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"Progressive" Loading?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by 345 DeSoto, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. 345 DeSoto

    345 DeSoto Well-Known Member

    I have been reloading for a number of years with a single stage Rock Chucker. However, I'd LIKE to get a Progressive(?) loading set-up...one of those things that do it ALL just by pulling the handle for each step. I have NO knowledge what-so-ever about these things, as I have never had the need to use anything but my single stage. HELP, guys (and Girls)! I need an education on WHAT exactly these things do, and what would be a good choice when I go looking for one...all my die sets are RCBS...:confused:
  2. john wall

    john wall Well-Known Member

    Dillon 550 or 650, depending on how much ammo you shoot in a given time. 500+ rds a month? 550

    500+ rds a week? 650
  3. Waldog

    Waldog Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  4. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Well-Known Member

    Your choices are as follows:

    Lee Pro 1000
    RCBS Pro 2000 (auto index or manual)
    Hornady Lock-N-Load AP
    Dillon 550B (manual index) or 650 (auto-index)

    There are pros and cons to each one. Most will say that the Lee is the least desirable of the bunch, but costs the least.

    The RCBS is a cast-iron frame, which is good. has a die plate configuration that does not require a separate powder measure per caliber, but I have read complaints about powder spilling with shallow cases. Some love the APS priming system, some don't. I personally think it's a great idea, but haven't used one.

    The Hornady is the most flexible, using their die bushing system. I have one. I like it. However I will say that the priming system is its weak spot - you have to keep it clean or it will jam / not feed primers. The powder measure is rock solid. I use the metering inserts so I can change calibers without adjustment. I have no complaints about the die bushing system, and like the flexibility it affords. The indexing function requires some adjustment, but once you get it figured out, it's not a problem.

    Dillons are rock solid. They are also the most expensive. They also have the highest cost per caliber change. From what I've read, if you want to change calibers, stay with the 550. If you want huge production on a single caliber, use a 650.

    I was going between RCBS and Hornady, and chose Hornady. I think I would have been happy with the RCBS for different reasons, but I'm glad I made my choice. I reload a lot of different calibers, and couldn't afford the caliber changes on the Dillon.

    Just my $.02.
  5. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Well-Known Member

    Your dies will work in any of the above presses.
    You'll need a die plate per caliber on the RCBS and Dillons
    You'll need a die bushing per die on the Hornady
    You'll need a shell plate per caliber (there is commonality between some calibers) on any of them.
  6. floydster

    floydster Well-Known Member

    Spammy, good writeup. I chose the Hornady LNL as well because of the easy caliber changes and the cost.

  7. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Well-Known Member

    Floydster - thanks. To be honest, I'd love to see someone franken-mate the APS priming system to the Hornady LnL.
  8. TEAM101

    TEAM101 Well-Known Member

    Anyone else have any troubles out of their LNL?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
  9. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    What they do is perform an individual step at one of several stations, so that once up and running, you will turn out one completed round per pull of the handle. This happens because you will be depriming/resizing at one station, charging a case with powder at a second, seating a bullet (and sometimes crimping at a third), and crimping at the fourth (if not done at the third).

    As someone who had has progressives and RCBS single stage, you need to be watching some of the videos to see the way these presses operate - they can be somewhat intimidating if you are not somewhat mechanically inclined, especially when something hiccups - and that WILL happen.

    They are all like Jaguars - when they are finely tuned and running right, they are great, but when Mr. Murphy rears his ugly head, step back take a deep breath and count to ten........... ;)
  10. wally247

    wally247 Well-Known Member

    I'm in exactly the same boat as you. I've pretty much narrowed it to the Dillon 550 and the Hornady. Honestly I'll probably go with whichever is in stock when I get the cash set aside for it.
  11. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    The Dillon 550 is only 4 stations, where the Hornady LNL-AP and Dillon 650 have 5 stations. The LNL and 650 have auto indexing, meaning the shell plate auto advances. The 650 is design to work with the Brass feeder without it it really hampers it's performance. The LNL can work either way, but if you want high volume per/hr you want the Brass feeder. With the brass feeder you can run 500-600/hr without much problem. The LNL is a lot simpler machine. But all require some mechanical ability for setup. Then you need to learn how to adj them when they get off. My LNL has not needed adj in several years now. I also dialed in a friends and his is not just humming a long with no problems. The LNL uses a bushing setup for dies, where the Dillon uses a die/caliber conversion plate to hold it's dies. Cost per caliber is cheaper with the LNL. Change over is pretty quick with either. Dillon takes longer to change primers size.

    Either of these machines will serve you well.
  12. GCBurner

    GCBurner Well-Known Member

    Look on Youtube for various videos of the different presses in use, and you'll get an idea how they work, as well as any quirks or kinks people have found.
  13. wardor

    wardor Well-Known Member

    Everyone equates the 550 to lower volume shooting because of the change over time, but really the change over time for me on my 650 with priming system is like 7 minutes after several times changing it (and I use that opportunity to clean up everything, relube, etc).

    I love auto indexing (I know it's got risks, but if you have experience I wouldn't worry too much) as it makes double charging much harder than the manual indexing of the 550. Also, if you want a case feeder (to me, a must have now in a progressive) compare the total purchase cost of the 650 to the LNL AP and you'll be surprised (unless you load more than 5-6 calibers). Also, 550 conversions are cheaper than 650 conversion only because the 650 conversion kits include the stuff for the case feeder -- if you buy a case feeder for the 550 (pistol only) you must buy extra parts for each caliber.

    To me, the choice is always the 650, unless you have the money to buy a 1050 or the need for a 1050. It's just my 2cents, but I have owned the LNL AP (loaded about 15k rounds on it) and the 650 (loaded about 30k rounds on it) and I would buy more blue kool-aid before red any day ;)

    EDIT: I usually reload in batches of 100-500 per caliber, and I don't make sure I load all the small primers before large primers (it isn't that big of a deal to me to change the priming system over, and for $80 you can just buy another priming system).
  14. hentown

    hentown Well-Known Member

    I spent several years loading about 80k rounds tediously and miserably on a Toadmaster. Got to be the worst progressive press made. Wish I'd gone to the 650 early-on. I'll be using my 650 commercially when my class 6 license is issued in a few weeks.

    I bought a case feeder when I bought the press. Have an RCBS handgun bullet feeder coming from Graf's. I'm thinking I should be able to do over 1k rounds per hour, using the bullet feeder.

    I despise the APS strip system. If I bought an RCBS progressive, I'd convert it to tubes.
  15. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Well-Known Member

    Hentown - what don't you like about the APS system? I haven't used it, but thought about it a couple of times.
  16. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info, everyone. I've been reading with great interest. I'm starting to feel the itch for a progressive and the real-world experience is appreciated.

    My major concern is priming. picking up primers one at a time in the tubes looks to me to be a time-consuming and annoying job. One of the many things I love about my Lee LCT is that I can refill 100 primers in about 20 seconds, and change primer sizes and rams in about 10. Calibers in about 5. If you add in all the time setting up, filling primer tubes, dialing in, etc.... is a progressive really saving you time? If you change calibers and load rounds as needed, rather than loading 3000 at a time... does a progressive save you time over the LCT?

    I'd like to see a comparison starting from scratch (with both presses assembled and ready to go, but no primers in the system or tubes) loading 200 9mm, then changing to .45 ACP LPP and loading 200. I bet overall time would be close. Or maybe it wouldn't be close at all. This would take me about 2-2.5 hours on the LCT.

    I've never used a progressive. Changeovers and refilling primers seems like a huge hassle, though.
  17. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Well-Known Member

  18. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I prefer to clean my cases between resizing and loading so I have a break in the action. I have found, I can hand prime 100 cases in about the same time as filling one primer tube so I prime off the progressive press.

    As a result, I have no primer related issues on the progressive press when loading cases.

    I use the progressive to charge the case, stuff the bullet, and crimp.

    I do not need the volume that a "fired case to finished round" process gives but I get some economies of effort doing a couple tasks simultaneously when using the progressive.

    Works for me. Does not work for others.
  19. wardor

    wardor Well-Known Member

    Priming works the same on about every progressive, fill tubes -- You can get the Dillon RF100 or the vibra-prime to speed up the operation.
  20. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    My Pro1000 & Load Master both run great & no primer tubes to fill. I no longer have the LNL AP. It now has a new home in an other state. I hates primer tubes also.

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