These are the rings that go around your dies, set the die’s height in your press, and hold the setting.

There are four types:

  1. set-screw pressing on die body
  2. split-ring with cross bolt
  3. Lee o-ring locking mechanism
  4. Dillon lock rings (no die-locking mechanism)

Which one is the Best?

The Hornady Sure-Loc.

hornady sure-loc rings

They are so much better than the others that I keep a bunch in my reloading box to replace the lock rings that come with other dies.  They even work in a Forster Co-Ax press.

What Features You Want

Wrench flats.  Round rings are manipulated with pliers, so they’re tough to get a grip on and mar easily.

Easy tightening. Easy loosening.  All while staying level on the die threads.

Compactness (on a progressive – doesn’t matter on a single-stage).  Easier to get tools on and off.

Pros and Cons

  1. Set-screw (e.g., RCBS, Lyman, Redding)
    1. Pros
      1. They come with the dies.
    2. Cons
      1. They need to be cranked-down to remain in the right spot on the die.
      2. This can mar the die threads (depending on the design; some are better, such as the Redding).
      3. This mildly distorts the ring and the die (with single-point pressure).
      4. This also makes the ring want to stick to the die once the set-screw is backed off – especially on the Redding lock rings. It can make fine adjustments challenging.
  2. Split-ring type(e.g., Forster, Hornady)
    1. Pros
      1. Easy to lock, with fantastic grip on the die and even pressure around it.
      2. Easy to release.  This makes minor setup adjustments quick and precise.
    2. Cons
      1. I can’t think of any.
  3. Lee O-ring
    1. Pros
      1. They do work – the o-ring keeps the lock-ring positioned on the die body, but:
    2. Cons
      1. The o-ring doesn’t firmly keep the lock-ring positioned on the die body; it’s easy to bump out of place, and then you have to reset your die.
  4. Dillon
    1. Pros
      1. this simple, compact lock ring works fine on a Dillon or other progressive die-plate, because it’s set-and-forget.  The die never leaves the plate.  The compactness of the Dillon lock-ring makes it easier to get a tool on.
    2. Cons
      1. Once the die is removed you need to reset it – it has no feature to secure it in position on a die.  Suited only to a progressive die-plate.

And there you have it.  A simple think like a lock ring can make your life better, or make it more frustrating.

More Pics

Redding lock ring – notice the outer set screw and inner thread-fitting lock piece.  That makes it the best of the set-screw types – although Redding has no wrench flats.

Here’s the Dillon.  It’s just a nicely-coated locknut, and works perfectly for it’s intended purpose of keeping a die in a die plate.

And the Lee.  The o-ring tends to keep the ring from self-adjusting.  Once tightened down, the o-ring compresses and acts to stop the die from turning.  But there are better ways, as above.

Lee Lock Ring

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2 Responses to “Is There a Best Lock Ring?”

  1. Josey Wales Says:

    Sinclair also makes a very fine lock ring.

    1. squibloads Says:

      They do – stainless steel with a cross-bolt! I think it is overkill, but why not?

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