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Dillon 550 or 650?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Masterartisan, Sep 3, 2011.

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  1. Masterartisan

    Masterartisan Member

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    I haven’t reloaded in many years but am interested in getting back into it. I learned on my RCBS Rock Chucker but am now interested in going the progressive route….and I’ve definitely decided to go with Dillon. I’m primarily shooting 9mm, .40, .45 and .223/5.56 and perhaps some .308 in the future. Both the 550 and the 650 will load pistol and rifle, both have very good reputations and people who own them are very pleased with their performance. I’ve saved up enough money to purchase either machine and most of the desired accessories as well.

    I am in the process of joining IPSC and thinking about IDPA as well. I’m told that virtually all of those involved load their own ammo because of the amount they shoot. Which brings me to the question; do I purchase the Dillon RL550B or the XL650? Is it just a matter of more rounds per hour or is there more to it?

    Thank you in advance for your insight.
     
  2. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    The difference between the two is the 650 has one extra station. And it has auto advance.

    The extra station means you can install the powder sensor die AND seat and crimp in separate stations for handgun rounds. Both now have case feeders, so that's not a problem anymore.

    Caliber changes take longer on the 650 and the primer feed is a pain to change from large to small. I love my 650, it's fast and accurate. I have never loaded on a 550, so you'll have to wait for someone else to chime in on that.
     
  3. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    I have never loaded on a 650 and I haven't had my 550 very long. I found the caliber conversions on the 550 to be fairly easy. It's also easy and fairly quick to change The primer set up from large to small and back. The case feeder for the 550 will only work with handgun cases, it won't do rifle.
     
  4. Hangingrock

    Hangingrock Member

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    I own three Dillon progressive units and have no complaints. You may want to also consider the Hornady LNL progressive unit. If I was not so committed and experienced with Dillon I’d look at Hornady.
     
  5. Cherokee

    Cherokee Member

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    I love my 650 with case feeder. I only load large primer ammo on it so don't know about the primer changeover. Never used a 550. Snyffy ID'ed the differences and I consider the extra station a real plus for powder checking.
     
  6. dbarnhart

    dbarnhart Member

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    I think the choice between the two depends upon the frequency of caliber changes. If you're going to be loading 1500-2000 rounds at a time of one caliber then I believe the 650 would be a better choice. On the other hand, if you are planning to reload 500 rounds of each caliber per month then the 550 would be better. (This is per the sales guy in the Dillon factory store when I visited.)

    As Hangingrock said, you owe it to yourself to take a look at the Hornady LnL-AP as well (and IMHO also the RCBS Pro2000).

    Here is a link to a series of blog posts I wrote while researching progressive presses prior to purchasing one:

    http://www.shootandreload.com/category/choosing-a-progressive-press/

    Here is a great article of a side-by-side comparison by a guy who owned the 650, Hornady, and Lee Loadmaster for a year:

    http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillonLeeHornadyComparison.pdf

    Be sure to watch the videos at Ultimate Reloader:

    http://www.ultimatereloader.com
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  7. TonyT

    TonyT Member

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    I opeted for the Dillon 550 when I moved to a progressive press years ago. I prefer to advance the case and inspect the powder drop visually.
     
  8. Waldog

    Waldog Member

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    Excellent advice by dbarnhart!!!!
     
  9. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    I like the manual indexing for rifle ammo and couldn't do without the 650 for handgun. The 550 casefeed is not available for rifle cartridges.
     
  10. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    I have used a Dillon 550B for over 20 years now and I have been extremly happy with it and have just recently purchased a 650 for loading 45 ACP's and am still setting it up. My suggestion to you would be to go with the 550B for the following reasons:
    1. The 650 is rather complicated for a new progressive press user.
    2. It is also more complicated changing dies to different caliber, especially if
    you also have to change primer size, ie. large to small or vice versa.
    3. It will extremly expensivve to buy all the accessories you will need to
    convert your 650 press to another caliber compared to the 550B
    press. You should by a die head for each caliper that you load plus a shell
    shell holder kit. A caliber change for the 650 will be close to 100.00 and
    and that doesn't inclue dies.
    4. To convert the 550B to another caliber would be about half 650 price and a
    simple changeover.
    5. With all the recommended acessories the 650 would be almost 900.00,
    less dies. The 550B would be less than half that, again less dies.

    I'm not putting down the 650 press, but just trying to explain the major differences between the two presses. Considering the way pricing of used Dillon equipment is going, you could buy the 550, use it for 5 years and probably sell it for what you paid. Good luck in your decision. :)
     
  11. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Member

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    I, too, think the biggest difference is in the change of calibers.

    If you're gonna change calibers often, then a 550 is the better choice.
    Plus the caliber conversion kits for a 550 are 1/2 the price of a 650 conversion kit.

    But the 650 will make more ammo for the time invested.

    Some people are put off by the manual advance of the 550, but personally, I LOVE it.
    Just pay attention so you don't accidentally double charge.

    Either way, you're gonna love your new Dillon.
     
  12. gab909

    gab909 Member

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    If you have the $$$$'s, get the 650 and don't look back. Loading for those matches, with the addition of wanting to load rifle, you have too. I thought the changeover on the primers would be a pain, but I was wrong. It is one extra screw. For having 10 thumbs, the changeover for calibers is fairly simple, and even if you have to change primer magazines shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. I need to shoot through a bunch of Varget before I can switch to a ball powder for use in the powder measures. Then I will start loading my 223 and 22-250 on my 650. My buddy has a 550 and the manual indexing is not my cup of tea. Not rushing and loading 500 rounds a hour is pretty cool, and gets me to the range faster. Make sure you get the case feeder and the extra die for seating and crimping is so much better. Get the Dillon dies and use the powder expander. A lot simpler, I will be converting my other dies to Dillon's when Santa comes.
     
  13. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

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    I have owned both the 550 and 650, and stuck w/ the 550. The 550 is easier to change calibers, is less expensive, and is easier to maintain control of the loading process.

    I like to take my time and visually inspect my cases during the loading process. If I make a mistake, it is easier to find and correct w/ the 550.
     
  14. Masterartisan

    Masterartisan Member

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    Thank you

    I want to sincerely thank those of you who responded to my question about progressive presses. All of the comments were very helpful and I truly appreciate the time you have taken.
     
  15. joed

    joed Member

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    I've owned nothing but Dillon progressives. Started with a 550, bought a 1050 then 650. The 550 I owned for 3 years and sold for a 650. The 550 is a good press except for one thing, it doesn't allow the use of a powder check die. The 650 and 1050 do allow for a powder check die.

    For 3 years I was satified with my 550 and then it gave me 3 squibs. For that reason I sold it and never looked back. I have some rare guns and can't afford squibs or over charges. I now have the opinion that I won't own a progressive press without the powder check option. It's not about "if" but "when" you will have a mishap.

    If you can afford the 650 or 550 go with the 650, you won't regret it.
     
  16. billyjoe

    billyjoe Member

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    I have two 550's and love them both. I get about 400 rounds per hour with my 550's and can change calibers in just a few minutes. They are simple to work on if they need it. I don't use case feeders on either of mine. I shoot with guys who have the 650's and they get about 600 rounds per hour but it takes them a little longer to change calibers. Cost is another deciding factor to look at. Either one will do a great job and load you all the ammo you need. The 650 is probaly a better choice if you plan to load rifle rounds because of the extra station ( for a trimmer ) and the primer pocket crimp remover.
     
  17. joed

    joed Member

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    On a good note the Dillon will hold its value. When I purchased the 550 it was $329, the 650 was in the $420 range. Look at the prices now.

    Visiting a gunshop that was closing about 6 years ago the owner offered me 2 Dillon 1050's and a 650 that he used for commercial loading. Like a dummy I bought 1 of the 1050's for $800, I should have gotten both. The 650 was $325 but I wanted one of those 1050's badly.
     
  18. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    What failure cause the squib loads?
     
  19. joed

    joed Member

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    Powder measures don't like every powder, mine didn't like Unique. Sometimes the powder just sticks and doesn't drop. A powder check die will catch this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  20. highlander 5

    highlander 5 Member

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    I've owned both the 550 and 650 and in all honesty you'd be better off with the 550 as the comment made above are true. I have 2 650s and they will load huge amounts of ammo but the priming arm is a PITA to change which is why I own 2. Caliber conversions are expensive. The manual advancing of the shell plate really doesn't slow you down that much. In the event you don't like the 550 and want to go to the 650 believe me you'll have no problem selling the 550.
     
  21. mgmorden

    mgmorden Member

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    Just personally, half the utility in a progressive is in the auto-advance. I'd go for the 650. If funds are tight you might even look at the Hornady LnL progressive. It's a lot closer to the 650 in features while being significantly cheaper than the 550 in cost.
     
  22. EddieNFL

    EddieNFL member

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    I've experienced this several times with larger granuled stick powders, but not flake. But I haven't used more than maybe three pounds of Unique. Possibly a static problem?
     
  23. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Member

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    The other half of the utility (and more important to me) is that you can do four (or five) operations with one stroke and you don't have to pull the case out of the shell holder after each step.

    Most 550 owners say that manual indexing is no big deal once you get used to it. I believe them. For my personal taste, I like auto advance because it is one more safeguard against a double charge. I populate all 5 stations in my LnL AP and have a $10 LED goose neck desk lamp shining through the center hole to see the powder level in my cases.
     
  24. Masterartisan

    Masterartisan Member

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    Goose neck LED

    I'd like to see a picture of that LED set up if you have one. Thank you
     
  25. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

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    I have a similar setup, a light and a small mirror fixed in such a way I can see into the case. I'd like a dedicated powder check, but I prefer the manual advance of the 550.
     
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