Welcome to one of the biggest rabbit hole questions in the world of reloading. For many who want to set up a precision rifle, or a long-range firearm for a 6.5 creedmoor, picking out the right reloading die is challenging to say the least.
We have spent weeks poring over this question, watching YouTube videos and devouring intense forum discussions in the reloading subreddit, and have five recommendations that we’ve picked out.
One big disclaimer up front is that trying to find the best reloading die for your 6.5 Creedmoor is tricky because the people giving out advice or recommendations in this caliber is very specific to their caliber and use case.
To illustrate our point, someone shooting 1,000 yards will have a completely different set of advice than someone using this to hunt for medium to large game. At this caliber, the differences in gear recommendations are a lot steeper. However, these five recommendations WILL work for 90+ percent of cases, and will give you enough baseline die recommendations to start out with. The most important thing is to constantly read manuals, do your research and learn.
Experiment with your first die purchase, see how it works, tinker with your process, projectiles, powders and most importantly, have fun and be SAFE.
- 1 How to pick the right type of reloading die
- 2 Our Four Picks
- 3 What to look for in a quality reloading die
- 4 Size comparisons between Redding, Forster, Lee and Hornady dies
How to pick the right type of reloading die
There are three types of die sizes to choose from – Neck, full-length, and small-base. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each, and it starts with figuring out what kind of shooting you’re planning on doing with your new hand-loaded ammunition!
Neck-sizing dies only resize the neck part of the case. This means the brass receives very little work, and you can reuse the same case again and again. If you fired one case from your rifle, that case is now fire-formed to fit your rifle’s chamber, which can yield fantastic accuracy. As a result, neck-sized rounds can’t really be used in any other rifle other than the one they were fired from ORIGINALLY. This means they are great for target shooting, but NOT for hunting, police ops or military.
Full-length sizing dies are easier to understand – they resize the entire length of the case, including the neck as well. Full-length rounds work in any rifle, and aren’t restricted to the rifles they’re originally fired from like neck-sized rounds. However, the brass receives considerably more work than neck sizing, and case lives are shorter as a result(There’s ways to minimize brass work as well).
One thing we need to mention here is the concept of Bushing. Bushing dies use a system of interchangeable bushings that allow you to apply the bare minimum of resizing for your case neck. It’s finely adjustable, and you can control EXACTLY the neck tension, increasing consistency and accuracy of your hand-loaded ammunition.
Small-base dies are usually used when reloading for semi-automatic rifles(AR-15’s, M14’s, or .308 rifles). They operate just like full-length sizing dies, except they push the case shoulder back a bit more and give an extra(.001″ more usually) compression to the brass case. This means the brass is worked even more, and case life is quite short as a result.
Our Four Picks
This is our second-favorite recommendation. Forster has been a household name when it comes to manufacturing quality dies for awhile. We really like Forster because the hash marks are very accurate, and you can repeat seating depths with zero issues. Forster’s worked great with various kinds of ammunition we’ve used to tinker with over time.
The first feature we love about the Forster is the ease of adjustment in the seating depth. The Forster seating stem is screwed in, and it actually sticks out on the top of the die. There’s a small slot for screw driver, and a knurled locking nut – This helps you adjust the micrometer head, and the coarse VERY easily. All you have to do is just zero the micrometer, unlock the locking nut, and use a screwdriver to adjust the seating depth.
In terms of the micrometer adjustment, Forster is excellent because it has .001″ increments(One thousandth increments), and the indications are very wide and easy to read. In addition, from our experience, it requires a good amount of force to turn the Forster mic, making it basically impossible to move by mistake.
It also has a sleeve that helps guide the brass to the seating die, helping seat the bullet off the ogive.
- Amazing quality and finish
- Easy to adjust seating depth
- Cheaper than Redding, with comparable quality
- Easy Micrometer adjustment
The Redding is by far our favorite recommendation. Redding has an incredible 100% Lifetime Warranty on their products, and they have been renowned for top-notch dies for years.
The Redding brass may seem a lot more expensive than Hornady, but if you consider the per-shot lifetime costs, you end up actually saving money with the Redding brass because it simply lasts longer(Especially if you’re nearing published pressures). The brass is also remarkably consistent, which means less preparation time out of the box.
The first question you’ll probably be asking is are Redding dies actually worth it? They are a high-end die, and can be way pricier than Lee’s and Hornadys. Our one-line answer to this question is that the extra price you’re paying for is in concentricity and neck tension control.
The bushing control of neck tension is a fantastic feature in our opinion, especially if you’re a serious competitor that’s loading for precision, or care about building top quality ammunition . If you’re just a middle-of-the-road shooter, or not interested in competing, yes, the Redding may be overkill.
Are you using Lapua brass, Lapua bullets, or Berger bullets? Then it’s a good sign you’ll benefit from a die like Redding. Otherwise, you can look at our other recommendations.
- One of the best brands for quality, and accuracy
- Top-notch brass quality
- Incredible concentricity and neck tension control
- Lifetime Warranty by Redding
- Can be expensive
Lee’s dies are the best beginner-friendly reloading die, and the most versatile one. We’ve owned 6~7 different brands of reloading dies but Lee’s dies actually takes care of 90% of our work – Using lee dies we consistently get sub-moa groups. This particular product is in our opinion the best starter set.
Included in the four-die set are Full-Length, Neck-Size, Bullet-seating, and Factory Crimp. The Factory Crimp die included in the set is widely considered one of the best crimp dies, with raving reviews from people reloading for hunting, or using it for any bullets with a cannelure.
- Fantastic value for the price, with four different dies included
- Collet die set is perfect for most neck-sizing use cases
- Factory crimp die is great for hunting loads, or bullets with cannelures
- Best for middle-of-the-road shooters
- Locking ring moves when you set / unset them(Get locking die rings to fix this)
The best budget option on the list, we’ve found that the Hornady die set can surprise a lot of people with its quality. The machining and the finish is quite good, and there are useful items included in the set – Extra decapping pins, a VLD seating stem, a regular seating stem, and a tapered expander. As far as a starter budget die set goes, this is a great choice, since all you’ll have to buy separately is a bushing, and a shellholder.
One thing to note with this Hornady set is that the seating stems are not marked, which can cause some confusion for people. A good trick to distinguish between the two is to find a non-VLD bullet, spin it in the stem using your hand a few times. This will leave marks on the bullet surface – the stem that produces marks around the tip of the bullet is the VLD stem, and the other stem is the regular seating stem.
- Great budget option
- Set includes lots of useful items
- Consistency and accuracy can be hit or miss
What to look for in a quality reloading die
The first thing to keep in mind is that what you’re looking to achieve with a quality reloading die is reloading process consistency. Each cartridge should be as identical to the next one as possible. The variables that you’re working with to achieve this will be – case length, case internal volume, case neck diameter, power charge weight, primer seating depth, bullet length, bullet weight, and bullet seating depth.
You don’t need match dies to produce top-quality, accurate ammunition. Match dies’ biggest advantage is that they offer easily adjustable seating stems(Usually micrometer)
Size comparisons between Redding, Forster, Lee and Hornady dies
If you don’t mind geeking out even more on this topic, we found a fantastic YouTube video that details exact measurements compared across five different die sets that reveal:
- Neck after sizing w/ no expander
- Size of case wall by case head
- Size of case wall by shoulder
- Headspace when die set
- Size of runout device