Best Progressive Loader

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by milzblackburn, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. milzblackburn

    milzblackburn New Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    I am getting into reloading and want to get some advice from the experts.

    I think I want a progressive machine.
    I want to easily be able to swap out Dies and change calibers.
    I may want to load 500 40 cal 500 10mm and 1000 45 in one night. (maybe even a 30-06)
    I dont mind paying if it is for quality and it makes my life easier.

    My questions.
    Do I really want a progrssive?
    What brand and Model will suit me?
    I have been looking at the RCBS 2000 and the dillon 1050 (the 1050 may be an overkill) I dont want something that will be a nightmare to set up.

    Look forward to hearing from the experts.
  2. VegasTech702

    VegasTech702 New Member

    Sep 10, 2006
    Las Vegas, NV
    I was pondering the same exact thin about two months ago myself. I was also not wanting to spend the money to get a Dillon progressive. I was ended up getting a Lee Turret Press Kit and accessories. I bought a 150 dollar workbench from Sears. I also got a hornady case tumbler, media, a Lee zip trim. I later bought the dies and tool head to reload .380 as well as 9mm. Changing calibers is very simple and quick. My volume on the Lee Turret is not bad. In fact it is perfect for the amount I shoot. (200 rounds or so a week). This press can handle rifle calibers if I should choose to reload them.

    My reloading adventure has been what I consider a great success. I watched the videos on how to set the dies up on the website. I met a guy at a local gunshop that sold me about 2200 9mm cases for 50 bucks and an unopened 8lb keg of W231 powder for another 75 dollars.

    I have reloaded about 1500 9mm rounds and about 350 rounds of 380. I have shot about 700 9mm and 200 of the 380 stuff. I had only two failures that occured with the .380. The primers were sitting a little high. Other than that I have very accurate and cheap handgun ammo.

    The biggest problem I have is that I am going through bullets so fast... and Primers.

    Good luck, read a couple manuals before you do anything, and be safe!

  3. Mark

    Mark New Member

    Jul 1, 2006
    I'm a big fan of a progressive reloader for pistol ammo. Case preparation is almost non-existant for pistol, pick 'em up, tumble em, and run 'em through the press for good quality ammo. Carbide dies will eliminate the need for any case lube. I've had great success loading pistol ammo this way.

    Bottle neck cases, like the 30-06, are another matter. I've gotten into quite a discussion on this forum about this very thing. I maintain there are quite a few steps involved in case preparation that need to be done, and a progressive doesn't lend itself to that arena. There will be people along to tell you the opposite very shortly, but the logic behind their argument is, "That's the way I've always done it, and I've never had a problem."

    I would like to point out, in defense of these people, that I do a fair share of reloading for a service rifle, which in itself has more quirks than a bolt action rifle. I'm also a journeyman toolmaker, which automatically means I'm anal.

    I would advise you to pick up a current copy of the Sierra reloading manual, and read the section on reloading for gas guns. Even if you aren't reloading for a military style rifle, there are certainly enough good tips, and enough information to warrant the cost of this manual. Ultimately you will have to decide for yourself, and being armed with facts can only be a good thing.
    Good luck,
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    The answer to your question is Dillon but the RL550B rather than the more expensive 1050. The 550 is more versatile as it will do most all the pistol cartridges and rifle cartridges, regular and magnum (Not the super big cases like the 50 cal machine gun cases). Your volume requirement yell "Progressive!".

    Dillon popularized the Progressive Press and the 550 is their first effort that was so good it has only been minimally modified in the last 20+ years. RCBS is on their third version, I believe, with each totally different from the last. Their latest finally looks like a Dillon. Dillon also changed the reloading world for service to the customer. They will fix or replace almost any press failure for life (they even replaced a customer's press that was in a home fire!). Their customer service is so great that all the reloading companies now try to emulate it. You will very rarely see a negative word about Dillon on this stie or any other for that matter. It is an excellent company with excellent products. My 20 years experience with my Dillon RL550B has been great!

    What you need is a RL550B with seperate tool heads (plate that holds the dies) for each caliber you reload, all preset up so all you have to do is change them (remove and replace two pins). You can use one powder measurer for all calibers and just change the powder bar beween pistol and rifle cartridges. Each caliber has a case holder kit that includes the plate the holds the cases, pins for the table that keep the cartridges from falling off the rotating table, and powder funnels unique to each case neck size (caliber). The primer system has a seperate bar for large and small primers, no matter if they are rifle or pistol, just two bars. Setup is easy and is only done once per caliber. I often work as you described doing large quantities of various calibers in a limited time period. The Dillon RL550B works for that. It also works as a single stage press or for low quantites of rifle cartridges progressively. It makes quality ammo of any size. It uses standard rifle and pistol dies from RCBS, Forester, Lee, Hornady, etc., as long as they are the standard die threads. Dillon also makes their more expensive dies for it.

    Lee products tend to be inexpensive alternates. The Lee progressive I had and that many other here report to have owned is very troublesome. It broke every time I used it over a years period. I upgraded to Dillon. Their Turret press may be more break free but you'll never get the volume out of it that you can get from a full progressive...remember you get one finished case per pull of the handle progressively where as in the best case scenerio on a turret it takes at least three pulls of the handle to get one cartridge. Sound like a three to one advantage to me! Lee also changed the reloading industry by offering low cost dies to the consumer when at the time RCBS products and others where multiple times the price. Lee forced the pricing points on dies down to todays levels. I appreciate them for that but I do not appreciate any of their inexpensive products that, at least for me, were failure prone. For dies today I prefer RCBS as they are virtually for life and the Lee dies eventually rust or fail---in my experience. Dillon dies are no better than RCBS, in my opinion, but are a lot more expensive.

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