Dillon shmit disturber--> 550's and 650's


December 28, 2003, 01:38 PM
This may seem like I'm trolling or stirring it up, but I've no experience with the Dillon 550's and 650's, and this topic came up in a roundabout way on another thread... I use a Hornady LNL AP, and don't understand the logic behind the guys who use multiple Dillon presses, so here's my question.

Minimally, a Dillon 550 is in the general neighborhood of $500, setup for one caliber (I know, the 650 is 'way more than that, but for argument's sake I wanna keep this simple). Dillon touts their toolhead setup as a quick way to make caliber changes. On my Hornady, I can swap out and reload in a different caliber in about 70 seconds; I've timed it a couple of times, and my best time from decision to action was 50 seconds.

So why do you Dillon fans who post pics of multiple Dillon setups (550's and better) need them? I mean, a minimal cost of $500 seems pretty extravagent to avoid the caliber changing procedure.

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December 28, 2003, 02:30 PM
It is extravagant. No harm in that if you have the money. Costs no more than that gun in your locker that you haven't shot in a couple years. You see it more in the Dillon loaders because right or wrong they are generally considered THE best, and guys that buy THE best are more likely to have the extra money for second and third presses. Nobody would blink at 5 Lee Pro1000's in a line, but you could do that for the same price as one 550B that is all decked out. I prefer my one 550B.

50 seconds including primer sizes, powder change, charge adjustment, and double checking, or just changing over the parts?

I have 6 or 7 toolheads for my 550 that are set up and locked down that won't get messed with, and a couple that are "floaters" that I use for odd jobs and single stage loading. Even if I have to change primer sizes, empty the powder measure, fill it, and change calibers I can do it in less than 5 minutes including setting the powder charge and getting everything fine tuned for a production run, and fine tuning is the loading of at least 25 rounds to make sure everything is OK.

Changing primer sizes is the only part that could even be described as a hassle, and even then it is not bad.

I will purchase another 550 to put next to the one I have as soon as the funding is available, and I might even step into a 650 for serious production needs like 38, 40 and 45. Right now I am loading ~4K rounds per month and have no trouble keeping up with one 550B, but that doesn't keep me from wanting another.

December 28, 2003, 02:55 PM
an extra $1,000 for leather seats (or a moonroof, or larger engine, etc) on a car.....that you're only going to have for 3-4 years?? When the car's gone, the multi-thousand dollar options go with it.

I can keep my multiple 550's and use them for a lifetime. I buy Jeeps and run them for 250K miles plus. If you buy new cars every few years, one of your payments will buy me a new Dillon every month. I'd rather have the Dillon. Maybe you'd rather have the shiny car.

Real answer is that, I'd do it mainly so I don't have to change out and re-adjust everything. Less chance for errors (powder type or settings). The buttons on your TV change the channels just as well as a remote, but people used to get new TV's just for the remote and related convenience.

Your money, your choice. Boils down to....we're spoiled by all the toys we can afford.

Gotta go...gotta play with my toys:D

Zak Smith
December 28, 2003, 03:03 PM
At one point I had a pair of SDB's in .45 and 9x19. It was more convenient to be able to sit down and start cranking with no overhead (besides filling primer tubes).

Now that I have a 650, I crank out ammo in much much larger batches and so switching over isn't a big deal. I can load 6 month's worth of .44MAG in a couple hours, and be done with it.

It is often handy to have a press set up for experimental loads or something you do in lower volume on an ongoing basis, and a second press you use for "production" ammo of which you need a continuous supply. For example, if I'm loading thousands of rounds of .45 for IPSC on a weekly basis, I'd just rather not go messing about with that press while developing new loads for some other purpose.


December 28, 2003, 04:02 PM

That includes die swap, powder change and calibration. 50 seconds from the time I decide to change calibers to the time I crank the handle; to confirm powder reloads takes whatever time it takes to throw 10 loads and measure them. The Hornady seems to hold it's calibration well enough that I haven't had to make any adjustments because of a caliber change; at least, not so far after ~12-15 switches between 45acp and two other main calibers.

I don't shoot anything requiring a change to small primers, but it would take about 2 minutes I think (swapping out the tube and and primer sled would take less than 15 seconds, but changing out the primer button/ramrod or whatever it's called would take some time.)

Thanks for the replies; like I said, nothin' to do on a Sunday 'cept wander with my curiousity. I just wondered why so many folks felt they needed second and third 650's instead of using single Dillons in the manner for which they were designed. I haven't got that kind of money to spare "away from guns":( :) ; I guess I'd rather trade a couple minutes of hassle for another gun. I hate reloading, and it don't make me happy at all to see that much money bolted to my bench when I'm out at the range and short one gun.:D

December 28, 2003, 04:27 PM
one thing that I think is a PITA is changing primer feeds on the 550. One of those things that should take 30 seconds but seems to take 10 minutes

If Dillon could figure a way to change that as fast as a tool head, they'd have a close to perfect machine

December 28, 2003, 07:21 PM
Decided to come back to this thread. Something Redneck2 said is nagging at me:

Real answer is that, I'd do it mainly so I don't have to change out and re-adjust everything. Less chance for errors (powder type or settings).

The more I think about it, the more I wonder.. Are y'all using multiple Dillons because quick repeatability isn't there? It reads like, and my only logic takes me to, the conclusion that it's a hassle to change calibers on a Dillon---why else would one buy multiple units at > $500 each unless it was to avoid moving toolheads? This line of thinking may be in error, but it seems to me that theory and practice don't mesh well with the Dillon change-outs, otherwise, one unit would suffice; after all, 3-5 minute changes (as advertised), equals ~$6000 for 12 changes (over any time span), and my time ain't worth that.

Forgive me if this sounds like I'm stirring it, I'm not. I'm trying to find out as much about the Dillons in order to give an unbiased recommendation to someone who's never seen a reloading press, and I'm handicapped because my only progressive-press experiences are with a Hornady. I don't know of anyone with two Hornadys... there just doesn't seem to be any need for another.

Zak Smith
December 28, 2003, 07:36 PM
For what it's worth, regarding repeatability,

When I took apart my Square-Deal B to clean it, I lifted the toolhead out, and then completely disassembled the bottom end of the press to single pieces. When the machine was reassembled (with some new parts in its "guts"), the load was still calibrated correctly.

My take is that the SDB is cheap enough that having two or more of them makes sense. A full SDB conversion is about $135, but you can buy a complete SDB on eBay for about $200.

On the 650, there are a number of things to change besides the toolhead and shellplate. You have to make one, possibly two, changes to the lower casefeed assembly. Then you have to empty out the auto casefeed bucket (above), clean it out, and possibly swap something there - depending on what calibers you're going from/to. If you are switching from large to small primers, you have to swap out the priming system assembly.

If someone loads for different calibers very regularly, this overhead is something they'd want to avoid. On the other hand, if you're only going to load batches of .308 and .44RM twice a year, and then load .45ACP the rest of the time, it's not a big deal.


December 28, 2003, 07:59 PM
ugly, my 550 repeats to within .0005" OAL and crimp depth when broken down, caliber changed and loaded, and then put back together in the first caliber. That is as close as I can measure here at home and I have never seen the need to go beyond that.

It is not a hassle to change calibers on the 550's, not sure about the other models. Guys buying Dillon loaders will not settle for second rate stuff, and don't mind spending for quality. Most also don't mind spending for another loader. Having another gun or another loader to use, a decision that haunts me even now. Dillon loaders are so nice that having two is a viable consideration for me. Unless just flush with cash most guys stop at two Dillons, one for large and one for small primers. Then you could change calibers in less than a minute with ease.

December 28, 2003, 11:38 PM
Hey ugly, how many 1911s <or insert favorite gun here> do you have? :neener:

December 29, 2003, 12:53 AM

Why do you ask that?

I have eight, and several other calibers I load for--.380 (rarely), 9mm, 357mag, 44mag, 45-70, 50ae, and 308.

December 29, 2003, 12:55 AM
I load 9mm, 44 magnum and .308 on my 550b. 9mm is my primary caliber for which I load approximately 600 rounds per week. Breaking down and reassembling from 9 to either of the other calibers takes 15-20 minutes, and of course, 15-20 minutes to convert it back. I often find myself needing to reload 300 rounds before a shoot with little time to do it in. Wasting an extra half hour isn't an option, and God help me if everything doesn't go perfectly.

Another 550 dedicated to 9mm would make reloading easier, and allow me the luxury of loading up an extra 50 test rounds of .44 when I'm on my way out. Right now, those 50 rounds will take me 50 minutes with caliber conversion time thrown in.

I've never found repeatability to be a problem, but I only have one powder measure which gets reset with every caliber change. Just having extra throw bars would be an improvement.

I'm trying to find one right now in the $220 range.

December 29, 2003, 01:28 AM
Why do you need more than one? Perhaps for the same reason some may need more than one Dillon?

December 29, 2003, 01:53 AM
Nope. They're completely different guns for different purposes--steel plate, bowling pin matches, light dress/humid weather CCW, bullseye, etc. Actually, one pistol has swappable parts. I know what you're trying to say, but I don't see the analogy as being the same. These guns all function for the task they were intended when they were built; each task/target/purpose was unrelated to the other, except in a general way (i. e., there's no way I'd use a games/pin gun for light dress CCW, etc.).

I see the use/need for multiple Dillons as a measure required to avoid the inconvenience the Dillon design was theoretically supposed (at least partially) to solve. That may be a harsh "criticism", but my logic is rather tunnel-visioned, and I can't get past it. I've read what everyone says in the archives, but I don't understand the comments that some have made in other threads that Dillon is the best, etc., etc., when, in my mind, whatever progressive press I recommend to my friend should offer reloading speed/quality equally with caliber changeout speed and efficiency without compromising caliber changes if that's supposedly a touted feature of that press. Maybe I'm asking for too much.

December 29, 2003, 01:59 AM
550's aren't 500 bucks, they're 329. less dies. It takes me about 5 mins to change calibers on it including primer size.:confused:

December 29, 2003, 02:03 AM
But that's exactly the point. Why a different gun for steel plate and bowling pin matches? I'd use the same 1911, maybe a different load. Good stainless gun for summer and winter wear. Heck, good stainless 1911 will satisfy all four categories. Accurized and it will cover five.

It really boils down to how the individual CHOOSES to use his tools. You use your 1911s in a way that seems odd to me (no disrepect intended :neener: ), others use their 550s in a way that seems odd to you (and me, I'm happy with my one press and a bunch of toolheads).

But that's their choice (God Bless America!), and its a huge stretch to see it as a slap at the 550 (or 1911).

All this philosophical stuff makes my head hurt, I'm off to bed. :)

December 29, 2003, 06:33 AM
along with the 550. Probably the best combination would be a Dillon press with a Hornady (or RCBS) powder measure with the inserts rather than cranking the screw on the charge bar. Both of mine are older presses, but I think the Dillon is quite a bit easier to change. YMMV.

I think a lot depends on your income and age. If you're 26, have three kids and a ton of bills, I'd do about anything to save money

I'm 52, kids are gone, and I could buy 3 Dillons every month if I wanted to

December 29, 2003, 07:53 AM
I have and run two Dillon 550 presses.
Both of them together might have cost $500 including several complete caliber conversions, but I think they were actually far less than that. I believe I bought one of them for $150.
I bought both of them used. Right here on this board (actually I think the first one was on TFL).
Why two ?
One for large primers, one for small primers.
I can do a caliber change in about the same amount of time you mention. Of course changing primer type takes a little longer, but less than a minute. I would just prefer not to do it at all. Changing calibers or primer types is no big deal at all. I guess I am like Redneck. I have a decent job and am single. I am certainly not rich, but am not strapped for cash by any means. The cost of a Dillon 550 that will last the rest of my life doesn't amount to much.
I am wondering where you get the figure of $500. I seem to remember that they are about $350 ? I am not going to go look however.

EDIT: I lied, I went and looked. On the Dillon website they show the 550B at the price of $329.95 without dies. Considerably less than $500.

December 29, 2003, 10:19 AM
Just to clear up my $500 figure, I didn't express myself very well. I quoted that as a mental compromise for myself between a 550 and 650. $329 may be the "list" price, but after dies, shipping, powder sensor, Strong Mount and handle, I think we're probably in the low to mid-4's, and that's close enough for me to quote my friend $500 to cover anything I omitted. Impractical I know, but it allowed me to say to my friend, +- $100-150 for your choice of Dillon. There's probably no way of convincing him to go used on his first press ever.

Steve Smith
December 29, 2003, 10:34 AM
I am a Dillon 550 owner. In comparison to the Hornady, caliber change IS a PITA and DOES take longer. Two things prevent me from switching to a Hornady, and keep me buying more toolheads and caliber conversion kits as I need them: #1, I owned a 550 before the Hornady LNL existed...I'm vested in it now. #2, I still hear of priming issues with the Hornady...I don't have any issues with my Dillon.

December 29, 2003, 10:50 AM
Simple, convenience has value. We spend money to save time and effort all the time. Hell, that's what a progressive press is for in the first place. I could load the same quality and amount of ammo with a $75 Lee kit, but I use a Dillon 550 instead to save time and effort. I could save yet more time and effort by buying a second one and keeping it set up for large primers.

(BTW, I'm amazed how few people questioned the ludicrous $500 figure. Did you all just get crappy deals?)

December 29, 2003, 11:14 AM
I plead guilty. Here's where I got that ludicrous figure. http://www.imagestation.com/picture/sraid95/p007b86fb3638d8590247d9f0914c37c5/fa2684a2.jpg

I can save almost $30 if I order the same things through Brian Enos. That figure's still closer to $500 than $400. Have you got a better source for new merchandise?

December 29, 2003, 11:41 AM
Is there any reason you add $99.85 worth of extraneous additions - all of which the Hornaday L&L AP lacks - to arrive at your figure?

Dillon has its strengths and weaknesses for changeovers. The biggest weakness is changing out the primer system for different sized primers.

Then again, its hard to beat a 3 to 5 second changeover from .45 ACP to .308 Win. :)

December 29, 2003, 11:42 AM
Oh I see how you got that figure. But wait! No calipers, scale or componants? Best bump it some more...Trimmer, crimp die, tumbler...

It never ends.:D

How did I ever load ammo without this stuff? I started with a rockchucker a set of dies and a scale. Poured powder into a cereal bowl and tap tap tapped it into the scale with a spoon...

It took me around a 1/2 day to crank out 200 rounds. I can do that now in about 15-20 minutes.:)

Steve Smith
December 29, 2003, 11:53 AM
Strong mount is unnecessary. Roller handle might be nice, I don't have a problem with the regular handle. Low powder sensor is only necessary if you're blind and can't see two feet in front of you. You can deduct $100 for all that crap that you don't need.

December 29, 2003, 11:56 AM

I'll preface my reply by quoting myself from an earlier post--I'm trying to find out as much about the Dillons in order to give an unbiased recommendation to someone who's never seen a reloading press

From my reading of the archives, the number of responses (even if you'd consider only 33% as a 'few') from Dillon users suggest a Strong Mount and Handle are desirable. I've never seen pictures of multiple presses without them. As I said 'way earlier, and seem to have to repeatedly defend, I used $500 as a general figure; seems like lots of y'all don't like that, and some like it even less that I ask about the reasoning behind buying mulitple 'quick-change' presses.

The point isn't what Hornady does and doesn't provide; I'm trying to give my best advice to a friend, who wants to know what other OEMs and setups are available, that will do the things I've described to him from my experience with a LNL AP. The Hornady doesn't come with a "Strong Mount" and handle; no such products are available. I've never heard anyone complain about the need for them.

As for this comment:How did I ever load ammo without this stuff? I started with a rockchucker a set of dies and a scale. Poured powder into a cereal bowl and tap tap tapped it into the scale with a spoon...

Ya done 'way bettah than me. I started with a $7 Lee reloading kit, a cereal bowl, and a butter knife to level off the dipper. Man, that was long ago...

I'd sure like to hear from more 650 owners about the change-out strengths/weaknesses of their presses. After all, the 650 is more comparable to the LNL AP. Thanks.

December 29, 2003, 12:24 PM
From my reading of the archives, the number of responses (even if you'd consider only 33% as a 'few') from Dillon users suggest a Strong Mount and Handle are desirable.
They may absolutely be desirable ... but lots of things are desirable. For instance, a top-of-the-line electronic scale might be desirable, but most people start out with a balance beam scale.
I used $500 as a general figure; seems like lots of y'all don't like that, and some like it even less that I ask about the reasoning behind buying mulitple 'quick-change' presses.
You proposed a "general figure" that was rather high. To justify it, you tacked on a bunch of "desirable" extras that aren't necessary and aren't even available on the LNL AP.

As to the reasoning behind multiple Dillons, some people have enough money that buying extra presses to avoid having to change dies makes sense. I'd wager that before long you'll see pictures of people with two or three LNL APs lined up on their bench too.

If I had enough cash, I'd probably stop at buying two 550s - one for large primers and one for small. If I only loaded one size of primer, I'd stick with one press. Shellplate changeovers are quick and toolhead changeovers are quicker.
The point isn't what Hornady does and doesn't provide; I'm trying to give my best advice to a friend, who wants to know what other OEMs and setups are available, that will do the things I've described to him from my experience with a LNL AP.
Are you just trying to convince your friend not to get a Dillon? If not, then why suggest that they're so much more expensive by adding a bunch of unnecessary parts to it? This doesn't seem "unbiased" to me.

Yeah, it might be nice to have a strong mount and roller handle and low powder sensor, but they are hardly requirements for a good Dillon. I have none of them on my 550.
The Hornady doesn't come with a "Strong Mount" and handle; no such products are available. I've never heard anyone complain about the need for them.
I wonder if they would be considered "desirable" if Hornady offered them. If Hornady charged an extra $100 for 'em, would you add that on to the price you suggest to your friend?

The Hornady press might well be superior, but not because the Dillon is so much more expensive.

Steve Smith
December 29, 2003, 12:31 PM
I think the strong mount is for people who want to stand when reloading. I do mine sitting...if I had a strong mount on my press and still sat, I wouldn't be able to look at what was going on, and my arms would have to be about a foot longer. If the press is mounted to a solid bench, it is VERY rigid and you won't even think about needing a "strong mount."

December 29, 2003, 12:31 PM

Are you a Dillon salesman? or used cars?? :rolleyes: :rolleyes: In either case, go away.:banghead:

Ah. Thanks, Steve.

Steve Smith
December 29, 2003, 12:36 PM
FWIW, I am still wondering about the Hornady priming issues. If it weren't for that, I would recommend it rather than the 550 to friends. Is the jury still out to lunch on this?

Zak Smith
December 29, 2003, 12:40 PM
I now use the "strong mount" on all my Dillon presses. I found that cranking the press sitting down did a number on my back.

The strong mount also allows access to the rear of the bottom of the press, which means you can disassemble it for cleaning or repair without removing the "frame" from the bench. This is especially true with the SDB.


[ XL650 pictured above ]


Steve Smith
December 29, 2003, 12:53 PM
Perhaps adjusting your sitting height or the press/bench height is the biggest thing. Since I sit, I have to reach up to grab the handle...but not a lot..say 2" above shoulder height (guessing)? That way the bottom end of the handle's travel is about 1/2" before my elbow reaches it's maximum extension. My back doesn't have to move. I think I might have gotten lucky with bench and chair height. Consiering Zak's comment, it seems that this should be a part of press set up for all of us.

Zak Smith
December 29, 2003, 12:58 PM

The other ergonomic modification I made was to mount the presses on the bench rotated slightly counter-clockwise, maybe 20 degress. This allows me to stand close directly in front of it but not have the lever interfere with my torso position. It also allows better visibility and reach to the bullet seating station.


Steve Smith
December 29, 2003, 01:04 PM
What I do is I have one of those metal folding chairs. I sit in it with the chair just far enough away from the bench so that I can go to TDC with the ram without hitting my hand on the chair. I sit VERY erect with my back several inches away from the chair back. A three legged stool could also work if it were tall enough.

For some reason I'm wondering if mounting the press on a precise swivel, with the stop where you would load a case and insert a bullet. That way, it would swivel naturally as your arm would. Your thoughts?

Too much monkey motion?

December 29, 2003, 01:55 PM

I posted numerous times on the old TFL site, trying to cure my own priming problems. I had phenomenal troubles with the priming system on my LNL AP, but hindsight says it was 'user error'. I started reloading with the LNL AP by reloading about 3000 rounds of 45acp. It was murderous, because the primers would either not seat fully, or not seat squarely, and with both failures, brass would shave and then the primer sled wouldn't cycle all the way, causing even more erratic priming. Countless phone calls didn't solve the problem until one very astute Hornady technician got me through it.

The short version is, I wasn't swaging the milsurp brass enough. The coincidence of never reloading another caliber up to that point eliminated the chance for me to see the problem was self-induced. I've never had a problem with commercial brass, (nor LC rifle brass); I just wish I'd had started out with a different caliber. That would have told me my priming troubles were specific to the 45acp (90% of my brass is old milsurp), and I might have found the cure earlier.

I've read where the priming station has to be kept very clean in order to function consistently well, but I've not had to make any adjustments to my regimen in consideration for the priming station since I swaged the milsurp 45acp brass a little wider. I have also read that the newer machines have a revamped priming system, but that's all I know--I haven't seen any complaints regarding the new priming system, but it's only been out for about 2-4 months, I think.

I toyed with the idea of offsetting my mount on the Hornady too, but I ended up using a swivel chair. It works basically in the same manner as y'all are discussing, but instead of moving the press out of the way, my torso and offending knee pivot away instead.

December 29, 2003, 02:31 PM
Are you a Dillon salesman? or used cars??
No, not at all. I like my press just as you like your press. It just seemed to me that you were looking for reasons to put down the Dillon (high price, hard to change calibers, etc) while claiming to be trying to be unbiased. Please don't be offended if I point out inaccuracies.

Like I said, the Dillon's main weakness when changing calibers is having to switch between large and small primers. That's the only thing that takes much time at all. The shellplate change is quick and the toolhead is very fast. Changing out the 650 is quite a bit slower, but I've never really taken a shine to the 650 anyhow. I have only anecdotal reviews of the LNL AP, but I won't badmouth it just because the only guy I know who has one doesn't like it.

If he's going to be swapping large/small primers often, he might be better suited with the LNL AP ... if the LNL is any faster at changing primer sizes, that is.

What kind of primers do you use? I've never needed to swage primer pockets from mil-surp .45ACP (new or WWII). I use Winchester primers. Could the primer cup not be centered?

December 29, 2003, 06:15 PM
Minimally, a Dillon 550 is in the general neighborhood of $500

Ehhhh , wrong answer ! I looked at your Dillon webpage subtotal, Does your Hornady have a roller handle ? A strong mount ?, you save $30 at Brianenos on just the press. FWIW I bought a 550 (bare) + 2 deluxe caliber conversions (2 shellplate kits with expander ,2 powder dies , 2 toolheads , 2 powder measures and 2 toolhead stands ) and a benchwrench in a pear tree for a touch over $400 shipped at brianenos.com (I have all the dies I need and then some).

Per Hornady's own site comparison chart: Dillon RL 550 B
w/one cal. conversion
kit $325.98

Lock-N-Load AP

RL550 Toolhead 13909 $ 12.95

Lock & Load Die Bushings
(2-Pack) No. 044094 $9.33
(3-Pack) No. 044093 $13.52
(10-Pack) No. 044096 $41.57
(by the way with a 5 station press - why don't bushings come in packs of 5??)

Pasted from the Hornady site:* Dillon Caliber Conversion Kits are sold as one caliber per kit. Hornady shell plates give you multiple caliber capabilities. For example Shell Plate No. 1 loads more than 30 different calibers. Each shell plate costs about the same as one Dillon Conversion Kit. The savings and advantages are clear. Comparison source: The Blue Press, 11/97.

The Lock-N-Load AP comes complete with all the features listed above, including the Deluxe Powder Measure, Case Activated Powder Drop, cartridge catcher and five Lock-N-Load die bushings.

(comment : Dillon shellplate #1 will load 28 calibers)

The press costs more with one shellplate ,the die bushings cost more than a toolhead , and the big issue that Hornady makes on their site is that one shellplate will load more than one caliber for the same price as a Dillon conversion kit , well ok I guess they didn't find this info on the Dillon : http://www.dillonhelp.com/rl550benglish/cal_cross_ref_chart.htm

I'm not saying the LNL isn't a good press and if you like it and it does what you need ~ good for you !, but I don't see where price has a whole lot to do with who's the better deal, and to be fair I know that the Hornady can be found cheaper at retail than their site , and so can the Dillon. If I had the money I'd have one set up for each primer size and a deluxe caliber change for each load I like (instead of caliber), that would eliminate any and all adjustments. For those guys who have multiple Dillons set up , (well I'm jealous) , hey it's their money and their time and thats what works for them and their budget. Case

Zak Smith
December 29, 2003, 08:50 PM
I don't know about te 550, but if you are going to change between large and small primers on the 650, it's best to get a second complete priming system for the other size. You loosen 3 or 4 bolts and just swap the entire unit out with no recalibration.


December 30, 2003, 12:05 AM

I don't know anything about the Hornady LNL AP. What is it's round per hour rate? I went to the Hornady web site and saw nothing listed.



December 30, 2003, 06:31 AM
I have a 550B [seven seperate tools heads w/powder measures] and a 650 setup for 9mmx19 and .45 ACP w/case feed.

I get everything done that I need to on these, handgun wise. In the rifle area, I use an RCBS Rockchucker [about 34 years old].

I have a setup for and have loaded .223 and .308 on the 550 but not on a regular basis.

I have and like very much, both the strong mounts and roller handles on both the 550 and the 650.

I agree with the statement about the low powder sensor. If I had one on all of my tool heads it would run me $323.59! That's a lot of components. ;)

The powder check system isn't needed either, especially at $58.95.

December 30, 2003, 07:49 AM
My LNL AP is set up without the casefeeder and I can reload 350-400 an hour at a pretty leisurely pace.

I use an RCBS lockout die. Takes less than a minute to adjust it for each caliber change; (and as long as I stay with pistol calibers) I just leave it in the head.


Federal Large Pistol primers. Even when I used WLP, I had the troubles I described.


FWIW I bought a 550 (bare) + 2 deluxe caliber conversions (2 shellplate kits with expander ,2 powder dies , 2 toolheads , 2 powder measures and 2 toolhead stands ) and a benchwrench in a pear tree for a touch over $400 shipped at brianenos.com (I have all the dies I need and then some).

apples and oranges. If you punch in the same items as I did at Enos, you'll end up <$30 saved, total.

Does my LNL AP have a strong mount and handle(?), no; not needed standing or sitting--that's old news; Steve Smith explained it all earlier in the thread. Most of your post is all either a rehash or apples and oranges. I never could fathom a 5 head machine "needing" 3 bushings either, but I'd settle for 4-packs; there's no reason to swap out at the powder measure station.

We're still way more interested in 650 comparisons; 550's (and its' setup costs) don't really compare with a 650 vs. LNL AP (setup costs) and performance. As I said earlier, lots of folks here seem to take umbrage to my using $500 as a general number; yet when a good portion of Dillon users post pics of multiple presses, their machines are set up that way, so I went with the flow, and stand by $500 anyway, since the 550 pales in the shadow of either an LNL AP or the 650 (which was an equal part of the question; everyone seems to want to grind my hypothetical 550 setup price, but not many have discussed the 650 which would probably take it way $500).

Steve Smith
December 30, 2003, 09:43 AM
Don't forget that you CAN adapt a 550 to use a 650's powder check die. Use the sarch engine to find where I did it.

December 30, 2003, 10:06 AM

Again I don't know anything about the Hornady LNL AP.

It appears that your Hornady LNL AP has it all over the Dillions for caliber change over speed and for short loading runs of a few hundred rounds. But before the first hour is out, I think the Dillions (at least my XL650 w/case feeder) would catch you.

So I guess the question, for ME, would be: Is the slower rounds per hour rate of the Hornady LNL AP (the Hornaday LNL AP would still be slower with a case feeder, wouldn't it?) worth the difference in price (300 dollars?)?

For ME it is, as my style of handloading is load a lot of what I want and then switch calibers. But if I loaded only a few hundred rounds before caliber changes I might think differently.

Is it worth the cost of a second XL650 to not have to go through the primer change over? No, not yet anyway.



Johnny Guest
December 30, 2003, 01:20 PM
'Twould never have crossed my mind that a discussion of Dillon progressives would become tiresome. We're getting rather close, though.

Friends, IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER, whether you use the figure of $379 or $500 for an all-out, ready to go press, or a bare bones, minimalist assembly. This is getting kinda like trying to buy a new car or truck with JUST the options you want on it. At least, with the presses, you are not FORCED to take the Adirondack Lasso Luxury package to get the electric door locks and flame paint.

On the boards is the ONLY place I've ever read/heard people getting all het up about the difference in 326 rounds-per-hour and 571. At the range, someone comments, "yeah, over the weekend, I loaded up a thousand or so .45 ACP."

And, I change tool heads and shell plates in, what, 57 seconds flat? Really, more like ten minutes, because I want to stop for a smoke, or to refill my Diet Coke, or to make a phone call. Yup, changing primer sizes is a minor hassle, and I'd LIKE another press because of that. May take me four minutes, or nine-point six. Again, IT REALLY DOESN'T MATTER. Caliber changeover races will NEVER become part of the winter olymplics.

Hornady and Dillon each produce fine products. Neither is truly cheap, but neither are they badly overpriced. Brand loyalty is okay, but let's not get wrapped around the axle about it.

Now, so long as things don't deterriorate to the personal attack stage, I'm not going to close the thread, so everyone have your say. Hey, read some of the knock-down, drag-out bickering in Legal & Political forum, and this discussion is truly nothing over which to become overwrought. It's just that, after about the third time something's said, by the same writer, it starts to wear a bit. Dillonophiles and Hornady worshipers CAN peacefully co-exist.

Best to all - -

December 30, 2003, 02:52 PM
I anguished over whether to buy the Dillon XL650 or the Hornady LNL AP and decided on the Dillon, primarily for the following reasons:

1) I read several posts on different boards about primer issues on the Hornady.

2) I also heard that there was an issue with clearance for some dies in the 5th position on the Hornady. I believe this was factory crimp die related.

I do not regret buying the 650 and have spent far too much money hanging jewelry on it. That said, I have a great deal of respect for the products Hornady sells. I like their rifle dies and have converted my Rock Chucker to Lock-N-Load bushings and it has made all the difference.

Regarding change overs: I find the change over process to take about 15-20 minutes realistically. The Dillon powder measure is not that user friendly and could be improved. I could probably improve my time if someone challenged me, but I prefer a slow, methodical process. Once everything is set that's when the progressive starts to fly.

Zak Smith is exactly right regarding using a complete primer system change out to streamline any primer size changes. It makes all the difference.

Of course if you have to change the casefeed plate in the casefeeder that takes time too. But, it's my understanding that the Hornady casefeeder is essentially the same as the Dillon and would therefore require similar time to switch.

I believe there's room in the world for both camps. I don't believe anyone would go wrong with either.


December 30, 2003, 04:26 PM
I'd sure like to hear from more 650 owners about the change-out strengths/weaknesses of their presses. After all, the 650 is more comparable to the LNL AP. Thanks.

Well I loaded with a friend on his 650 long before I bought my 550, changing primer sizes is somewhat of a pain, the shellplate and casefeeder plate are no problem at all, toolheads are simple and utterly reliable, but by far my biggest beef about the Dillon and it's the same 550 or 650 ~ when you radically change the charge weight/powder on the measure there is no indexing marks of any kind to help with repeatability, Dillon knows this and won't ever change it because (and I qoute from an e-mail) " indexing or micrometer type powder measures give some folks a false sense of security, we want to make sure people are weighing the charges so we don't use any indicators on the measure". Which is why I use the deluxe caliber change kits and put a measure on each toolhead , some inventive types have made micrometer dials for the measure (they sell on E-bay) and others have adapted the Hornady measure to the Dillon press.

After a time my above mentioned friend bought a second 650 and left the first set up for 9mm strictly for his class III , time was very valuable to him and when he had an hour he wanted to make rounds not change parts, i'm somewhat more relaxed so one Dillon is all i'll ever have ~ with multiple measures.
Lets face it we all hate something , you say you find reloading a chore , while I enjoy it . I find changing powder settings a chore on any measure , so I buy more measures , not just since i've gone progressive ~ I had 5 measures when I was on a single stage each marked with the load they were set for in my four most used calibers and the 5th was for experimenting with new loads and powders or small runs.

I'll go further and say I'd probably do just fine with a Hornady , but I learned on a friends Dillon , and I watched that Dillon go well into the 100,000 ++ round category with the only parts failing being the primer magazine tips , a primer punch spring and a detent ball spring, all replaced from a $20 spare parts kit which was promply refilled by Dillon at no charge. Your friend may be better served by a Hornady because you are right there with Hornady experience , you can help him point out user error vs. malfunction , which is better than talking to tech support from any company. Case

December 30, 2003, 09:45 PM
The original subject sums UMF's entire purpose. Nothing more, nothing less. Mission accomplished!

January 1, 2004, 10:32 AM

Thanks for the input. Can you guesstimate your hourly reload rate with and without the casefeeder? The Dillon site says 800-1000rd. That's gotta be with a feeder, right?

Zak Smith
January 1, 2004, 12:02 PM
On a 650 with a casefeeder, if you have loaded primer tubes or an automatic primer tube filler (RF100), 1000 per hour is easy.


January 2, 2004, 07:56 PM
Why the emphasis on speed? Is that your preferred means of evaluation? Having been through and engineering analysis such as you are currently engaged in, I must say it matters not one whit. Why? because with .45 ACP my cost of shooting went from $14.50 + tax per box to $3.50 per box including tax. The incremental cost of one reloader over another reloader disappears quickly when you save $12.09 / box.

Secondly, instantaneous rate of production is irrelevant. A newbie setting up a load and loading up several thousand rounds without any QC checks is going to get just exactly what they deserve. . . . .crushed primers, no power, long OAL's, . When I first started I wanted to see what rate of production I could achieve. I ran up something like 300 rounds without a weight check. Long story short, somewhere in there I ran out of powder. It is possible to produce by hand 600 rounds / hour with a GeeWhiz Galactic Reloader, but so what.

Second point>If you are recommending a reloader based on costs please be aware of a sack full of startup costs that has nothing do to with a reloader. Just off the top of my head, expect to pay for:
--safety glasses
--check weights
--at least 2 reloading manuals
--bullet puller
--check guage
--case cleaner
--media separator
--allen wrenches
--primer flip tray
--primer loading tubes
--direct costs such as lead, primers, powder and brass.

Third and final point. Reloading if done properly become a separate hobby. For me it is not something I do to shoot. It is a hobby I enjoy separate from shooting. Look at it this way. Reloading and shooting is the pair of hobbies that permits to to build something and then have it disappear so you can build it again. Can't do that if you build birdhouses.

January 2, 2004, 08:09 PM
Reloading and shooting is the pair of hobbies that permits to to build something and then have it disappear so you can build it again. Can't do that if you build birdhouses.

You can if you give them away. :D

Why the emphasis on speed? Is that your preferred means of evaluation? Having been through and engineering analysis such as you are currently engaged in, I must say it matters not one whit.

Granting that we should all be concerned first about, 1) safety, 2) relative accuracy, isn't THE most basic tenant of a progressive press (vs. single stage) the ability to radically improve speed? And isn't this discussion about the merits of one progressive versus another? Then, doesn't it follow that a comparison of the speed component is of at least passing interest? I can understand differences of opinion regarding what rate of production is adequate, but I would have to say that if you care enough to upgrade from a single stage to a progressive press, you probably care a least a "whit".

You're absolutely right about the cost of peripheral items. But, those cost are a reality regardless of whether you go single or progressive.


Zak Smith
January 2, 2004, 08:59 PM
Even a newbie will eventually become an experience reloader. Nobody is proposing that someone totally new to reloading buy a decked out 650 and then crank out rounds without following proper loading practices for safety, consistency, and accuracy.

But given that I can produce the exact "same" .45ACP round - my IPSC load, say - on a RockChucker single-stage press, a Dillon Square-Deal B, and a Dillon XL650, the XL650 wins because I can fill a .50 cal ammo box in about an hour and a half or two hours, start to finish. The SDB would take about 5-6 hours, and the single-stage would take weeks..

Time is money after all.


January 3, 2004, 03:40 AM
Not long ago I too shared the "whats so great about Dillon" perspective. I have been loading 20+ years with Lee equipment and thought it was great. I bought a Dillon 650 about 3 months ago, WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG was my first impression. It works 50 times smoother and is more accurate on OAL (maximum variance is .002"). I have had zero problems and the powder is more accurate with the powders I use than advertised. It's just a far superior product than anything else. I too would like to get a second 650 just for rifle.


January 3, 2004, 01:31 PM
First, the low powder sensor is useless, IMHO. Subtract $36.
More important, it's incorrect to include the cost of dies. You'll spend the same amount on dies whether you have one press, two, or five. It's also not required to get Dillon's super-expensive dies (I use Lee dies myself). Subtract $50.

That leaves you at $414, and you've still got the strong mount and roller handle in there, which are thoroughly optional and have no analogues for other press makers.

January 3, 2004, 10:00 PM
They sit right next to a Hornady and RCBS, by the way. I also have a Dillon D-Terminator electronic scale, I calibrate it against my Ohaus 1010. :D

I was never much interested in how many gazillion rounds per hour they could crank out. I watch each round like a hawk as it makes it's magic little trip on the shellholder through each station, before it pops out the exit chute into the basket. Faster than a single-stage press? Sure. But I'm not in a race with anybody on rounds manufactured per hour. Quality means more to me than quantity, in this application. I can make a lot of quality rounds a good deal easier with a progressive press. Life is good that way.

I've got some work to do after I get off the computer tonight. I have a bunch of .45-70 blackpowder brass I need to deprime before I wash them in hot soapy water. And I use a Lee hand press for that. :D

21 shooter
January 5, 2004, 10:45 PM
I use a 550 for almost everything I load. My big complaint is when I have to change the primer feed. I have never been called "mechanically inclined" so maybe that is it. I would like to have another 550 just so I would not have to change the primers system.

Hornady makes good stuff. A little competition will generally lead to product improvement, so I am glad that there is more than one company making progressive loaders. If I bought another single stage, I would get the Hornady just to get the lock-n-load bushings. I wish they had made those 25 years ago!

The main thing is enjoying reloading and shooting. I like both. I just wish I had not run out of primers and powders. :D

January 6, 2004, 04:02 AM
I am still using my original 450B. I am quite happy. I may add another Dillon press. I could not do what I want without a single stage of some sort. Wonderful product, without lightweight do-dads that break all of the time.

January 6, 2004, 11:02 AM
To answer the original question

I personally have two 650's. I shoot USPSA so I leave one permanently setup for my competition load for my 40. This way I can load whenever I want for that gun and dont have to change anything. I have the other one for everything else. I think I have about 9 or 10 other toolheads for it. THen I use my rockchucker for rifle. I bought the other one because I basically ended up getting it for free. I will probably sell one of the 650's soon and get a 1050 for my USPSA loading.

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