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Questions on deciding what progressive..

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Etkini, Nov 6, 2012.

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  1. Etkini

    Etkini Member

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    Before I start I realize the types of answers I'm most likely going to get, and I'm more interested in WHY you chose what you did other than "just get a Dillon and never look back" or "you can't go wrong with a Dillon." I've nothing against Dillon or those who use them, but before posting that I've already heard it a thousand times over.

    Now, with that said I'm stuck between three presses and I have heavily researched all of them. I'm not a competition shooter (yet), but I do shoot a good amount of ammo on range day, which is currently 500+ 40S&W, 500+ .223, and between 50-100 .308. Range day generally occurs 2-4 times a month, or sometimes it's broken up to 2-3 times a week and shooting smaller quantities of ammo.

    For a little back history, I have been reloading a little over two years on a single stage, and it's just not cutting it anymore, especially since picking up the .40S&W. My total time for reloading 200 .223s alone is about 4 hours (and that's moving uncomfortably fast), which is not worth it to me. I do not own 40S&W dies, but will be picking up a set of Hornady New Dimension dies when I do purchase the press, unless I go with an option that includes dies.

    I will be looking to get a case feeder eventually (probably after a month or two of using the press to get used to it). I am also very mechanically inclined, and do realize each press has it's own needs and tendencies. I've not fallen into the thinking that I'm going to just be able to open the box and start pumping out rounds within 10 minutes, I realize each one needs it's own cleaning and polishing of certain areas.

    I have read jumbleCrash's Lee-Hornady-Dillon comparison, and it has helped, as has searching the internet extensively but I am now asking for opinions of those who have used (owned) each press, preferably at least two of the three. I've learned that, with everything, if you have nothing to compare it to generally whatever you use or own is the "best."

    I am between the Lee Loadmaster, the Hornady Lock-n-Load AP, and the Dillon XL650. Unfortunately I don't have anywhere around here to try out the presses other than the Hornady.

    I like the Lee because it includes a case feeder, is only $210, and includes the dies in the price. I do not like the priming system on the Lee, priming on the upstroke (and requiring a sizing die with no expander ball to center is) with every other operation going on does not seem like a good time. I could prime off press as I do have a hand primer, but to me that kind of defeats the purpose of a progressive. I also am not too excited about the Federal primer warning - I used Federals almost exclusively. I do have some CCIs, but prefer the Federals. Conversions for this are the cheapest of the bunch, but that's not too big of a deal.

    I like the Hornady because it looks like a well-built press. At $520 I would have a total set-up for 40S&W, complete with dies, shellplate, PTX die and an RCBS lock-out die. I like that it's half-indexing, and primes on the bottom of the stroke between station 1 and 2. I also like that conversions are fairly cheap (~$100 to be set up for .223 and .308). While the case feeder would come eventually, a bullet feeder die and tube would be added first to speed things up a bit. This is the press I had my mind set on for the past year, but now I'm back on the fence.

    I like the Dillon because it also looks like a well-built press. For $650 I would have a total set-up for 40S&W, complete with the Hornady Dies, RCBS lock-out die, and the Dillon conversion kit. I do like how it includes the bottom half of the case feeder setup, so that I could just manually feed cases into the tube and go to town. The conversions are a bit more expensive (~$160 to be set up for .223 and .308). I can find a case collator for $150, or rig the Lee collator to work for $10 if I really wanted to. Like the Hornady, the bullet feeder die would probably come first.

    Customer service with Hornady or Dillon isn't a big deciding factor for me. I've had awesome experiences with both, and feel I'd get the same treatment regardless what I purchased. With the Lee I feel I'd kind of be on my own, but there's lots of help out there for them.

    As for the RCBS Pro 2000, it's not an option. I don't feel it would be worth the money for me personally. The strips seem like a pain, and you either buy the pre-loaded strips (none available unless I drive over an hour away), or buy the strip loader.

    That's my personal opinions though, but I do appreciate input from all sides. I am not rich, but I am able to save up money for whatever I feel will be the best bang for my buck. If it's the Lee that will be the best bang for my buck, then so be it. Most parts and the press will be purchased online so local availability isn't a big deal, but I do have a Hornady dealer about 15 minutes from me.
     
  2. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    Since you would already seem to be comparatively wealthy (you are shooting several hundreds of dollars worth of ammo in a session, several sessions per month) - I would say look at the Dillon 650 series and go for it - there is IMHO absolutely NO reason not buy the Loadmaster, and if I ever went progressive it's what I'd buy, but no one ever complained that they owned the 'best' when they could afford the reality that it was also the priciest.

    Dillon is NOT over-priced, I just can't afford it - lol - and if Lee didn't exist I could not reload.
     
  3. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    When I was looking 5yrs ago the LNL-AP was only $375 and came with a 1000 free bullets. And money was tight. Which made the press really cheap. At the time I did not think I wanted the Brass feeder. I added it a year later and asked my self why I waited so long. The main reason I went with the LNL was that the caliber change is a lot cheaper. I load for 5 different calibers. I do not see any benefit in the bullet feeder. It does not add to the reloading time since you have to look things over any way. I use the PTX , powder cop die and have powder base die for each pistol caliber so I don't have to do any adjusting. If I recall the RCBS lockout die does not work with rifle rounds, but I could be wrong. Now with that said I would go Hornady again, but it would be a hard decision. One thing I really like about the LNL is if you have a empty station the primer does not feed. And simplicity of the press, very few moving parts when compared to the Dillon. Most Dillon users add the powder dispenser to the conversion kits which adds more $$$. With the Hornady it's not a problem, I use the powder base die for each and move the dispenser over, 15 sec. max. Like with any thing mechanical it takes a little time to get every thing dialed in. But once done it will run trouble free. I load pistol ammo in the 500-600/hr rate once I pre-load all of my primer tubes.

    With the Brass Feeder the Dillon is only $50-$75 of the LNL. I would not even consider a 650 without the brass feeder.

    I would not even put the Lee in the same class as the Dillon and Hornady.

    I do not know where your located but if near me your welcome to come over and run it.
     
  4. bds

    bds Member

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    But if the finished rounds are loaded with consistent powder charge of .1 gr variance/OAL/taper crimp, will the pistol/barrel be able to tell the difference regardless what press the rounds were loaded on? ;)

    Personally, I am a fan of Dillon presses with a fondness for Hornady AP LNL press.
     
  5. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Member

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    Since you want a case feeder, you were right to not consider RCBS - it appears that they have designed themselves out of that option.

    I have the LNL, no experience with Dillon, but I chose the LNL for the following reasons:

    greater flexibility in setup
    cheaper caliber changes

    I wasn't thrilled with the LNL bushing setup when I first started to research, but the flexibility that it offers has grown on me. I still like the idea of a fixed shell plate, but now actually prefer the bushing system. If you want, you can effectively set up the LNL as a single stage for things like bulk depriming, while getting the speed of the indexing/not having to swap cases like a single stage.
     
  6. Otto

    Otto Member

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    It's more about the lack of speed, operator frustration, poor tool quality and the absence of a life-time warranty.
     
  7. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Three years ago, after 29 years of reloading on a single stage, I decided to look seriously at progressive presses.

    I looked primarily at the Hornady L-N-L and the Dillon 650.

    (I looked fleetingly at the RCBS Pro2000 and kind of lumped it in with the 650 because they both use a tool head. At the time, the APS strips were a negative but I have changed my mind since then. Make a large enough mail order and the hazmat fee is a non-issue and no drive time to get them.)

    I settled on the Hornady because of flexibility of die placement with the individually installed dies as opposed to using a die plate. Secondarily, price was a consideration, a larger dealer network, and 1000 free bullets included at the time I purchased my press.

    I prefer to clean the cases between resizing and reloading, particularly with rifle that requires the sizing lubricant to be removed from the cases and the cases require trimming. I resize and clean the cases shortly after shooting and store them away for a future mega loading session. Small batches of cases resized go lickity-split.

    I find my total time loading is actually less by separating the processes because I have fewer stoppages and jams to clear on the press.

    I only install the dies I need for the task at hand on the Hornady. This is not as convenient on the Dillon. I find storage of the dies with the L-N-L bushing easier to store than if they were screwed into a tool head.

    With the RCBS APS primer strip system, you have a positive indication that a primer has been moved into position as you can see the strip index. I find the primer tube systems on the Hornady and Dillon (I have two Dillon SDBs) less than satisfactory in the reliability department.

    Others will disagree.

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. ozo

    ozo Member

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    "I do shoot a good amount of ammo on range day, which is currently 500+ 40S&W, 500+ .223, and between 50-100 .308. Range day generally occurs 2-4 times a month,"---etkini

    Wow...on the outside, that's 50,000 rounds a year !!!
    I don't think your press choices are even in the ballpark.
    Definitely anything less than a Dillon...I don't see
    holding up to your use.

    "Before I start I realize the types of answers I'm most likely going to get, and I'm more interested in WHY you chose what you did other than "just get a Dillon and never look back" or "you can't go wrong with a Dillon." I've nothing against Dillon or those who use them, but before posting that I've already heard it a thousand times over."----etkini

    Looks to me like you already have a mindset and also have it
    all under control.
    MamaOzo and I shoot a lot of rounds yearly, and together we don't
    shoot as many as you do alone.....and I honestly doubt 99% of all
    the reloaders here, and all the other forums I frequent, shoot nearly
    as many rounds as you do.
    That would make none of us qualified to even reply to your lengthy post.
    Just being honest......IMHO.
     
  9. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I don't have a Dillon, but bought a LNL-AP in the spring. I've only ran about 5K through it so far of 9mm and it hasn't jammed yet. I'm impressed by it and the openess of the shell plate, I can see every thing that is going on very well including the powder in the shell case as it is going to the bullet seating stage. I like being able to pull a case out of any station and replace it with no penalties or hassels.

    My opinion is look at a Dillon or a Hornady if you can afford one of them. You only have to buy them once. I wouldn't consider a Lee for the kind of volume your talking about. The Lee's have their place and will do the job, but a Hornady or a Dillon will do it much more effeciently with less frustration. I've owned both Lee progressive presses and still own the pro1000 but it is basically just taking up space on my loading bench these days.

    I'm not talking down Lee presses, I think they are a good value for the money, but the old addage applies, that "you get what you pay for".
     
  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have owned two LNL's a pre and post EZ ject but sold them off. Still have two 650's and would suggest them for certain if you are going to have case feed, powder check of some sort and bullet feed.

    The reason why is simple, the 650 is the only one in your group that will let you have bullet feed and a PC die, unless you seat and crimp in the same station.
     
  11. Magnum Shooter

    Magnum Shooter Member

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    I believe the case feeder should come before a bullet feeder, it speeds up the process much more. The case feed is an iatrical part of the XL650, and a add on for the L-N-L AP. The price difference between the case feeders brings the Hornady and Dillon much closer in total price.
     
  12. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

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    After much decision, I bought 2 LNL APs about 2 years ago. I think they are easier to adjust, quicker to change from one caliber to another, and work great as a single stage should I find the need for it. I'm over 40,000 rounds now with no malfunctions. Good luck with whatever you decide to buy. Reloading is a great hobby.
     
  13. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

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    I have been a Dillon guy for 20 years and own two 550Bs and a 650. There is a tattoo on a secret part of my body. :D

    I have run the Lee and Hornady. The 650 with the casefeeder is what I chose.

    If you are doing a lot of caliber changes or short runs (under 500), the 550 will serve you well. They are simple to use and very reliable.
     
  14. Etkini

    Etkini Member

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    I thank you all for your replies and input, it is very much appreciated and has helped me in my decision. The feedback gained from any in the reloading community is invaluable to me, as we all have different expectations and goals but still are able to provide each other with great information.

    I contacted my FFL a about setting up a dealer account with Graf's, as I know the XL650 is about $480 with it applied - he sent in his paperwork immediately, bless his soul. If shipping (and probably tax) aren't too bad, I will go this route. If it turns out to be almost full retail, I will most likely go the Hornady route mainly due to conversions being cheaper and caliber conversions appear to be a little easier from the sounds and looks of things. All in all I realize total spent will be about the same, but every little bit I save can go towards components to feed my already expensive habit. I'm not set to my decision to go either way, I think in the long run I would be absolutely happy with either; right now it's a case of which one I can get the better deal on. It also helps that I have a Hornady dealer close by who stocks parts and accessories which would help for when I have issues.

    With that said, the Lee has dropped off my list of presses. While I don't think it would be a bad machine for anyone, and I may get one later on to dedicate to another caliber depending on how things go shooting and monetarily-wise, I feel I should fork up now for something that will give me a good start into the progressive world.

    I also appreciate the comments about the Dillon 550B. I looked at it for the longest time, but I've came to the decision that if I went to a progressive, I think I'd like auto-indexing and five stations. Mainly auto-indexing for the addition of a Dillon 1200B case trimmer later on, and five stations so I can have more range of die placement.

    Sorry for the lengthy posts, I just like to fit as much information as I can into them to try to alleviate any questions that may be asked in regards to my questions, and hopefully would be able to help someone else out with the same concerns. I also realized after lurking for almost 4 years I finally just had my first post. :what:
     
  15. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The last LNL I bought was $325 dealer from Hornady the last 550 I picked up was about $10 more.
     
  16. joed

    joed Member

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    Rule out the Lee, it is not in the same class as the other 2 presses. I have a friend that bought the Lee 6 months ago, he does nothing but spend time trying to get it working correctly.

    Forget the 550B too. It's a nice press but is lacking in one area, it doesn't have a station for a powder check die. I started with a 550B but eventually the press started producing squib loads, and that's when I sold it and ordered a 650.

    I would only consider the Hornady or Dillon. I've only owned Dillon so can't comment on Hornady. Been extremely happy with Dillon over 12 years of owning them. I own a 650 and 1050 and like them both.
     
  17. DoubleSawbuck

    DoubleSawbuck Member

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    I must have lucked out with my Lee Pro 1k. I set it up and worked the kinks out within the first 2 times I used it.

    It was cheap and makes plenty of accurate rounds faster then my turret press could. I usually just do 400 in an hour at a leisurely pace and I'm set for the week.
     
  18. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    I know that there is a LOT of brand bashing bias out there - but a properly set up Lee Loadmaster works well and is affordable enough to buy a separate one for each of three calibers for less $$$ than one Dillon 650 set up for one caliber.

    Dillon makes FANTASTIC machines and is a perfect match to those with the $$$$$ to spend and the need for the volume output it can make. Same goes for RCBS, Hornady et al.

    But there is a reason Lee has been successful in the reloading biz for over 50 years. They make American Made machines stronger than they need to be at a price point most everyone can afford.

    For many of us they are the right choice.
     
  19. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    I heard that argument too. I guess I didn't believe it. :) My RCBS Pro 2000 is running a bullet feeder and a case feeder. The case feeder cost me $60. How much did yours cost? Video below proves that the RCBS design is not case loader impossible....if you are like the O.P. says he is, mechanically inclined.;) I have a how-to on that feeder...somewhere on this forum.

    How would I describe loading on my Pro 2000? It's like loading on a Dillon 550 only with 5 stations and a choice between manual feed or automatic feed. Or its like loading on a Dillon 650, only simpler with fewer moving parts, a better working primer system and quicker, simple caliber changes. Or it's like a Hornady AP only less troublesome keeping everything in sync. BTW, if you like tinkering, the simplicity of the RCBS is like having an old supercar engine to play with. Simple to work on, hop up, and that Cast Iron frame is tuffer than nails. You've got to buy a Dillon 1050 for a comparably tough cast iron press. Everything else is Aluminum.

    Click on the Picture below to watch the $60 case feeder video.

    [​IMG]

    Also don't short change the APS primer strip system. Using CCI's preloaded strips, nothing is faster or safer. Using Federals and the included strip loader is as fast as pecking federals in a Dillon tube. No stacked primers in a tube to go off together either. Another advantage is that once loaded into strips, say while watching a season of CFI, you can store the strips indefinitely and safely, to have an instant-ready supply for years of reloading sessions.

    O.P. they're all good presses, you short change yourself if you don't look closely at all of them. Depends what you want to reload, how often, how many calibers changes and how often you'll be changing them. Start adding up the tab once you add all the caliber changes, powder measures, feeders, & etc. You'll find the final price is not that different, unless you buy a powder measure for each caliber change Dillon style....that adds up. Not necessary on RCBS's or Hornady's.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
  20. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The ones on the 650's come with the press.

    The one I through together for the SD was free.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Member

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    The honest truth is, I have a Dillon because someone didn't know what they had.

    I bought a 17 year old (brand new) 550 for $150.
    They never had it out of the box.

    I've owned 3 Lee presses, including a Pro1000.
    I was so frustrated with constant jams, mis-timing, priming issues, that I boxed it up & bought a "deluxe" turret press.
    Well, there's absolutely nothing deluxe about it.

    I've had my 550 for 2 years now.
    And there's no way in hades that I'd go back to a lesser press, even though I could never reasonably afford a new Dillon.
    (no little mouths to feed here)
     
  22. Etkini

    Etkini Member

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    It was not an easy decision, but I have finally made up my mind after reading through this threat and doing some more research. I have chosen the Hornady Lock-n-Load AP, as I think it will be the best bang for the buck for me. My decision was helped a little by a visit to my friendly local Hornady dealer last night, who not only has almost every part imaginable for the Lock-n-Load AP in stock, but uses one himself as he and his wife are cowboy shooters. I also got a chance to use his, and loved how it felt. I will also add the 500 bullets deal helped out my decision. I also loved the function and feel of the XL650, but was unable to find a Lee Loadmaster around to try out.

    My FFL dealer got back to me last night, and while he is usually extremely competitive on prices of firearms, was not able to give me a price that would have saved me much, with him quoting the Dillon XL650 at $550. After doing some research into caliber conversion prices, etc, it appears to me as the Hornady was the better "bang for my buck" so to say. Since I generally reload in smaller batches of 250-500 per caliber, I also liked how it was a little easier to do a caliber switch.

    I ordered my Hornady through MidSouth for a total of $404 shipped. I also purchased a 40 S&W shellplate, One Shot case lube, One Shot cleaner\degreaser, a Lee taper crimp die, Hornady New Dimension dies (with taper crimp in case I decide to seat\crimp in the same stage), and a Frankford Arsenal case tumbler since it was on sale for $30 and I need a tumbler. All together total spent was $550.

    Next time I order (which might be soon) will be some more primer tubes if I feel I need them and the conversions for .223 and .308. I did not order a PTX from Powderfunnels.com or an RCBS Lock-out die yet since I'll be using the expander separately for now and I'm not really worried about not being able to see into the case with a straight wall. That, and I need to make a trip to the local PDs to see if I can scrounge some more spent brass. :D

    Again, thank you all for your help and time spent not only reading my lengthy posts, but time spent giving me input on your personal experiences. I don't think any of my other choices were bad, I just feel the Hornady was best for me, my needs, and current situation, but I encourage anyone who may come across this thread in the future to research every choice you can reasonably afford (and some you can't!) until your eyes bug out - I think I spent upwards of 60 hours total doing research over the past few months.

    Feel free to continue the discussions on the various presses. It's hard to find GOOD information without hearing or reading though "just buy this and forget it."

    By the way, that case feeder for the RCBS Pro 2000 was a really neat invention. If I had the tools (currently living in an apartment, not by choice) or space to be able to fabricate, I could only hope to make something like that. :)
     
  23. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Member

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    Congratulations on your purchase.
    I'm also using the Hornady LnL AP progressive press with case and bullet feeders.
    A few of my friends have the Dillon xl650 and after running the Hornady for nearly 2 years I may be leaning towards the Dillon in the future.

    To clarify my position the Hornady runs flawlessly when set up properly however changing from a small pistol caliber to a large rifle caliber is time consuming process particularly when you need to replace the pistol to the rifle drum on the powder measure then adjust the bottom of the powder drop for full stroke or case flare in the case of the pistol rounds.

    All in all the powder measures in the Hornady system although superior to the Dillon powder measures are too cost prohibitive to have more than 1.

    I now load several thousand rounds of 1 caliber before switching to another.
     
  24. GW Staar

    GW Staar Member

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    Free to you! :D Yes being a welding pro, with a metal shop with lots of material laying around to play with is slightly advantageous & cuts the price considerably.....my materials came from Ace, Home Depot and the tubing came from the Linens & Things web site. Good thing I didn't need a welder, since I'd have to hire someone like you... Not a bad thing mind your, just not free.:) The $60 includes the Lee style shaker-collator...and materials to collate into tubes, and case feed all pistol calibers, .223, and .08 sized rifle cases.....tested so far. BTW, off the subject, I highly recommend anyone wanting to make a case annealer to buy jmorris's blade. WAYYYY worth the price....perfection it is! With that anyone can make one.

    You're right, the 650 indeed has a feeder built-in, but the collator is another $219, plus $49 for each caliber's feeder plate. Three calibers and you add $150. (had to price from Grafs...wow....Brian Enos is having site problems today???? Google warned me not to go there....viruses??? Anyone know anything about that?)

    Hornady's case feeder & collator is $310 from Midway, plus $30 for each caliber feeder plate.

    Anyway adding things up....the RCBS turned out to be cheaper than anything (with two feeders) except Lee.........for welding/metal working challenged me at least.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
  25. Spammy_H

    Spammy_H Member

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    GW - ok I stand corrected. Can you make me one of those? Very well done!
     
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