What machine kit to start with?


December 28, 2005, 11:39 PM
Hello all

I've been searching and browsing through the posts here, but can't make up my mind. Hopefully you can give me a shove in the right direction:

I'd like to start reloading .303 Brit, 7.5 Swiss. 30.06 and 38 S&W target loads right now, so I can see a single stage press sufficing for that, however once I get comfortable with the process, I'd like to start loading quantities of .223, .308 and 45ACP practice rounds for my semi-autos. I can easily burn up 300 rounds of those at a session on the range, so I feel that I'll want a progressive at some point.

So here's the dilema. Should I get a Lee Anniversary kit (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=149097) for now, just to get me started while I'm saving for a Dillon Progressive (I see a lot of posts saying there's always use for a single stage), or should I not waste my time/money on the Lee and save up for an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme kit (http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=646599), or should I save some more and start right off with a Dillon 550 (http://dillonprecision.com/template/p.cfm?maj=12&min=2&dyn=1&) and one of their accessory kits (http://dillonprecision.com/template/p.cfm?maj=35&min=0&dyn=1&)?

Also, is there a place cheaper than Dillon Precision to buy a Dillon 550?

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December 29, 2005, 06:32 AM
Buy the Lee and see how you like re-loading. It is not for everyone, that being said you will find great deals on Dillon equipment in the used sections of the various auction sites, forums, posts, etc. The Lee presses are not total junk and can turn out rather impressive results, no where near the best, but they do work as intended.

Matt Dillon
December 29, 2005, 06:35 AM
Skip the kit, and purchase a Lee Classic cast iron press. This is a GREAT press, on which I load all my rifle and pistol calibers. I started out with the cheaper Lee presses, but they don't compare with this one. You will be using this for decades to come, even if you go with a progressive press for your high volume loading. Just my $.02 worth!:)

December 29, 2005, 12:54 PM
Simple Answer: Buy Once and Cry Once! Buy the best you can afford out of the starting gate! Reloading is a hobby! Once that sinks in you can move forward! That RCBS Kit is great way to enter the hobby! You will learn to batch process things, and that will speed your efforts!

December 29, 2005, 01:12 PM
If you can swing it, the 550 is a nice solution that should suit you well. It's a good choice for multiple rifle and pistol calibers some of which are loaded in bulk quantities. You don't need to spend that much for a scale, book, and primer flipper (AKA the accessory kit). Check ebay after gaining some knowledge.

Good beam type scales go for less than $40 regularly. They are fine if you are using them to setup a powder dispenser or weigh each powder charge for precision rifle loads. They can be frustrating if you are trying to weigh a great many items in a short time (like every bullet you cast looking for internal voids or seperating a group of bullets by 0.1 grain weight increments). I can't see why dillon is asking so much for the accessory kits.

The rockchucker master kit has very nice heavy-duty equipment but you are tying up alot of cash in it. From reading your posts, I really think you'll end up as mainly a progressive user who occassionally uses a single stage for specialized tasks. Realize that some of the advice in this thread is mainly how to only use a single stage press for the rest of your life. For the love of everything that is decent and good, get a progressive setup for loading pistol ammo at least. Loading bulk pistol ammo on a single stage press is a great way to achieve new levels of frustration unless you have a great deal of spare time and just want to spend it all reloading. Rifle ammo can be loaded progressively also...............

December 29, 2005, 08:02 PM
Spend a fortune and if you don't like to hand load, I'll take it all off your hands for next to nothing.

Get the LEE kit to start and build on it if you like to hand load......

December 29, 2005, 09:31 PM
I started on a Dillon 550B, which is capable of doing just about anything short of shotgun shells. I don't recommend you start with the progressive now, since you aren't reloading in bulk yet. It is easier to do the oddball rounds (that you won't shoot in large quantities) on the single-stage because you will be going for quality over quantity.

A Dillon can be used the same as a single-stage, but it is kind of a PITA when compared to a true single-stage press. The Dillon is very automated. You do not do much by hand, other than seat the bullets. The powder is dropped from an internal measure, which will never be as accurate as a person with a scale and a powder trickler. (Too many factors that are not under your control.) It is also not as easy to "feel" the primer when you seat it. I notice that bullets seating tolerances are a little looser as well.

Precision is necessary for reloading, and a single-stage press allows it the easiest. You will learn a lot going this route.

Having said all of that, if you wanted to start out loading in bulk, you could skip to the progressive press to save some headache. I load all of my pistols and semi-auto rifles in bulk, so I chose the Dillon first. The only big deterrent I can really find is the cost. If you decide you don't like handloading, you will have wasted over $900 in equipment by purchasing a Dillon 550B and all the necessary equipment. A single-stage might run you about $500 with all of the necessary stuff, assuming you buy and electric case tumbler. If not, remove ~$100 from the totals.

December 29, 2005, 09:41 PM
Have you considered a turret press?
Has the "single-stageness" that is important when first starting out, but also can be quicker than a true single-stage.

If I was to do it over, I would have gotten the Redding T-7 turrett.
I recognize the T-7 may be overkill for some...

The Bushmaster
December 29, 2005, 10:00 PM
To save reading time I will go with Donkee and agree with RugerSAFan...Both are correct. You will need a good single stage anyway. I have both a single stage and a Lee Turret. Both get used...:)

December 29, 2005, 10:06 PM
If I had to do it all over again, I would have bought the RCBS Rockchucker kit. You can find it on sale at Midway or other online sources or bid on it on ebay. You will need some extra stuff, but it comes with some high quality equipment. You will not regret the investment or feel that you need to upgrade later (although you might want to add a progressive later).

I bought individual components. I like my Lee Classic Cast, but the Rockchucker kit is the way to go IMHO.

December 29, 2005, 11:56 PM
If your just starting out, consider you will need a scale and all the stuff for messuring, if you use just calipers, or if your using the gauges, (this is stuff you will need to decide, as we all are differnt and have different likes) There isn't any right or wrong answers on whats the best but you will decide for your self. You will need case lube stuff, case trimming stuff, probably some tricklers, and a few books with load and mesurements, then you will need powders ect.. You have a good amount of expence to start, so i would say get a good press like a rockchucker, but again the lee works as good and for the money cant be beat, when you up grade to the progressive you may decide to use it for some of the rifle rounds you dont load much of, rather than setting it all up on the progressive. I would get one of the have everything in it lee kits, and start from there, its not waisted money you can always use the press for a bullet sizer later if you go wild.

December 30, 2005, 11:14 PM
Thanks for all the replies folks. I think I'm going to save up for the RCBS kit. I don't think I'm ready for the progressive and I've read too many posts about the Lee stuff breaking.

I'll research the turret too. I don't know much about them. Might be a good compromise.

December 31, 2005, 04:57 AM
One thing to remember RCBS/Dillon/Redding are standards amongst customer service benchmarks! That can not be said for some other reloading equipment companies, but if you imagine red colored stuff you might figure that out.

Reloading is a great way to expand your participation in the shooting sports, and you will be come driven to not have empty brass lying around!

Keep good records of your efforts so you do not cover the same path twice!

Once you find something works, buy stuff in bulk to decrease your costs.

There are many powders that can cover a wide spectrum of calibers, and this thought line may help you keep from having a logistical and storage problem!

Thanks for all the replies folks. I think I'm going to save up for the RCBS kit. I don't think I'm ready for the progressive and I've read too many posts about the Lee stuff breaking.

I'll research the turret too. I don't know much about them. Might be a good compromise.

January 1, 2006, 11:58 PM
Iím a newbie to reloading. In about two months Iíve reloaded about 1500 rounds, and am learning every day. I started by reading a manual (I now have three) and cruising numerous sites for a couple of months. I decided to spend the $$ on a 550B, and love it. However, I should have started with a single stage press. The progressive was overwhelming. That said, I love it. As the others have mentioned it is addictive. If you are patient you can find a good deal on a used package on eBay. I bought the press, and a ton of extras for much less than I would have from a store. My thinking was that if I didnít like it, I could sell it for close to what I paid. But, Iím not selling. If anything, it has been more than I thought it could be. To summarize, my advice is to spend as much as you can afford on a good press, take your time, read as many manuals as you can get your hands on, and ask a lot of questions.


January 2, 2006, 07:47 PM
Dillon used to have a pretty good deal on a kit with the AT500 (stripped down 550) that included scale, calipers, etc. It can be upgraded to a 550 for a little more total cost than the 550, but at a slower pace, as funds allow. You also can use other powder measures with it that are easier to adjust and meter stick type powders (for rifle cartridges) better. I've heard they still sell the at500 press, they just don't advertise it. They may sell the kit too.

The Hornady LNL AP is also a good deal, being auto-indexed for less $ than a manually indexed dillon 550. And with a casefeeder, it is less $ than a 650 without one. And it comes with one of those better powder measures mentioned above.


January 2, 2006, 09:18 PM
RCBS or Hornady are the ones to start with imho. Lee is junk. You get what you pay for. I just got a Dillon 550B and love it for my large batch reloading but sense I want to make sure of consistant powder measureing I will use my progressive to develope a loads and for the most accurate loads I can get. Good luck

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