Took the plunge, got a Dillon 550B


Lucky Strike
November 19, 2008, 07:42 AM
Nice to have finally committed to reloading....i've been telling myself i'm going to start for the last 2 years but it took going to the main sporting goods store in town last week and having them be completely out of .223 for me to finally commit.

Now i can start accumulating the things i'll need (manuals, scale, case trimmer, calipers, etc) but I have a feeling i'm going to really enjoy this hobby once i get set up.

the search function and this forum have provided me with some good info the last couple of days so thanks

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November 19, 2008, 08:37 AM

Good for you. I'm on my 550B for 5.56 and 45ACP. I've been doing so for a couple of years. You'll find you can make that AR ammo like you're going to war.

Drop me a note if you have any questions,

November 19, 2008, 09:03 AM
Start buying components in bulk. the pleasure of reloading lasts longer that way.

Lucky Strike
November 19, 2008, 09:08 AM
I plan on compiling components as soon as my finances (ie my wife) lets me.

Any suggestions on scales and case trimmers? I see the balance beam Dillon scale is like $25 cheaper then the RCBS it a good buy? or dial?

November 19, 2008, 09:42 AM
I'm probably going to a Dillon salesman here but I'm not...

I have the Dillon scale when I bought the press. Works as well today as it did the I got it (20+years ago).

I just recently bought the Dillon trimmer too. EXPENSIVE, requires a different die for each caliber too. Will knock out a bunch of cases in short order. MUCh faster than the Lyman trimmer I used to have Requires a vacuum to pull the trimmings away. (another additional cost)

Would I buy it again if I had to do it all over? Yes! I haven't seen anything that works as well and at that volume.

Calipers? save the money and get the dial. I have used both the plastic and steel ones. no real difference except the steel ones are a little cold to the touch

Canuc Shooter
November 19, 2008, 12:55 PM
Had my 2 Dillons for over 18 years (SDB & RL550B) (5 complete tool heads and powder measures for the 550) makes all my reloading a pleasure. Both still have all original parts.
You'll not be disappointed with the 550.

November 19, 2008, 01:28 PM
dial calipers will work fine,and almost any scale will do the job,just be sure to get check weghts to be sure of zero,etc.
The only thing you may not like is having to size the case,take it out to mike/trim it,then put it back in.I 'solve' this by sizing all of them at the same timeby having the sizing die in a seperate tool head,then re-installing the loaded tool head for the rest of the operations.YOu can alos just put in a case,size,remove,put in a case,size.,..well,you get the idea.
sizing on a seperate press works too.
for rifles that eat ammo,like AR's,a power trimmer would be a real plus.

Ball powders measure better in their powder drop than do stick types,you might ask for reccomendations here on the forum.

ur gonna love it !!

November 19, 2008, 01:56 PM
you are gonna love it.
ive got the same deal with toolheads and dies for 22 calibers.

November 19, 2008, 04:23 PM
I personally think that the 550 Dillon press is one of the best presses on the planet. I just sent one of mine in for rebuilding, that had to have had a millon rounds plus on it, and it still made fair ammo. I also have a 650, and although it is an ammo factory, I still think that the 550 is the better press.

Good Luck;)

November 19, 2008, 04:26 PM
I see the balance beam Dillon scale is like $25 cheaper then the RCBS it a good buy?
I can't remember which RCBS scale I have (502 maybe), but the Dillon scale I have is extremely similar. They are both made by Ohaus. I'd get the Dillon scale.

The Bushmaster
November 19, 2008, 04:32 PM
My condolenses, Lucky Strike...:D

November 19, 2008, 05:19 PM
Congratulations and welcome to reloading. I don't own a Dillon press but I have loadded on a friends 550, I'm sure you will be very happy. I buy bullets where ever I can find a deal. For powder and primers I buy in bulk ( 50,000 ) and it's hard to find a better deal that Powder Valley or Graf's. For one $20 hazmat fee you can buy 50,000 primers, or 48 pounds of powder, or 48 pounds of powder and primers mixed.

James Thomson
November 19, 2008, 05:36 PM
Congratulations on your 550. I bought one some time ago and also have a 650. I load 9mm on the 650 and 223 and 44 mag on the 550. Love both machines.

November 19, 2008, 08:22 PM
Dillon group hug :p

Seriously, I'm a little surprised the Hornady free bullets offer doesn't sway more people to the LNL, but I wonder how much longer they can keep that up.

November 20, 2008, 12:29 PM
I suspect the 1000 free bullets cost Hornady very little and may make them more money in the long run. 1st they make their own bullets so the cost for 1000 free bullets has to be what... around $20 or less. 2nd Buyers are probably new to reloading. After 1000 rounds, I bet many just buy Hornady bullets again, the press is already set up for them.

Lucky Strike
November 20, 2008, 12:38 PM
the LNL's free bullets did catch my eye but the manual indexing for the 550 is what sold me as a beginning reloader. It'll let me learn at a slow pace and once i'm up to speed it's output is more then enough for the amount that i shoot.

thanks for the names of those places to buy primers RustyFN....all the local stores are completely out of small rifle primers

November 20, 2008, 07:48 PM
the manual indexing for the 550 is what sold me as a beginning reloader I think that is one of the 550's best attributes. I like single stage sizing rifle brass (so it can be trimmed), with the ability to have the rest of the process semi automated.

November 21, 2008, 04:23 PM
Lucky Strike
Did the salesman also tell you how easy it is to produce double charges becasue of the non-indexing????????????

Be careful and be anal about checking for double charges. I hope we never read a headline "Lucky Strike's Excellent Adventure with Screw Lewey and the BIG KABLOOIE!!"

I hate the non-indexing feature on my 550, especially after loading on my indexing progressive press.

November 21, 2008, 05:35 PM
Well, yeah, congratulations! I've loaded upwards of 100,000 rounds with mine, and I'm very happy with it and the ten or twelve conversion kits. I can crank out ammo like nobody's business.

But... yep, you DO have to pay attention. I've loaded a double charge or two by mistake, and have been lucky it never hurt me (though I wrecked a Spanish Destroyer in 9mm Largo, and I SUSPECT that may have been the cause:what:).

I've also loaded a few squibs, no charge, which is extremely annoying and is the real reason that my reloads are for 'range use only' and not for self defense or hunting.:scrutiny:

Someday, the lawyers will catch up with reloaders and you will see the words "read the entire instruction manual before assembling" or some similar garbage:barf: The rig does exactly what it's supposed to do, and you have to do the same. The small number of 'bad loads' I've had were ALL operator error :what: on my part. Period.

The 550 is a great piece of work IMHO. Good luck.

Lucky Strike
November 21, 2008, 06:12 PM

Nope not the salesmen, just other THR posters who said full on progressives aren't the best for beginners....double charging though is definitely a very real concern. Just gotta try and stay vigilant

Went to a big gunshow in Portland today....first time i've ever been to one.....picked up the new Lyman Reloading Manual (49th edition)....was the same price as they're selling on Amazon but this way i don't have to wait for shipping i suppose.

Also got a good condition used RCBS 505 scale for $39 which seemed like a good deal since they're going for like $90 brand new at the stores.

Was also gonna get some AR15 magazines but they were selling used ones for more then what new PMags go for

November 21, 2008, 08:11 PM
Lucky -
Congrats on a great buy. I love my 550B, and Dillon has really treated me right when I call in.

All the better scales are generally made by Ohaus, measure 0.1 gr, and go to 500gr max... so look for a good price. The one I ended up with was a RCBS 505 that was well over 25 years old and still going strong.

Hint: To prevent double-loads... place the Dillon calendar on the wall behind you!

November 21, 2008, 08:29 PM
Did the salesman also tell you how easy it is to produce double charges becasue of the non-indexing????????????

Fact is, you can double charge on a single stage just as easy.

Basically, as long as you pay attention to what you are doing, look into every case you drop a powder charge into, you'll be fine.


November 22, 2008, 06:10 PM
I have hand loaded for 48 years, started loading on the 550 in the early 90's, and didn't mention another brand name in this thread.

In my loading career, I have had 3 cartridges that were definitely over charged. I do not believe they were double charged, but definitely were carrying extra powder, because 3 other cartridges in those batches were squibs. They were done on the 550.

Because I am so anal about checking for double charges as I place the bullet for seating, I have found many double charged case. All of these were while loading on the 550.

My admonition is intended only to alert Lucky Strike to those "real and present" dangers.

November 22, 2008, 07:52 PM
I always preach to SEE each and every powder charge you seat a bullet over. I do that because a double charge can happen on any press out there. Single stage, kind of tough though, turret, progressive with manual indexing, and progressives with auto indexing. Believe me, there is a way to do it with all of them.

SEE the powder you seat a bullet over every single round you ever make.

Years ago I bored two holes in my Projector. One after the 3rd station and one after the 4th station. It was made to fit a Maglight Solitaire flashlight so it could shine down into the case. I now use a Fenix E1 LED flashlight which is even better.

November 22, 2008, 08:05 PM
I made a homemade powder indicator die years ago. I would set it so anything over the right charge would make the indicator stick up, but it was just as easy to look at the charge as it was to watch the indicator, and I did not have to move my eyes as they were already looking at the case to seat a bullet anyway, PLUS, it did not indicate a missing charge adjusted that way. I could have set it to show either, but that took even more concentration.

I just settled on seeing each and every charge I set a bullet over. It has saved me from a double charge a couple of times (yes, a double, and I'm not telling what dumb thing I did to do that) and missing charges a time or two as well, like when the measure stuck and then came down so it looked OK.

Johnny Guest
November 24, 2008, 12:40 AM
All hands are urged to Click Here ( and read the Courtesy and Restraint sticky near the top of the H&R forum.

This thread is a good example of an individual posting something simply for information, but NOT asking for information about other matters. A couple of members have purposely introduced some thread veer. Look: Itís okay to caution another member about a possible hazard, but make your statement and LEAVE IT AT THAT! If you happen to notice that your post in this thread is missing, youíll understand why.

Thread closed.

Johnny Guest
THR Staff

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