Redding Type S and Competition Dies

Redding Reloading Dies: Sizing Them Up


Over the years, I’ve used just about every readily available brand of reloading dies: Hornady, Lee, RCBS, Forster, etc. In the mid-nineties, I gave a set of Redding dies in 270 Winchester a try.

I now own a set of Redding dies for almost everything I reload for. Most of the sizing dies are the Redding Type S FL Bushing dies. I’ve also used Redding Competition Bushing Neck Die Sets in 260 Remington and 300 Winchester Magnum. This article will outline the options available with Redding dies and what I recommend.

Redding offers dies for all popular cartridges in several configurations. The most useful sizing dies for precision rifle reloading use an interchangeable bushing for neck sizing.

I full-length size every case, every time. Full-length sizing won’t harm precision or case life if done correctly. It can also help assure every loaded round chambers easily under field conditions.

Full length sizing with a Redding die.

Checking shoulder bump after full length sizing.

Redding offers two basic sizing dies that size the neck and the body in one stroke of the press handle. The first is their standard Full Length Sizing Die, which is cut a little undersized for the chamber of the cartridge it’s designed for. When we force a case into it, the die sizes the neck and body at the same time. The expander ball on the decapping rod sets the neck diameter as the case is pulled back out of the die.

The other basic sizing die that Redding sells is the Type S Full Length Bushing Die. This die has the same cut for sizing the case body, with a cavity in the neck area that holds interchangeable bushings.

These bushings, available in plain hardened steel or with a titanium nitride coating, are used to set the outside diameter of the case neck. This die can be used with or without an expander ball.

Both of these sizing dies are capable of producing ammunition suitable for long range precision. The Type S Bushing Die has the advantage of being easier on your brass. It’s also more likely to produce cases with less runout after sizing. The reason for that is case thickness variations from brand to brand.

The standard full length sizing die has to accommodate all case thicknesses by sizing the neck down more than is necessary. It then sets the neck diameter by pulling it back over an expander ball on its way out of the die. This extra working of the brass hardens it, causing inconsistent tension on the bullet from case to case. How quickly, or how much this can happen depends on chamber dimensions and brass thickness. Pulling the unsupported neck back over the expander ball also sets us up for a case with excessive runout at the neck.

With the bushing die, the amount of neck sizing is controlled by selecting the bushing we want. There’s no need to oversize the neck; just change the bushing size to account for thicker or thinner brass. I use the plain steel bushings, marked .001” to .003” smaller than a loaded round’s neck diameter. For detailed information on how to select the right bushing, click HERE.

Watch these videos for more information on the differences between the dies, as well as an explanation of how I select bushings and use the dies:

 

Another option from Redding is the Competition Bushing Neck Die Set. This set includes a Body Die, Competition Neck Bushing Die, and Competition Seating Die.

The Body Die is exactly that; it only sizes the body from the shoulder back. The Competition Bushing Neck Die sizes the neck with a bushing. A floating sleeve holds the body of the case in line with the die, while a micrometer-adjustable top controls how much of the neck’s length is sized. Cases are full length sized in two steps with this set. With a turret press it’s a piece of cake. I use a Redding T-7, rotating the plate back and forth for each case.

The Competition Neck Bushing Die set has no capacity to expand necks. You’ll need a separate die or mandrel to straighten dented necks.

There are a couple of reasons for using this set. The first is the ability to size the case necks after every firing, but only size the body of the case when it becomes difficult to chamber. Also, by sizing in two steps the amount of stress applied to the case is minimized. Less stress on the case as it passes through the die helps produce minimal runout.

I recommend the Redding Type S Full Length Bushing Die for sizing cases, and the Competition Seating Die for seating bullets.

Redding offers these two dies as a set called the Type S Match Bushing 2-Die Set. With this combination, I’ve loaded thousands of rounds of ammunition suitable for precision long range shooting. All of those cases were full length sized, with the shoulders “bumped” .001” to .002”. My cases have always lasted as long or longer than the barrel, with eight to ten firings on some of them.

Squaring the die in the press produces runout of the sized cases of .001” or less. I remove the expander ball from the die, eliminating torque on the case neck as it’s pulled out of the die. The bushing is all that’s needed for sizing the neck.

In a side by side comparison of the Competition Bushing Neck Die set and Type S die, the Type S die actually produced less runout. With a batch of fired 300 Winchester Magnum brass, the cases came out of the Type S die at “0” to .001” of runout. The body die in the competition set kept the cases at “0”, but the bushing neck die induced .001” to .002” of runout. In tests that I’ve done, that amount of runout has meant nothing as far as precision is concerned, but why pay extra for it?

Redding die comparison. Runout check.

Checking runout on a 300WM case after sizing with the Redding Type S Bushing Die.

I ran this same comparison of the two sizing die systems several years ago, with the same results. Using an extremely accurate 260 Remington, I was unable to see any benefits from using the more expensive competition dies for sizing. With an open mind, I tried again with the 300 WM and came to the same conclusions.

The Redding Competition Seating Die uses the same floating sleeve and micrometer-adjustable top as the Competition Bushing Neck Die. In my opinion, they are worth the extra cost over a standard seating die. They make it very easy to load concentric rounds exactly to the depth you want.

In the end, I think the Redding Type S Bushing Die and Competition Seating Die make a good combo for reloading precision ammunition. They offer a good balance of value and performance.

 

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Sam

As an Idaho native, avid hunter, and long range shooter, Sam has written numerous articles and gear reviews for various online publications. Specializing in long range hunting in the mountains of northern Idaho, Sam founded Panhandle Precision as a way to continue sharing his passions.

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20 Comments

  • Steve
    August 29, 2016 at 11:53

    Thanks Sam for taking the time to write these articles, I have used the set of die’s from Redding that you mentioned above and have had great success with them. Keep the post coming, I always look forward to them.

    Thanks again
    Steve

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      August 29, 2016 at 19:00

      You’re welcome, Steve. Thanks for the interest!

  • Paul Fakenbridge
    September 3, 2016 at 08:35

    Sam,
    Great article. Always enjoy your fact filled techniques and tips that are always included in you write ups. Looking forward to the next great installment.

    Paul

  • Christian Mire
    September 7, 2016 at 20:16

    Sam

    What would you recommend for simi auto precision AR platforms? I completely agree with the competition seating dies, have them for pistol ammo. But rifle is something new for me.

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      September 9, 2016 at 10:08

      Christian,
      I use standard Redding dies for my 223 AR ammo. I have a Type S bushing die for special brass, but the bulk of it gets sized with the standard die. I also seat everything for my ARs with the standard Redding seating die. I have two of them; one for 55 grain FMJs and one for 69/77 grain OTMs.

      • Christian More
        September 18, 2016 at 08:35

        Sam

        Thank for the reply and all the great articles!

  • 270 Sender0
    September 18, 2016 at 06:13

    Sam,

    You mentioned a separate process for pushing out the old primers, how are you doing that?

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      September 18, 2016 at 07:36

      I use a RCBS Universal Decapping Die in an old RCBS Partner press for popping primers out. It keeps all of the primer residue out of my main press.

  • John Swint
    October 18, 2016 at 10:44

    Sam
    Did you have to change the seating stem in the Redding Competition seating die to accommodate the Berger VLD’s?

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      October 18, 2016 at 11:01

      John, I haven’t had to change any of them.

      • John Swint
        October 19, 2016 at 10:25

        Thanks for the reply! I have read a few articles saying that the nose of the Berger’s were being contacted by the seating plugs instead of on the side of the ogive

  • Travis
    January 5, 2017 at 10:07

    Sam,
    I have been reviewing your website while I get geared up to to load my 308 Win. I have some basic experience in reloading but I haven’t gotten into the precision reloading before. I had a few questions in regards to my reloading setup. For rifle reloading I currently have two single stage Lee presses and a Lee turret press. In talking with people and reading peoples opinions online I have mixed feelings about how important your press is as it relates to precision loads. Taking my press options into consideration I ask myself if spending the extra money on a Redding die set (looking at the Redding Type-S bushing 2 die set) is worth it when using a cheep press. I have read some points that state that the shell holder “self aligns” with the die and that a premium die set is more important than a better press. My thought is to spend the money now on the better dies and then down the road if I feel like my press is a week link to upgrade it later.

    Frankly it is a bit overwhelming to look at all the additional equipment needed to ensure you are producing repeatable loads, not to mention having to wade through the varying opinions.

    With that said I could use some guidance on the following questions:
    – Looking at the my die choices I am tempted to go with the RCBS competition dies but after further research it seems I would be better off with the Redding dies. That leads me to the question of if I should go with the full length competition dies or the type-s match dies……which then leads me to the question of full length vs neck sizing. I think I am settling in on the Type-S match bushing dies which then leads me to my next question.
    – With the bushing dies I will need to select the correct bushing for the casings I am using. I am a little confused on if they need to be sorted based on the wall thickness of the neck (or anything else I may have missed). If they do need to be sorted what method of sorting do I use i.e. what would the range be for each lot and what is the proper tooling and method for measuring?
    – What is the difference between what the full length type-s die does vs the body die in the competition set? From what I am gathering if you only neck size you will eventually need to body size after x amount of firings. I am unsure if I have the correct understanding though.
    – As you mentioned you have not seen a change in accuracy based on the run outs. Does that mean I don’t need to invest in the run out gauge setup?

    These are some of my basic questions so far.

    If you have any resources for the beginner precision reloader outlining the basic tools and methods needed to get started or would be able to through together a video that would be great. Being on a budget it is hard to determine where to make the investments on tooling to get the best bang for my buck.

    Thanks in advance and sorry for the lengthy comment.

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      January 7, 2017 at 07:21

      I’ll start by saying that the only things that matter are results on target. The cost and quality of tools doesn’t always have a direct influence on end results.There are a lot of different ways to reload and plenty of tools out there. I won’t speculate on things I haven’t actually tried.

      I don’t have any experience with Lee presses. As long as the ram lines up with the die socket, any press should work fine. Small amounts of case runout can be fixed with an o-ring to float the die, or a flat piece of tool steel to load the die against the shell holder before tightening the die lock nut.I prefer the latter method. The only way to check for this is with a runout gauge.I use a Sinclair gauge:http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloading-equipment/measuring-tools/concentricity-gauges/sinclair-concentricity-gauge-prod37479.aspx

      I prefer the Type S Redding die for case sizing and the Redding Comp seater for seating. The Type S die sizes the body of the case and the neck in one stroke. A body die only sizes the body. I full length size every case, every time.

      In my experience, small amounts of TIR (runout measured at the ogive of a loaded round) don’t affect precision. Good barrels are good barrels. No amount of reloading voodoo can fix a bad tube.

      I haven’t found that overall thickness among cases from the same lot varies. What varies is case thickness runout within each lot, meaning there’s more brass on one side of the case than the other. This will affect runout at the neck of a loaded round more than which bushing to use. I tested this a few years ago. I turned half a batch of cases to “0” runout and left the other half alone. There was no difference in performance between them. At the end of the test, I integrated the two batches and sized them with the same bushing. Again, no difference in performance. I sort new cases by checking case thickness runout and culling pieces that exceed .003″, but I can’t prove it makes a difference. There are many reasons not to mix headstamps, so I recommend not doing it. I weigh samples from each lot and record them to compare to future lots. If the cases from the same brand but different lot weigh the same, they will work the same.

      Here’s a video I put together on using the Type S dies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpSNPY3zXfo

  • George
    March 5, 2017 at 09:34

    Great article (and without sounding fawning, so are the others of yours I have read) and had a couple questions. Have you ever tried a taper crimp die either Redding or Lee on your loads to see if they add anything to the accuracy or detract from it? I’m wondering if the consistent neck tension you’re getting from the neck bushing is more advantageous than using the taper crimp die to increase neck tension? Appreciate you writing as much as you do and sharing good, solid info based on real world results; so much better than many of the gun rag ‘writers.’

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      March 5, 2017 at 09:54

      Thanks, George! I appreciate the feedback. I haven’t tried crimping rifle rounds. I suppose it might work if you can control the amount of crimp and start with relatively low neck tension. If I were to try one, it would definitely be the Redding taper crimp die.

  • Bert Lindsey
    March 26, 2018 at 19:10

    Late to this party- by your vids are very insightful and cogently presented.
    My question is based off your comment answer relating to .223 -or for that matter .300 AAC or .308 semi-auto intended reloads: are you NOT recommending Type S / Micro seater combo for these, even if goal is to push distances for these platforms?

    Thanks in advance Sir!

    • Sam
      Sam Millard
      March 26, 2018 at 19:31

      I would have no problem using either with gas gun ammo, I just don’t own a comp seater in 223. I’m limited by mag length, anyway, so minor tuning changes with the mic top would be wasted.

      I have a standard sizing die set up with a Redding floating carbide expander for the bulk of my AR brass. Most of the case necks get dinged on ejection, so an expander made sense.

  • Roland Kasperl
    June 8, 2018 at 05:00

    “The Competition Neck Bushing Die set has no capacity to expand necks. You’ll need a separate die or mandrel to straighten dented necks.”

    This isn’t true. Redding offer a carbide decapping rod assembly for their Competition Bushing Neck Die allowing you to size the neck down with a bushing and then expand it.

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