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Dillon shmit disturber--> 550's and 650's

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by uglymofo, Dec 28, 2003.

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  1. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    This may seem like I'm trolling or stirring it up, but I've no experience with the Dillon 550's and 650's, and this topic came up in a roundabout way on another thread... I use a Hornady LNL AP, and don't understand the logic behind the guys who use multiple Dillon presses, so here's my question.

    Minimally, a Dillon 550 is in the general neighborhood of $500, setup for one caliber (I know, the 650 is 'way more than that, but for argument's sake I wanna keep this simple). Dillon touts their toolhead setup as a quick way to make caliber changes. On my Hornady, I can swap out and reload in a different caliber in about 70 seconds; I've timed it a couple of times, and my best time from decision to action was 50 seconds.

    So why do you Dillon fans who post pics of multiple Dillon setups (550's and better) need them? I mean, a minimal cost of $500 seems pretty extravagent to avoid the caliber changing procedure.
     
  2. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    It is extravagant. No harm in that if you have the money. Costs no more than that gun in your locker that you haven't shot in a couple years. You see it more in the Dillon loaders because right or wrong they are generally considered THE best, and guys that buy THE best are more likely to have the extra money for second and third presses. Nobody would blink at 5 Lee Pro1000's in a line, but you could do that for the same price as one 550B that is all decked out. I prefer my one 550B.

    50 seconds including primer sizes, powder change, charge adjustment, and double checking, or just changing over the parts?

    I have 6 or 7 toolheads for my 550 that are set up and locked down that won't get messed with, and a couple that are "floaters" that I use for odd jobs and single stage loading. Even if I have to change primer sizes, empty the powder measure, fill it, and change calibers I can do it in less than 5 minutes including setting the powder charge and getting everything fine tuned for a production run, and fine tuning is the loading of at least 25 rounds to make sure everything is OK.

    Changing primer sizes is the only part that could even be described as a hassle, and even then it is not bad.

    I will purchase another 550 to put next to the one I have as soon as the funding is available, and I might even step into a 650 for serious production needs like 38, 40 and 45. Right now I am loading ~4K rounds per month and have no trouble keeping up with one 550B, but that doesn't keep me from wanting another.
     
  3. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Why would you spend...

    an extra $1,000 for leather seats (or a moonroof, or larger engine, etc) on a car.....that you're only going to have for 3-4 years?? When the car's gone, the multi-thousand dollar options go with it.

    I can keep my multiple 550's and use them for a lifetime. I buy Jeeps and run them for 250K miles plus. If you buy new cars every few years, one of your payments will buy me a new Dillon every month. I'd rather have the Dillon. Maybe you'd rather have the shiny car.

    Real answer is that, I'd do it mainly so I don't have to change out and re-adjust everything. Less chance for errors (powder type or settings). The buttons on your TV change the channels just as well as a remote, but people used to get new TV's just for the remote and related convenience.

    Your money, your choice. Boils down to....we're spoiled by all the toys we can afford.

    Gotta go...gotta play with my toys:D
     
  4. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    At one point I had a pair of SDB's in .45 and 9x19. It was more convenient to be able to sit down and start cranking with no overhead (besides filling primer tubes).

    Now that I have a 650, I crank out ammo in much much larger batches and so switching over isn't a big deal. I can load 6 month's worth of .44MAG in a couple hours, and be done with it.

    It is often handy to have a press set up for experimental loads or something you do in lower volume on an ongoing basis, and a second press you use for "production" ammo of which you need a continuous supply. For example, if I'm loading thousands of rounds of .45 for IPSC on a weekly basis, I'd just rather not go messing about with that press while developing new loads for some other purpose.

    -z
     
  5. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    HSMITH,

    That includes die swap, powder change and calibration. 50 seconds from the time I decide to change calibers to the time I crank the handle; to confirm powder reloads takes whatever time it takes to throw 10 loads and measure them. The Hornady seems to hold it's calibration well enough that I haven't had to make any adjustments because of a caliber change; at least, not so far after ~12-15 switches between 45acp and two other main calibers.

    I don't shoot anything requiring a change to small primers, but it would take about 2 minutes I think (swapping out the tube and and primer sled would take less than 15 seconds, but changing out the primer button/ramrod or whatever it's called would take some time.)

    Thanks for the replies; like I said, nothin' to do on a Sunday 'cept wander with my curiousity. I just wondered why so many folks felt they needed second and third 650's instead of using single Dillons in the manner for which they were designed. I haven't got that kind of money to spare "away from guns":( :) ; I guess I'd rather trade a couple minutes of hassle for another gun. I hate reloading, and it don't make me happy at all to see that much money bolted to my bench when I'm out at the range and short one gun.:D
     
  6. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Changing primers

    one thing that I think is a PITA is changing primer feeds on the 550. One of those things that should take 30 seconds but seems to take 10 minutes

    If Dillon could figure a way to change that as fast as a tool head, they'd have a close to perfect machine
     
  7. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    Decided to come back to this thread. Something Redneck2 said is nagging at me:

    The more I think about it, the more I wonder.. Are y'all using multiple Dillons because quick repeatability isn't there? It reads like, and my only logic takes me to, the conclusion that it's a hassle to change calibers on a Dillon---why else would one buy multiple units at > $500 each unless it was to avoid moving toolheads? This line of thinking may be in error, but it seems to me that theory and practice don't mesh well with the Dillon change-outs, otherwise, one unit would suffice; after all, 3-5 minute changes (as advertised), equals ~$6000 for 12 changes (over any time span), and my time ain't worth that.

    Forgive me if this sounds like I'm stirring it, I'm not. I'm trying to find out as much about the Dillons in order to give an unbiased recommendation to someone who's never seen a reloading press, and I'm handicapped because my only progressive-press experiences are with a Hornady. I don't know of anyone with two Hornadys... there just doesn't seem to be any need for another.
     
  8. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    For what it's worth, regarding repeatability,

    When I took apart my Square-Deal B to clean it, I lifted the toolhead out, and then completely disassembled the bottom end of the press to single pieces. When the machine was reassembled (with some new parts in its "guts"), the load was still calibrated correctly.

    My take is that the SDB is cheap enough that having two or more of them makes sense. A full SDB conversion is about $135, but you can buy a complete SDB on eBay for about $200.

    On the 650, there are a number of things to change besides the toolhead and shellplate. You have to make one, possibly two, changes to the lower casefeed assembly. Then you have to empty out the auto casefeed bucket (above), clean it out, and possibly swap something there - depending on what calibers you're going from/to. If you are switching from large to small primers, you have to swap out the priming system assembly.

    If someone loads for different calibers very regularly, this overhead is something they'd want to avoid. On the other hand, if you're only going to load batches of .308 and .44RM twice a year, and then load .45ACP the rest of the time, it's not a big deal.

    -z
     
  9. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    ugly, my 550 repeats to within .0005" OAL and crimp depth when broken down, caliber changed and loaded, and then put back together in the first caliber. That is as close as I can measure here at home and I have never seen the need to go beyond that.

    It is not a hassle to change calibers on the 550's, not sure about the other models. Guys buying Dillon loaders will not settle for second rate stuff, and don't mind spending for quality. Most also don't mind spending for another loader. Having another gun or another loader to use, a decision that haunts me even now. Dillon loaders are so nice that having two is a viable consideration for me. Unless just flush with cash most guys stop at two Dillons, one for large and one for small primers. Then you could change calibers in less than a minute with ease.
     
  10. larryw

    larryw Member

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    Hey ugly, how many 1911s <or insert favorite gun here> do you have? :neener:
     
  11. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    Larryw,

    Why do you ask that?

    I have eight, and several other calibers I load for--.380 (rarely), 9mm, 357mag, 44mag, 45-70, 50ae, and 308.
     
  12. Mikul

    Mikul Member

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    I load 9mm, 44 magnum and .308 on my 550b. 9mm is my primary caliber for which I load approximately 600 rounds per week. Breaking down and reassembling from 9 to either of the other calibers takes 15-20 minutes, and of course, 15-20 minutes to convert it back. I often find myself needing to reload 300 rounds before a shoot with little time to do it in. Wasting an extra half hour isn't an option, and God help me if everything doesn't go perfectly.

    Another 550 dedicated to 9mm would make reloading easier, and allow me the luxury of loading up an extra 50 test rounds of .44 when I'm on my way out. Right now, those 50 rounds will take me 50 minutes with caliber conversion time thrown in.

    I've never found repeatability to be a problem, but I only have one powder measure which gets reset with every caliber change. Just having extra throw bars would be an improvement.

    I'm trying to find one right now in the $220 range.
     
  13. larryw

    larryw Member

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    Why do you need more than one? Perhaps for the same reason some may need more than one Dillon?
     
  14. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    Nope. They're completely different guns for different purposes--steel plate, bowling pin matches, light dress/humid weather CCW, bullseye, etc. Actually, one pistol has swappable parts. I know what you're trying to say, but I don't see the analogy as being the same. These guns all function for the task they were intended when they were built; each task/target/purpose was unrelated to the other, except in a general way (i. e., there's no way I'd use a games/pin gun for light dress CCW, etc.).

    I see the use/need for multiple Dillons as a measure required to avoid the inconvenience the Dillon design was theoretically supposed (at least partially) to solve. That may be a harsh "criticism", but my logic is rather tunnel-visioned, and I can't get past it. I've read what everyone says in the archives, but I don't understand the comments that some have made in other threads that Dillon is the best, etc., etc., when, in my mind, whatever progressive press I recommend to my friend should offer reloading speed/quality equally with caliber changeout speed and efficiency without compromising caliber changes if that's supposedly a touted feature of that press. Maybe I'm asking for too much.
     
  15. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    550's aren't 500 bucks, they're 329. less dies. It takes me about 5 mins to change calibers on it including primer size.:confused:
     
  16. larryw

    larryw Member

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    But that's exactly the point. Why a different gun for steel plate and bowling pin matches? I'd use the same 1911, maybe a different load. Good stainless gun for summer and winter wear. Heck, good stainless 1911 will satisfy all four categories. Accurized and it will cover five.

    It really boils down to how the individual CHOOSES to use his tools. You use your 1911s in a way that seems odd to me (no disrepect intended :neener: ), others use their 550s in a way that seems odd to you (and me, I'm happy with my one press and a bunch of toolheads).

    But that's their choice (God Bless America!), and its a huge stretch to see it as a slap at the 550 (or 1911).

    All this philosophical stuff makes my head hurt, I'm off to bed. :)
     
  17. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    I have a Hornady press also

    along with the 550. Probably the best combination would be a Dillon press with a Hornady (or RCBS) powder measure with the inserts rather than cranking the screw on the charge bar. Both of mine are older presses, but I think the Dillon is quite a bit easier to change. YMMV.

    I think a lot depends on your income and age. If you're 26, have three kids and a ton of bills, I'd do about anything to save money

    I'm 52, kids are gone, and I could buy 3 Dillons every month if I wanted to
     
  18. 444

    444 Member

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    I have and run two Dillon 550 presses.
    Both of them together might have cost $500 including several complete caliber conversions, but I think they were actually far less than that. I believe I bought one of them for $150.
    I bought both of them used. Right here on this board (actually I think the first one was on TFL).
    Why two ?
    One for large primers, one for small primers.
    I can do a caliber change in about the same amount of time you mention. Of course changing primer type takes a little longer, but less than a minute. I would just prefer not to do it at all. Changing calibers or primer types is no big deal at all. I guess I am like Redneck. I have a decent job and am single. I am certainly not rich, but am not strapped for cash by any means. The cost of a Dillon 550 that will last the rest of my life doesn't amount to much.
    I am wondering where you get the figure of $500. I seem to remember that they are about $350 ? I am not going to go look however.

    EDIT: I lied, I went and looked. On the Dillon website they show the 550B at the price of $329.95 without dies. Considerably less than $500.
     
  19. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    Just to clear up my $500 figure, I didn't express myself very well. I quoted that as a mental compromise for myself between a 550 and 650. $329 may be the "list" price, but after dies, shipping, powder sensor, Strong Mount and handle, I think we're probably in the low to mid-4's, and that's close enough for me to quote my friend $500 to cover anything I omitted. Impractical I know, but it allowed me to say to my friend, +- $100-150 for your choice of Dillon. There's probably no way of convincing him to go used on his first press ever.
     
  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    a different point of view

    I am a Dillon 550 owner. In comparison to the Hornady, caliber change IS a PITA and DOES take longer. Two things prevent me from switching to a Hornady, and keep me buying more toolheads and caliber conversion kits as I need them: #1, I owned a 550 before the Hornady LNL existed...I'm vested in it now. #2, I still hear of priming issues with the Hornady...I don't have any issues with my Dillon.
     
  21. MoNsTeR

    MoNsTeR Member

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    Simple, convenience has value. We spend money to save time and effort all the time. Hell, that's what a progressive press is for in the first place. I could load the same quality and amount of ammo with a $75 Lee kit, but I use a Dillon 550 instead to save time and effort. I could save yet more time and effort by buying a second one and keeping it set up for large primers.

    (BTW, I'm amazed how few people questioned the ludicrous $500 figure. Did you all just get crappy deals?)
     
  22. uglymofo

    uglymofo Member

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    I plead guilty. Here's where I got that ludicrous figure. [​IMG]

    I can save almost $30 if I order the same things through Brian Enos. That figure's still closer to $500 than $400. Have you got a better source for new merchandise?
     
  23. cordex

    cordex Member

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    uglymofo,
    Is there any reason you add $99.85 worth of extraneous additions - all of which the Hornaday L&L AP lacks - to arrive at your figure?

    Dillon has its strengths and weaknesses for changeovers. The biggest weakness is changing out the primer system for different sized primers.

    Then again, its hard to beat a 3 to 5 second changeover from .45 ACP to .308 Win. :)
     
  24. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    Oh I see how you got that figure. But wait! No calipers, scale or componants? Best bump it some more...Trimmer, crimp die, tumbler...

    It never ends.:D

    How did I ever load ammo without this stuff? I started with a rockchucker a set of dies and a scale. Poured powder into a cereal bowl and tap tap tapped it into the scale with a spoon...

    It took me around a 1/2 day to crank out 200 rounds. I can do that now in about 15-20 minutes.:)
     
  25. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    Strong mount is unnecessary. Roller handle might be nice, I don't have a problem with the regular handle. Low powder sensor is only necessary if you're blind and can't see two feet in front of you. You can deduct $100 for all that crap that you don't need.
     
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