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Progressive Press Opinions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by J_McLeod, Dec 13, 2011.

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  1. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Member

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    I'm getting frustrated with my Lee Pro1000 and seriously considering buying a different press. The Hornady LNL looks good, and Dillon has a reputation but I don't know much about their products. I want to reload large quantities of pistol and small cased (.223) rifle ammunition. Which press should I get? To save money, it would be nice if it were compatible with my Lee dies.
     
  2. RhinoDefense

    RhinoDefense Member

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    Most reloading presses are threaded for the 7/8-14tpi that your Lee dies have. Threads don't get different from that unless you go with the larger bores like the .50 BMG and some older blackpowder cartridges.

    The LNL and XL650 are both great presses. If you ever think you would want a case feeder on your press, skip the 550. Casefeeder on that only works with pistol and it's finicky.

    Both are good companies. I have only used Dillon so that's what I stick with and recommend to others.
     
  3. jp9mm

    jp9mm Member

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    Consider hand priming and a small C press for de-priming.
    takes a little longer and forces you to carefully inspect brass ;)

    Once you drop the primed cases in its flawless operation
     
  4. Missionary

    Missionary Member

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    Good morning
    Bought my first Dillon in 88 and now have 3. Something breaks they send you a new part / or unit whichever is easier for them. The Dillons work, are easy to use, and you will not be dissapointed.
    Just read the simple directions.
    Mike in Peru
     
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Either press will work fine, and can use Lee dies. If you can get your hands on them both, pick whichever one feels better to you.
     
  6. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Either the Hornady L-N-L or the Dillon 650 will serve you well.

    I like to resize at one time, clean the brass, then store it for a future reloading session. The Hornady is a little easier to be flexible for that kind of process. Just put in the dies you need for the work at hand.

    This flexibility has been handy at one or two other times.

    But, a similar flexibility could be done with the Dillon by either spinning dies in and out or obtaining extra tool heads.
     
  7. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have an LNL and a set of 650's, IMO the 650 is a better press.
     
  8. CozMoDan

    CozMoDan Member

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    Hornady LNL-AP

    J, check out my post http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=630894 about Hornady.
    I have LNL-AP with the automatic case feeder and it works perfect. They also have an electric bullet loader but from what I have read the feeder is not quite ready for prime time and the cost is in line with other feeders, around $300 with a feeder die. However I bought the die for a 9MM, and then from Hornady, the spring tube and funnel end. The spring tube slips in to the die (the other end with the funnel would fit the electric feeder ) for about $10 as I recall. I took a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe and reamed out the end a little so it would fit over the die ( I used a hose clamp to secure it to the die) and made it long enough to surround the spring and presto I have an automatic bullet feeder. The spring tube holds 47 115 gr. 9MM bullets and takes me about 4 minutes to load the 47 and a lot cheaper than 275 bucks for the electric feeder. It takes longer to load the tube that to load the shells:). I also have some 1/2" PVC (which hold 9MM bullets fairly well) that I can pre-load with bullets and just load them in the spring tube. The bullets loader is just for pistol for now and the rifle bullet loader is coming.
    I have had the loader for several years and it works great and the tech support is the best ever. I always do stages, like de-prime, clean and then size and prime and so on.
    BTW Hornady suggests that the bullet loader is just for jacketed bullets but my set-up works fine with plated and cast bullets.
    The Coz
     
  9. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Member

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    I can't comment on the L-N-L as I don't own one.

    I have owned a 550B since the mid 90s and used to have a 650. Both are excellent. Which one you get depends on how much you choose to spend and the amount of control you desire to exert over the loading process. I chose to maintain maximum control over ammo during all phases of the process and stuck w/ the 550B over the 650, but that's me. It's also less expensive to buy and add to.
     
  10. rodinal220

    rodinal220 Member

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    My Dillon 450 has never failed in 26 years.It still has all original parts.I just clean it and lube it.I love all my blue gear!!
     
  11. sugarmaker

    sugarmaker Member

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    I have an LNL AP. W/O case feeder, it worked well out of the box. If you add a case feeder, mechanical aptitude is required to be happy with an LNL, IMO. Again, once the bugs are worked out it works like a clock but I spent a LOT of time tinkering and even making some of my own parts.
     
  12. hpluseleven

    hpluseleven Member

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    Since you mentioned saving money as a concern, I'll throw this info at you:
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=629815

    I just bought an LNL AP, but I was looking at the 650 as well. I believe the advice that both are good presses, I just couldn't justify spending the extra couple of hundred bucks to get set up. But that was to set up what I wanted - depending on what your goals are, the Dillon may be the better deal.
     
  13. grubbylabs

    grubbylabs Member

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    from what I have read they all have their quirks and different advantages. You just have to decide what works best for you.

    I just bought a used Hornady press and so far I really like it. I have a RCBS RC and some other green gear and it all works really well. However, the more Hornady stuff I use and the more I deal with their CS the more I like Hornady. To be fair I have not had to call RCBS so as far as I know they are just as good to deal with. Before I ran across this used press I was going to get an LNL AP but I just did not have the funds.
     
  14. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Member

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    You can believe all the good things you’ve heard about Dillon. The only thing that could make them better is if they came with a couple of those ‘Blue Press’ girls! :D

    If you’re looking to run large volumes, the 650 would be a great tool. If you would be more likely to run a few hundred of this and a few hundred of that and so one, there’s probably better presses out there for that. Your Lee dies should work. I didn’t think they would until someone here told me to put the lock rings on the underside of the toolhead. I’ve tried Lee .223 dies I and know they worked. Seems like I may have still had issues with 9x19 dies; can’t remember.

    The 650 has plenty of leverage; I’ve full length SB sized several thousand 7.62 mil-surp and full length sized hundreds of .300wm brass.
     
  15. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    Consider the RL550B, its a great press, I have loaded over 50,000+- rounds in 12 + years on mine, and the auto index is not needed at all. Even with an auto index you still have to pay attention to what you are doing. Right now I have a 550, and a Hornady LNL on my bench, I have owned the Hornady for about 6 years, 12,000+- rounds of .45 acp loaded on it. Its also a great press but requires a bit more tinkering than the 550 to keep it running. Due to ergonomic advantages I can still load faster on my 550 manually indexing than I can on the LNL with auto index. I have broken a seating die on the Hornady, and an indexing pawl, and a few case retainer springs, the primer shuttle is worn out on it as well. The Dillon, I have only replaced a plastic primer feed tip. On the 550 I index the shellplate with my left thumb as I set the bullet with the left hand, the right hand picks up a case and puts it in the press and then pulls the handle, the layout of the press facilitates this happening very fast with a little practice (ergonomics).
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  16. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Member

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    How does the 550 manually index and still load so fast.
     
  17. dnmccoy

    dnmccoy Member

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    I love my 550!
     
  18. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    I also have a 550.

    Until you get automatic bullet feed as well as case feed, the speed of a press is pretty much limited by how fast you can pick up a bullet and place it on a case.

    With the 550's well-laid out design (including the strong mount and bullet tray), your R hand picks up a case while your L hand indexes the shellplate and picks up a bullet from the tray. Then your R hand inserts the empty case at Station 1 while your L hand places the bullet on the charged case at Station 3. It really doesn't take much practice to do these simultaneously.

    For me, I guide the bullet with my L hand until it is in the die mouth, but I've seen others reload successfully by skipping this step.

    Indexing takes around 1 second. It really isn't a time-consuming part of the process.

    Also, if you're worried about forgetting to index, you'll quickly discover that you have a case in your R hand and nowhere to put it, and a bullet in your L hand that you're trying to place on top of an already seated bullet...

    Nothing wrong with the 550b. Elegant in its simplicity. :)
     
  19. thorn-

    thorn- Member

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    I'll advise a LNL-AP over the 550. Not that the 550 isn't a good machine, but the LNL-AP gives you 5 stations instead of 4. In addition, it offers better ergonomics such that you don't have to remove your right hand from the handle at ALL during the loading sequence... you can place brass and bullets with your left hand only.

    I also prefer auto-indexing. While it does not prevent a double-charge, it does make it a bit less likely. Unless you purposely double-stroke the ram in the middle of the charge, or back the shell plate up manually - it WILL advance to the next station whether you forget to turn it or not.

    I also believe the LNL's bushing system is a bit more affordable and flexible than the Dillon toolhead system.

    Both are nice presses, but there are differences besides the color.

    thorn
     
  20. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Member

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    Of the two brand names the OP mentioned, I can only speak (or type) about Dillon.

    I've had my 550 for almost exactly a year.
    I love it more today than I did the day I got it.
    I guess I just didn't know what i had gotten.

    I too am a former Pro1000 user.
    Yes, the blue koolaid is expensive.
    But it is absolutely well worth the money.

    Just tonite, it took me about 10 minutes to do a caliber change & get the powder drop correct.

    I didn't have to adjust anything after that.
    Another 10 minutes and i had a box of ammo done.
    and I stop every 10th rd to dbl check the powder charge by weighing it.

    Dillon has a no bs warantee.
    If it breaks they fix it.
    They don't care if you're the first or 30th owner.

    Hope this helps a bit.
     
  21. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I was looking at the same options 3+ years ago and went with the LNL-AP due to price difference. If you can pick one up used go for it, the warranty is still good. Just get the EZ-eject system. I did the conversion on mine and it was well worth the trouble.

    Either one will server your needs. I have the LNL-AP w/ case feeder. A case feeder is required if you want speeds >500/hr. Mine LNL has been trouble free with a few minor issues. All case feeders are picky and take a while to learn for them to run near 100% reliable. Either one of these presses require a solid bench so the machines will not rock. Rocking on a case feeder causes problems. Change over cost is cheaper with the LNL. Both have a NO BS Warranty. Dillons always want you to buy a small parts kit. I never know why since their suppose to have a NO BS warranty, Unless certain parts are not covered. Dillon also have more plastic on there presses when compared to Hornady. I know with Hornady if you ask they will send you spare parts free. Like the shell plate retainer spring. I use to kink it when I was doing a caliber change when using the brass feeder. Now I have learned how to do things the right way no more kinked spring. The spring I have on it now is over 2 yrs old and still going.

    If I recall Dillon has a case trimmer setup for the 650 since you will be shooting 223 it may be worth the added expense.

    You definately want as many stations as you can get. You will find a use for them...
     
  22. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    After two years with the L-N-L I am still using the original case retainer spring, kinks and all. It still works fine.

    When it breaks, I will replace it. Spare is already on hand.
     
  23. CozMoDan

    CozMoDan Member

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    Another word about Hornady LNL

    I have read all the posts and I agree that you probably can't go wrong with either press. I did notice that several people said the LNL is a bit picky and I have found that to be true until I discovered that if you clean it completely after a reloading session the "Picky" seems to go away. I found that most, if not all, of my troubles went away if I kept power, metal chips and all foreign matter off the press.
    I can also attest to the no BS warranty from Hornady, free parts, and if I did have trouble the tech support is the best, but of course you need to call them:).
    The Coz
     
  24. dbarnhart

    dbarnhart Member

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    In my freshman engineering class I learned that every design is a compromise. Every manufacturer has their own opinion of the requirements for a 'perfect press', and they make the compromises that favor their own view of the perfect design.

    My observation is that Dillon's view is that the production rate (number of rounds per hour), reliability, cost, and 'works straight out of the box' are their top requirements. Ease and/or expense of caliber changeovers is less important.

    I have a Hornady LnL-AP and I don't think I could ever achieve the production rate of the Dillon 650. Caliber changeovers however are much faster/less expensive. These two videos on UltimateReloader.com (where Gavin videoed the changing calibers on a Dillon 650) were very instructive:

    http://ultimatereloader.com/2009/11/23/xl650-caliber-change-45acp-to-357-mag-part-i-hd/

    http://ultimatereloader.com/2009/11/23/xl650-caliber-change-45acp-to-357-magnum-part-ii-hd/

    This article, in which a guy used the Dillon, Hornady, and Lee Loadmaster side-by-side for a year was also very interesting:

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

    And finally, When I went through this same process earlier this year, I wrote a series of blog posts to record my observations at opinions:

    http://www.shootandreload.com/category/choosing-a-progressive-press/
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  25. amlevin

    amlevin Member

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    Look ahead and buy a press that will handle your needs should you start shooting high volumes. While the cost of some other presses are attractive, if you want a press that will load high volumes trouble free for years on end, it's hard to beat a Dillon 650.

    Looking at what I load today I wish I had avoided my experimentation with a Lee progressive.
     
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