Bullet Seating Dies - Redding vs. Forster

This is a discussion on Bullet Seating Dies - Redding vs. Forster within the Cartridges & Calibers forums, part of the Sniping Related category; One of the most frequent questions I get when the conversation turns to reloading is what bullet seating die I use. I've tried a bunch ...

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  1. #1
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    Bullet Seating Dies - Redding vs. Forster

    One of the most frequent questions I get when the conversation turns to reloading is what bullet seating die I use. I've tried a bunch over the years. Today we will be looking at the top of the line competition seating dies from two major reloading companies - Forster and Redding.

    On the left is the Forster ultra micrometer seater. To the right is the Redding Competition seater, and a 308 win case to the right for size comparison. As you can see, the redding micrometer is about half the size of the forster unit. They are virtually identical height, and both clear the handle on my forster co-ax without issue.


    Both dies feature a sliding sleeve that centers the case before the seating stem starts pushing the bullet into the case.


    Both dies can be disassembled for cleaning. The forster comes apart right in the middle, while the redding unscrews right beneath the micrometer. This is where the similarities end. The seating stem on the redding, is a short floating unit that contacts a little nub underneath the micrometer. When you unscrew the micrometer head, there is a spring that pushes on the sliding case holder, and this seating stem which slides inside it. After a few hundred rounds, I can visibly see the micrometer head has actually dented the seating stem. Also, I have had to send the redding die back to the factory for service due to the seating stem cracking. After the stem cracks, it then scars up the inside of the floating collar. Redding was unwilling to just send me replacement parts, so I had to send the die out to them, and it took about 3 weeks to get it back. This is a known issue with the redding die.

    The forster seating stem is screwed in and protrudes through the top of the die. There is a slot for a screw driver as well as a knurled locking nut. This allows for a coarse adjustment and easy "zeroing" of the micrometer head. This feature is far easier to use than the redding. You simply zero the micrometer, then unlock the knurled locking nut, and use a flat screwdriver to adjust the seating depth. I was able to get it set to exactly 2.225" to ogive without much trouble. The redding has a hole in the top, in which you can shove a hex wrench to accomplish the same thing. I still don't like that the mic adjustment and the seating stem are separate pieces. Just another point of failure.


    Another big difference between the two is the micrometer adjustment themselves. The extra size of the forster really helps here. As you can see both micrometers are marked for 0.001" increments. That's 1 thousandth increments. The forster's indications are a lot wider than the redding. This makes precise adjustments very simple and easy to read. If you needed the accuracy, you could even adjust the forster in 5 ten-thousandths. (thats 0.0005) The redding mic has indications that are less uniform, and very close together. It requires a little more of a stare-down to make sure you are on the right setting. It is also note-worthy that it requires about twice as much force to turn the forster mic than it does the redding. I would consider it impossible to "accidentally" move the forster... while I could see it happening pretty easy on the redding.


    I believe in keeping a tidy workspace when I'm reloading. On my bench, everything is suppose to have its place... and the easier a manufacturer makes that for me... the happier I am with them. Once you have a redding die setup, its virtually impossible to put it back in its case and actually close the lid. If you unscrew the mic head, then you can get it in there, but its annoying. The forster comes in a much larger case that can actually be used after the die is setup. Not only that, it will hold a redding bushing neck sizer, lee universal decapper, and a redding body die in there too! The lid closes just fine, and it can be tucked away wherever I please.


    Finally... Cost. Prices were taken off midway.
    Redding - $94 + shipping
    Forster - $67 + shipping

    I compared length to ogive on 50rnds done with the redding, and 50rnds done with the forster and they were all within 1 thousandth of each other. The runout was actually less by 1-2 thousandth with the forster. In my opinion the forster is the clear winner. Its easier to set up, easier to use, cheaper, and in my case resulted in just a tiny bit less runout.

  2. #2
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    Have you ever used the RCBS competition bullet seater ($63.99 http://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/pro ... ctId/13693 )?

    Jamie

  3. #3
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    Once upon a time.

    It lacks the floating sleeve that the forster and redding units have. RCBS lost my die business a long time ago with their substandard dies. Their chargemaster combo and a few other items still remain on my bench... but I have no use for their dies.

  4. #4
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    Interesting - thanks for the write up. I use the Redding in .308 and the Forster in .223, and didn't really even notice all the differences you mention (but I wasn't really looking for them either). I like them both and don't have an issue with either (or haven't yet - I'll watch the Redding for the problems you describe). I've got a couple hundred rounds through the Redding and a few thousand through the Forster.

    I also have no problem getting the Redding back in its case without changing a thing - not sure what's going on there for you.

    I was interested to see that both gave you such good seating results. Both the Redding and the Forster give me about ±0.003" variance in my seating when measured with an RCBS Case Micrometer (off the ogive). I'm thinking this is due to my RCBS Partner Press flexing a little, but I really have no good explanation for it. I've tried all the recommended fixes and seen no change. If a new Rockchucker doesn't solve the problem I'll delve deeper...
    "The Way is in training" Miyamoto Musashi

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt in TN
    I'm thinking this is due to my RCBS Partner Press flexing a little,
    That is most likely your issue. I used to run a RCBS rock chucker press, and had similar variance, either due to the sloppy ram or the shell holders. I switched to the forster Co-ax and those problems went away.

    I never had a problem with the accuracy of either, until the redding seating stem split and basically destroyed the die. If you look around, it is a common issue with the redding. Redding blames it on "compressed loads" but I blame it on a design flaw or improper heat treating or something. I've not heard of anyone having that problem with the forster.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Sniper_Beast's Avatar
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    Interesting right up, I've used the redding for around 1,200 rounds of .308 and never had one issue with it. Runout has remained under 0.002 until my brass has more than 6 firings in which case I get the odd round out to 0.004 (approx 3 out of 100). But then again I use a super fancy lee aluminuim press. 8)

    have any pictures of what happened to your redding die? It'd be good to know what it looks like if my one decides to south

  7. #7
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    No pictures unfortunately. The redding was the only one I had for 308 at that point, so I was more concerned with getting it sent out than taking pictures and badmouthing them. That die had just over 1500 rnds on it before it failed.

    The first thing you will notice is your bullets will start to get scraped up between the ogive and neck. This is due to the seating stem being pushed "open" at the crack by the bullet, and scaring up the inside wall where the stem floats. If you disassemble the die, you will notice that the seating stem will not move effortlessly in its column anymore.

    Then, after a while you will notice inconsistent seating depths to the tune of 3-5 thousandths.

    I'm not making it up folks. Redding was VERY aware of the issue when I called... and upon investigating I found several instances of it happening before. Here's a couple.

    http://www.snipershide.com/forum/ubbthr ... er=1863464

    http://www.snipershide.com/forum/ubbthr ... er=2111356

    Redding themselves actually states that the die is not to be used for compressed loads... and I wasn't. They will maintain their claim that I wasn't using it properly. I will maintain my claim that I've been reloading for 15 years and something is wrong with their stems.

    Forster will send replacement components in the case of a failure, and I can repair it myself. I asked. Much better deal. I still use and love other redding dies... but their seater isn't worth half what they charge for it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sniper_Beast's Avatar
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    Thanks mate, just checked my loaded ammo no problems there. However there is a nice little dent in the top of the seating stem in my die, but no cracks. I'm glad redding decided to use mild steel on a high pressure area in the die :roll:. Time to machine something up on the lathe and heat treat it I think.

  9. #9
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    Orcan,
    I am a believer in getting things straight. If you go to all the trouble of blueprinting a concentric action, then getting a straight bullet is imperative. I check each seating die for runout with a Neco concentricity guage and if it is not within a thousanth, I trade it back in. My favorite seating dies are Wilson using an arbor press. I have never sent one of those back. I have Redding, Forster, Lyman, RCBS, ect and I have only sent a few of those back. If I could get away from threaded dies, I would. I like bump dies from Redding. The body of the case is shortened a tad and the Wilson neck sizer does the rest. My Redding 308 sizing die has a carbide button that really does a nice job. It floats through the neck and keeps everything straight. I guess my point is that I am not a believer in any threaded die but I check them all, and they all work, and the ones that don't go back.
    Chris
    MAKE MY DAY!!!, Give me an Obermeyer rifle barrel!!!

  10. #10
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    Interesting (as this keeps comming up)

    I have many thousands of 308 rounds through my Redding competition seater. I am seating 155 Scenars into a highly compressed load (47.8 gr Varget). What I do differently is to use my sensory perception in the lever arm and feel the bullet go into the neck, and then feel the base push on the powder granules. This takes several seconds per bullet on the down stroke.

    As I start each reloading session, I take the dies apart and clean them and inspect the critical parts. My seater has suffered naught from the many thousand compressed loads it has seated.

    I have watched a lot of experienced reloaders, just whang the lever arm down, fairly oblivious to the forces being encountered on the bullet or powder.

    It is my considered opinion that if you want you bullets to perform like a swiss watch, you need to assemble them like a swiss watch. If you want you bullets to perform like a timex......

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