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Dillon RL-450 info?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Conqueror, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. Conqueror

    Conqueror Well-Known Member

    Last night I bought a Dillon RL450 from a friend. It's NIB, complete with all the bits and pieces, comes with .357, .38spl, and .45acp shell plates and a set of .45 dies (look like RCBS in photos but not sure yet). Also a midway tumbler, media separator, and a few hundred .45 empties. I paid $120 plus actual shipping; from looking around online at what other people were paying that seems like a decent deal especially for an unused one.

    Is it correct that these take 550 caliber kits? Any other 450 info would be appreciated. I don't plan on doing the pricey 550B upgrades Dillon offers, seeing as they'd being the price up to what a new 550B would have been anyway and I'm not looking to crank out a billion rounds an hour just yet. This'll mostly be used for .45 and .223 - how easy is it to swap calibers?

  2. Grandpa Shooter

    Grandpa Shooter Well-Known Member

  3. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    Changing calibers on a 450 is absolutely awful. You have to screw out each old die, change the powder funnel, reset the new powder funnel, reset all the dies, and then change shell plate and maybe the primer feed. Takes MINIMUM of 20-30 minutes to do it right. It's even worse than it sounds. I about gave up loading when I had the 450. That's the bad news.

    The good news is that Dillon will swap the body of your 450 and upgrade to an interchangeable tool head 550 for less than $100. They say to send it in, but if you call they'll send the new body to you. Easy swap. The new powder funnels are supposedly different for the powder measure that was upgraded when they changed from 450 to 550. I couldn't see any difference but I guess there is.

    You still got a great deal. Trust me, you WILL want to upgrade unless you're only doing one caliber. Once everything's set, I can swap from 45LC to 10mm in less than 2 minutes. It's particularly frustrating if you're a new loader and trying to figure out what you're doing. You're investment will still be considerably less than all of the stuff new would have been.

    If you need it, Dillon's number is 800-223-4570
  4. Conqueror

    Conqueror Well-Known Member

    I asked folks about it on the Enos forums, they said with RCBS dies, caliber changes are a cinch. RCBS uses setscrews on their lock rings, you can set the lock ring and then changing calibers is as simple as screwing in the new dies till the lock ring touches and tightening them with a wrench.

    Even 30 minutes doesn't bug me. I'm not looking to put out hundreds of rounds an hour on a grad student budget.
  5. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Well-Known Member

    You are correct on the lock ring issue.Dillon's rings are for permanent mounting.When using Locking rings the die changover is a matter of less than a minute.
    You'll like the piress,I"m sure.
  6. Citroen

    Citroen Well-Known Member

    I have one and love it

    I bought my RL 450 new about 1982 or so. I use it several times a week to keep my brass loaded and to recycle some older reloads at the range. I only load 45 ACP so never change the dies but I really like the press. I see no reason to upgrade it but I might end up buying the conversion powder measure as I am told it fits without modification and eliminates the need to push the slide bar by hand. I think the upgraded powder measure is about $80 plus shipping from Dillon.

    I found that the primer function did not seat the primers as I wanted them to be so I use it to deprime only and prime with a Lee Auto Prime (the handheld model).

    I think you got a great deal but if you decide you need to switch shell plates for caliber changes it might be a problem.

    Then again, if you don't like it PM me and I will gladly buy it from you.

    Charlotte, NC
  7. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    Uhhh......yeah. Right. If you believe this, I've got some ocean front property in Kansas we need to talk about.

    Sure, you can pre-set the dies. They forgot the part about pulling the powder measure off, dumping and cleaning out the powder, swapping the powder dies, resetting the flair, and (maybe) changing the charge bar. You've still got the shell plate and maybe the primer feed also.

    So, while you're doing this, remember that on a 550 you pull two little pins, slide the assembly out, and slide in a new one. It takes less time than it did to type these two lines.

    In any event, you'll get it figured out. You can swap any time in the future that you've got the bucks, and you've still got a great press to use in the meantime.
  8. Conqueror

    Conqueror Well-Known Member

    Having a completely hot-swappable toolhead would require separate powder measures, etc. for each caliber. Measures run about $70 from Dillon IIRC. Heads are at least $10-20 I think. If it'll save me $100+ per caliber, I'll suck it up for now. A half hour isn't that big of a deal.
  9. 1911user

    1911user Well-Known Member

    You can buy extra RL-450 powder dies (NOT the same as RL-550 powder dies) and do the lock ring trick for each caliber. That would avoid having the readjust the powder die each time. You could also leave the correct expander funnel in each die; they're held in place by an allen screw on the side since the 450 powder measure is manually (push) operated.

    For upgrades, I would suggest, at the minimum, adding the little star wheel and bracket/bin for catching loaded rounds. It used to be about $20 and would be well worth it not having to rotate the shellplate by using one of the cases being loaded and ejecting/pulling them from the shellplate by hand.
  10. Conqueror

    Conqueror Well-Known Member

    I think that's over $40 these days, but I'll check it out.
  11. 1911user

    1911user Well-Known Member

    I'd wait until you actually have the press before ordering anything. Some of the last RL450s made came with some of the new 550 features like auto case ejection and even the removable toolhead. It could have the black baseplate made for a 550 without the autoeject parts installed. If so, you could buy the AT500 autoeject upgrade for $28 instead of $48 for the RL450 upgrade (includes a new 550 baseplate).
  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Friend of mine gradually upgraded his 450. First he put on the automatic primer feed and powder measure to replace the manual systems it came with. Finally he transplanted everything to a 550 frame with QC toolhead.

    I think auto feeds and the star wheel would be enough if you load a good supply of each caliber before changing over.
  13. John C

    John C Well-Known Member


    I did basically the same thing you're doing when I was in grad school 4 years ago. It's a great press. The caliber conversions are a bit of a pain, but nothing horrible. It all depends on how much hassle factor you're willing to put up with, and how much your cash is worth to you, relatively.

    I don't think it's really do-able to load progressively on the 450. I used mine as a turret press, and actually really like it. I eventually put on an auto-eject kit, which I think is the biggest bang for the buck in terms of convinience. I didn't mind too much using the manual powder measure. I also upgraded to the auto powder measure, but mostly because I started using the press to load .32 S&W long ammo, and I couldn't get an extra small powder bar for the old measure. Otherwise, I'd still probably be using the old measure.

    My purpose for using the press is for crafting ultra-accurate bullseye ammo, therefore, the limitations don't bother me. I have considered doing the final auto-prime and toolhead upgrades, but I have a Square Deal for larger quantities of pistol ammo. So for now, my 450 stays set up for .32, and my SDB for .45. When I need to load a batch of something else, I convert my SDB over.

    How much reloading experience do you have? How mechanical are you? If the answer to one/both of those questions is low, then you have the right press for you. The 450 is a great semi-progressive press, a better start than buying a single stage, for pistol. Plus, you can upgrade it to an awesome press, piece by piece, as your budget/impatience allows.

    Good luck!

  14. John C

    John C Well-Known Member

    One more thing: It's not that big a deal to adjust the powder die between two cartridges. The trick is to put some witness marks on the die body and the frame with a pencil. Then you'll know to back the die out X turns and line up witness marks A. When shifting back, you will tighten the die X turns and align witness marks B.


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