Accuracy differences between Hornady & Redding Collet Dies vs. Lee Collet Dies

  • Last Post 10 December 2021
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Millelacs posted this 24 August 2021

Have there been any studies of accuracy differences between Hornady & Redding collet dies and Lee collet dies?

Hornady & Redding collet dies require case necks be turned to a uniform thickness, and then size the outside of case necks with a predetermined replaceable bushing.  While there is a limited selection of bushings, bushings could be reamed out to a desired inside diameter.

With Lee collet dies "A collet squeezes the case neck against a precision mandrel for a perfect bullet fit with minimum run-out", from the outside against the mandrel, resulting in a inside neck diameter, determined by the mandrel diameter, PLUS case neck springback  Springback could be affected by neck thickness and hardness of the neck.

Hornady & Redding collet dies require more case preparation and the case necks to be lubricated, while Lee collet dies do not require lubrication.

I have used both, but have not made any side-by-side tests to determine an advantage of one over the other.  I'm unsure if my shooting skills are good enough to see any differences.

Has anyone seen any accuracy improvements of one over the other?

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JeffinNZ posted this 24 August 2021

Lee collet dies are brass savers for all those that shoot .303 Brit.

Cheers from New Zealand

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GBertolet posted this 24 August 2021

That same .303 collet die, also works great for the 30-40 Krag.

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RicinYakima posted this 24 August 2021

Maybe. When the Lee dies first came out I did a side by side with Redding regular and Wilson press-in dies. In my 1903 Springfields it made no difference as the chambers are large enough you are relying on the unsized or partially resized body and the nose of the bullet holding the center line the way I reload. On my 1000 yard Springfield rifle with a tight neck minimum chamber, the Lee worked well enough with uniformly turned necks, as did the others.  My opinion, for what it is worth, is that if the chamber is straight and round, they work as well as anything else. 

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Spindrift posted this 25 August 2021

I haven’t seen comparative accuracy tests, but I have seen tests on measured run-out with different dies. 

The chart below is from such a test performed in a Norwegian gun magazine.

The column on the right is measured run-of, measured in thousands og an inch.

The middle column (where all the values are 1.0) is the measured run-out before sizing (these were fire-formed lapua 6,5x55 cases).

The first candidate is a Redding neck size, bushing die with expander in place.

The next is the same die, but with the expander removed.

The next is the Lee collet die, in the Lee hand press (my favourite set-up)

Then the Lee Collet in a large press

Then we have a Redding FL size bushing die with the expander removed.

Second last is a Redding non-bushing FL die with floating carbide expander

And lastly, Redding combination neck die with bushing, without expander.




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joeb33050 posted this 25 August 2021

The Lee Collet dies work better without the mandrel. Try it.

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RicinYakima posted this 25 August 2021

You may wish to go back through the old Fouling Shot issues to about 2004 or 2005 when I wrote an article called "A season with 30/06 Dies" comparing runout and grouping. 

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John Alexander posted this 25 August 2021

The Redding and Hornady dies being discussed are not collet dies -- they don't have a collet.  I think bushing die is the proper name.

Bushing dies will work and produce accurate cast bullet loads without turning the case necks if the necks are fairly uniform and most brass is.  Really poor quality brass may vary too much, I just haven't run into that problem.  

Joe is right the Lee collet die works fine without the mandrel, or one of reduced diameter that doesn't touch the inside neck. This is counter to Lee directions but I'm sure the folks at Lee also know this. Using a Lee collet die this way allows you to adjust the amount of sizing as you try bullets sized to different diameters by simply adjusting the die.  Nothing to buy and quick and easy to do. 


I agree with Ric that the Lee dies work as well as anything and would go further and claim they also work as well as anything else if the chamber isn't straight and round. You can's fix a crooked chamber with an expensive die.

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45 2.1 posted this 25 August 2021

You might find that a set of the old red and black box Lee Loader dies will out do anything else you use. They have for me in quite a few calibers.

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RicinYakima posted this 26 August 2021

Now that Wilson only makes bushing dies, instead of the old press in dies, that is a good option if you can find a set for your caliber. 

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Buttersdad posted this 10 December 2021

Thank you for this very informative thread. I use the Lee collet dies for all of my bottleneck rifle cases, except for 7.62X54R, as Lee only makes these as special order and they run $70 or more. I bought an extra full length sizing die (Lee) and I adjust it to just size the neck.

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