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Thread: Reloading die's Lee vs Redding

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Reloading die's Lee vs Redding

    I’ve had my head stuck in Wilson hand seaters and neck sizing dies for the past 20 years so I apologize for the ignorance on this topic.

    The question seems simple but it's probably more complicated than I understand. As I moved toward handgun cartridges (specificly 9mm and 45 LF) I made the routine search for hand loading dies. And a few questions popped up.

    Could someone tell me the difference in quality between these two sets of dies. One if from Lee and one is from Redding

    Package 1 from Lee = $50.33
    Lee 9mm Luger Deluxe Carbide 4 Die Set Includes:
    • Carbide Sizing Die
    • Bullet Seat and Feed Die
    • Powder Thru Expanding Die
    • Factory Crimp Die

    Package 2 from Redding = Total $150.93
    Redding Titanium Carbide 3 Die set = $119.65
    • Titanium Carbide Sizing Die
    • Bullet Seating Die with Built-In Crimp
    • Expander Die
    Redding Taper Crimp Dies = $31.28
    • Taper crimp die

    The same question is with the 45LC but that’s a bit more complicated.

    I have dies from all manufacturers but this is the first time I have the option of lubing cases or not lubing cases. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Bill.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Redding's dies are works of art. Lee's dies load just ammo just as good in my experience. I use both brands.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    They both work well for shooting soda pop cans in the berms.

    If you're shooting for money, you'll probably want the Reddings.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    None of those are hand loading dies, if that is what you are looking for. Redding doesn't make any to my knowledge. Lee makes the following kit for 45 colt, and I would sure hope they have 9mm luger as well. https://www.amazon.com/LEE-PRECISION.../dp/B00162THL4

    I usually do not need lube with straight wall cartridges, as their dies usually size with a carbide insert. It has been years since I broke out my Lee hand loading kit.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    The factory crimp die in Lee 4 die set will post size over size bullets I like it and use for all my auto pistol loads . Look at the description of how they work on the Lee sight they are different than most other brands.
    But if you don't want to post size that buy the Lee 3 die set and the style crimp die you want. My revolver Lee dies don't post size on any of the bullets I load.
    The Lee neck expanding die is also a powder charging die that works with Lee Powder dispensers or you can pour a charge through the top if you measure powder on a bench measure or use dippers.
    Somethings that may influence your choice are the type press and process you prefer RCBS and Lyman die prices will fall between the two you listed. I have Lyman Redding Rcbs but almost all my hand gun ammo is loaded on Lee dies now I just Like many of the features and the price. All of them are good dies but all have advantages and disadvantages.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Redding dies are finished better than Lee dies, inside and out. Both brands will generally load serviceable ammo. Lee products are made to a lower price point, and their fit and finish - and the materials that they are made from - reflect that.

    I've probably made this statement before, but I will repeat it. Lee has some really good, innovative ideas. The transition from the drawing board to execution sometimes leaves much to be desired in the end product. And yes, I do own and use some Lee products. I generally do not recommend them to others. YMMV.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    BigAlofPa.'s Avatar
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    I use Lee, Lyman and RCBS dies. Been happy with them all.
    One round at a time.
    Member of Valley Gun & Country Club. Elysburg Pa.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I have to say that I mostly use Lee dies as well, for over 40 years. I have also used Lee presses for just as long. And, yes, loading pistol cartridges with carbide dies is wonderful. No case lube ever needed. The taper crimp dies work well too. On a progressive the extra crimp station is not a big deal and doesn't slow up the process at all. For rifles I use the collet neck sizing dies for the same reason.

    If I were to get serious about bench rest then I'd invest in stuff like Wilson's. For everything else I use Lee.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have 45 Colt dies made by Redding and RCBS.
    My Redding dies are: 1) Old style steel that requires cartridge cases to be lubed for sizing.
    2) The new Redding Dual Ring carbide sizing die. In the instructions that came with the Dull Ring die Redding recommends using a sizing lube on the cases. I have used this die on un-lubed cases it just takes a harder push on the press handle. If I lube the cases (Imperial Sizing Wax smeared on a foam lube pad) the effort to size is noticeably reduced.
    But there is no time saved over the old style steel dies if your lubing cases.

    My RCBS 45 Colt sizing die works as good as the Redding steel die. I only use the FL sizer die.

    When it comes to bullet seating I am more picky I have retro-fitted the Redding standard screw bullet seating stem with their New micrometer head seating stem it, works super.

    I use micrometer head bullet seating dies all the calibers I reload.

    The first carbide die set I bought was a Lyman for 38spl/357mag. It has a single carbide ring sizing die. Never again, finished cartridges looked like wasp waisted coke bottles.

    I have some LEE die sets like everyone else, that’s what you start with but those caliber die set get augmented with other dies like mandrill neck sizers and micrometer head bullet seaters.
    Last edited by greenjoytj; 07-06-2020 at 09:40 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I would never use Lee reloading dies when Redding dies are available
    I try and use Redding exclusively sometimes I can't for whatever reason
    but given a choice I will always pick Redding
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    In 60yrs I've found quality matters more in just about every type of Reloading Equipment.

    Lee is better then nothing, and if that's all you can afford.

    I'd buy a steel Redding set with a Profile Crimp die over Lee any day of the Week.

    As others have said, Lee has some very innovative ideas.
    Unfortunately the CHEAP Materials & execu tion of those Ideas really negates any worthwhile use of same.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    In 60yrs I've found quality matters more in just about every type of Reloading Equipment.

    Lee is better then nothing, and if that's all you can afford.

    I'd buy a steel Redding set with a Profile Crimp die over Lee any day of the Week.

    As others have said, Lee has some very innovative ideas.
    Unfortunately the CHEAP Materials & execu tion of those Ideas really negates any worthwhile use of same.
    So do you think the folks who say they have had years of good service from Lee dies are lying ? Or do you think they are to dumb to tell the difference between a tool that works and one that doesn't ?
    I think your post says more about you than Lee tools.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I have Lee, Dillon, Redding, and RCBS dies. For $32 bucks at Graf's, the Lee dies are hard to beat at that price. The Redding dies I bought used, but boy, I'd pay new prices for those. The difference in materials, finish, heft, lock rings, etc, is worth it. Same goes for the Dillon dies, they get a small knock for not having a screw lock on the die rings. RCBS make great dies. In my experience, better than Lee in materials, but do not have the quality features and execution of these features that define Dillon and Redding in my mind. Again, I use all of these brands for differing calibers. For higher round counts, I prefer the Dillons and Reddings.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by sigep1764 View Post
    I have Lee, Dillon, Redding, and RCBS dies. For $32 bucks at Graf's, the Lee dies are hard to beat at that price. The Redding dies I bought used, but boy, I'd pay new prices for those. The difference in materials, finish, heft, lock rings, etc, is worth it. Same goes for the Dillon dies, they get a small knock for not having a screw lock on the die rings. RCBS make great dies. In my experience, better than Lee in materials, but do not have the quality features and execution of these features that define Dillon and Redding in my mind. Again, I use all of these brands for differing calibers. For higher round counts, I prefer the Dillons and Reddings.
    Good post
    Nothing wrong with enjoying Well built and finished quality tools.
    And dies have different features that appeal to us in function as part of the whole package in our process.
    But I don't think on the target there is going to be any practical difference in any of the brands of auto pistol dies for 99% of us , the same with the life span of the die for 99% of us we will never wear them out.
    Buy what works in your process and if you just like the nicest built tool get what you want , but if the guy with the Lee dies is a better shot he is still going to shoot smaller groups.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by onelight View Post
    So do you think the folks who say they have had years of good service from Lee dies are lying ? Or do you think they are to dumb to tell the difference between a tool that works and one that doesn't ?
    I think your post says more about you than Lee tools.
    Nice thing about this country - for now - is that everyone gets to express their opinion even if others find fault with it. I happen to go to Dillon first and then Redding, RCBS, etc with Lee as my last recourse. That is my opinion of course.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Lee reloading is for those who want to reload but don't have a big budget
    or want to dip their toe in the reloading pond. The other companies are where you go once you have some knowledge and want sturdier equipment. I started with a Lee whack a mole kit and that got old pretty fast went from there to single stage RCBS then Dillon 450,550 now 2 650s and a Redding Big Boss 2. Dies RCBS,Redding and Dillon.. Pretty most all the companies have a life time warranty,Lee 2 years that's something to consider as well.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Lee dies work very well, they have pluses and minuses. I also use Redding dies, pluses, only minus is cost. I use the Redding bushing 'S' dies for 308 and 223, reduces working case neck brass, I use Lee Collet neck sizing dies in other calibers with similar results. I don't care for the decapping pin set-up on Lee dies as it is not easily removable, sometimes I don't want to decap (primed cases) or pull the case neck over an expanding plug. I think the Lee Factory Crimp for rifles makes the best looking crimp, I will not use the Lee Factory Crimp with base sizing ring as it can change bullet diameter. I use Redding Competition shellholders with ALL my dies when full-length sizing to get a more precise headspace set-up. Case life is remarkably long when full-length sizing with the appropriate Redding Competition shellholder. Lee makes a lot of good stuff - I like their 4-hole turret, I use as a single stage, but can set-up dies and simply swap turrets. I have acouple Pro 1000's, one for 38/357 (2 toolheads) one for 44 Spl, $$ Mag, 45 Colt (3 toolheads). I find the Lee Perfect Powder measure the quickest to adjust and no crunch. I do have and RCBS Uniflow and an old Herters, but I use the Lee.
    The Redding dies are premium and when I 'buy myself a present' it is often Redding equipment, but I use many, many Lee dies and other products. Read the directions, take time to set things up and Lee works very well, stay away from the Factory Crimp die with the 'extra sizing ring'. I have a Dillon 550 and a Lee Loadmaster also, I use the Loadmaster over the 550.

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub


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    I started with Lee dies and a Lee breech lock press. Over the years I have added Redding equipment. Now I run a mix of the two. The first thing I learned was that Lee factory crimp dies post sized my 357 cast bullets and ruined the accuracy of the rounds. So I discarded the FCD's for revolver brass and purchased Lee collet crimp dies. That was a great improvement. Next I noticed that the breech lock bushings would flex a little under a heavy load, so I gave the breech lock press to a friend who wanted it and purchased a Lee classic cast press. The classic cast is a solid press for my use and I have been very happy with it. I equipped it with an In-Line ergo roller lever, which is a great improvement over the Lee straight lever with the ball grip.

    I have always purchased the best tools for my woodworking, so I decided that Redding must be better than Lee. Over the years I have learned that is true in some instances and false in others. I really like my Redding 10X powder measure. I made the mistake of purchasing Redding's most expensive case trimmer and was very disappointed. The collet style shell holder never gripped any two cases in the same way and this gave very inconsistent case lengths. They were no better than the Lee trimmers. I sold the Redding for half of what I paid for it and bought a L.E. Wilson. Now the trim lengths are very consistent. Next I purchased a Redding dual ring carbide sizing die for my 357's. Right out of the box it put four scratches in each piece of brass. I sent it back to Redding and after some lengthy discussions, they finally polished it and sent it back. It works very well now, but their quality control could have been a lot better for the price of the die. Next I purchased a Redding 357 micrometer seating die. Then I learned the hard way that die is designed only for jacketed bullets. It scrapes the sides of .358 cast boolits. After a lot of research, I found that was a known problem and Redding won't fix it. So, I sold it for half of what I paid for it and went back to my original Lee bullet seating die, which does a great job. The Redding micrometer 357 crimp die works great.

    My Lee powder scale and powder measure were worthless, so I replaced them with RCBS and Redding products and have been very happy. All in all both Lee and Redding make some good products and some that are not so good. I hope others can learn from my experience and not waste as much money.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I do think we should express why we like about a tool or equipment and what we don't .
    I don't like some of the tools from Lee but that is goes for other brands as well.
    Some of the Lee tools are defiantly made to get a guy started as cheap as possible but many of Lee tools are arguably as good as any thing out there.
    Dies are what this thread is about , if how the dies look and feel is what important or if you don't like the lock rings or you like micrometer adjustments or other features better all of that is great information and helpful , saying everything a manufacture makes is " cheap materials and execution " is like saying any thing less than this hammer is " cheap materials and execution "
    Stiletto TB3MCSE 15 Oz Ti-Bone III Titanium Hammer With Milled Face And Curved Handle - Special Edition
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    I guess somebody wants a 300.00 hammer but you sure don't need one to drive a nail. This hammer only makes a regular hammer substandard when you compare them to a 300.00 hammer. Not when measured against the job of driving nails.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    not exactly what your asking but, if you can find Lyman deluxe carbide 4 die set in black box they are excellent and include "M" die. the difference in lee sizing die is center stem primer punch is held by friction rather than threaded.

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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