Dillon 550 vs 650


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Werewolf
April 12, 2005, 12:56 PM
I think I'm going to get me either a Dillon 550 or 650 progressive press.

Can't decide which one because based on the Dillon web site I can't really tell the difference between the two except the 650 claims a higher production rate.

In addition I don't have a clue what accessories to get with the thing.

I'm pretty sure you guys can help with the decision but need to know what I'm trying to accomplish.

Right now I use a Lee 4 hole turret press and on a good day it takes me with setup time about 2 hours to make a hundred rounds. That time includes measuring powder weight about every 10th round. In addition I really like the Lee FCD as I can adjust it from light to heavy crimps on the rounds I make. I currently reload .357/38, .44Mag, .45ACP and .45LC.

I'd like to achieve the advertised 500-600 rounds/hr rate but hey... 300 or 400 would be good enough. That said the 1000 round/hr rate of the 650 would be cool and worth the extra bucks.

From another thread I know that I can use my Lee dies on the dillon but can I use the FCD. If I can't use the FCD how does one adjust the crimp with a standard bullet seating die.

What accessories do you guys recommend at a minimum.

How long does it take to switch between die sets?
Is buying the interchangeable tool heads worth it?

I'm still unclear as to what manual operations have to be done with a progressive. Does one still have to load the brass individually, put the bullet into the brass, load a primer into the press? In other words how does the progressive work at it's most basic level?

Lots of questions here I know. Your input is appreciated.

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jdberger
April 12, 2005, 01:10 PM
Lots of questions..I'll try to answer one at a time.

The 550 has a toolhead with 4 holes for dies, the 650 has one with 5.
650 will accept case feeding accessories, 550 won't.

The dies from Dillon (my only experience) adjust crimp by screwing down the insert. Pretty simple.

Buy additional toolheads and powder measures. They slip right in and take about 7 seconds to do so. And you won't need to readjust your settings. The indexing plate and primer feed take about 30 minutes to change.

Does one still have to load the brass individually, put the bullet into the brass, load a primer into the press? Yes, unless you have a case feeder. Once you get started, each pull of the lever produced a loaded round. (the primers feed automatically).

Now, about Dillon...I love them. I break stuff due to me being stupid, they replace it for nothing--every time. They happily offer tech support over the phone and they are genuine nice folks.

I would never buy a competitor's press.

NoHarmNoFAL
April 12, 2005, 01:14 PM
I'm sure I missed something but here goes...

In short, handgun 650, rifle 550. The 650 is able to crank out serious amounts of ammo in a short time. I can load about 900 per hour with out really trying. I have never loaded rifle rounds but I can’t see any way that it wouldn’t have to be ran through the press at least twice (due to trimming/chamfering after sizing) but I think that would have to be done on the 550 too. If you go with the 650 you should get the case feeder too, it is so worth it (if you get the case feeder get the powder over/under checker too). The main difference between the two presses in the XL650 is an auto-indexing press and the RL550B is indexed manually by you. Which means that if you do not advance the shell plate you could double charge the case.

Accessories you should get:
Strong mount w/ bullet tray
Roller handle
Extra primer tubes
Case lube (Dillon or One Shot)

You should also by the press from Brian Enos at www.brianenos.com.

Jim Watson
April 12, 2005, 01:17 PM
Most of your questions can be answered from Dillon catalogs and the videos they sell cheaply.

But for a few items:
The 550 has four die stations:
Size, decap, reprime.
Flare, powder measure
Bullet seat
Crimp.

Yes you can use your Lee CFC die in the crimp station.

Once everything is adjusted, all stations filled, you insert an empty case, put a bullet on the flared and powdered case, pull the handle, manually index the shell plate; repeat.

You definitely need a die head for each caliber, you must have a "conversion" which includes shell plate and powder funnel/expander. You should have a powder die for each caliber to hold the powder funnel in adjustment, but you can get along fine with one powder measure for all.

Changeovers are a matter of a few minutes once you have the dies in each head ajusted. Changing primer size adds time, you may eventually want to get a whole primer feed assembly to reduce the work of changing from .38 to .44/.45.


The 650 has five stations:
Size, decap, reprime
Flare, powder measure
Powder check (or vacant)
Bullet seat
Crimp.

The additional station is for their powder check die to protect you from over or under charges in case you don't look in the case as you set the bullet on it.

The 650 has a case feeder. You can fill up the tube with cases and run for a few minutes, then repeat, but they will try hard to sell you the POWER case feeder which runs brass in from a hopper.

The 650 is self indexing, place a bullet on the charged case and pull the handle, period.

I don't have a 650, I don't know how much extra work the case feeder and peculiar rotary primer feed add to caliber changes.

rkt88edmo
April 12, 2005, 01:34 PM
Which Dillon to buy - by Brian Enos (http://brianenos.com/pages/dillon.html#which)

Werewolf
April 12, 2005, 02:50 PM
Thanks guys... Great info. I've gone to Dillon's site and found the manual. Read both of them.

I'm a little confused about manual vs auto indexing though.

If I understand it right the 650 auto index means that pulling the handle advances the shell holder just like on my Lee turret press.

On the 550 - manual indexing means you pull the handle but then must manually push the shell holder clockwise to get to the next station.

Is that right? If not what am I missing.

Correct me if I'm wrong but with out the case feeder is the 650 just the 550 without auto-index? To get that 1000 rd/hr production rate one would need to get the case feeder - right?

flip
April 12, 2005, 02:59 PM
click on rkt88edmo' link and if you buy one try to give brian the business. he was very helpfull to me and my questions

On the 550 - manual indexing means you pull the handle but then must manually push the shell holder clockwise to get to the next station.
yes

Correct me if I'm wrong but with out the case feeder is the 650 just the 550 without auto-index? To get that 1000 rd/hr production rate one would need to get the case feeder - right?

maybe - i have a 650 with all the options. with everything setup properly i get about 500-700 rds/hr. never actually counted though. i usually go real slow to make sure each case has powder.
and don't get a 650 without the casefeed

flip

Zak Smith
April 12, 2005, 03:44 PM
flip,

The 650 also has the powder-check station.

Auto-indexing (650) makes it pretty much impossible to double charge a case by mistake, since the machine mechanically advances the shellplate.

800-1000 is realistic for handgun cartridges on the 650, if you have the case feeder and everything handy.

-z

flip
April 12, 2005, 04:14 PM
zak

your right, but i took the powder check off of mine. I use the 3rd station for bullet seating and the fifth for the lee factory crimp.

your also right about the 800-1000/hr but the key is to have everything handy. I use the vibra-prime from frankford arsonal. it's a real time saver but loading primer tubes still takes time when you are loading at this rate.
also you go through a ton of powder, i factored all this in when i posted 700rds/hr

tony

Zak Smith
April 12, 2005, 04:16 PM
I start the Dillon RF100 primer tube filler right after refilling the 650's tube, and it's ready again when I run out of primers.

flip
April 12, 2005, 04:18 PM
that my friend is the key.

Rockstar
April 14, 2005, 01:18 PM
I use Lee dies on my 650. I also use and prefer the RCBS Lockout Die, instead of the more expensive Dillon Powder Check system.

If you're loading rifle cases using the RCBS X die for sizing/decapping, you only have to trim once. If you're loading in bulk, such as for AR plinking, you can do fine without trimming, chamfering, etc.

Deavis
April 14, 2005, 02:12 PM
The indexing plate and primer feed take about 30 minutes to change.

I think that might be a typo since you are looking at 10 minutes max to change out the feed and index plates. If you don't change the feed, it takes less than 5 minutes to change out plates, adjust the 2nd stage, and swap caliber conversions.

If you have a good rhythm and don't dwaddle, you can load 1k pistol rounds an hour without much effort. I can almost keep up with the casefeeder on high for 9mm but not quite! The 650XL, if you can afford the casefeed, is the way to go.

I'll also throw in support for using Brian Enos, he is 1st class and his forum has a ton of useful tips on setting up the 650XL.

Mr. Chitlin
April 15, 2005, 09:05 AM
I have had a 650 for about 5 years. I got it because I felt that the auto index was an added safety feature. One brain fart, miss indexing one time, and you have a double charge.

On mine, I load 223 and 308 for rifle, and 9mm, 40 and 45 in pistol. There are some tricks you can do to save a little money. I bought mine set up for 40. I can also load 9mm in it by changing the toolhead and feed components, but not the shellplate. The only thing I do with the shellplate is change the locator buttons (#2 for 40, #3 for 9mm, I think). I purchased extra powder bars, so instead of purchasing extra powder measures at $60+ each, I have one powder measure and change the <$10 powder bar. Takes a couple of minutes. Each powder bar is marked for the caliber, and is set up for the correct powder weight. Each toolhead has a powder die (~$5) locked on, I just loosen 2 screws and move the measure from one die to the other. Swap it out and I am ready to go. Same thing with the Powder Check. I purchased extra powder dies for station 3, extra push rods for the Powder Check, set 'em up for each caliber, and they are ready to go. Beats paying $50+ for extra Powder Checks. I keep all of my components for each caliber conversion in individual boxes marked for that particular caliber. Also, 308 and 45 use the same shell plate. More $$ savings when you figure out what components can be used between calibers.

As for caliber changeout, 10-15 minutes is all it takes for the 650. As stated above, I do recommend the tool heads set up for each caliber. That way, you don't have to readjust every time you change calibers. I was using a Lee Pro 1000 before I got the 650, the Lee dies DO work, including the FCD. On some of the dies, you might have to put the lock ring on the bottom of the tool head instead of the top.

One other thing to get is some extra primer tubes and a Vibra-Prime. Mine works like a dream and fills tubes in about 15 seconds.

I have loaded ~700 per hour of handgun, just working at a steady pace. On 223 and 308, I load ~400-500 per hour. I feel that if you get the 650, you DO need to get the case feeder. If you don't want the expense of the case feeder, you might as well go with the 550.

redneck2
April 16, 2005, 08:55 AM
where you could get into trouble with a 550 (manual index) is if you stop for some reason and don't rotate the shell plate. Thing is, you've already got a bullet in the case in station #3 so it's really pretty easy to tell if the plate hasn't been rotated.

With the 550...if you stop for any type of re-adjustment, take all the partially finished rounds out and finish them one at a time. Also, when setting up the press and learning to use it, load one round all the way thru, then another for the first 50 or so. You'll get to know the press better and have less chance of problems.

When I first started, there was another guy "helping" me. He had to pull out every case and check charge weight, pull out every round and check OAL, pull out every round and measure crimp. Ended up having a few squibs because he kept fussing with everything. When you load, keep a rhythm. Unless you run out of powder or primers, nothing changes if everything's locked down the way it should be. Keep pulling the handle and cranking out rounds.

I started with a 450 that didn't have interchangeable heads. Sold it and went to a 550. Man, what a difference. If you can afford it at all, get the complete change-outs, measure and all. Changing the charge bars, etc. can be done, but IMO, every time you start swapping stuff there's more of a chance of an incorrect setting, etc.

caz223
April 16, 2005, 01:19 PM
Agreed, the 550 is an awesome press, just keep the primers full, mount an overhead light so you can check for powder in every case, keep the powder measure over half full, and keep the stroke as consistant as possible.
I also am a fan of their deluxe quick change kits to keep everything in spec, organized, and ready to change over at a moments notice.
I check the powder drop and OAL once every 50 rounds or so, and to date the only time it's been off, it's been my fault for making load substitutions, forgotten adjustments, etc.
If you're going to load more than one or two calibers, the 550 is the dillon for you.

happy old sailor
April 16, 2005, 04:02 PM
i have the Hornady LnL AP. its operates very simolar to the 650 and costs tons less leaving dollars for a case feeder.

i have a powder cop which only takes a very brief glance to verify charge volume. i still do something i have done for ages and that is to use a powder, where i can, that fills the case a little more than half full. if you get a double charge it will show up immediately by spilling powder all over.


i used friends 550 and 650 before making an economic decision in favor of Hornady. i have not regretted it. i must say that the 550 was one of the slickest operations i have ever experienced with any machine. any. STP on a door knob might get close. but i wanted auto index and case feeding. the money i saved bought most of another gun, in another caliber, which caused me to have to buy another caliber setup. fortunately, the changeover for the LnL was relatively inexpensive. Hornady has a lifetime guarantee also, but, if you can afford Dillon, get Dillon. i have a smooth operator but, it lacks the prestige of blue. some people snicker at red, but i think of my SRH in .454 and give them a pass.

disclaimer: i do not work for the blue or red company. i am just a user of their products. either will get the job done nicely.

happy old sailor
April 16, 2005, 04:08 PM
i have the Hornady LnL AP. its operates very simolar to the 650 and costs tons less leaving dollars for a case feeder.

i have a powder cop which only takes a very brief glance to verify charge volume. i still do something i have done for ages and that is to use a powder, where i can, that fills the case a little more than half full. if you get a double charge it will show up immediately by spilling powder all over.


i used friends 550 and 650 before making an economic decision in favor of Hornady. i have not regretted it. i must say that the 550 was one of the slickest operations i have ever experienced with any machine. any. STP on a door knob might get close. but i wanted auto index and case feeding. the money i saved bought most of another gun, in another caliber, which caused me to have to buy another caliber setup. fortunately, the changeover for the LnL was relatively inexpensive. Hornady has a lifetime guarantee also, but, if you can afford Dillon, get Dillon. i have a smooth operator but, it lacks the prestige of blue. some people snicker at red, but i think of my SRH in .454 and give them a pass.

disclaimer: i do not work for the blue or red company. i am just a user of their products. either will get the job done nicely.

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