Have you ever wondered how long a die will last?

  • Whether we realize it or not reloading dies are wear items and eventually need to be replaced. The only reason we don't replace reloading dies is that most of us never put enough rounds through a die to wear it to the point that it will not size to spec.

    I have been processing 300 blackout brass for some time now and have just retired my first STEEL die. The dillon trimmer uses a steel trim die which is just like a regular die except instead of a decapping stem the die has a trimmer screwed on the top. the force of sizing the brass holds the brass while the trimmer trims the brass. This die is supposed to be equivalent to a small base sizing die and no other sizing is supposed to be necessary except for running an expander ball through the neck (last stage of press). About 20,000 rounds ago I started running into problems with the trim die. The die started bottoming out on the shell plate before it sized the brass enough to get the proper headspace...but the outside sizing dimensions of the die were still find. So I ground off the bottom of the die so that I could get the proper headspace and keep going. Fast forward 20,000 rounds and I am now to the point where I can no longer headspace again...AND the final sized cartridge is starting to get snug in the gauge.

    Today I received another size die. I am going to keep using the current trim die with the trimmer...but use this Dillon carbide sizing die in the final stage. It will be easier to set it up if I have two separate dies. The new dillon carbide die will do the final size on the brass and fine tune the headspace as well. The carbide dies are quite expensive ($158 shipped)...but they claim that they last longer than the steel dies. I guess we will see.

    Total round count on the steel die was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 rounds...meaning for precision rifle you will wear out MANY MANY barrels before wearing out a die.

  • Interesting. A hardened die I just can't see wearing out. A non-hardened... well yes, that makes sense that it would wear out pretty quick.

  • The worn out die is hardened....at least it was before I ground the bottom part off. took forever to grind just a few thousandths off.

  • Interesting. Yeah, sounds like it was hardened to me. I would never have guessed it being worn that quickly.

  • I never gave it a thought. Interesting for sure.

  • Most high volume loading is done for pistol shooting and those dies are almost all carbide now probably for this very reason. Very few people actually put that many pieces of brass through their rifle dies. I would imagine with all the shooting you have done @orkan you still haven't put 50,000 rounds through any single rifle die.

  • Nope, I haven't. Although one of my 308 dies probably has close to that.

  • @orkan

    I am sure you have put the sized brass in a gauge to see how close they are to spec?

    have you compared that sized brass to brass from a new die. I bet you will be surprised at the difference.

  • No I haven't. My "spec" is my chamber... and this is a forster factory die so its plenty small to begin with. I really don't shoot 308 much anymore.

  • I bought a Forster 308 dies in the 70's and it was doing very good. Until my screw up about three years ago. I did replace then. Don't ask how I screwed it up. Let's say I was very unhappy with self.