I have posted this before but, the Dillon and LNL issue always comes up.
Your question usually ignites a firestorm of of "Blue verses Red verses etc." What you are not going to find is very many people that have actually loaded on BOTH DILLON AND HORNADY. I have loaded on both. Here is my perspective:
Consider the Hornady Lock and Load Progressive. It’s cheaper than the Dillon and has several features that, IMHO
are better than Dillon.
The Dillon has been on the market a long time and have great customer service, as a result, Dillon users are very dedicated to their blue presses. The Dillon's are EXCEPTIONAL presses and do an exceptional job in reloading
. The competition to the Dillon is the Hornady Lock and Load Auto Progressive. Because most of the Dillon users are so satisfied, when you ask the question “Which is better?”, you get swamped with comments like, "The Hornady L-n-L is Junk!" If you asked if they have ever loaded on the L-n-L and 99.9% said no. When I did find someone that had experience with both presses, most liked the L-n-L and many had sold their Dillon's and bought the L-n-L. However, there have been those that sold their red presses and bought blue. You just have to decide what you like best. Some times it’s just the color, red or blue!!
the Dillon has one major shortcoming and, most Dillon owners will agree if they are honest. The Dillon powder measure is sorely lacking in ease of use and adjustability. It meters ball type powder very well but flake type powder less so. And, extruded stick type powder is VERY troublesome and not all that accurate. To be fair, extruded powder is difficult in all powder measures. But, the L-n-L powder measure handles all types of powder MUCH better than the Dillon. Also, it is a pain to swap out the Dillon powder measure to another die plate. As a result, many owners have several powder measures on separate die plates for changing calibers. This significantly drives UP the COST.
, the Dillon priming system is less reliable than the LNL. With the Dillon system, spent primers drop through the bottom of the shell plate into a small cup. It is an “open” system and is easy to empty. However, the press gets dirty with carbon. Whenever carbon/dust/dirt or “primer dust” fouls the primer seating station this causes "flipped" or "skipped" primers. The DILLON primer system works well provided it is kept CLEAN
. The Hornady L-N-L spent primers are dropped completely through the press into a plastic tube and into the trash or bottle or whatever you want to use. It is a “closed” system. You never get carbon in and around the bottom of the shell plate. The point is the dirt off the spent primers does not foul the workings of the press. I have never had a “flipped” primer. Although I have had “missed” primers that I feel were operator error (ME!) and not the fault of the primer system. (I forgot to seat the primer!) In all fairness, the LNL primer seating station will also not work properly if the primer slide is fouled with dirt or powder.
If you want a powder check system you need a press with at least five stations. The Dillon Square Deal and 550 has 4 die stations. The L-N-L has 5 stations. The Dillon 650 has 5 stations, but costs significantly more. And, the Dillon 1050 has about 7 or eight.
How the presses indexes is an issue for some people. In reading the web about "KABOOMS" (Blowing up a gun!!). Many of the kabooms I have read about were directly traced back to a manually indexing press. This is not the fault of the press but, operator error
. With a manually indexing press, If you get distracted while reloading, you can easily double charge a pistol case case. (A double charge will depend on the powder you are using and the charge weight.) IMHO
, a double charge is less of a problem with auto-indexing presses. The Hornady L-N-L, Dillon 650 and, Dillon Square Deal auto index. The MOST POPULAR Dillon press, the 550 is a manually indexing press. Some people prefer manual, some people prefer auto.
Next, the L-N-L uses a really slick bushing system for mounting loading dies to the press. It makes changing calipers and SNAP. After a die is adjusted for whatever you are loading you can remove the die from the press with an 1/8 turn and insert a different die. Each die has it's own bushing. The Dillon uses a die plate. The Dillon die plate costs more than L-N-L bushings. Another neat feature with the Hornady is that you can buy a bushing conversion setup and use the same bushings on your RCBS, Lyman or other single stage press and the L-N-L!
Additionally, the L-N-L seems to be built like a tank! The ram is about 2"+ in diameter and the basic press is similar in construction to the RCBS Rockchucker. I would say that a side-by-side comparison to the either the Dillon 550 OR 650, the L-N-L is at least as sturdily built. And, in some areas I think the L-N-L is better built. i.e., The massive ram, powder measure, and primer system. The head/top of the press is solid except for where the dies are inserted. The Dillon has a large cutout that is needed for their die plates. By just looking, it would seem the L-N-L would be stronger. But, of course, that may not be the case.
There is one piece that can get damaged on the L-N-L. There is a coil spring that holds the cases in the shell holder that can get crushed if you improperly change shell holders. That's the bad news. The good news is that they are only about $2-3 for three and they won't get crushed if you change shell plates correctly. The other good news is that this spring is the primary reason that while loading you can easily
remove a case at any station. With the Dillon you have to remove pins in order to take a shell out of a shell plate.
You can load anything on both the Dillon and L-N-L from .25 ACP to 500 N.E. Realistically, I would say that people with progressive loaders mostly load pistol ammo 99% of the time. After using the L-N-L for while I feel confident that my Grandkids will be using when I'm gone.
In summary, the Hornady L-N-L has all the features of the Dillon 650 but is much cheaper. However, the Dillon automatic case feeder is about $50 cheaper than the Hornady. Changing calipers on the LNL is faster and cheaper. The powder measure on the L-N-L is VASTLY SUPERIOR TO THE DILLON, at least in my opinion
. I bought the L-N-L and am very satisfied. A shooting buddy of mine is a long time, dedicated Dillon user. He has three! After giving me a ration of "stuff" about my choice, he came over and used my L-N-L and sheepishly said, "That's a very nice setup!!"
Both the Dillon and LNL are very nice setups. You WILL be happy with either choice. Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi!