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Discussion Starter #1
I recently sold my loadmaster. What a boat anchor!! Anyways.... I'm now shopping for a new progressive press. I know the dillon is manual and only 4 station plus they have award winning lifetime service. I'll only be loading at tops 100 rounds per week till more family members want to shoot. Then who knows for a round count. I'll be loading 308, 40, 44mag, and 45. Speed is not a concern. Quality and enjoyment are at the top. Which press would you recommend and why? I've read all the horror stories about the Hornady but are they all true. I know the Dillon has a pretty good track record. I just don't want to tinker all the time like I did with the Loadmaster. I'd like a 650 but feel it'd be a huge overkill at this time. Would a turret press work well enough? I've added up the cost including dies and the turret comes close in price to a 550 or LnL AP.

Thanks

Tim
 

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For 100 rounds a week and speed not being a concern I would be inclined to try a turret press. Realize I have never used one. I have used both the 550B and the LNL AP, both are fine machines that will take a little time to learn the tricks of each. Service on both is great. They IMHO would be overkill for your needs.
 

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For 100 rds/week i would look at the redding turret press. I own a lee classic turret, my brother owns the redding, i believe that will be my spring time upgrade.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I looked at a turret press and by the time you add in dies and such, your almost at the price of a progressive. I just don't wanna buy one thing, then have to upgrade again. My wife says to buy whatever press I'd like within reason. Buy once, cry once.
 

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andrewst35, I've owned a Dillon RL550 since 1993 and haven't regretted it one bit. Yes, it is an overkill for your current production level but I'm sure you will find friends and relatives will come out of the woodwork when they find out you can reload ... plus you will probably shoot more.

When loading handgun cartridges, I find a leisurely pace of 200~250 rounds per hour on the Dillon is just about right. It's supposed to be capable of 550 rounds per hour (thus the model number) but I would never try to go that fast. Loading rifle cartridges slows me down considerably .... mostly because I like to weigh each powder charge. When I load 223s with Varget powder (drops great in the Dillon powder measure) I can maintain about the same speed as handgun loads. When I load "match grade" rifle ammo or preprimed new brass, I take full advantage of the 550's manual shell holder. Very easy with a 550 but not so easy with an auto advance progressive.

I put a document in the library for a Dillon RL 550. You might want to download it and take a peek. Click on this link: http://rugerforum.net/library/36988-dillon-rl550b.html
 

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I have been using a Dillon 550 for over 15 years. It produces reliable accurate ammo that I use in my match shoots. I started with 45ACP and now have complete change over kits to also load 44 spec.& 44 mag. 38 spec., 41 mag. Switching to 38 spec. requires a few more minutes on set up due to changing from large pistol primers to small pistol primers. This machine will last you many many years and no worry about having to upgrade somewhere down the line for pistol reloading.
As for their warranty, everyone says it is the best. In those 15 years I have never had to use it for a defective or broken part. I average 500-1000 rounds per month.
 

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I bought a Dillon RL550B last year.
I only set it up a few months ago and started reloading.
Bit of an overkill for me, but only for the moment.
It will get plenty of good use in the future.
Good luck with your decision.





 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ya it'll probably be a Dillon. I like the Hornady but have heard too many stories and don't wanna chance it. The Hornady does have a lot of neat features but the Dillon has more bang for the buck. I'd hate to buy the Hornady, have a of issues then try to explain to the wife why I'm changing again. Lol
 

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Hornady LnL AP

Bought the Hornady LnL Ap. The problems I have had with that press I have to label as "user error". Other than that, satisfied customer!
 

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There is no way you are going to have even half the cost in a Lee Classic Turret as the other two. Dies are going to be needed in any of them, and the Lee dies, which would work better in the LCT, are generally much less expensive than other brands. The extra turrets are $10. The Lee Pro Auto Disk is less than half the price of most powder measures and so consistent it is boring. The Lee Safety Prime is very easy to use, and no primer pickup sticks. It is probably the best bargain of any loading system.
That being said, I recently bought a LnL because it takes 104 strokes to complete 100 rounds, as opposed to 400 strokes for the LCT, and that makes a great difference to my shoulder.
I am old, fumble fingered, and a mechanical midget but have had no problem with setting up or operating the LnL. The only time I have contacted Hornady was by e-mail to request a couple of extra primer shuttle springs, as I knew one would soon go zooming across the room when changing primer sizes. They were here in a few days at no cost. I simply moved my Lee dies and PAD to the Hornady and they work as well there as they did on the LCT, which is excellent.
I have never used, or even seen in person, the Dillon loaders, but they also get excellent reviews.
 

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I have the Hornady LNL AP press and have had mixed results. The first one had to go back to Hornady because it would not index correctly and would not maintain adjustment. Hornady sent me a new press and it is working, but I still have problems with seating primers or rather with primers not seating.

I've had to work around the problem by splitting the loading process. The cases are sized and primed in one batch so I can physically inspect each one before adding powder. Then I add powder, bullets, seat and crimp in another batch.

I really, really like the auto indexing function. It speeds up the process and eliminates one hand operation. It also virtually eliminates getting a double powder charge because you don't have to index the shell plate by hand. I can re-size and prime 100 cases in about 10 or 15 minutes. The only thing slowing the operation down is filling the primer pick up tubes. Adding the powder bullet, seating, and crimping takes about the same amount of time and I don't have to stop to fill primer tubes.

One suggestion I have is to use an RCBS lock out die. It really works and will keep you from loading a squib round or double charging a case. It has prevented me from getting a squib round several times and I am completely sold on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Lee is definitely out. I just got rid of my boat anchor of a press, the Loadmaster. What a headache!! Dies were great but the press was JUNK. I don't wanna tinker and constantly adjust. That's why is like to invest in something worth my money. Should've done it at first but people learn from mistakes.
 

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This is the whole setup right now:


This is the main body zoomed in a little bit:


And here is the heart of the action:


Adding the case feeder was a mouse trap Rube Goldberg machine kind of exercise that I was starting to really grind my teeth over. There are a lot of small adjustments to be made on everything and everything needs to be locked in place tight with so much movement going on as you are raising and lowering the press. But oh baby once you get it set right and start cranking the handle the ammo just pours out the side of the thing. If I used jacketed bullets I would be adding the bullet feeder to it and I can only imagine how crazy that must get with production.

The empty station was reserved for the RCBS Lock Out die that I was using until it's small plastic foot fell off into a case for no apparent reason. It would have been pretty awesome if they just threaded the end of the rod and the foot screwed on but no... Anyways, station one is your depriming and resizing die. There is an in between station that on the upstroke loads in a fresh primer. It's in between because the press auto indexes half on the down stroke and half on the up stroke instead of a full index like most auto indexing progressive presses. Station two is the powder measure. Hornady finally started adding their own brand of PTX (powder through expander) inserts for as the case is pushed up into the powder measure it would previously only activate the powder drop and now it also gets the case mouth expanded at the same time. There are several inserts to buy for each caliber you intend to reload. Or you can forget all that crap and go to Powderfunnels.com and buy their OUTSTANDING universal PTX die that is the shiznittles and works like a champ so much better than the Hornady PTX inserts. On a side note, the RCBS and Hornady inserts are supposed to be swappable but I could care less as the PowderFunnels.com insert kicks all the rest of them in the junk. Station three was the before mentioned powder check die. I'm ordering the Powder Cop but it won't be here for a while. Station four is your bullet seating and crimping die. I have mine set for seating only as seating and crimping a lead bullet likes to shave ever so little lead and makes an ugly crimp. Station five is a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp die. Lee dies use a short die body and just barely fit. They will work but you have to get them just right or they don't have enough threads holding them in place. I like the LFCD for auto loading ammo but I don't use them for revolver ammo. I've rambled about them before so enough about that. With jacketed bullets I could combine the seating and crimping into the same station and use a bullet feeder in station four and the seating and crimping die in station five.

I'm trying to come up with some kind of negative to this press. The best I can really come up with is it doesn't have some of the add on extras that Dillon offers for their presses. But then again, I could always buy the dillon primer alarm so I quit trying to load ammo with no primers... (my own fault though) and I do really like the Dillon Strong Mount but I bet I could just drill the holes and use one if I wanted to bad enough. I did add the micrometer adjustment part for the powder measure only to find out the hex nut on it isn't milled quite right and it gets stuck. I will be contacting Hornady about that next week and will see just how well they warranty their gear. If you can't tell, there isn't really much of anything yet I've found about this press that bothers me. It was very easy to set the press up and even without the case feeder it was already pretty fast. I had added an Ultimate Reloader roller arm to it but I found the roller handle to be too small and it was at a strange angle that I finally gave up on trying to get used to. Dillon's roller handle does have it all over anyone else for being pretty darn ergonomic but I'm really not having any serious issue with the plastic ball knob that comes with the factory handle. At the end of a reloading session you hand is going to be a little worn out from pushing the primers home but that would be true either way.

I can add that while visiting family I did load on a Dillon 550 and I just didn't care for it. Everything was loose fitting and the cases wobbled too much. I kept having to line the case up for the dies. They were RCBS dies though so maybe Dillon's dies are made to work on their machines. I dunno. I found the powder measure to throw loads all over the place but I was using Unique and I don't favor that powder because it's a little hard for most powder measures to meter out just right.

I also have a Lee Classic Turret and I love that press. Even with the LNL AP I still do a lot of my loading on the Classic Turret. This is a short vid of loading .223 with the Pro Auto and Double Disk kit installed. The cases were already full length sized, trimmed, and cleaned:

2012-11-25_13-08-34_792.mp4

And here is a full break down with pics:

The brass has already been prepped by full length sizing with Imperial wax and a RCBS standard FL die (not small base or X-die), the WFT has trimmed them all to just below the max trim length, the Dillon Super Swage 600 has swaged all the primer pockets even, the Sinclair Primer Pocket Uniformer has made them all an even depth and cleaned them, and last they were tumbled in walnut media, NuFinish, and used dryer sheets for dust collection. (gasp for breath...)

The press is setup with the Double Disk kit for dropping 25.7 -25.8 grains of Win 748.



This just shows the basic setup. Station one in the turret is empty as the cases have already been sized. Station two is the Lee Universal Powder Charge Die that is case activated for the Pro Auto Disk to drop the powder charge. With the rotating motion of the turret and the Win 748 being a ball powder I get some very uniform powder drops and you can see the powder drop from the disk. Station three is the bullet seating die. This die will set a crimp but I only use it for the seating depth. Station four is the Lee Rifle Factory Crimp Die. I only use it for pressing in that square edge on the case mouth.



Here, you can see the empty shell holder and the priming system empty as well.



Let's get started already...



Swing the arm down to raise the ram. The case is now where the sizing die would be if we were using one. Note the empty priming cup.



Push the Lee Safety Prime forward onto the empty cup to insert the primer.



As the arm is lowered, you can see the primer in the cup start to move into the ram and under the case.



A firm push on the arm's handle will seat the primer to the correct depth just shy of being flush with the bottom of the case.



You can feel the primer seating in and will know right away if it's meeting any resistance.



The camera isn't picking up the slight depth of the primer in the case but it's there just right.



Swing the arm again and the second station will drop the powder. You can see the disks slide forward dumping the powder.



I couldn't get a pic of the powder in the case while in the shell holder but normally you can see it during the process.



And that would be the biggest reason to use boat tailed bullets. They just set in there and don't fall out!



Another swing of the arm and the bullet is seated to the correct depth.



Last swing and last station where you can see the LFCD collet's fingers pressing in the case mouth just a bit.



Poof, one ready to shoot .223 cartridge!

Trust me, it takes waaaaay more time to explain all this than it does to actually do it. And you get into a nice rhythm and will crank out ammo in a hurry. The Lee Safety Prime is much easier to refill the tray than the hen pecking with priming tubes, and just keep an eye on your powder level not getting low.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I got burned too bad by the Loadmaster. I'd only buy Lee dies and nothing else now. Guess I've read too many online horror stories regarding the Hornady LnL AP.But it seems the Dillon 550 and Hornady come close in price once you add in the ptx dies and such. Decisions, decisions........ I'd hate to buy the Hornady, then tell the wife I need to sell it because of problems. Seems like the Dillon being only 4 stages and manual index has the least amount of problems and I could pass it down to my kids.
 

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andrew.....
you never know...til you know.

I have had many presses over a 40yr span,
but the 550B suits me perfectly.
Each of us has our own feel and opinion.
No one can choose what feels best for you.
You see it a zillion times on gun forums......
back and forth, which is best.

I chose the 550B because it manually advances.
That alone gives me greater options for what/how
I load.....and I feel it is safer for several reasons.

I probably average less than 150 rounds per hour
but I am very comfortable at that rate.

A 550B ain't cheap.
I suggest you get the Strong Mount [stand]
and the Roller Handle.

Unless someone can clearly show me an improvement
above the excellent performance of the 550B.....
I will never consider another.

I will bet you this.....
get one or two or three...any other presses......
and use them....long enough to really know them.....
then use the 550B and tell me you wished you
had not wasted your time.....

Get the 550B and you won't have a negative conversation
with your wife about it and the purchase of it.
[after the initial cost anyway]
 

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P.S. I use several Lee die sets for
pistol in the 550B
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
How would I use the Dillon powder measure on my single stage when I load 308? I was planning on sitting down at my bench when I reload. Is it better to stand? I'd also order the LED light kit from inline fabrication to help see into the cases.
 

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I bought a Dillon RL550B last year.
I only set it up a few months ago and started reloading.
Bit of an overkill for me, but only for the moment.
It will get plenty of good use in the future.
Good luck with your decision.





James that's a fine looking loading bench you have. Did you make that?

As for these fancy progressive presses I'm impressed with them even though I've never had any dealings with them. If I were younger and did the amount of shooting I did years ago I'd be all over one of these presses. The way it is now, using my 35+ year old RCBS Rock Chucker and doing it the old way is fine with me.I enjoy reloading and I'm never in a hurry .
 

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How would I use the Dillon powder measure on my single stage when I load 308? I was planning on sitting down at my bench when I reload. Is it better to stand? I'd also order the LED light kit from inline fabrication to help see into the cases.
I'm not sure of your question.....

You can't see well into any 'necked down'
brass.....light or not.

I usually check the powder weight
about every 10 or so....
on a digital scale, until I feel comfortable
to maybe check every 20......
and so on.
 

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andrewst35, There's a picture in the library document that I referenced in an earlier post. Mechanically, it's very simple. The Dillon powder die has the same threads as a standard die so you just screw it in the single stage press, then mount the powder measure on the powder die (2 Allen head screws). Inside the powder dies there is a powder funnel that is caliber specific (30 cal in this case). When the powder die is adjusted properly, you simply place a 308 case in the single stage shell holder and pull the handle. The internal linkage on the Dillon powder measure will operate the powder baffle slide when the press handle is pulled down. When you start to raise the press handle, powder will drop in the case. There are two fully adjustable powder baffles that come with the Dillon RL550B ... a large capacity for rifle and a small capacity for handgun. Of course you would need the large baffle installed for anything over 25 grains, which would apply to a 308.

I do this procedure when I load rifle cases with extruded powder because I have never seen a powder measure yet that will dump a load consistent enough to meet my personal standards (+or- .1 grains). After dumping a slightly lighter powder charge in the case, I then pour the contents in my scale pan and trickle up to the precise weight. When I use rifle ball powder such as W-748 or even short extruded powder such as Varget, the Dillon powder measure is dead nuts accurate so I just operate the press in a normal manner with the powder measure installed.

As I mentioned before ... I have happily owned a Dillon RL 550 for many years and may have developed a little biased opinion. My former neighbor and reloading buddy and I get along just great ... despite the fact he has a Hornady progressive and I have a Dillon. We have taken turns using each others equipment and both done honest critiques.

Cost: Assuming you were just starting into reloading and didn't own any equipment or dies at all ...the cost for a Hornady with three sets of pistol dies and all the conversion kits, adapters, etc would be about $200 less than the Dillon RL550B ... a plus for start up costs.

Overall equipment quality: Both press systems have their plusses and minuses but the overall quality is a dead heat.

Quality of ammo: Again, a dead heat. Both presses are fully capable of producing match grade ammo .... more related to the dies and supplies than the actual presses.

Speed: Although the Hornady is rated for 500 rounds per hour and the Dillon is rated for 550 per hour, there is no realistic difference in speed. The auto advance shell holder does not improve speed ... it just eliminates a step in the process.

Conversion time: The worst case scenario for both presses is to change from pistol to rifle (or reverse) and from small to large primers (or reverse). Because of Dillon's tool head, and powder measure, it took about half as long to convert the press from one cartridge to another but not enough time difference to really matter.

Ergonomics: We both like our own presses better than the other guys. Why? Because after you learn the process and develop a rhythm, using the other guy's press felt clumsy. I suspect if I had started with a Hornady, I would prefer its ergonomics ... same for my buddy.

Accessories: We both agreed ... the Dillon powder measure with its internal linkage is much easier to set up, adjust, and operate. If you want dedicated powder measures for each tool head, Dillons are less expensive. Because the Hornady press uses a powder measure similar to a RCBS Uniflow, it is very easy to adapt to other brands of powder measures. No clear winner ... both work quite well but neither meter long extruded rifle powder or flake powder very well.

Auto Primer systems: Although they operate a bit different, both actually work exceptionally well. Neither press liked CCI primers because the rough edges on the skirts can cause them to jam. Both presses worked flawless with Winchester primers. Changing from large to small (or reverse) was easier with the Dillon.

Dies: Both presses will work with most any brand of dies. Both of us agreed ... although they are more expensive, Dillon pistol dies are superior to other brands for a couple reasons. They can be taken apart for cleaning without disturbing the settings and produce exceptional quality loads. Dillon pistol dies are a three dies set ... no expander die because this function is done by the powder funnel (part of the caliber conversion kit) so Dillon dies would come up short one die if used on some other type of press. Hornady dies are also excellent quality but can not be taken apart without changing the settings. You must use a 4-die pistol set to get the best performance in a Hornady press. Other brands of dies seemed to work equally in both presses.

Shell Holder: The Dillon RL550B is a 4-hole press whereas the Hornady press has 5 holes. The extra hole can be used for a powder check station. After playing with the Hornady press and dropping both light and heavy powder charges, it became very apparent to both of us .... the powder check was not all it was bragged up to be. When loading 357 Mags with W-296 powder, the powder charge had to be at least 3 grains too high or too low before it would alert. You can easily detect tighter drops by just looking in the case.

The Hornady shell holder automatically advances with each pull of the handle. For normal reloading, this works great but we both agree the Dillon is much better for doing "single stage" work, such as sizing a batch of cases or working with new primed brass. So it's a trade off .... convenience for versatility.

All in all, both Dillon and Hornady presses will serve nearly all reloading needs for many years to come. If I were just starting out ... it would be a difficult decision but now that I have been spoiled by the Blue Kool-Aid ... I would still go for the Dillon RL550B.
 
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