At a Glance: The 6 best 308 reloading dies in 2020
Comparison of The 6 best 308 reloading dies in 2020
Our Top Pick
|Redding -Type S Match Bushing Full Die Sets||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Redding – Competition Bushing Neck Die Sets||View Latest Price|
|Lee Precision – Pacesetter Rifle Die Sets||View Latest Price|
If you are just getting yourself into the reloading game, you might not know what a reloading die is. Fear not, we are here to help you familiarize yourself with the best .308 reloading dies and how to use them so that you can start reloading your own .308 rounds.
Today we will review six different die sets. They are from the best companies in the market. However, each of them is slightly different. As usual, we will be looking for great quality, durability, ease of use, and accuracy without having to spend huge amounts of money. One thing to remember is that the .308 cartridge has a bottlenecked shape. That means that you need dies that not only reshape the body but also the neck.
Redding – Type S Match Bushing Full Die Sets
This 308 reloading die set includes:
- A type S bushing full sizing die and
- A competition seating die
The type S bushing full length die is great for full-length resizing while maintaining exact control of the case neck. The bushing sizing die does not squeeze the diameter of the neck too small. When being used to size the brass it actually does not even touch the neck. Interchangeable bushings help with different levels of sizing and neck tension. To choose the right bushing number for the job, you should measure the diameter of the neck of a loaded round with the bullet seated in the brass and then you subtract the amount of neck tension you want to get. This way you can achieve greater accuracy with your reloaded rounds. The sizing die also includes a decapping rod which pokes the primer out of spent shells. I usually de-prime the case separately, so I do not use the rod.
The Competition bullet seating die features a micrometer calibrated in .001″ increments and a floating seating stem system. That works great for eliminating concentricity problems. This video will provide you with more tips on the reloading process.
- The neck of the case will not be excessively restricted
- Includes multiple bushings for different types of cases
- Micrometers for super accurate bullet seating
- Floating seating stem system
- The locking ring threading is not that good
- Quite expensive
Redding – Competition Bushing Neck Die Sets
Redding’s competition reloading die set includes the following .308 reloading dies:
- A competition bushing neck sizing die,
- A body sizing die, and
- A competition bullet seater.
The competition bushing neck sizing die is used for resizing the neck of the cartridge. This die features a retractable sleeve that helps align the entire brass and center it. The case goes into the sleeve and together they go into the die to resize the neck in the most accurate way possible. The micrometer on top of the die comes in quite handy when trying to achieve a precise neck length.
The body die is designed to resize the case body and adjust the shoulder position down without disturbing the case neck.
The competition bullet seater uses the floating seating stem system which is great for achieving perfect seating of the bullet with the help of micrometer adjustments. The micrometer is placed on top of the seating die. For more info on how to set up these dies check out this video.
- Includes a neck sizing die
- The body sizing die does not affect the neck size
- The neck sizing die and the bullet seating die have micrometers
- Floating seating stem system
- Bushings and shellholder are sold separately
- Locking rings are not the greatest
- High price
Lee Precision – Pacesetter Rifle Die Sets
This is a great .308 reloading die set that has everything you need to start reloading your own .308 rounds for a very affordable price. This set includes:
- A full length sizing die,
- A bullet seating die,
- A factory crimping die,
- A universal shell holder, and
- A powder dipper.
The beauty of this set is that it includes some extras which other reloading die sets often don’t have, like a shell holder. It also includes a separate factory crimp die that works better than most other crimping dies. That adds an extra step, and when you get good at reloading then crimping with the bullet seating die will become second nature. The sizing dies do not have a micrometer so precision is harder to achieve for a beginner. There is no neck sizing die in this set, you simply use the full length one for that. You only have to gently bump the shoulders back and be careful to not overdo it. The full length sizing die may be hard to assemble. On the other hand, the price is more than amazing.
- Very affordable
- Includes a factory crimping die
- Shell holder and powder dipper included
- No micrometer
- Extra step for crimping
- The full-length sizing die may be hard to assemble
Lee Precision – Ultimate Rifle 4-die Sets
This .308 reloading die set is an upgrade from the Pacesetter set since it includes a neck sizing die as well. Included in the set are:
- A full-length sizing die,
- A collet neck sizing die,
- An easy-adjust dead length bullet seating die,
- A factory crimp die,
- A universal shell holder, and
- A powder dipper.
This is a very versatile reloading die set. The full-length sizing die includes a decapping rod. Many seasoned reloaders take it out and use a handheld depriming tool. However, depending on your preference, the decapping rod might work well for you. The neck sizing die is effective and easy to use. Arguably, you may be able to skip using the full-length sizing die if you shoot the reloaded rounds from the same gun but we highly recommend using the full-length sizing die. The neck sizing reloading die also includes a decapping rod. Case lubing is not necessary due to the material that the dies are made of. The bullet seating die seats your projectiles uniformly and with great alignment. The crimping die provides a secure crimp on bullets with or without a crimp groove. It has sort of a collar inside and when used the collar closes and crimps the cartridge. This kind of crimp offers exceptional accuracy and dependability. Click here for more info about these .308 reloading dies.
- Neck sizing reloading die included
- The full-length reloading die has a depriming rod inside
- Factory crimping die for higher accuracy
- Does not require lubrication
- Awesome price
- No micrometer
- Extra crimping step
RCBS – Full Length Die Sets
The RCBS full-length die set includes:
- A full length sizing die, and
- A seater die.
The full length sizing die is used to get the shoulder of the case back to a proper length. The correct length of the round can be measured by using a cartridge headspace gage tool. At the same time, the full length die also pops out the used primer and sizes the body of the case for the next firing. Each case requires lubrication before sizing. The expander ball in the die works great to size the neck correctly. The seater die works great not only for seating the bullet but also for crimping. There is a built-in crimp ring inside the seater die which makes it easy to crimp the bullet into the case. The crimp ring is switched on by raising the die position in the reloading press. Lowering the die position in the press deactivates the crimping feature. Although this set includes only two different dies, it is very versatile and saves you a lot of time when reloading .308 rounds, especially in a single stage reloading press, as you won’t have to exchange that many dies.
- Only two dies to work with
- Expander ball for correct neck tension
- Crimp ring inside the seater die
- Very affordable
- Requires you to lubricate the cases
- Using the seater die for bullet seating and crimping requires more adjustments
RCBS – AR Series Die Sets
This .308 reloading die set is designed to work with a progressive reloading press where you can make a high volume of rounds in a shorter time. It includes:
- A small base sizing die, and
- A taper crimp seating die.
The small base sizing die differs from the standard full length die. Since the AR-10 was originally meant for military use, it requires more space between cartridge and chamber to achieve reliability. On the other hand, the cartridge needs to be as close as possible to the dimensions of the chamber, for example in a bolt-action gun, to provide for accurate shooting. These two opposing issues were solved by RCBS with a set of reloading dies that allow close control over the tolerances of the cartridge that make the round both reliable and accurate. Reducing the size ensures the cartridges chamber and extract reliably. A full-length sizing die could probably achieve the same outcome but the die would have to be cranked down another quarter turn. Such anaction could mean the difference between the rounds produced chambering smoothly or not.
The taper crimp seater die is great when you have brass that is not uniformly trimmed. Tapering is also a necessity when you’re shooting semi-auto as it ensures the bullet stays put in the case.
- The small base sizing die resizes the cartridge
- Perfect for progressive press
- Taper crimp seating die suitable for semi-auto
- Makes reliable and accurate cartridges
- Easy to install
- Very affordable
- Cases need to be lubed
What is a Reloading Die?
Reloading dies are the most important components you will need to purchase for your reloading adventure. The number of dies you will need depends on the type of cartridge that you will reload. The most commonly used dies are named based on their purposes. They are:
- Decapping dies
- Resizing dies
- Bullet seating dies
- Crimping dies
Like all reloading dies, you’ll need a reloading press to mount your .308 dies onto. Depending on the type of press they either have to be:
- exchanged at each step of the reloading process: this applies when using a single-stage reloading press, or
- attached all at once to a disk that can
- either turn, in case of a so-called turret reloading press, or
- be stationary while case holders rotate between the dies, as in case of progressive reloading press.
How to Choose the Best Reloading Die
There are multiple aspects to consider when choosing the best reloading die.
Choose a reputable brand
Since the .308 reloading die is the most important piece when reloading your .308 rounds, you want to make sure it is of good quality. Choosing a reputable brand is a good way to ensure that. The top brands are known for the quality and reliability of their dies.
Check the material
There are different types of materials used for making reloading dies. For example, reloading dies made out of carbide do not require lubrication of the cartridges. That speeds up the entire process.
Choosing neck resizing dies
When you use a neck resizing die, you won’t be changing the size of the brass body but only adjusting the neck of the shell. That works perfectly when you want to reuse the shells multiple times. Also, accuracy can be increased since the cartridge has been formed by firing to fit your rifle perfectly.
Choosing full-size resizing dies
When you go for a full size resizing die, you can create rounds that work in any rifle. However, it shortens the lifespan of the case.
There are also small base full length sizing dies that are used with semi-automatic rifles. The smaller base gives extra compression to the brass which makes sure that the case is properly extracted from the firearm.
Carbide vs Steel Dies
Reloading dies in .308 are usually made of either carbide or steel. Carbide reloading dies for rifles are usually more expensive than the steel ones. The general rule is that carbide reloading dies do not require lube while reloading. However, that is true mainly with pistol rounds. When it comes to rifle cartridges like .308, lube is recommended even when using reloading dies made out of carbide. The reason is that cartridges won’t get stuck and you won’t hurt your shoulder. If you are a messy person and don’t like lube for that reason, you can always choose a lube spray which will make your life easier.
Types of reloading dies
Resizing dies adjust the size of the case. There are full length resizing dies and neck resizing dies. The .308 cartridge has a bottleneck shape (in contrast with the straigh body of a pistol cartridge). It is recommended to use a cartridge headspace gauge to resize accurately. Neck resizing dies resize only the neck tension for the bullet and not the body of the case. That means you can only use those cartridges in the same rifle they have been shot from. The full-length resizing dies will change the size of the case to fit the specifications of its caliber. If you are a skilled reloader you could use the full length resizing die to fix the neck tension as well.
A depriming or decapping rod is a rod inside of the resizing die which will pop out the spent primer.
|Case trimming die||A case trimming die helps you quickly and accurately trim the length of your brass.|
|Powder-through expanding die||This die is used after the sizing (and trimming) die. It expands the mouth of the case and drops the powder inside through the hollow expander.|
|Bullet seating die||The bullet seating die seats the bullet snugly into the now loaded cartridge.|
|Factory crimp die||This die will crimp your rounds just like factory ammunition. It has a crimping “collar” inside the die which helps keep the bullet in place and seals the round, protecting the powder|
3-die sets vs 4-die sets
Four-die sets usually include a neck sizing die on top of the full-length one that comes in a 3-die set.
- Some shooters swear by neck sizing with a special neck sizing die
- on the other hand, some are very skilled and can achieve the same outcome with the full length sizing die.
So if you are a beginner, you might prefer to go for the 4-die set if it is not too expensive for you.
How to use your Reloading Dies
Reloading dies in .308 offer you a chance to produce some of the most accurate long-range ammo you will ever use. Depending on the type of reloading press you use, you will either have to exchange the dies after each step or they will be attached to the disk on top of the reloading press and switching is easy (as with turret or progressive reloading presses). In each case, the reloading dies are screwed into the reloading press and then set in place with tightening locks. While adjusting the reloading dies, the reloader pulls on the press lever to complete each reloading stage. For more info on how to use reloading dies you can check out this video.
All .308 reloading die sets reviewed here offer good quality and years of effective reloading.
- The Redding die sets have micrometers on top of some of their dies. That makes adjusting them a piece of cake. On the other hand, the price is almost four times higher than the other sets.
- Lee Precision sets have all the components needed and more (even including a universal shell holder) and they are very cheap. However, sometimes they can be harder to adjust but you will improve with practise.
- RCBS offers versatility with only 2-dies in a set and even has specialized AR dies for progressive presses.
So it depends how much money do you have available right now, how confident you feel with adjusting the reloading dies, and how many rounds you are planning to make. My winner, btw, is the RCBS AR reloading die set.