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LNL vs 550RL

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by whtsmoke, May 17, 2012.

  1. whtsmoke

    whtsmoke New Member

    Oct 2, 2011
    Kearney Mo.
    ok so ive read as many reviews and watched as many videos on both of these but let me ask my question in another way. Why shouldnt I buy a Hornady LNL or why shouldnt I buy a 550RL?
    Ive ben loading since 69 and have used notn=hing other than my old Rockchucker but want to go progressive as I now shoot more pistol do to doctors restrictions on my shoulders.
  2. john16443

    john16443 Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    Ramona, CA
    Loading for multiple pistol calibers?

    If no, there is very little difference in cost. LNL will provide you with 5 stations, Dillon only 4. Is that important to you?

    Warranty on both is excellent, you here much about the Dillon no BS warranty, but Hornady's is just as good without the fanfare. Both should withstand constant use a long, long time.

    Once you get into multiple calibers, the equation may change depending on your situation and what's important. LNL caliber changes are done in 2 minutes and cost no more than an additional set of 4 locking rings or your favorite brand. Dillon indicates that the range of cost for caliber changes is $46 to $56 and takes about 5 minutes.

    You'll get responses that cover the extremes of loyalty from users of both brands. Think about not only what you are reloading now, but what you may or want to reload for in the future. That may help you decide.
  3. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    I did some comparison shopping when I was ready to move up from my Rockchucker to a progressive press.

    Nothing wrong with a Dillon 550 but the Hornady LNL-AP is more comparable to the Dillon 650 since it has five die stations and automatic indexing. I decided on a five station machine so that I could run an RCBS Lockout Die to monitor powder levels.

    I think the caliber changeover is faster on the LNL than the Dillon and perhaps a little less expensive. For each caliber, in addition to dies and the LNL bushings, you will need a shellplate (about $30) for the appropriate caliber. You could use the same powder die "lower" for each caliber but for the most convenient changeover I purchase a powder measure die body "lower" for each chambering (about $25). That way I can set each for the appropriate case length which saves a LOT of time. I also purchase a powder measure insert for each caliber that I set for my favorite load (about $10).

    I see more online complaints about the LNL than I do about the Dillon. I take internet information with a grain of salt.

    Everyone I know who has a Dillon sings its praises. I had some minor teething issues with my LNL but it works great now. I've called Hornady CS a few times and they have been good to work with. Any time I've had a problem with a part they have replaced it promptly at no charge.

    I just need to quit buying guns in new calibers!
  4. gahunter12

    gahunter12 Active Member

    Dec 21, 2011
    Winder, Ga
    I would have to agree. Both are great presses. The main question is do you want a auto index press or manual index? The LNL AP is a auto index press meaning the shell plate rotates automatically as you lower the ram. The RL550b is a manual index. You have to rotate the shell plate. They both have there advantages. The auto indexing keeps you from forgetting to rotate the shell plate which could result in a double charge, but makes it a pain in the butt to backup and correct problems if need be. The manual index allows you to backup if need be or stop production without the shellplate advancing. The down side is if you get distracted you could double charge.

    I use the RL550b myself and love it. So much so I'm trying to save my pennies for a second one here soon. I like the manual index my self because I fill I have more control over the entire process.
  5. germ

    germ Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    You can rotate the LNL shellplate back one station while the ram is above halfway up. Just be carefull the case retaining spring doesn't get pinched.

    I've never laid eyes on a Dillion, but I'd like to try one out. 4 holes is a bit of turn off for me though. I'd prefer 6, the more the merrier. I like my LNL.

    As for why you shouldn't buy an LNL...hmmm...you don't like the color red? Maybe you would prefer the Dillon toolheads over the LNL bushings?

    <edit>BTW, you can get an LNL bushing kit for your rockchucker</edit>
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  6. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Participating Member

    Nov 28, 2010
    I agree with everything Crunchy Frog posted. I even have the additional items he suggests that make changing calibers quick and easy. Both Hornady and Dillon are good presses and I have no regrets in finally deciding on the Hornady.
  7. Waldog

    Waldog Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    Both companies make excellent products. I have loaded on all Dillon models and they have a strong following. I own a Dillon Square Deal and a Hornady LNL. I prefer the operation of the LNL. Go here so you can see presses in operation: www.ultimatereloader.com

    Dillon and LNL operate differently. You may prefer one over the other.;)
  8. hentown

    hentown Participating Member

    May 13, 2012
    I'd go with the LNL, due to self-indexing and auto case-feeder, given the two choices in the OP. Given my choice, I'd get a Dillon 650, which is what I did get! ;)
  9. rehorne

    rehorne New Member

    Dec 26, 2010
    Central Nawth Cakkalackie
    I'm a Dillon Fan BOY!! Have 3 55o's 2 650's and 2 Super 1050's. Of course I am a ammo dealer. They make quick work of loading chores. All but the 1050's have the no B.S. warranty, love that!
  10. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Mentor

    Sep 6, 2009
    Manitowoc, WI
    I'd venture to guess there aren't too many reloaders who have experience with a LnL AND a 550/650.

    I have a 550 (upgraded from a Lee turret & Pro1000).

    All I can say is, I'd never go back.
  11. longdayjake

    longdayjake Senior Member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Genesee, ID
    The 550 and the LNL aren't even in the same class. To get something in the Dillon that is comparable to the LNL you should look into the 650. My guess is you are looking at the pricing similarities. For the same price, the LNL is by far the better machine. Now, if you are going to consider the 650 then that leaves room to argue about which is better, but it is unfair to compare the 550 to the LNL. Here is a review I did a while back on the LNL vs. 650. It will tell you a little about the features of both machines that are pros and cons.

  12. noylj

    noylj Participating Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    I used a 550 and 650. Both cry out for a case feeder. They were both a pain to use without a case feeder. The case feed into the shell plate from the right, which makes it awkward. The Hornady is very ergonomic and no case feeder or bullet feeder is needed.
    The 550 is very expensive for such a limited press--only 4 stations and no auto-index. Back in the late '70s, Dillon marketed an affordable progressive press (450?)--however, it only had 4 stations. I thought about it but realized for my loading style, I needed 5 stations. Hornady brought out the first 5-station affordable press, with auto-indexing, and I bought it. I enjoyed it for several decades (about 40 years plus!) and upgraded it a couple of times. I finally wore it out, as I remember, in 2009(?), so I bought the L-N-L AP.
    I thought the bushings were just a marketing thing, but after setting up the press, I ordered 30 more bushings for all my calibers. I didn't get the EZ-Ject when it came out as I have almost all the shell plates and didn't see any reason to pay $10/shell plate to modify them when I had spent the time from the late '70s removing the finished round by hand while loading the new case and putting the bullet on the charged case.
    Currently, my son has my L-N-L and I have three 1050s. If my 1050s and all the extras disappeared, I would buy another L-N-L.
    You have to decide which press will make you the happiest.
  13. mallc

    mallc Active Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    FFL in Muscatine, Iowa 52761
    I have LNL-APs and Dillons

    I too have a several auto progressives of various colors and complexity. I sold my 550 when I decided that it's imperative to run a powder level safety check.

    I prefer the Dillion 650/1050s for all-around reliability and safety but I have two LNL-APs for less than 500 round runs. The RCBS lock-out dies work very well and the simple powder check is better than nothing (you can turn the check rod upside down for bottle neck cases including 5.7x28). Plus, the Dillon low primer alarm works on the LNL-AP primer shield

    Dillon 550 is the better built press but the LNL-AP has five stages and is auto progressive. Given the choice between the 550 and the LNL-AP, I'd definitely do the LNL-AP for the 5th station. If you are going to add a case feed, the better choice is the Dillon 650.

    Hope this helps.
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    That is what I like so much about it, as well as the fact I can easily see the charge in each case due to where it is on the plate before the seating step..

    Both are excellent presses. If you can get your hands on both to try it will be so much easier to decide.
  15. dap22

    dap22 New Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    E of the Mississippi
    I've had 2 L-N-L's one with case feeder one without. I've also had 2 Dillon 550's. I still have the two 550's........'nuf said.

    The question is rhetorical. It's a Chevy vs Ford question. Both machines have their advantages. For me the reliability and customer service is why I got rid of the L-N-L's and kept the 550's. I don't reload for speed, I reload deliberately and enjoy spending the time doing so.
  16. morrow

    morrow New Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Go with a Dillon xl650. That's more comparable to a Hornady LNL AP. The xl650 is also way faster than a rl550b and not that much more expensive. Remember these are progressive presses and will eat up their value in primers, powder, and projectiles in notime, so why skimp?

    Beware of Hornady, lots of problems. Since they outsource lots of their parts the Q/A is shotty, lately it's been the shell plate drive hub that's been snapping. Since the parts are outsourced, some are backordered so have fun waiting. A year or so ago Hornady was shipping incomplete presses with a note in the box that said "call us for X, Y, and Z parts"
    A major dislike of the Hornady is how there are lots and lots of bare steel/iron parts, even inside the powder measure. You WILL eventually be fighting rust, and if you use oil to coat your parts, or even dry lube, you WILL be cleaning FAR more often. Inside the powder measure you're kind of screwed...some people use automotive wax with mixed results. I have no idea why Hornady is so cheap and couldn't even blue or nickle plate their bare steel/iron parts. Unacceptable.
    There's several 'quirks' that they haven't fixed either, like how the primer punch will divit your press, and the shotty Q/A on the primer system that requires lots of tweaking.

    The underlaying fact to be aware of with Hornady is once they make a newer press, they EOL their previous press. You won't be able to buy more parts for it. So make sure you realize you aren't buying a press for life...unless nothing breaks after it gets EOL.
  17. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Mentor

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    When i was investigating buying a progressive after 30 years of single stage reloading, I quickly decided I wanted auto indexing. That ruled out the Dillon 550 for me.

    After comparing the Hornady L-N-L and the Dillon 650, I bought the Hornady. I reload on a progressive a bit differently than most, I clean cases after resizing. As a result, I have the option of hand priming which I do as well. The Hornady with individual placement of dies as opposed to the Dillon tool plate is more versatile for my process of reloading.

    But you cannot go wrong with either. Pick the one that matches the decor of your reloading room. If nothing else, the significant other will be happy with your decorating sense.

    Side note, I also have two Dillon SDBs purchased after the Hornady and like them as well.
  18. jfrey

    jfrey Active Member

    May 16, 2008
    South Texas Coast
    +1 on the SDB's. Auto indexing too. Great presses and often overlooked.
  19. Waldog

    Waldog Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    I HAVE loaded on the Dillon SDB (Still own it!), 450, 550, 650, and 1050. I have loaded several thousand on each. They are all excellent machines. THEY DO operate differently. Assuming no case feeder, with Dillon you have to feed empty cases with your right hand and feed bullets with your left hand. I find this very awkward. With the LNL you feed cases and bullets with your left hand and your right hand never leaves the operating lever. I prefer LNL by a wide margin. My son has his own LNL as well. There has never been a "Quality" issue and both RED and BLUE machines are excellent, just different.
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  20. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Senior Member

    Nov 7, 2005
    Utah, USA
    I've owned a 550 for twenty years and it has served me well. A few years ago I picked up a 650 with a case feeder and it has also served me well. Between the two presses I loaded 12,500 rounds last year with zero issues. Most of that was pistol ammo and I do not use the fifth station on the 650.

    Recently I had the opportunity to load on a LNL and like another poster said, the quality is just not the same as a Dillon. Sure, it did what it was supposed to do, and did it well but not nearly as smooth.

    If you are going to load 500 rounds at a time of pistol or rifle then get the 550. Above that get the 650 with the case feeder.

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