I've read lots of articles that mentioned using 'better' dies for precision ammo. Is there really a difference between all the major brands in the standard dies and if so which is the best? I keep hearing Redding but have no experience with them.
I have read that some manufacturers ream the neck region with one reamer then the case body with another, for economic reasons I don't understand. This apparently introduces some possibility for a case neck that is not in perfect alignment with the body. That is mostly what you are hearing about, I believe. The Reddings are supposed to be made with a one piece reamer. (This is all second hand info, I cannot vouch for it's accuracy.) I personally have used Redding, RCBS, Hornady and Lyman, and I don't feel I've ever had a bad set. Maybe MikeG will pipe up here, since I believe he has a concentricity gauge and perhaps can introduce some scientific comparisons!
Now, if you step up to the bench rest dies made by various makers, including the bushing type dies from Redding, you truly are talking about a more precise piece of equipment. And they often work differently than regular dies.
I think you should consider your application. I have been able to get MOA or less with every brand of die that I mentioned. If that's enough accuracy for you, then I wouldn't worry about it a lot. If you are looking for less than .5 MOA then maybe it's worth a look at the bench rest dies. ID
If that doesn't come up as a link, it's in the thread titled "Lee Loader" in the Handloading Equipment topic, same as this thread, down near the end on the second page.
Suffice to say that the VERY best dies I have, as far as perfectly concentric reloads every time, I purchased for the princely sum of $10, on closeout. And I'm not going to tell you which brand or caliber, it is just chance.
Until or unless you get a concentricity gage, you'll just never know. You can tell if you are getting straight ammo if you roll loaded rounds across the tabletop and look for the bullet tips to wobble, but it's harder to 'debug' the loading process and figure out which step is causing problems without the gage.
I will toss out that most trouble seems to come from dragging the expander ball back through the neck of a bottleneck cartridge. This can be solved largely by using Lyman "M" dies for neck expansion, although they can't perform miracles.
Well, let's hear what the rest of you have to say!
I appreciate the info guys. You said about what I suspected but didn't know for sure. I have all RCBS and 1 Hornady set. I've been very pleased in so far as accuracy and ease of use. I have heard really good things about the Lee dies, especially the sizer dies. I have a complete set of LEE for a .270 Win that I havenever used, they were a gift and I haven't felt I needed them. Maybe I'll break'em out and see how they do.
Are you serious about the wobble? I have been loading for a while and haven't tried looking for a wobble. I have however had loads that I have spent a good deal of time on and never worked out any accuracy. Fortunately for me I let the dies go with the gun. This seems very interesting to me. The dies may be partly to blame. Can you give me a source for a concentricity gage? How does it work? Sorry about butting in, I know good info when I hear it! Thanks!
The RCBS Case Master is available from all of the usual reloading suppliers, if you can't find one locally then look at Midway, Lock Stock & Barrel, etc.
Yes you can see the wobble on bad ammo. Just roll it across a smooth surface and watch the tip. I suspect that a lot of 'inaccurate' guns are being fed ammo from bad dies.
Somebody else makes a concentricity tool also, very similar, I think it is CH4D but am not sure.
Gage is simple, you have a pair of 'V' blocks that the shell rests in, then a dial indicator touches the bullet. When you rotate the cartridge on the 'V' blocks the tip will wiggle a bit and the dial indicator tells you how much.
You can also get a similar product from Sinclair International, the benchrest people. The Case Master is a good tool,in that it has more uses than just concentricity measrurements, but that is the main function. I bought one when they came out years ago and it gave me the confidence to send back a set of dies to a respected manufacturer that I otherwise would not have suspected as being the problem. The dies where the problem in this particular case. The tool will show you if your case necks are correcly aligned with the casse body, as well as overall bullet runout, this is helpful in deteriminig if the problem is with your chamber (fired brass), your sizing die (resized brass) or your bullet seater or seating technique (bullet runout). If you use the tool in the above sequence while reloading it should point to the problem area if it is indeed with the ammunition. If you are a competitive shooter that loads large batches of ammunition (such as high-power rifle) you can sit down and separate your loaded rounds and reserve those with the least runout for actual match shooting. Another feature is that it has a easy way to measure thinning of the brass in the case head area so you know when to throw away brass before a case head separation occurs. You can also use it to measure neck thickness, which can be detrimental to accuracy if it is not uniform. If you shoot a number of different guns, or are a precision shooter, it's worth the $65-70 that you'll have to shell out for it.
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