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3MTA3

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I have two new rifles on order in cartridges I haven't owned before - 6.5 Manbun and 280 AI. Looking at reloading dies and going through a bunch of videos at Johnny's Reloading Bench (I really dig his insights and methodical approach) I'm surprised that he's finding that Lee dies are providing the best concentricity and results in his setup. It's surprising because he is getting better results with them compared to what I normally think of as high end dies like Redding.

I've always passed over Lee in favor of other options mainly due to their lower price as an indicator of perceived lower quality. Now, I'm starting to think they may be the Rodney Dangerfield of reloading dies.

Wondering what the thoughts of others about Lee, especially people who have switched to and from them for other manufacturers. For both cartridges I'm looking for accuracy as my top priority.
 
Lee dies work great.
Some shortcomings are:
  • The decapper pin sucks. If you don't reef down on the collet mandrel enough, the pin will migrate back up into the die.
  • The seater stem has a coarse adjustment compared to other brands.
  • Their O-ring locking rings are the first thing I take off and replace.
Some positives:
  • The Collet Neck sizer and Factory Crimp Dies are both simple and effective designs
  • They tend to be less expensive than other brands.
 
I've used some Lee dies with mixed results. Started with a 38 Super Lee set but found it was not sizing down enough to properly hold bullets. An RCBS die fixed this immediately. Still use some of their factory crimp dies. Really like them for 30-30.
 

ma96782

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My experience with Lee dies has been over all positive enough.

The GOOD.
Price point and the die set comes with some free extras.
The dies themselves work well. I've reloaded lots of ammo with them.
I've broken far less decappers vs with my RCBS style of decappers.

The BAD.
The lock ring. IMHO.....dump the O ring and just add a real lock screw to the ring.

Of course, things might have changed since I last bought a set. So, buyer beware.

Aloha, Mark
 

Pops1911

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Never had any issues with LEE dies. Still run them on my 9mm reloads. With LEE low price does not automatically mean low quality IMHO.
Just bought a new set for the -06 reloading. Make sure you clean them before use and use a good lube if they are not the carbide variety.
 

gmerkt

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I've had mostly good results from Lee dies, I still have a couple of sets remaining in my now limited selection.

Started with a 38 Super Lee set but found it was not sizing down enough to properly hold bullets. An RCBS die fixed this immediately.
When I was loading .38 Super, I found that brass thickness varied a lot between brands. I never tried Lee dies in .38 Super, but I had a set of Lyman, a set of RCBS and a set of Hornady. The brand of brass determined what set I'd use.
 

3MTA3

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I have RCBS, Hornady and Lee dies, the Lee's work great in my experience... For decapping, I switched to Squirrel Daddy pins.
Depending on the level of accuracy you are trying to attain, perhaps benchrest rifle, a Forster micrometer style die may fit your needs.
I'm decapping as a separate step using a Dillon universal decapping die, but good to know about the Squirrel Daddy pins. Cool name - now I gotta check them out!

I'm going to look into the primer installers as well since I also want to do that as a separate step. I'm more interested in consistency than anything else.

Not quite a benchrest rifle but a Savage 110 Tactical, which has a fine reputation for long range accuracy, but is more a compromise between target and hunting. I want to push it out to 1,000 or so yards. I'm using it specifically to work out the mechanics of LR shooting, then will decide the next step, if there is one.

The 280 AI is primarily a hunting rifle , Savage Timberline, I can push to longer ranges. I still want accuracy, but with task appropriate bullets.

With both, after the first firing I will neck size, so long as I don't get feeding problems.
 

3MTA3

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I use a mixture of Lee, RCBS and other dies; I'm a reasonably good shot and to be honest, I don't think my skills are enough to tell the real difference. A lot of that is the limited time I have to really dial in my loads, particularly for my long range rifles.
That's a great and very valid point. I'm mostly looking to remove anything equipment related as a factor, so I have no doubts that my performance is due to anything but my skill or lack thereof.
 
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I have 2 lee dies I'm not impressed with, and they're specifically full length sizing dies. If I don't get the adjustment just right, they do weird stuff to my shoulders and end up giving me a sharp, angled shoulder instead of a smooth one like you'd find on factory brass. The seating, expanding, neck sizing and other full length dies have been issue free. Handy that they come with a little load data, too
 
That's a great and very valid point. I'm mostly looking to remove anything equipment related as a factor, so I have no doubts that my performance is due to anything but my skill or lack thereof.
That’s certainly the objective.

I liked the way David Tubb explained brass quality/prep for competition in an article from a couple of decades ago, and I think it applies to ammunition in general. Benchrest shooters require a handful of near perfect cases; highpower shooters need several hundred very good cases and regular, disciplined practice. Work on you fitness and skills first, then fight for the last drop of reloading accuracy.
 

GWS

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Lee’s dies are the best thing they make.
I started out with Lee dies on a Lee turret press making tons of .45 ACP and .44 Magnum ammo. I still use Lee dies when I’m monkeying around working up a load for a new caliber.
They’re the real deal.
 
I’ve been using Lee dies since the mid 80’s without an issue. Started with .380, 9mm and .38 Special back then, all carbide dies. Over the years added .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt and more recently rifle dies in .223/5.56 and .300 Blackout. Once dialed in, they produce consistent quality ammo. I’ve loaded thousands and thousands of trouble free rounds. Don’t let the price scare you away, probably the best items Lee makes besides their bullet molds…

Just one ole guys opinion.
 

po18guy

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They have developed new lock rings. Dunno if they are included or (I suspect), optional.

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