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Moving up to Blue...worth it?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by uofaengr, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    That is exactly the right attitude from my stand point.

    A little background, I retired on disability 4 years ago after working 3rd shift for almost 12 years and working 50/55hr every week. I got to the point I was physically sleeping with my beautiful wife only 6 days a month because of this schedule. It stunk. I missed so much of life chasing the dollar that I had real regrets. I now spend as much time as I can with my grandkids! Being retired I can now always find time to sit at the bench.
     
  2. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    I like manual indexing, so I went with the 550B back in the early 90's... They have updated it some since, but it remains a very solid option... I like its very solid feel, super reliable priming, great quality feel and operation. I had a Lee turret press prior that I pretty much liked OK apart from a few glitches, and a Pro 1000 I bought that went back instantly. A few years later I got the 550B and enjoy using it, experiencing its quality build and great feeling operation... Ram still has ZERO slop, and it's just as precise as ever.

    Things I don't like so much:

    - Switching primer sizes is a pain. Yes, I see alternate ways to swap things out, just the same if it had really fast primer change-out, it would be to me a perfect press.

    - Cost for caliber switch-over is high, but the parts are of very high quality and very durable.

    Pluses:

    - The no BS warranty

    - Resale should you sell... I know for a fact I could make $$$ of of selling my pristine 25 y/o 550B

    - So easy for say a beginner to use it as a straight single stage, then go to one round with 4 turns, then fully progressive with a completed round per turn.

    - The pleasure of using a very high quality feeling mechanical device, that is reliable and drama free (at least for me)

    One last tip is if you are a lover of cast bullets, esp tumble lubed, Dillon dies are such a pleasure to use... The seater and crimp insert drop right out with the pull of a pin to clean off crud, back in action in three seconds w/o changing any settings. To me, well worth the cost.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  3. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    I went to a Dillon 650 from an RCBS turret and the amount of time involved in loading any given number of rounds is a huge difference. I know one thing, I've never wished I spent less. Like a lot of other folks who are not yet retired, I place a lot of value on my time. It's easier for me to justify the expense of a big progressive press than it is the hours and hours I'd spend at the turret to do the same amount of shooting. So when I decided I did enough .45Colt shooting to justify another 650, I got one with the casefeeder and that was also money well spent. Now I'm thinking about a couple of SDB's to kinda bridge the gap between the turret and 650's. I'm not a Kool Aid drinking fanboi and don't particularly like Dillon's blue but after studying all the different progressives, I wouldn't choose anything else.
     
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  4. uofaengr

    uofaengr Member

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    Just curious...what happened with the Pro 1000?
     
  5. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Me too. I still do for low volume rounds, even higher volume ones when I want to get back to enjoying the basics... Gotta say, 38 S&W and 9x18 look mighty small in the maw of an RC Supreme press... Surprised I don't snap its cast iron links sizing these monsters ;).
     
  6. SCC

    SCC Member

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    I started reloading about 4 years ago on a 650. Once you get everything dialed in and add a few minor convenience mods to the press it's a delight to use. The press has a rhythm to it, once you learn it and become one with the press it really can crank out 5-600 pistol rounds per hour when fed good brass. Rifle, about half that if you use 2 passes. I generally only manage 2-300 at a time because I just can't stand to sit there pulling the lever for a whole hour. When things are going well it gets boring and that's when it's time to stop for a while. The biggest caveat, which I think is true for all progressives, is that you need to have good mechanical skills and intuition to get everything adjusted perfectly. The only problems I've had are some of the springs. The designers didn't seem to understand them very well, several are over stressed and regularly fail. I keep some spares and they send replacements with a phone call.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  7. uofaengr

    uofaengr Member

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    I try my best to be as objective and unbiased as possible, and I appreciate objective information and feedback like this.
     
  8. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    I really tried to like it, but even after a ton of fiddling/adjusting/messing with it I was done. Bought it in 1990 while stationed in Germany, and being pre-internet I exhausted all of my options (including very $$$ calls to Lee in the US), and finally had enough. Maybe they have gotten a lot better, but for me it was:

    - Terrible priming system. No feeds, kinda feeds, flipped sideways/upside down.
    - Jerky action that was temperamental, and felt sloppy.
    - Case feed was unreliable, and IMO and actual experience just too rube Goldbergish for me.
    - Overall method and feel of action just did not cut it for me with regard to quality feel, or precision.

    Again, my opinion, and as importantly my experience from actual use from a mechanically inclined long time reloader. As said, perhaps they have gotten a lot better, just the same I'll stick with my semi-progressive 550B. Completely worlds apart in enjoyment, and satisfaction for me. Good luck.
     
  9. uofaengr

    uofaengr Member

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    Yeah I noticed Dillon sells spare parts kits revealing that it is a more complex machine with many small parts. Could be intimidating for some people that aren't mechanically inclined, but small parts failing I guess is one of the trade-offs for the time you save elsewhere...as long as springs and parts aren't failing regularly.
     
  10. SCC

    SCC Member

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    Many of those parts you probably won't need for years, some maybe never. Some are just because they tend to get lost.

    I've had 2 Case Insert Slide Springs, and one Casefeed Arm Return Spring break. The primer Indexing Arm Spring was on it's way to failure, but I saved it.

    The Case Insert Slide Spring was being over compressed and over stressed, Dillon sent a redesigned Case Insert Slide with the last replacement. Hopefully that issue is corrected.

    The Casefeed Arm Return Spring is being compressed around an unsupported curve and buckled outward. I was in a hurry and replaced it with one from the hardware store. I inserted a small piece of bent copper wire inside the spring to provide support in the curve and all has been well since.

    A similar issue with the primer Indexing arm spring except that the curved part of the Primer Indexing Arm inside the spring was binding on the spring and causing a kink in the spring. I contoured and polished it. Reassembled with the spring reversed and all has been well since.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
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  11. Whiterook808

    Whiterook808 Member

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    Better Ammo? No. For pistol ammo, my results after moving from the 3 hole turret to the 550B twenty years ago are the same. Same loads, same ammo. BUT, less arm fatigue and more ammo faster make a difference for me. These days I don't need as much ammo as I used to but getting a loaded round with each pull of the handle is three times less work in my case and four times for the newer turret. If you search the forums and screen out the Kool-Aid you will surmise that the Dillon presses are a bit less fiddly than some others. For some that takes all the fun out and for others they are less frustrating, so it may or may not be worth it to you depending on your disposition.
     
  12. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    Things to think about...
    • The biggest difference you'll see is in the time spent. Your CCT finishes 1 round every 4 op lever strokes. A fully-progressive press makes 1 round with every op lever stroke. That's going to cut hours off producing large batches. Even at my old-man, go-slow speed, your 650 rounds would require only about 75 minutes.

    • There are advantages in Hornady and Dillon dies too. They also have more features, which makes life easier. For instance, when moving from FP to RN bullets you can simply pop in one of the different shape seating anvils, which come supplied with the dies.

    • If you see an improvement in ammo quality it's because these high-end presses simply take much less tinkering. Needing constant attention simply means your adjustments are changing. These high-end progressives run more like a kitchen appliance.

    When I decided to go to a fully-progressive press, Dillon was the only game. That was years before the Hornady LNL was introduced. My son has since been gifted a LNL and he loves it. Amazingly, a fully loaded LNL comes within something like $20 of the Dillon XL650. So it's really a choice of the feature set you like most.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  13. frogfurr

    frogfurr Member

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    I have never purchased any spare parts. I've thought about buying the spare parts kit but from what I have read a call to Dillon will get parts sent to me for free. A 550 doesn't really work itself that hard. With the manual indexing there is nothing to get out of time. The simplicity of the 550 is both it's disadvantage and it's advantage. Disadvantage because of less automatic functions. Advantage due to quick and easy caliber changes and less moving parts.
     
  14. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    Just for balance, I'll talk green....yes....there still is green! When I started down the progressive path, I chose between Dillon and RCBS. Hornady? I had no negatives really, I just liked the idea of setting up die plates once....populated with the dies I want to load with....including powder measure low ends, and even powder cops. Purely personal taste....and simpler for me at least.

    So why did I choose the Pro 2000 RCBS over the vaunted Dillon 650? Simplicity (Pro 2000's don't go out of time), price, and the super safe strip primer system. Was I later sorry? No, I've been pleased with it's performance for what I do. I used a bullet feeder with it and never felt slighted.....I went as fast as I wanted.....faster than that, as in D. 1050's with motor drives, are too fast for me to feel safe. That's not to say that 1050's are not worth their weight in gold for those who compete in pistol shooting every week.....

    For some of us, bullet feeders are more important than case feeders if you gotta choose .... simply because placing bullets is harder and slower than placing cases.......you don't tend to mash your fingers placing cases when you are stoking at a fast pace....as I'm capable of doing, placing bullets and holding them upright while they feed straight into the bottom of a seater! Hurts like hell, if you get caught!

    I bought another green progressive last May. The Pro Chucker 7. I know it had teething pains, ALL new presses do. Early adapters were not easy on the company, or on the press. I waited for the smoke to clear.;) No it isn't perfect (show me one press, new or old, that is perfect)....the optional case feeder was not as "bullet proof" (ha,ha) as I wanted.....but I fixed that in short order. The seven stations and the glass smooth rotation of them is awesome. And no, I have not broken even one primer sled....in 10 months.

    I use the Pro 2000 as my pistol loader and the Pro Chucker 7 to load rifle.....and yes I use every station. 1-Case feed/size/prime, 2-M-die expand, 3-powder-drop, 4-video powder cop, 5-bullet feed, 6-seat, 7-crimp.......what's not to like? Could I like a blue or red press? Sure! It's not so much the press as the hobby.....and for me tinkering is part of the fun.

    One piece of advice to the O.P. Learn Patience. No matter what press you buy, if something doesn't feel right....stop. Bulling through a stroke anyway, is ALWAYS bad, I don't care what color your press turns out to be........

    And fully automatic? That means that by the time you get it stopped, you've ruined, primers, brass, bullets, and probably press parts..........that's why factories have guys stationed all along an assembly line....to push the damned stop switch as soon as they can when something goes wrong to "minimize" the damage to products and machines.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
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  15. Bat Rastard

    Bat Rastard Member

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    I am approaching the 30 year mark on my 550. It replaced a lee progressive. They both work, the 550 was the keeper.
    If I ever stumble into a deal on a 550, I would add it to the bench to eliminate primer changeovers. It would have to be a smoking deal though.
     
  16. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Member

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    I began my reloading journey with a 650 and have never loaded on anything else so I can’t make any comparisons with other makes or models.

    What I can say is the 650 is a very versatile machine. I can do everything with it from cranking out high volumes of pistol ammo to single loading high quality rifle rounds for precision rifle matches.

    I’ve heard some folks say that you need an single stage or arbor press for high precision rifle rounds. I’ve proven to myself that’s not true. I also know that David Tub loads his ammo on a 550 and John Widden loads his on a 650. Both of those guys are repeat national high power rifle champions and hold sereral national records.
     
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  17. kerreckt

    kerreckt Member

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    I bought a RL450 back in the early 80's. I have probably loaded 100k on that press. Once it is setup there are no problems, I just load. The only thing that has ever gone wrong with it is when I lost some parts when moving. That is when I found out about their "no bs" warranty. I called to inquire about the parts and they responded by asking for my mailing address. I could not believe they were replacing the parts and did not even want packing or a mailing fee. No charge meant no charge at all. Over the years I have traded for another RL450 and a RL550. I have only needed one part replaced because it broke on any of them. That was a small "primer anvil". I have a number of single stage presses from 3 different makers but for the progressive presses Dillon can't be beat, in my book. Once you have it, you have no more expenses to keep it going. I can sing the praise for Dillon all day long. Quality products and down to earth good people to deal with......and that is "no bs".
     
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  18. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    It's really very simple. It all depends on how much money you have and want to spend. Sure the Dillon is top of the line but do not be fooled by the claimed reload rates of it or any other progressive press. If you want to crank out boatloads of ammo then you will need a case feeder and bullet feeder.

    Is the Dillon that much better than the Hornady LnL?? Well that is all just a big debate, it probably is but don't forget to calculate all the needed extras for caliber changes, feeding primer tubes, bells and whistles you may or may not need, dies, caliber change overs etc etc.

    I have a LnL and to be honest, it works fine but is not that much faster the the Lee Turret, Yes, there is less pulls on the handle but caliber changes are more of pita, filling primer tubes, adjusting the powder measure etc.

    Buy the Dillion if you have the cash. All threads lead towards the Dillon is the best thing since sliced bread.:)
     
  19. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    I have heard the same too, but my .243 ammo says and proves otherwise. If it's a factor, my heavy varmint rifle and I can't see it. Great presses.

    Thought you might enjoy the attached ad from 1984... Like old times.

    Annotation 2019-04-01 084639.jpg
     
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  20. Nature Boy

    Nature Boy Member

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  21. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Very interesting... Great seeing .243 kicking %&$ and taking names. I found this really interesting too:

    "For my match ammo, I seat the Berger 105 Hybrids well off the lands — my bullets are “jumping” from .035″-.060″."

    Geez, looking at that great winning target it seems his Dillon 650, and these off the lands numbers are working just fine... Mighty fine shooting from a very skilled marksman. Salute.
     
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  22. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    You're pretty close to where I was a couple of years ago, although I had tens or even hundreds of thousands of rounds on the LCT. I bought a used 650XL for my high-volume stuff, and have been very happy with it.

    As others have suggested, I don't think you'll find the ammo to be better or worse in terms of quality. The presses are different, but the things that go into the quality of the ammo - paying attention, quality of components, suitable fit of the round to the gun and task, dies in good shape - are pretty much the same.

    The difference is in how painful (or non-painful) it is to crank out a few hundred rounds of ammo. After 50-100 rounds on the LCT, I'm generally bored. Moreover, slamming out 500 rounds for a class or long range session the next day is not a task that can be put off until after dinner the night before. And I found shooting up several hundred rounds to be kind of joy-sapping... while I was enjoying the blasting, in the back of my mind I knew how many of my own hours were going down the barrel along with the bullets!

    Filling up an ammo can with pistol rounds from the 650 is, by comparison, very little work. Similar to the difference between washing Thanksgiving dinner dishes by hand versus putting them into a high-quality dishwasher. If you're shooting several hundred rounds a month, you'd definitely enjoy the 650.

    But, like me, there's also little chance you would ditch the LCT, which you will still use for making smaller volumes that don't warrant the time and expense of setting up the 650 to do a run. I load almost a dozen calibers... and only two of them on the 650... the two I use for competition shooting, and which I therefore consume in large quantities.
     
  23. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    Among firearms peoples there is a high degree of brand loyalty. Especially when it comes to handloading gear.

    To me anyway, shooting sports and activities are recreational, I don't make any money with them. Some people say that if you are interested in cranking out massive amounts of ammo then you have lost something, your priorities are backwards or you are unwilling to hand craft fine ammo but this thread has many who will state (correctly I believe) that the press isn't that much of a factor in quality but it is a big factor with respect to quantity.

    I like to handload my ammo but I also like to shoot it. And I do shoot quite a lot of it. If you are shooting around 1000 rounds per month then you are probably spending well over 10 hours per month at the bench (unless you have a progressive). In isolation that might not seem like much but for most of us that is one Saturday out of the month gone. I spend enough time making my high consumption ammo as it is so anything within reason that speeds things up is worth it to me, again this is a hobby.

    I have a LNL-AP and have it tuned to near perfection. Still I would like faster output but not sure if I want to spend the money for a Hornady brand case feeder. If I were to add another caliber to my high use to do list I would probably get an XL650, use that for 9mm and set the LNL for 38 Special, another press in inventory would be for the other handgun calibers and my RC for rifle. My vote is save up and get exactly what you want.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
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  24. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    I started on a Lee Breechlock (still got it), added a Dillon Square Deal B, and trade the SDB for a 550. The biggest compliment I can given Dillon is there stuff just works, today, tomorrow, 15 years from now. I got on a revolver kick years ago, and cranked out .38spl like crazy for a while. Fast forward I haven't loaded .38 spl in probably 5 years, and I put that tool head in my 550 and it loads them just like I never stopped pulling the handle. No adjustments needed.

    Any of the major manufactures make a press that will produce quality ammo, the question is how much effort you have to put in to keep it running. A Dillon requires very little, so if you don't want to have to fiddle with your press they are an excellent choice.
     
  25. kerreckt

    kerreckt Member

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    That's the ad that got me. Thanks so much for posting it. It is like old times.
     
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