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Dillon XL 650 update and review

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by captain awesome, Jan 25, 2019.

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  1. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    It's been a while since I sold my Hornady Lock N' Load press and all the goodies I had with it in favor of trying out a Dillon 650. A couple people wanted me to write an update with my opinions on it, but I really wanted to get to know the press before I made any comments on its operation. So here I am several months later having done several Caliber changes with both large and small primers and loaded several thousand rounds. I know it pretty well now ;). Here are my thoughts:

    First, I have to say on the whole it's a solid well built press that functions very well. It's well thought out in most ways and from what I can see has no obvious major weaknesses but does have a few quirky little things that you probably have read about, but I will chronicle them here.

    Starting at the top, I added a case feeder. I actually stole it off my Super 1050 but from what I understand they are the same anyway. If not, they are At least close Enough to work fine on my 650. I just loaded 1000 rounds of 9mm for my sister this afternoon. It seems as the funnel from which the cases enter the drop tube wears or gets dirty, I get more stoppages in the form of casing pile ups in the funnel. Basicly a 9mm casing drops in and somehow turns sideways blocking more from entering. It doesnt activate the stop switch on the feeder so it keeps piling more and more on top until it over flows and rains 9mm cases onto you and the press. I have been told that cleaning and polishing the funnel will alleviate this, and it makes sense because it seemed to happen more and and more often towards the end of my loading session today. I havent experienced this issue with any of the other cartridges I load for so it may be a problem unique to 9mm, but it isn't unique to the dillon case feeder as I experienced the same thing happening on my old LNL Hornady press case feeder. Here is a picture of a pile up;
    20190124_225833.jpg

    Moving down the line once in a while I would get a stoppage from a 40 S&W brass casing that somehow made it's way into the mix. They are too fat to make it through the coupling at the bottom of the drop tube and get stuck. Now this is obviously not the fault of the press or feeder but it is somewhat of an irritation to clear. I have to use a dental pick to lift out the last 9mm casing that was dropped into the top of the drop tube to remove the tube if its full; the top case arrests the tube from snapping out of place unless lifted free. Seen in the picture;
    20190124_225542.jpg
    Then I carefully try not to let all the 9mms spill out of the tube as I pull and lift the tube out. Then I take out the piece the drop tube nestles into and remove the 40 case with a pencil or whatever. This also happened with other cartridges where I bought bulk range pick up brass. Again not a fault of the press but I felt it is worth noting. I bought some brass sorter strainers so hopefully that won't happen to me any more.

    Next, sometimes a 9mm case feeds upside down. This causes a stoppage that's easily cleared but brings me to the next item; priming.

    The way the press primes is with a little priming carousel that holds 20 or so primers and spins around. In the case of the upside down casing, unless you manually flip it over and re-feed it into the first station, this causes a missed primer. At station two from having no case present. This is one advantage I felt the Hornady LNL had over the Dillon was that the Hornady operated on a slide so no primers were ever missed and discarded by the machine. Once the primer is missed it continues around on the carousel and is dropped onto what some people affectionately call the "primer ski jump", which seems appropriate. MOST of the time the ski jump holds the primer but once in a while one decides to go for an Olympic gold and flies off into oblivion never to be seen again.. And it only holds 5 or 6 maybe 7 before they start consistently falling on the floor. Several people on Ebay sell fixes for it, but I have yet to purchase one. It seems like a piece of card stock and tape would adequately keep them off the floor but I need to play around with that a bit. Here is a picture of the carousel and ski jump;
    20190124_161245.jpg

    The missed primers can be caused by several other things as well, like primer pull back or "riders" as I have heard them called where a primer sticks on the end of the Depriming pin and pulls back into the primer pocket slightly. This happens to me a lot more often when I use mixed head stamp once fired brass from an unknown origin, but it is infuriating. I have heard of all kinds of ways of dealing with it but the most effective is Dillons pistol dies that have a spring inside that acts kind of like a pogo stick with the depriming pin. The spring compresses and when it bottoms out it pushes the primer out and snaps back down causing enough jarring shock that the primer flings off the end. If you dont have the special Dillon dies, then I suggest filing or sanding the pin down at a 45 degree angle and using lock tight on the expander balls or nuts that hold the pin on the depriming rod. This USUALLY works.

    Anyway one difference with the hornady press vs all the big Dillon presses, is the cases ride on the the sub-plate on the Hornady instead of the shell plate like the Dillons. This means that if you have a "rider" primer you know about it immediately on the Hornady, because it stops the press up when it tries to index. But with the Dillon the cases are elevated enough above the sub-plate that it usually doesn't stop the press. Then when that casing makes it over to the priming station the fresh primer just reseats the old primer and if you dont feel it, it goes along its merry way through the rest of the cycle; a fresh loaded round with a used primer still in place. I always catch it because the priming feels "off" but new users may not. Either way it causes another missed primer to be dealt with.

    Another cause of potentially missed primers on this press is when at the priming station the cases don't quite seat all the way into the shell plate and are off center from the priming punch. This is only an issue at station one and two (resising/depriming and priming/powder charging) because the locater pins take care of it at the other three. But if something does go amiss at the priming station, you have to remember to push the case at station one all the way into the shell plate or you will get a stoppage, and possibly a ruined case or broken/bent depriming pin. The case can be crushed while off center trying to enter the resizing die. This is because the last little bit of travel of the case feed slide is allowed by the action of pushing the press handle forward while priming. If you can't or don't push the handle all the way forward because of a priming blockage cause by a misaligned casing or a "rider" at station two, the casing at station one won't feed all the way into the shell plate. So just be aware of that.

    The way the press came from the factory, larger cartridges weren't a problem at station two. Smaller diameter casings like 223 or 9mm can be an issue. The spring loaded retaining arm that pushes them into the shell plate (pictured below, also a good shot of the top of the primer carousel) doesn't have enough travel to keep them fully inserted in the shell plate. So I tweaked mine with some pliers and problem solved.
    20190124_153519.jpg

    Edit; JMorris was kind enough to point out there is a way to adjust the travel of the locator arm at station two with an Allen wrench as Dillon intended. Dont break out the pliers for this one. See his post below. I wonder if someone makes a thumb knob for quick adjusting this...

    Moving forward, I really like how this press handles powder spillage. I would love to claim this never ever happens to me but I am just human, it does. Sometimes It comes out the bottom of a primer pocket that was missed somehow, sometimes powder sloshes for various reasons....it happens. But it doesnt cause any stoppages or hangups which is WONDERFUL. I just gently blow it off with a straw and move on with life. On a side note this was one of the reasons I ditched the Hornady press. Get a kernel of powder caught in the primer slide groove and it would cause all kinds of grief. Anyway..yay Dillon.

    Continuing forth, I am not that fond of Dillons powder measures. Cost wise they are a great value compared to others I have seen but operationally they aren't as consistent in my experiences as the drum styles I have used (Lee's and Hornadys). They are consistent enough for most purposes though, and as long as they are hooked up right, tight and full, they WILL throw a charge every time a case is present during a stroke of the press. But making charge adjustments on them is a pain in the back side compared to the other two I mentioned. You need a wrench, hex socket or nut driver and you have no way of knowing your starting point or how much you adjusted without paying close attention. Here is a picture of the bolt you have to turn clockwise to increase the powder charge/counterclockwise to decrease the charge;
    20190124_225958.jpg counterintuitive IMO, as I have to stop and think about it every time I make an adjustment.
    Setting the right height of the powder die for the particular cartridge is also more time consuming and has to be done with Allen wrenches. It is more simple on the Hornady LNL. But once it's set, you dont have to change it on the Dillon unless you use the same powder die for multiple calibers. And they are cheap enough to just leave on a dedicated tool head. (Btw calculate the cost of a powder die into each of your conversion kit's. Things are never as cheap as they seem right of the bat. But It's totally worth the extra 10 bucks or how ever much they are..)

    Another quirk if you arent familiar with the dillon powder measure is the way they attach to the powder die. As I mentioned, a hex Allen wrench is needed and the actuator that throws the powder is right in the way of one of the screws. Not a huge deal but yet another irritation to deal with. Some can just leave a dedicated powder measure on each tool head. That would cost me about a thousand bucks in powder measures. I am not willing to do that. So I ordered a little fix for it that is spring loaded so I won't have to deal with the Allen bolts any more. I will report how that goes. If its secure enough I will add one on all 3 of mine. Here is the Allen bolts with the actuator in the way of one of them;
    20190124_230506.jpg


    Powder slosh. Before I even ran my press stock I did a few of the common mods, the indexing actuator bearings, the shell plate bearings, the bearings on the case feed slide rod and the low mass ball detent for under the shell plate with a reduced power spring. I havent had much powder slosh out of the cases under normal operation, and I assume it's because of these mods. It is important that you get the indexing actuator bearing in the correct position so your index timing is spot on, especially if you're using the low mass detent ball and reduced power spring, or your shell plate won't index to the right place and it will cause you head aches. I ended up putting the old ball and spring back in before I knew this.

    Another issue I ran into is the ejector wire. It is probably fine without the shell plate rotating bearings and washers, but with them in place it lifts the wire higher than it's supposed to be and it doesn't sit straight. It eventually works it's way up and gets in the way of the case feed slide, and causes more head aches. To fix it I tweaked it with pliers in a few spots and havent had it work loose or out of place since. Pictured here;
    20190124_153614.jpg

    One thing I absolutely hate is changing from large to small primers. There is an 80$ fix in which you can speed up this process by buying a whole new priming assembly and just takes 2 bolts to remove and reinstall. This would be fine and good, however...you would still have to change out the primer punch assembly which is the worst part IMO. It is very hard to get to especially if you have large hands and its jamed up so close to the ram you can't use sockets. So get the right size wrench and go at it. (I use a crescent wrench which probably makes life harder because of its bulky size compared to a normal wrench). Here is a picture of the primer punch assembly;
    20190124_153651.jpg

    I hate this time consuming nonsense so much that I decided to buy a second 650 and dedicate one to large primers and one to small primers. That's not the only benefit to having 2 of these machines but it is certainly a large part of it. I always contemplated doing this for the Hornady LNL also but it wasnt nearly as bad to change the priming system from one size to the other on that press. I often found my self just saying screw it I don't want to deal with the change over to swap calibers when I wanted to load something, and subsequently some of my guns got neglected. Not any more, at least not because of caliber changes anyway.

    A few more things; I highly recommend getting one of the priming shut off switches as well as a case feed shut of mod. The later can be accomplished with a bent piece of wire coat hanger or paperclip. Being able to stop the priming carousel from turning is a huge advantage, especially when making die or powder change adjustments, or even when clearing stoppages. I also reccomend the spent primer mod. Without it, this is common place after a short time into your loading session;
    20190124_152736.jpg

    Edit; another thing I thought of while waiting for my girls to get ready for school, I have no idea if this is unique to the newer 650s or if Dillon is updating all their priming systems but they use a brass piece at the bottom of the primer magazines (not the pick up tube, I am talking about the one in the press inside the blast shield). On my 1050 and my 550 they used plastic. The brass is much better IMO.

    So there you have it. Though not without its little issues, I think over all it's a great press, good enough for me to invest in a second one anyway. But It's late, I am falling asleep and that's about all I can think of for now. If anything else pops into my head I will post it later. Happy loading!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
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  2. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    Thanks for the write up! I currently am on the red team, and am blue with envy. I only wished you would have sprung for the 1050 since if I jump ship, I’m going that route. I agree all progressives have their quirks and you learn to live with them. I also agree once you jump in to this you’ll want the two press-two primer sizes to minimize change over time.
     
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  3. TheDomFather

    TheDomFather Member

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    A video would be great. I have a LNL and I hate it! the priming system sucks. I prime off of the press now since I was so frustrated with it. I will be ordering a 650 in the next few months
     
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  4. drband

    drband Member

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    An objective report on a blue press... not sure I have seen one before! Thanks for the time you put into your post, very informative!
     
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  5. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    Oh I have a 1050! But the darn caliber changes and toolheads would have costed me a fortune. I have a 223 conversion and 45 acp conversion for it, but swapping from one to the other is even worse on that press than on the 650. I can do a write up on the 1050 as well, it has it's own issues but I will say that it's a pretty darn good press, and barring any issues with abnormalities in your brass cases (Primer pullback/riders are a nightmare on the 1050 also), it really runs quick.
     
  6. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    I can also take a video soon. I will have to figure the whole YouTube thing out.
     
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  7. D Rock

    D Rock Member

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    captain awesome, thanks for the in depth and objective review. I appreciate your warts and all approach.

    I've always viewed progressive presses, no matter what brand, as requiring more mechanical attention. Simple enough, more moving parts, more maintenance. You just have to figure it into your reloading time.

    Dave
     
  8. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    You adjust the station #2 locator with an Allen wrench. .010” clearance is what your looking for, a business card will work for a feeler gauge.

    CD5AB7F3-99F7-4530-B28A-EDE5AF4DDD50.jpeg


    The 650 is the only Dillon that uses the brass tip all the others have reciprocating primer system and use the plastic ones.
     
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  9. Doublehelix

    Doublehelix Member

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    Good writeup and report with a fair and balanced comparison to the LnL. As mentioned, all mechanical devices have their quirks, and we usually learn how to deal with them fairly quickly.

    Glad you are doing well and enjoying your press, I know I love mine!
     
    Blue68f100 likes this.
  10. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    JMorris, thank you for the info. Sometimes it helps to read through the manual again! I may have to tweak that locator back. It looks like a quick and easy adjustment.
     
  11. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    Yeah, there are some jewels in there, if your having problems.

    For case feed stop a 223 case put here does the trick. You won’t remove the adapter obviously but just for clarity I did.

    4BAA6913-5F7E-4FF5-9E96-1174DEFFC86D.jpeg

    For spent primers I added to the factory bracket to make sure they don’t bounce out of the cup.

    56369ABE-225A-4119-A8E7-BAFED2FFAF3E.jpeg

    But you can also drill out the base of a 44spl/mag case and loosen the bracket, slide the rim between it and the press and install a hose ran to any container.

    D6A7A86D-C11E-4BAF-9ED1-272B67958091.jpeg

    Cut a 1/2” of that hose off and split it length wise and you’ll have a retainer so a live primer can’t launch off the “ski ramp”.

    0DA58BDA-F170-42FE-A78F-98C99DBA6B38.jpeg

    I ran across a free file for this priming system switch though and printed a few off. Dillon should send them from the factory with these.

     
  12. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm member

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    The reason you're having pileups at the feed funnel is your bench is shaking. Remove that shake and the problem is solved. Not sure how to solve the upside down cases. I only get this with 9mm and maybe once every 500 rounds. I keep some deprimed brass in my bullet tray to put in station 1 and 2 to solve this problem.

    Primer pull back and those little off-center rounds in station 1 can almost always be solved with a Dillon die. I resisted for a long time but when I finally broke down and bought a set of Dillon 9mm dies I was hooked. So far it's the only set of Dillon pistol dies I own but I will be picking them up for .45 ACP, 10mm, .44 Mag, .357 Mag.

    Time to hit the aftermarket.

    https://entirelycrimson.com/collect...ts/quick-disconnect-for-dillon-powder-alarm-1 No more allen wrenchs to remove the powder measure.

    Get a knob for the powder measure bolt. You can get them at most any decent hardware store, or get this https://www.titanreloading.com/titan-reloading-products/easydial-small-bar Well worth the money and you can calibrate it and pretty much dial in a powder charge. If nothing else it provides a great reference as to how far you're moving the bolt.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dillon-650-Ejector-wire-FIX-NEW-Upgrade-fix-for-ejector-wire-13298-problems/253584738710?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&var=552795693144&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649 Ejector wire fix. I have this on both my 650 presses and it works.

    https://lvl10i.com/collections/all-products/products/650xl-primer-assembly-removal-install-socket Socket to change the primer punch. Or you could just buy a second 650 like I did. Solves that whole changing the primer system over thing.

    I have around 11-12 aftermarket improvements on both my 650 presses. They make life a lot easier. I may have posted the entire list here. If not I can post the list and links.
     
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  13. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    Thanks for the post texas10mm. I can assure you my bench is not shaking though. I WAY over built it. It's a tank and doesnt move or flex at all. I dont notice any press movement while operating it but I will have to check it over and make sure the mounting bolts on the press and strong mount are nice and tight. I do know wood can compress with heavy use over time in those areas. Thanks for the tip!
     
  14. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    I'm really interested if you would please! I understand the 1050 and respective caliber changes are more expensive than the 650. I've been reviewing the blue catalog and using the online customizer tool to see the differences. I like the fact the 1050 has the inline swage and the primer is more consistent and doesn't require the push/pull of the handle. I'd stick with Dillon dies, and go with the buy once cry once option.
     
  15. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    My main complaint is the warranty on the 1050. I get that they call it a "commercial" machine but it kind of feels like a cop out on there end. I have broken 4 swaging rods (2 were other people using my press) all because of primer riders in 308 brass. Its MUCH harder to tell With the 1050. The cases particularly with mixed brass feel so inconsistent and there is no "hard stop" when a primer is still present. Anyway their swaging rod is not robust enough to deal with that and they cost 40$ each. The next time I break one I am using an aftermarket one that is supposed to be strong enough not to break when that happens. And dillon doesnt make the special pogo stick spring dies for depriming rifle cases so you're kind of screwed if you load anything but pistol on the 1050. And make darn sure you sort all those small pistol primer 45s out if you decide to swage the pockets! If Dillon had a no bs warranty option for home loaders like me that want the 1050 I would have bought a second one to dedicate to a couple of my higher volume small primer cartriges. (9mm, 223 and 357 mag). But they dont. And they WILL charge you for parts. If MachIVshooter wanted to make one of those darn swage rods out of titanium I would definitely pay him for it!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  16. TheDomFather

    TheDomFather Member

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    If you have an iphone or an android phone just download the youtube app, record the video using the camera app and then you can upload it via the youtube app. Happy to walk you through it if you need it.
    Dom
     
  17. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    I very very rarely have this issue and I reload a lot of 9mm. Do you lube your cases before you dump them in the feeder? Just curious? Is your feed plate speed set on low or high? You might want to try removing the plastic funnel and give it a good wash.
    I don't own .40S&W's and I un-friend anyone who shoots a .40 S&W. This is the #1 problem I have with my 650!!!! The 40's do make it through the drop tube on my 25 year old press and jamb up the arm that pushes the case into the shell plate. DAMNED 40's!!!!! They are even worse with .45acp brass!
    I have never had this issue in the past 20 years of owning a 650. How many cases do you put in the case feeder hopper? Maybe fewer cases in the hopper might elevate this problem? I usually just toss in a couple hand fulls of cases when it is getting low. Maybe this is the reason I do that?

    The only really problematic case I have come by is .30 carbine... it took a good bit of adjusting the feeder plate height to get it to reliably feed .30 carbine.
    I reload mixed head stamp range brass that I purchase for cheap. I use a RCBS lube die to deprime. I do not recall having this issue with my RCBS depriming pin since I lowered the depriming pin considerably. When the pin just barely pushed through the bottom of the case I had this problem. Now the pin pushes through the case plus plenty of extra and I do not experience this any more.
    The fact that the spring loaded Dillon depriming pin exists does testify to the existence of this issue. I have heard several others comment on it as well.
    I am able to adjust the case pusher by adjusting the triangle plastic piece on top of it and the height of the bar that rubs against this plastic piece. You should not have to go all the way through the priming back stroke to get the new case to feed into the shell plate all the way. I now only have this problem when a 40 case makes it way through.
    Canister vacuums are dirt cheap at Goodwill. Purchasing a dedicated cheap used canister vac that uses a bag is one of the best accessories I have added to my reloading room! Just be careful to not suck up the cartridge retaining pins.
    After 20 years... I still have to stop and think when making an adjustment!
    I only do this when I setup a new head for a new caliber... so maybe a dozen times in the last 20 years.
    All my commonly loaded calibers have dedicated powder measures. I only swap powder measures for infrequently loaded rifle calibers. Yeah... the powder measure costs do add up!

    I hate the new double lever powder measures. I like the old single lever design much better! I never have had an issue with the single measure design powder measures.
    Yep! I have been saying that I will buy a second 650 for 20 years now; one for large primers and one for small primers. I have never been able to justify the cost of a new press to eliminate this little nagging problem.

    Use a nut runner or a socket on a bendy shaft to get the old primer ram off. After a while you get faster at changing out the primer ram.
    I completely agree! The primer shut off is the best addition I have made to me 650! Invaluable when setting up a new caliber head or adjusting the powder load!
    Excellent write up! Thank you! I bought my 650 many years before the Hornady made a progressive so it is nice to hear the comparison! I am looking forwards to your 1050 review and hope you contrast the 1050 with the 650!

    P.S. The string of LED lights shaped to fit the underside of the shelf in the press that holds the die head is another GREAT addition! Really helps seeing what is going on!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  18. joed

    joed Member

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    Very nice writeup. I've been a Dillon fan for about 19 years now. Have owned a 550, 650 and 1050. The 1050 is my favorite, never seen anything work so well and produce so much ammo. In 10 years of use I broke nothing.

    I bought the 1050 used for $800. I gambled that it was in good working order and it didn't let me down. The 650 with the case feeder, strong mount and optional handle cost $700 new. My mistake was I was offered 2 1050s for $800 each and I passed on the second one. Wish I had a do-over.

    The 650 is a good press but does have some quirks. The worst being the missed primers in my opinion. In 10 years of the 1050 I found no quirks at all, it just produces ammo at a pace that doesn't stop.
     
  19. captain awesome

    captain awesome Member

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    Hi Mike, thanks for the detailed response! I dont lube my 9mm brass, but no doubt as you can see from my photo the case feed funnel needs a good cleaning. The pile ups happen a lot, as well as the upside down cases. I only ever throw 2 handfuls of brass in, as I want to make sure the case feed motor isnt over stressed..that one is not part of the dillon no bs warranty either so I am careful.

    I usually have my case feeder set on high. Maybe I should run it on low speed and see if that helps. I will have to play around with the travel setting on the case feed slide and see if I can make that work.
    I tend to have extraordinarily bad luck when it comes to my hobbies. I know some of that is self inflicted as my attitude is usually dive in and learn as I go..but a lot of crap happens that I know is out of my control too.
     
  20. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    • I greatly prefer the push-on powder measure adjust knobs listed on Ebay. Typically you can get 2 mailed to you for right around $5. There are numerous designs. These knobs press onto the 7/16" hex in about 20 seconds. All you do is place the knob hex-side-up on a strong surface and push your (still assembled) powder measure down onto the knob.

    • To eliminate the question of which direction to turn the knob, you can mark your PM with a Sharpie marker.

    eLaSrEKfgF3TOdC9kq1Iad6Gp5vxpBwzPvXz3PLhm7h4TxTQ1yWIx0fri2KJPcDxy9McebqZaCGYe-oJr6A=w728-h768-no.jpg
     
  21. THEWELSHM

    THEWELSHM Member

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    I would say your primer adjustment is off, watch Highboy YouTube video and set up accordingly, plan b get with Drainsmith on this forum. If you want to sell your press pm me..

    Thewelshm
     
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  22. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm member

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    The hardware store has knobs like that for around $1 each.
     
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