Best progressive for consistent OAL?


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joebeemish
January 5, 2007, 04:22 AM
I have the RCBS rock chucker. Very nice single stage press. No complaints. I added the RCBS piggyback to try progressive loading. This worked, but the OAL of the cartridges were variable - I couldn't get this setup not to vary the OAL. I reloaded 38, 357, 9MM, 223 & 30-06. It also seemed a little flimsy, just my opinion. What do you think of the Hornandy lock-nload, RCBS 2000 and Dillon 550 as far as producing ammo with consistent OAL? Most people seem to like any of these presses, but does anybody have some measurement data on OAL? I think this would indicate the "rigidness" of the shell plate to die plate. Another consideration (if these all have rigid assemblies) is how easy it is to swap calibers. This is challenging and time consuming on the RCBS single stage & piggyback.

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DaveInFloweryBranchGA
January 5, 2007, 08:42 AM
Joebeemish,

"I have the RCBS rock chucker. Very nice single stage press. No complaints. I added the RCBS piggyback to try progressive loading."

After reading forums for years, I've seen a good number of posts that the piggyback isn't the best device RCBS ever came up with.

"What do you think of the Hornandy lock-nload, RCBS 2000 and Dillon 550 as far as producing ammo with consistent OAL?"

Every single one of them will give you the consistent AOL you're looking for, as long as you're not trying to get bench rest consistency. If you are, use bench rest reloading equipment.

I see you're reloading rifle and pistol cartridges. One thing worth mentioning is how the various presses powder measures handle rifle powders. The Dillon measures can handle the extruded powders, but often you have to modify the measure to get it to meter accurately. The RCBS and Hornady measures do a much better job of handling extruded powders. The RCBS has the safest primer handling, but you have to use the plastic strips. The Hornady has one major advantage over the others because of the Lock N Load bushings in that with these, you can switch a single die out (insert, twist and click) without changing the rest of the setup. For instance, this allows you to change a full length resizer out with a neck sizer so you can reload for your only bolt action after you're finished loading for your semiautomatics. The Dillons and the Hornady both have case feeder options. The RCBS is cast iron. The Dillon 650 and the Hornady LnL both have 5 stations vs. 4 and both are quite fast, especially with a casefeeder.

"Most people seem to like any of these presses, but does anybody have some measurement data on OAL?"

I've never had to keep any data, I just set the OAL and check it occasionally as I reload. I've got a Hornady LnL. If you do a good job of adjusting the shellplate advance (simple and easy to do) it gives you very consistent overall length. I've adjusted this twice. Once when it was new and once when I switched out the old style subplate for the new style subplate that takes a casefeeder.

"I think this would indicate the "rigidness" of the shell plate to die plate. Another consideration (if these all have rigid assemblies) is how easy it is to swap calibers."

The Hornady is the easiest of the presses to swap calibers on. That said, all over the progressives you mentioned are easy to swap calibers on, so it's "relative." Now the cost of the caliber exchange parts can affect choices quite a bit.

"This is challenging and time consuming on the RCBS single stage & piggyback."

Any of the progressives you mentioned will be simple compared to the RCBS piggyback setup you have.

ALL of the presses you've mentioned are top quality and will reload good ammo. You can't go wrong with any of them. To pick one, you really need to take a hard look at features and decide which one has the features you want.

Walkalong
January 5, 2007, 09:32 AM
I use an old Hornady progressive. My cartridge overall lengths will vary by .005 (say 1.260 to 1.265) on some bullets and others it will vary no more than .002. It will take a couple of rounds for it to settle in if adjustments are made at the start, but then it will be OK for the rest of the run until you get to the last two or three where the press is not performing all the functions at once. Some combinations here will vary a bit (up to .008 or .009) I mark the first two or three cartridges in the run and the last two or three if they are out of range with a permanent marker and don't use those for chronoing or shooting on target. I just plink with them or warm up the barrel to get started with the chrono. Some combinations of bullet/powder/case/seating die etc. just are more uniform than others.
I use the Redding Competition seater for .45 and the Hornady seater with the sliding sleeve on 9MM and .40. They both work well. The Redding is better if you use several bullets with that caliber as far as getting it adjusted more quickly. You can dial back to a setting and it will be right on or very close.
Like Dave says. Rigidity of the press and play in the press is very important for consistent cartridge O.A.L. Probably the most important factor.

loadedround
January 5, 2007, 10:32 AM
I load match quality ammo in 223, 308, and 45 ACP for over 15 years in both my Dillon 550B's and have never had a bit of trouble with OAL.

Bronson7
January 5, 2007, 01:22 PM
Hi Joe, I feel your pain. I went trough this a couple of years ago. I've found two things that affect oals the most (using my 550):
1. Variances in bullet ogives (nothing you can do about that).
2. Using a concave seating stem when you should be using a flat one.

for HPs, TCs, SWCs, RNFPs and anything else that has a flat tip (even if it has an ogive) use a flat stem. Anything with a round nose, use a concave stem.
With the round noses, some bullet brand/styles are more consistent than others but you'll find more oal variances with the round nose bullets.

I load on the Dillon 550 which has a floating head (doesn't make any difference and gimmicks available to make it rigid, address a non-issue).

As far as your piggyback is concerned, honestly I don't know. I do know the other presses mentioned here are good ones.
Bronson7

Matt-man
January 5, 2007, 02:57 PM
My last batch of .357 Magnums (using new brass and 158 LSWCs) came out with an OAL spread of .002". I use a Hornady Lock-n-Load and Hornady's dies.

joebeemish
January 5, 2007, 07:25 PM
I will look around a few places and try to tug on each of the three presses. The gun show is coming to town this month, so I should be able to get a good view of the big 3. I will also take a look at Turners - they have some reloading gear.

Can the Hornandy quick change system be used on the RCBS 2000? That might make them pretty equal.

Also, I have RCBS carbide dies, the RCBS powder measure and other gear that I used on the piggyback. I think the dies can be used on any of the big 3 presses, can the powder measure be ported to the Hornandy and/or Dillon? Or should I just set it up for my rockchucker and get a new powder measure? I will keep the rockchucker as a single loader for those times when I am not doing a bunch of ammo.

Matt-man
January 6, 2007, 04:45 AM
The Hornady Lock-n-Load system can't be used on the Pro 2000. The Pro 2000 has toolheads like a Dillon press, and the Lock-n-Load bushing won't fit in them. You could use it with your Rock Chucker though.

You can definitely use your RCBS dies in any of the machines. Your Uniflow could be used on either the Hornady or Dillon press, but they already come with powder measures as does the Pro 2000. The Hornady powder measure is very similar to your Uniflow, so it doesn't make sense to get another powder measure. I haven't used the Dillon measure so I'll let others comment on that.

Lloyd Smale
January 6, 2007, 07:39 AM
its probably more in the smoothness and consistancy of the operator then it is in the press brand.

Walkalong
January 6, 2007, 09:00 AM
Operator error definitly hurts, but it also can not make up for slop in the design.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
January 6, 2007, 09:58 AM
I will look around a few places and try to tug on each of the three presses. The gun show is coming to town this month, so I should be able to get a good view of the big 3. I will also take a look at Turners - they have some reloading gear.

Just whatever you do, don't buy there. You'll save a significant amount of money ordering online. Reloading gear is often like woodworking machinery, the local outfits have a huge markup on the stuff. Just isn't worth it and typically they don't give much support, sadly.

Can the Hornandy quick change system be used on the RCBS 2000? That might make them pretty equal.

While the RCBS is a good press, it's more comparable to the Dillon 550. The Hornady LnL is more comparable to the Dillon 650. Of those mentioned, the Hornady is the best dollar value. It costs about what the 550 does, but with 650 performance and some unique features. The Lock N Load bushings can be used with your Rock Chucker and you can usually shim it to make it match up with your Lock N Load, so the dies can interchange between presses.

Also, I have RCBS carbide dies, the RCBS powder measure and other gear that I used on the piggyback. I think the dies can be used on any of the big 3 presses, can the powder measure be ported to the Hornandy and/or Dillon? Or should I just set it up for my rockchucker and get a new powder measure? I will keep the rockchucker as a single loader for those times when I am not doing a bunch of ammo.

The Hornady LnL comes with a case activated powder drop and a LnL powder measure very similar to your RCBS measure. Yes, the dies and your powder measure can be ported. You'll want to get a case activated powder drop for convenience. Oddly enough, you'll find the CAPD makes your powder drops more consistent. I recently bought an RCBS measures I plan to use on my Hornady set up for rifle powder. I plan to get the latest version of the CAPD to use with the powder through expansion it offers. Since you'd be getting a new press, you could get the RCBS CAPD for your rifle and use the one that came on your press for pistol. That'll be the only two measures you'd ever need for the Hornady and you only need one, but two would be a nice convenience.

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