Dillon vs Lee vs RCBS vs Hornady


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homefront
April 17, 2006, 08:18 PM
I am ready to buy a progressive press to load for my .45 and .357. I shoot about 200 rounds a week in both, and need something faster than the single stage process!
I have some Lee (s/s presses, dies), RCBS (dies, powder measure), Dillon (scale) and Hornady (LNL bushings, puller die) equipment and have found it to all to be good stuff :) .
I want a good, versatile progressive that won't drive me nuts or make me wish I had bought something else.
I am considering the following: RCBS 2000, Dillon 550b, Lee Load-Master, and Hornady LNL.
Please post your recommendations. Both positive and negative experiences are welcome ;) .

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redneck2
April 17, 2006, 08:42 PM
I see you're fairly new here. If you do a search, you'll find a number of "interesting" threads on this. You may want to find an asbestos suit before the flame wars begin.

Honestly, I suspect that every mfg has their good and bad points. I use a 550 and it's been fine. I think Dillon is more aimed at the guy that is willing to spend a little more but wants everything quick and easy.

IF you're willing to spend the $$$ on Dillon, you can get the tool heads that swap right in. It's very fast, very easy, and pretty much foolproof once it's set up. The Hornday's strong point is that the measure can be reset with a micrometer adjustment. Less hardware but easier to make a mistake (wrong setting when changing loads). Depends on what's most important to you.

My experience with Lee single stage is fine, with their dies are great, and their turrets are probably fine. Not so positive with their progressives. YMMV

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 17, 2006, 09:31 PM
homefront,

Depending on how much you want to spend and how mechanical you are, they'll all make good ammo and be good presses for you. I've owned a 550B and wasn't satisfied with the manual advance and the weaknesses in the powder measure, so I solid it and bought a Hornady LnL. Other folks are very happy with the 550 My experience with my LnL is it provides the performance production wise of the 650 at less than the cost of a 550.


I have a buddy that has the Lee and recently saw it in operation. It's not easy to adjust, but doable and extremely fast when set up right (His is.) I like I can swap out a single die or single station on my Hornady without changing all the dies, the powder measure is extremely versatile and works with a wider range of powders than the Dillon powder measures.

Another friend has the 650 and I load on it frequently. It's fast, dependable,but is pricey and isn't perfect.

In fact, none of them are perfect. You'll have to repair something, adjust something on most any of them. They're machines. If you're patient with them, they'll all load good ammo.

I suggest you go to all the websites and forums, read all you can and think about what and how you're wanting to reload and what features are important to you. Then pick the press you want based on your budget.

Regards,

Dave

1911user
April 17, 2006, 10:03 PM
I prefer the 550 then a newer Hornady in that order.

robctwo
April 17, 2006, 10:31 PM
This article helped me decide on the LnL

http://www.cs.odu.edu/~rtompkin/hornady/blue.php

The LnL isn't perfect. I've got about 21,000 through mine so far. I would buy the same machine again.

moredes
April 18, 2006, 01:55 PM
The Hornday's strong point is that the measure can be reset with a micrometer adjustment. Less hardware but easier to make a mistake (wrong setting when changing loads).

Actually, for about $6-8 (I got mine for $6 but it was 4yr ago) one can purchase replacement micrometers and set them permanently, and just swap them out. Takes 3 seconds (5 minutes to find it on the bench, though).

The Dillon 550's are all 4-stages aren't they? The Hornady LNL AP is a 5-stage press for less money. They use replacement bushings where Dillon uses toolheads, but they work as well and cost about $3 each if you buy in bulk. They're available in lots of 10. The LNL powder measure kills the Dillon, and the extra station is good for adding a powder checking station. (The RCBS lockout die is a great addition--mechanically stops the press cold if the charge is too high or too low--no monitoring or visual check needed.)

An hour's labor at a casual pace ought to yield 450-600 rounds easily with either Dillon or Hornady if you have a case-feeder.

gwalchmai
April 18, 2006, 01:56 PM
I just bought a Lee Challenger to load .44MAG because it was cheaper than a caliber conversion for my 550 (and I just wanted a single stage press for one-offs & stuff ;)). It's painfully slow compared to the Dillon, of course, but once you get the rhythm of batch processing down it's really kinda fun.

StrikeEagle
April 18, 2006, 05:32 PM
Dillon 550B here.

I'm happy. :)

Cherokee
April 18, 2006, 06:02 PM
I have the Dillon 650 because it was a gift. ;) I was considering the Hornady machine or Dillon 550B I am very satisfied with the 650 and the case feeder really provides for volume production.

1911user
April 18, 2006, 06:37 PM
The Dillon 550's are all 4-stages aren't they? The Hornady LNL AP is a 5-stage press for less money. They use replacement bushings where Dillon uses toolheads, but they work as well and cost about $3 each if you buy in bulk. They're available in lots of 10. The LNL powder measure kills the Dillon, and the extra station is good for adding a powder checking station. (The RCBS lockout die is a great addition--mechanically stops the press cold if the charge is too high or too low--no monitoring or visual check needed.)

An hour's labor at a casual pace ought to yield 450-600 rounds easily with either Dillon or Hornady if you have a case-feeder.

Yes, dillon 550s are 4-stage, but they bell the case AND drop powder at station #2 (leaving #3 and #4 for seating and crimping). The Hornady 5-station bells the case at station #2 and drops powder at station #3 (seat on #4, crimp on #5). Hornady is updating the press this year to bell and drop in the same station (Dillon has always done it in 1 station) which will probably add $50 to the sales price. Until then, dillon 550 and the hornady have effectively the same number of stages. To use a powder check die usually requires seating and crimping in the same station (usually not the best way) to get an open die hole for the powder check die. The dillon 650 has that open station while seating/crimping seperately and hornady will have it sometime this year. Until then, no easy powdercheck for dillon 550 or hornady. I use a study lamp positioned so I can easily see into the case after powder has been dropped.

4 bushings cost about the same as a 550 toolhead; no advantage there. Dillon powder dies are cheaper than Hornady though.

The hornady measure is good (have one), but the dillon measure also works well with the exception of long cut rifle powder and many measures have problems with that (IMR rifle powder mainly). Both brands have optional micrometer dials for returning to previous powder settings. It was standard on the hornady measures 10-15 years ago; now it's a $20 option. It has always been an aftermarket option for Dillon measures. Again, about $20.

I can load 500-600 an hour on my 550 without a casefeeder and not pushing extra fast. If a case-feeder won't get the pistol loading rate up to 700-800 rounds per hour, what's the point of having it?

StrikeEagle
April 18, 2006, 06:54 PM
I can load 500-600 an hour on my 550 without a casefeeder and not pushing extra fast. If a case-feeder won't get the pistol loading rate up to 700-800 rounds per hour, what's the point of having it?

Hate to be the odd man out, but I don't really see any speed advantage in a casefeeder. I feed the case with my right hand at the same time I place the bullet with my left hand.

Seems to me that the case feeder is one more thing to maintain, load and keep adjusted. I just can't see it. :confused:

StrikeEagle

wrangler5
April 18, 2006, 07:36 PM
I've posted in a number of threads about my decade+ satisfaction with the Lee Loadmaster. I have 6 turrets set up for different handgun calibers, each with its own powder measure. That would be VERY expensive with a 650, the machine I covet from a purely mechanical standpoint.

Lee's designs are ingenious. The case feeder looks primitive but is very quick to load if you have the case collator that goes on top of the drop tubes. Both 45 ACP and 357 cases drop head down every time and fill the tubes quickly. Switching between the calibers will require changing the primer feed (about a 1 minute job, since you have to take the shell plate off anyway) and adjusting the case feeder base for the longer/shorter case. But the Lee parts are cheap enough that for about $17 you can get a second case feeder and have one adjusted for each cartridge. Swapping them should take 1-2 minutes since you won't have to adjust anything - just remove and replace a pair of nuts

The Loadmaster has 5 holes, but the second is usually blank, as that's where the case is primed, on the UPstroke - a purely mechanical operation with no "feel" involved. Belling and powder drop occur at #3, so there is space for separate bullet seating and crimping.

1911user
April 18, 2006, 08:58 PM
Hate to be the odd man out, but I don't really see any speed advantage in a casefeeder. I feed the case with my right hand at the same time I place the bullet with my left hand.

Seems to me that the case feeder is one more thing to maintain, load and keep adjusted. I just can't see it.

StrikeEagle

They can be one more item to keep adjusted and are expensive, but they are faster and useful if you need large quantities of ammo especially in one caliber. Your right hand never leaves the press handle. With auto-indexing, it is place bullet, pull handle, place bullet, pull handle,.....

That speed costs money and complexity. For my needs it isn't worth it, but I would not hesitate to buy one if the need was there. The hard part would be finding the money to pay for the huge increase in reloading components used.

Car Knocker
April 18, 2006, 10:09 PM
Your right hand never leaves the press handle.

Are Dillons the only progressives that require both hands be use to place the components (assuming no casefeeder)?

1911user
April 18, 2006, 10:54 PM
I can't speak for other presses, but the dillon 550 is setup to use both hands. I think it's faster that way. After working the handle, the left hand advances (indexes) the shellplate to the next station (doesn't take much pressure) and places a bullet to be seated. At the same time, the right hand releases the handle, picks up and inserts the new case then grabs the handle again. With bullets and cases in handy locations, it's a fairly smooth and quick operation.

Car Knocker
April 18, 2006, 11:12 PM
I'm not sure that it (the Dillon) is faster but then I've never competed in the progressive Olympics against anyone else. I use a different color press and pick up a bullet and case with one pass of my left hand, place the bullet and slide a case into place with essentially one movement. My right hand never leaves the handle. It does take a little dexterity and practice but there's a lot less movement involved.

I do wonder if the various RCBS or Lee progressives use one hand or both to handle components. Anybody?

JackOfAllTradesMasterAtNone
April 18, 2006, 11:45 PM
To be honest, If I were out to buy a progressive, or semi progressive/turret press nowadays, I'd have to look at the RCBS. That said, I'm still verry happy with my Dillon. I helped a friend set up a Dillon 550 the other day. Once set up, they're a cinch to operate. Not to compare RCBS, Lee, Dillon customer service, because I can say they're all pretty much top notch. But Dillon will spend time with you on the phone or in the store/factory in Scottsdale. Their customer service is second to none. I wish more American companies would model them. Not that you'd need customer service from Dillon. Their components last and last. The press I'm using is 20 years old and operates like it was new. I can't say that about some of the Lee and Lyman components I've used over the years.

-Steve

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 19, 2006, 12:40 AM
"Yes, dillon 550s are 4-stage, but they bell the case AND drop powder at station #2 (leaving #3 and #4 for seating and crimping). The Hornady 5-station bells the case at station #2 and drops powder at station #3 (seat on #4, crimp on #5). Hornady is updating the press this year to bell and drop in the same station (Dillon has always done it in 1 station) which will probably add $50 to the sales price. Until then, dillon 550 and the hornady have effectively the same number of stages."

An increase in price to the Hornady press is pure speculation until is actually happens. As far as powder through expansion, one can easily add a Lee, Dillon powder measure (Both of whom handle ball powder quite well.) to the Hornady or they can easily modify the current Hornady CAPD to do the same thing with using the inserts from a Lyman expand/powder through die set. I did, took me 15 minutes to do so. I have an RCBS lock out die in my Hornady. And this is only relevant to pistol cartridges. Frankly, I can't see comparing a 550 to a LnL. The LnL is a faster and better performing press and is more comparable to a 650.

However, if I had it to do over and since the powder drop thing is only an issue with pistol, I'd just buy Lee dies and a Pro Auto Disk powder measure. The Lee stuff works great with pistol and cheaper than either the Dillon or Hornady. But then, I do like to adapt stuff from any manufacturer to the others, if one has a better idea than the others. Of course, if I was buying new, I'd wait until the new CAPD comes out to buy.

"To use a powder check die usually requires seating and crimping in the same station (usually not the best way) to get an open die hole for the powder check die. The dillon 650 has that open station while seating/crimping seperately and hornady will have it sometime this year. Until then, no easy powdercheck for dillon 550 or hornady."

I don't know how easy is easy, but modifying mine was easy, so is buying a Lee or Dillon powder measure and putting it on one's Hornady, just as easy as a Dillon guy putting a Hornady powder measure on his press.

"I use a study lamp positioned so I can easily see into the case after powder has been dropped."

This is a good idea wether one has a powder alarm, lockout die or a powder cop.

"4 bushings cost about the same as a 550 toolhead; no advantage there. Dillon powder dies are cheaper than Hornady though.'

The difference with the Hornady is typically the only things you need to change calibers are the shellplate and the bushings.


"The hornady measure is good (have one), but the dillon measure also works well with the exception of long cut rifle powder and many measures have problems with that (IMR rifle powder mainly). Both brands have optional micrometer dials for returning to previous powder settings. It was standard on the hornady measures 10-15 years ago; now it's a $20 option. It has always been an aftermarket option for Dillon measures. Again, about $20."

The difference being the Hornady WILL run the IMR rifle powder with no problem. I just loaded 500 rounds of 30.06 not long back using IMR4895 with zero problems.

"I can load 500-600 an hour on my 550 without a casefeeder and not pushing extra fast. If a case-feeder won't get the pistol loading rate up to 700-800 rounds per hour, what's the point of having it?"

Couldn't tell you, but based on what I'm running on my LnL, I'm pretty darn sure I'll be hitting a thousand an hour with a casefeeder. I just moved the location of my brass and bullets to be close at hand to the shellplate and increased my hourly rate to 600. Had to spend the money to buy a primer tube loader though. If you have any tube fed progress, Dillon, RCBS or Hornady, these things are a steal for increasing your production by speeding up the restocking process greatly.

I should say I find the load brass and bullets with my left hand and not having to take my right hand off the handle preferable to loading with both hands. I also prefer the automatic advance to the manual advance of a 550. Much smoother to operate to me in both cases, feels more natural to me. Others may feel differently.

1911user
April 19, 2006, 01:24 AM
I fully expect Hornady to officially raise the press price with the upgrade and it is a big upgrade. Home conversions are one thing, but to come setup from the factory with bell/powder at the same station is a big deal. Dillon also raised prices somewhat late last year. The price on the hornady case feeder is now in the $240-250 range ($310 list) when it was available for $180 last year plus the required case feeder plates are $25 each (dillon needs case feeder plates also; about the same price). The hornady case feeder has the dubious honor of being more expensive than the dillon case feeders and I thought the dillon ones were high.

The downside to adding a dillon measure to a non-dillon press is the newer version of it requires a safety pullback rod to operate. Most non-dillon presses aren't going to be easily fitted for that. The measure can be modified to operate old-style with just a spring return (retrograde). The the caliber specific expanders are also an issue and are required to bell and operate the measure. They come with caliber conversion kits for 550/650s, but are $8 each by themselves.

If you don't buy extra hornady powder dies, you get to re-adjust everytime you change calibers; same with dillon. I find it easier to spend $8 for extra powder dies and leave them set for a particular caliber; call it a luxury. The hornady "advantage" of not needing caliber specific hollow expanders for a conversion is going away with the upgrade. Conversion costs will continue to be similar.

A buddy just bought a new LNL AP press and will configure it with the new bell/powder drop so I'll learn about it up close. It was I who suggested he look at that in addition to the Dillon 550. I saw his loadmaster setup in operation (and the occassional problem/frustration that is causing its' replacement). The primer seating (like a dillon 1050) is the only part I liked and would be an upgrade to the 550/650/AP type presses.

I just don't see the LNL AP as being so superior to the 550. Peak loading rates are roughly the same for quality ammo. Pricing is similar. Conversion is similar.

moredes
April 19, 2006, 01:35 AM
Not a point-by-point rebuttal; I'm too lazy to go over it all. But the Lyman bell/powder drop combo is a $3 adaptation that's been around for 3-4 years now, almost since the introduction of the LNL AP (that is fairly well discussed in most reloading portions of TFL/THR/1911forum.com) and it works well; it allows seating and crimping as separate stations.

As to the reloading rate, when I mentioned a case-feeder and said, "casual pace ought to yield 450-600 rounds", I should have actually said that I routinely load 450-600 rounds including break time for making coffee, answering the phone, other distractions, etc. I don't keep track 'by the minute' to check production rates. It's not that big a deal to me; 600/hr is no effort whatsoever.

I routinely load .308 w/ IMR 4064 with the LNL powder measure, and it's accurate enough for my needs out to 1000yd.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 19, 2006, 07:47 AM
moredes,

I knew from my hundred yard shoting with 30.06 the Hornady was good for loading IMR and rifle cartridges, but I didn't know it was good enough to go to the 1000 yard line. I wonder how much of that is due to the extra stiffness in the Hornady LnL bushings setup vs. a die plate setup. I knew my 550 when I had it didn't produce enough accuracy for the 600 yard line for High Power in my AR-15. Never tried the Hornady for the longer distances. I will now though.

1911user,

"The downside to adding a dillon measure to a non-dillon press is the newer version of it requires a safety pullback rod to operate. Most non-dillon presses aren't going to be easily fitted for that. The measure can be modified to operate old-style with just a spring return (retrograde). The the caliber specific expanders are also an issue and are required to bell and operate the measure. They come with caliber conversion kits for 550/650s, but are $8 each by themselves."

The spring return is requires two springs for a total of $4.00 from Brian Enos. The powder measure is $96.00 or thereabouts from Brian Enos and other sources. Which is why I said I would go with the Lee, which works just as well for pistol powders, which is the main place anybody is going to be using expanders. Every other cartrdige I know about I'd load and need an expander most folks wouldn't load in enough quantity to load it on a progressive.

Maybe you're doing something I don't know about with your 550 operations wise, but my LnL is a helluva lot quicker at loading than my 550 ever was and I load on both at about the same pace. Generally speaking, I load slowly, very similar to what moredes is describing. Most local guys I know who own 550's are getting 300-350 or so, nowhere near the rates you're quoting. That's what I was getting with mine as well. You can go faster, but you have to work at it. I like piddling around and a very casual pace reloading. That way, it doesn't feel like work.

As far as a casefeeder goes, it really doesn't gain you much on a 550. Only 25% increase of production according to Brian Enos. His advice to new purchases of Dillon products is if they want a casefeeder, to go with the 650 where you benefit significantly with the addition of a casefeeder. The Hornady LnL is like the 650 in this respect also. You can hit a 1000 cartridges an hour on the LnL with a casefeeder. You can't do that on a 550. Of course a casefeeder is not an inexpensive upgrade, which is why I didn't buy on initially on my Hornady, but unlike the 550, my LnL will show me a significant increase in production when I add a casefeeder. And I'm sure those with casefeeders, Dillon or other wise, know that with a casefeeder, your bottleneck becomes primers, not cases. Add a Frankford Arsenal primer loader and you're set to do 1000/hour.

One thing about the LnL bushings is they do allow for extremely quick and easy changes of a single die. Which is a huge advantage if you're loading with a full length resizing die for 30.06 in a Garand on your LnL, then decide you want to neck size for your 1903 Springfield. All you have to do is click, swich, click and you're loading with a neck sizing die. You can't do that on a Dillon. You also can't do that with IMR4895 on a Dillon like you can on the Hornady, which is my preferred powder in 30.06. Those are huge and important advantages to me.

Dave

caz223
April 19, 2006, 08:21 AM
IMHO, here's the production rate in order, from greatest, to least:
Dillon 1050, it, incidentally would cost the most to buy, the most to change calibers, etc. First class machine. Does anything you want it to do, except to change calibers quickly.
Dillon 650, very fast, but pricey. Case feeder mandatory.
LNL AP. Solid machine, from what I've heard. Won't beat a 650, but won't cost anywhere near as much to buy or change calibers. Quick to change over.
Loadmaster. Fidgety, but once you got it set up right it will crank out a poopload of ammo on a very short time. Optional case and bullet feeders available. Auto indexing.
Dillon 550. The ultimate starter press. Semi-progressive, manual indexing, simple to operate, quick to change over. A solid machine.
RCBS pro2000 Priming system is different from everybody else. You can buy CCI primers pre-loaded in strips that feed right into the machine. Manual indexing.
Piggyback III: It's a current upgrade package to convert a special 5 or rockchucker to progressive. It's workable, but you'll have as much money tied up in it as a dillon 550, so most people just buy a dillon.

I must confess, I have 2 550s, and if I had to start over from nothing, I'd prolly look at the LNL AP.
I was recently as a crossroads as to buy a second 550, or sell it and buy a 650, and for as many calibers as I load, the 2 550s won out.
They all have their faults.
I'd start looking at the 550, LNL AP, and if you have $800+ to spend, maybe look at the 650.
If you have 10 calibers or so to load, the 550 and LNL AP make the most sense.
Again, knowing what I know now, I'd look at the hornady.
It depends on how you load.
If you want to load 5000 then go shooting before the sun goes down, the 1050 rocks.
If you want to load 1000, then change calibers and load another thousand, the 650 is the king.
If you want to load 300, change calibers and load another 300, the 550 is very good.

moredes
April 19, 2006, 10:29 AM
Dave,

I'm no whizz at long range that's for sure. I've only shot 1000 about 8-10 times, but the load I use that seems to be consistent at that distance (if my results can be called "consistent" for my novice status) and accuracy is very good at 300-500yd all the time.

However, it's probably not the press I'd use for benchrest accuracy at 100yd. For that the LNL is just a little too "sloppy" (but only psychologically--I'll get to that later). The shellplate doesn't cam consistently enough to meet the standards most die-hards psychologically require; OAL can vary as much as .011". The LNL measure drops 4064, 4895, RL-15 pretty consistently, +- .015gr, and that's good enough for me; I can't shoot the difference at long distances.

When I'm loading for pure accuracy off the bench, I still use the press. I finish up on a Rockchucker for consistent OAL and peace of mind; dead balls on from round to round with this method. To solve the powder drop inaccuracy, I omit the LNL powder measure from the press, and use a Bonanza-Forster to drop each charge onto a scale and weigh each charge, then drop it into each case with a drop-tube assembly I fabricated. The entire process excluding the Rockchucker session, is probably 5-8 seconds slower for each round when I get in a good rhythym. (the scale is much quicker to resolve weights than I would have thought, and accurate to +- .005gr, which is way good enough for my abilities)

I'm not so sure that the session at the Rockchucker for consistent OAL is required though, and the LNL AP may in all actuality, be enough for my abilities at any distance. I've read all about Zediker's (et. al.) ideas, and tried a lot of them, too. I have not found that "straining over the last .003" for consistent OAL has helped my accuracy beyond any tangible point. My findings (and accuracy) have been more in line with a well-known riflesmith's ideas; he claims that with any custom built rifle/barrel combination (we're assuming here that with *any* 'smithed rifle, one can get to the lands easily--not like stretching the bullet out to get to the OEM Rem 700 lands), that an OAL within +- .20" (point 2-0, or OAL within a forty thousandths range) is sufficient for accurate results (defined as .5MOA or less out to 300yd in his rifles--past that distance of course, accuracy is much more heavily dependant on the shooter). His stand is that bullet jump is completely unimportant so long as the bullet enters the lands before it exits the case. As I said, my results don't contradict him; I only hit the Rockchucker for peace of mind... but I'm doing it less and less lately. With my revised powder drop and no other modifications, I routinely shoot .6-8 MOA out of an M1A Super Match and .4MOA or less out of a custom Rem700 at distances equal to, or under 300yd. So I've been disdaining the Rockchucker sessions lately.

bobaloo
April 19, 2006, 12:48 PM
Just another happy Hornady LNO user. I loaded close to 20,000 rounds on mine last year. It's as fast as I want to be, I don't try to rush and usually load 500 rounds or so in a batch, which takes me a little over an hour to hour and a half. I load 9mm, .357, .40, .45 and .223 on mine, it's quick and easy to change calibers. Even when switching primer sizes it's maybe a 5 minute changeover.

If I had a lot more money I'd love to have a 1050 with all the attachments, but for being on a budget the LNL does the job for me, and I'd make the same choice again.

YellowLab
April 19, 2006, 01:28 PM
I have a love/hate relationship with my Lee Loadmaster.

First, I was in an money crunch. That meant that I didn't buy the nice to have things that speed you up.

Example: Instead of buying a few extra tool heads (All for $13 for a Loadmaster) I was swapping dies. That meant that all those dies were readjusted and made reloading more time consuming... then if the dies are not adjusted right the primer mechanism will not work relaibily. Most experienced reloaders know to swap toolheads, not dies. Reduces the error rate SIGNIFICANTLY.

Also I started on a progressive. I would have had just as much difficulty on another press because I was new. I didn't have the $$ to start single stage and work my way up. I banged up a lot of press parts learning. I now have a Challenger single stage for odd jobs. Another lesson learned.

Last week I cranked out 300 .45ACP and 500 .30 Carbine cartridges. Not one problem. And in less than 2 hours (that included a complete changeover from .45 to .308) at an easy pace I was done. 800 rounds in 120 minutes is not a speed record, but I don't need to set records... I need to have fun, relax and make some ammo.

homefront
April 20, 2006, 09:41 PM
So, you're saying that you really like the press, and any problems you had were due to inexperience?
I ask this because I've been loading for 2 pistol and 3 rifle calibers for some time now, all on a single stage press (2 of them, actually). I think I have a fair idea of what to watch for safety-wise, and I am mechanically inclined. So if careful setup is all that's needed for the Load-master, I could live with that.
On the other hand, I already have my dies in LNL collars, and powder changes on the Hornady sound simple.
Guess I'll have to find a sample of each and try them!

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 20, 2006, 10:25 PM
Homefront,

Where you at? I'm sure owners of both those presses would be willing to let you try them out if you live close enough.

Regards,

Dave

YellowLab
April 21, 2006, 12:00 AM
Speaking for myself I can blame ME for about, oh, 100% of my problems.

From not setting dies correctly, to not cleaning the press, to not buying the nice to have items to make life easy... that was all me. Can't blame the press if the sizing die is set to far down, or if I forget to clean the primer punch seating surface, or lube the shell plate. The press just does what I make it do... usually with the end result being something broke (damn primer slider).

The Loadmaster is a FANTASTIC value. Price out a COMPLETE calibure toolhead (powder throw included) for a Lee and just about any other press... thats $50 per cartridge savings for you.

Same quality ammo as all the other colored presses.... just a bit cheaper to get there.

wrangler5
April 21, 2006, 01:08 AM
Homefront, I've actually had a Lee technician comment to me on the phone that their progressive presses seem to work best for folks who are mechanically inclined. I count myself in that category, and don't really mind the occasional fiddling that I have to do. (I DO mean occasional, by the way - most of the time my Loadmaster just runs. For example, I have had to adjust the primer seating depth mechanism recently, but it ran without my touching it for more than 10 years.)

A further thought on case feeders: the one on the Loadmaster is essentiallly gravity powered, with one, hand-indexed moving part. It loads VERY reliably with all cartridges I've used in it that are LARGER than 9mm Luger. The 9mm cases (I load all 3 of the shorter ones - 9x17, 9x18 & 9x19) are JUST short enough that they can tip into the feeding tubes base up. But anything longer or heavier in the base (like 45 ACP) will virtually NEVER go in upside down. I find it a major convenience to handle only bullets during the normal reloading cycle - right hand stays on the press handle. You just index the case feeder tube base a quarter turn when a tube is empty.

1911user
April 21, 2006, 01:19 AM
Well, LNL AP guys, you may have a convert. :confused:

I'm seriously considering selling the 550 setup and buying a basic hornady AP. The issue that is driving the decision is powder checking for some rifle loading. I can't easily see inside each rifle case to verify powder; pistol is easy to verify. I'm not willing to compromise on the die setup for rifle loading from sized rifle cases and the dies take up all 4 stations on the 550. Loading everything else was fine on the 550; really, but seperate seating and crimping of rifle ammo and doing a powdercheck just doesn't fit with a decap die up first.

1) How hard/fast is it to feed cases by hand and place bullets to be seated?
2) How much die clearance does the ejector spring need? I'm ready to grind the bottom of the crimp dies a little for clearance, but I'm not replacing all of them.
3) Is there a source for the case feeder for less than $240-$250; list price last year was $207. WTH happened to pricing on them?
4) How reliable is the priming system on the newer APs? It looks similar to the 550 except at the rear of the press.
5) Will older (shorter) Lee pistol dies fit into the bushings and have room for a lock ring?

EDIT: 6) Is having a basic powder die for each caliber enough to not require adjustments each time?

thanks

Car Knocker
April 21, 2006, 01:31 AM
5) Will older (shorter) Lee pistol dies fit into the bushings and have room for a lock ring?

Think outside the box. Put the lock ring on the underside.

Matt-man
April 21, 2006, 02:51 AM
1) How hard/fast is it to feed cases by hand and place bullets to be seated?
2) How much die clearance does the ejector spring need? I'm ready to grind the bottom of the crimp dies a little for clearance, but I'm not replacing all of them.
3) Is there a source for the case feeder for less than $240-$250; list price last year was $207. WTH happened to pricing on them?
4) How reliable is the priming system on the newer APs? It looks similar to the 550 except at the rear of the press.
5) Will older (shorter) Lee pistol dies fit into the bushings and have room for a lock ring?

I can at least help with a couple of your questions.

Feeding case by hand isn't too hard. I have the feeder but I feed by hand from time to time and it's still pretty fast. Placing bullets is also pretty easy. The O-frame of the press is at an angle so it gives you a little more room to get your hand in there.

The ejector spring is about 0.10" in diameter, and sits on top of the shell plate. If you currently have about that much clearance between your crimp die and the shell holder, it should be ok. The ejector spring can easily be removed (or just flipped out of the way) and you can flip loaded rounds out with a finger if you need to.

The only problem I have had with the priming system is that sometimes debris can get into the primer slide area and bind up the slide. Zapping it with a shot from a compressed air duster usually clears it right out.

I don't have any Lee dies to try, but I can tell you this: With a sizing die adjusted so it rests on the shell plate at full extension, the LnL bushing goes about 1.60" up the body of the die. If you can screw that much of the die into a bushing and still have room for a lock ring on top, you're good to go.

Think outside the box. Put the lock ring on the underside.
You can't put a lock ring on the bottom of a LnL bushing. If you did, it wouldn't go into the press. Besides, the problem is usually that the die threads don't go high up enough on the die body, not that the die itself needs to sit lower in the press.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 21, 2006, 06:17 PM
1911user,

Here's the answers to your questions:

"I'm seriously considering selling the 550 setup and buying a basic hornady AP."

That's what I did and I've been happy with the choice.

"The issue that is driving the decision is powder checking for some rifle loading. I can't easily see inside each rifle case to verify powder; pistol is easy to verify. I'm not willing to compromise on the die setup for rifle loading from sized rifle cases and the dies take up all 4 stations on the 550. Loading everything else was fine on the 550; really, but seperate seating and crimping of rifle ammo and doing a powdercheck just doesn't fit with a decap die up first."

The good news is with the Hornady, it's a bit taller, so you can see a little bit better, but you're better off to order either an RCBS lockout die or a Dillon powder check setup. Yes, you can adapt the Dillon to the Hornady. I haven't done it, but I can see where with a little ingenuity you could.

"1) How hard/fast is it to feed cases by hand and place bullets to be seated?"

They both feed from the left, while your right hand remains on the handle. You can enhance this by building a "strong mount" and a shelf to hold Akro Bins for both your brass and bullets. If you have trouble visualizing it, send me a pm with your email address and I'll be glad to send you a picture of my setup. My setup increased my production by over a hundred rounds per hour easily, because everything was then "right there."

"2) How much die clearance does the ejector spring need? I'm ready to grind the bottom of the crimp dies a little for clearance, but I'm not replacing all of them."

This is ONLY an issue with LEE factory crimp dies, as far as I know. You can use your Dillon dies in the Hornady. Solutions for the Lee: 1. Grind of a little bit of the die on one side. 2. Bend the spring to clear 3. Do a little of both 4. If Hornady still has the old Projector ejector setup available for sale, it may be worth it to retrofit it, but I don't know that they do. I'm going to check at some point though.

"3) Is there a source for the case feeder for less than $240-$250; list price last year was $207. WTH happened to pricing on them?"

"Danged if I know. I was shocked at the rise in cost. Those electric motors must be expensive or something. I've actually been thinking of buying the "small parts" and adapting a Lee collator and tubes onto it.

"4) How reliable is the priming system on the newer APs? It looks similar to the 550 except at the rear of the press."

It's boringly reliable. You have to adjust the base and the "cambar" (If it isn't adjusted out of the box. BTW, use a tny little blue loctite on the nuts and the screw, let it dry, so things will remain after adjustment.) and once adjusted once, you're done. After that, it's boringly reliable and is very similar to Dillon's in design, just feeds to a different location. Get the

"5) Will older (shorter) Lee pistol dies fit into the bushings and have room for a lock ring?"

I don't know, but here's a solution for short lee dies: 1. Drill and tap the LnL bushings for a small set screw on a couple of sides. (I used three, but this may be overkill.) Put your die in and adjust it in the press. Use a set of slip joint pliers to unlock the bushing and remove it. Put a piece of leadshop in the hold, insert the setscrews and tighten them. You're done and you'll never have to do it again. I did this with my 9MM set for all the dies that were too short.

"6) Is having a basic powder die for each caliber enough to not require adjustments each time?"

I honestly don't know the answer to this, as I always check and adjust my powder measure at each setup. I do this because this is critical to accuracy and to safety. The Hornady LnL powder measure is extremely easy to adjust and you can note the setting you measure with a with a caliper in you reloading notebook to get quick and repeatable powder adjustments for each load.

I doubt you'd need additional powder dies, just a new expander for each caliber. But you could use them, if you wanted to avoid any die adjustment and powder adjustment at all. I'm not sure the expander version of the CAPD is out yet though. I recommend you hold out until it is available. The hold up is the spring.

Or, keep your Dillon measure for pistol and use the Hornady measure for rifle. This would be a nice thing. You can get the two springs to get rid of the "bar" and go back to the old style case activation from Brian Enos for four bucks. The Hornady is not reversible, so you don't have to worry about double charging the case from reversing the shellplate.

Hope all this makes sense,

Dave

happy old sailor
April 21, 2006, 06:32 PM
if all you want is a couple hundred rounds, take a look at the semi progressive Lee Turret Model. at one time there was lots of chatter on here about this inexpensive press. i used one for years until i got my LnL

and, i keep 200 rounds of my most shot calibers ahead so i can grab and go without having to load some. only prob i had with mine was the auto advance. i would adjust it and not too many rounds later it was a prob again, however it partially rotated and i advanced it by hand the rest of the way. easier done than said it turns out good rounds too, just pistol only, which you seem to want.

this will give you an introduction to progressive tools and might be all you ever need for your small requirements and, did i say inexpensive. everything you will need for little more than a single benjamin.

it is quick and easy to change calibers with another turret. get another powder measure and you can leave the two set up for their desired charge of powder you use for that round. oh, polish the "lands and grooves" of the turrets with four ought steel wool (fur) and lightly lube.

read up on it's particulars and if you think that is a deal, may i reccommend F and M reloading for the purchase of Lee products. least expensive of them all

if, later, you want a full progressive get the LnL for price consideration. if you want the Cadillac of loaders, get the Dillon. either will serve you well, but, the Dillon comes with braggin' rights.

see what happens when you ask a question on THR. present party excluded, these guys know their stuff and you wont go wrong following their advice.

good shooting

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 21, 2006, 06:35 PM
1911user,

Here's a pic of my manual setup. Unfortunately, the RCBS lockout die doesn't fit into the 30.06 case, so I had to visual each one. The powder was IMR 4895. Shot real nice in my M1 rifle. You load both case and bullet from the left and the cartridge drops out in the middle. Works real well, easy, fast, smooth.

http://www.zjstech.net/~ddixson/Reloading%20Bench%20040.jpg

1911user
April 21, 2006, 07:41 PM
I ordered the press this afternoon with some shellplates and extra bushings. I have to sell all of the dillon 550 setup to pay for the new one (and get ebay pricing for it). I may list things here for a day or 2 then move what's left to ebay Sunday night.

I'm planning to use my older hornady powder measure since it came with micrometer dials on the rifle and pistol inserts. I think the powder activation will work with it. It looked OK from the manual.

So the RCBS powdercheck will not work with 30/06 cases. Checking powder in rifle loads is a major reason for the change. I'll have to find a different powder check die. It's not worth $65 (to me) for a dillon electronic powder check system. I don't need precise powder level checks, just something visual to catch gross over or under charges on 223 and 30-06; pistol would be a plus.

thanks for all of the good info. everyone.

Matt-man
April 21, 2006, 09:31 PM
The RCBS lockout die only works with straight wall cases. If all you want is a visual indicator, their plain powder check die should work with rifle cases. I know for sure that the Hornady powder check die works with .308 Win and .260 Rem rifle cases.

homefront
April 21, 2006, 10:19 PM
Thanks to all for the great info.
Sailor, that actually was on my mind! I was thinking that the Lee Classic Turret would be a good logical next step up from single stage, but the thought of three pulls per round has held me back.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 21, 2006, 10:47 PM
1911user,

To make the lockout die work with bottleneck cartridges, all you have to do is get a plastic/nylon "foot" that goes inside the cartridge of an appropriate size. The ones that come with it are for larger openings than the .30 caliber. I don't think it would be hard to get one that works with 30.06, but I haven't gotten around to either making one or getting one from RCBS.

homefront,

The Lee Classic turrent, with the safety prime and pro auto disk is an excellent setup for the money I think. My pistol volume is reaching a level I may end up buying one to reload rifle. In which case I'll move the auto disk to my Hornady and use my Hornady powder measure on the Lee Classic Turret.

I think you could do a lot worse than getting the Lee Turret.

Regards,

Dave

loadedround
April 26, 2006, 05:31 PM
There really is no comparison...it's the Dillon 550B.

1911user
April 26, 2006, 06:11 PM
Dave, I went with the RCBS powder check (not lockout) die for $23. It looked like the easiest to do quick powder level comparisons and readjust for different calibers. The hornady powder cop die looked like a little more work to setup and it was $2 more.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
April 26, 2006, 07:05 PM
1911user,

sounds like a reasonable solution. If you are or have a buddy who is an electronics tech or engineer, he can rig you a buzzer for that die outta parts from radio shack for next to nothing cost wise.

Dave

Car Knocker
April 26, 2006, 08:50 PM
There really is no comparison...it's the Dillon 550B.


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