Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Any veteran gunman knows the importance of reloading his ammunition. If you’re even slightly familiar with the gun market then you know the high expenses associated with buying new ammunition or even going to a store for reloading. To reload on your own, you need to have the right equipment and tools suited for the job. Reloading dies are an integral part of the set tools you need to reload your ammunition. But not all reloading dies are the same, and you’ll need to use the best ones to avoid bad performance and jamming of weapons. After testing various die sets, we’ve found Hornady Series II Taper Crimp Die Set is the best choice overall.

In this article, we’ll see:

  • What are some of the best reloading dies available.
  • Our reasons for picking the best dies for reloading.
  • A buying guide covering everything to help you with what you should look for when choosing reloading dies.
  • How to set up reloading dies

Best Overall

Hornady 546516 DIESET 3 TAPER CRIMP 9MM LUGER/9X21 Series II DIE Set 3...

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. Hornady Series II Taper Crimp Die Set

The Hornady series II is a set of three reloading dies: one full-size resizer, one expander, and one taper cramp eater die and it is one of our favorites! Since the dies are made from Titanium Nitride, which has the same effects as Carbide, you don’t need to apply lube every time you use the die to reload. It provides convenience and high quality.

From resizing, expanding to seating, and crimping, you can perform all actions using the Series II 3 die set from Hornady.

  • Type of die: Rifle
  • No. of dies in the set: 3
  • Material of the die: Titanium Nitride dies
  • Form Factor: Made for 9mm, 10mm, and 45 auto cartridges
  • Works with all standard presses
  • The seater body is redesigned to perform the seating and taper crimping in one step
  • The set includes a regular expander die, not a powder through expander die.
It offers all the necessary dies, the resizing, the expander, and a seater with a taper crimp to give you an all-rounder experience.  

Best Affordable

LEE PRECISION 38-55 3 Die Set

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. LEE PRECISION 38-55 3 Die Set

Lee Precision offers this set of three steel dies for the .38-55 Winchester cartridges. The die set includes a full-length resizing die, a bullet seating dies, and one powder through expander die. The dies are made out of hardened steel, so you need to properly lubricate the cases before reloading.

The 3-die set from LEE precision is ideal for de-capping, sizing, powder charging, seating the bullet, and crimping all in one.

  • No. of dies in the set: 3
  • Type of die: Rifle
  • Material of the die: Hardened steel dies
  • Form Factor: Made for .38-55 Winchester cartridges
  • Includes a storage box with Slip-Fit or Latching cover
  • Includes shell holders and powder dipper
  • Can be used in most standard presses
  • You need to apply lubricant to your case each time before resizing
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Best User-Friendly

RCBS 3-Die Carbide Set (.45 Automatic (ACP))

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. RCBS .45 ACP Carbide Die Set

This RCBS carbide 3-die set is created using durable and heat-treated steel. This set comes with three different high-quality dies. Firstly, it includes an RCBS Sizer Die, and it comes with a decapping unit. To place and crimp the bullet, you will get a Seater Die. Besides that, the set contains a Bullet Seater Plug.

They are precision-drilled and reamed to similar standards as the best gun mechanisms. You do not need to size lube these three carbide dies. The whole set arrives with a taper crimp die. You will get an extra plastic storage case in the package.

  • Type of die: Handguns
  • No. of dies in the set: 3
  • Material of the die: Polished and heat-treated steel
  • Form Factor: Made for 45 auto cartridges
  • It offers a lifetime limited warranty
  • Sizing lube is not necessary for these dies
  • Works for advanced loading operations
  • Sometimes, the threads will have a loose fit and turn into tool heads.

This model is one of the best three-die sets. All the dies are made from high-quality materials and will last for a long time. Besides that, you can also use this for progressive loading operations. 

Best Die for Carbide

RCBS 32 Smith and Wesson l/H and RMG/327 Fed 3-Die Carb Set

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4. RCBS Carbide 3-Die Set

It is an excellent carbide die set from the trusted name, RCBS. The die set is meant for straight-walled cartridges. The set comes with a seater die, an expander dies, and one full-length sizer die.

From de-capping to expanding and belling the case and finally seating the bullet, the carbide 3-die set from RCBS provides you the necessary dies for all the basic reloading operations.

  • Type of die: Rifle
  • No. of dies in the set: 3
  • Material of the die: Carbide dies
  • Form Factor: Made for 30 carbine and 327 Federal Magnum cartridges
  • Comes with both taper and roll crimp depending on the cartridge size chosen
  • Affordable Carbide die set with the basic dies, and an expander die
  • The brand warranty of RCBS
  • If you are an expert reloader, you might need to buy a separate crimp die.
RCBS offers one full-length sizer, one expander, and a seater die in their Carbide die set. It is an all-rounder carbide die set made for 30 carbines.

Best Basic

RCBS FL Die Set (.243 Win)

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. RCBS Die Set

It is one of the basic reloading die sets that RCBS makes. The set includes two dies; one expander-decapping die and another bullet seating die. RCBS used hardened steel to make the dies, so you need to properly lubricate your shells before resizing.

It is a basic reloading die set that will get the job done for most operations. If you’re looking for high precision or better control, then you can go for other options.

  • Type of die: Rifle
  • No. of dies in the set: 2
  • Material of the die: Hardened Steel
  • Form Factor: Available for various calibers
  • Highly accurate unit
  • Generally, works in presses from all brands
  • Comes for various caliber rifles
  • Does not come with a shell holder
The RCBS die set the two basic dies, one full-length resizing die, and a seater die. The dies are made out of hardened steel and are available for various form factors.

Best Full-Length Die Set

RCBS Comp 25-06 FL Die Set

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6. RCBS Comp 25-06 FL Die Set

The RCBS Comp 25-06 FL Die Set will make it easy to reload the used bullet cartridge casings. The dies are made from premium quality polished and heat-treated steel. It is the best full-length die set.

This 2-die set comes with a full-length Sizer Die, and it includes an expander-decapping unit. You can use it to remove the spent primer and to broaden the case mouth. There are vent holes to prevent case damage, which might be the result of trapped air or excess lube. The seater die contains a bullet seater plug. Plus, it includes a built-in roll or taper crimp, which is suitable for the unique cartridge.

  • Type of die: Rifles
  • No. of dies in the set: 2
  • Material of the die: Polished and heat-treated steel
  • Form Factor: Available for numerous calibers
  • Reloads with more accuracy and precision
  • Made from durable and high-quality materials
  • The dies will work for a long time
  • Not the best set for progressive reloading process
  • You need to buy the shell holders separately

If you are looking for the best full-length 2-die set, you can choose this model without having a second thought. The dies have robust construction, and you do not have to be concerned about their readability. 

Best Variety

Hornady Match Grade 2 Die Set, 300 PRC (.308) (544349) - Caliber Specific...

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7. Hornady Match Grade New Dimension Bushing 2-Die Set 

The Match Grade Bushing 2 die set offers you the two basic dies: a bullet seating die and a full-length resizer die. The bushing dies are made for reliability and delivering the maximum performance out of the firearm. The dies have interchangeable neck sizing bushings to offer you excellent accuracy.

Additionally, the dies come in a plastic storage box with two secure lock rings. If you’re looking for a reliable and high quality reloading bushing die set that can perform the basic functions, then you can easily go for this one!

  • Type of die: Rifle
  • No. of dies in the set: 2
  • Material of the die: Hardened Steel die
  • Form Factor: available for various caliber ammo
  • The neck sizing bushing is self-centering and durable to tolerate strict forces.
  • It includes a micrometer seating stem
  • Usable in most standard presses
  • The shell holders are not included and need to be bought separately.
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Best Four-die Set

Lee Preciesion 90965 Lee Precision, Deluxe 4 Die Carbide Set, .40 Smith &...

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8. Lee Deluxe Carbide 4-Die Set

Here is one of the highly recommended four die sets. It offers excellent added control over the reloading procedure. The fourth die can crimp the bullet present inside the case more strongly than any regular seating dies.

In this four-die set, you will get a full-length carbide sizing die equipped with a decapping unit. The second one is powder through an expanding die, and it has a hex nut and a round hole at the top. The bullet seating die is the third one, and it has a knurled top. Lastly, the fourth die is the exclusive carbide factory crimp die.

  • Type of die: Rifle
  • No. of dies in the set: 4
  • Material of the die: Hardened steel dies
  • Form Factor: Made for 10mm Auto ammo
  • Crimp die provides ease of mind
  • Best value for money
  • A few users reported that the markings on the dies are confusing and not accurate.

This Lee deluxe handgun 4-die set is an incredible set of reloading dies. These four dies have different features, and they can reload precise ammunition after every use. You can buy them at a reasonable price. 

Best for Whelen Cartridges

RCBS 30701 Series A Full Length Die Set, 35 Whelen

Last update on 2021-09-24 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

9. RCBS 30701 Full-Length Die Set 

The RCBS 30701 2 die set is another offering from RCBS. With a name like RCBS, you know you’re getting a high-quality product. The set includes one bullet seating die, and another full-length resizer die. The dies are made from Hardened steel, so you need to apply lubricant on the case for proper operation.

It is an excellent offering from RCBS for basic reloading operations. If you need additional control, you can buy neck sizing, and crimp dies separately.

  • Type of die: Rifle
  • No. of dies in the set: 2
  • Material of the die: Hardened Steel
  • Form Factor: Made for 35 Whelen cartridges
  • Vent holes for trapped air or primer to escape preventing case damage
  • Works in all the standard presses
  • Does not come with shell holders
The offering from RCBS comes with two basic dies, one resizer and one seter meant to be used for Whelen cartridges. The dies are made from hardened steel.

Buying Guide

There is a lot to unload when it comes to choosing the best reloading dies for your guns. From the die’s material to the Caliber to different usages, dies can be of various types. In this part of the article, we will tell you everything about how to shortlist the best reloading dies.

How to choose reloading dies?

When buying a set of reloading dies, many factors like the dies’ quality, the proper use case, and the manufacturer can be crucial factors impacting your decision. If you’re just getting started with reloading, we recommend buying a reloading die set rather than individual dies. Many dies sets offer two to four dies from different companies and are offered at various price points.

Choosing the best reloading die sets for you is crucial for your firearms’ impeccable performance.

Types of reloading dies

Generally, there are five different dies available in various die sets that you need to know. The die set selection will depend on whether you need all the five dies or just the basic two dies to resize and seat the cartridge bullet.

Resizing Die 

It is one-half of the most basic die sets that comprise a resizing die and seating die. The reloading process commences with this die. The shape of the die depends on your chosen Caliber. The resizing die’s basic function is to resize the used cartridge into its original dimensions and push out the used primer with its de-capping pin.

Bullet Seating die

It is another essential die that comes in the most basic die sets. It performs the crucial function of seating the bullet inside the cartridge. The die’s core holds the cartridge in place, aligns the bullet, and finally puts the bullet in the cartridge with a stroke. No matter which dies sets you buy, you can expect the bullet seating die inside it.

Case trimming die

 The case trimming die is an optional die you can add to your die set. The die gives you some additional control over your entire reloading operation. The case of the cartridge gets elongated with prolonged use. The case needs to be trimmed to regain its original shape. The case trimming die performs the trimming operation to resize the case effortlessly.

Expander die

The Expander die is also an additional die included in some four to five die sets. For a single-stage press, you don’t need this die. The die sees use in progressive presses where it funnels the powder into the case. If you’re working with an automatic press, you might consider buying an expander die.

Factory Crimp Die

If you’re looking at a three-die set, chances are the third die is the factory crimp die. For a two-die set, you need to buy the crimp die separately. The crimping die provides additional control of the seating process. It crimps the seated bullet for increased effectiveness and precision.

The material used in making the die

Dies are made from a lot of materials. The material quality directly translates to the durability and overall quality of the ammunition. The die’s material is an important factor to look out for when considering buying a reloading die. Primarily there are two types of materials used to make reloading dies, hardened steel and Tungsten Carbides. If you’re using a steel die, you need to properly lubricate your shells before the resizing operation. It requires a huge amount of force. (1, 2)

On the other hand, the Carbide dies being slicker and harder than steel, do not require you to lubricate the shells before you can resize them. The dies’ material also drives their prices, with the steel dies being cheaper than Carbide dies.

 

Who makes the best reloading dies?

If you want your first reloading experience to go smoothly, you should consider the market’s well-known brands. Well-known brands like Lee Precision, RCBS, Lyman, etc. offer an excellent customer experience with proper communication and great quality products. Even if it costs you slightly more, go for well-known brands.

Affordability

Budget is always a crucial factor when buying any product. The selection of the die set highly depends on your reloading needs. If you’re just reloading to save money and using the basic reloading dies, going for an expensive five die set is practical. But suppose you’re using the dies in a business setup, running a reloading business. In that case, you can invest in some expensive die sets, with specialized dies covering all your potential reloading needs.

How to set up reloading dies

Quite a few people face a problem with reloading process. So, we offer you some basic instructions on setting up your reloading dies (resizing and seating).

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RCBS, Lyman, Redding

  • The lock nut present at the top needs to be loosened
  • Adjust the de-capping pin in either direction by turning the screw
  • Re-tighten the nut
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Lee Precision dies

  • Attach the resizing die to your press
  • Use a ¾ and ½ inch box wrench to loosen the collet of the de-capping rod by placing the ¾ inch wrench on the body and the ½ inch wrench on the rod collet.
  • While the collet is loose, adjust the de-capping pin
  • Making sure to retain the adjusted length of the pin, tighten the collet, so it doesn’t slip during a resizing operation
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Setting up the resizing dies on your press

  • Start with placing the proper shell holder that comes with your die set.
  • The ram needs to be raised all the way to the top.
  • On your die’s body, you will find a lock ring; loosen it.
  • Screw-in the die in the press till you feel it touching the top of the shell holder.
  • Lower the ram and screw the die a little more to properly fix it into the press
  • Lower the ram once again and lock the ring till it touches the top of your press
  • Tighten the screw present in the lock ring to fine-tune your adjustments
  • Test your setup before starting the operation by raising the ram. Ensure the shell holder is touching the bottom of the die before the press’s handle is down. If it touches, you should be able to lower the handle further to perform the camming action.
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Setting up a seating die on your press

  • Start just like the resizing die by placing the proper shell holder
  • Place a new or reshaped case inside the shell holder
  • The lever needs to be raised up
  • Screw-in the die on your press till you feel it touching the shell holder
  • Slightly loosen the die and secure the lock ring
  • Adjust the seater plug by loosening the locknut enough to make sure you don’t seat your first bullet too deep in the shell
  • Put a ready case with the bullet inside the shell holder, raising the lever
  • Check if you got the right length for your calipers.
  • Alternatively, adjust the seater plug and check the length of your calipers to get the desired you want, and finally tightly secure the lockring.

Conclusion

From many offerings, we’ve found the Hornady Series II Taper Crimp Die Set is the best overall. The die set is made out of Titanium Nitride, which doesn’t need much external lubrication. The seater comes with a taper crimping function. The company also makes the dies for all the popular form factors, 9mm, 10mm, 45 auto cartridges.

That said, it is not the ultimate reloading die set, and depending on your needs, you might find some other reloading dies the best for you. All the reloading die sets provided on the list are best in what they do and can be the ones you need.

 

References

(1) hardened steel – https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/materials-science/hardened-steel
(2) Tungsten Carbides – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LjdVVjY-Y4