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550b or LNL AP

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Mtdew, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. Mtdew

    Mtdew Well-Known Member

    I'm 90% sure i'm going to buy the LNL however i'm still entertaining getting the Dillon

    I'll be loading 9mm, 45acp, 5.56, 7.62x51 and some 7.62x25 & possibly some 8x57 if i get around to pulling down the 27K rds of yugo I have

    It will however be mostly used for 9mm and 45

    any reason I should go w/ one over the other?
  2. Empyrean

    Empyrean Well-Known Member

    Although I have not used it yet, I switched from a Dillon 550B to a Hornady LNL AP press with casefeeder. For me, the primary reasons were as follows:

    • auto-indexing
    • 5 stations
    • less-clunky powder-measure
    • easier caliber changes
    • no toolheads required
    • case feeder does pistol and rifle cases

    It appears to me that the LNL AP is a more versatile press. That being said, I think the Dillon 550B with strong arm mount, bullet tray, aluminum roller handly and empty cartridge bin is a MUCH more ergonomic machine than the LNL AP. I will definitely miss those features and hope that Hornady will work on providing similar items in the future.

    If you buy the LNL AP right now your going to also get 1000 bullets from them. I expect to get 1300 from them with the three sets of dies I ordered. It helps sweeten the pot a little.

    The LNL AP really compares to the Dillon 650 in terms of features. Hope this helps...

  3. hairtrigger

    hairtrigger Well-Known Member

    You should try both machines first.
    For me the Hornady feels better. The way the Hornady is set up feels right compared to the 550B.
    Same warranty, 550B cost more across the board, especially for caliber changes.
    It is your money, buy the one that you like after trying both
  4. loadedround

    loadedround Well-Known Member

    I have to go for the Dillon 550B press. While the Hornady LNL press is an excellent machine and a lot of them are in use, I like to point out several advantages to the Dillon. Auto indexing is not that important compared to manual indexing. With the Dillon you can remove a case at any time for inspection or move it to any statio to start or even back up if need be. You are able to operate it at your own pace. Also the Dillon has removable tool heads so that once your dies are adjusted and locked, you remove the entire head to change calibers...dies don't have to be unscrewed and readjusted constantly. Extra die heads are about 10.00, possibly cheaper on eBay.:) That in itself is a big advantage if you load for two or more different calibers. Think about my friend. YMMV
  5. Luggernut

    Luggernut Well-Known Member

    "With the Dillon you can remove a case at any time for inspection or move it to any statio to start or even back up if need be. "

    Are you saying with the Hornady LNL you can't remove a case at any station? Can you not start at any station? I'm looking at the LNL for my Xmas present and haven't used a progressive so I'm curious about this.
  6. hairtrigger

    hairtrigger Well-Known Member

    With the Hornady as well you CAN remove the case at any location.

    Here is some interesting reading, this guy does seem to have something personal aginst Mike but he has some valid points


    Also Dillon Toolheads are just under $25 each compared to a set of Hornady bushings
  7. GrantCunningham

    GrantCunningham Well-Known Member

    First, I'll state for the record that I have extensive reloading experience with Hornady, Dillon, and Lee progressive presses. All of them have strong and weak points, and I'm not one to overlook faults in the name of brand loyalty!

    Yes, you can remove a case at any station - easier, in fact, than the 550b. The Dillon uses little buttons to hold the cases in - you have to pull the buttton out, then pull the case, then replace the little button so that you don't lose it. On the AP, it's held in by a spring - just pull the case out.

    :confused: :confused: The whole idea of the L-n-L system is that you DON'T unscrew dies to change them!

    I'd like to make a strong case for auto indexing: it reduces the chance for human error in the reloading process. The chances of a squib or overcharge are higher on a non-indexing press; a slight lapse in attention can result in failing to advance the shellplate, or advancing it twice. Yes, many people have no problems with them - but many have. This is not predictive, you understand, but simply a cautionary note.

    My major gripe with the Dillon is their powder measure; I could never get any of my six measures to meter Universal Clays correctly. (Yes, SIX - Dillon makes it a pain to swap and reset the powder measures, making it easier just to buy one for each caliber.) No powder measure is perfectly consistent with every powder over its entire range, but in my experience the Hornady is much better than the Dillon - easier to adjust, too.

    Build quality and material choice are equivalent; neither has an advantage in this area, despite what the partisans will claim. Both brands are what I'd call middle-of-the-road in terms of manufacturing quality when compared to, say, a Star Universal.

    Dillon is better at "hand holding" than Hornady is; if you're mechanically challenged, Dillon has a whole suport system to help you along. They do "reloading for dummies" better than anyone, and the other companies would do well to take a lesson. Their printed press instructions, for instance, are better than the other makers.

    I like them both for different reasons, but today the majority of my ammo gets loaded on the Hornady. Of the presses I've used - Lee LoadMaster, Dillon 550 & 650, and L-n-L AP - the Hornady is my favorite. It isn't perfect, but nothing is!
  8. Empyrean

    Empyrean Well-Known Member

    I have to agree that auto-indexing does provide a little added measure of safety. One key point to note is that unlike Dillon 550b, you can swap just one die in the Hornady at a time rather than an entire toolhead.

    Grant makes a good point about Dillon's customer service. It is definitely a notch above Hornady's as far as hand-holding. The Dillon guys really seem to have quite a bit of patience and really go the exta-mile to explain things in detail. Once you get past the phase of needing set-up support then the warranties are the same.
  9. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    Mtdew if you're considering a progress I personally wouldn't consider the Dillon 550; it's not progressive it's manual index. If you want progressive then consider either the Dillon 650 or the Hornady L-NL Progressive. I just bought a new Hornady L-NL Progressive and seriously considered the 650. I tried out both presses before I bought and I personally thought both presses worked equally well and were both high quality. By the time I configured both presses for three calibers there was only slightly over a $100 difference between the two. It is true the Dillon charges more for conversion, about $65/caliber, but the Hornady shell pates run about $25 and there is a high probability you will end up with one per caliber.The main reason I chose Hornady over Dillon was because I could purchase shell and case feeder plates and bushing locally, where as the Dillon conversion kits had to be ordered. I am very happy with my press and I have already run 3,000 rounds through it a mix of .223, .40 S&W, and 9 mm with out any problems. However, if you buy the Hornady I can not stress enough the need to buy either the Dillon or RCBS Low Primer Alarm, you will be glad you did. The Hornady primer feed is in the back of the machine and doesn't have a indicator of any kind to let you know your low on primers. I originally tried a small wooden dowel a little longer then the primer tube but I would get going along and forget to watch the tube an end up loading a few rounds without primers:banghead:. I also added a digital case counter the only counts on the prime stroke which also helps.

    I think whether you choose the Dillon 650 or the Hornady L-N-L Progressive you will be happy with your decision. IMO anyone that tells you that one of these two is better then the other is being biased by what they own, both are excellent presses!
  10. 1911user

    1911user Well-Known Member

    One reason for the customer service difference is that you almost have to be an experienced reloader and shooter to get a phone support/order job at dillon. The dillon product line is much narrower than hornady, so that kind of background is reasonable to require. I read the help wanted ad for the dillon phone support positions once. There are lots of questions about a persons shooting, reloading, competition, and dillon-specific experience.

    Do a search for my previous dillon 550 and hornady experience. I've posted it several times.
  11. TooTaxed

    TooTaxed Well-Known Member

    I've loaded on both...chose the Hornady for my purchase because of the following:
    (1.) The Dillon powder measure is a bitch to adjust compared to the modern Hornady drum powder measure. (My buddy bought three measures for his Dillon...at $60 each..., each set to a different charge, just so he wouldn't have to mess with it when changing calibers!)
    (2.) Cost of changing cartridges.
    (3.) Cost of loader and accessories...but this isn't really important as frequently used Dillons with complete accessory setups can be picked up rather reasonably on EBAY auctions. (This makes the cost about the same as for a brand new Hornady LNL setup.):p
    (4.) IMHO, the Hornady is somewhat cleaner in use (re stray powder grains and decapped primers).
  12. ClarkEMyers

    ClarkEMyers Well-Known Member

    Hornday LNL over 550B but 650 over Hornady LNL

    Hornday LNL over 550B but 650 over Hornady LNL.

    On the whole I agree with those who say loading many different cartridges will end up being a little cheaper and easier - but IMHO perhaps more tedious - with the Hornady.

    The 650 package will end up being more expensive but bought over time the little niceties will make the whole setup a little nicer and maybe noticably more expensive.

    550 is a very good place to start and never a mistake.
  13. Empyrean

    Empyrean Well-Known Member


    Why more tedious with the Hornady over the 650?

  14. ClarkEMyers

    ClarkEMyers Well-Known Member

    See above - the Dillon needs but benefits from extras

    See above for a mention of 3 Dillon powder measures for convenience but at extra cost FREX definitely more convenient than the Hornady definitely cheaper but a little more tedious - the Dillon needs but benefits from extras.

    Strong mount, roller handle, Akro bins, loaded primer tubesloaded tool heads with Dillon or Redfield Pro series dies for handgun cartridges. Loaded tool heads with dies and a pre-set powder measure for each cartridge or even each load - a distinct tool head for 600 yard slow fire say.

    FREX the Dillon brand primer tube loader is very high dollar but certainly the nicest - if they were all the same price Dillon would be the only one sold - and again in my opinion this carries through much - but not all - of the Dillon line. The Vibra tool is almost as good and a lot cheaper.

    Kind of like saying the budget should include break-in ammunition before folks buy a Baer - if it's a stretch the Hornady is a better buy than the Dillon.
  15. Empyrean

    Empyrean Well-Known Member

    I would love to see a time showdown on a small-to-large caliber change between a Dillon 650 and a Hornady LNL AP. That would be an intersesting comparison. I've heard caliber changes on the 650 are tedious unless of course you buy a powder measure for every toolhead and a complete spare primer system. This is where I think the LNL AP shines. It looks to be very quick to change over calibers. I saw a video somewhere were a guy did it in a little under six minutes.

    I cannot speak for the reliability of the Hornady as I am still waiting for a few key backordered parts to come in. I can see how the powder measure is drastically simpler and potentially more accurate due to a rotor rather than a sliding bar. In my opinion, buying a metering insert for $10.95 or less to keep with your dies is much better than the Dilon set-up. Just pop it in and you a ready to go. To use the same powder measure for different loads on a Dillon, not equipped with a Uniquetek micrometer, is tedious. It is even worse if you were to switch between the small and large powder bars.

    Not having a toolhead means you can keep the dies in their boxes so the expense of optional toolhead stands is gone. My powder-cop die fits in their too. I just wish the powder die did as well. That would be nice and neat! The LNL bushing system is pretty cool. The primer tube is pretty neat on the LNL AP instead of that primer cup I had on the 550. As I said before, I will miss the really nice ergonomics of the 550 equipped with all the bells and whistles.

  16. Shoney

    Shoney Well-Known Member

    I have the 550 and the LNL and the Hornady is the winner hands down. Whether or not the 650 is better than the LNL is debatable.

    Until just before I got the LNL, I was guilty of spreading the blue bullrhoar, like a lot of the dishonest or blindly loyal people who have never owned or loaded with the Hornady.

    Customer service is EQUAL between Hornady and Dillon, and perhaps RCBS is a hair better than Red or Blue.

    Quick changeover for Dillon 550 and 650 are very very expensive, primarily because of the need to get a complete powder measure to be truly quick.
    COSTS - - comparing new to new as opposed to used to used.
    550 - - $370 - - $480 for 6 Q C (toolhead & powder measure at $80 ea)
    650 - - $480 - - $510 for 6 Q C (toolhead & powder measure at $85 ea)
    LNL - - $360 - - $66 for 6 Quick Changeover (two 10 packs of QC bushings $33 ea no new powder measure necessary)
  17. Black Snowman

    Black Snowman Well-Known Member

    For the way I reload, which involves frequently stealing dies for the progressive to use in my single stages, I'd get a LnL if I were to get a new progressive. But in hindsight, a turret probably would be a good option, particularly if I have to reduce my bench space.
  18. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    MR. ClarkEMyers"

    Please explain these comments:

    Your following post didn't mention one reason why the Hornady press would be tedious to use:

    If you have used the Hornady L-N-L Progressive please descibe what you thought was tedious and what made it tedious to you.
  19. 1911user

    1911user Well-Known Member

    I've used a LNL-AP and 650 side-by-side. The 650 is definitely smoother. I think much of it is due to the powder measure operation. The dillon powder measure operates much smoother than the hornady with a CAPD. The rotation of the 650 shellplate also seemed smoother. The electric case feed is smoother and quieter on the 650. Both presses auto-index and have 5 die stations, but that doesn't make them equal in quality or operation.
  20. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    1911user you almost had me convinced with the side by side comparison until you mentioned the case feeder, that gave you away.
    The case feeder on both presses are identical including their irritating clutch slippage and occasional case jams. In fact you can use the same case feeder plate in both. If the Hornady you tried was truly setup correctly like the Dillon and you tried it before you owned a Dillon I doubt you would have noticed any comparable difference. I admit that I like the Hornady that I bought one instead of the Dillon simply because my local gun shop supports Hornady and not Dillon, no other reason. There is not shame in admitting that you're one of those biased Blue Boys, I like them too.

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