get sizing dies, you may find them described as a “full length” sizing die. This is actually the regular die, but it’s different from the “small base” die.

The standard full length sizing die is popular because the small base variant comes on farther down the body of the case. This small base die works the brass more, which eventually may shorten the useful lifespan of the brass.

Lyman vs RCBS Reloading Dies

Plenty of people attest to the high quality of RCBS dies, and you can expect to open the box, take out the dies, and begin to use them right away. Everything will work fine, and that’s what people expect.

However, RCBS brands are on average comparatively more expensive than other brands, and that’s especially true when compared to Lyman dies. You can find Lyman dies that cost about 1/3 the cost of RCBS dies.

While lots of people also say their Lyman dies work well, you’ll discover after reading a lot of Lyman customer reviews that their dies may have problems every now and then. Quite a few people are also dissatisfied with the level of assistance that the Lyman customer service provides.

How to Use Reloading Dies?

Reloading dies are fairly easy to use. What you do with will depend on the type of reloading press you have.

With Single Stage Press

Let’s say you have 100 cases to reload. With a single stage press, you can do that in an hour with enough practice.

It starts with putting in a die, which in most first stage cases is the resizing die. You set the die on the press and adjust it firmly.

You then set the case into the reloading press, and you keep doing that for all 100 cases. That means at the end you end up with 100 resized cases with the old primers taken out.

Then you take out the resizing die and put in the bullet seating die. After going through all the 100 rounds, you keep replacing the die for a new die until you’ve done all the tasks you can do with the reloading press.

With Progressive Press

A progressive press has several stations, so you can pull the handle on the press and all the dies on these stations do their jobs at the same time. Each case goes through all the stations as you press the handle, sort of like going through a factory assembly line.

That means you don’t have to keep removing the old die and putting in a new one. This saves you a lot of time and effort.

You do have to remove the dies and put in new ones if you’re going to work on rounds with a different caliber. You have to remove all the dies for the previous caliber and put in a new set of dies.

With some progressive presses, doing this may not take as much time as you may have feared. You may have to remove the bushings containing the set of dies instead, and putting in a new bushing set of new dies for the different caliber.

Top Reloading Dies Brands

Reloading Dies BrandsWhen it comes to reloading dies, you absolutely have to stick with the most famous brands. New brands don’t have the reputation for high quality that the more famous brands have already earned through years of selling dies.

The Hornady and RCBS brands have been around for decades, so they’re absolutely trustworthy. They’ve been making reloading tools for forever.

The Lee Precision brand is newer, but it quickly earned a reputation for high quality as well. These dies are also worthy of your consideration, as plenty of Lee fans will tell you.

Who Makes the Best Reloading Dies?

That’s always a question, and the debate rages on. This is certainly a matter of opinion, and in the end it’s your opinion that counts.

What we can be surer of, however, is that the answer will likely be one of the brands we mentioned. It’s a list of the best reloading dies, after all.

Lots of fans of Hornady, RCBS, and Lee Precision will attest to how they’ve never had any trouble with the dies from these brands. All these dies seem to work advertised.

Final Verdict

We still can’t get over the terrific quality of the Custom Grade New Dimension dies from Hornady. We’re not the only ones to rave about these dies in their Hornady reloading dies review, either.

It’s simply much easier to make adjustments for all these dies. The alignment is superior, and all the dies function smoothly.

You don’t get any drift, and they all stay in place securely. The resulting reloaded rounds are excellent as well.

Go with the CGND dies, and you have 5 excellent reloading dies to choose from. A lot of people say that the best reloading dies come from Hornady, and we simply have to agree.

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