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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
- 5 What is a Reloading Die, Anyway?
- 6 Conclusion
How to pick the right type of reloading die
There are three main types of 6.5 Creedmoor dies: full-length, neck, and small base. Full-length reloading dies do exactly what their name suggests: they resize the entirety of the cartridge case. As a result, rounds that are sized with full-length dies can be used with any type of rifle and are not limited to reuse with a rifle that originally fired them. The downside to full-length dies is that they put more pressure on the brass of the casing, which makes each case last for a shorter amount of time.
Neck size dies are similarly easy to grasp; they resize the next part of the casing, so they don’t put too much pressure on the rest of the bullet’s brass. As a result, these cases can be reused multiple times, providing an economical solution if you plan to use one rifle primarily. This, though, is the downside. By only sizing for the neck, firing that case from your rifle will fire-form it to that weapon’s chamber alone.
This is great for improving accuracy with a custom rifle build, but it means you won’t be able to use cases sized with neck size dies with other weapons. These dies are great if you primarily use a firearm for target practice and will take the time to scoop up the brass casings over and over. You can guess that it has limited viability for actual tactical or hunting engagements.
Finally, small size reloading dies are better for semiautomatic weapon platforms like M14’sor AR 15’s. These are similar to full-length dies, but they provide a little extra compression to the brass casing of each cartridge and push the shoulder back more. These dies put extra pressure on the brass and lower the lifespan of those cases, as well.
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.
If You Have a Seating Die…
If you and up purchasing a set that includes a seating die, try to find one that allows you to adjust size down to the micrometer level. You’ll be able to shape bullets individually and more precisely. While this may not have noticeable effects for beginners, gunsmiths and 6.5 Creedmoor aficionados will likely be able to tell the difference.
Durability and Warranty
These aspects matter more than you might think. Reloading dies need to be durable enough to hold up to repeated use, and frequently at that. After all, the point of making your own 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition is to save money and customize your experience. A reloading die that falls apart or which cracks after being used is worse than unlucky; it can be dangerous, especially if it produces a poor casing for your cartridge.
The best 6.5 Creedmoor dies also come with excellent warranties more often than not. These will provide peace of mind and give you a way to replace the dies if they show up with an unfortunate manufacturer flaw.
Are the Dies Bushing?
Finally, make sure to consider whether a given die set is “bushing”. Put simply, bushing dies are usually considered to be better than standard dies because they let you customize the stress placed on a case neck as it’s sized.
Why does this matter? With regular dies, their interiors are machined for sizing casings to the standard dimensions of their cartridge type. As an example, a 6.5 Creedmoor standard die will be machined for the regular thickness of 6.5 Creedmoor cases, and it will produce those to its best ability. This isn’t an issue for the main body of the case, in most instances.
With a regular die, a bullet case is forced through the neck section of a die (i.e. the narrowest part) and sized downward. As it proceeds through the die, the brass case is pulled over the expander part, which blooms the rest of the case out to its final diameter without expanding the neck. This results in a completed casing.
To work with brass cases of all kinds of thicknesses, standard dies will have their neck portions machined with as small diameter specs as they can manage. However, the neck portion of a case can become weakened over time or suffer problems on concentricity. The brass might get too hard, crack, or emerge from your 6.5 Creedmoor platform with inconsistent performance.
Bushing dies let you size the outside diameter of each brass casing neck exactly as you wish. Of course, this is a bit more advanced, but it can often result in better case performance and a more satisfying experience.
Our Four Picks
Best Overall : Forster Ultra Micrometer Seater Die
This is our 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
Runner-Up : Redding Type S Match Bushing 2-Die Set
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)
Best Budget Option : Hornady Match Grade New Dimension Bushing 2-Die Set
Finally, this set from Hornady is another excellent choice for those on a tight budget. It comes with a pair of dies: one for sizing and one for seating. The full sizing die has a precision polished elliptical expander, which reduces friction and stress on the neck of your 6.5 Creedmoor casings. But even better, this die is built as a bushing type, allowing you to fine-tune your bullet production beyond what most other dies allow.
The seating die also has an additional adjustment screw and a built-in crimper, so it serves both purposes. An additional locking retainer spring will improve stability as you seat and crimp your casings. Beyond both dies, the set comes with a few extra accessories to make it worth your while, like some extra decamping pins and both VLD and regular seating stems.
Ultimately, this is another great choice for budget-conscious buyers, though experienced custom reloaders will appreciate the bushing functionality of the sizing die more than beginners. The Hornady seating stems aren’t marked, so beginners might actually want to avoid this set in favor of something more focused on ease-of-use.
- Very affordable
- Comes with bushing sizing die
- Has a few extra accessories
- Seating stems not marked, can be confusing
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
What is a Reloading Die, Anyway?
It’s no secret that ammunition can get expensive, especially if you head to the gun range every week or even every few days. So gun enthusiasts have spent a lot of time looking for ways to drive down ammunition costs, especially by developing new reloading supplies.
In a nutshell, reloading dies provide assistance when you hand reload your ammunition. While hand reloading ammo takes a lot more time than purchasing new bullets, and reloading also allows you to customize your ammunition type and improve your shaving experience. You’ll be able to choose the exact load inside each casing, as well as alter the shape of rounds if you become experienced enough at this art.
In addition, reloading your own ammunition can eventually become more economical, particularly since some cartridges are more expensive than others. Since 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges can be pricey, lots of 6.5 Creedmoor fans get into the die game for the money aspect alone.
When used in conjunction with a bullet press, dies can help you accurately shave each bullet you make and reduce the likelihood of mistakes during the shaping process. Dies go into the reloading press with the cartridges and act as a shell or grip to expand, decap, or resize cartridges as you desire. Additionally, they can help you with bullet seating.
Most reloading dies come in sets between two to four. Generally speaking, the first die in a set will be designed for sizing and decapping cartridges. The second die will handle the expansion of bullet case mouths. Third or fourth dies then usually handle bullet seating or crimping.
All in all, the best 6.5 Creedmoor reloading dies for your needs should balance budget and your experience level. If you’ve already got some reloading experience under your belt, focus on something a little pricier or a set that includes every type of die so you can customize your casings to your specifications. If you’re a beginner, stick with a budget and easy to use option for the best results.
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