Which Progressive?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by smlranger, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. DW is asking for suggestions for Christmas. So, even though I've only been reloading since early this year, I am getting the itch for a progressive press. While I really enjoy using my rockchucker, I would like the advantage of faster loading for my 9mm and 45 ACP.

    I am a big Cabela's fan and have muchco bonus points on the Club card. Obviously, that leaves out Dillon. I am not married to Cabela's so will consider the Dillon 550B along with the Hornaday LNL. I may not even pull the trigger on either but still would like to hear the opinions of folks on the forum.
  2. 312shooter

    312shooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Las Vegas NV
    I can't say enough great things about the Hornady LNL AP. After being in your shoes a year ago I'm enjoying every moment behind my red press. Not that Dillon would have been anything less satisfying, I just perferred the availability of Hornady parts at any of the major outfitters and sporting good stores, Midway USA etc. Hornady customer service is top notch and have provided me with friendly help from time to time and even some small parts I damaged or broke for free. Look no further the LNL, at $400 you cannot find a better five station, auto advance progressive press.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2011

  3. Brisk44

    Brisk44 New Member

    Mar 6, 2011
    You can't find a progressive press for a better price than LEE. Used my PRO 1000 to load many, many thousands of rounds for all my pistol calibers. I am extremely happy.
  4. X Ring

    X Ring Active Member

    Mar 23, 2011
    It is more or less a mater of personal preference, some swear by Dillon and some by Hornady. The Hornady LnL AP press is a little lower price than the Dillon XL 650, but the case feeder is higher so it is a toss up. The Dillon RL 550b is slower than either, but will produce well enough for most.

    I personally would not give up my XL 650 for any price. I need the production that the XL650 with case feeder provides. I load thousands of rounds at a time to feed the habit.

    I broke the indexing ring on my 17 year old XL650. One E-mail and they sent not 1, but 2 new parts and a tool to check the timing with, all at no charge.

  5. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    My first choice would be the Dillon RL550B (no surprise to those that know me here!). The press is easy to use as a single stage, a turret press or full progressive mostly because the table does not automatically index forward (you manually move the table with each pull of the handle). I would not have the RL650 because it has auto indexing, is very expensive, and mostly because I do not need the volume it can produce. The biggest thing you get with Dillon is the well known super service Dillon offers any of its users of Dillon equipment (others' service pales by comparison).

    The Hornady progressive has a big following here and is comparable in function with the Dillon RL650 for less money. I don't like the auto indexing and I don't need the volume it can produce. Hornady (and RCBS too) have produced many version of progressive reloading presses over the years and it took some time before their machines could match anything Dillon made for the last 30 years (the RL550B design is about 30 years old and has had very few modifications in the intervening years but Dillon has provided free updates along the way). My experience with Hornady customer satisfaction is not good. They made a crummy shotgun progressive press I bought, then replaced it in their lineup of presses with a new and "better" model and would not help me replace my crummy model that they had discontinued).

    LEE makes two completely different progressive presses: the Load Master and the Pro 1000. I have no experience on the Load Master but I owned a Pro 1000 for about a year. Every time I used the Pro 1000, it broke. Others here report the same thing. In general after reloading for over 30 years for more than 30 different cartridges, my take on anything LEE makes (and I have tired most of what they make) is LEE has inventive designs but picks the wrong materials for the implementation in order to enter the market place as the cheapest products. I no longer buy any LEE product except for their very inventive Rifle Factory Crimp Die. Even then I have had to repair them due to galling caused again by poor materials choices by LEE.

    But maybe you don't need a progressive press and a simple turret press would do the job. There are several good turret presses on the market like the Lyman T-Mag 2 Turret Press or the Redding T-7 Turret Press. They increase the production rate because you put the case in the press only once, not multiple times as you would in a single stage press.

    We all get to choose so get whatever you fancy but do your homework. Here's an overview:


  6. LD:

    I have been looking at turret presses but some of the reviews I've read say they don't really speed up the process. With a turret, I see that you leave the shell stationary and rotate the turret to the different dies. However, what about powder charging? Can I put my RCBS powder measure on the press?

    I also don't want to spend $$ on a turret if I am going to eventually end up with a progressive press.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
  7. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    If you are bound and determined to eventually have a progressive then buy it now if can afford it. The turret press is only an intermediary step. It does save time as you only put the case in the press once, not once for sizing, once for priming, and once for seating the bullets as you would with a single stage press. But on a turret press you do have to operate the handle three times to get one cartridge whereas with a progressive each pull of the handle gives one completed cartridge. You can get adapters to allow most powder measures to work through a "powder die". You can get an automatic one from Hornady or others make just a powder die that is the funnel to which you screw on the regular powder measure like your RCBS.

    If you can avoid being drawn to the Hornady because you get the performance of the Dillon RL650 for less money and if you can avoid being drawn to the LEE because they are so cheap, the most versatile press you can buy is the Dillon RL550B. If you buy Dillon you will not be sorry, as many here who have will attest. And you will get the best after sale service, including any reloading problems that you may have, from their reloading experts.

    I say always buy the best tool you can afford.

  8. Waldog

    Waldog Member

    Jun 7, 2007
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
  9. Double D

    Double D Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    North Florida
    I have considered giving away my lee 1000, but I wouldnt do that to anyone, so I think I will run it over with my truck or shoot at it.
  10. dbennett48

    dbennett48 New Member

    Feb 4, 2010
    Ukiah, California
    Put it on eBay and let them bid on it. Presses sell pretty good on eBay.

  11. Thanks for all the suggestions. I am leaning toward the Dillon RL550B. I've looked at several of the videos on the internet and like the idea of manual indexing.....to me, at least, it seems to add a bit more operator control over the entire process but still gives you the speed associated with progressive reloading.

    Another good reason is the local fellow who initially helped me get into reloading has three Dillon presses and was, until recently, a very high volume reloader (he collected machine guns and recently sold all of them). He has offered any and all assistance with my reloading and he would be a good resource if needed.

    For now, I still enjoy using the Rock Chucker Supreme.
  12. cpttango30

    cpttango30 Guest

    I own a 550 b. I can tell you what it has made my little RCBS single stage a lonely thing on the other end of the bench. I load just about everything except 223 on my dillon. Service is second to none as is RCBS and Hornady. I like teh 550 over the 650 because of the manual index.

    As for speed when I get humming along and in a good rhythm I can crank out 450 to 500 rounds in an hour with my 550b.

    One last note on the Dillon. If you plan on using dies other than Dillon change out the lock nuts with dillons I used my RCBS dies for my 45acp and the rcbs rings didn't offer enough room to get the dies tightened properly.

    It really comes down to what you want in a press.

    1. Do you want Red or Blue?
    2. Do you want tool heads or die sleeves?
    3. Do you want auto or manual index?
    4. Do you want 4 or 5 stations?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2011
  13. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    Everyone's dies I have used (LEE, Hornady, RCBS, Dillon, Forster) fit the RL550B toolhead. While some of the locking rings only catch a thread or two, they are secure enough on all my 30+ setups. The problem dies are the LEE with their aluminum locking ring with an O-ring instead of a split ring with an allen screw. On those you throw away the O-ring and use the locking ring inverted. I still have a couple of sets of LEE dies for calibers for which I can not get anyone else's die set. All the LEE die sets I bought years ago I got rid of as I find them inferior to virtually everyone else's... but that's just me and you (and others here) may find them adequate.

    As for the Dillon die sets, I have one set. I find them no better than say RCBS and a lot more expensive.

    Here's another tip: as you procure setups for the various calibers you reload, keep a chart of what each caliber requires (that you already have bought) for the shell plate, the buttons, and the powder funnel. When you need the next setup look in the manual and see which parts you already have and only buy the parts you need loose. Then make a chart as to where each part is stored. For example, the 30 caliber powder funnel can be used on all 30 caliber cases like 308, 30-06, 30 Carbine, etc.. The #1 shell plate and #1 buttons can be used on some 30+different calibers. There are charts in the back of the RL550 instruction manual. By the way you can download the manual off the Dillon web page.


  14. Question about the 550B:

    My RCBS die set for 45 ACP has an expander die and the bullet seat/crimp die. With the Dillon, case expansion is done at the powder charge step so my RCBS expander die would be redundant. However, since bullet seating/crimping is done with the same RCBS die, would I just leave the #4 space empty on the tool head when loading 45?

    Just curious at this point.
  15. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA

    Most of my 30+ different setup use only station #1 through #3 with #4 empty. Some of my rifle setups (especially those for lever, pump and semi-autos) fill the #4 station with the LEE Factory Crimp Die (I know its LEE which is a no-no for me but this die works very well indeed and I check them regularly for galling of the collet). In that case I back out the seating/crimp die so it only seats bullets and does NOT crimp. Note that the LEE Factory Crimp Die for pistols does NOT use the collet principal for crimping (it uses a standard crimping technique) and only Glock owners need it as it resizes the cases all the way to the extractor grove during crimping.

    Remember that for rifle cases you size first then trim. Trimming on my cartridges is not necessary with every reload so most rifle reloading can be done directly from the tumbler to the press and on with progressive reloading. But if after sizing a sample of five or so cases it shows that the cases exceed max case length then I decide to trim. I size-only the lot of brass using the press as a single stage press to size and deprime (ONLY). I then trim the lot of cases and return to the press. I remove the sizer die and finish off the lot progressively. This is only necessary after three or maybe more reloading cycles but the ease of using the RL550B as a single stage press is what allows this. Also if I am reloading a couple of test rounds reloading them on the press operated like a turret press is also possible.

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