progressive reloader ; lee or Dillon


January 5, 2005, 08:24 PM
I want to upgrade my reloading tool to progressive reloading machine. I use Lee handpress for a few years now and I load 5 handgun caliber and about 10 rifle caliber and happy with it except it took me 2 days to load 400 rounds of .45 instead of one hour.So I want to get progressive reloader for loading pistol ammo and I need some input from actual owner.I like Lee product and the customer service but the pro 1000 got a poor rating from Guntest magazine a few years back .Is this a good machine that is easy to set up and maintain ? Or I better off with Dillon machine like the RL 550 or Square deal B. How about the cost of replacement tool head and reloading die (I already own Lee die but I assume it will not work with Dillon machine).

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Black Snowman
January 5, 2005, 08:53 PM
I have a Lee Load Master.

For the volume you're talking about loading it will take you a LONG time to make up the inital cost of a Dillon, particularly with that many differant calibers. If you get a Lee, go right for the Load Master and skip the 1000. I've used my Loadmaster for quite a while and worn out a good number of parts on it, including the carrier.

I figure with the replacement parts and such I've purchased over the years I could have had a Dillon 650 (which is what I was comparing it with when I got it) but I would have had to put in all that money up front.

If you're going to switch calibers a lot I think the best option availble right now is the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP. It's what I would get if I were starting from scratch. It wasn't available when I got my Load Master.

Your Lee dies will work with any progressive but the Dillon Square Deal B.

Do plenty of research before you buy, it's a fairly big purchase. :)

January 5, 2005, 08:59 PM
I do not own one of the progressive presses. I have had one foot on and one off on purchasing one in the last few months. I know many of the people on this forum use the Dillon 550. I believe you can use any 7/8 by 14 die with these. I know the square deal takes a special die set from Dillon and have seen many negative remarks about them. Much has been written on the Lee Progressive presses which is not favorable.
I am still brewing over which one to get if and when i go that route. Looking into the new Hornady progressive press and RCBS. Still not sure. You hear bad about all products on these forums but i have heard nothing negative about the factory warranty and customer service from Dillon. Until i decide i guess i am not a lot of help . Much depends on if you will be switching calibers often or leave it set up for the 45 or whatever. Keep us posted and do some homework on this one. Curt

January 5, 2005, 09:41 PM
I have a friend that has multiple Lee units. It seems you're continually fiddling and trying to keep them adjusted and running right. Lee makes great dies and other products, but IMO, the progressive presses aren't their strong suit

I don't have experience with the RCBS, but a number of posts here in the past have been far less than favorable

I have a 550 with 5 of the quick change head/powder measure units. This gets into a lot of money, but I can change calibers in a few minutes. Nearly all the competition shooters use Dillon. Not sure if there's a viable reason, or it's a status or "just because". I know for sure that Dillon's warranty is unbeatable. The Square deal is made for pistol, not rifle, so you'd need the 550.

I haven't used the LnL Hornady, but some of the guys here really like them. I have a Hornady powder measure and it's super smooth and much easier and faster to adjust than the Dillon. You can also get the bushing inserts and just swap the insert without adjustment (assuming you're using the same powder). Dillon says they intentionally make their measures harder to adjust to discourage someone from taking shortcuts and loading with the incorrect powder

In the end, I suspect the "advantage" of Dillon vs Hornady is along the same lines of Ford vs Chevy

January 5, 2005, 10:20 PM
I've never had a Lee progressive so I can't give any feedback on them. I've got two Dillon SDBs, and a RL550B. I bought the SDBs used and Dillon looked them over for me and replaced some small parts at no charge. The 550 I bought new when the had a payment plan some years back. I've loaded in excess of 12,000 rounds on my large primer SDB with no problems. The 550 has probably 30,000 rounds on it with a couple simple malfunctions. I'd go with the big blue if I were you. :D

January 5, 2005, 10:56 PM
Front Sight, the Journal of USPSA said that of the shooters that used reloaders at last years Nationals, 94.85% used Dillon presses while 2.01% used Lee reloaders.



January 5, 2005, 11:12 PM
OK, everyone here will most likely tell you to get a Dillon. If yor budget is such that you can blow a couple grand to get set up for all your calibers, go for it! No doubt it's a better press then the Lee.


If you want to spend 1/3 to 1/4 the $$, don't think the Lee is an unusable product. I went through the same decision a couple months ago. I could afford at the time either a nice Hornady L&L or RCBS, but decided to go with the Lee after copious research, and I have not regretted my decision.

Switching calibers is very low cost, and after a couple tweaks the Lee press will manufacture fine ammunition.

Lee's customer service is great; they walked me through a few things over the phone when I was setting up.

So far I have loaded .40, .44 and .454 with few problems. .40 works truly progressive, and I can run out about 400 rounds per hour going slow and checking for a powder charge visually. .454 and .44 I actually run like a single stage, one round thru at a time because I get more consistant results. I bet if I lubed cases I would get better results going true progressive with these larger calibers, but I don't mind taking my time with the larger magnum calibers.

Common tips; replace the powder measure chain, spring. Keep it lubed. Don't let the primers get low. Get the double disk kit as it's much more versitile. One thing I do that I never read anyone else comment on is visually watch for a primer to drop every time I downstroke the press and a new case feeds. Since I started doing this, I have had NO priming problems. The majority of the priming problems come from feed snafus...wathing thru the slot each time does not slow anything down and keeps the press running smooth.

I compiled another list of small fixes and adjustments parsed from several similar threads I'd be happy to pass on to you. Shoot me an IM if you would like it or have any other questions.

Oh yeah, Midway's price on the Lee stuff is awful hard to beat, and their service is top notch.

Hope this helps...

January 6, 2005, 08:20 AM
Lee Customer Service:

Dillons customer service is about as good as it gets!

After you start a line with "I broke...", "I lost...", "My dog ate..." you get a lot of "Okay, we'll get that out to you in the mail today-no charge" from Dillon. They are not perfect, but they are really really good.

You can buy a Lee, and many people like them, but if you shoot a lot the migration seems to be from RCBS and Lee to Dillon.

Dillon is more expensive, but is much faster if you load a lot of a single caliber. If you load just a few hundred rounds before you change calibers then maybe Lee or RCBS is the progressive for you. I like to crank out thousands before I change calibers.



January 6, 2005, 08:21 AM
If you read the above post, it specifies some of the things I mentioned. Personally, I have about zero patience for things I have to keep fiddling with. The problem I see with the Lee is the light weight wires, chains, and springs they use for operation

On my Dillon 550, I fill the primer tube, fill the hopper, and crank 'em out. I check maybe every 30-50 rounds to make sure powder charges are consistent, but I seldom if ever change the setting once it's adjusted.

To get started with the Dillon, figure $500. That's everything you'll need for a couple calibers. For each caliber after that, it's about $30-35 for the caliber conversions (shell plate, locator buttons, and powder funnel) and $20-50 for dies. Shell plates and powder funnels may do multiple calibers, depending on what you're loading.

If you're really tight on money and want to try the Lee, my friend is selling all four of his. PM me and I'll get you one for cheap. If it's not what you want, you can probably sell it and get your money back. I also have a brand new Pacific (Hornady) scale that's never been used that I'd let go real reasonable

January 6, 2005, 08:21 AM
The other bit of advice I'd give is to watch ebay and your local large volume reloaders to try to pick up a used one. For some reason around here people will trade off their reloading equipment to the large volume guys in exchange for ammo. One local guy had a Hornady LNL that was almost brand new that he only wanted $280 for. If you've got enough time on your hands and study up on the various owners manuals to know if all the parts are there you can get a pretty good deal. It took me 2-3 months but I was eventually able to piece together an almost new Dillon 550B with .45acp dies and a .45acp calibur conversion for $270.

Just my .02.

Have a good one,

January 6, 2005, 08:28 AM
Get the Dillon.

All the talk about being hard to switch calibers on the dillon is overblown.

Here's a secret: If you talk real nice to the Dillon person on the phone, they'll tell you what caliber conversions are compatiable with eachother. Like the .45ACP and .308 are the same! You just need the $6 powder funnel! ;)

January 6, 2005, 08:33 AM
I bought my first Lee Pro 1000 in the late 1980's because of the low price. I got another Pro 1000 because the first one worked so well. I traded for a used LoadMaster in 1998. After cleaning it and tighting up one screw. I was able to do two things the original owner never did. That is read the directions and accually load ammo with it. It has been 100% reliable and never needed any adjustments since I first got it working. Also I haven't had to adjust the Pro 1000's in years.
The Pro 1000 uses 3 dies and will load all pistol cartridges between 32 and 45 caliber also 222,223,30 carbine,and 7.62x39mm rifle cartridges.
The LoadMaster can use up to 5 dies and will load all pistol and rifle cartridges.
The bottom line is if you are the type that actually reads the directions before trying to put something togeather and not the type that just looks at the pictures. Has the sense to stop before yout tear something up. The patience when something goes wrong to read the directions again and try to figure out what went wrong. Most importantly you think about what you should or shouldn't do in future so it doesn't happen again. Then the patience to try again if the first thing you did to try and fix it doesn't work.
Buy a Lee progressive press.

If you aren't the above type buy a Dillon and make sure to put Dillon's 1-800 help number on speed dail.

January 6, 2005, 08:43 AM
I guess it also depends on how high a volume shooter you are. If you're like me and only plan on loading a couple hundred rounds at a time you might consider a Lee Turrent press. One $7 turrent and a shell holder for each caliber and you're in business. I've loaded several thousand rounds with my three hole turrent and haven't broken anything yet.
If, on the other hand, you need to load several hundred rounds at one setting and money's no object go with the Dillon.

January 6, 2005, 11:21 AM
I had a 550 and sold it to go back to the Lee Turret press. I reload to save money. There were several calibers I would not load with the Dillon because of cost to do so verses how much I shoot that caliber. I cannot say anything bad about the 550 press other than the cost to setup new calibers if your current conversions do not interchange with the new caliber as someone mentioned. I think the conversion cross-reference may be on their website by the way. The Turret press works well for me.

January 6, 2005, 02:16 PM
If you want to save money, go with the LEE Pro 1000. I don't recomend the LoadMaster to anyone after my own experience of owning one for 2 weeks. I actually can't believe that two people have chimmed in on this post to say they like the LM. The Pro 1000 on the other hand, works extremly good. Now, if you have the money for the Dillon 550, go ahead and get the Hornady LNL with the case feeder. You will spend the same amount on the Hornady (with case feed) as you will on the 550 (without the case feed option) and the caliber change overs will cost less as well. The LNL loads as fast as a 650 at the 550 price. You can use standard dies in the 550 and LNL and since you load so many different calibers, I would just get the Hornady.

January 6, 2005, 02:30 PM
I have a loadmaster that I have had for a little over a year. I load 45, 9mm, 38, 357, and I recently added 44mag. I recently had a small problem with the primer mechanism but I am presently resolving the matter. Other than that I have not had any problems with the press once it was set-up. It did however take me a few hours to get the press set-up and running smoothly. When setting up this press you must follow the directions EXACTLY. You must also keep the press clean. Yes their is alot of plastic parts but they are cheap and I can keep a couple of each on hand and replace them when they wear out. The case collater is excellent and the powder measure works excellent once I added the adjustable charge bar. It is also pretty quick to change calibers once you have them set-up in their own tool heads. If you are like me and only loading a thousand rounds or less per month then I can't justify the price of the dillon. I am happy with my loadmaster and would buy another. But I would say the dillon is the better built machine.

January 6, 2005, 02:39 PM
If you can afford it, get the Dillon. I have a 550 and I would not get a Lee progressive. Note that I use a bunch of Lee gear, including two single stage presses, balance, and about 8 sets of dies but their progressives have issues. One of my buddies uses the Lee turret and he likes it but that also some some problems and a lower rate of ammo production.

If all you are going to use it for is hangun ammo, you might consider a Dillon SDB but that uses strange dies and it is a great deal if you are only going to use it for one caliber. As soon as you want multiples it starts to get really expensive.


neolithic hunter
January 11, 2005, 03:41 PM
sandy don't wast your money, dillion has been in the progressive press business for a long time. all of the other manufactures are trying to copy what dillion has been doing for years. all of the others are ok if your not going to be reloading much. but the one thing dillion will do is if you break something or ware it out they will replace it, no questions asked and the age of your press is is not an issue. the square deal is the best pistol press you can buy, but you can't drive a cadillac if you buy a volkswagon. i have known a lot of guy's that have not wanted to put out the little extra for a dillion press, and i've listened to them complain about it for years until they buy a dillion. they didn't take into account that all of the money they spent on a cheap press and keeping it running, that they could have bought a couple dillion presses. buy what you think is right and hope you make the right decision. i have two brothers that have progressive presses also, one is a lee and the other is an rcbs press. they spend most of there loading time fixing there presses, then breakdown and finish loading on one of my dillions. yes i have three of them. a square deal for pistol ammo, a xl-650 for rifle ammo. and a 450 that was upgraded to a 550 (for free by dillion, my first progressive press :D )

January 11, 2005, 03:53 PM
When I was first shopping for a press, I found the never-ending stream of "just get a Dillon" posts rather annoying.

Then I got one.

Just get a Dillon.

January 11, 2005, 05:04 PM
Just get a Dillon.

January 12, 2005, 01:23 PM
My Dillon 550B is on the big white truck coming to my house today. Brian Enos certainly makes it easy to order one, and his advice is top drawer. You can save a little ordering through him as he combines some of the accessories and doesn't charge for shipping if the order is large enough.

January 12, 2005, 05:50 PM
We frequently advise newbies who are trying to decide between two pistols to try and rent or borrow both and just see which one works better.

If you can possibly find somebody with a Loadmaster and somebody with a Dillon 650 (I can assure you they won't be the same person.), see if they'll let you load 500 rounds or so on each. Pay attention to the construction, smoothness-of-operations, etc., etc., then buy whatever your best judgment tells you is better for you.

I personally don't see how anybody who'd ever loaded 50 rounds on a 650 could stand to be in the same room with a Loadmaster. :)

January 12, 2005, 06:01 PM
I've written an uncritical comparison of the Hornady LnL AP and the Dillon 550B here (

... Don't drink the Blue Kool-Aid ...

January 12, 2005, 06:05 PM
"I personally don't see how anybody who'd ever loaded 50 rounds on a 650 could stand to be in the same room with a Loadmaster."

A smiley face does not make an inherently rude comment palatable.

Why are many Dillon advocates frequently so obnoxious? Always positively JUMPING to tell you they own one and how anything else is not worthy and how if you were cool like them you'd have one too.

Conspicuous consumption at its best. You guys should switch careers; I bet you could move a lot of Hummers off the lot to suburban one-uppers. :rolleyes:

David Wile
January 12, 2005, 06:55 PM
Hey folks,

While I might not agree with Rockstar's last statement about being in the same room with a Loadmaster, I certainly do agree with his preceeding paragraph where he states,

"If you can possibly find somebody with a Loadmaster and somebody with a Dillon 650 (I can assure you they won't be the same person.), see if they'll let you load 500 rounds or so on each. Pay attention to the construction, smoothness-of-operations, etc., etc., then buy whatever your best judgment tells you is better for you."

My only recommendation would be to also include all other progressives you possibly could in the comparison Rockstar suggests. I would not be presumptious enough to tell you which you will choose because your personal needs and values are likely to be different than mine. I have a Hornady LNL progressive and would not consider a Lee press. However, I would not think of suggesting that a Lee press is not a good decision for some folks.

Do like Rockstar suggests and actually test as many presses as you can so you can make an informed decision.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

January 12, 2005, 07:00 PM
well i have loaded on a 550 and i've loaded on a pro1000....

i own a pro1000...


January 12, 2005, 09:53 PM
I use a Lee Pro 1000. I got it for $125.00. I load for 38, 357, 44sp, 44Mag, 45ACP and 45LC. It's easy to use. Watch the primers, watch them drop one, "feel" it go in and you're good to go.

Everytime I add a caliber to handload it costs me

about $25 for the dies
$15 for the turret or toolhead as DIllon calls it
$15 for the shellplate (if needed)

Total of: $55 or thereabouts.

If I want to buy a new press to set up alongside my Pro1000 that's about $80.00. Another shell carrier (that carousel thingy)is $36.00

It costs much much more to add a caliber with Dillon. I think I can buy a new Lee press for the same money.

However, if I were to get a Dillon, I'll get a 650. The 550 as popular as it is, does not auto index. I know a few folks who got a double charge because of this "feature". An auto indexer like the 650 makes it difficult to double charge. Odds are you are savvy enough to catch this. But it does happen to the best handloaders. JMHO.

January 12, 2005, 11:20 PM
Dillon all the way, life is too short to use inferior equipment.

January 13, 2005, 01:19 AM
Back in the late 1980's before I bought a Lee Pro 1000 I had a couple friends that had Dillon presses. I tried them out before buying the Lee. I loaded on a Dillon model 450,1000,and whatever the model name was of the 1st generation SDB. All functioned fine but the lack of features and high price was a real turn off. Now the 1000 was a class act as it would do everything the Lee would plus some. But with a $800 price it was pretty much out of everyone's budget that wasn't a commerial reloader or owned a Lear jet.

I have never seen why the cast pot metal parts of a Dillon are so much more superior to the molded plastic parts of a Lee. Also I have noticed over the years that Dillon owners that have never owned a Lee talk bad about them. Even the ones that did own a Lee before getting a Dillon always blame the poor quality materials(plastic) or the poor design of the Lee as to why it didn't work for them. But none ever will admit the truth to what was the real problem with them being unable to get the Lee to work correctly. Which was their lack of patience and/or their mechanical ineptitude.

January 13, 2005, 01:41 PM
I have never seen why the cast pot metal parts of a Dillon...
No need for bashing-by-exaggeration, on either side of the fence. Dillon frames are cast aluminum, same as several Lee presses. Most of the small parts are steel. Now the Lee Auto-Prime, that's pot metal (though I like it just the same).:p

David Wile
January 13, 2005, 08:01 PM
Hey Monster,

I am not a fan of Lee products in general, but I am in agreement with you wholeheartedly about the Lee Auto-Prime. It may be cheap metal, and I am on my second one after the first one broke, but I prefer it to my RCBS hand priming tool any day. I also think Lee products have a legitimate place in the reloading community and should not be ignored. I just tend to have a preference for Lyman, RCBS, and Hornady products generally.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

January 14, 2005, 12:51 AM
Thank everyone for the input .Now I will have to do some more research and cost comparison.

January 14, 2005, 05:14 PM
Get a Hornady LNL AP.

Lloyd Smale
January 15, 2005, 05:44 AM
"Why are many Dillon advocates frequently so obnoxious? Always positively JUMPING to tell you they own one and how anything else is not worthy and how if you were cool like them you'd have one too."

because most of us have allready been down the road. I had a 1000 and a loadmaster. Bought the loadmaster cause i thought the 1000 was junk and found out the loadmaster was worse! I now have 5 dillons and wouldnt buy any other. There may be somethings that a couple other presses do better but overall you cant beat them. Plus there backed up by the best warantee of anything anywhere. I wonder how many Lee presses are sitting in closets unused because people just gave up trying to get them to load reliably. I dont remember a single loading session with one that didnt require some kind of dinking around with it. I know a couple of my square deals have over 100000 rounds on them and there still going strong. There starting to get a little loose but dillion has already sent the new bushings no charge. ther still working fine and i havent bothered to install them yet. They will even recondition a press for free even if you bought it used!

Uncle Don
January 15, 2005, 08:45 AM
I contend that those that can't run a Loadmaster are the same people who refuse to follow directions and have the attitute that they know better becasuse "I've been loading for 20 years, etc". Mike Dillon is a brilliant marketer - he "over engineers" and then promises to replace parts for those people who don't use equipment properly and then is able to charge up to three times more than is necessary for the service. I have nothing at all against Dillon, it's just that I don't need it because I'm one who can follow directions and as a result - have a Loadmaster that does, and has worked perfectly. Futhermore, I guarantee that I can produce more output than any 550 and absoultely match any 650.

I've had a Loadmaster running flawlessly for years now and have well over 30,000 round through mine with one (1) replacement of a primer slider that cost $1.00 and was because it was NEVER cleaned prior to that. How can this be? I set the dies, powder measure and primer seating depth properly - I use full strokes of the handle and it just keeps ticking.

January 15, 2005, 09:35 AM
Yeah following directions is one thing, and I whole heartedly agree that is paramount to things working. But, I have watched too many people experience nothing but trouble with Lee. I have never experienced such good customer service from reloading companies. Lee had never replaced one of thier pot metal auto primer levers that wore out. I solved problem and go the RCBS hand held.

I have been loading on a 550 for a long time. The only complaint I have ever had is changing from small to large primers, and it is not that hard. I solved that problem by loading only loading large primer carts. Or as if I had the space just buy one and dedicate it to small primers.

As long as you follow directions things can work as advertised. Testosterone is hard to over come!

January 15, 2005, 07:41 PM
Uncle Don,
I see from your post that you have run into the same type guy I traded with to get his "non working" LoadMaster. While talking to him about trading for his LoadMaster he said the same thing I have heard from many former Lee,now Dillon owners. "Lee's are piece of crap,I've been loading for 20+ years, I don't need to read no stinkin' directions,etc"
Talking to him for a while the part that I didn't understand is that he wouldn't spend 10 mins reading directions but thought nothing of spending hours on the Dillon 1-800 number while someone talked him through fixing the problems he had getting his Dillon to work.

I don't know that "Testosterone is hard to over come!" the correct way to express it.
It is more like Pride and Vanity are hard to over come.
Which explains the many "in the closet" Lee owners.

January 16, 2005, 12:10 AM
JA and Uncle Don, have either of you ever used a Dillon? Honest question, that is all.

January 16, 2005, 01:36 AM
I started with a Lee turrent press, powder measure, etc. and mostly wore it out over 10 years. I then purchased an older Dillon press (450B partially converted to 550B) and promptly kicked myself for having waited so long to get a real progressive reloader. Dillon makes good equipment that is much higher quality than Lee in my experienced opinion. I looked at the Lee progressive presses and wasn't impressed; they'll work, but you have to work hard at it and be prepared to replace parts that wear out regularly. I was tired of Lee's parts wearing out by that time.

Dillon's service is good. They refurbished the older press I'd bought and paid shipping back to me. The press has a very solid, strong feel that is a pleasure to use. You could do much, much worse than buy a Dillon press; especially the 550B.

It sounds like the Hornady progressive presses also work pretty well and I'd look at them in addition to Dillon. I was looking at the Hornady progressive press when I found the used Dillon. Hornady makes good equipment that doesn't wear out easily. I have a hornady powder measure (and some dies) and it works well.

The best thing I can say about Lee presses is they are lower cost and generally will work if you are willing to tweak/monitor them closely. Lee dies are OK-to-good IMO and I have several sets.

If you want to just relax and reload alot of high quality ammo, pass on Lee unless money is really tight. If money is tight, get Lee equipment and accept the compromise up front and avoid using other presses (that way you won't know what you're missing).

Lloyd Smale
January 16, 2005, 06:14 AM
being an electical lineman by trade for 25 years you learn to follow instructions to the tee or get hurt improvising! That was the first thing i found wrong with the lees. There wishy washy intructions that came with the press. I also have a little engineering background. Spent a couple years at Michigan Tech. and am no dummy. Bottom line is you put a 650 or a 550 along side of a loadmaster and to me anyway theres no comparison and as far as comparing a square deal to a pro 1000 its almost a joke. Sure the cost is a justification. Thats why when i was starting out i bought the lees in the first place. But now my theroy is that ive upgraded into the presses i will keep for life and just wish i would have bucked up and paid the money from the git go. I have nothing against lee products I love there inexpensive little priming tools, about 3/4s of my dies are lee and there six cavity molds are a bargin in my opionion. Most of my buddys who started loading started on lee presses at my recomendation. There starting kits for first time loaders are a bargin and if you find you dont care for loading your not out much. I have two manual lee turnents and and old O press still set up that i use occasionaly and they have been great for the purposes i use them. My little lee hand presses have sized 10s of thousands of rounds and i dont go to camp without one. But ill stick to my opinion that if your ready to step up to a progressive press open up the wallet and buy a dillion or a hornady. Youll never regret it.

Lloyd Smale
January 16, 2005, 06:29 AM
one last thing. Id like to see what the respose to how many use lee progressives woud be on the frontier shooting board. thats where Taffin Taylor Wilson Merbach Pierce Paco and alot of other guys that have done more shooting and reloading then most of us have hang out and see what they use. I know some of them personally and allready know the answer. Id bet you have that post up for a good long time before youd get anyone to recomend a lee progressive. Ok im all done ranting now its out to the barn to load some ammo. Now if i can only figure out how to tie my shoes.

January 16, 2005, 11:53 AM
Back in the late 1980's before I bought a Lee Pro 1000 I had a couple friends that had Dillon presses. I tried them out before buying the Lee. I loaded on a Dillon model 450,1000,and whatever the model name was of the 1st generation SDB. All functioned fine but the lack of features and high price was a real turn off. Now the 1000 was a class act as it would do everything the Lee would plus some. But with a $800 price it was pretty much out of everyone's budget that wasn't a commerial reloader or owned a Lear jet.

The above is from one of my eailer posts.
At the time late 1980's the pre SDB model was made only in 38/357,9mm,45acp,and 44 mag. You were pretty much screwed with one as it used special size dies that fit only it.
The 450 which was the pre 550 model at the time also had a limited number of cartridges it would load about a dozen. Due to both models not having a case feeder and the 550 not having auto indexing they were not a progressive presses but more semi progressive presses.
Since the late 1980's I have used Dillon 550,650,and 1050 presses. The 550 has auto primer and powder but no auto indexing and case feeder. So is still way over priced being just one notch above a turret press in features. The 650 is a really good machine if you can afford the $200 case feeder on top of it's $450 price without dies and $65 cartridge conversions. As with the 1000 the 1050 is a high dollar machine but is a class act.

As far as the " Taffin Taylor Wilson Merbach Pierce Paco and alot of other guys".
How many of them actually paid for a Dillon? Paid the price a regular guy would pay? How many won one at a shooting match?

January 16, 2005, 01:35 PM
I see auto-indexing (or lack of) brought up again and again about the Dillon 550B. Unless you have a automatic case feeder, the auto indexing isn't that important. It is easy and natural to do in the 550B loading process. Unlike the Lee turrent press where you have to turn the turrent with the dies and powder measure attached, the 550B indexing is turning the plate that holds the cases a quarter turn to the next detent position. It takes very little pressure and just is not a big deal on an extremely versatile press.

I'm not against auto indexing so long as the movement is smooth, but it shouldn't be a hard requirement unless you have a case feeder.

January 16, 2005, 01:46 PM
It's not about convienence, it's about safety.

It's damn near impossible for me to throw a double charge on my Loadmaster. Not the case on the 550.

Lloyd Smale
January 16, 2005, 03:21 PM
maxinquaye you make the only real valid point agianst a 550 a rooky can get in trouble on one with double charges. JA i do know for a fact that at least a couple of the guys listed bought theres the same way i bought mine. I dont know of any off them that would take a lee progressive if it were given to them. I know i wouldnt. Well maybe a loadmaster because i could get enough for it selling it to at least cover the shipping. I work hard for my money and dont waste it on something just because it has a name on it. Like i said id be more then happy with a hornady progressive there a good machine. But saving a couple hundred dollars to buy a lee isnt worth the stress. Id rather sell a gun and anti up for something good if it came to it. Just my opinion and you know how much an opinion is worth. Buy what you want and so will I. But dont let anyone tell me im a snob for buying a dillion or an idot because i cant get a chevette to work like a corvette. Check around on the forums and youll find alot of people that know me and have visited and ask them how many people they know that load more ammo or cast more bullets then me and ill bet you wont get many answers. Ill just keep smiling and loading on stuff that i know works.

January 16, 2005, 09:45 PM
Lloyd, I don't think anyone is arguing that the Dillon presses are higher quality. Whether or not they are a good value for the price is a question only the individual can answer.

The Lee preses can work fine; there are many of us who use them to load thousands of rounds of quality ammo. They represent, IMO, a great value for the money, being feature laden and safe.

The comment I made was regarding the attitiude many Dillon owners have. It's fine to let other people know that you're pleased with and recommend your Dillon. It's the people like Rockstar who continually make snobbish remarks that put a bad taste in my mouth.

January 17, 2005, 12:41 AM
Maxinquaye said:

It's not about convienence, it's about safety.
It's damn near impossible for me to throw a double charge on my Loadmaster. Not the case on the 550. END QUOTE

Auto-indexing isn't going to prevent carelessness while reloading. I'm not sure a progressive press should be the first press someone buys; lots of operations happening at once.

I hope the powder measure that comes with the Lee progressives has improved. They used to come with the auto-disk. Using it with the Lee turrent press, I managed to create at least a dozen squib loads before I found it wasn't compatable with finer powders. Only 3 squib loads were fired before I pulled the bullets on 500 rounds of pistol ammo (lots of fun :fire: ) to find the remaining squibs (no powder). I then bought a hornady powder measure to use with finer powders. My Dillon measure doesn't have a problem with finer powder either.

The good and bad points of Lee and Dillon have been posted in this thread so the original poster should have enough information without this turning into a flamewar.

January 17, 2005, 04:26 AM
As Maxinguaye said I am not saying that Dillon's are not well made and work fine.
The point I was trying to make about 550 not having auto indexing is that it only has automatic priming and powder charging. I admit that turning a shellplate is a lot easier than turning the turret on a turret press. But for what the 550 does is it worth more than almost three times the price of a turret press?
Kinda like paying several thousand more for the fully loaded model car when the cheaper model has all the features you want on it but the cup holder. But the cup holder only comes on the fully loaded model.
The Dillon 650,1050,and both Lee presses are true progressive presses. Which to me means no inserting cases or primers,working powder measure handles by hand,or turning shellplates by hand.
Progressive press = insert bullet,pump press handle,and out falls a loaded round.

I have read several gun magazine articles about writers getting free presses to test and write about. Then being given them or keeping them after being offered at a price they couldn't turn down. Also articles about cowboy action and other types of matches giving away Dillon presses as prizes. So when you mention about top prize winning shooters and magazine writers all using Dillon's I have to take that with a grain of salt from what I have read.

In the last 10 years I have been moving steadly to replace all my powders with Accurate Arms powders due to cheaper price and most being better metering ball powders. I have never had a problem with fine grained ball powders in the 5 auto disk measures that I have. The powders that give me problems are flake powders when throwing 3 grains or small charges. Due to the flakes stacking in the cavity at all angles there would be a lot of air space and great varience in charge weights. This really gave me fits when I set up my Pro 1000 for 25acp. I tried several flake powders but when the cavity in the disk is only slightly larger around than the indivigual flakes of powder 1/2 grain variences in charge weight are normal. But a 1/2 grain is way too much when the powder charge is only 1.3 grains. After much trail and error I finally found that the flattened ball shaped grains of WW-231 gave consistant powder charge weights.

Lloyd Smale
January 17, 2005, 05:20 AM
"The good and bad points of Lee and Dillon have been posted in this thread so the original poster should have enough information without this turning into a flamewar"

Good point enough said by me.

January 17, 2005, 07:25 AM
Uncle Don,

I had no idea that the Load Master was as fast as the Dillon 650. How fast can you load on your Load Master.



January 17, 2005, 08:21 AM
I dunno about Uncle Don, but 400 rounds an hour is a nice slow pace on my Loadmaster, visually checking each powder charge and taking my time.

January 17, 2005, 02:21 PM
I can load between 550-600 on my Hornady LNL AP (if I have the primer tubes already loaded). It's easy to check for a powder charge on this press. You have to look at the case before you put the bullet on top and the powder level is plainly visable in the case. It's possible to double chare on the LNL (since the shell plate is rotated in the first and last 2" of travel). But since I have to actually look at the case to be sure that the bullet is being placed in the correct spot (on top of the case), a powder check die is too redundant.


January 17, 2005, 06:46 PM
But for what the 550 does is it worth more than almost three times the price of a turret press?
Yes, it is.*

I used a Lee 4-hole auto-index turret for a while before venturing into the land of progressive presses. The priming system on the Lee is a joke; to load with any rhythm, much less speed, it is necessary to begin with primed cases. Having to at least decap and prime in seperate operations already kills the speed, then of course you must pull the handle 2 or 3 more times on every round. Then after maybe 3000 rounds the index rod bushing wears out or breaks.

Now that I have a progressive, the turret sits in the corner rusting silently. I appreciate the service it gave, especially for the ~$60 it cost me, but compared to reasonable alternatives it's just junk.

*: IMHO, of course, all judgments of worth being inherently subjective.

Uncle Don
January 17, 2005, 07:06 PM
I hadn't checked this thread in a little while - it's really grown. Since I only usually only load 50 rounds at a time, I use the LM like a 550 in that I add a case, a bullet and pull the handle with the case feeder removed. Since I don't have to manually index, it still puts out around 600 rounds an hour this way.

I had about 500 45s to do recently. I put the case feeder back on and timed myself for three minutes and averaged 22 rounds a minute without pushing it which comes to 1320 rounds an hour. Given that you have to replenish components, I can still easily do 1100 rounds per hour. I attribute part of the speed to the shorter handle stroke - it adds up after 500 rounds.

Last summer, a guy I met at the gun club was going on about his POS LM and saying the same things I'm hearing here. I offered to look at it and he took me up on it. He watched as I re-adjusted it to how it was supposed to be set up, replaced a $1.00 part he destroyed because of it and he's now happy and running like a banchi.

Not too long ago on Glock Talk, I heard someone who had the same sentiments and offered his old LM to someone for the shipping. I offered to not only pay the shipping but give him $50 for his packing trouble. He didn't take me up on it but I would make the same offer here. Any takers?

Sorry for the length but someone asked if I had used a Dillon - the answer is yes and no. I tried someones 550 and found it too slow and a bit dangerous in that if you lose your conentration just a little, a double charge could happen. I have not used a 650 but pulled the handle on one in the store. It looks like a quality press for sure, but over-engineered for what it needs to be to get the job done. That engineering and lifetime warrantly to cover ham handed people commands a price.

January 17, 2005, 08:18 PM
The question about the Dillon 550B being worth 3 times more than the Lee turrent press begs a response. It is easily 3 times more efficient and higher quality construction to boot.

I wore out a new Lee turrent press loading pistol ammo. I have loaded more ammo (rifle and pistol) on an older, used Dillon press than I ever did on the Lee press and the Dillon is just as tight and smooth as when I bought it. Now onto why the 550B (or any progressive) is worth 3 times what a Lee turrent press costs:

A turrent press holds several dies at once, but pulling the handle only performs a reloading step on a single, solitary case. It takes 3 or 4 handle strokes to reload a single round of ammo.

A progressive press performs reloading steps on 3-5 cartridges with one pull of the handle and a loaded round is generally ejected after each handle stroke.

January 17, 2005, 11:12 PM
I only load single stage for my shooting does not require a press which turns out much ammo in a short time. QUESTION: I do not know what you mean when you say the auto disc does not work with fine powders. I am not being critical of anything you wrote but can you elaborate. I do not want to get squib loads. I use WW231 and have used the auto disc for years. After flaring the cases in which the powder is automatically dumped i check each one in a loading block. Maybe 231 meters okay , it does for me. I have had no problems, but then again i am one of those whom clean primer pockets and inspect the brass after resizing. Let me know of what powders can cause problems. I also dump WW296 on the 357 Lee press with another auto disc. I feel i would not trust it for large volumes of rifle powder though and that is why i use my RCBS Uniflow for those. Curt

January 18, 2005, 12:20 AM

I had a problem with AA#7 (I think) getting in the gap between the disk and bottom of the plastic powder hopper causing stiff movement of the disk. I suspect the squib loads were caused by the disk being temporarily jammed for one cycle of the turrent. AA#7 is a fine ball powder and will fit into tiny spaces. If your disk moves freely while dispensing powder, then you don't have a problem. I didn't notice the disk sticking on mine until later. Once I changed back to Unique/Blue Dot type flake powder, the problem disappeared with the auto disk.

W231 isn't a very small powder IIRC so I wouldn't expect problems using it. Be careful with really fine powders though.

January 18, 2005, 06:39 AM
I was not comparing the Lee Turret press to the Dillon 550B but the high quality Lyman and/or RCBS turret presses.
If I had been comparing the Lee Turret press to the Dillon 550B it would have been 6 or 7 times depending if the Lee Turret press was the auto indexing or manual indexing model. Dillon 550B=$350 Vs. Lee Turret=$48 or $58.

The problem with the Auto Disk powder measure was not the fine grained powder but with how tight the screw on each side of the powder hopper that holds it on the measure were tightened. If they are loose there will be a large enough gap between the hopper and the disk so powder can work it's way in between the hopper/disk causing problems. I.E. locking up and resulting in powder not being dropped in a case. Also if any looseness of the hopper is noticed you should not tighten the screws. The powder should be dumped from the measure and the hopper removed. Clean any powder granules from the bottom of the hopper and the top of the disk. Then reassemble the measure making sure the hopper is real tight but not so tight as to keep the disk from moving or taking too much force to move it.
If this is not done any powder grains trapped between the hopper/disk will cause problems.

Uncle Don
January 18, 2005, 07:54 AM
"I wore out a new Lee turrent press loading pistol ammo. I have loaded more ammo (rifle and pistol) on an older, used Dillon press than I ever did on the Lee press and the Dillon is just as tight and smooth as when I bought it. Now onto why the 550B (or any progressive) is worth 3 times what a Lee turrent press costs:"

That is comparing apples to oragnes but now that you mention it - your wearing out a Lee Turret Press means you are ham handing equipment. The fact that it didn't happen with the Dillon is a testiment to the over-engineering Mike Dillion puts into them for just that purpose. I'm not saying they are not high quality presses but he also caters to a market of people who use far more strength reloading than is necessary by offering a lifetime no BS warranty and beefing them up - then charging three times more for it. If you don't belive that, just scan the boards and see how many people destroy parts (most admit it as their own fault) and then brag about taking advantage of the free parts. Somebody has to pay for that and it's those people who don't destroy parts. I'd rather pay for my parts if needed and let those that destroy them pay for their own.

I've had a Lee Turret Press for at least 10 years and while I now use a progressive for handgun loads, I used to use it for everything and my estimate is around 40 thousand rounds through it. It works today like it did new but I lube it now and them and set the dies properly to do their work at the very top of the stroke for each station so it isn't necessary to put excess stress on the handle to do the job.

BTW - I'm not comparing the two directly, but I can easily load 250 handgun rounds an hour on my Turret Press. I hear of many people saying they get between 3 and 4 hundered on their 550s. I'd say that the Turret Press gives half or slightly over the output while costing four times less and we won't even count the costly caliber changes of the 550. Pretty efficient I think.

January 18, 2005, 08:17 AM
Thanks guys for the info on the Lee Auto Disc. Once i set mine up on the Lee 3 turrent press i never change it. I have 2 of these loaders set up. One is for 357 Mag and the other 45 acp. I do not have the indexing feature and use them with good results as a single stage. Just the way i do things i guess. Have had one for over 20 years and it is like new. It is good to clean and lube a press before things get out of hand. I feel it extends the life and just makes things a little safer especially for the progressive press people. My own opinions have changed on progressive presses since being on these forums . Technique and care in loading take a front seat to anything. Some people have had the primer detonations with Dillon and others. It can happen but i feel , much of this can be avoided by paying attention.

January 19, 2005, 07:26 AM
Uncle Don,

I think a more accurate way to determine the through put of your press might be to load for a longer period, say at least 30 minutes. Loading for just three minutes and 66 rounds might not give you a true indication of the press' speed.



Uncle Don
January 20, 2005, 03:15 PM
"Uncle Don,

I think a more accurate way to determine the through put of your press might be to load for a longer period, say at least 30 minutes. Loading for just three minutes and 66 rounds might not give you a true indication of the press' speed.



I can accept that - however I generally don't load that many at one sitting because even if were 18 rounds a minute average as opposed to 22, I'd still be at nearly 11 boxes for the half hour. Can't say that I've ever needed that kind of stash.

Black Snowman
January 20, 2005, 05:38 PM
Hmm, including lubricating the press, caliber change, setup, replenishing components, and putting in trays to check primers and count production I loaded 1500 rounds of .40 S&W in about 6 hours. I think. It wasn't all in one sitting so I might be a little off but that would be the high end.

I did it on my Lee Load Master. That's about 250 rounds an hour over the long haul, taking my time. Including stopping to pet the cats occasionally, bathroom breaks, etc. . . Pretty much a worst case scenario for production speed.

neolithic hunter
January 27, 2005, 10:03 PM
my brother and myself shoot in NRA highpower rifle matches. he shoots a 7.62x51, and i shoot a .556, we used to spend an entire day loading match ammo on a single stage press thats about 500 rnds for us both well at a match dillion had a rep. there and asked us why we didn't load match ammo on a progressive. we told him well we couldn't get the powder measure to through a consistant charge that we were happy with. so he explained to me how to do a modified progressive loading routine. i size and deprime all of my brass at one time on the progressive takes about 30 minutes to do. then clean them ck primer pockets, necks and case body and change the tool head as it only has a sizing die in it i do this for both calibers of ammo. put the cases back into the case feeder flip the switch and start pulling the handle. my brother or i measure out the powder to the .01 of a grain on an rcbs auto powder measure pour it and the handle gets pulled again. we now load 500 rounds of match ammo in about 2 hours :cool: . and it used to take all day. with my dillion 650 i can take 30.06 brass and size it to 7x57 and the press gives me no problem, i still have to trim, it but oh well. can you make 7x57 or 8x57 out of 06 on a lee press more than once?

January 30, 2005, 09:39 PM
if you're going to shoot more than you spend time typing on the internet, get a dillon. then you can load a bunch of ammo so fast and shoot so much that you're good, and you can come back on here and talk smack about whatever you want.

There is a reason why my bench has a 9mm square deal (cuz i rarely shoot 9mm) a dillon 1050 38 super machine, a 550 with 45, 44mag, 357mag, 223 complete conversions on it, and an SL900 which kicked the hornady 366 off the corner.

Because they are faster, worth the money, and make an excellent round.

To counter some claims made previously, I hardly see how the powder measure leads to lengthy adjustments to dial it in.
What do you want? A specific setting for each and every powder? Every powder takes up different amount of space due to it's own specific density. The dillon powder measure bar only allows a specific amount in every time. It's adjustable to whatever powder you want to use, without yanking the whole stupid thing apart and putting some dumb bushing in it only to go and measure that and change it if that charge dropped doesnt meet your desires, then you better hope you have each and every other bushing or disc.
If you really hate the dillon powder measure, and for some reason think it's difficult to use, replace the powder measure bar with the Arredondo one.
The dillon powder measure is as difficult to manipulate as turning a nut.

The failsafe rod, oh yeah, it requires you take it off if you change caliber conversions. You dont even need to put it back on if you dont want to. It's like a seatbelt in addition to an airbag.
A wingnut which can lead to squib loads?
Odd, on just my 1050, which has not had this failsafe rod removed, i've easily loaded and shot, in excess of 60,000 rounds in the past 4 years and not had a single squib.
the 550 which also has the same rod, well , i havent shot as many rounds off that press but again, no squibs. Squibs are caused by inattention, not the press.
You need to pay attention to the powder level in your powder measure. It gets near empty, better put more in.
That's pretty easy to keep track of, considering IT'S CLEAR!

As for locator buttons making it difficult to remove a shell to check the powder charge....
Yeah, i guess they are as difficult as taking your left hand, moving it forward, and grabbing the button and pulling it straight up and out. It's only difficult to do if you forgot where you put it after.
It takes less time to pull that button out than it does to button a button on your shirt. This can't be a legitimate complaint. I mean, seriously!

John Kelly recently quoted the % of competition shooters at the USPSA nationals who used Dillon presses. Well, there is a good reason why the best of the best use these.
Because they are fast, they make extremely consistent rounds, and if you break anything, Dillon will get you a replacement part immediately.

Before you ask: Doesn't Mike Dillon already have enough Machine Guns....
ask: do I want to reload a lot of ammo and save so much money and time that I too can buy a machine gun?
Or, perhaps: doesn't Bill Gates already have enough money and I should buy an apple?
or- are the machines actually worth it, and if one guy was smart enough to create his own company and sell presses at a reasonable amount, and we all bought them, isn't he entitled to the fruits of his labors?

Or: should we be all communists and begrudge the capitalist his profit?

Yes, you pay more for quality, reliability and speed.
some people accept that, others seek the cheapest way out.
All my presses and conversion kits have paid for themselves countless of times over.
Is the cheapest way out always the best way out?
Depends how often you're going to use it I suppose.

January 30, 2005, 11:05 PM
Wow man, tell us what you *really* think....

/Some people need less coffee :p

February 1, 2005, 12:44 PM
I've been on the fence for a long time about buying reloading equipment, but after about a quarter of the way through this thread, I ordered a Dillon 550B for 38spl/357.

My main concern is that I don't want a double charge, but I think that I'm patient and careful enough to achieve this.

We'll see what happens. By the way, I have no reloading experience, and will probably start out not using it as a progressive, but just watchng the operations happen one at a time.


February 1, 2005, 01:28 PM
Wow man, tell us what you *really* think....---Maxinquaye
Matt shoots the same way, fast and on target.:)

...I have no reloading experience,...jamz

James, if your really have no reloading experience, I'd be more then happy to help you get started, if you'd like.



February 1, 2005, 04:24 PM
jkelley, that would really be great. You can tell where I am in my location, and I'd be more than happy to supply you with beer as you teach me reloading.

Kidding! I kid about the beer while reloading. :p

I'd like the help. In fact, I'd like the help right now in terms of where to get bullets, cases, porder, primers, and the various miscellany I'm gonna need.

I've ordered Lyman's book, Speer's book, and "Basic Reloading" by Nonte to get me started. I like to get started with new toys quickly. :)


Lloyd Smale
February 2, 2005, 05:50 AM
had to laugh at this one Mattjoe if you're going to shoot more than you spend time typing on the internet, get a dillon. then you can load a bunch of ammo so fast and shoot so much that you're good, and you can come back on here and talk smack about whatever you want. Well said. I think the problem is to many guys here have 3000 dollar computers and 50 dollar loading outfits. Ill stick to using what the pros use and what cosistantly i have proven to myself works. I think that if anyone loading on a lee would sell the scanner and printer and buy a dillon they to would be singing there praises on here. But probably still doing more typing then shooting. Ive even got a buddy who brags on the pretty red presses on his bench allways spotlessly clean and carefully covered where they sit until someone that doesnt know comes over and he impresses them with his PROGRESSIVE PRESSES his guns look as nice and clean as his presses all lined up in order of power in his display case. Sorry boys but im a shooter I shoot at least 4 days a week and usually at least 300 rounds when id do. I cast all my own bullets and dont have time for inferior equiptment. Except when it comes to this thing an old 450 mhz computer with dial up. Its all i need to order reloading equiptment. Like mattjoe said ive never seen a competive shooter yet say he loaded on a lee. I guess though if they did they wouldnt admit it out loud.

February 2, 2005, 07:49 AM
I'll send you an e-mail from home tonight or tomorrow with some basic info on where you can get reloading supplies in State.

You'll need to read the Lyman book before you start.
Have you set up your press, if not do you want help?
What other equipment have you purchased, do you want sugestions?



Guy B. Meredith
February 2, 2005, 11:16 AM
If you do decide to spend the money for a Dillon 550B I would suggest checking out the Hornady LNL AP. It has some features of the Dillon 650 at a 550B price. Then you can add on a case feeder when ready for real production.

When I was looking around I had the impression that the Dillon was more gadgety and had more pieces to wear, jam, etc. The Hornady is tight and straight forward.

Customer service with Hornady has been great, too.

February 2, 2005, 10:14 PM

Looking forward to the email.

I've only just ordered the press, it won't arrive for a week or so I'd imagine. I ordered the dillon 550b for 38/357, and I'm not sure if this means that I need dies for it as well, or if it comes with them. Hopefully the manuals (Speer and Lyman) will arrive before the press. I'm pretty mechanically oriented, so with instructions I might be okay setting it up, but every time I've looked at one in a store I've been entirely lost and can't imagine how the thing works, so some setup help might be great.

I haven't purchased anything else, I guess I'll need the components, naturally, and a set of calipers, and... um... a bullet puller ....

February 2, 2005, 10:26 PM
Jamz, the 550B will come with a 38/357 "conversion kit" which is the shellplate, brass buttons, and powder funnel needed for that caliber. You'll still need to buy the sizing/decap die, seating die, and crimping die. Dies are normally purchased as a set, but can be bought individually.

The dillon brand dies are good quality and have some features that are nice for a progressive press, but they cost $55 a set. You can save $10-$25 by buying a different brand die set, but the dillon stuff works well together.

You'll also need a scale to weigh the powder charge when setting the adjustable powder measure.

February 3, 2005, 06:39 PM

I'm not getting e-mail through to you. Could you try sending one to me?



February 3, 2005, 06:59 PM
Sorry John, old email address in my profile. Email sent from current one. :)


February 5, 2005, 11:25 PM
Hi. I found this forum tonight and did no realize that I was already registered, my last visit was in October 2003. I have been reading this thread with great interest. There are some noticably strong opinions on presses. Let me add mine.
When I started reloading my first press was a Lee Pro 1000 bought it when they first came out. Loaded many thousands of rounds on it, still have it and in fact I have two, I had three and I'll explain shortly. I liked it so when the Loadmaster came out I bought one right away. Bigest mistake of my life. Worst POS I have ever used. Had for about 6 months, didn't get 100 usable round in that whole time. On the phone with Lee repeatedly, sent it back twice, no improvement. The priming system is it's worst feature, there is a reason why every other manufacture primes cases on the rams downstroke, not on the upstroke when all other actions are also being done. Finaly sold for less that half of what I paid for just to get rid of it. Its been years and that guy still won't talk to me.
6 years ago my long time shooting buddy died suddenly, and since I was the one who got him into shooting his wife gave me his reloading equipment. It consisteed of 2 Pro 1000's (I sold one, that's how I came to have two) and a Dillion 650, and a whole gazuntaload of stuff. I did not set up the Dillion right away, took about a year. But when I did I was very pleased. This press is so easy to use, so smooth, and it has never failed to date. I have since aquired several caliber changes for pistol and rifle. I keep it lubed and clean, within reason I am not fanatical, and it just keeps loading perfect rounds. Something that I could never say about my Lees. I was always fixing this or replacing that especialy those damn plastic ratchets and gears. I still use the Lees for 9mm and 380. and I have five other presses for other cals. one is a Rockchucker with a piggy back 2 conversion. I load 357's on that one, a very good press.
I hope this wasn't too long a boring but it's just my 02 about this subject.

February 6, 2005, 06:12 AM
Welcome (back) to THR, Paul! Where the heck is Linwood?

John, did you getmy email?


February 6, 2005, 02:48 PM

I did get your e-mail I was going to answer it on Monday or Tuesday.

Read your Lymann reloading book and read your set up instructions for your 550. Nice press by the way.

As most places will not ship to Mass the best stores to pick up bullets, primers and powder would be either Four Seasons in woburn, or Collectors in Stoneham.

I'd suggest you buy WWB and save the brass to reload.
E-mail me with what you've got ordered and I'll send you a list of what I think you l should have, and why.




February 6, 2005, 09:57 PM
I have a Loadmaster I bought secondhand...had to replace the priming system and other plastic parts to get it working. I don't like the plastic parts, which get stress and wear. Still do most of my reloading on "the poor man's progressive"...two or three single stage presses set up side by side, each with a different stage die, which works rather well. Have reloaded on a friend's Dillon 550B...don't like the obsolete design of the powder measure and the high expense of changing cartridges (I load about a dozen). Just found out the Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive is on sale at Midway for $300 ($40 off) ordering one. The modern design powder measure, clean handling of spent primers, and lower cost to change cartridges makes this decision a no-brainer.

Dillon presses have been at the top of the heap for many years, and I seriously considered getting one...but they really need to modernize their 550-B. $39 plus shipping is simply too expensive to change cartridges, plus the inefficiency of changing the powder buddy bought three powder measures ($62 each!) to avoid the hassle. :eek:

February 10, 2005, 09:35 AM
Well, the Dillon is set up, more or less, it took an evening of pouring through the directions and trying to learn the operation as well as the assembly, and trying to infer a couple of things in there as well about the operation.

My darn manuals haven't gotten here yet, so I've still not bought powder primers or bullets, but it's set up as much as I can with resizing, primer punching, belling and crimping. I can see how caliber switching is a choice of either expensive and quick, or less expensive and quite slow, but not both.

February 19, 2005, 03:27 AM
After reading the thread with lot and lot of helpful personal experiences and information , I decide to go with the turret press .It arrive yesterday and it took me half an hour to assemble the thing and started crank up 3 rounds before the woodend board broke , I move the press in to garage and finally load 300 rounds of .45 ACP before the bullets ran out. I am quite happy with the press - it has the simpliclity of Lee product that I grown to love and also come with a few quirkiness . I use Lee reloading manual so the powder dispensing system will be compatible with whatever the charge I choose. The really major problem now is I run out of bullet to load ,I guess once I can solve this bullet shortage problem I will start thinking about getting that blue high speed , low drag machine . Thank everyone for the inputs that help me make inform decision . :) :)

February 19, 2005, 05:13 AM
Just a comment on the Hornady progressive loader: After several comments here and other places, I looked carefully at them on a few websites. Hornady's website wasn't that useful for providing detailed info about any of their products and that's a shame since Hornady makes good equipment in my experience. MidwayUSA was useful, especially the reviews and links to related products. From what I found out, the dillon 550B and Hornady progressive are actually quite similar in cost and capability.

The big difference is the hornady can use a casefeeder (another $150-200) now. Dillon showed a prototype casefeeder for the 550 at the SHOT shot recently, but it'll be in the $220-240 range and available in Fall2005; neither is cheap.

The hornady is a 5 station press and the dillon 550 is a 4 station, but the dillon expands the case mouth and drops powder in a single station. The hornady uses seperate stations to expand the case mouth and drop powder. The 5th station advantage isn't an advantage because there's no easy way to add a powder check die while having seperate seating and crimping stations. The Dillon 650 is a 5-station press and uses the same powder system as the 550 so it DOES have an open station for a powder check die. It seems there are limits on what dies can be used in the 5th station of the hornady and the Lee FCD (a popular finishing die) won't work easily there.

Conversion costs seem to favor the Hornady, but not by that much. Shellplates from both cost about $25. The powder funnel that dillon uses (to make a 4 station press work) isn't required for the hornady since the expander die from the die set is used. Both presses use powder dies that require adjustment and should probably have 1 per caliber; about $10 each. Dillon has toolheads that holds a calibers-worth of 4 dies for $13 where hornady has "locking bushings" that are about $3.30 each in bags of 10. 4 bushings would be required for each pistol caliber; call it a draw at $13. Dillon uses locator buttons ($1 each) that hornady doesn't seem to use, so maybe $3 savings there. One thing to realize is you don't have to buy a complete conversion kit for every new caliber on a dillon 550 IF you have a powder funnel, shellplate, or locater buttons that are required for the new caliber; the parts can all be bought individually although it is nice having everything for a caliber in little plastic case. Conversion/setup charts show what is common and what is different for loading different calibers.

The other serious difference is manual vs. auto-indexing which doesn't make a noticable difference unless you have a case feeder. Dillon hasn't said anything about auto-indexing a 550 to go along with the new case feeder, but it wouldn't be hard (I thought of a way) and I wouldn't be surprised if it became an option with a case feeder. No inside info here; just speculation on what could be done.

After the comparision, I decided to keep my Dillon 550 setup because changing over to the hornady would have saved very little, if any, money for me. I also think the dillon powder measure is a better design for progressive loading. I have the hornady measure and it's a great bench-top measure. Mine is old enough that it came with the micrometer adjustments standard (now they are costly accessory).

Either will work, figure what you really need now and where you'd like to be reloading-wise in 5-10 years then make your choice. If you choose wrong, there is always ebay :D

February 20, 2005, 01:55 PM
Either will work, figure what you really need now and where you'd like to be reloading-wise in 5-10 years then make your choice. If you choose wrong, there is always ebay

Where you are likely to get more than what you paid for it....I've been watching ebay auctions for Dillon 550's and there are idiots paying more than retail for that stuff. Its a complete joke!

February 20, 2005, 02:33 PM
Hi Jamz

Linwood is loacated on Rt. 122. It is a part of Northbridge. About 15 miles north of RI. border.

Guy B. Meredith
February 20, 2005, 04:34 PM
The Hornady has a micrometer adjustment for the powder die that is very consistent between settings. No need to have multiple dies for multiple calibers. I can go from one powder to another on the micrometer setting alone and have found this convenient when I wanted to check out several different powders in a run. I always check the weight of the first couple of rounds just to make sure nothing has changed, but they are boringly consistent.

Three bushings are needed per caliber change on the Hornady if you are using a powder check die and combination seat/crimp die. Both the powder check and the powder drop die are the same die for all calibers. That makes the cost of bushings a total of about $10 per die set at

February 21, 2005, 12:45 AM
I see a distinct advantage to seating and crimping bullets in seperate stations so a powder check would not be applicable to me. That makes it 4 bushings per caliber for my (and probably many others) use (sizer, expander, seater, crimper). Also by your method, a 550 would be able to use a powder check die also, but I've never heard of it being done that way. I'll stick with a visual check before placing a bullet. I do see the Hornady press as competition for the 550, unlike the loadmaster.

From what I was reading (midway), it looked like there was some critical adjustment(s) on the die that activates the powder drop. It was listed an advantage to have a seperate powder activation die for each caliber to avoid having to readjust this everytime. Was the listing wrong? That is what I was calling a "powder die" and, like the dillon, you aren't required to a have a seperate one for each caliber, but it's more convienent to do so.

What is the restriction on dies in the 5th station of the hornady? The references were the Lee FCD being difficult/impossible to use there. I wasn't able to find good, close-up pictures of the press from different angles. I certainly haven't seen enough detail on the web to buy one if I was looking for another press. Maybe I'm just fussy about wanting to see good pictures and descriptions before buying something, but the lack of serious reviews and online documentation surprise me. Dillon does very well in this part of the marketing. And with comparable products, marketing has a major impact on success/failure of a product.

Guy B. Meredith
February 21, 2005, 11:30 AM
The only adjustment for the powder drop other than metering is long case vs short case. Reset the actuator arm to another notch and replace the cylindrical portion with parts provided with the press.

The fifth station is at the case ejection point and non-Hornady seating dies may not clear the ejection wire. Some have made modifications with a file on other dies to provide the clearance, when I was testing out RCBS dies vs Hornady I just ejected manually.

I have a modification used by one reloader to use a Lyman die piece to combine powder drop and case expansion, but it is not approved by Hornady and I have not tested it. That would be a nice feature for Hornady to add.

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