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progressive press questions for Dillon/Hornady

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by shoen1200, Jan 3, 2009.

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  1. shoen1200

    shoen1200 Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    I am looking at purchasing either a Dillon 550 or Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Progressive Press to load for pistol and rifle calibers.

    I currently have a Dillon Square Deal B that I have been very happy with for 9mm, .40 s&w and .45 acp.

    Wished I had bought the Dillon 550 to start with but never figured I would be reloading for rifle.

    For rifle I have been getting by with a basic single stage Lee press for 30-06 and 300 savage but despise the amount of time it takes to reload any quantity.

    With the current price trend of .223/5.56 ammo and the amount I have been going through I figure its time to get a progressive press for my rifles.

    I am leaning towards the Hornady press. From what info I can find they seem to be reliable/repeatable for much less than the Dillon 550.

    The Hornady press with shell plates and dies for for 9mm, .40 s&w, .45 acp and 223/5.56 for the same price as the Dillon set up for only .223/5.56.

    What pistol and rifle dies would you recommend for the Hornady?

    I see that Lee makes carbide dies for pistol and Dillon has .223/5.56 carbide dies.

    Should I seek out carbide or would normal steel dies be just fine?

    Also how would the progressive press work for sizing rifle brass?

    I need to trim my 30-06 and 300 savage brass after sizing – so how does a progressive press handle that?

    Is it still a separate size/trim operation then on progressive press to load?

    I read the Hornady documentation but did not find information about that.

    Hope that someone can help.

  2. WNTFW

    WNTFW Member

    Jul 16, 2006
    I have no comment on the brand vs brand, also no agenda on what brand to use. All have pros & cons as do the trimmers and methodology.

    I have 1 friend with Giraud trimmer and 1 that has the dillon trimmer on the press. Check those out.

    You might be able to incorporate the RCBS X die into the equation. That does seem to be very promising.
  3. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Cornelia, GA
    Some thoughts...

    Shoen -
    Some thoughts...

    • The Square Deal is the only press on the market using non-standard dies. So you're going to need to buy new dies either way you go. The point is, look at the press by itself when doing your price analysis. Figure the dies separately since you'll need to buy the same dies for either press.

    • With that many new dies to buy, I would recommend Lee dies as the best quality per cost. Most people find it faster to use carbide dies on the straight wall pistol cartridges because you need less case lube. Most rifles, being tapered cases, are simply tool steel dies which need lube. Both presses use the industry std 7/8-14 dies.

    • Since pistol cases generally don't need trimming, they go in one side of either of these 2 presses and come out the other as finished product. Especially if you clean your cases before loading.

    • Since rifle cases generally need trimming (or at least measuring) after FL sizing, this flubs up the multi-station reloading process. This is why a lot of people keep a single stage press around. Rifle cases are simply different. (You should have no trouble swapping your Dillon SD with dies for a great single stage press with dies.)

    • So you'll be faster on pistol reloading with either press, but rifle reloading will go much slower on either press. That's the 'gotcha' on any multi-stage press until you get up to the 8-position models.

    • The Hornady LNL is a 5-station press with automatic advance. It uses an adapter bushing for each die location. The bushing cost $15/3. (A 4-pack or 5-pack is not offered and most pistol die sets take 4.) You swap out each individual bushing, and store (loose) each die separately.

    • The Dillon 550B is a 4-station press with manual advance. It uses a single die holding plate holding all the dies together during installation or storage. The 4-position die holding plate cost $19.

    • The LNL has a lifetime warranty. List $455 (easy to find discounted). Comes with free Hornady bullet offer, which is a good one-time incentive.

    • The 550B has a lifetime warranty. List with 1 caliber kit $405 (hardly ever discounted).

    Both companies are well financed and bound to be around a long time. They both make great products which they stand behind. To me it looks like 2 evenly matched systems.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  4. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

    Apr 17, 2008

    Some may agree/disagree with me, but I believe a good single stage is the best thing to build your rifle rounds on.

    Lee Classic Cast Single stage is only $70.00 Bucks.

    What pistol and rifle dies would you recommend for the Hornady? I like Redding Dies but all the major players dies work fine.

    I see that Lee makes carbide dies for pistol and Dillon has .223/5.56 carbide dies. Lee Carbides are fine. The Dillon .223 Carbide is cool but I still spray my brass with case lube as I do my pistol brass as well.

    Should I seek out carbide or would normal steel dies be just fine? I think you should buy carbide pistol dies. Normal rifle dies work just fine.

    Also how would the progressive press work for sizing rifle brass? You need to size/deprime on a single stage or run it through the progressive, only resizing/Depriming since you will need to inspect brass AFTER you resize. This is why I like a single stage. then once you inspect, check length of case and possibly trim to length and champfer/deburr, then you can run the cases again through the progressive press to charge and seat bullet. For me, I like to batch process my rifle rounds from one loading block to another using a single stage with the exception of 223 and sometimes 30-30 using my cast lead pro-jo's and Trail Boss. And Even though I do hand load .223 on my 550B, I still do not go full blown progressive. Maybe with a 1050...

    * Side Note: Others have expressed great success with the .223 REM X Sizer Die and I personally have one on the way via the little brown truck. But still, I don't think I can bring myself to go full blown progressive with any rifle round. Just too damn scary. Yes, I am paranoid but it keeps me alive.

    I need to trim my 30-06 and 300 savage brass after sizing – so how does a progressive press handle that? See Above.

    Is it still a separate size/trim operation then on progressive press to load?Not sure I understand you completely so I will answer what I think you mean. Simply put, You will still need to inspect every single piece of rifle brass AFTER you resize. Doesn't matter if you do it on a single stage or a progressive. Too many things that can cause you harm if you don't.

    I hope this helped.

  5. neal7250

    neal7250 Member

    Jan 2, 2008
    Upstate South Carolina
    Both The Dillon, and the Hornady, are fine presses. My experiences are with the Dillons, both the 550, and the 650. The 650 loads ammo so fast, till it aint funny. With the RF 100 primer machine, or preloading tubes yoou can do close to 1000 rounds an hour. I love the 650, but I think that the 550 IMOHA is the better machine. Nothing ever goes worng with it, and you can make 400 rounds an hour with it. That's faster than I can shoot um:D
  6. Chief-7700

    Chief-7700 Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Carmel Valley, CA
    Since I only have one reloading machine and it is blue XL-650 sorry I can not give which is better the Hornad or the Dillon. However Hornday makers great bullets.
  7. Rmeju

    Rmeju Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    I bought my Hornady LnL for $310+shipping about a year ago. If you're paying $455, you're paying way too much and should shop around some more. Also, the Hornady should be compared to the Dillon 650, since that is the Dillon press it is most like, so remember that when comparing prices.

    I cannot speak hornady vs. dillon because I've never owned or operated a dillon, but I can speak to pros & cons of hornady:


    -anytime anything has ever gone wrong, hornady has replaced any broken parts quickly, for free, and without any questions (unless they thought they could help me fix it over the phone). FWIW, I believe Dillon has a similar reputation for customer service.

    -The free bullet offer is amazing. I use the hollowpoints I got as my carry ammo. Hornady is recongnized in the industry as a top notch bullet manufacturer. You do have to pay the shipping ($13 at the time), but compared to 1000 premium bullets, you really cant go wrong.

    -The Hornady accepts standard dies that can be swapped out with your single stage (or any other) press. I believe Dillon has propritary dies that don't fit into anything else. You will likely find this particularly annoying if you like to do the last few operations of rifle loading on your progressive, as I like to do. I also hear the Dillon dies are expensive.

    -The Hornday die bushings are convenient for the most part. For the number of calibers that you're loading, I would recommend buying a 10 pack (~$30 IIRC) and be done with it. They "save" your die positions so that you don't have to set them each time you put them into the press. It's a shame this setup isn't an industry standard, but them's the brakes.

    -To convert from one caliber to another requires the cost of a shellplate (~25). I *hear* the Dillon is significantly more than that, but plase no flames from the Blue guys... I just said that's what I heard! :D


    -Caliber conversion can be somewhat time consuming until you get good at it. Basic caliber time change increases if you go from large primer to small primer, and will increase more if you change from on "type" of bullet to another (i.e. pistol, small rifle, large rifle). It is my understanding that Dillon caliber conversions can also be time consuming, but I can't speak as much to that.

    -99% of the problems I've had with the Hornady press have to do with the priming system. I've heard similar comments from other "Red" owners out there. Once you learn its annoying tendancies, and how to deal with them, your life becomes easier. There will be a break-in period in that regard. We've all been there with our machines, either red or blue.

    My comments to you would be as follows:

    -Keep your single stage. I use mine for the resize step on rifle rounds.

    -The more calibers you want to load, the more Hornady has an advantage. Die busings are great to eliminate die set-up time, conversions cost less, and have the potential to be less time consuming. With at least 3 calibers, I would seriously consider a Hornady if I were you.

    -I believe you will be annoyed by having to buy either two sets of the same die or an additional rifle sizing die for whatever rifle rounds you want to load due to Dillon's proprietary die configurations. If you were only loading pistol rounds, this wouldn't be an issue.

    -Lee dies are the way to go. They are cheap and work well. If you're into super top notch competition, you may need better dies though. You should be aware that Lee dies only barely fit into the Hornday. I haven't had a problem, but it made me nervous.

    Hope some of that helps.

  8. ppcgm

    ppcgm Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    One of my old shooting pals uses the Hornady and is perfectly happy with it. My 550 is going on 14 years old and I have it apart on my bench for its second thorough cleaning in that long. And I have probably loaded 150,000 rounds on that machine for PPC, Bullseye, bowling pins, IPSC, IDPA, cowboy matches and more practice than my orthopedics doc wants to hear about. You can't wear the thing out. So the purchase price becomes insignificant after years of problem free use. I've owned RCBS, Lee, and I forget what other brands over the years and as good as they all were they also all gave trouble for the volume of ammo I load. Spend the money on the Dillon, buy Dillon dies and spare tool heads, and you will never regret the expenditure.

    As far as rifle reloading, I find myself using an old turret press with a free standing powder measure still and a single stage press over to the side because of the attention to details that rifle cartridges require. Some people do load rifle cartridges on a progressive press. But I'll stick with this. It works.
  9. snuffy

    snuffy Member

    Apr 4, 2004
    Oshkosh Wi

    At the risk of getting this thread closed by dis agreeing with someone, that statement is false! The only dillon press that don't take industry standard 7/8 X 14 dies is the square deal B. The 500, 650, and 1050 all take standard dies.

    The dillon tool head,(shell plate), is $23.95. Compare that the needed (5) LNL bushings. Oops that's the 650 tool head, the 550 is $19.95. Again it will accept all makes of standard dies.

    I own a XL650. I know almost nothing about the LNL Hornady. Except what I've read on this and other forums. A lot of people have trouble with the Hornady LNL machines. SOME people have trouble with dillon machines. Both companies are very supportive, giving free advice and free replacement parts no questions asked.

    Another thing, Hornady has fixed a major problem with the LNL machine. The ejector wire has been replaced with some sort of ejector underneath the shell plate. The new machines all will be supplied with the new system, existing machines can be converted to the new ejector, it will require new shell plates and a new sub-plate. Dillon's ejector wire just plain works, never had mine fail.
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    Sounds like the answer to your question.

    I have an old Projector, and I love the ergonics of it, but I have never loaded on a Dillon.
  11. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Arlington TX
    A few thoughts on progressive rifle reloading.

    Unless you use the RCBS X-die, two passes through the progressive press are just about required.

    First pass uses an RCBS lube die and a resizing die. The progressive press takes care of removing the brass from the press, so all you have to do is put a new case on the shell plate (and advance the shell plate for the 550). This saves time over a single stage, even if you lube off-press.

    Then do you case prep.

    Then on the second pass through the progressive press, prime, dump powder, seat the bullet, and if desired, crimp.

    The PM on the Hornady is better suited to extruded rifle powders than the Dillon PM. If you use ball powders, it won't matter. You can also put a Hornady or RCBS linkage and PM on a Dillon tool head.

    Hornady sells 10-packs of LNL bushings; Midway has them for $35, and they're on sale for less right now.

    Carbide rifle dies are only needed for semi-commercial, very high volume applications, where the carbide will outlast the steel resizing dies. Unlike carbide pistol dies, they still REQUIRE lubrication.

    In general, rifle reloading requires more flexibility in the process than pistol reloading, and the individually replaceable dies on the Hornady make this a little easier. If you generally neck size, you can simply add/swap a lube, FL or shoulder bump die when needed. Or switch seater dies for different bullets. Add or remove an FCD, etc.

  12. tickfarm

    tickfarm Member

    May 17, 2007
    I have a Hornady Lock and load press, a 4 hole turret press from Lee, and a Lyman turret. For pistol rounds and small rifle rounds the Hornady is a good and fast press. I have had problems with large rifle rounds, 270/3006 with the Horady. The press starts to bring up the shell plate and when it does the bullet hits the lip of the seating die,you have to reach around and guide it in. I need to call Hornady and see if it can be adjusted to allow for bullet clearance. Other than that the Hornady is a good press.
  13. Rmeju

    Rmeju Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    My mistake on the Dillon dies!

    You can use between 3-5 dies per pistol caliber, depending on what you use.

    The toolhead & shellplate seem evenly priced. However, when comparing the bushing price, remember that they are adding value... you're actually getting something for the ~$3/bushing. It is required, however, so if you don't like the idea, then you could correctly calculated as a no-value extra cost.

    Priming system needs work on the Hornday, but it's quirks are learnable. User of both machines seem very happy. Shrug

  14. amlevin

    amlevin Member

    Jan 15, 2007
    NW Washington
    I am currently loading for my .223 @ $0.135/round compared to commercial ammo at $0.359 (PMC @$359/thousand from local Dealer). That saves me over $200 per thousand rounds. Since I shoot that amount every month I have paid for my Dillon XL-650 in a short year in just .223 ammo alone.

    I have a casefeeder and power trimmer to speed the process along.

    I clean (tumble), lube, inspect, then into the case feeder then de-prime/size/trim using a Lee Universal Depriming die, the dillon power trimmer with sizing die, on a separate toolhead.

    After I have a few thousand prepped I change toolhead and load at a rate of 500-600/hour.

    This press has given me more "shooting time" as I spend less time (and money) loading.
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