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Dillon press advice

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Kevatc, Jan 5, 2006.

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  1. Kevatc

    Kevatc Member

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    Brand new member here so be kind please! :)

    I have been surfing the net and reading everything I can find about what my next progressive reloading press should be. I reload 40 S&W and 5.56. From what I have read to date I think I might like the Dillon 550. I am confused though ..... is it a turret press or a true progressive ... ie, one pull one cartridge? Is the Dillon reliable especially in the primer feeding?

    What all do I need to order with the press so that I could load these two calibers?

    I currently use the Lee Pro 1000 but it is a piece of junk. It is totally unreliable in terms of prrimer feeding which leads to powder spills, cleaning, and profuse use of extremely descriptive language. :cuss:

    I have a single stage Lee press that I use only for resizing of 5.56 cases. My Lee turret works great for 5.56. I would like a progressive press that would allow for easy transition from one caliber to the next.

    I currently have a combination of RCBS and Lee dies. Will they work in a Dillon 550?

    Any other important info will be very much appreciated!
     
  2. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Don't drink the Blue Kool-Aid!!! Never buy a Dillon!!!

    I had to be the first of several that will scream this. :D

    I have a 550 and am totally impressed. I load 10mm, 44-40, 45acp, 44 mag, .357 Herrett, and 45 LC for pistol and about a dozen rifle calibers

    To answer the question, each pull gives one finished round, assuming that's what you want. When I load pistol, it's one pull for one round

    When I load rifle, I run each round one at a time thru all the stages and then start with another round, basically making it a progressive

    The 550 is manual index, which I prefer as it allows more flexibility

    I have 5 total of the deluxe quick change assemblies. With these you get the toolhead, powder measure, powder die, and toolhead stand. To change calibers you slide in a new toolhead (complete) which takes maybe 10 seconds and swap shell plates. You also have to make any changes to primer. Pistol vs rifle or large vs small as necessary. The deluxe is $76.95.

    At this pace, each additional caliber is about $125 for everything including dies. At first I REALLY hated to spend the money for these. Once you get set up, you'll kick yourself for not having it all along

    You can also get the toolhead and powder dies for about $20. This allows you to swap the measure but leave the dies and powder measure in one toolhead. HTH
     
  3. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Member

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    Welcome!!

    I'm loading mostly pistol ammo but recently started .223 on my 550. I have no issues. If I was starting out new I'd definately look at my options in other presses with auto-index but I can't justify the cost in Dillon equipment for that feature given the amount I load in a year. (5-10k rounds). I've had incredible luck with Dillon's support so that's why I'm a loyal customer.

    Caliber changeovers:

    I only load small primers in the .223/5.56mm stuff so what I do is leave the large primer setup on my 550 and use it to prime all my pistol ammo. (Primarily .50 S&W and .45 ACP). For the rifle ammo I resize/deprime in a single stage (after cleaning, lubing) and then trim/swage if necessary and then handprime using a hornady hand priming tool. When I've built up a large enough batch of primed brass then I run it through the Dillon and voila . . . :) The reason I'm doing it this way is that all of my brass is LC and so I have to remove the primer crimp and trim it (after 1 firing it's all over max length). I think my second shooting will allow me to use something like an X die and do everything in the dillon, but I've got 1000 rounds to shoot before I reach that stage. :) For changing the pistol calibers I merely swap in the configured toolhead, a shellplate, set the power charge, drop in a load of primers and I"m good to go. I'd guess it takes me 2 minutes, but I spend 15 checking/double checking everything.

    Good luck!!

    Have a good one,
    Dave
     
  4. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    I have a pair of 550B's, and load lots of calibers on them. Your dies will work just fine in a 550, and it will work great for you.

    If money isn't an issue get a 650, it will nearly double the production rate of the 550 when the case feeder is used and you gain another station. If there is a budget the 550 works great.
     
  5. g56

    g56 Member

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    Welcome, Dillon is the way to go, I've been using a Dillon 550 for about 20 years. I load 9mm, 38, 357 mag, 45 acp, and 223 on my Dillon and it does a super job on all those calibers. The group shown below was fired on an AR15 with a bull barrel at 100 yds, the ammo was loaded on the Dillon 550, the charges were thrown on Dillon's powder measure, and Dillon dies were used. No special brass prep was done, no neck turning or uniforming, nothing fancy at all.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

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    Go ahead, drink the blue Koolaid!

    I have had similar results as G56. I have been using a Dillon 550B for over 10 years to reload .38, .357, 9mm, .40, .45ACP, .45LC, and .223. I now have two, one for small primer and one for large.

    I size my .223 brass on my RCBS Rockcrusher, then trim, and then polish.
    After that I run it through the Dillon for priming, powder, and seating.

    There was an article in Dillon's Blue Press magazine about 5 years ago that was written by a guy that claimed his .223 ammo was very accurate because the progressive is more consistent than a single stage.

    The Dillon is a true progressive but is not auto-indexing. Auto-indexing is a feature that I personally don't care for.

    If you get a Dillon I would recommend purchasing the setup video with it. You will get some good info from it.
     
  7. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Oh, something I forgot...

    I can load pistol ammo faster than most people could accurately shoot it with my 550

    Now, somebody is gonna say "it's not about being fast, it's making quality ammo

    this is ammo that's +/- .1 grain and +/- .003 OAL. Ammo that will shoot .5 with my AR (yes, I've done it multiple times)

    I personally like the manual index. If something needs to be checked or re-adjusted, the shell plate doesn't turn by itself. Maybe this sounds funny, but the Dillon turns out ammo so fast and so well that I can't see a big improvement with anything else. Slide in a case and bullet, pull the handle, and out pops another round. YMMV
     
  8. 1911user

    1911user Member

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    A 550 will serve you well.
     
  9. bigsarg99

    bigsarg99 Member

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    Can u use RCBS or LEE Dies with the 550

    Can Lee or RCBS dies be used with the RL550B? I have both but have considered replacing them with dillion dies, I recently won a 550 on EBAY.
     
  10. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    I won't say "don't drink the blue koolaid," or "never buy a Dillon".

    But I will say that you owe it to yourself to check out the Hornady LNL AP.

    It can be used fully progressively (it auto-indexes too), or like a turret. The dies can be quickly changed, one at a time, say to pop in a cam-lock bullet puller for a round you want to check. You can slip a cartridge in or out of any station without messing with annoying little locater pins. And the powder measure is easier to set, change, and empty than the dillon's.

    All of this for less than a 550. And with the casefeeder, it is less than a 650 without one.

    Then drink whatever color koolaid you like best, not just the color everyone else is drinking.

    Andy

    Andy
     
  11. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

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    Yes, I have used Dillon, RCBS, and Lee dies in the 550. The Dillon dies have more nice features including a bevel at the opening to align cases don't line up perfectly.
     
  12. P0832177

    P0832177 member

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    The thing to consider about reloading dies used on all other presses, meaning is that if you already own dies you will need to buy a seperate crimp die. Like adding a Lee FCD to the mix. With the Dillon you no longer need the expander die, as that is done in combination with powder charging.
     
  13. Kevatc

    Kevatc Member

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    Thanks for the info everyone but a little confused now

    Thanks for all the info! But I am a little confused .... perhaps I am missing something but everyone has nice things to say about the Dillon and yet some say "don't drink the blue koolaid" or "don't buy a Dillon" and then turn around and say great things about it. Is that a joke to mean that once you go Dillon you'll wonder why you reloaded with any other press?

    Also, I am confused by the auto-iindex, manual index terminology. In the Dillon 550 I manually turn the shell plate? Would that mean that I insert a case, pull the handle, turn the shell plate and ta da a completed round?
     
  14. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Member

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    There are a couple of members on this forum who tend to say "Don't drink the blue koolaid" anytime a dillon post is made. They have, what I consider to be, some pretty good points so you owe it to yourself to read what they've written and make up your own mind. :) I personally have chosen to go the Dillon route but I don't think you'd go wrong with the Hornady LNL route either. (especially if you find a good buy on a used one . .they typically sell used for significantly less than a dillon does used)

    Auto-index - You add a bullet on station 3 (or 4?), empty case on station 1, everytime you pull the handle the shell plate advances one position placing your shell into the next station. The auto index has two advantages. You reduce your chances of a double charge, and it's faster.

    Dillon - You add a bullet on station 3, an empty case on station 1, pull the handle, then advance the shellplate (manually), add a bullet, new empty case, pull the handle, repeat.

    Have a good one,
    Dave
     
  15. HankB

    HankB Member

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    I've been using my Dillon SDB for reloading pistol cartridges for over a decade. I really like the auto-indexing feature, and prefer it to the 550's manual indexing. Of course, the SDB won't do anything except pistol, whereas the 550 will do rifle as well . . . but I prefer loading the relatively small quantities of "hunting" or "match" rifle ammo I use on a single stage press. (I do burn up a lot of milsurp and bulk rifle in practice, though.)

    I've had the opportunity to use both a Dillon 550 and a Dillon 650. Both are fine machines, and ought to last a long, LONG time. Since amortized over 20+ years, there's not really that much difference in cost, I'd definitely go for the 650.

    In fact, if I didn't already have an SDB, I'd go with the 650 anyway.

    Still, if immediate cost is a major consideration, and you don't mind manual indexing, the 550 ought to serve you well.
     
  16. Rico567

    Rico567 Member

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    I use a Dillon 650- and, given the content of this thread, I suppose I'm obligated to insert something about the dreaded "color religion."

    I can't disparage the Lee Pro 1000. I had two, which I used for many years and loaded thousands of rounds of perfectly good reloads- just as good as those made on any other machine.

    That being said, I sold the Lees and bought the Dillon 650 because 1) I wanted a higher rate of production than the Lee could supply, and 2) I wanted to be able to load a variety of bottleneck rifle chamberings, which the Lee cannot do. The SDB was out for this second reason, and also because it wouldn't have given me a significant increase in production over the Lees.

    Given the volume I reload, most people would say I should have been perfectly content with a 550. There are two reasons I bought the 650 instead of the 550: 1) the 5th station in the toolhead, which may be used for several purposes. With me, it was for a powder check device. 2) the auto-indexing of the 650. This subject has been debated quite a bit, and on a number of forums, but I believe that auto-indexing is a safety feature, having loaded on both manual and auto-indexing progressive machines.

    NB!: I am NOT claiming that auto-indexing makes any particular machine "safe." There is no such thing. As with the guns we load for, the random variable is the operator- or, what my wife, who keeps computer networks alive for a living, calls "loose nut behind keyboard."
     
  17. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    About Lee dies...

    I use some and they work fine. The bodies tend to be shorter than other dies and you may have to put the lock ring on the bottom of the die holder rather than the top. Also, Dillon uses a powder bushing to activate the powder measure, so you end up not using the middle die of a 3 die set from Hornady, RCBS, etc.

    My comments above about "the Blue Kool-Aid" were followed by the :D Meant to be sarcastic.

    There are guys here that would get into fist fights about blue vs red
     
  18. YellowLab

    YellowLab member

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    If you want ot get rid of your Pro1000 i'll take it for the cost of shipping since it is a piece of junk and your hate it so much.

    No need to throw it in the swamp|trash|recycle bin like everyone else seems to *say*they do. I'll give it a good home.

    e-mail me at ihave4labs@yahoo.com and i'll give you my address... or postage paid, whatever is easier for you.

    Enjoy your dillon... you paid for it :D
     
  19. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    Clarification - The dillon 550 manually indexes: you advance the shellplate by hand in addition to pulling the lever. The Dillon SDB, 650, and 1050, and the Hornady LNL AP auto-index: the shellplate advances automatically every time you pull the lever. Most would say that auto-indexing is safer since there is almost zero chance of a double charge. It is definitly more convenient. Most auto-indexing presses can be backed up if necessary, like while setting them up.

    Also worth considering is a casefeeder. Dillon sells casefeeders for the 550, 650, and 1050. If you want a case feeder, I don't recommend buying a 550 with one, since the total cost is almost as much as the more capable 650 with a case feeder. If you already had a sizeable investment in a 550 plus several caliber conversions, then it might make since to buy the case feeder for it. And like I said above, you can get a LNL AP with a casefeeder for less than the 650 without one.

    There are a lot more users that say "don't buy anything but dillon" than those that say "don't drink the blue koolaid". I think the phrase was coined in reference to the huge marketing and almost fanatical following of the dillon presses. Don't get me wrong, I think they are great quality presses, worthy of their praise, but you do pay handsomely for them and their marketing, when other less popular presses are just as good, if not better, and cost significantly less. Note that I would not include Lee progressive presses in the latter category. They also have their place, but very few would say they are as well built as those of Dillon or Hornady.

    Andy
     
  20. YellowLab

    YellowLab member

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    Either you never used one, only read about them on the Internet, or used one as your first press, boogered it up and when you got a second press marveled at how easy it was... not realizing that all the knowledge and expierience was gained at the expense of the first press.

    I have NO idea why people bash the Lee presses. Either they are trying to justify the fact that they had to spend 4x the money before they figure out how a press worked, or that they bought $800 worth of gear, only to find out that the same gear is available at 1/4th price.

    The plain fact is that a cartridge made from a Dillon is no better than a cartridge made from a Lee.

    If you have any of that 'crappy' Lee gear that sucks so much, send it my way. I'll take it off your hands for the cost of mailing it to me. No need to throw it away, toss it in the swamp or do what people in thier Lee bashing posts 'say' they do to all that Lee junk that they have.

    It all comes down to how smart the monkey pulling the lever is.
     
  21. 1911user

    1911user Member

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    The manual indexing of the 550 is not a problem and doesn't slow you down unless you have a case feeder then auto indexing is highly desirable for speed/efficiency reasons. Since you are an experienced Lee user then a 550 will be a nice upgrade and do what you want. That was my upgrade path with no regrets especially for doing rifle and pistol on one progressive press. Dillon makes good equipment that is not cheap to purchase but resale is excellent.

    A newer Hornady progressive is not a bad option either, but make sure it has the newest updates especially if you want to add a case feeder at some point. With an older (2-3 years or more) Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive, you'll also have to pay $75 to upgrade the primer feed mechanism (I think that's the part) before adding the case feeder. Hornady had some growing pains with their progressive press but it seems to be sorted out now and is truly competition for the 550. The setup and conversion costs are similar.
     
  22. KMKeller

    KMKeller Member

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    I just recently spent the money on a full-house Dillon 650 with all the goodies. I've never reloaded before, so getting everything was rather expensive. Now, I load my own match grade ammo for both 9mm and .45 and will soon be expanding to .223. I'm using the RCBS micrometer adjustable competition dies and everything works beautifully. I get 1-2 bad primer feeds per 1000 rounds, but that is due mostly to flaws in the brass primer pocket. The auto indexing works beautifully and I can throw 1000 rounds in less than an hour.

    When I first set mine up, I didn't get a part aligned right and it resulted in breakage on another component. I called Dillon, told them what I had done and pulled out my credit card to order the parts. They told me to put my money away and sent them to me at no charge.

    I will be their customer for life.
     
  23. antsi

    antsi Member

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    I like my Dillon. They are definitely a good company to do business with. Once I broke something on my press (due to my own stupidity) and they sent me the new part for free. I wish they would make cars ;)

    My only beef with Dillon is that the powder measure can be fussy at times although this also depends on what powder you are using. I've had headaches with very fine-grain powders like AA#9.

    The primer feeding is quite reliable if you keep the press clean. Also it is very easy to watch the primer being fed, so you won't miss it if you do get a misfeed.
     
  24. JMusic

    JMusic member

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    I posted the same question prior to Xmas. After everyone was finished and I did some brousing I bought a Lee LoadMaster. I was going to purchase a 550 first, then a Hornady but went the cheaper route. I have to admit the LoadMaster for the money is a nice press with alot of good features. They are not as robust as the Dillions and probably will not hold as good a tolerances. So it depends on what you want it for, shooting fodder or target ammo. The Lee is a totally automatic progressive, worth looking at. Go easy on me guys.:)
    Jim
     
  25. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    The Lee Pro-1000 isn't even comparable to something from Dillon, RCBS or Hornady. Anyone that has used both can attest to that, the Pro-1000 is junk that works somewhat most of the time if you don't mind constant tweaking and irritation.

    The Loadmaster is a neat press, about 95% completed IMO. If they could iron out the primer feed issues and get a real quality powder measure on it they would really have something. Minor tweaks keep it running pretty good, ammo is good, and production rates are VERY good. It is worth the money that it costs, rare in Lee presses.

    I have owned and used both Lee presses, and currently use Dillon progressives. I bought 550B's, took a step backwards in production volume from the Loadmaster but in every respect took several steps forward in reliability and consistency of operation. It is really nice to go down to my loading room and start pulling the handle, crank out hundreds or even thousands of rounds without needing to do anything but re-fill components.

    Lee makes some very good products, products that I use and recommend. I am not anti-Lee in any way, but comparing their progressives to the more expensive presses just doesn't work. Been there and done that.
     
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