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Thread: RCBS vs. Pacific old steel sizing dies

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    RCBS vs. Pacific old steel sizing dies

    As many know, I have long been a fan of older steel sizing dies for revolvers as they resize the brass less and thusly fit the cylinder charge holes better.

    I have been using a 1957 (I) RCBS sizing die in 45 Colt for some years. I ran accross an orphan 45 Colt Pacific Durachrome sizing die for less than $10.00 and had to try it. Pacific does not date their dies, but it is as old if not a few years older youngrt than the RCBS. After cleaning both dies, I sized two identical W-W 45 Colt cases and took some measurement for comparison. Here are the numbers for what they are worth.

    RCBS

    Mouth - .4720
    Mid case - .4790
    Base - .4800
    ID Mouth - .4500

    PACIFIC

    Mouth - .4710
    Mid case - .4760
    Base - .4770
    ID Mouth - .4475

    I used and old Pacific upstroke press and it was evident by feel the RCBS die was sizing less. The principal difference was the sizing at the case mouth and the inside diamter of the sized case mouth.

    Not allot difference, but perhaps enough to give the brass longer life as the case mouth does not size and then expanded as much to receive the bullet.

    I also have a 1977 RCBS steel die and it sizes more than both the Pacific and the 1957 RCBS. At any rate, I will use continue use the RCBS. This is just a little drop of knowledge to add to our lake of common knowledge.

    BTW - I use an old RCBS expander that measure .451. This is the way they came before jacketed bullets appeared on the market.
    Last edited by Char-Gar; 08-22-2019 at 04:37 PM.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Great information! It was your previous posts on this subject that lead me to purchase older steel sizing dies for this cartridge.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    When I started reloading in 2013 I bought a number of Lee die sets. i still use some of the seating dies, and the sizing die for 9mm but for the most part I've replaced the Lee dies with old/used RCBS dies off eBay with great success. Much better quality, cheaper and better results.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    The Pacific Durachrome dies have always been my favorite...the chrome plating helps with the rust problem we have in Louisiana ...the heat and humidity state .
    I have purchased them new and used when ever I get the chance .
    Gary
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwpercle View Post
    The Pacific Durachrome dies have always been my favorite...the chrome plating helps with the rust problem we have in Louisiana ...the heat and humidity state .
    I have purchased them new and used when ever I get the chance .
    Gary
    Grew up on the far tip of the Texas Gulf Coast and we have serious heat and humidity here as well. When I started reloading in 58/59 I used CH dies because there were chrome plated. I now live just 5 miles from my old childhood home, but house and shop are air conditioned and rust in never a problem anymore.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Guess I better pay more attention to the old set of Pacific dies I was given by a friend to load his .45 Colt with! For my Ruger Blackhawk, I back my sizing die out, and size only enough to chamber. I haven't measured, just checked for clambering.
    Thanks, Tom

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    I like the old steel sizers, but when carbide rings came along, I couldn't help myself. I had to switch.
    Even though the cases may get overworked at the mouth, and not last as long.

    With only loading handgun calibers that the brass is so common and cheap, for the added convenience , I had to switch.
    Everyone can learn from their mistakes.
    However; it's less painful, and cheaper to learn from the mistakes of others.


    Old age and treachery will always overcome youth, and skill.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winger Ed. View Post
    I like the old steel sizers, but when carbide rings came along, I couldn't help myself. I had to switch.
    Even though the cases may get overworked at the mouth, and not last as long.

    With only loading handgun calibers that the brass is so common and cheap, for the added convenience , I had to switch.
    Me to , my steel sizers for pistol rounds are packed away I don't miss them.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master



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    The 45 Colt is one of the cartridges that benefits from the older steel dies. The 45 Colt was around 50 years before SAAMI. The end result is a fairly significant mismatch between chamber and case specs. The older steel dies match the taper in the chamber. SAAMI 45 Colt case specs are for a straight case yet the Chamber specs have a .0056" taper. For comparison the 44 Mag has .0017" taper in the chamber.

    Page 59 https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...sting-Copy.pdf

    I have been meaning to try the Redding Dual Carbide 45 Colt dies but I have not ordered them yet. https://www.redding-reloading.com/on...g-carbide-dies
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    That Redding die looks like it might be a good way to go.
    Thanks for the link.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    I too started looking for steel sizing dies after posting problems chambering .45 Colt in custom revolver cylinders. I don't remember all who posted but most suggested steel size dies. I've acquired steel dies for almost all my revolver cartridges. The only one that I had to start with was a .475 Linebaugh set that came with the handgun(2nd hand but unfired?). Since that was before I understood the advantages of steel dies, I bought a carbide die. It is unused but I keep it around just in case.
    John
    W.TN

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by onelight View Post
    That Redding die looks like it might be a good way to go.
    Thanks for the link.
    A great idea , but best price I found for sizer only was $104.00 each , I think what I have is working fine for my needs.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    To whom it may concern: The use of carbide sizers eliminate the need to lubricate cases, and thereby eleminate one step, save time, but also have a downside. They reduce the sized case to an undersized cylinder, instead of a tapered case as per factory rounds. If you don't think factory 45 Colt ammo is tapered, just put a micrometer on one and see what you get.

    At any rate, the undersized brass cylinders lay in the bottom of the charge holes at an angle, gravity being what it is. The result is the bullets will enter the charge hole throat at an angle and must straignten out before hitting the barrel forcing cone, resulting in degraded accuracy.

    There are several ways to remedy the situation: 1) Just neck size the 45 Colt cases so they fit the cylinder. 2) Use the expensive RCBS dual ring carbide die. Use an old steel sizing die produces a proper tapered case that will fit the cylinder charge holes much better. Obviously I choose to go with the older steel sizer, because they are much cheaper. An orphan sizing die will run on Ebay for $10.00 or less and older three die sets will run about $25.00.

    So greater brass life is not the primary reason reason I used older steel dies. Better fit of the loaded rounds in the charge holes is the primary reason.

    Now the big question: Doesn't the smaller, looser carbide sized cases produce enough accuracy? The answer is, it depends on your accuracy goals. If ultimate accuracy is concern to you, cases that fit the charge holes, are uniform in length, and weight, will be what you want. Thusly you will use cases of the same make and lot, trim to uniform length and size to fit the charge holes of you revolver.

    If a fellow wants to produce ammo as fast as they can and as much as they can, then the extra steps and concerns will just be a bother. Me? I am old school and want every round that goes in every firearm to be the best (in terms of accuracy) that I can produce. I treat every
    rounds as if it was the final shot in a National Match. Everybody gets to set their own accuracy standards, determine the best use of their time and go from there. I have no issues of any kind with the reloader who is happy with his blasting ammo.

    Addendum: the 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 44 Special and 44 Magum also benefit from the larger cases produced by older steel dies. RCBS and others produced seperate 38 Special and .357 sizing dies before they decided to produce one sizer for both. The same is true for the 44 Special and 44 magnum.
    Last edited by Char-Gar; 08-23-2019 at 01:37 PM.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Char-Gar View Post
    If you don't think factory 45 Colt ammo is tapered, just put a micrometer on one and see what you get.
    .
    OK I only have one box of factory 45 Colt. It's Winchester 45 Colt 225 GR. Slivertip Hollow Point X45CSHP2

    At the base in front of the rim it's .476" At the case mouth it's .4765" so it's 1/2 thou larger at the front than the rear so these examples have a reverse taper.

    I also measured my Winchester and Starline unfired 45 Colt brass and it is also straight within a thou.

    The mismatch is on the SAAMI chamber verse case specs. A SAAMI Colt chamber has .0056 taper in it. The SAAMI spec for the case is straight. Once fired the older steel dies match the actual chamber better since they are tapered also.

    Page 59 https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...sting-Copy.pdf

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The chamber taper issue has been corrected in the 454 Casull and the 460 S&W in the SAAMI specs.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 08-23-2019 at 05:49 PM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    I have a Clement Custom .45 Colt revolver. Cartridges loaded using a carbide die and .452 sized boolits would not chamber fully. Using the steel die and same boolits all cartridges would chamber. I only use the steel size dies on reloads intended for my custom revolvers. Not sure if I would have had a problem with the customs other than the Clement or not. It was my first and I decided to go with steel for all since then. Not a big thing since I don't shoot the volume in the customs that I do in others. Some custom smiths may chamber cylinders somewhat looser than Clement or mine is unique.
    John
    W.TN

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Char-Gar View Post
    To whom it may concern: The use of carbide sizers eliminate the need to lubricate cases, and thereby eleminate one step, save time, but also have a downside. They reduce the sized case to an undersized cylinder, instead of a tapered case as per factory rounds. If you don't think factory 45 Colt ammo is tapered, just put a micrometer on one and see what you get.
    When using either steel dies or carbide dies I use a light spray of Hornady One Shot lubricant. I only rinse my brass in hot soapy water and the left over carbon on the outside of the case is almost enough lubricant that you could get away without even using anything. Whether using steel or carbide my process is the same. I find sizing 38 Special in a steel die is easier than 9mm with the carbide die. Neither are hard, but either way the steel dies aren't really any more of a hassle than the carbide

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    They did not have Hornady one shot when I used my steel 45 colt die I used the RCBS case lube pad I haven't tried your way but the way I did it took a lot longer.
    I have used the one shot on rifle cases and with them I clean the cases after sizing.
    I don't question anything you guys are saying about the steel dies making a better quality product . But I am satisfied with the results of my carbide die for what I normally shoot.
    This is all good information , once in a while for certain guns I load the best ammo I can and I will file this away and keep my steel die handy .

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    This is interesting. I'm using steel RCBS .41 dies because I sold my carbide set during the .41 drought at my house. I still have ammo loaded with the carbide set so I can compare. Since One Shot came along lubing cases is easy&quick.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Yep on the Hornady One Shot lubricant. Some seem to have issues with it but I love it. Only time I came close to having an issue is if I don't let it dry long enough. I know I have sized well over 100K with it.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub 6string's Avatar
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    Lots of great info. Thanks to the OP Char-Gar and to M-Tecs especially for providing the valuable stats.
    I tend to agree with the idea of using steel sizers...45 Colt is a perfect example.
    I've got a bunch of dies in 45 cal (ACP and "Long" Colt). I have a steel RCBS sizer that is close to Char-Gar's, maybe a hair tighter.
    However, there can be surprises if you dig....
    I have a Lee Carbide sizer, marked 45 Colt, that I bought because it also happens to be the sizing die included with their 455 Webley die set. At least it was back in the 1980s. The carbide insert mics at just over .470". Another Lee die I have is some sort of carbide die that you're supposed to run your loaded rounds through to make sure they chamber. Not sure about that idea or even what it's called. My brother found it at a garage sale. But the carbide ring does mic to .480"!
    So, I use them together in a Dillon 650, neck sizing with the .470" die and FL sizing with the .480" die. The latter barely touches a fired case, but that's OK.

    Oh yeah, for purposes of accurate comparisons of my dies I prefer to use adjustable small hole gauges (Mitotoyo) as I can take hard comparative data directly from the deep interior of the die. When using a fired brass case, there is the risk of spring back variability, due to case hardening or annealing (if you do that), that adds a factor I prefer to eliminate.

    Jim

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