I Gave Up on the Dillon Primer System


January 7, 2003, 09:32 AM
My family chipped in and bought me a 550RB for Christmas, and except for that fantastically inept primer delivery system, I couldn't be happier.

I'll try it again in a month or so, but for now, I'm back to using my good old Lee hand primer, and life is good again.

The cat's food and litter box is in the same utility room I use to reload in. I spilled so much powder while fighting with jams and non-seated primers I was afraid the cat and all would explode.

I swept and vacuumed it all up and mopped.

Anybody else had problems with this?

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January 7, 2003, 09:36 AM
I had a few problems with mine, but it seemed to work out. What are your 'symptoms'?

January 7, 2003, 11:00 AM
I also gave up on it on both my Square Deal's - I'd used my Lee tool for about 8 years until one day I had about 750 rounds to load and I was determined to get them working. One SQD was simple fix, it'd come from the factory without that little plastic cup to catch the primer. I called Dillon and got a patient (I'm not mechanical) fellow on the line who went over exactly how that priming system works, had me take it apart and he sent me a few of those little plastic cups. The other SQD had something more major wrong and I was requested to send it back. They both work fine now. It's a simple gravity feed system and from my discussion with the Dillon fellow there are only a couple things that can go wrong.
What is it doing?

January 7, 2003, 11:14 AM
My heartfelt sympathies. I struggled with the prime system on a LNL AP Hornady press for a few thousand rounds, then went back to hand prime - RCBS, but have used and liked the Lee also. I like my primers seated to the bottom, consistent and 100%. I think just about all the progressives suffer here. They can all be made to work, but the confidence level is questionable.

January 7, 2003, 11:48 AM
I've been using a XL650 for over 12 years now, and before that I used the old RL450 for a number of years. I've never had a priming problem with either.

Of course, I've never used anything other than Remington primers during those years. I don't know if there's a connection here or not.

Zak Smith
January 7, 2003, 01:02 PM
I've had my SDB only a couple months, and only loaded between 1000 and 2000 rounds (9mm), but have had zero primer-system problems.


Northwest Cajun
January 7, 2003, 01:28 PM
Call Dillon,
Explain your problem, they WILL help you. They have one of the best customer service programs.


January 7, 2003, 11:10 PM
Absolutely, call Dillon! Service is first rate.

I've never had a problem with my system (both large and small). Good primer system was actually the reason I bought the Dillon in the first place.

January 8, 2003, 12:53 AM
In case no one mentioned it - call Dillon; they'll get you up and running.

I had a few startup problems with my 650; all was resolved with a bit of fine tuning. no big deal for a 1911 afficionado, right?


January 8, 2003, 07:08 AM
The only primer problem I experience with my XL650 is having to refill the tubes so often because I absolutely fly when loading on this machine. :D

In my two + years of loading on this machine I have never had a single primer problem. The tactil feel of seating the primer on the downstroke allows very consistent seating depth. I primarily use Winchester primers, with a few Federals now and then.


January 8, 2003, 09:00 AM
I see I'm not the only one who's had problems. Thanks for the replies, all.

Symptoms are:

Won't prime S & B or WCC .45 brass that's been primed & reprimed 10 or more times .... I know about the differences in the primer pockets with these, but the Lee hand primer never had any problems with them at all. They have all been reamed and cleaned out. I have maybe 500 S & B's in my range rotation, maybe 3-400 WCC's. If I use the primer system again, I'll have to cull all these out and do them by hand...a PITA.

For no reason I can fathom (yet) the press wants to flatten out some of the primers, thus ruining many of them. It doesn't feel like they are *forced* into place, it just seems to happen.

Both large and small primers hang up in the tubes. I thought about running some Flitz through there, but haven't yet. Ran a couple of dry patches through there, didn't help.

Misfeeds galore ... hard to categorize, but maybe a lot to do with me not making a full stroke with the handle, and, again, hanging up in the tube. When it screws up, whatever the reason, it's five or ten minutes of disassembling the shell plate et al and cleaning up powder, again and again and again.

I got tired after four evenings of cleaning up powder and took the whole primer system off and put it away for now. I Lee- hand primed about 200 9mm's then loaded them in ABOUT 25 MINUTES!!! The 550 is fast!

I suppose it may take some more time for me to get used to the machine - more experience, and maybe a lesson or two from Dillon might help.

January 8, 2003, 11:28 AM
Wow, you're having a terrible time! It's really frustrating when a machine repeatedly malfunctions in the way you describe.

Is your press rigidly mounted? I started with a wobbly setup, and found that it was a major problem, causing spilled powder and other problems. Your setup cannot be too solid! An investment in railroad ties may help.

Be sure to continue your dialog with Dillon - maybe send some of the troublesome brass to them. And keep us advised of your progress (or lack of it).

Larry Ashcraft
January 8, 2003, 11:46 AM
I was having trouble with primer mis-feeds on my 550. I found out that if you are a little more "vigorous" with the handle, especially near the end of the strokes, the problem resolved itself. I loaded 400 rounds of 45 ACP last Sunday with no problems at all.

Haven't had any of the other problems. Again, Call Dillon.

January 8, 2003, 12:42 PM
Are you using CCI primers? These are good, commonly used primers, but Dillon advises against their use in their presses because they get jammed. It was actually in my manual. I've used nothing but Winchester primers and have had zero problems in over 40,000 rounds.

Ah, the S&B crushed primer problem. This was a bear for me to figure out and Dillon was no help at all with this problem. I had been reloading S&B for over a year and had at least 3,000 pieces of brass that weren't getting primed or were getting partially crushed primers.

Anywho, what I did was loosen the shell plate up. I loosened the big bolt in the middle and POOF, I could magically prime everything including NATO brass (which I could never do before). The slack under the plate allows the brass to float and self-align on the primer cup. If you loosen the plate too much, the brass will slouch out of position when it gets to the powder die. You'll know it because the powder funnel will cut your brass in half. Find a happy medium.

Other suggestions:
1) Align the primer cup sliding thingy so that i moves back and forth as smoothly as possible. When attaching the primer tower, don't screw it in all the way. Leave it a couple of turns out and wiggle the sliding tray sideways and then move it in and out until you find the place where it moves most freely. Then tighten the bolts. I had primers jumping out of the cup until I did this. Polishing the primer cup sliding thingy on the surfaces where it contacts the primer tower is a good idea.

2) The black plate upon which the primer cup sliding thingy (what the HECK is the name for that thing?!?!) slides should be pushed as far to the left and to the rear (toward you) as possible. Push it just before tightening the bolts on the primer tower.

3) The rod that connects to the powder measure from the shell plate should be set up do that it remains perpendicular to the ground throughout the entire stroke. Letting it get on an angle can cause things to hang up.

January 8, 2003, 12:56 PM
I had problems with the primer system on my 550B also, many moons ago. I called Dillon, they explained about alignment, plate tension and loose screws which needs to be checked occasionally and nada problem since.

Dont give up on it, it a good system which only needs a little finnesse to get it running smoothly. Oh yeah, and stay away from CCI primers which are crap in and of themselves.

Good loading.

January 8, 2003, 05:49 PM
I do use mostly CCI...apparently I need to try something else. Winchesters don't work well in a striker-fired Glock. I think I'll try some Remingtons - they never let me down.

I missed that part in the manual about not using CCI's. DOH..read the directions, Ape.

I do have to get the machine on firmer footing. Lots of things wobbling around. Maybe a Strong Mount?

Thanks for the REALLY good set-up info, all.

Worst thing now is, I'm out of brass! Lots of snow and bad weather here in SOhio keeps the shooters home.

January 8, 2003, 06:02 PM
Is it wobbling around because it's not firmly attached to the bench, or is the bench itself moving around? If it's the bench that's moving the Strong Mount won't help since it still bolts to the bench top.

January 8, 2003, 10:31 PM
Both types of brass you mention give me problems with my Dillion 650. MAINLY the S&B. I had almost 10,000 rounds of it!! I the brass to carrol bullets and the chamfered the primer pockets for 6 dollars per 1000 and I have not had one problem since.

The primer pockets have to sharp a edge on them.

January 9, 2003, 11:29 AM
I really like S&B 45ACP brass, but primers were a challenge at first.

I have very good luck using Winchester primers in unchamfered S&B brass. This is in stark contrast to the other brands that usually didn't seat properly in the S&B brass.

Win primers also feed very nicely in my 550.

Strong mount is nice: IMO, mainly because it gets the press up to a proper working level. However, I'm only using four sheetrock screws to mount it onto a butcherblock bench top and its rock solid.

January 9, 2003, 09:02 PM
Please don't tell me I should be having problems priming S&B .45 brass! I've loading thousands of S&B brass in the last two years with no problem on my 650(Win and Rem primers). I've only had trouble twice in ten years with my priming system, just required cleaning. Dillon is always helpful and happy to answer questions.

Johnny Guest
January 10, 2003, 12:30 AM
No way to estimate the thousands of rounds - - mostly .45 ACP - - I've loaded on my 550B, almost without trouble. I can get away with using the odd box of CCI primers, but I have had a lot of problems with these, where Remington, Federal, and Winchecter run smooth as anything.

Almost every time I have trouble with a piece of brass, it is either a military case I failed to remove primer crimp from, or else it was S&B brass.

Mikul's suggestions are good ones--He made some the same I would have.

Best of luck to you - - -

Master Blaster
January 10, 2003, 12:02 PM
I have loaded about 20,000 rounds both large and small primers on my 550B, the primer feed works very well with federal and Winchester primers. CCIs can be problematic, I'm told so I never used them.

Make sure you keep the primer slide clean of grit from the decapped cases, I use a paint brush every 100 rounds or so (when I refill the primer tube) to brush the crud out.

When you change the primer slide, finger tighten the capscrews lightly, and then use the hole in the shell plate carrier to align the feed before attaching the action rod, and the return spring. When the primer cup is centered in the hole, primer slide is forward, and handle up, (ram lowered) tighten the screws tight with your fingers. dont overtighten them!!. Then attach the action rod and the spring. This will avoid any misalignment.

Dont overtighten the shell plate bolt the plate should turn freely but click on each station.

Call Dillon they are helpful and will walk you through this.

S&B brass is inconsistent, some has very tight primer pockets, and some is OK. Winchester primers seem to work better with S&B Brass. The ww stuff is probably pretty old, I think they went out of business sometime ago (10 Years?).

January 10, 2003, 06:28 PM
Thank you all, for the replies and the set-up hints. I'll reference this thread often. There's an incredible wealth of good-natured, willingly and freely shared experience on this board that I'm very grateful didn't die along with TFL.

I'm going to the People's Rights Organization (PRO) gun show tomorrow, and I'm going to buy or wheedle some brass and resume my Dillon training.

I discovered I've boogered up the powder measure linkage with all my "kampfs." Dillon cheerfully said "send it in," so I may try it with a Lee powder measure for the week or so it's away.

I hate retreating.

January 10, 2003, 09:55 PM
I'm guessing that your cat is pretty smart and left the area when you used your vacuum. YOU SHOULD NEVER VACUUM the floor in a loading area. Use a broom and dustpan and a mop. You'll get the idea the first time you ignite a primer by whanging it around inside the mechanism and it starts the powder burning. Yeah, yeah, I know, you have been doing it for decades and haven't been killed yet. You could probably sit down at a slot machine somebody has not hit a jackpot on for hours and your first coin would bring up three bars.

January 10, 2003, 11:50 PM
Call Dillon!:D

January 11, 2003, 09:10 AM
Vacuum is outside the room, and outside the building if I want.

Tossed bag in far-away fire pit when I was done, and purged machine, lines, etc.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures.

Cat is far smarter than I am. Doesn't reload.

January 11, 2003, 09:27 AM
Of course, but is he a Mauser?

January 12, 2003, 09:27 AM
:p Of course, but is he a Mauser? :p


The Rock
January 17, 2003, 10:03 PM
You are not supposed to use CCI?


That is all I have been using for almost 3 years! And I can't remember but 1 problem in thousands of rounds reloaded.



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