Choosing a Dillon progressive press

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by LDBennett, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    A recent post here from a guy having trouble getting his new Dillon RL650 set up made me post this guide as to which Dillon to buy. Based on his post I think he over bought for his uses. The most expensive press is not necessarily the best press for all users.

    The Square Deal.... For pistol calibers only. It uses only Dillon dies. It can produce large quantities fast in those pistol calibers. It has auto indexing of the table and if something goes wrong at one station during the reloading process then that feature can be a nightmare. If you shoot competition pistol this is the press for you because it makes lots of ammo fast.

    Dillon RL650.... Premium, expensive, high volume pistol and rifle press. It uses regular dies. It has auto indexing of the table which, as in the Sq. Deal, can lead to nightmares when problems happen at one station. This press is hard to use as a single stage press but can be used as a turret press. The RL650 is not really the press to start on as you have to learn the reloading processes while learning to use a complicated press.

    Dillon RL550B.... The most versatile of the Dillon presses. It uses regular dies. It does pistol and rifle cartridges, single stage, turret operation, or full progressive. The table is manually indexed which makes fixing a problem at a single stage easy. If you are going to buy a Dillon this is the one to buy unless you are only shooting pistol (then buy the Sq. Deal), or if you need high volume (then buy the RL650). The RL550 is the beginner's press as it allows easy single stage operation as well as turret press, and full progressive.

    What is the difference between single stage, turret and full progressive?

    Single stage is done in lots. You do the sizing of the entire lot, then the powder delivery in the entire lot, then the bullet seating and crimping of the entire lot. It takes at least three pulls of the press handle to get one finished cartridge and the cartridge has to be placed on the press table and removed at least three times. (remember this is a generalization for using the Dillon presses.)

    Turret press operation takes three pulls of the handle to get one finished cartridge but you do all process with one loading of the cartridge onto the press table, manually indexing the case to each station. It can be three times faster than a single stage press.

    Full progressive reloading gives you one finished cartridge for every pull of the handle. At least three process are being done at one pull of the handle on three different cartridges. This makes it three times faster than a turret press. Full progressive reloading is at probably 5 times or more faster than single stage reloading. When things go wrong they go wrong big time and manual indexing helps to reduce the confusions and the problem.

    Hope this helps.

    LDBennett
  2. Freebore

    Freebore New Member

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    LD,

    Nicely put....
  3. frosty

    frosty New Member

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    I would buy an RCBS 2000.

    Its cheaper in the long run to use compared to the dillon.

    What I am getting is shell plates and such. If you do the math and add up everything to get started for one caliber between the two presses the RCBS is cheaper.

    No, you do not have to have a powder measure set up for every single caliber with a set of dies in a die plate. That is mere convenience.

    Oh, yeah its still INPLANOTX's fault for getting me started in reloading and casting...................:):D:D.
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    frosty:

    Based on history you may not be able to get parts for the RCBS press in the future. Why? Because this is perhaps the third or fourth RCBS iteration of a progressive press over the same time period as the Dillon RL550B has been on the market. Seems RCBS has had a problem getting it right (??).

    There is no press on the market that compares to the versatility, quality, durability, and warrantee/service of the Dillon RL550B. Yes, there are other presses but they fall down in at least one of those areas.

    But we all get to choose and 20+ years of good service from my Dillon RL550B makes me a bit biased. You get to buy whatever you want.

    LDBennett
  5. Waldog

    Waldog Member

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    LD and I have bantered back and forth so many times I consider him a good friend!!
    Not all Auto-Progressive presses are a nightmare if you have a problem at one station during loading. Some AP's are MUCH easier than others in clearing a problem.

    Also, (This is my opinion, LD disagrees!!), a manually indexing press is easier to get a double charge in a pistol case if you are distracted. In my OPINION, an auto-indexing press significanty reduces this error. Remember, these are opinions based on experience and I certainly respect LD's experience.

    LD is absolutely correct in stating the the 550 can easily be used as a "single stage" press.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
  6. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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  7. frosty

    frosty New Member

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    RCBS still is making the 2000 manually indexing press today. It has served me very well. I have never had a problem with it....EVER.

    Nothing has ever broken on it. Small things made of plastic (just like on the Dillon) do wear out but, RCBS has replaced them for free....exactly like Dillon. Its been years since I needed anything (regular upkeep) from RCBS (just like Dillon). So its a wash either way you really look at it.

    I like the Dillon presses, I have several friends that have one of some flavor or another. At the time I wanted a progressive the RCBS cost less. Still even today it cost less than the Dillon.

    Both presses do the same job.
    Both presses share many of the same attributes.
    It really comes down to how much money you want to pay up front to get started.


    Regards
    Frosty
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Before Dillon service in the reloading industry was poor. If it broke you got to buy another one. Dillons service has always been exemplary. They changed the industry's take on after sales service.

    Here's my story on Dillon's service:

    When I started reloading I had two pistols. My financial situation (single father recently divorced paying alimony) so I thought they were all I would ever own in the way of guns. I bought the Square Deal. It worked well enough but occasionally broke (I think in retrospect that I broke it by allowing the handle to hit the bench with every pull). When I contacted Dillon after having the press for over a year to get replacement parts which they offered for free, I was starting to buy rifles too. I expressed my aggravation with having bought the pistol press when I then needed another press to do rifle cartridges. The comment was in passing and Dillon asked what would please me. I said a RL550B. They took back the Sq. Deal for full value, applied its full value to a new RL550B and billed me for the difference in list price. Hornady would not do that for me when their piece of junk shotgun press continuously failed and they came out with a new model. Others tell me that RCBS at that time would not have done that either. In the interim Dillon has provided parts that wear out and break and has done two complete overhauls on my heavily used press for free. They mean life-time warrantee! They have even replaced Dillon presses that were damaged in a house fire!

    Dillon changed the reloading industry's take on warrantees and service.

    LDBennett
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  9. frosty

    frosty New Member

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    L.D.
    That is some excellent customer service you received. I personally have never heard of another company doing as much as Dillon:cool:. I agree that Dillon has set the bar for superb service. Yes, everybody else has had to either match it or suffer the consequences.

    Regards
    Frosty
  10. socalfamous87

    socalfamous87 New Member

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    Do they even sell single stage Dillon presses?
  11. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    No but the RL550B can be used as one.
  12. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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    They have had the BL-550 out for a little while now; it can be fully upgraded to a 550B in stages.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=risKd6tknJo

    PM sent socal.
  13. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    The BL550 is actually a multi-station Turret press, not a single stage press.

    LDBennett
  14. cpttango30

    cpttango30 Guest


    I have owned a 550b for 6 or 8 years now. Yes it is much easier to get a double charge. As for problems with the Dillon you just pull the pin and slide the cartridge out.
  15. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Double charges?

    I reload for over 30 different cartridges, many are pistols. I have NEVER gotten a double charge out of my Dillon RL550B. Why?

    I pay attention when I am reloading. I have a series of hand movement that are almost natural because I have been doing them for so long (over 25 years). If I loose concentration because of some problem on the press I stop and inspect each station to be sure I know where I am at. I watch every stage of the press with every pull and listen for every sound and pay attention to the feel of the press handle. If anything is "funny" I stop and check everything. I may operate my progressive slower than some but that way I am sure all is right.

    The case for double charges I think is more of a possibility when you reload single stage and use blocks to hold the cases while putting the powder in them. Automatic operation of auto advancing presses is too remote for me. The press can screw up and you'll not be aware since all you are doing is pulling the handle (well almost). The extra hand movement to advance the table of my RL550B is totally automatic for me after all these years and I have control of the press. Yes, I had an auto advance press (actually two...Lee and Dillon Square Deal) and I prefer the manual advance of the RL550B.

    LDBennett
  16. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Active Member

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    I feel the same; you can pull the handle twice and get a double charge; that is a fact. You'd have to be pretty careless to not feel the difference on the second pull and also realize that you've already got a bullet seated when there shouldn't be one. Good habits and paying attention will save a reloader every time. I've never had a double charge other than the ones that I throw in my test cases (note TEST cases) I will always throw a double charge in my test cases to get a visual on it. Note also - I weight out the charge and pour it into the case while it's in a powder pan, so that if it does overflow the case, it doesn't overflow on my press.

    I like to follow my hand with my eyes when I'm turning the starwheel, my eyes then glance in the case before I set the bullet. Each and everytime, the same pace and steps; methodical and steady.

    I am going to go with a 650 eventually, but that's just due to increases in volume and I will have a powder check die installed. Good habits will still be in place no matter what press I'm using.
  17. zant

    zant Active Member

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    I agree with L.D.....I've had my 550 since 1994...I can crank out .45 and other handgun ammo.....or I can load match .308 or H&H 30 Improved,1 at a time and make them accurate as heck...I personally won't own a reloader with auto indexing......unless I win powerball and have a Dillon 1050 for each cartridge I load:)
  18. JohnTheCalifornian

    JohnTheCalifornian Member

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    One of the best ways to assure you never get double charges is trying to find a load that almost fills the case, if a double charge were to occur, it would a messy and very obvious mistake. But as others have said, giving your full undivided attention to the task at hand is paramount.
  19. Caneman

    Caneman Active Member

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    double charges can be prevented by using an auto indexing press, and if you have a 5th station on your press and you can use a powder checking die...
  20. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    I own TWO Square Deal B's. They are without a doubt the BEST way to load pistol rounds in quantity. I also greatly appreciate the small footprint they have on my bench. The powder measure is as accurate as any I've ever seen as well. I too have had experience with Dillon's "No BS" warranty and it's just as LD said. I also find it very easy to clear a problem; just pull the pin and out comes the problem case. The only downside is using the proprietary dies for the machine as they are kind of pricey. I find it more than pays for itself in the sheer volume of loaded ammo it pukes out. It is a little slower when loading long cases like .41 mag or 44 mag, but in the .45 acp it's awesome.
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