RCBS Competition Die Set
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- Last updated: 22/06/2020
There are plenty of different brand of reloading dies available, and we all have our own preference when it comes to what we use, but do the premium lines represent value for money?
The RCBS Competition Die set on test, in .308 Winchester calibre, is one of their premium products aimed at the competitive marksman. The two-die set is supplied in a strong grey plastic box along with full printed instructions. An extended shell holder is also included. First impressions are that the dies are very well-made and you can tell you are handling a precision product. When you turn the locking rings or the micrometer on the bullet seater die you can feel that the parts move very smoothly and precisely against each other, so full marks for the build quality.
The full-length sizer incorporates a raised expander ball to ease neck expansion and you really do get a nice smooth movement of the case through the die. Resizing lubricated cases required very little effort and there was no issue with any cases getting stuck or being hard to size.
The bullet seater die is the ‘window’ type with bullets inserted through an opening in the side of the die rather than through the bottom, on the case mouth. The bullet drops into a bullet seater guide to ensure consistent alignment with the case and this arrangement definitely seems to give better bullet positioning. As you seat bullets you do not feel any variation in resistance that you might associate with them being straightened up as they enter the case mouth.
The micrometer on top of the bullet seater die is adjustable to within 0.001-inches, allowing you to achieve superior accuracy in cartridge Overall Length (C.O.L.). If you are working on test loads and adjusting C.O.L., this feature lets you make and record very precise adjustments and also to return to a previous C.O.L. very accurately. The micrometer operated very smoothly but stays in place without any creep or variance in length between completed rounds. The graduations on the micrometer are big, clear and easy to read so you can set and reset C.O.L. very precisely.
A batch of 25 rounds was made up and then all of the critical dimensions were painstakingly measured. C.O.L.s and diameters on the body and the neck of the cases were surprisingly consistent and it was very difficult to find any significant variances (using a dial caliper accurate to 0.001-inches). Consistency was measurably better than with a standard set of dies in the same calibre.
There is no doubt that these dies produce very nice, consistent ammunition. They operate extremely smoothly and are very easy to adjust and set. The bullet seater does facilitate easy and consistent bullet alignment with the case and the micrometer adjustment is a fantastic feature. If you shoot several different loads in one calibre, with a different C.O.L. for each, the facility to record adjustments and reset the micrometer is very useful.
Overall, these dies are definitely a cut above the average dies and if you are looking to squeeze just that little bit more consistency out of your competition loads then they might just be for you. Whatever type of shooting you do, if you can afford that little bit more then why not splash a bit of extra cash and go ‘up market’ to improve the quality of your reloads.