Kicking off this week with a “tid-bit” of some of the very many different brands of precision sizing dies we like to use over here at the “Wilde Side Of Precision.” Nothing scientific, merely observations and long term use review of these precision sizing dies. We also discuss the pros and cons of each. If you are expecting to read about measurements and brass runout or any other technical stuff, I will save you the read and say that this is not about that. What this is about, is showing what you get for your money, and why we believe that there are some dies that are hands down, significantly better than others.
Generally we would save the best for last. But for this, Were going to start off with our favorite precision sizing dies. L.E. Wilson have been proven to be the highest quality and consistent dies. Thus, they’re our number one favorite brand for dies. Local to Washington State, L.E. Wilson sizing dies do not come with an expander mandrel. Some people dislike that fact because it forces you to have to use a separate expanding mandrel die and an additional step to reloading precision rifle ammo. There are a few take-aways from that. First, depending on what you use your rifle for, whether it be competition, field use, tactical applications, or plinking, the additional step might not be worth incorporating into your reloading process. For us, we generally break that down into a separate step anyways. Second, depending on the type of action you use, such as a control-feed, you tend to have very limited damage to the case-mouth particularly the intertial ejectors such as the ARC nucleus or Bighorn brand actions. Third, the additional step increases the longevity of the dies decapping rod which we will get into later. HOW TO MAKE DENSITY ALTITUDE DATA CARDS L.E.WILSON MATCH DIES
The machine work on these dies is top notch. They thread together like butter. Every bit of the fit-and-finish is top-notch. Included with the die is a separate decapping rod and these also require neck bushings to control the proper neck tension. These dies are not for beginners. These require a decent amount of experience to use regarding the proper neck bushing spec and setup, but other than that, they are super easy to use. Getting a proper size and uniformity is super easy and and these will last a really long time serving you as your favorite die once you have it setup. These dies generally have to be ordered through Wilson or one of their vendors. They will not be available in retail stores generally. These run for about $120.00 USD for the sizer die only. This is a bargain in itself! Applied Ballistics
In the picture above, you can see a full die blown apart to help you understand the whole die. What’s included when you purchase one, is the die body, decapping rod and a spare rod. You will need to spec a neck size bushing per the brass and caliber selection you run for desired neck size. In the picture above, this die is using a Redding titanium nitride neck bushing. All dies utilize the same .5” neck bushings unless its a large-bore caliber which are standardized as well. REDDING MATCH PRECISION SIZING DIES
Redding is another top choice for us. They offer match-grade dies that do not break the bank. Now compared to the Wilson brand dies, they are definitely not as “Premium,” but all together they get the job done and are a “go-to” for us. They also offer custom-spec dies which you can send in a dummy round or a blueprint for what you need so you do not need a neck size bushing. I will say, that they come with a really awesome case for the dies. These occasionally can be found in retail stores but usually require being ordered through Redding directly or one of their many vendors. These run for about $265.00 USD and are sold as a set with the competition seater. The seater has an included micrometer which is really nice.
Above is a blown apart die showing you how they are assembled. WHIDDEN MATCH PRECISION SIZING DIES
Whidden offers another premium option for us, but are in fact the most expensive of the bunch. We love these dies, but they come at a cost. They also have more components involved so they take a bit of setup time. All together, we have had superb results from running these dies and really like the options they give you when ordering. The accuracy we have seen from these dies is top notch. We have also had very good luck with longevity of these and rarely had issues.
You can see above that the Whidden die is pretty simple but does use locking nuts to secure the stem. They come with replacement stems and needles for decapping rod. These dies generally have to be ordered through Whidden directly. They will not be available at a local retail store. These dies run roughly $212.00 USD for a custom spec match sizer by itself. HORNADY CUSTOM GRADE DIES
One really good option when you are in a pinch, is the “Custom-Grade” Hornady brand dies. They are by far the cheapest of all these dies. They do not offer bushing dies for this particular spec die. These are one-size-fits-all. Neck tension is controlled based upon Hornady’s specs. For a beginner reloader, these will be a staple to your die collection. For most of the Hornady brand cases, these will serve you well and get you out there shooting in no time. If you are looking for top-notch match ammo, these might not be what you want for the lack of sizing control. These dies can be ordered on AMAZON or any local retail store. These dies run about $50.00 USD roughly.
You can see above that these dies are very simple and also include an expanding mandrel. This means that, your decap, size and neck expansion are all in one stroke of the press. For speed, these are the fastest of them all. This also means you will be working the brass necks every time you size your brass. HORNADY MATCH GRADE PRECISION SIZING DIES
The “Match Grade” Hornady dies have served us well in the past but we have moved away from these. They use a rod that is captured by a set of “c” clips that have a tendency to wear out after time. Thus we choose to not use these if we do not have to. They are in fact bushing dies though so you can control the neck tension specs you want. All together for the money, they are not bad, but leave a lot to be desired.
You can see above that there are expander balls for the decapping rod on these dies and you should be able to see the clips that capture the rod. Those tend to wear out as previously stated. All together, not bad. But there are better die options out there. These can be ordered through AMAZON and occasionally through retail stores. Usually these have to be ordered through one of their many vendors. These dies run about $200.00 USD a set and include the seater.
When getting into reloading, there is so much to digest. Looking back, I wish I had someone point me in the right direction with this stuff because it would have saved me a lot of heartache, money, and time. Everything above is merely opinions. Some folks dislike some of the products we talk about here and rightfully so. They may have had bad experiences with anything we cover. But with that, I can say that a solid majority of the items we talk about here have been heavily used and we stand behind our opinions. Feel free to message us and leave us feedback on our topics we cover.
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