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Discussion Starter #1
I’ll be looking for one more caliber 336 but if I don’t find it I’ll be looking for dies in 45/70, 35REM .32, Special and 30-30. Money will support one or the other.

I’d appreciate any input concerning preferences or things I ought to look out for in dies for any of these. I tend to complicate things a bit and did just that for my M1A/7.62 choice in dies but finally settled and feel better for the advice I solicited.

Regarding the calibers I listed, I’ve not seen any compelling arguments on die selection. I see the cowboy dies but not sure what makes them “Cowboy” or if they are preferable.

And I don’t know if one brand or the other is better suited or if the same considerations exist about full length sizing, small base, neck sizing/bushings, expander balls, or even the advisability of micrometer seating adjustment, as exist for the semi-auto service rifles.

The only real hard recommendation I have regards the 45/70. I called Hornady after reading the short case problem with the LEVERevolution and crimping. They said “solve the problem and buy Hornady dies.

Like I said, any input on ‘any or all’ the calibers listed would be appreciated.
 

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Cowboy dies have a bigger expander for cast bullets. My rule of the thumb is new RCBS or Redding for $15 in a caliber I need or $10 in a caliber I don't need is a no brainer. Add a shellholder, even more so. Never buy Lee unless it is exactly what you need. Full length is the most useful. I use small base dies the first time on 1x brass that did not come from my gun. I love inline seating dies.
 

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Let me say this, we handloaders are blessed nowadays by the quality of currently produced loading dies. I've used dies from pretty much all the makers of dies, and all have worked very well. Based on price alone, I would recommend Lee dies. They are as good as any other brand and are about the lowest priced dies on the market. Lee die sets also come with the correct shell holder for the cartridge, something you pay extra for from any other maker. Also, their factory crimp dies are terrific.

I used to think that RCBS dies were the penultimate brand, so my .45-70 and .30-30 dies were made by them. My .32 Special dies are Pacifics which were given to me for free, and I haven't used them yet. But, the .35 Remingtons are from Lee, and they work very well for me.

One other Lee product that I find makes my handloading more convenient is their Auto-Prime II. I mounted it on their least expensive loading press, and it makes large numbers of case primings very quick and easy. I also use their Auto-Prime hand priming tool as well.

I find that Lee equipment, in general, is well thought out, innovative and very user friendly. The prices are very user friendly as well.

Another Lee system that I have come to depend on is their case trimming system. Each one is fixed and designed for a specific caliber and needs no adjusting unless you need to trim to a non standard length, which they won't do. I've never had a problem with them, and they work just fine to trim all my brass to the same correct length. You buy a cutter, I'd get the ball head one as it's more comfortable to use than the standard one, which you use for trimming all brass sizes, and then buy a case length gauge and shell holder for each caliber you load for.

They also make some pretty nice neck sizing dies, which I've never found a need for. And, I don't think they offer a micrometer seating die, here I think I'd recommend a Redding.

Right now, I am using a Lee single stage press, and I just got in one of their turret presses, which I haven't been able to set up yet because I'm waiting for my new house to be finished so I can set up for handloading there. Everyone I know who has used a Lee turret press swears by it. If I did much pistol shooting any more, I'd probably get one of their progressive presses as well.

They also make a press that you can use without bench mounting it. This one would come in real handy if you wanted to do any on location loading or if you don't have a place to bench mount a press.

If it sounds like I'm sold on Lee equipment it's because I am.
 

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I have a mix of just about every company as far as dies go, and I prefer RCBS and Redding, but they're all good/decent and will load very accurate ammunition.

EDIT: It really all comes down to what you want to pay, and whose color and style of box you like best. ;D
 

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I usually, unfortunately, do not see $10-15 used die sets locally. If you do, great. I usually buy RCBS, Redding, Lee, and I have a taper crimp for a .40-65 from Lyman. Lee carbide pistol/revolver dies are about the same price new as carbon steel from the big three. No Hornadays , no reason, just not. My press is a forty year old RCBS Rockchucker. Have never loaded handgun rounds in volume and do not compete with rifles either. Just like to stir up good accurate loads then lay in a supply to last a year or so. I use a Wilson case trimmer and the Lee trimmers. Lee hand primer tool is useful as I like to "feel" the primer seating. Nothing fancy, it just works for me. If I shot competition or cowboy, I would look at the progressive loaders. No casting (yet.) I buy rifle and handgun bullets. Cast or swagged lead is cheaper. Regular cup and core jacketed bullets are not too bad. The premiums are pricey. In today' competitive marketplace, the junk is soon weeded out. Almost forgot: The case cleaner is Kitchen Aid! (I have been here too long to get fired over that [I think.]) Have fun on your search, Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the input fellas. Good considerations and I take from the $15 and $10 dollar threshold just that... set a threshold. If I don't I tend to be pretty undiciplined. I'm really hoping for that last caliber I'm wanting but truth is I need to make some forward progress towards the actual reloading for what I do have.

In reading and buying for my service.308 rifle there is a boat-load of discussion about overworking brass and on how to size for proper tension in seating, bullet runout and all that. That's where the bushings and expander choices were tough. Bumping back the shoulder and sizing to headspace and chamber-size seemed to get more attention on those threads too with a lot more preference for the dies expressed than here. Here the discussion goes straight to powder and bullet choices; not that they don't get air time over on the M-14 forum, just the dies seemed to occupy more of those threads. Just thought I better check to see if I was missing anything insofar as that went.

Again, Appreciate the input and advice. I'll take a few notes and head what's been said.
 
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