Hornady Titanium Nitride

Three Die Sets 

Revised 2012-03-15

Feedback disclosure:

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 findings.

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.


Revised 2011-09-25

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

Hornady promised:

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 sold separately.

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 promised.

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:

Brass Case Shavings

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.


Metal Shavings


Scratched Pistol Casing


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


Scratched .45 ACP case


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

RCBS Carbide Die Results


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.




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