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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've wanted to reload for a long time, I just had to many things going on to start. Now I've got the time and I am building a reloading bench in my garage. I have some reloading equipment, it's all single stage Lee and RCBS stuff. But I would much rather have a progressive set up.
I've been looking at the Dillon presses but there are so many things to add on I'm not sure what I need. What I would like to do is set up 4-5 different calibers and be able to change them out in as few steps as possible. I know someone on this forum knows exactly what it takes to do this. So tell me, what model of press do I need and what and how many add ons are required to accomplish this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The press I was thinking of getting is the RL550B or would the XL650 make it easier? What are the differences between to two? How much room would I need on my bench?
 

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Lots of Dillon help around here,I'd would love to own one someday but my Hornady LNL AP has never had a hiccup and every item available is found at my local sporting good stores. Give it a look and compare the price to a 650
 

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The press I was thinking of getting is the RL550B or would the XL650 make it easier? What are the differences between to two? How much room would I need on my bench?
IMHO, both of those presses are a lot for a beginner! I think folks should start slowly on the reloading end. Buy what you want, read some reloading manuals, then read them again, before you start to reload. I've been at it for over 35 years, and a simple Lee turret press is all I have ever needed. The presses you mention are for folks that do a lot of shooting, like competition shooting. The majority of us will never need anything that will make that much ammo that fast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks 312, it has some pretty cool features.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Carver, How many rounds an hour can I reload with single stage equipment?
 

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I really don't know about the single stage equipment, but I can do a hundred rds per hr, pluss, with the turret press, if I get with it. Single stage would be slower, I've never used one. I have loaded up to 500 rounds in a sitting with the turret press, and with breaks, and such, 3-4 hours, when just goofing off. Mostly I just take my time, enjoy making the bullets, becaus I know that I am going to enjoy shooting them. There are 3 hole, and 4 hole, turrets presses, mine is the old 3 hole. The dies are set in the turrent, and never have to be adjusted again, unless you are using the same set of dies to load both .38, and .357/.44 spcl, and .44 mag. I just buy another turret, and another set of dies for each bullet, mark one .38, and the other .357. When switching from one bullet to the other, I just swap out the turrets, no adjustments needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What make and model of press do you have Carver? I inherited equipment from my father-in-law. They're a couple of single stage RCBS presses. The calibers I'll reload the most are .357, .41 mag, .44 mag, .223, 7mm-08, .308 and .300 Weatherby mag. and I want to be able to have the different calibers in a quick change setup.
 

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With my Lee CLASSIC turret at a super relaxed pace i can churn out 175 rounds per hour with ease. Single stage I'll do 50-75 rounds per hour at the same slow but steady pace.

Progressives (and no question Dillon makes the best and priciest) can churn out 300-500 rounds per hour with similar ease.

Caliber changes can be pricey depending on the make of press. Lee being the most economical as a separate turret for each caliber is about $10 and caliber changes can be done in seconds. Some Lee reloaders even get a Pro powder dispenser for each caliber to make the change-out even faster. Again not a big $$ investment.

In general you trade $$$$ for speed of output and some features. Match your realistic ammo needs and budget to equipment and it will pay for itself in a year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How reliable are the Lee presses?
 

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I owned a progressive Hornady LNL for 5 months and I could not get it to run. I bought a Dillon 550B and it has run flawlessly for months.

The Hornady had auto advance and so does the Dillon 650 but the Dillon 550B does not. I do not miss the auto advance feature.

Dilllons are used by 95% of professional pistol competitors and there is a reason for this. Buy a Dillon and don't look back.

Yeh, it cost more but you can avoid a ton of aggrevation.
 

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What you need depends on how much you shoot and what you want. If you are shooting rifle rounds that cost $1- $3 every time you pull the trigger a single stage might be good enough. If you are shooting semi-auto pistols with 10 - 17 round magazines a single stage press will drive you crazy because it's so slow.

I really don't see any merit to learning to reload on a single stage then moving to a progressive. The learning curve is the same. You can load one round at a time on the progressive until you get comfortable with the process and the press then start speeding things up. With a single stage you are stuck with a single stage and the only way to speed up the loading process is to buy a new press.

Dillon and Hornady make good progressive presses. I choose the Hornady because it has auto indexing at a price that was significantly less than the Dillon 650 - the Dillon 550 has manual indexing. The auto indexing was important to me, but other people don't mind moving the shell plate by hand after each stroke.
 

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My LEE Turret press is very reliable. I have had mine for at least 6 to 7 years, and not one issue with it. It just keeps on ticking. It's the best auto indexing turret press out there(I think it is actually the only one..??)
And if you wish to take away the Auto Indexing feature, you just remove the indexing rod. Easy as pie.

As for the Dillons,

The RL550B and the XL 650 are pretty much the same machine. The difference lies in the fact that the RL550B does not auto index the shell plate. The XL 650 does.

I own an XL 650 and can say I am very happy with it. But I think there are a lot more 550B users here.

If you dont want to spend the big bucks, thats alright. The LEE turret press will serve you well.
 

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If I had the money, the Dillon 550B would be the choice for me. It can be used in single stage or progressive. It's a manual progressive not auto progressive asis the XL650. I don't have that kind of extra cash lying around so I went with the Lee classic cast turret. I don't have the advantage of cranking out one complete round with each pull of the handle but I'm not a speed loader anyway. The cost of change overs is quite a bit less as well. All in all, I'm happy with the Lee.

LD should be along with his Dillon sales pitch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
How many different steps are there between clean brass with spent primer to loaded round ready to shoot. Do I have to check the length of each case and trim it before reloading it?
 

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See: this is where I start pulling what little hair I have and go take a blood pressure pill. Let me explain.

Pistol, rifle and shotgun are totally different animals. They require a different approach to produce quality ammunition that will go bang AND go where you want it to. With modern carbide dies and a taper crimp, loading pistol can be done quite well on a fully progressive press. Rifle however is totally unsuited to progressive loading. Oh; you can make rifle stuff that will go bang, but the whole point is to craft ammunition that is safe and perfectly tuned to your rifle for the utmost in accuracy. Your previous post nailed it and it's called "case prep". You can't get away from it. You HAVE to trim, deburr, clean, examine, possibly anneal etc. before you can load, and all of these steps occur AFTER you've resized the brass (which means that same brass has to come out of your progressive loader then go back in later). Case lube has to be removed. Hand-tool priming may be preferred. Hand weighing powder charges is usually preferred. All of this slows down the rifle loader to the point where a single stage press is the ticket for loading rifle cartridges.

If you are jumping from one pistol cartridge to another like .40 S&W to .41 magnum you will have to retool to change primer types. This can be a pain on some progressive loaders. The only way a progressive is worthwhile to own (IMO) is if you sit down and load a gazillion rounds before setting up for a different caliber. If you have lots of brass, bullets, powder and primers you are good to go. If you are only loading 50 rounds at a time then the progressive isn't such a good idea.
 

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seriously, if you are looking at blue or red do a lot of research... when i was looking to get a progressive i was brainwashed blue going in, but after researching for a while i could see the side by side comparison and red was a much better value and design as far as i was concerned... it is true that red may require some tinkering at the inital setup, but if you push thru this it will run flawlessly... most reloaders are good tinkerers anyway and can handle the setup red may require, as for me Hornady LnL had a few issues to iron out but once it was tuned up i have never looked back with it... i really enjoyed the setup process as it enabled me to learn how the machine works... the Hornady customer service is top notch... have fun and good luck

edit: i wanted to add that understand that the Hornadly LnL AP and Dillon 650 are true auto progressives, while the Dillon 550 is basically an inverted turret press (manually indexing)
 

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I look at it as an investment; you're gonna have it and then pass it down for likely several generations (fingers crossed), a hundred or so dollars more??? how much are components, a hundred rounds of rifle bullets/powder/primers are that much.

So not that it isn't expensive, but even $500 for a Dillon 650 is worth every penny IMO, get it, go for gold, and never look back!

Dillon has fantastic customer service in my experience, easy to get parts and tech support.

space wise, just chalk off about 3' wide total, the press only takes up less than half that but you will need space for bullet boxes and for loading your flip trays/primer tubes and other odds and ends tools/accessories.

Caliber conversions are running about $75 now for the 650 I think.


but Myfriend410 has made some excellent points, for rifle, I resize on one run through, then trim/debur and back in the cleaner for a bit, then they get munched through the press. It's pretty nice to be able to knock out 1000 rounds in only a couple hours.

Pistol cases just get inspected as they go in and through the press, I do not use the case feed device for this reason.

get the roller handle, worth it's weight in gold also if you load a lot!
 

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What make and model of press do you have Carver? I inherited equipment from my father-in-law. They're a couple of single stage RCBS presses. The calibers I'll reload the most are .357, .41 mag, .44 mag, .223, 7mm-08, .308 and .300 Weatherby mag. and I want to be able to have the different calibers in a quick change setup.
The one I'm using now is 25 years old, and still going strong, it's a Lee Turret Press. I just clean it up every once in a while. This is the one I have. It's mounted on my reloading bench, just turn the turret by hand, or they have a tool that you can install that will do the job for you. It's a pain in the butt though!
 

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