View Full Version : Progressive Loader Best Value Purchase For Competition Shooting
February 5, 2005, 09:19 PM
OK, time is closing in and I am going nuts trying to filter out all the great threads and post I find on this forum.
I want to try a different approach this time. Maybe this will allow me to understand some of the basics that I am not used to.
I am looking for loader sugestions from this forum, but the usual problem is that most everyone will claim their current loader as the "Best" in the world no matter what. I don't see where this will ever change so I will ask my questions a little different. Please suport the machine you are using if it fits into my requirements and if it will do what I need. However, If you know and understand a better machine to do the job I need, please tell me about it.
Here is what I want to do:
I am looking for a new Progressive press that will give me the best performance for my buck. I don't need a factory, but I want very good quality. I want to limit my bench time for loading and the frustrations involved like spil cleanups, component restocking and re-tooling. Hopefully, I can pump out 300 or more Good (Perfect) rounds within an hour. I would like to do it without constant troubles of cleaning spills or shutting down the line to readjust every few minutes or to add components.
I want to load .380, 9mm, .40 and .223 in progressive style with consistantcy
I will keep my older turret around to supply my hunting and less used ammo.
My research has given me 4 good choices in brands. Then I need to chose the model and the needed options to go along with my brand choice.
If I can get the answer to these few questions, I will be greatful.
Here are my questions......
What Brand ?
What model ?
What exactly do I need in options to do what I have mentioned above?
What is the ball park price to do the above ?
Where is the best place to purchase this equipment ?
Please select from within the 4 brands found below.
If you are able to help me decide on one of thse listed brands, please give me your reasons and the details of your selection.
I know this is like a homework assingment, or maybe a term project, but I want to try it this way and see if I can get enough good solid info to make my selection.
Thank you very very much for any help or suggestions.
February 5, 2005, 11:50 PM
When I got into IPSC I went with a Lee LoadMaster Got the bullet feeder primer feeder and case feeder w/collator. Multiple tubes for the bullet and case feeder. For pistol stuff I used the autodisk powder measure with the micro adj mod. I use the factory crimp die for the pistol stuff using the seating die to seat only.
After paying very careful attention to set up I'm a happy camper.
Spare turrets for every caliber.
I set and check powder loads with a Dillon electronic scale.
Of late I have the press stripped down to do rifle load development. I trickle charge every round and don't use it as a progressive.
Now all the Dillon people will chime in. Question? does Dillon offer and bullet feeder?
Sometimes Lee has factory seconds or rebuilds for real cheap. check their website.
February 6, 2005, 06:29 AM
Just a thought, wouldn't this be better in the reloading forum?
February 6, 2005, 05:11 PM
Post in Reloading?
I spent some time thinking about posting it in here vs reloading. :confused: :o
I decided there should be more people in the this Competition forum who would hopefully know and understand "exactly" what I am looking for in a loader setup.
You may be right, the reloading section is maybe better suited but I took my chances posting here. I think I can bypass some of the bias opinions from those who load for so many different reasons other than mine.
I did some searching of the other forums and came up with tons of helpful suggestions. I printed out many pages and studied them and found that their were just too many off my topic post. When someone ask for info on a progressive press, there would be several replies about how much better it is to stay with a single stage etc. etc. etc. I respect their opinoins but I am trying to narrow this job down so I can get started asap.
I hope this is a good reason to be posting in here. If not, I will try to get it moved.
Thanks again for any help that anyone can throw out here for me to share.
February 6, 2005, 07:50 PM
I use a Hornady LNL AP with the case feeder. I have a powder cop on it and when I'm "in the groove" I can easily load 350 - 400 .38s or .45 per hour. The case feeder stays way ahead of me. The LNL collars work well and when I screw something up (like break a fireing pin on a die or when I lost the large primer feed tube) Hornady gets me free replacement parts within days.
I also have RCBS presses (turrent and jr-I have had the jr for25 years, now I just use it for bullet pulling). RCBS is great, but replacement parts usually take a couple of weeks.
I think you would be happy with either a Hornady or a Dillion, which ever is cheaper, like I said, I really like my Hornady.
I've used a Lee turrent for years, then sold it off. It was a good little press, but I need to relaod handgun and rifle faster now that my boys and my daughter all shoot.
February 6, 2005, 08:21 PM
Lot depends on how long you are goning to keep reloading and how many.
I've had some Lee products, a RCBS, no Hornaday, and a Dillon. Lee is cheap but gets the job done. RCBS, well it's in a box in the junk corner of the garage. Just flat wore it out. Customer support isn't there.
Dillon I bought in 1984 is still cranking them out. Over 100,000 rounds with no problems that weren't my fault. Lost the small primer system when I moved, called Dillon, they sent the parts FREE. Hard to beat that kind of service.
Most of the serious shooters I know use Dillons. Power and speed with nearly match grade accuracy. Get at least a 550. You'll never be sorry if you buy the best.
February 6, 2005, 09:36 PM
I started out with an RCBS Rock Chucker that I still use for low volume loads.
After I started shooting USPSA matches, I got tired of spending more time loading than shooting.
After some research and recommendations from fellow shooters, I bought a Dillon 550. Most of the people I talked to use either a 550 or a 650. Price of the press was a secondary consideration as long as it wasn't totally out of hand. More important to me was ease of use, the cost of caliber conversions, and the hassle free changing thereof.
I considered a Dillon 650 which has a faster loading rate due to a case feeder (extra cost option) and auto indexing. If I were to load huge batches of ammo and not convert calibers very often, I would have gone this route.
I like to visually check each and every powder charge and weigh any that don't look right. Even so, I can load 400 rds an hour on my 550 once I have all the components ready to go. Assuming I have it set up for the appropriate caliber, once I make the decision to load a batch I can get out the components, verify the powder measure is throwing proper charges, load 1,000 rds, and put everything away in about three hours. Changing calibers to another pre-adjusted setup takes about 5 minutes. Add a couple minutes if you need to change to another primer size.
I haven't found the manual indexing to be a problem. When something screws up, and it will, I can fix the problem and/or pull the offending round and get back in the groove a lot easier than I feel would be possible with auto indexing.
On my 550, I currently load 9mm, .40, .45, .38, and .357. The same dies can be used for .38 and .357, but I'm much too lazy to adjust them each time so I feel it's worth the extra cost for another set. I also have setups for .44, .45 Colt, .223, and .308. Once I find a load for them I want in quantity, I'll gladly set up to crank 'em out.
Dillon's warranty is truly no BS. If you break something, all it takes is a phone call.
I have seen other progressive presses, but I don't have any personal experience with them. I'm sure any quality setup will allow you to load 300+ rds/hr of top quality ammo.
February 7, 2005, 12:33 AM
If you take a look at the survey USPSA does at the nationals you will see Dillons way out number all other presses combined. Preference seems to be 650, 550, and 1050. I am still cranking away on my 550 but if I had it to do over I would probably go with a 650.
February 9, 2005, 11:31 PM
ditto on the dillons, buy the best and only cry once.
February 9, 2005, 11:49 PM
Goldy.....have you picked the phone and talked to RCBS? They have always treated me right. No BS
February 10, 2005, 02:05 AM
I have been searching forums, websites, magazines, dumpsters (or where ever I can find an opinion) for nearly two weeks now. I really have found tons of research info. My estimate is that about 90% of my research clearly pointed to Dillon. Most of them were for the 550 with a few 650's etc.mixed in.
There are plenty of good articles and opinions about the other brands too. However, the huge majority is Dillon. I think I may have found two or three articles that were anti-Dillon. With the remaining brands, it was common to see mostly good but some bad words about them. Often people would praise their brands but ended with a quote something like this.....
"Well I really think my XXXXX brand is the best, except for sometimes it does XXXXXX to me, and sometimes I have to fix the xxxxx, but I don't have many problems with it overall".
My Dillon findings were mostly people telling of how much they liked Dillon brand compared to what they had used in the past. And I think what really sold me on the Dillon was the customer service - warranty remarks. Talking about getting new parts droped in the mail to them "Free" and fast.
Now this would indicate to me that there are some Dillon problems because they had to call customer service. Maybe this is due to the numbers of Dillon owners who take the time to write about their experiences. Or maybe because many of the Dillon owners are competitive shooters who just need to load more ammo and do it fast.
My research is in no way perfect or exact science, but good enough to convince me.
Thanks to all who took a moment to reply. And to the anti-Dillon people out there, ......you still have about two weeks to change my mind. Lets hear what you have to say.
My next question is this.......I find that many Dillon owners already had several of their die sets when they got their Dillon press. This saved them paying the high price for the Dillon die sets. I have some dies that I will be using from my original press to save some money, however, I will need to buy a few more.
What do you Dillon owners buy if you don't buy the Dillon brand?
Are you using the 4 pc. carbide pistol sets or the 3 die carbide pistol sets from the cheeper companies?
Are the Dillon dies worth the extra money?
Thanks again for your helpful comments.
February 10, 2005, 07:06 AM
I am no expert by any means, but I did just go through the same decision you are making now. I just got into shooting IDPA and steel plate matches and wanted a more custom round to my way of shooting and I wanted to save some money. And defiantely new I wanted a progressive press. Well I searched every message board on the web and read a few articles and it was down to the dillon 550 and the hornady L-N-L. I bought the L-N-L, for the money and long run expense it was the better machine. Caliber changes are 1/2 the cost on the hornady compared to the dillon and the press is built heavier. I got to do a side by side comparison on the two presses and made my decision. I really like the hornady primer and powder charger better than the dillon, everything else is very similar. By the way I purchased my press from the cabela's shooting catalog for 299.00 and recieved a 50.00 coupon from cabela's as part of the deal!!! Can't beat that.
February 10, 2005, 10:53 AM
I don’t recommend Dillon dies unless you’re loading 357 SIG since they are the only manufacturer that makes that sizing die in Carbide. I currently use on my 650's and 1050’s Lee and EGW sizing dies (Depends on Caliber) also all of my tool heads are configured with Redding Competition bullet seating dies.
The biggest problem that I have found with the Dillon sizing dies is that they won’t completely remove the bulge from a case that’s been fired from a barrel with loose chamber tolerances. I.e. Factory Glock Barrels. This causes problems with feeding if the barrel that your using has tight chamber tolerances. I.e. Bar-Sto, KKM, Briley etc...
February 14, 2005, 11:22 PM
Go Hornady.. It's probably cheaper, it's larger, it weighs a ton and that's about it. Oh, shell plates cost a lot less too.
Me, I got a Hornady Projector now called Lock N Load a long time ago and load 38, 45, 45 LC, 9mm, 223, 22-250, 308, 221 Fireball, and 6mm Remington on it.
What I don't do on it is PRIME and eye will tell you why? You'll never find a progressive machine that properly seats a primer. NEVER. That's something that can only be accomplished with a hand priming tool. You know what I mean? Stop pushing when you feel the primer contact the bottom of the primer pocket. That cannot be done with all of them tons of thrust that you are putting on the primer with a progressive machine.
Think um joking? Try this:
Prime 10 cases with your progressive machine.
Prime 10 cases with a hand priming tool.
Rub a finger tip over each set and tell me which are better seated?
I have also seen quite a bit of primers seated high using a progressive machine and I will flat-out tell you that sooner or later, someone is gonna have an explosion when the face of the slide slams on that primer cup..Hope it ain't before the round is chambered in the barrel.
Do yourself a favor, prime the cases while you're looking at sports games on the tube. It's has an definite effect on accuracy and makes for a safer loaded round.
February 15, 2005, 01:02 AM
ryucasta and LSUBOY raise some good points.
Dillon sizing dies have a rather large taper at the mouth to facilitate case entry and don't size quite as far down as dies intended for single stage use.
When I started using my Dillon 550, I was shooting a Glock 22 .40 cal in competition with factory ammo. When I had accumulated enough brass, I wanted to use cast bullets (cheaper), so I installed a Bar-Sto barrel in the Glock which has standard rifling and a tighter chamber. Using Dillon dies, I never had a failure to feed or any other problem using the Glock fired brass. If you so desire, it is perfectly acceptable to use any brand dies in a progressive press, even a different brand die in each station.
I agree that a hand priming tool has a better feel than a press mounted tool. I have a Lee hand priming tool that I use when not using the Dillon. If I'm loading long range rifle ammo, it's my method of choice. The tons of force available in a reloading press are applied when the handle is at the bottom of its stroke and the case(s) are all the way up into its(their) die(s). Primers are seated when the handle is at the top of its stroke when the leverage is much less. You must push forward (up) on the handle to seat a primer. For the 25 yds or so I shoot pistol ammo, the Dillon priming system works just fine and I wouldn't hesitate to use it for rifle hunting ammo. For long range target ammo, I would size and otherwise prep the cases, hand seat primers, and for a large batch, run them through the progressive without a die in the sizing station.
February 16, 2005, 11:37 PM
I'm where you are. I have several single stage presses, with the Rock Chucker being the one I use most. I have wanted (and needed) to swap to a progressive load press for a long time, but cannot decide what to buy. Dillons are so expensive, but have a good reputation. 2 of my friends, who shoot IDPA and High Power Rifle, have the Lee Loadmaster, and swear by it. They both hold Master Class high Power cards, (shooting the AR across the course), so I know they are getting quality loads. They both have spare turrets for different calibers, adn say they looked at all the presses, before decideing on Lee. The problem I have is that everything Lee makes, seems to be plastic or aluminum, and cheaply made at that. They have a good guarantee, but, I am still not convinced. Their dies seem to be ok. They kill me with their "accuracy guarantee" though. They will pay you the difference of the different manufactures dies, if their's does not perform. But then they use full retail price for their's, and you and I have bought the RCBS, or whatever, from Cabela's or Bass Pro. The Lee is cheaper at the catalog price, but compare catalog RCBS price to the Lee Sugg. Retail price, and Lee doesn't have to pay you anything. It's a rip.
February 18, 2005, 11:42 PM
It's great to see all of your comments poster here for me. I assume there are many others who will benefit too from reading this. Thank you!
I have a couple of comments/questions to throw back at all who are reading and posting.
First, the Lee quality. I still picture the little Lee loader that comes in a little box 50 some years ago that used a hammer and flashlight to load up shotgun shells at about 4 or 5 an hour once you get up to top speed. I still remember stuffing a piece of tissue in the crimp hold to hold the #9 shot from falling out when you pick up the shell. I even used melted wax to fill them up and seal the gaping hole. Anyway, that's just my memories of Lee and I can't seem to get them out of my Head. And yes, I know they have come a long way. They were the pioneers of reloading equipment I assume.
Guarantee.......short and simple............most of them are not worth the paper they are printed on. It's like insurance companies. You pay and pay and pay, and if you ever have an accident or a claim??? You still Pay and Pay and Pay. However, I am impressed with what I hear about the Dillon guarantee from people in this forum. I have to believe it's better than most as I think we are a good honest bunch of shooters in here.
Progressive priming............This is one thing I have been thinking about all along. When I was loading with my turret Lyman, I never machine polished any brass. I would clean the crud with a rag as needed, and I always deprimed and then used the little pocket reamer (I think thats what it's called) to get the carbon out of the primer hole and square up the bottom. Then I would blow on them and rap them on the bench or whatever it took to get them clean. Even a little dust bothered me. I wanted them clean. I found that they primed sooo much easier with the press. I would always feel the bottom of every load with my highly trained finger after I primed. Always looking to see if there were any high ones. I guess it was mostly being tooooo darn picky. However, a high primer will cause problems with the cylinder turning in a revolver. That's really the reason I was doing the extra careful priming routine.
Now with this said, once I go to a progressive loader, I still want to have good quality. What is the best way (someone mentioned hand priming) to do this? I have a tumbler on order. Do I tumble quickly to get the basic crud off so it don't bother the shaping dies, and then deprime and finish tumbling to try and clean the primer pocket?
This is making the "progressive" way of loading no so appealing. What are your comments on this part of the job??? Scottys1, I think generally said that Dillon 550 priming will work for most pistol shooting. This makes me feel much better about progressive loading.
Ok, back to you.............
February 19, 2005, 12:23 AM
Do I tumble quickly to get the basic crud off so it don't bother the shaping dies, and then deprime and finish tumbling to try and clean the primer pocket?
Well my anwer to the above comment beings I reload on a dillion machine, is this you could deprime and run them thru the tumbler again if they are that dirty. But generally speaking my brass dont get that fouled up that it requires the extra step of depriming and running back thru the tumbler. In the event I do get some grungy brass that I picked up at the range I will rinse the casings in a coffee can or something similiar to get the mud and muck of them, then let them dry overnight. And then run them thru the tumbler. I have the dillion tumbler and so far havent had any casings that warranted being deprimed and run thru again. Any carbon that may have been built up in the flash hole will be removed when you deprime the brass anyways. As far as the primer pocket goes none of the brass I have reloaded has had the primer pockets loaded up with crud. So I think if you have extra dirty brass just run it thru the tumbler longer and you will see that after depriming that you wont need to run them thru again.
February 19, 2005, 12:31 AM
I hear you. Remember when Federal use to put a drop of wax on the ends of their shotgun shell crimps? Well the wax built up in the end of my chamber until I could not chamber a round. The barrel on that gun, screwed in like a rifle, so I had to take it to a gunsmith to have it removed and cleaned. He said the build up was from wax, and that the heat and pressure generated, hardened the wax so much, he almost had to use a lathe to get it out. haha.
Lee presses today are much better, but I just have a real problem with just about everything Lee makes. Their little set of scales, they claim to be soooo accurate, is all plastic, and is really hard to set. Their hand primer works good on everything except my 7mm Rem Mag cases, which it leaves the primer higher than the case head. I sent it back to Lee, and they sent it back to me and said it worked fine! Yeah, right, like I don't have eyes of my own.
When you choose, let us know what you bought.
February 19, 2005, 02:07 AM
Progressive loading loses a lot of its luster if you can't do the whole job on the press.
I just sat down after loading a batch of 9mm on my Dillon. 400 rds tonight, 400 rds last night. I'm set up with 9mm for a while.
I can't say I've never had a problem priming, but its been rare. The most common is a spent primer that somehow flips its way into a place that interferes with the operation of the ram or primer slide rather than falls into the catch bin like it should. The actual feel of seating a primer has been fine. The seating depth has always passed the highly trained finger test.
I don't worry about cleaning primer pockets on pistol ammo, but I do look at them from time to time. I've tried depriming brass then tumbling in an attempt at cleaning primer pockets, but it doesn't seem to make much difference. If I want them truly clean, I'll use a primer pocket uniformer which I only bother with on rifle ammo.
Pay attention to feel of the handle. If it feels different, it's for a reason. Stop, take a look, see if there's a problem.
February 19, 2005, 08:24 AM
Couldnt agree with you more Scottys1 :D
February 20, 2005, 11:02 AM
The only time I have ever had a problem with priming on a progressive press like the Dillon 650 was when I was using military brass with crimped primer pockets. That problem is non existent in the Dillon 1050 since one of the stages will swage (Remove the crimp) from the primer pocket automatically.
Regarding you tumbling question just tumbling the brass once before you run it through the press is sufficient.
This only applies to the Dillon 550 and 650 presses the 1050 does it on the down stroke.
"Primers are seated when the handle is at the top of its stroke when the leverage is much less. You must push forward (up) on the handle to seat a primer. "
February 20, 2005, 07:38 PM
My bad. Ryucasta, you are correct.
I've seen a couple of 1050's, but have never used one. They seem like the class of the field. I would imagine seating primers on the downstroke would be a totally different feel. With as many stations as they have, it seems like you would run out of operations to do while loading before you ran out of stations to do them with. Primer pocket swaging, powder check, trim, etc.
Just out of curiosity, how difficult is it to change over to a different caliber?
One reason I went a 550 is the ease and relatively low cost of changeovers.
I shoot primarily .40, so this is what my machine is set up for most of the time. A few hundred rounds of 9mm, .45, .38, etc. will usually last me a while so I change over and run off a batch as necessary.
February 25, 2005, 09:38 PM
I'll jump in here with my experiences on progressive presses. I started shooting IPSC in 1988, and shortly after, I purchased a Lee Pro 1000. I retired that press about 3 years ago when I upgraded to a Dillon 650 . Personally, I like auto indexing, I feel that it is an added safety measure. To me, manual indexing is always the place that a double charge can happen. All it takes is one minor brain fart to double charge a case. Now on to my experiences with the 2 presses.
The Lee loaded many 10's of thousands of rounds of 38, 9, 40 and 45 ammo. The press did good, but there were a few quirks that I never got worked completely out. First, it seems that out of every 100 rounds, I always had 2 or 3 that the primers went in either upside down or sideways. The little plastic primer feed chute really never fed the primers real smoothly, either. I was always tapping on either the feed chute or the primer holder to keep them feeding. I had the case feeder tubes and they did good for the most part. All in all, it was a good press for the ~$100 or so that I paid for it, but that is what I had, a hundred dollar machine. What few times I had a problem, a part wore out, or I broke something, I always had to pay for it. No freebies. Seems like I did good to load 200 or so rounds per hour. Another thing that hindered me on the Lee machine was that I liked to use the Lee Factory Crimp die after I loaded, just to make sure the round was as close to in spec as I could get it. Since the Pro 1000 only had 3 places for dies, I had to do this as a seperate step. Now, the Pro 1000 does have 4 hole turrets, I think.
About 3 or 4 years ago, I decided to upgrade to the Dillon 650. That was my choice since I wanted auto indexing. I went whole hog with the case feeder, powder check and all. I have it set up to load 9mm, 40, 45, 223 and 308. Any other calibers I shoot, I load on a Lee Turret Press. I don't shoot enough of them to justify progressive loading, as they are mostly hunting loads. I can change calibers on the 650 in about 15 minutes, I really haven't timed myself, but it doesn't take long. Caliber conversions are a little pricey, but it is good quality. If you really get into it, there are several parts that can be moved between calibers to help save a little money. Since I was already loading these calibers on the Pro 1000, I still use my Lee Dies with the Dillon press. As for loading rates, a few weeks ago, I loaded 1100 rounds of 40S&W in 90 minutes, including about a 10 minute break at about half way to reload primer tubes and get a drink. This past weekend, I loaded 1800 rounds of 9mm in less than 3 hours, including breaks and primer tube relaoding. 223 and 308 I can load at ~400 to 500 per hour. This was just working at a steady pace, not trying to set any records. I inspect every round after I finish, and so far, in the last 3 years, I haven't found one upside down primer. Now this isn't to say that there isn't a kink every once in a while, there is. The Dillon isn't foolproof, it is just light years ahead of the Lee 1000. I have broke 2 parts, it was 100% my fault both times, but they were insulted that I offered to pay.
All in all, the Lee is a good machine, it will get your ammo loaded, but won't be fast. I can't bi*ch too much about it, becaues I used it for about 13 or 14 years and loaded literally truck loads of ammo on it. You might have some quirks you have to work around. If you can afford the more expensive Dillon, by all means go for it. If you get the 650, you will need the case feeder. If you don't get the case feeder, go with the 550. Another Dillon to look at if the 550 and 650 is a little out of your range, but you still want a Dillon, is the Square Deal B. It uses Dillons own proprietary dies, and loads handgun ammo only, but is still a progressive with auto index. I haven't used one personally, but several of the shooters in my club do use them and really like them.
Good luck on your choice and safe reloading.
February 26, 2005, 07:34 AM
Again I went through your process looking at progressives recently to get another one to accompany my Ammomaster.
Dillon was not an option for me because of problems with them in the past, not their products I may add but the attitude of their sales people.
I am sure that Dillon progressives are excellent as their is so much testament about it but I bought the Hornady LNL progressive.
It works just fine no problems, excellent ammunition, and easy to use. I'm sure its just as good as the Dillons but probably no better, I think the proper comparison is with the Dillon 650, but where it is better is on value for money.
Build quality and robustness is as good as the Dillons if not better.
Dillons success is part an excellent product, part its marketing and part its market place longevity with good working designs. None of the other big names have left their products in the market place for so long. I would have bought another Ammonmaster progressive if I could, the one I have is 12 years old, loaded 10s of thousands of pistol and rifle ammunition rounds and is still going strong. I've never needed to contact customer support.
It wasn't available for me so I went with the Hornady does the same job as the Dillon for less.
That has to be the clincher.
That in my eyes makes it a "better" product.
February 27, 2005, 07:38 PM
When I was looking to buy progressive presses the Hornady LNL did make the short list but what convinced me to buy Dillon at that time (1999) was that Hornandy did not make a case feeder for the LNL press while Dillon did for the 650 and 1050.
February 27, 2005, 10:34 PM
For more years than I can now remember I collected reloading presses. Not single station machines but Potters, Hollywood turrets, Jordans and progressives. Though not always successful I tried seriously using them all.
Probably had three dozen progressives. Never bought a Dillon 1050 or 650 but I had all the rest including a RL 1000. Think that I had serial number 5 Hornady. They gave me that machine.
Eventually someone offered to buy all my machines at a price I could not turn down so I sold them.
Personally I think that the finest machine ever made was the Star. Work of art. WAY to overbuilt but, well, they would work without problems for 50+ years.
Of the current crew, at least the ones you mentioned, I'd pick the RCBS Pro 2000. I've got two. I've also got two Piggyback III's. The first two RCBS Piggyback really suc@ed but not the III and IV. In my opinion the RCBS strip primer system is the best primer system ever BY FAR.
Dillon are certainly ok machines but I think the current RCBS machines are better. Lee's and Hornady are interesting but, well, I don't miss mine.
March 20, 2005, 10:28 PM
Have used other machines from time to time, but have owned the Dillons since 1988. I started with a 550, because of my friends' recommendations. They felt, to a person, that the volume of reloading I wanted to do, this was the machine to buy. Had great luck with it. I used it for over 5 or 6 years. The only issues I had were priming (my inattention to proper adjustment). They overhauled it for me every year or so at no charge.
After one of my sons started shooting (along with my wife and me), the need for speed escalated and I opted for a 650. The casefeeder and another station to add the powder charge check was enough to warrant the extra dollars.
After the other son started shooting and the rest of us started shooting more USPSA and 3 Gun, I switched to a 1050. Cranking the rounds out now, right? Caliber change was more of a chore than the 650 and since we all shot 3 or 4 pistol calibers and 1 rifle caliber......another 1050. Spitting out ammo left and right. The quantity needs were being met. Oops, we started shooting 308. Sooo, we bought another 550 with a friend to load that caliber.
In summary, I can't speak for the other loaders except what my Dad and friends have told me about their experience (sometimes good, sometimes bad). ALL loaders have parts that wear, get screwed up or get lost. Dillon, in 17 years, has never charged me for parts, my screwup or theirs. They have walked me through, over the phone, a number of times on things that the instructions didn't fully explain.
My Dad still uses his single stage. He thinks that all the therapeutic value of reloading is lost once you get over 100 rounds per hour (or so he says). My therapy comes from blasting away, not having a Zen experience on the reloader.
My vote is Dillon, if you can.
March 25, 2005, 12:05 PM
They are all good, some with better percs. If you were to look in my basement you would find, Lyman, Lee's, Mec's, RCBS, Hornady and a Dillon. I have two old, 20+ Lee progressives that I leave setup in 357 & 9mm. I would hate to guess how many rounds have been accross either. Never had to replace a part on either one. If you were in a race, I believe a Lee would outdistance my Dillon 550 especially if you had someone filling primer trays, casing feeder and powder hoper. I believe the Dillon 650 is faster but have no personel experience. I like the die change out speed on the Dillon as I use it for 40, 45ACP and 45LC however for about the same price as the equipment needed to change cals you could buy a Lee and just leave it set up. By the way I haven't mentioned my Hornady yet. It too is a fine piece of progressive machinery built like a tank as is the Dillon.
I guess if I had to worry about down time I would say Dillon has the best and fastest Warrenty Service and it is NO BS.
Last off I do not worry about speed, and I think too many people worry about speed or reaching the rate the manufacture prints on a piece of paper. I find it much more enjoyable and safer to just plug along looking in the cases after they come through the powder station, and generally checking "things" as I go. When I went from single stage to progressive for hand gun cals. 20 something years ago, not too long into it I had a squib load in 9mm. Luckily I caught it when it happened and didn't follow it with another round. That taught me a lesson to slow down and do a visual on all powder charges on all presses that don't have powder checkers.
Good luck in your quest for a loader. Don't worry, no matter what you get someone will tell you you should have got something else. lol :D
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