I am getting more feedback on this page than any other page on
the site. Not surprisingly most if it does not agree with my
What is surprising is that about 25% of it
describes similar experiences. This does not mean that 25% of the
dies will be troublesome because most people who had good experience
with these dies had no reason to read the review and people who were
unhappy with the dies are much more motivated to respond.
That disclosure not withstanding, I will still not be buying any
more of these dies.
Hornady has been a highly respected manufacturer of reloading
supplies, bullets and equipment for over 50 years.
When I decided to buy a new progressive loader, I decided, based
on reading about two hundred on line reviews of the Dillion,
Hornady, Lee, and RCBS, to buy the Hornady.
Since I wanted NO unpleasant surprises and because they promised
about a bushel of free bullets with the press and the dies, I bought
four sets of the Hornady dies. Three sets were the Titanium Oxide
dies in 9mm, .38/.357, and .45ACP
The Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension Nitride 3-Die Set
is a great die set for the avid reloader. The set includes a CGND
Nitride Full-length Sizing Die, CGND Adjustable Case Mouth Expander
Die, and CGND Seater Die with roll crimp. The Sizer Die features
Titanium Nitride sizing rings that eliminate case sticking and
require no case lubrication. The Sizer Die also features the Zip
Spindle, with a series of light threads cut on the spindle and
spindle collet. This is designed to eliminate spindle slippage and
makes tightening the spindle lock a breeze when making adjustments.
The CGND Seating Die features seater adjustment screw, built-in
crimper, locking retainer spring, and a floating bullet seater
alignment sleeve and seating stem, which pre-aligns the bullet and
case before seating occurs. The die set comes packaged with a
plastic storage box and includes three Sure-Loc Rings. Shellholder
The sales person at Cabella's told me "Oh Yes - These are much
better than the old carbide dies. Titanium Nitride is much harder
than tungsten carbide." and "Oh no. you do not need to lubricate
your cases." I had previously verified both claims on my own via
Google. Even the Hornady reloading die instruction sheet stated
"Hornady's Titanium Nitride three-die sets are lube-free."
Well, the truth is always a disappointment. The free bullets only
apply to items purchased at different times. I got one free hundred
but not one free hundred per die set like the placard in the store
Briefly, the dies were unbelievably disappointing. My first
effort was with .38 Special and I thought something was wrong with
the press. It took way too much effort to size a lowly .38 special
case. I moved the dies to my single stage press and again was
shocked. It took as much effort to full length resize a .38 special
case as for example a .243 Winchester case.
I disassembled the dies and checked them carefully. The
instructions recommend cleaning them completely with Hornady
One-Shot before use. I had done that but now did it again. I could
find no visible clues. No rough spots or burrs that could cause the
cases to be so difficult to resize. I tried some resizing lube
and that helped considerably but I load pistol ammo by the
thousands, there was no way I was going to lube and de-lube all
those thousands of pistol cases.
After asking the Cabella's guy ( Who is in all fairness the most
knowledgeable sales person of reloading equipment I ever met. ) and
being assured they would work fine and I would love them, and
getting the same assurance from Hornady customer service, I put them
back in the progressive and decided to give them a fair test.
After about 200 rounds, my primer feed quit working. I gave it a
quick look and it was clogged up. I couldn't blow the clog out so I
disassembled the feed mechanism and take a look at what I found:
Nope not the primer. Just the shavings. The primer is in there
just to give you some scale. It is a small pistol primer and
measures 0.175" in diameter.
Reloading of less than three hundred
rounds of .38 Special ammo ( I was on the third primer tube.)
Produced this much brass shaving.
Obviously, I thought - "Oh Stuff" or something like that. I
started pulling my reloaded ammo out of the plastic tubs I dropped
it in and looked at the cases.
Was I ever surprised:
I have not seen a pistol case damaged like that since before I bought my
first tungsten carbide resizing die some time around 1960.
.38 Special case Hornady Die
I opened the .45ACP set, washed them out with Hornady
One-Shot and put them into my single stage press. I then set about
to test the resize die only only. Not surprisingly the effort was
more than required by the .38 special cases but the galling was
slightly less. These cases were almost as hard to pull out of the
die as they were to push into the die. After a little over 200
cases, I pulled the sizing ring out of the die.
.45 ACP case Hornady die
To put these photos into perspective. The case to the right is a
.38 Special case I acquired in a batch around 1970. This case has
been reloaded somewhere between 30 and 40 times. Each time it was
resized with an RCBS sizing die with no sizing lube.
.38 Special case 30x RCBS Die
You will not be surprised to hear that I packaged up all four
sets of the Hornady dies and returned them to Cabella's. If you have
ever traded with Cabella's, you will also not be surprised that they
were replaced with RCBS Tungsten Carbide dies in less than 15
minutes with no questions asked.