It’s not my intention to get into a green vs red, vs blue debate. I’m just offering my personal experiences.
I’ve had a Dillon SDB for more than 20 years. Yes it has its limits, but I really like the machine. It has never given me any problems. It runs like a fine tuned Swiss watch.
In December of last year I decided that I wanted to begin progressive reloading for 223 and 308. Previously I had been single stage loading for those. Time to upgrade. I knew the quality of the Dillon, but was curious if RCBS, Lyman, or Hornady had a progressive press that would be less expensive than a Dillon, and at the same time perform as well as a Dillon. I kept coming back to the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP. Reviews as usual were mixed, but I decided to try one, (without the case feeder) and maybe save a few $$$ in the meantime. Unfortunately, it didn’t workout that way. At least not for me.
I made my purchase with the understanding that I could return the press within a week or so, if it did not meet my expectations. It did not. With the help of another forum user, I made many mods and adjustments to the L-N-L, but it just never did perform like I had expected. I was having the primer feeding issue that many have had, as well as a shell plate timing issue. No amount of fine tune adjusting solved the problem. And believe me, I tried. For a week I tried. I also had a problem with the Lock-N-Load bushings not staying locked. Especially at the powder dump station. The shell spring retention is a good idea, but just isn’t up to snuff IMO. There is a reason they sell the replacement springs in packs of 3. The 2 things I did like about the L-N-L were the powder measure, and the ergonomics of the machine. The Dillon XL 650 would be a nightmare without the motorized Case Feeder IMO.
I replaced the L-N-L with a Dillon XL 650, with Motorized Case Feeder, and I couldn’t be happier. It just works, and in the end, it’s really not that much more expensive than the L-N-L, if you plan on adding the case feeder. I have run thousands of 223 and 308’s thru the machine with no primer feeding issues, no case feeding issues, no ejection issues. It runs as smooth as my SDB. Caliber change over is a little more time consuming, and more expensive than that of the L-N-L. But in the end, my production rate was much higher with the XL 650 over the L-N-L.
I’ve used Lee, Lyman, RCBS (still have a RCBS Jr), Hornady, and Dillon. In my opinion the Dillon machines are a step, or two, above the rest. Like I said in previous posts, some folks have had great success with the L-N-L, unfortunately I did not. Are the Dillon machines perfect? Of course not. But from my research, the Dillon machines seem to have way less issues than the others. My advice is for you too purchase the machine of your choice, with the understanding that you can return it, if it doesn’t work as you expected. I hope this helps.
Take care, and be safe.