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  #1  
Old 11-14-2009, 03:49 PM
leas327 leas327 is offline
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Default Need Opinions on Progressive Presses

I am looking to buy a progressive press and would like to hear some good and bad about presses. I load for 9mm,45acp,38/357,41mag,44mag,454cassul, and would also like the press to be able to handle .223. I have been reloading for about 3 yrs. with a single stage press and want to be able to increase my production. I mostly reload 357 and 45 and want to be able to pump out a lot of good practice ammo for those calibers. The others I shoot but not on a weekly basis. I am considering a Dillon 550 or 650 as I have always heard good things about these presses and customer service. Is the 650 worth the extra money. How fast can a caliber change really be done? How much ammo can you really produce in an hour? I am also considering a Hornady lnl ap and would like to hear what the owners think about these presses. Are these presses worth the money or should I just buy 4 Lee progressives and leave them set up for specific calibers? I originally bought a lee aniversary kit but have slowly upgraded some of my equipment like the scale and powder measure. Are the powder measures on their progressives as finiky about feeding powder like H110. That powder practically locks up my Lee measure and if the progressives measure are like that I won't even bother with them. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-14-2009, 04:38 PM
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A good upgrade might be a Lee 4hole turret, not quite full progressive. But over 100rds an hour.

The loadmaster works well but is quirky at best and comes with VERY poor instructions. Once your used to them and get em running well they are a great press.

The Lee auto disk pro does'nt jamb up with H110 like the regular autodisk, the Lee progressives come with the pro. I believe the turret presses still come with the regular autodisk.

To run .223 in a progressive you'll need carbide dies (unless your only neck sizing), I believe they are available in .223 but I could be wrong.

I have no experience with the other presses you mention.
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  #3  
Old 11-14-2009, 05:19 PM
DOEBOY1 DOEBOY1 is offline
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i have a hornady progrsive pre lock and load and i love it just recently got back into reloading after 3-4 years. i would say the biggest problem with a progressive press is speed trying to do too much at one time. although my press has been wonderful it has rusted on some parts and the quality of my loads has decreased ie.. when the pin that pushes the powder drop arm is stuck in the upright position instead of returning by spring pressure to the down position an reseting the powder load. that being said if you just loaded 50 shells you now have to worry about how long the powder drop arm was up and if you set the bullets in uncharged cases that have already fell in with the first 50 or so. so your attention must be on the process at all times. no more solving the worlds problems while repeating the same process over and over. thats the down side. but i love my press. hornady, rcbs, dillion all have great customer service. my brother bought a dillion at a yard sale that was un useable for near nothing call dillion sent it to them they fixed it no charge. to me that is unheard of i would get a self indexing dillion press in a heart beat if i didn't already have a hornady. a note about rcbs i didn't lube one my cases correctly and pulled the rim off the shell long story short i had to remove the punch pin and stem leaving the expander in the case. after pounding the case out of the die i had crushed the expander. i called rcbs with credit card in hand and a heavy heart wondering what i would have to pay for that little peice of metal so i could finish reloading my wife's 270 shells. well talking to the lady on the other end of the phone was a treat she just laughed and said we'll send your another no charge thank you. i wish i could remember her name. but my experience was a good one every time i call one of the name brands. i would also consider a shell drop with a powder check station i know dillion has one but not sure about hornady's powder check. so progressives i love but you've got to watch them the whole time good luck doeboy
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:11 PM
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I have a Dillon 550 with conversions for 32 S&W long, 9mm, 38 spl, 40 S&W and 45 acp. I just slide in a complete toolhead with the dies/powder measure and then install the shell plate for the specific caliber. Very fast...unless your changing from large to small style primers. Changing the primer set up takes 10 minutes or so.
To me, changing the primer sizes is the only thing that will slow you down. I'd love another 550 so I can dedicate one for small primers and the other for large.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:18 PM
WR Moore WR Moore is offline
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Money spent on a Dillon is money well spent. The customer service is legendary. I've got a Dillon 300 that I bought (1980?) after it spent about 18 months in commercial ammo production (bankruptcy). Took care of a couple of minor issues Dillon fixed in later designs and have had no further issues.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:27 PM
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If you have the money the Dillon is a great press. I have a 650 and most all the bells and whistles. I also have six complete tool heads and a few extra powder measures. I load 38/357, 40 S&W, 44mag, 45acp, 223, one spare head for perhaps 308 or ? I bought much of it used via places like eBay. You can still get some good deals if you wait for them.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:35 PM
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I have a square deal and it is wonderful, i would not consider anyother brand just based on how good its been, and there superd customer service
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:49 PM
Wee Hooker Wee Hooker is offline
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I'll likely get blasted for this but here goes.... I started with a Lee 3 hole turret and made thousands of rounds on it over the years. Paid for itself in the first 6 months. Eventually went to Lee 1000 /full progressive. The lee 1000 was faster than the turret ( but not 3x faster.) Still it produced 1 round per stroke, fed my cases and was inexpensive to add on to. The upgrade was enjoyed. Liked it so much I bought a second to speed up the process ( Left one set up in 38 , the other in 45) All my Lee's paid for themselves in the first year of ownership and made me allot of good quality ammo. A few years back I bowed to pear pressure to "upgrade" to a Dillon. I bought a Dillon Square deal with 3 cal conversions and sold all the surplus Lee presses. To be honest, I deeply regret the move. Ammo quality is no better/consistant than any of my Lee's. Die sets/changeover parts are unique to this machine, limited in choice and expensive. The Dillon primer system (i.e filling little straws) as well as caliber/primer changeover is a PITA and harder than Lee's system. I also found the primer system more finicky/prone to failure than Lee's. Lastly, The 1000's fed my cases. The SD does not. As far as quality, I've had two "stop production" failures on the square deal in one year. (Admittedly, they took excellent are of me when the parts did break.)
My current plan is to sell the Square deal package and go back to Lee. Not saying that the Lee 1000 is better than a Dillon 550/650 but for me, the payback on the 550/650 is just too long. Besides, I'm getting to old to worry about bragging rights. I'll buy what I like.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Wee Hooker View Post
I'll likely get blasted for this but here goes.... I started with a Lee 3 hole turret and made thousands of rounds on it over the years. Paid for itself in the first 6 months. Eventually went to Lee 1000 /full progressive. The lee 1000 was faster than the turret ( but not 3x faster.) Still it produced 1 round per stroke, fed my cases and was inexpensive to add on to. The upgrade was enjoyed. Liked it so much I bought a second to speed up the process ( Left one set up in 38 , the other in 45) All my Lee's paid for themselves in the first year of ownership and made me allot of good quality ammo. A few years back I bowed to pear pressure to "upgrade" to a Dillon. I bought a Dillon Square deal with 3 cal conversions and sold all the surplus Lee presses. To be honest, I deeply regret the move. Ammo quality is no better/consistant than any of my Lee's. Die sets/changeover parts are unique to this machine, limited in choice and expensive. The Dillon primer system (i.e filling little straws) as well as caliber/primer changeover is a PITA and harder than Lee's system. I also found the primer system more finicky/prone to failure than Lee's. Lastly, The 1000's fed my cases. The SD does not. As far as quality, I've had two "stop production" failures on the square deal in one year. (Admittedly, they took excellent are of me when the parts did break.)
My current plan is to sell the Square deal package and go back to Lee. Not saying that the Lee 1000 is better than a Dillon 550/650 but for me, the payback on the 550/650 is just too long. Besides, I'm getting to old to worry about bragging rights. I'll buy what I like.

Get a loadmaster, and one of their bullet feeders too
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:18 PM
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I have a Dillon 550 which will load handgun and rifle ammo. I load for 6 handgun calibers. All dies are mounted in their own tool head,3 of them have dedicated powder measures,a 4th powder measure serves the other 3.
Someone already stated how easy the caliber change is one a 550. My understanding on a 650 the change of the primer system takes a bit longer. When I change from large to small primers I use this time to thoroughly clean this area of the press,so it may take me a bit longer to change over.
You will find that some people like Dillon,some Lee,some Hornady.
Just like some people like Ford,some GM,some Chrysler.

Then there is the $$ involved,Dillon is more then Lee. Then there are the extra toolheads,powder measures,etc. In my opinion the toolheads would be a must,extra powder measures a bit of a luxury. It took me several years to justify the $$ for the extra powder measures. However I did find them online for less than Dillons price. Just depends how deep your pockets are I guess.

If you know of someone nearby who has a progressive machine ask to see it in action. In my case I took my brothers advice for the Dillon, at the time he was shooting IPSC and he had 2 of them one for each primer size.

OK I probably got a bit long winded but hope this helps you.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:27 PM
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The Dillon 550 is about as good as it gets.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:56 PM
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The Dillon 550 is about as good as it gets.
I agree completely. To me the only real advantage of the 650 is its ability to use a powder check die. On my 550, I get production rates in the 4-500 RPH range. (.45, .38, 9mm, etc.) I could do more, but am in no hurry. I use Lee carbide dies except in .223.
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:00 PM
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I use Lee carbide dies.
Blasphemy I tell ya
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:17 PM
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You asked for opinions and you are sure "nuff gonna get them!

I use Dillon stuff now. I wouldn't (this is where opinion comes in) have a progressive press that didn't auto-index. It would seem to me to have less potential for a double powder charge.
Although, it can still be done!

I have a Dillon XL650 and several Square Deal presses. I also have a Lee Classic Cast Turret Press with 4 hole turrets.

The Hornady L-N-L AP is a good machine from all I have heard. The motion, turning while moving both up and down, seems a little odd to me, but folks that have them swear by them.

The Lee progressives have had a poor reputation for quite a while. Not sure how their progressive equipment is now but I'm not in the market for one either!

There are a TON of folks that have the Dillon RL550 and are happy with it. It doesn't auto-index but will load every caliber you have mentioned. Again, folks that have them love them.

All in all, I know that customer service plays a part in the decision to purchase a press. All I can say is that Dillon's customer service is second to none!

Disclaimer: this post is full of opinion!
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:24 PM
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You asked for opinions and you are sure "nuff gonna get them!

I use Dillon stuff now. I wouldn't (this is where opinion comes in) have a progressive press that didn't auto-index. It would seem to me to have less potential for a double powder charge.
Although, it can still be done!

I have a Dillon XL650 and several Square Deal presses. I also have a Lee Classic Cast Turret Press with 4 hole turrets.

The Hornady L-N-L AP is a good machine from all I have heard. The motion, turning while moving both up and down, seems a little odd to me, but folks that have them swear by them.

The Lee progressives have had a poor reputation for quite a while. Not sure how their progressive equipment is now but I'm not in the market for one either!

There are a TON of folks that have the Dillon RL550 and are happy with it. It doesn't auto-index but will load every caliber you have mentioned. Again, folks that have them love them.

All in all, I know that customer service plays a part in the decision to purchase a press. All I can say is that Dillon's customer service is second to none!

Disclaimer: this post is full of opinion!
AHHH YES OPINION

Kiddin of course

I'd love to have a powder check die on the Lee...

The Lee progressive prooblems are mostly the instructions, and the user ability.
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:28 AM
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My limited expearance is with a Dillon 550. After using it for a couple of months I have found no faults with it. Once it's setup I can produce 100 rounds of .45ACP in under 15 minutes. With at least 4 primer fill tubes I could probably do 350-400 an hour if I stayed right at it.

Caliber changes are about 10 minutes and large to small primer change about the same.

I had the 550 recommended to me and am not sorry I made the purchase. I am close to having made enough reloads to have the equipment pay for itself in about 2 months. I reload 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP.

Best of luck with whatever you choose.

LTC
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:35 AM
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[QUOTE=shovelwrench;

To run .223 in a progressive you'll need carbide dies (unless your only neck sizing), I believe they are available in .223 but I could be wrong.

[/QUOTE]

One does not need carbide dies to reload .223, or any other rifle caliber for that matter. Carbide dies are available, but you will still need to lubricate the cases.

Like others have stated, the 550 is likely the best bang for your buck.
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:18 AM
Waldo Waldo is offline
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I guess everybody has presses they like or don't like. I have had a Dillion since the early 1980's. Got it wholesale before they went factory direct. At the time they were the best way to get a progressive. Star made a machine that was very expensive. There was a company named C-H that made one with multiple die stations but I am not sure you would call it a progressive. Lyman had a turret tool but it was not a progressive. Ponsess Warren was coming out with a metallic press but I never saw one. The point of all this is that Dillion pioneered progressive presses for the hobby handloader. RCBS, Lee and Hornady are late comers. They had been in business for years and did not make a progressive until they saw how well Dillion was doing. I think if it was not for Dillion I would still be trying to load a whole lot of .45 ACP on a single stage RCBS press. I have always been treated very well by Dillion. I always buy Dillion, just as my way of saying thank you.
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Old 11-15-2009, 08:31 AM
leas327 leas327 is offline
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Default Thanks for everyones input

This is the kind of stuff I wanted to hear. I like getting real opinions from people who own these presses because it is a big investment that I only want to do once. God willing, this will be a tool I use for decades and I want a quality set-up. I was leaning toward a 650 because it auto-indexed but there are a lot of +1's for a 550 and I could use the money saved to buy more toolheads and caliber conversions. Thanks everyone and keep it coming.
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Old 11-15-2009, 08:50 AM
Tell Sackett Tell Sackett is offline
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I was leaning toward a 650 because it auto-indexed
There is another reason to consider an XL650. 5 stations. Now, remember, it isn't the only one that has 5. The 5th station is a must, again in my opinion, for serious reloading.

In the extra station, depending on how you look at it, you have the ability to have a powder check die. It isn't going to tell you a lot but it will tell you when you have a squib or an excessive charge. There are several on the market and I only know about the Dillon. It sounds an alarm and then it is up to you to remove the offending case. I wouldn't be without one in a press that could produce up to 1000 rounds an hour!

Again, this post is opinion laced!
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
One does not need carbide dies to reload .223, or any other rifle caliber for that matter. Carbide dies are available, but you will still need to lubricate the cases.

Like others have stated, the 550 is likely the best bang for your buck.

And exactly how do you clean the lube off in a progressive?
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Old 11-15-2009, 12:37 PM
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My choice has been carefully thought out over a period of time.

I have two Dillon 550B's. When you factor in the cost of different caliber tool heads, my pick is the Dillon 550B. The 650's are faster but considerably more expensive when you factor the change over costs.

I have NO problem with manual advance and do both rifle and pistol. The reloading rate is 400-500 per hour depending on the operator. I always suggest that your emphasis should be on QUALITY of reload and NOT speed of reload. However, I would not EVER willingly go back to a single station press.

I have a number of reloading presses. My RCBS Rock Chucker single stage handles case forming chores. My Lee Classic Turret handles small runs (under 200 rounds) of specialty loads. The Lee progressives are un-reliable unless you are a master mechanic. They are NOT user friendly.

You absolutely CANNOT beat Dillon service...

Dale53
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:28 PM
johngalt johngalt is offline
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I've had a Hornady LNL AP for about 3 years now, upgraded from a Lee Anniversary kit (the single stage Challenger press). I have never used any other press, so I can't really compare to those.

One factor I don't see mentioned much is ease of setting up your dies. I think the Hornady LNL (bushing) system shines here. Dies are screwed into bushings, which are then individually locked into the press. They can be inserted/removed quickly and easily, without losing the settings.

When I set up my press, I put in just one die at a time, set it, remove it, and on to the next. I never have to touch the settings again. Caliber change over is trivial - pop out the old dies, insert new ones, change shell plate, change primer system (also easy to do, requires changing 3 parts).

This is a big deal when adjusting the powder measure. It uses a powder die, which screws into bushing like the other dies. I have a separate powder die for each caliber, since it is case activated and must be adjusted for the length of the case.

I put the powder measure on the press all by itself, adjusting and throwing many test charges until I'm confident it is correct. Then I plug in the rest of the dies in and start loading.

The LNL system makes it easy to concentrate on just one thing at a time when getting the press set up. I don't think the removable toolhead systems are as easy to set up.

Another factor is ease of recovering from a stoppage (which WILL happen). The Hornady has a spring that wraps around the shell plate and holds the shells in. It is easy to remove/insert cases at any station, not just the first/last.

I only have 2 real gripes with the Hornady:

1) The powder does not have any positive way to force it to reset, it depends on a spring. If the powder measure gets hung up and doesn't reset, it quits throwing powder and if you aren't watching you get squibs. I use an RCBS lockout die to protect against this.

2) Shell ejection is not 100%. The EZ-Eject system is a huge improvement, but I occasionally still get one that won't.

Hornady's customer service is excellent. I've broken a few parts on the press, and had to send it back for the EZ-Eject upgrade because I stripped a screw trying to do it myself. I've never been charged a penny for a repair.
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Old 11-15-2009, 02:17 PM
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Default I'm with wee hooker

Howdy,
I'm with Wee Hooker, I'd rather have a Lee 1000 than a Square deal.
Tell Sackett makes sense too. When I am done loading on the 1000's I have to run everything through a Lee factory crimp die so a five station press would help.
I did have a Loadmaster for a while but I prefer the 1000's
The Lees work pretty good but have to be mounted to something rock solid to preform their best.
I had a buddy who bought one after seeing me load on mine and he bitched and bitched about it. I went to see if I could help him and he had it clamped to a kitchen like table in his shop.
It takes a big heavy bench bolted to the walls to make the 1000's hum.
I have three set up. One for .38, .45 and 9mm. The old .45 machine has seen untold amounts of use. I do have to tune them from time to time. Rebuild is cheap and easy.
I also lube it every time prior to use.
I have nothing bad to say about the Dillion 500 and up series either other than I am cheap and the Lees serve me well.
Good luck.
Mike
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Old 11-15-2009, 02:22 PM
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Default Not to dampen you enthusiasm, but......

First; take the manufacturesí rounds per hour figures for what they are, theory not practical fact.
You have primer tubes to fill & change, bullets and brass to place, loaded rounds to move, powder to fill, rounds to QC check, etc. Unless you can shanghai a competent assistant to do the numerous tasks required, you are not going to see 500 rounds/hour. Since most of us do these tasks ourselves, strictly speaking we should include all of the time spent from bench setup through loading and back to a clean bench in our figures.

I have a L-N-L with the latest up grades, I like and recommend it.
I am able to switch the press from say 10mm to .45 quite fast, however, when switching to a different primer size time must be added. Normally switching requires a powder change and certainly a reset of the measure. In addition it requires a clean-off and regrouping of bullets, brass, etc, etc.

I know a guy who does some reloading for his pistol club, he has several old Stars and a couple of other presses including a Hollywood, and they remain setup for each individual caliber, powder/charge, and bullet. To do this requires a very large space and very considerable investment.

IMO itís a mistake to run low volume stuff on a progressive. I like to change bullets, try different powders, work up loads, etc.
A progressive just gets in my way for this work. I have a couple of single stage presses which I can use for this sort of thing and almost always use them for .357 & .44 spl, because I probably will never settle on one bullet/load. For a batch of one hundred I can setup, load, break down, and clean up the single stages much more quickly than any progressive I have used.

What I do is clean, size, expand and prime a bunch of cases, and have them ready for my next brilliant reloading idea.

Unless you are using you reloads for some run & gun sport, You will probably not need a large quantity of one load. You may want lots of a single load for .223 I suppose, and this is worth a set-up.
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Old 11-15-2009, 04:39 PM
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We have loaded a lot of rounds over the years, wore out a Pro 1000 and a Loadmaster and have been loading with Dillons since 1992 and they don't wear out, one machine is a Dillon 1000 com. that we bought from a reloader who had it for 11 years. Still going strong ( .223's only) It is the only one not covered by the no BS warranty. We have one 650 , two 550's and the big 1000. It's hard to go wrong with Dillon
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
One does not need carbide dies to reload .223, or any other rifle caliber for that matter. Carbide dies are available, but you will still need to lubricate the cases.

Like others have stated, the 550 is likely the best bang for your buck.

And exactly how do you clean the lube off in a progressive?
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No you dont need carbide dies for the bottle neck cases. Even with carbide you need to use lube or it will stick, trust me

How ever you dont need to use a roll pad or a similar thing. I use Hornady one shot. Its a spray can just spray some into the bin or cases, shake it spray a bit more. Let them dry for like five min. Dump them in to the case feeder and start loading. It does not need to be removed, you can give a wipe after its loaded but I dont feel it on the brass.

Depending on the brass being used my procedure changes to omit steps not needed. Lets go worst case, range pick up military brass.

1)Examine for damage
2)tumble for an hour or so
3)Lube as above
4) set up press to almost fully size and deprime. If case needs length to be trimmed, set up trimmer in press at this time.
5) dump shells in to case feed and cycle press till complete. Not much thinking here, just be sure to give full strokes of the lever
6) Use swage to remove primer crimp, inspect close at this time (boring)
7) Tumble another hour or two till they look like new brass
8) set up press with powder and loading dies. Be sure case is resized to gauge.
9) load shells in hopper and make bullets

with an auto primer filler, boat tail bullets and the press set up right, I can do well over 700 an hour from step nine till complete.

If I just did the 223 stuff, Id get the Dillon 1050, it can swage the primer pockets in the press. That saves a lot of time.

I load for more than just myself, my shooting friend gets half or more of the rounds generally.


added
its not hard to do load development on the press at all. I made some new 357 mags today. Six with 12.5g of 2400 and six with 13.5 of 2400. Its not hard. Just remove the primer feed cam, one screw. They you can cycle the press one round at a time if you want. Just manually index the primer when you want one.

Last edited by wheelgun28; 11-15-2009 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:36 PM
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Oldroger- I kind of thought that the rounds per hr. from the manufacturer sounds pretty optimistic.

I will mostly use this press for .357 and .45 because those are the guns that I shoot a lot. I use the same two guns for idpa,steel, and bowling pins as well as plinking, and home defense. I have two loads for each, a plinker and a hotter load. I probably shoot 800-1000 rounds between these two calibers per month. That is why I wanted to know about ease of cailber changes. The only rifle round I even considered is .223 because I will just load up a bulk of cheaper ammo to plink with my ar. I will continue to load my other rifle calibers on a single stage beacuse I have certain loads that I just feel more comfortable loading by one at a time because they are at the higher end of the pressure curve and I feel that I can better control quality that way. That and I only shoot a couple hundred rounds a year out of those rifles. And if change overs aren't that easy or fast I will just continue to use a single stage for the .41,.44,and .454 as I just use them for some hunting and ocassional plinking. Thank you to everyone that has spoke up so far.
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Old 11-15-2009, 08:18 PM
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New guy here, but not new to reloading or other forums... I can't add much to what some of the other members here have suggested, but I would put in another vote for the Dillon 550. This is the easiest and cheapest way to load multiple calibers of all the dillon presses. The square deal is a cheaper machine, but if you are going to go with as many calibers as you list, then a 550 is for you. The quality will be excellent, and production is fast and easy. I have two set up in my shop, and I have loaded somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 rounds over the last few years. Good luck with your purchase!
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Old 11-16-2009, 12:49 AM
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IMO you need to have 5 stations on your progressive. So I would eliminate those with fewer, I would not run without a powder cop and separate crimp station. Auto indexing is also a must for me.

Switching from .357 to .45 is not a problem but does require all of the changes noted including primer size. To make it worthwhile I think runs of 3-400 rounds minimum make sense and given your two loads per caliber a little planning can make this all smooth and quick.You will need a couple of extra primer tubes filled and ready when you start.
Hornadys Powder Measure if equipped with the pistol rotor and micrometer is quick to change and reproducible for what amounts to a small amount of powder.
I donít load 10s of thousands of rounds a month, so I have no idea how long the L-N-L will last, I see no signs of wear yet.
I think Hornadys price is very competitive, the equipment well designed, and I at least have had good results with their customer service.
Since I donít load rifle ammunition on the progressive, I really shouldnít comment on that aspect of it.
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Old 11-16-2009, 12:59 AM
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I have to go with OldRoger...as I too am a Hornady LNL-AP user. I've played with the Dillons, and I just like my Hornady set up better. I can't say that it is as fast, but I do load nearly every pistol caliber and rifle from .22Hornet and .32-20 up to .45-70, .264 Winchester and .300 Weatherby. It's a great reliable press and I can't argue with Hornady's customer service.

I busted the sub plate on my press being stupid. To replace it would have been $90.00- they sent me an updated sub plate free of charge!!! They are good people.
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Old 11-16-2009, 09:53 AM
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I have a Dillon 550. I am happy with it. I would be happier if it had 5 atations like the 650 so I could use a powder check. IF MONEY IS NOT AN OBJECT, I'd go to a 650. Money is a consideration for me, so I'll stick with the 550. The cost of adding a caliber is close to $100 with the 550, quite a bit more for the 650. hough I'd like to have a couple of guns in calibers I don't already load for, (.45 ACP, .38/.357, 9mm), I hesitate due to the set up cost of the additional caliber. In addition to the loading setup, there's also bullet molds, sizing dies, top pinch, etc. that add to the cost as well.

I talked to Dillon a while back, and one can use the powder check with a 550. However, one has to add the bullet at station 4 and seat and crimp in one operation. The one step seat/crimp isn't too much of an issue, but reaching around to the back to add a bullet is not very ergonomic. Also, I prefer using the Lee factory crimp die, and obviously would have to forgo this step.

A double charge/no charge is easy to spot in a short fat case like the .45 ACP, but in a tall skinny case like the .357 it's much harder to see.
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Old 11-16-2009, 12:56 PM
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Another satisfied Hornady LNL-AP user. So satisfied in fact that I have 2 of them. I tried Dillons before I got my first LNL. They are an OK machine, but many things about the Hornady work better for me and you will have to go with at least a Dillon 650 to get the features of the LNL AP.

Forget the round count per hour BS. It isn't an accurate representation of the real world anyway and either one of them will produce at about the same speed in a real world (i.e., *S-A-F-E*) scenario. Also forget the warranty BS. Hornady backs up their product the same way Dillon does.

What I like about the Hornady is the ease of adjustment, quick, simple changeover from Small to Large primers, and super easy changeover of dies. Takes all of 30 seconds to change dies with the LNL system. Even if you have to change primer sizes or adjust the powder measure height for different case lengths it is very quickly and easily done within about 5 minutes. There is NO additional cost to adding a caliber other than buying 3 bushings, and those are comparatively cheap in a 10-pack (about $3 apiece). Or you can just set the lock rings and move dies from bushing to bushing like a conventional press, still pretty quick.

I considered a Lee Classic Turret for rifle length cartridges. No auto progressive handles those particularly well because of stick powders. But the LNL seems to work fine for .223, ball powders meter well, and that's all I load much in high volume for rifles anyway.
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:01 PM
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I'm a Dillon 650 fan. It was my first press. (my only press for a number of years).

I can easily poop out 750 rounds an hour. You need to have the primer tubes full, the clean brass at hand, powder at hand, bullets at hand and a case feeder.

I can do this safely without breaking a sweat. I suggest a low-powder warning (for the reservoir ) and a powder-check for station 3.

It's an unbeatable press if you want to spend more time shooting and less time reloading.

On the 650 I reload:

.32 S&W Long
.32 H&R Magnum
.38 S&W
.38 Special - Flush HBWCs
.38 Special
.357 Magnum
.357 Maximum
.380 ACP
.41 Magnum
.44 Special
.44 Magnum
.45 Colt
.45 ACP
.45 Auto Rim


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Old 11-16-2009, 02:08 PM
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Default Your results may vary!

About production figures, to quote an old expert;”Your results may vary”! When all is said and done, there is a lot of prep work to be accomplished before we get to the cranking stage.
In the engineering trade, we had to look very carefully at set-up, tear down, and clean-up times. Added together with the material handling times incident to production, the cyclic rate of the machine is usually not the critical component when measuring throughput.
If you look at the Dillion catalog you will see a beautiful machine to load primer tubes, because you will spend appreciable time filling them manually.
Case feeders are grand also, dump and load, beautiful!

I doubt that any prog. press allows changes faster than the L-N-L, nor for that matter more cheaply.
Setting aside the cost of your basic dies and any makers work, I use a mix, you would need a shell plate ($29), powder through expander ($10) and as doublegunner points out the bushings. You can pick-up various odds-and-ends that speed up changeovers, but that is all you need. $50 tops.
I consider a pistol rotor a requirement for any good set-up, single stage or progressive. The general purpose rotors are simply too large for accurately metering small amounts of powder.

The Dillion Fans abound and for good reason the 650 & 1000 are very fine presses.
If I anticipated running one load in one caliber in quantity 2000-3000 a month or more, I would strongly consider a Dillion which would be set-up to run that load and never tinkered with. You might say that is Dillion’s bread and butter.

For me though lacking the space to leave presses set-up and ready to go and unwilling to invest the money if I had the space, the L-N-L works out just fine. Should I ever settle on one .357 load it would be easy and inexpensive to set-up for it.
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Old 11-16-2009, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldRoger View Post
Setting aside the cost of your basic dies and any makers work, I use a mix, you would need a shell plate ($29), powder through expander ($10) and as doublegunner points out the bushings.
+1 on having as many bushings as possible for quick change overs!

The only thing I can't say I've ever used is powder through expanders...I've never seen a need for them for myself. I do have a three extra "bottom assemblies" for my powder measure set up one for .38's, one for .45 Colts- one that I can change to anything else.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:35 AM
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I have the dillon 550 that I bought when they were 199.00 so it has been a few years. Currently load for 41 different rifle and pistol calibers. Only regret I have is I didn't buy another one at that time. Love the dillon and have only had one parts breakage and a new one from dillon three days later.
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Old 11-21-2009, 06:20 PM
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Another Dillon 550 user here. I load three different calibers; .40 S&W with a Dillon factory die set, 9mm with RCPS dies, and .30 carbine with Redding dies. Only the Dillon Square Deal press uses proprietary dies, the other Dillon presses use standard dies sets.

In contrast to old Rogers comments, I can easily load 400+ rounds an hour of handgun ammo from start up to clean up with my setup. My typical loading session is for about 3 or 4 hours once a month or so. Even changing from .40 to 9mm only takes about 7 or 8 minutes, though going to or from .30 carbine takes about 15 minutes to make the appropriate changes.

When I was first looking to getting into reloading over a decade ago the main advice I got was if you like to tinker get a Lee, if you want to turn out ammo get a Dillon. Can't say firsthand if that's a fair assessment of a Lee, but I can say I don't have to tinker with my Dillon.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
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And exactly how do you clean the lube off in a progressive?
Why do you need to clean the lube off while in the press? Wait till the round is loaded and use the method of your choice. I give mine about 5 minutes in the tumbler with clean corn cob media and touch of rubbing alcohol.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:50 PM
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Which of the popular progressive presses have a powder check function and how do they work? My first attempt at a progessive was not good due to interruptions. Boy I learned a lot that day. Lock yourself in a room and don't allow disturbances.
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Old 11-21-2009, 11:21 PM
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Beaver,
All I am familiar with is the Dillon 650...it comes standard with a low primer warning alarm. The Powder Check and Powder Reservoir Warning Alarms are options...however, I highly recommend the Powder Check!! It's the best way to double check a safe load.

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Old 11-21-2009, 11:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaver View Post
Which of the popular progressive presses have a powder check function and how do they work?
Just buy one of the Hornady "powder cop" dies or one of the RCBS powder checker dies.

Very simple, really...
In the die, there is a rod held in place with an O-ring which is usually white for high visibility. You adjust the O-ring on the rod so that when the case is full, the rod pushes up enough so that you see the O-ring over the top of the die- that way you know that roughly the same amount of powder is being thrown every time. If it doesn't come up far enough, you know that cartridge must be checked and the powder dispenser.
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:14 AM
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Back in the day, I started with a single stage press then obtained a Star, which used proprietary dies for handguns only, I loaded .38 Special and 45 ACP. .

The star was replaced with a Phelps progressive loader that was set up so you could use RCBS dies and also reload rifle cartridges.

http://alopatsn1955.blog.bionews.com...machine-press/

The Phelps was replaced a Dillon 450, which was upgraded to a 550 then to a 550B, which I still have,

I also have two XL650 Dillons. Once i got into the progressive machines I never looked back for volume reloading.

However still bolted to my reloading bench is the RCBS Singe stage press that started al of this.

I use it for load development 50 Rds or less and for my target rounds for my rifles.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:21 PM
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I have been curios about the Star reloaders. Seems the later ones had the regular dies, case feeders and primer feed. They were supposed to be fast and accurate. I was told that places like police armories had them to load the 38 wadcutters for range use. I see them sell all the time and nice ones bring around $650, not cheap.

It would have seemed going from a Star to a Dillon 450 was a step down. The 450 had manual powder drop and primer insert?

I do have a Star lubesizer and think its great...
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:43 PM
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Default Dillion

I have been loading on a 550 for about 12 years.I have a case feeder which really helps speed things up. I also have tool heads with powder measures for 9mm .38spcl,.223,10mm,.44 mag,.40 S&W, and .45acp.
Changing calibers is fast and easy.I mostly load in calibers that take small pistol primers. When I change to large I load every thing I have that is empty. You can not beat the way Dillion backs there equipment.
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:37 PM
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Smile LEE 4 HOLE TURRET WORKS FINE

I just "upgraded" from using two single stage RCBS presses to a lee 4 hole turret with an extra turret. I load .38 and .44 special. The LEE turret press does everything that I could ask for at a very modest cost. The "auto index" feature of this press makes it almost a progressive.
Have been reloading since 1961. Wish I would have discovered the LEE turret press a long time ago.
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:06 PM
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Default Go for it

I started out reloading with a used single stage RCBS press. I wanted to learn how to shoot a handgun and I knew I could not afford to do that using factory ammo. I am very patient about most time consuming hobbies I have, but I hated how long it took to load one box of shells. I upgraded to a Dillion 550 because I already had several sets of RCBS dies and I also thought I might load for a rifle at some point. ( I had considered the Square Deal B). After a short learning curve I was totally happy with the new progressive press. I load 45 Colt, 45 ACP and 357. I use Unique, Win 231 and Alliant 2400. I have toolheads for all calibers, but use the same powder measure. I have never had a problem with the powder metering accurately. As someone else said, changing between primer sizes is the worst part of caliber swaps. I found out that the primer feed must be adjusted between large and small primers. I believe that I turn the adjustment screw back and forth 1 and 1/2 turns between the 2 sizes. I would never go back to loading pistol rounds on a single stage press. I don't load that many rounds at one time. I focus on exactly what I am doing while reloading, watch everything, and load 2 boxes at a time. Then I reload my primers and go again if I need more. I also seat and crimp in 2 different steps.
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Old 12-15-2009, 01:03 PM
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I have Dillion 550B and reload everything from 32acp-S&W500 and .223-300 RUM and dont have any problems and I have owned mine since 1987.
I also have 2 RCBS rock chuckers for target stuff.
I had the LEE1000 and it is a good press but always had trouble with the primer feed. If you buy a dilloin you will be happy from the start and never regret it.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:35 PM
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If you can swing the cost, you can't go wrong with the Dillon.
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:27 PM
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I started reloading on a Dillon 450 many years ago. Never had a single stage press. Still don't. Upgraded to 550, used it for 20 years. Sold it for more than I paid for it.

Went to 650. When you learn how to "OPERATE" your press properly you will turn out substantial volumes of reloads easily....with no glitches and a bunch of primer tubes ready, 600-800/hour is comfortable.

This gives plenty of time to clean, change primer sizes, etc.

You learn how to do batches....same size primers but change tool heads, takes a few minutes, including shell plate. If you have the spare dedicated powder measures, they are already preset if you use the same powder.

If you need a single stage press feature, you can always use that portion of your 650 for whichever function you want.

I've loaded 45-70, black powder, and a number of rifle rounds as a really efficient single stage, simply because I didn't have all the components for that particular type of progressive set-up.

Caliber change over typically can be spendy:

I prefer Dillon dies--typically ~$70 range; tool head ~23; conversion set up ~73; and if I'm using the Lee Factory Crimp Die as a chaser in Station #5 there's never an issue with such as the famed Glock bulge on range brass.

The auditory set up for powder charge is certainly a most worthy component to add.

Without the case feeder you are wasting your time.

And yes, I'm voting for the 650 as it does all pistol & rifle calibers, using standard dies.

Loading with a 650 compared to a single stage press is like shooting an M5 compared to a muzzle loader....no disrespect intended, just totally devices...
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223, 380, 41mag, 45acp, 650, carbine, cartridge, colt, crimp, glock, hornady, idpa, ipsc, lock, micrometer, military, primer, rcbs, sig arms, universal, weatherby, wildcat, winchester

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