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Thread: Would I see an accuracy difference between pistol ammo dies?

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Would I see an accuracy difference between pistol ammo dies?

    Would something like the Redding Competition die sets produce more consistent (and therefore more accurate) ammunition than Dillon, RCBS, LEE etc?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Not unless you use a machine rest.
    Often the best results come from a composite die set using individual dies of different brands selected to perform each operation the best.
    Sometimes an advanced handloader will modify one or more dies to give the best results.
    EDG

  3. #3
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    Depends, “pistol” means different things.

    You could be talking about anything from a derringer to an XP-100.

    One you would be lucky to shoot 3” 5 shot groups at 10 yards with and the other you could shoot one hole groups with at 100 yards with.

    Could you take a 3” group derringer with ammunition loaded with crummy dies an make it shoot one hole? Not likely.

    What are you looking for? Most all “normal” pistol accuracy is effected most by the person and aiming device.

  4. #4
    I don't think that my pistols know the difference between the different die sets that I use. But my rifles sure do. Then again it is probably just the fact that it is me pulling the trigger.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
    What are you looking for? Most all “normal” pistol accuracy is effected most by the person and aiming device.
    Say, a combat pistol like a 1911 or CZ with handfit match barrel and bushing

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Possibly. A seating die that enables the bullet to start and seat straight would be an advantage. As would an expander die with an expander shank fitted for the OD of the projectile. I think the thought experiment begins with understanding the dimensions of the ammo, and seeking dies that come closest. EDG stated correctly that it might be a combo of die makes.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    It takes a VERY accurate gun and shooter to see accuracy differences in dies. Even then, powder, powder charge, and bullet are more significant.
    The only die that has given me accuracy improvement has been using a Redding Profile crimp die rather than any other roll crimp die.
    Other improvements for lead bullets is ensuring that the expander die plug expands (NOT case mouth flare, but case ID expansion) such that the bullet is not swaged down in diameter yet holds the bullet tight. Measure case ID after expansion and get a plug diameter that leaves the case ID 0.002-0.001” less than bullet OD.
    The other improvement I have seen are seating plugs that don’t contact the bullet meplat (nose) and contacts as low down the ogive as possible. This requires a custom seating plug.
    Beyond that, I have seen no improvements between different dies.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I'm leaning towards the sizing die making a difference. Just this week I took some measurements on my Lyman carbide sizing die in my .357 and found that the case was being sized down to .372-.373". I did this because my empties were coming out rather sooty the full length of the case and the accuracy of the gun with just about all powder/bullet combinations was marginal and it was doing it with all loads. The chamber was checked with pin guages and it was right on the money. I then dug out a new, never used Redding die and sized several cases and they were coming out at .376-.377. SAAMI specs on the chamber are .379. Too much over-sizing is suspected. I then loaded up ten different loads of five rounds each from both dies. I will be running an A vs. B comparison this week to see if it makes a difference. Shooting a handgun cartridge to find this out does require a fairly accurate gun and a pretty decent shooter shooting it. I spend a lot of time shooting groups and keeping records and I think I'm capable of seeing if there is any difference. I'll find out soon. I can post the results if anyone is interested. I usually just do these things for my own benefit.....retired and too much free time on my hands.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    Say, a combat pistol like a 1911 or CZ with handfit match barrel and bushing
    What distance are you shooting them at?

    What is your group size at that distance with a good factory JHP load?

  10. #10
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    Looks like I'm the 10th responder to your query, and I agree wholeheartedly with ALL prior comments made! To add to the confusion (? ?) I'll add another consideration: I personally know of a fellow who uses a hand-tool to remove spent primer, and a plier-type tool to insert a new one. He uses a cut-down .38 S&W case as a powder measure, volumetrically determining powder amount by simply filling the .38 S&W case and using a paper card to level it off. He inserts the new cast bullet with his fingers, then using an antique hand press to seat and crimp it in. This for .44 Special loading, and I'm almost embarrassed to say his scores are well above Marksman! Others, pin tumble their brass, uniform size the flashhole, trim its length, anneal, and bevel edge. Then an "M" die is used after full length sizing; a super-precision powder measure to insert powder after priming with, say, a Holland precision primer seater. The bullet is seated with a Redding precision seater, and lastly, as a separate step, this bullet is taper, roll, or "whatever" crimped. On the crimping subject, too, some bullets do not come with crimps, and a tool is used to insert a crimp in bullet before they're installed as well. \Hey -- I could go on and on re sorting brass by manufacturer and lot number; sorting it by its volume capacity; doing similar re weight and profile on the bullets; etc., etc, etc.
    What I'm attempting to add is that there are so many, many variables which affect the path the bullet will take from chamber to target very much in addition to brand and genre of the dieset. I believe all dies are manufactured to SAAMI specs, and -- like pretty much everything manufactured -- there is a quality control "plus or minus ??th" criteria to determine which product gets to be shipped to distributer for eventual sale.
    I personally like the Redding brand -- but, I have Lee, Lyman, Pacific, RCBS, and several other brands -- none of which make me a "better shot"... Assuming the dieset is within the SAAMI specs -- I'd again suggest the variables I mentioned might have a more profound affect than just the dieset...
    geo

  11. #11
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    With a NOE neck sizing plug (similar to an M die in function) that expands the neck to match a lead bullets larger diameter I think helps with accuracy. I can feel the difference in how consistent seating pressure is. Each bullet having the same "grip" by the neck is good, having the lead bullet not squeezed to undersized by the case neck makes enough difference to matter.

    Sizing the bullet, lot of cast lead bullets I can shoot "as cast" with some tumble lube or powder coat. I seem to get the best results with sized and powder coated bullets however sized and tumble lubed also perform better. In .38 to .357 in short barrel or longer barrel I gain enough by sizing case so it doesn't smash a bullet that I have sized to fit the gun to make the extra work worth it.

    Not a huge difference mind you, but noticeable and consistent difference. So I think size matters
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master am44mag's Avatar
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    For all intents and purposes, no. Your 1911 or your old S&W 27 aren't going to know the difference, ESPECIALLY if you aren't shooting at ranges that would let you see those differences.

    If you have a custom built precision handgun meant for 100 yard shots, then sure. You might see a bit of a difference. Probably not much though. Your skill is going to be FAR more important than the dies you use, as will the components you use and the ways in which you use them as previously mentioned.
    ______________________________________________
    Aaron

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    I don't think any die brand would always be the best across the board. I think that the consistency of the brass would make as much difference as the dies. In 45 ACP Remington brass is considered thinner walled and TZZ thick walled. Using the same dies without adjustment you would end up with different crimp pressure. How much that affects accuracy is debateable.
    As others have already said two important factors is that the neck is sized so that the bullet is not reduced in diameter when it is seated. The other is the seating stem guides the boolit straight into the case. I modified my seating stem to contact the 200 gn. SWC around the entire shoulder and it does not touch the nose.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    To answer your question, unless your present dies *has problems* I doubt you could see an improvement in accuracy.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by wv109323 View Post
    To answer your question, unless your present dies *has problems* I doubt you could see an improvement in accuracy.
    I'm sure that's the answer

    I've just been reloading about 9 months and really enjoy the tinkering aspect. I can definitely see a measurable difference in accuracy between different bullets and powders, but I'm sure that's low lying fruit. So, just wondering what I might play with next.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    Since you like to tinker, you could make full match grade ammunition.
    Go the whole route with weighing cases as well as individual charges and bullets. Measure the runout on the loaded rounds to make sure every bullet is perfectly aligned.
    Trim all cases to exactly the same length. Make sure all brass is the same headstamp. Use match grade primers and the closest to match grade bullets/boolits you can buy or make.
    This takes a large amount of time, patience, and attention to detail. The bad part is you may never see any significant increase in accuracy.

  17. #17
    Boolit Bub EddieZoom's Avatar
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    Interesting topic. I don't have any wisdom to add especially since the other folks have a lot more experience than I do. Listen to them.

    I would guess for most people, ultimate handgun reload accuracy is probably not put to the test. Once a load is developed that's "good" for a given purpose then it's time to move on to the next.

    I would be willing to bet more accuracy could be squeezed out of paying more attention to pistol brass (sorting by headstamp for example) than changing up dies. A lot of people (myself included) fret and fuss over powder/primer/bullets/COL but think nothing of loading all that into a random piece of brass picked up off the ground

  18. #18
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I can definitely see a measurable difference in accuracy between different bullets and powders,]
    How about quantifying what we are talking about?

    With JHP's Are you shooting 1” 5 shot groups at 25 yards or are we talking about 3” 5 shot groups at 5 yards with cast bullets and 2” groups with JHP’s?

    One could be the limit of the firearm or load, the other is more likely due to the shooter.

    To get measurably better results the first thing one must do is establish a base line, what is it for you? Until you do this you are just left with qualitative words that don’t mean much. Like better, improved, accurate, more, etc, all of which mean different things to different people.

    After the shooter and firearm, the projectile generally has the largest effect on accuracy. Why I suggested trying out a decent factory JHP, so you can set a base line for the shooter and firearm you have with a decent bullet. At that point you (or at least we) will have a better idea where improvements can be made.

    I could tell you to uniform and debur flash holes but it would be a waste of time if you are shooting 6” groups at 25 yards.
    Last edited by jmorris; 06-15-2018 at 07:57 AM.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Yes if your skills and pistol are up to it.

    Dave C.
    Distinguished, Master,2600 club, President 100 badge holder.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    With 37 years of Bullseye pistol reloading for accurate loads I will try to sum up what is needed for accurate loads for the 45 ACP.
    Brass - There is no need to sort brass by headstamp for high quality brass . The quality of brass usually follows the price of the ammo. Cheap ammo equals low quality brass. I do not load S&B,Heaters and such. Also R-P brass is thin walledo so I do not use it. There is no accuracy gain in trimming brass besides when it is shot the brass will shorten.
    Primers- l use Winchester. They are a little hotter than others. The Marine load used Winchester so no need to experiment there.
    Powders- There are several powders that excellent in the 45 ACP. Bullseye,WW231,Clays,Solo 1000,Red Dot, VV310,700X are a few. Loads that propell the 200 gn.SWC to around 775 fps are used.
    Bullets- A quality cast 200 SWC is most popular. The Nobler 185 HP is top of the line. Lead hardness is not an issue in the 45. Swagged bullets are excellent at target velocities. The flat base of a cast bullet is mandatory for accuracy. The bullet can not be deformed by an undersized neck of the brass or misalignment during seating. The bullet is seated so that 1/32 inch of the shoulder extends out of the case mouth. OAL will vary because of the nose profile and length.
    Crimp- A taper crimp of .470 is needed for reliable feeding.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check