Loadmaster user thinking "Blue"


January 15, 2013, 12:47 PM
I've been a Lee fan for years and still love my Classic Turret Press. I purchased a Loadmaster 6 months ago and been adjusting it every time I use it. It works 90% of the time but it always has something going wrong.

I'm thinking about a Dillon 550b. How many 9mm rounds can you run on a 550b without something going wrong or needing adjustment?


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January 15, 2013, 01:08 PM
How much do you want for your Loadmaster???


January 15, 2013, 01:13 PM
my loadmaster has issues, especially with priming 9mm, but my 550 isn't perfect either. no auto index, no case feeder(ok, you can get a feeder, but good goo it's pricey), primer tubes are a pain to load, and it sure does cost a lot. Not trying to start a which is better argument, just pointing out that nothing is perfect, and fanboys (for any brand, lee dillion, apple, bmw, etc) tend to be blind to them.

the 550 has required less fiddling than the lee, but I haven't kept a round count between issues. I did retire the 550 powder drop and use my lee autodisk.

have you ever read the article comparing the loadmaster, dillion, and the hornady? It's a good read. http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillonLeeHornadyComparison.pdf

January 15, 2013, 01:59 PM
I love my Hornady. :D

January 15, 2013, 02:21 PM
I have loaded about 500,000 rounds over 15 years with my 550B and have had no real problems. I have had to clean the press once in a while and have replaced no parts. I feel that the tool is extraordinary. I load 15 different calibers including 9mm both large and small primers. I use Dillon powder dispensers on all calibers and recommend you get full caliber change kits for each caliber as setting dies is the most difficult part of setting up the press. The service at Dillon is top notch and they are available for questions with no hesitation. I asked quite a few when I was getting started and had the help I needed supplied. Good company. Good press.

Maj Dad
January 15, 2013, 02:29 PM
I can run 9mm almost non-stop without issues on my 550B. The round nosed bullets, even the HPs, feed easily into the dies and I can easily load close to 500 in an hour, provided I have pre-filled primer tubes (extras aren't expensive & make things go faster). I have not had any issues with the Dillon powder measure, other than having to switch from the small bar to the large bar for rifle-quantity loads (and I pretty much know which one to use). I had an E-Z Prime but it caused enough problems to negate the speed of filling the tubes (upside down primers, blockages, etc etc) but haven't tried the Dillon filler. I started out using Lee equipment but the other makers (Dillon, RCBS, Hornady et al.) seem to me to have more substantial and less finicky progressives. I used an auto-prime for a long, long time, but it was flimsy and I had to baby it. My Dillon requires set-up, and that's it, routine maintenance aside after a big loading session(s). Lot of the guys use the RCBS & Hornady & like them, and that's fine. I don't think you'll go wrong with any of these, but my personal choice is Dillon. I really like the lifetime No B.S. warranty, and they mean it.
My 2 cents

January 15, 2013, 02:54 PM
What kind of problems are you having with the LM?

Do you know if you have the new style primer system? (red for large primer and grey for small). It came out in 2011, but some presses appear to be shipping with the old system.

It's <$10 for the conversion parts.

I just set up a new LM two weeks ago... and much to my pleasant surprise, I have had zero issues with priming.... and all my loading so far has been 9mm Luger.

January 15, 2013, 04:38 PM
SSN, it's actually free if you call Lee and say you're having primer issues and heard they have a new priming system. I don't know about the large, but the small had the latest iteration released fall of 2012. It has an A stamped on the bottom like the previous version, but the slider arm was raised a 1/4 inch or so to keep it from dragging on the shell plate or case retainer. It has worked much better for me than the earlier versions. In part I think because the whole assembly fits into the slot much tighter. (and I think it's black but it's out in the shop and it's raining outside......)

January 15, 2013, 05:35 PM
I'll spare the blind love for their product, but the employees at Dillon are the best customer service reps of any company I've deal with. Their products cost a little bit more but you're also buying nothing less than great product support. On the other hand, I wouldn't hesitate going with anything from Hornady or RCBS. Awesome dies, auxiliary equipment, loading manuals, components, etc.

You'll be hard pressed to find an established company in the reloading industry that will not treat you right.

January 15, 2013, 06:16 PM
Bought a LM and spent 3 days setting it up, watching videos, reading info from Lee experts, and never loaded a single round. Boxed it up, bought a Dillon 550 and was loading ammo within 3 HOURS of mounting it on my bench. Go with the blue......

January 15, 2013, 09:29 PM
I think the only time my 550b ever hiccups is after I've neglected it for a couple months and it wants a little TLC to see if I still care. Usually its just a spent primer stuck someplace, or a build up of dirt making the primer feed stick a little.

Get it setup correct, and it will just run. The only thing tricky, if you could call it that, is getting the primer feed properly lined up and tightened down. It's easy if you are patient - get everything lined up with the 2 screws loose, and then tighten them in a 3-5 step sequence (a little on one, a little on the other) so there isn't any torque on anything to cause any binding. Good to go.

January 16, 2013, 09:36 AM
Get it setup correct, and it will just run.

I have also found this to be true.

The only thing I stumbled over was adjusting the shellplate. I had it loose, so it would be easy to index, and I was experiencing "cocked" primers, with one side a couple thousandths lower than the other. The rounds fired OK, and the primers weren't "proud", but they weren't level, either.

The shellplate has to be adjusted so it won't turn, then backed off just a little. Then lock the position with the setscrew on the ram.

There are aftermarket roller bearings which replace the factory thrust washer and these are pretty good, IMO. For the extra $5 in parts, I'm surprised Dillon hasn't made this standard.

The comments about lack of auto this and that are valid. The 550b does take more time than "full up" progressives with case feeders and bullet feeders.

It is possible to pull the handle twice without indexing. I understand it usually happens after being called away from reloading operations by something like a phone call, but it can also be caused by pulling a round out to measure the charge, seating depth, etc. followed by inattention to the process.

I do two things to address the problem of double-charging on the 550b -

Leave the handle down (mid stroke) if I have an interruption.
Do all "setup" as single station operations with the locator buttons out. Then, once I start progressive operation I do not stop for "fiddling".

I have had nothing but positive results with the primer system. I had to replace the plastic fingers on the primer magazine once, but other than that it has been 100%.

I still have the small primer parts in a drawer, as (so far) I don't reload any calibers which don't use large primers. I understand this is the hardest part of caliber change on the 550b, and is not addressed by having toolheads set up with dies and powder measures. Some solve the problem by having one 550b set up for large primers and another set up for small primers. (!)

Refilling primer tubes is tedious, but seems to be about the same "pace" as the rest of reloading on the 550b. If you want real production, get a fully-equipped 1050 and a motorized primer tube filler... :)

January 16, 2013, 10:19 AM
I have two 650's and one 550. Save up a few extra bucks and buy the 650 with casefeeder. It's just, well, better. Rarely will you find someone who has both yet prefers the 550 over the 650. It's safer too with the auto indexing feature. Better by far to have a squib load than a double charge. Both are virtually impossible on a 650, while both are much more likely on a 550.

Maj Dad
January 25, 2013, 11:51 AM
+1 on the 650 - if I were to do it all over, I would have gotten the 650. Love the 550, but the 650 is an order of magnitude above it (and anything the other manufacturers have)...

January 25, 2013, 12:22 PM
I too moved from the Lee Turret to a progressive and after much research I ended up with the Dillon SDB. If you are just loading straight walled pistol they are hard to beat. I have tool heads set up for 9mm, 38.357, .40, 45ACP and 44Mag. I just got a 2nd machine (used - good price) so I can leave one dedicated to large primer. This is truly over kill because it isn't difficult to change primers sizes on the SDB.

If I were loading high volume rifle also I'd get the 550. If low volume just keep using your Lee Turret for rifle and consider the SDB for pistol.

You really can't go wrong with any dillon.

Enjoy whatever you get.

January 25, 2013, 02:38 PM
How much do you want for your Loadmaster???

That's the typical question whenever somebody starts wailing and moaning about a LM. I axed another poster on this very thread if he still had his.

Compared to a LM, the 550 is about as complicated as a single stage press. Primer and powder are the only things it does without the human. Placing the case, bullet, wanking the handle, and rotating the shell plate are all up to the human. LM, all of that is done by the machine. Except wanking the handle of course.

I looked at the 650, it was going to quadruple the cost compared to my LM. Those caliber conversion kits and dies for 10 different rounds were just way too much for what you got. And I wasn't going to include a powder measure for each one.

Highexpert, have you ever added up what all that cost you? Has to be multiple thousands.

January 25, 2013, 04:57 PM
Edarms -

A friend recommended a 550 and I'm glad he did. My experience has been that you can more use the Dillon like a kitchen appliance than any other. That is, when you want it to run, it does so without constant tweaking or stoppage, and then you can walk away.

The 550 is not a perfect machine, but it comes darn close. It's a great choice for mature reloaders who can appreciate refinements and load 5 or more calipers on a regular basis. I've got over 20k on mine in 4 years and never needed a replacement part.

January 25, 2013, 05:13 PM
Well I am amazed, AMAZED I say! that no one has attacked Edarms for upgrading to a decent quality press! My LM, which was warped from improper heat treating at the factory, as admitted by Lee, is worthless. Any one wants it, how about half the price of retail? The retail price of a Lee LM and a Dillon 550B are nearly the same (the Lee MSRP vary, but it USED to be more than the Dillon!) currently so that is a deal.

After returning it to Lee 28 times, they finally said it was out of warranty, which didn't matter anyway. Since I had spent as much as a Dillon 550B would cost trying to get Lee to repair the LM under warranty, and failing, I BOUGHT a Dillon 550B. How long does a Dillon run 9mm with out being adjusted? I don't know. I had it for 10 or so years, moved, so that is one, then moved again five years later, so that is two, been here three years, hmmm...guess I'll have to say three times, once every six years on the average.

OK, the Dillon doesn't have an automatic advance, OK, I can live with that, especially if batch loading/sizing. The primers are a pain to change out from large to small, but at least the primer system works. Yeah, the Lee disk measure is a favorite of mine too.

Hope this helps.

January 25, 2013, 06:18 PM
I had one of the older Hornady that had auto advance. Strongly disliked auto advance. I sold it and got a Dillon 550. This thing is amazing. You set it up correctly and it just runs and runs. I can run multiple hundreds of rounds and never screw with it.

Changing primer feed is bothersome the first few times. Now, I can swap it in just a few minutes.

Biggest thing is to keep any loose powder vacuumed up so it doesn't bind the primer slide and keep the shell plate adjusted per the previous post.

I have one of the Vibraprime feeders. Works great and very fast.

I fail to understand the love affair for auto advance. With the 550, you just flick your thumb and the shell plate turns. Pop in a case, bullet, and pull the handle and a new round pops out. It takes way less time to do it than it takes to read this paragraph. It's pretty easy to load over 400/hour at a moderate pace.

January 25, 2013, 07:27 PM
The retail price of a Lee LM and a Dillon 550B

I just brought a brandy new LM, with dies, and case feeder for $213, and after initial set up (which did take a while, and encountered some glitches), I've been loading trouble free (except for a few darned .380 cases and a few crimped primers sneaking in there).

I would have really loved to get a 650 (or even a 550)..... please direct me to where I can get one for less than double what I paid for the LM.

I fail to understand the love affair for auto advance

With auto advance and auto case feeding, my right hand never leaves the lever and my left hand just picks and places bullets by rote muscle memory, so my attention is on the powder level and case feeder. Even going along at what I think is a slow and steady pace, I'm amazed at how little time it takes to pump 200 rounds.

It definatley has taken some getting used to, and when I encounter a problem that needs diagnosing I sometimes get annoyed with it, but in general, it has been very handy to have.

Don't get me wrong.... I would love to have a Dillion. And comparing red and blue is kind of silly given the disparity in price. All I can say is that for $213, the LM is proving to be one heck of a press.

January 26, 2013, 12:25 PM
Simply go to the Lee web site and the Dillon web site and look at the MSRP and they are nearly the same. In the past the Lee LM MSRP was actually MORE than a Dillon 550B! The 550B at the local store which has them on the shelf as of last week was $380 (with tax, title, license, dealer mark up and so on, out the door) complete and ready to go with your dies. That seems like less than twice what you paid. Also Dillon actually stands behind their stuff (so does RCBS, Redding and Forster as I've bought used equipment from Dillon, RCBS, etc., and called the company and said "I bought a used piece, can I get it repaired/parts?....I can? For free? Great!" I call Lee and it is (actual conversation) "It is under warranty...you don't honor the warranty?... Half of MSRP to fix? You know that is more then it costs to buy a new one....so why don't I buy a new one?...you don't stand behind your warranty at all?....you don't." While others keep claiming they get wonderful service from Lee (and they might, I have no idea) all I can tell you is what happens to me. I also agree that comparing a used red Yugo to a new blue BMW is silly, especially when the tiny difference in price is so minor and the difference in satisfaction is so great.

January 26, 2013, 08:11 PM
But, as mentioned, my setup came with dies, so add $45 to your $385 and your beyond double the $213 I paid.

There's no doubt (in my mind at least) that the Dillion is a superior press and that there support is tops. But the price is beyond some folks reach.

Oh well. Maybe someday.

January 26, 2013, 08:45 PM
Sold my two Lee turret press after many years of good service and replace then bought two used (ebay)Dillon SDB press in 45 & 9mm both have run thousands of rounds without any major problems other then small broken parts that were mailed to me. Bought a Lee Classic turret press for rifle ammo. This is a very good set-up to have and now having a problem thinking of a way to justify a Hornidy LNL.

January 26, 2013, 08:51 PM
A Dillon press will certainly outperform what you currently have and customer support is great. For various reasons, I would get a 650 if I bought one. I use the Hornady LNL AP press which has been excellent and is also backed by good customer service. Good luck in making your decision.

January 26, 2013, 08:59 PM
you will never regret buying a 550. Might get more production out of a 650 but your costs go up also.

Hondo 60
January 27, 2013, 09:11 AM
How many 9mm rounds can you run on a 550b without something going wrong or needing adjustment?

Do you remember the commercial that said "Set it & forget it?"
Once you have the dies set in the toolhead & primers setup, there's no stoppin'

January 27, 2013, 12:14 PM
I'll take the Load Master at half price. Send me a PM.

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