OK, I have the press - now what? Noob alert


Futo Inu
September 18, 2003, 11:39 PM
Here's my new (to me) Dillon RL450 ("semi-progressive").

I don't have anything else yet, except for

-Dies for 6.5x55 Swede (so I guess I'll start with that),
-Multiple reload manuals.

What else am I gonna need in bare essentials to get going?

-Which scale is best / best value?
-Which case trimmer is best / best value?
-What primers should I use for 6.5x55?
-What powder(s) do you recommend for 140/142 gr bullets in a 21" bbl for 6.5x55?
-What bullets do you recommend (I'm interested first in 140 grainers)
-Dillon shell holders are proprietary, correct? Really dumb, but how many do I need for each caliber? 1 or 4 or what?

Wait a sec - back up - will RCBS dies even work in Dillon presses?!? (lol - I bought the dies first, then found the deal on the press).

I hear ebay is a great source for once-used brass. Any other info for me? I'm gonna need a lot of help here - lol. Better dig into the manuals and get over to http://dillonprecision.com/default.cfm?

Dillon has downloadable instructions for the 550 but not the 450. Anyone know if they're substantially the same instructions. My press came with NO papers.

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Futo Inu
September 19, 2003, 12:40 AM
Or would I be better off starting with a pistol caliber to get my feet wet, then moving on to rifle calibers?

September 19, 2003, 01:24 AM
Your dies should work just fine in the dillon.
the dillons don't use shell holders,the use Dllon caliber conversions...a kit with 3 brass pins,a powder funnel,and a shell plate.The shell plate takes the place of shell holders.
for rifle reloading you'll need case lube...don't EVER get a case stuck,it'll hang ya up something fierce until ya get it out.
Do your dies full-length size the case? most do.they usually are shown on the box as FL dies.
once you have fired the cases yiou could get a neck-size only die,saves wear and tear on the brass.LEe makeas a good one.
The dillon powder measures don't like "stick" powdrs very well.If you can find a ball powder that will work for your caliber you'll get more accurate measurements from it.Flake powders do ok too.
Hornady makes a nice scale and a case trimmer too.
I have just learned about the Lee collet die,they say it has no expander ball to stretch the case as you size it,makes trimming far less necessary.gonna try one real soon,I am.:)
I hven't loaded that cart. so can't help on bullets,powder,etc.
don['t try to run the press as a "progressive" righ off.you can run one shell at a time thru and learn what the dies do that way.th'ats what I like about my dillon 550b...I still can control it.
good luck,and be safe. wear safety glasses!

September 19, 2003, 11:00 AM
You might give the fine folks at Dillon a call. The reason you don't find the 450 manual online is 'cause the RL550 superceded it years ago. They might be able to send you a manual for the 450, dunno. You might hold off on a case trimmer for just a bit. Your calipers will tell you when it's time to trim. It may not be for a while. Having gotten started with a balance-beam scale and then moving to an electronic one, I'd HIGHLY recommend you get the electronic scale. PACT makes a good one, and Midway would be a good place to get it.

As far as the actually components for 6.5 Swede, dunno. Most of the major manufacturers have a deservedly fine reputation. If you stick w/ Sierra, Speer, Hornady, or Nosler, you can't go to far wrong as long as you follow their recommendation on specific applications. As far as mass-marked target bullets, the Sierra MatchKink seems to rule the roost.

Hope this helps...

September 19, 2003, 11:10 AM
I've gotten decent results with Sierra bullets, Winchester Large Rifle Primers and Hodgen H-380 powder. My poor M-38 Swede has become a safe queen lately since I discovered SKS's and Mosin's:what: . They're so cheap to shoot that I haven't reloaded a single rifle round all this year.

Futo Inu
September 19, 2003, 12:41 PM
Helpful stuff - I'll prolly get that pact scale and those components - please keep it coming if you have an answer to any of my questions. :)

September 20, 2003, 10:21 PM
I'd start with straight walled pistol calibers. .45 ACP is good because it is easy to see inside, low pressure, big slug.

What else do you need?

--Balance scale ( I think all are made by the same company)
--Check weights
--Safety glasses specifically for your reloading bench.

September 21, 2003, 12:25 AM
Read your manuals. It's give you the accuracy load. Start with that powder for the 130 grain bullet. Large rifle primers for 6.5x55. CCI's are good. Call Dillion for a manual. Their customer service is second to none. They'll tell you everything you want to know. http://dillonprecision.com/default.cfm?
Handloading handgun rounds is somewhat different. Dillon will tell you what you need for that too.

Futo Inu
September 21, 2003, 01:26 PM
I ordered some Hodgden 380 powder (since its round instead of "long" - good to flow from the Dillon dispenser, and it showed good results in 2 of 3 manuals I have), some Sierra BT 140 bullets, and some Winchester primers (and a scale, blocks/trays, labels, case lube pad and lube). What's a "check weight"? Anyone else concur that I should try .45 first (which *is* on my list of choices to reload), instead of a necked-case cartridge?

[P.S. Learned something new - damn hazmat charge to ship powders/primers - grrrrr - pays to get quantities]

September 21, 2003, 01:45 PM
I assume you read the loading manuals and understand what each die actually does. No matter what type of press you are using, the dies still do the same thing. I personally don't see the problem with starting off with a progressive machine. Just don't try to go fast. Pull the handle and examine each cartridge to ensure everything that was supposed to happen did, before you move on.
Rifle loading is a little bit different than loading straight walled pistol cartridges, but as long as you understand what each die is doing, you should be fine. One of the big differences between loading straight walled pistol cartridges and bottlenecked rifle cartridges is that you have to lube the cases. Over the years I have tried most of the case lubes out there and find the spray on lubes to be the easiest to use. After sizing, I remove the case from the press and wipe off the lube. I then measure the case length with the calipers to see if it is within spec. If it needs trimmed, I use the Lee Zip trimmer. I have other case trimmers but the Zip trim is a no-brainer. There is nothing to adjust; the pilot takes care of the length. I own a couple balance beam scales and one electronic scale. I much prefer the electronic. It is much faster and easier to read. It also allows you to weigh objects quickly without adjusting the scale such as, you want to weigh your powder charges, but in the middle of the loading session you decide to weigh a bullet, you can do this without doing anything to the scale.
Check weights. These are known standard weights to check the accuracy of your scale. Obviously, you put the check weight on your scale and the scale should read the same as the known weight of the check weight. If it doesn't, and you have no way to adjust the scale, you compensate for the difference. Having an absolute exact measurement on your powder charge is only critical when loading right at the max charge.
I suppose that loading the .45 ACP cartridge would allow you to get familiar with your press with less to think about. Starting there wouldn't be a bad idea, but I don't think it is madatory.
Dillon is a great company. Give them a call. They will definitely get you up and running. They will stay on the phone with you and walk you through the set up of your press if nessessary. If anything is broken, they will provide the parts free of charge.

September 21, 2003, 01:51 PM
Check weights are highly accurate weights used to calibrate you scale. All scales can be zero'd but that says nothing about how it reads. The assumption is if a scale is zero'd then it will read accurately when you are trying to throw, say, 4.5 grains of powder.

Check weights are used by making up the weight of powder you want to throw, placing the weights on the scale, and if the scale does not read the weight you just made up, you saved yourself some hearburn.

For the longest time I use to zero the scale until check weights showed me I was throwing 25% more than I thought.

I consider check weights to be a safety item like ear plugs and safety glasses.

September 22, 2003, 12:15 PM
'Nother plug for the PACT e-scale vs. balance beam. The PACT comes with check weights....

Futo Inu
September 23, 2003, 07:23 PM
Good info again - thanks.

I ordered caliber conversion kits for 6.5x55 and .45acp/super, and dies for the 45 (same base plate for both, so the conversion kit consists only of a powder funnel). Dillon is also sending a manual for the 550 - says it should be similar. Apparently there are also parts to convert a 450 into a 550, so I'll look at that in due time. I got some H380 for 6.5x55, and some HS7 and Alliant power pistol for .45 super, with the theory being that HS7 can work for both .45 acp and super, and PP for super, 10mm (when I get into that), and possibly 45 acp. Well, these are small quantities, so I may be overthinking this - lol. My very first rounds should be cranked out by Sat, if the Dillon dies and conv. kits get here by then. I'll need those check weights soon, but I'll start with well under max loads in case my scale is off, til then. That Lee Zip trimmer sounds great - 2 birds with one stone. I'll get the PACT scale when I can afford it later - yikes - for now I got a cheapie Lee balance scale. Waitone, whaddya mean glasses "specifically for my reloading bench"? :confused:

Now, question:

Will my Mec-Tec 16" carbine unit handle .45 super loads? It's straight blowback...I would think it would, albeit possibly not with great results with half the fire coming out the side, and would need a stronger recoil spring for sure...whaddya think?

BTW, uglymofo, if you're listenin', I did get my press from that private seller ad you linked me to - thanks again.

September 23, 2003, 08:07 PM
If you have to hunt around for safety glass before you start reloading you are more likely to forego the use of glasses.

Futo Inu
September 23, 2003, 09:02 PM
Oh - lol - I thought you had meant there was something in the design of the glasses that was useful/protective for reloading - OK, thanks.

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