Dillon vs. Lee

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Guest, Feb 24, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    wlynn5
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    (7/20/02 12:30:48 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del All Dillon vs. Lee
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    I can get a new Dillon 650 for about $600 set up the way I like. A complete change over to a new cal. will cost about $200.

    I can get a Lee load Master for around $200.

    This means I can get 3 Loadmasters in different cal. for the same cost and add a new complete Loadmaster for each new caliber for the same cost.

    I know next to nothing about Lee but have owned a Dillon 550 before.

    What would you do and why would you do it?

    shooter22
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 1230
    (7/20/02 3:23:27 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Dillon vs. Lee
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    Buy a Hornady Auto Progressive Lock N Load! Caliber changes are not near as expensive, and about a hundred times faster. If you are truely interested, do a little research on the lock n load. Then if you have any questions let me know. I have two of them and woulkd not own another brand.


    Oh, By the way, welcome to The Firearms Forum. We are pleased to have you here.


    Edited by: shooter22 at: 7/20/02 4:30:06 pm

    jeeper1
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    (7/20/02 3:30:42 pm)
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    I have Lee turret presses because they were cheap when I bought them and because they could be changed to left-handed operation easily. But my next press is going to be a Dillon 650.
    The Curio and Relic Firearms Forum
    To err is human. But to really screw things up you just about have to have a computer.

    shooter45 us
    *TFF Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 1636
    (7/20/02 6:14:20 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Dillon vs. Lee
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    Dillon all the way. I just sold my Square Deal B and bought an RL 550. Price $275.00. NIB

    I could have bought an RL 650 for $399.00. NIB

    Still a few left. Want one ?????

    Scooter
    Member
    Posts: 18
    (7/21/02 12:30:53 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Lee Precision
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    I just recently purchased a complete Lee set up. Turret press, scale, and all the other accessories including all the dies required to reload .45 and 9mm, all the primers, bullets and powder for just under $200. I've been exteremy happy with my choice.

    It seems that Lee has a bad rap for some reason. Probably because of the percieved value of the low priced equipment. I've reloaded approximately 2,000 rounds in the last few months, and haven't had a failure, yet. I researched the heck out of Dillon, RCBS, Hornady, and the other maj0or brands before settling on the Lee equipment. Since I was interested in "trying it out" first, before investing major $$$ I went with the Lee, and have been VERY happy with my choice.

    Would I buy Lee again? You bet.

    Don't discount their service, either.

    Scooter



    wlynn5
    Member
    Posts: 2
    (7/22/02 10:43:54 am)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Dillon vs. Lee
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    Shooter45 us, yes I want a RL 650 at that price. More info please.

    shooter45 us
    *TFF Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 1648
    (7/24/02 6:15:40 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Dillon vs. Lee
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    OK, send me an email.

    shooter45_us@yahoo.com

    Edited by: shooter45 us at: 7/25/02 5:22:59 am

    hotload
    Member
    Posts: 18
    (7/24/02 9:35:14 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del DILLON vs LEE
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    I find it easier to reach Shooter at ,
    shooter45_us@yahoo.com

    The @ works alot better than a 2
    Gotcha shooter

    shooter45 us
    *TFF Chief Of Staff*
    Posts: 1650
    (7/25/02 4:24:55 am)
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    Thanks for the heads up Hotload. I must have been having a blond moment.

    tuckerd1
    *TFF Staff*
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    (7/25/02 12:05:42 pm)
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    Just the CRS kicking in Sam!
    "They that can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither Liberty nor safety." (...Benjamin Franklin, 1759)

    rayra
    V.I.P. Member
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    (7/25/02 2:51:25 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: DILLON vs LEE
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    wlynn5, wow those Dillon prices are outta whack.

    that $200 / caliber must mean you are pricing / considering having a whole pre-set tool head, dies installed, it's own powder measure included ???

    I load about 10 different rifle and pistol calibers on my 550B, but only have 4 tool heads and one powder measure.

    The press already comes with both large and small primer feed tubes, and the corresponding primer feed bar, and the powder measure already comes with both rifle and pistol -sized transfer bars...

    I primarily load .30-06 & .45acp, and keep those tool heads 'set'. The rest I install as needed.
    It only takes ~10mins to complete an entire component transfer setup, even in case of going from .30-06 to 9mm (where you'd have to change tool heads, powder transfer, primer feed, baseplate, etc.)

    The Caliber Conversion Kits (baseplate and brass 'buttons') are ~$32, but work with more than 1 caliber in some cases (30-06 & .45acp the same, .223 & 9mm same too).

    If you do your reloading in large batches, and can handle the minor (and mostly necessary) re-setting of components, changing calibers can be as cheap as just another set of dies and a conversion kit (if it's needed).
    $50-80, vs your $200 figure.
    Can you spend $200+ on optional extras? Absolutely. But you don't have to.




    Ammo Guy Paul
    Member
    Posts: 1
    (8/6/02 10:58:44 am)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: DILLON vs LEE
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    I've commercially loaded using a Lee 1000 and Lee Loadmaster. I cut my teeth on a Dillion 550. To much work for me to change calibers and powder. For absolute simplicity I like the Lee 1000. Both Lee and Dillion have there strong and weak points. My PERSONAL decision is to buy Lee. Your results may vary. Be happy, reload.


    Paul, The Ammo Guy :cool:



    "Aim small, miss small."

    warpig883
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 4267
    (8/6/02 11:32:35 am)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: DILLON vs LEE
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    Welcome to TFF Ammo Guy Paul


    Moskovskyya
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 151
    (8/6/02 2:44:39 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: DILLON vs LEE
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    (30-06 & .45acp the same, .223 & 9mm same too).

    Ah rayra, 30-06 and .45 acp is correct, but if you're talking about 9mm Luger or 9x18 the correct shellplate is a #5 with #3 locator buttons, the .223 /5.56 uses #3 shell plate and #3 buttons. The .223 setup is exactly matched for .380, and I think 9x25 Dillon. It's close and will probably work, but incorrect nevertheless!

    Remember precision!



    WyomingSwede
    *TFF Senior Staff*
    Posts: 512
    (8/6/02 7:23:19 pm)
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    I still think Lee gives more bang for the buck. Gotta love those Dillon catalogs though. swede
    Wyoming Swede

    AntiqueDr
    *TFF Senior Staff*
    Posts: 2947
    (8/7/02 9:20:36 am)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: DILLON vs LEE
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    Just set up a new Loadmaster for .30-06. We'll see how it runs...

    It was a bit disconcerting to read the warning in the Lee manual about Federal primers, when I've got about 50,000 of the things.


    We Buy Guns! 1 - 100, Antique or Modern!
    www.apaxenterprises.com
    Master Dealer for Kimber, Wilson Combat and Dan Wesson

    jeeper1
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 328
    (8/7/02 10:50:06 pm)
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    What warning about federal primers? What does it say? Thats all I use I have more than 12,000 of them.
    The Curio and Relic Firearms Forum
    To err is human. But to really screw things up you just about have to have a computer.

    AntiqueDr
    *TFF Senior Staff*
    Posts: 2953
    (8/8/02 6:35:31 am)
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    ezSupporter
    Re: DILLON vs LEE
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    Lee manual says to only use Federal primers if you have the (optional) explosion guard. CCI and Winchester primers are said to be OK.

    Right now I am wrasslin' with the priming mechanism, and trying to figure out why the stupid powder measure is leaking BL-(C)2 everywhere.


    We Buy Guns! 1 - 100, Antique or Modern!
    www.apaxenterprises.com
    Master Dealer for Kimber, Wilson Combat and Dan Wesson
  2. pakmcc

    pakmcc New Member

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    After years of research I went with the dillon 550B, and I love it. it's a very verstial machine. I load about12 rifles cals. on it and about 15 pistol cal.
    I load berdan brass rifle and boxer every thing else. 30-06 down to .380 pistol I have one tool head for each cal. (it speeds things up, don't you know)
    I have a mix of lee dies and other lee stuff, but I try to stay with dillon.
    And I use redding and RCBS dies also. Whos got the best price and avablely.
    Pat
  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    My 20 year old Dillon RL550B press has been used so much that I had to have Dillon rebuild it twice (for free!). I reload for 30 different calibers. I had a Lee Progressive and it actually broke every time I used it....pure junk! I also have Lee dies that have rusted over the years while the RCBS, Redding and Hornady dies, stored in exactly the same place have not rusted. I like the Lee factory Crimp Dies but they need to be serviced regularly as the metal is not hard enough to resist deformation. Lee's material selection is suspect in my mind.

    It is hard to go wrong with a company like Dillon who changed the way all reloading equipment manufactures treat customer service. Dillon stuff has a life time warrantee that they regularly and enthusiastically support. But go for the RL550B press as it is the most versatile (It may be pistols only now but the history of shooters is that it soon turns into rifles and pistol, given enough time).

    LDBennett
  4. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    I love Lee equipment & they have stuff others don't like powder scoops & a super good load manual. Does Dillon have a load manual yet?

    Lee has recently changed critical areas on their presses from aluminum to cast iron making them an even better value. I did wear out a Lee turret press where the ram wore on the aluminum.

    Lee has lots of cast bullet equipment that I like working with. I just yesterday got a new Lee 6 cavity bullet mold that cast 100 bullets in about 5 minutes-no warm up time, just great bullets from the get go. The mold only cost me $38.

    I'm kind of ant-progressive & I use a Rockchucker & a Lee turret press with the actuater removed. I like the feel better & the ammo I load is special purpose, not just large amounts. If I need large amounts I buy factory by the case.
  5. Contenderizer

    Contenderizer New Member

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    I have nothing against Dillon, but for value, you simply can't beat Lee. I started reloading in the late 60's and used Lee then. When I got back into it later in life I bought the Lee Anniversary Kit and found it quite satisfactory. Lee's new Breech Lock single stage press features quick-change die inserts so you never have to set your dies again ($69.00). And their top of the line turret press is only $129.00.

    Lee also makes custom dies for me (such as K-Hornet) for less than the others charge for standard dies.

    I look at it this way: Should I ever want to upgrade, my old Lee equipment was so reasonably priced that I can use the press for seating primers.
  6. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    A craftsman's work can be done no better than the tools he uses. Lee stuff is cheap and not meant to last. Even Lee in his book admits, no brags about how he down graded the materials used for his products because other manufacturers of reloading equipment supposedly over build their reloading equipment. I'll take over built any day.

    I've been through the exercise with Lee equipment where I set aside time to reload out of a busy schedule only to have the Lee equipment break half way into the session and have to cancel the rest of the reloading session or spend precious reloading time fixing the broken Lee stuff. No thanks. I'll stick with Dillon for presses, and Hornady, RCBS, Redding or Lyman for dies. I also like the Dillon vibrational case cleaner, and their digital powder scale. For case preperation tools I really like the powered RCBS equipment. It really takes the drudgery and time consumption out of case prepariation.

    You can keep the Lee stuff. I had enough of it break, get damaged from poor materials choices or just be too simple to work well or last. There are a lot of turret and single stage presses out there and for me the Lee stuff is the absolute bottom of the list.

    This is my opinion and yours may differ.

    LDBennett
  7. Popgunner

    Popgunner New Member

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    Lee's comment on the subject is that he normaly builds presses to three times the strength needed to do it's intended job. That's even better now that he's changed from aluminum to cast iron in critical places. He comments that he uses an old C/H press in his manufacture process because it's so riduculously over-built. Dillon is not in that category because their stuff does break/wear out. Dillon is happy & chearful about sending replacement parts but their stuff still breaks. If you're going to load huge amounts of ammo then why not get a pro machine? Dillon is still among the list of hobby machines. My neighbor by my shop is a custom re-loader (Center Street Brass Co) & he's tried to use Dillon in that setting & says it constantly broke. Lee works great for most hobby situations but yes it can be broken along with all the others.
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    My experience is with progressive presses, the only kind I have owned: Dillon and Lee. These are complicated devices with lots of do-dads attached to the basic frame that make them work progressively. While both the Lee and Dillon frames seem to be of similar quality it is the do-dads that broke all the time on the Lee. I am not exagerating but the Lee broke something EVERY time I used it. Not true with the Dillon. In twenty reloading session my Dillon RL550B MIGHT break something or NOT.

    Another complaint with Lee is the materials they use for their ancilliary equipment like powder measures: lots of plastics. Also they use a steel for their dies that doesn't resist corrosion and, in the case of the high force designs like their Factory Crimp Die and their Collet Neck Sizer die, deform with normal use. This is not theoretical analysis of their faults but problems uncovered from me using them extensively.

    The bottom line is Lee is inventive but fails in the materials choice they make. That's my opinion based on my experiences.

    As for using a Professional press, I can not afford thousands of dollars for a professional one or can most others trying to save money by reloading. Of the "home" progressive presses out there, its hard to beat Dillon and easy to beat Lee. Also, in general, professional reloading machines don't use standard dies but proprietary dies made to work only in their machines that are expensive. In short, pro level machines are out of the question for me and most reloaders I know!

    If its single stage or turret muti-stage presses, that's not a fair comparison to progressive presses. They have no do-dads to break. If asked which of those to buy, I have no experience with any of them and would be at a loss to suggest one over the other. They are simple enough that it would be hard to go wrong with any of them. But based on my general experiences with Lee products, Lee would most certainly not be my first choice no matter the money saved in its purchase. Again, that's my opinion based on my experiences and your experiences and opinons may differ.

    LDBennett
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008
  9. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville New Member

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    LEE has saved me a few dollars here and there, I use a few of the Lee bullet moulds, and I recently discovered the Lee case lenght gauges/cutters.

    A $5 cutter and a $4 caliber gauge helps keep my cases uniform.

    I'm looking at getting a progressive press, and the only choices I have there are a Dillon 550 or 650.
  10. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

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    The only negative experience I've had with Lee was an Auto-Disk powder measure mounted on my turret press. That thing was pure JUNK.Sometimes it would get powder jammed between the moving disk and the frame of the measure and jam up and I'd end up with squib loads. That is completely unacceptable and unsafe in my book ! Still have the press, but now I meter out my charges with a Redding measure. It causes me to add an extra step to my process, but that's better than the alternative.
  11. williamd

    williamd New Member

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    Let's see... a Bentley Continental or a VW ... let's see .....

    Look at the Hornady AP. I have 550, AP and Rockchucker. Use the AP 90%, the Rockchucker 10%, the Dillon 5%.

    Switching betweeh calibres is a breeze ithe the AP's sytem. 4 shell plates and I can switch between 9, 380, 38/357, 40, 45, 222, 223, 7mm08, 06 with ease. Check MidwayUSA.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2008
  12. torpedoman

    torpedoman New Member

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    A timex tells you the time just like a rolex, lee equiptment loads bullets just like dillon. Waching a thing on olives one day they were packing olives suddenly the equiptment stopped and the bottles were changed to a much more expensive brand then it started up again filling the jars from the same bin containing the same olives, when the manager was asked about it his reply was "some people enjoy paying more for their olives." Simply a matter of taste .
  13. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    torpedoman:

    If the Timex quits working and the Rolex continues on then the Timex is wortheless. Lee fits that to a tee. My experience with Lee is that you often spend more time fixing the Lee stuff than using it. Where is the economy in that?

    I will cite specific examples;

    My Lee Progresssive Press broke every time I used it and did the same for the guy I sold it to. Others here have said the same thing.

    Lee collet type dies, both the neck sizer and factory crimp die, are made of such wrong materials that eventually the metal deforms requiring all the burrs and deformed parts and pieces to be fixed or the die just thrown away.

    Lee regular dies and Carbide dies have so little alloy metals in them and/or are not surface coated such that over time they can rust. None of my dies from other manufacutures has ever rusted when stored in the exact same environment.

    Lee's plastic powder measurer is worthless.

    Lee's trimming tool would be great if you only had one case to trim but when you have any quantity, say like a 100, it could take forever. It's design is unique and not very practical but it sure is cheap.

    I do not intend to buy products from a guy who insists everyone else's stuff is too strong and too over built. Anyone that touts that his reloading equipment is barely strong enough will not be my source of reloading equipment.

    Use Lee if you wish but your Times/Rolex comparison does not hold water if the Timex breaks all the time.

    LDBennett
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2008
  14. Dirtypacman

    Dirtypacman New Member

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    Dillon for me
  15. Little Rooster

    Little Rooster New Member

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    I bought a Lee when I started Cowboy shooting, cause I couldn't afford a Dillon. Then found a used Dillon 550 with everything I need cheap. I now use both and have no complaints with either. The Lee dies are usable in the Dillon toolheads. I loaded over the weekend .45 colts and used the Lee. It takes less room in my small house and is slower production wise. It's still fast enough to produce what I need. I guess ones budget should be considered when buying
  16. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

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    I must be the only one on this forum that likes RCBS:p

    Given the choice of Lee or Dillon I'd go with the Dillon. If the price is a major concern I'd go into the used market and get an overbuilt Dillon or RCBS.
  17. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

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    Yer not alone Terry, I like the green stuff too.
    (Except when they rebrand/recolor and mark the price up...like the PACT digital scale they sell with their name on it for $50 more.)
  18. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s New Member

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    Lee has not started making their progressive presses out of cast iron yet. Only some of their single stage and turret presses. Probably won't be long, but not yet.

    There is a third choice: Hornady LNL AP.

    See this comparison of all three.

    Andy
  19. mikea5232

    mikea5232 New Member

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    Little info on me. I have a Lee Turret press I like. But i want to buy a progressive. I mainly reload .38 and 357 mag. i will eventually get into reloading other pistol calibers but as of now thats what i reload. what do you all recommend and why?
    What is the difference between the dillon 550 and 650? what do you all think of the hornady AP progressive and the dillons? (The Differences between the two pros and cons?)

    Thanks!
  20. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    The 550B and 650B are obviously progressive presses.

    The RL550B is the popular one mostly because of it price point.

    The 650 has five stations instead four. I only have a couple of cartridges were I use more than three stations so the extra station of the 650 has no use for me.

    The 650 automatically moves the table with the pull of the handle (auto indexing) and the RL550B has to have the table indexed (turned) by hand. I find that manual indexing an advantage because when a progressive press screws up it is harder to fix the screwup when the table moves with every stroke of the handle. Besides that, you develope a rhythm of motion as you feed the new case and add the bullet. Rotating the table first is just part of the manual intervention you have to do anyway and just part of the rhythm. Auto indexing offers no advantage to me.

    I think the 650 is also taller allowing longer catridges than the RL550B but the RL550B will handle all the mag cartridges in the 2.5 and 2.8 inch case class. A review of their cartridge kits for the press will easily reveal the longest possible case that can be reloaded but few here will shoot cartridges any longer anyway.

    People who own the Hornady Progressive Press say it has the features of the Dillon 650 near to the price of the RL550B. The difference in features between the Hornady and the RL550B offers nothing to me, just as I have no interest in a 650. They also claim it cost less to do caliber conversion but I don't think they compare apples to apples. You don't need a cartridge conversion kit for every cartridge because like cases (30/06, 243, 308, etc.) share case accessories (shell plates) while cartridges cases like 30/06, 308, 300 Savage, 30-30 share the same powder funnels. I made up a chart of my caliber conversion parts and mix parts to get to a different cartridge. The required parts for each cartridge is in the instruction manual. Each of my cartridges is set up on the interchangeable head of the press (except the powder measure) so that changes in caliber take minimal time. They are set up once and do not have to be adjusted after that or for subsequent reloading sessions. (see note below)

    The Dillon powder measure for both the 550 and 650 are the same. It is a sliding bar measure instead of the rotary drum used by Hornady. The claim is that the Dillon is not consistent but that has not been my findings. I use mostly spherical (ball) powders or the short cut Hornady powders and my Dillon powder measure does well with them. It does have probelms with old fashioned Dupont type long grain powders but Hodgdon offers equivalents of most of them and they short cut them. As an aside too much emphasis is placed on super accurate powder measurement. It has been proven by others that a few tenths difference in powder quantity between two cases is swamped out by the many other varibles in reloading and super accurate measurement of powder is a waste of time. I saw this highlighted in a recent advanced reloading video. But the Dillon measure accuracy is easily within a few tenths anyway.

    The final "feature" shared by the 650 and the 550 is the Dillon guarantee program unmatched by anyone. Their servce is excellent and their presses are pretty much trouble free. They update them for free over time and rebuild them piece by piece as they wear out or completely if they deem it required. They are not lying about lifetime no BS guarantees. I have used their serveices more than once over the 20 years I have owned my RL550B press and their service is beyond normal expectation. My press gets heavy usage and has been completely rebuilt by them two times for free to like new specs. There was no wimpering by them...just "send that press in and we will be glad to rebuild it for free".

    Both Hornady and RCBS have over the last 20 years had several progressive press designs that they have abandoned leaving the owners of such presses hanging out to dry. Hornady did that to me on a shotgun press and felt none of my pain in refusing to update my Hornady previous model that gave constant problems (that's why they dumped the design). Dillon keeps making the RL550B better at their own expense. The latest Hornady is here today (and a good competitor for Dillon) but what about tommorrow? History say Dillon will continue to evolve and update while Hornady will adandone a design for the next best one.

    NOTE:

    Dillon 550's and 650's have a toolhead (holds the dies) that I permanently install the dies in for the cartridge of choice. The head uses the sizer and seater dies from any common source and a Dillon powder die that is universal. The powder measure is moved from cartridge to cartridge and you only need one measure. The powder measure accomodates three different powder bar sizess: small for pistols, large for rifle, and magnum for magnum cartridges but the large and small come with the press. The universal powder die holds powder funnels for the caliber of choice, not necessarily the exact cartridge, but like 30 caliber or 35 caliber or 8mm. The powder funnels can be purchased seperate or as part of a cartridge conversion kit. The primer seating system attaches to the press and is universal. It comes with a small and large primer bar which accomodates pistol and rifle primers. The cases are held in the press with a shell plate and four buttons that is cartridge specific but are often shared by a cartridge family (like 308, 243, 30-06 family). Mixing and matching per the chart in the instruction manual allows shell holders, buttons and powder funnels to serve many different cartridges that you reload and are drop-in press parts that do not need adjustments. The shell holders and buttons can also be purchased seperately or as part of a cartridge conversion kit. Changing cartridges takes but a few minutes and few adjustments the way I do it. I reload for over 30 different cartridges, both pistol and rifle from 22 Hornet to 45-70 including 7mm Mag. Dillon flat works for me.

    LDBennett
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008
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