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Old March 28, 2006, 11:00 AM   #1
cliffhanger
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Dillon RL 550b dies

I am new to reloading, picked up a dillon rl550b on the advise of a co-worker. I took it home, set it up, but I don't know what kind of dies to buy for it. I am looking to reload .40, 9mm, and .270 rounds. I got a .40 conversion kit that came with it, but I don't know if I need to buy dies for the different calibers or if I can just use the conversion kits for the pistol rounds and just buy a rifle die.
Any help would be greatly appreciated
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Old March 28, 2006, 11:16 AM   #2
azredhawk44
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cliff -

welcome!

Each caliber you intend to reload for (with some rare exceptions) requires a separate set of dies.

I'd suggest that you start with the rifle caliber to begin learning... You have less of a probability to double-charge a case and cause injury to yourself or others.

Not sure what a conversion kit is... I know that Dillon's typically have a removeable shell plate with 4 holes that facilitates changing to a different caliber quickly. To use the shell plates to swap calibers rapidly, you have to have a plate for each set of dies, though. That may be what they mean by conversion kit... your press came with one plate with 4 dillon .40 caliber dies in it?

With the automatic calibers, be sure not to crimp very hard (or at all). The cartridge seats itself in the chamber by using the exposed cartridge head, so don't crimp it into the bullet deep or you will have failures to fire, out of battery malfunctions and slide jams.

Ask more questions! We're all here to help.
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Old March 28, 2006, 03:06 PM   #3
caz223
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I have a 550, and you still need dies for the calibers you intend to load.
Almost any brand of dies will work, but I'd recommend either dillon dies as they come with the right dies for your caliber and press.
If you buy RCBS dies, they will come with an expander die which you won't use, and you will have to crimp and seat in station 3 due to the fact that RCBS dies don't come with separate crimp dies.
If you already have lee or RCBS dies they will certainly work, but I'd recommend buying a LEE carbide factory crimp die in each caliber you intend to load, and use it in station 4. That way, you can use your combo seat/crimp die just to seat, and crimp with the LEE FC die.
Anyway, the best dies to use in progressive presses have a nice sweeping taper along the bottom of the die with the decapping stem in it, it will really speed up your production, you'll crush less cases in station 1, and because the powder drop is case activated, you'll have to basically clear out your stations, you really don't want to short stroke your press, ever, because of the possibility of double charging cases at station 2.

I would also buy a toolhead and powder die, it will greatly simplify your caliber changes.
I have a dozen or so deluxe quick change kits, and my caliber change from 9mm to .40 or vice-versa takes maybe 10 seconds, at the additional cost of about $70 per caliber.
Changing from 9mm to .40 (Or 357SIG.) is prolly one of the fastest caliber changes there is, because they use the same primer size and shellplate.
9mm to .45 will take more time.
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Old March 28, 2006, 05:38 PM   #4
Rivers
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You're really going to be confused. Everybody has a different idea about what you should do. I'd use Lee dies for the .40. Well, I personally would NEVER reload .40s, but if I did, I'd use a really slow powder and would be extra careful. I'd suggest your getting the Lee Deluxe four-die set, which includes a Factory Crimp Die (for the handgun cases).

Reloading for the .270 is going to be more complicated, as you'll need to lube the cases, trim, chamfer the case mouths, etc.

Read your reloading manuals. Keep asking questions.
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Old March 29, 2006, 09:26 AM   #5
caz223
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I do see rivers' point. If you intend to load .40 for a glock, or any gun that doesn't offer very good case support, I would go with lee dies. (They size further down the case.) If sizing 'once fired' cases of unknown origin, make sure to inspect them for the 6 o'clock bulge otherwise known as the glock smilie.
Watch for setback, use a powder that fills the case 3/4 full, is not in the fast burning range for the application, and do the thumb test on your first few rounds, and re-test at least once a box. You do have a bathroom scale, right?
Take one of your loaded rounds, and bring it to the bathroom scale. Put the bullet end toward the scale, and pressing with your thumb on the primer side of the case, try to smash the bullet into the case. I'd say 50 pounds is ok, but some people go crazy and try to hit 75+. Whatever. Measure OAL, and make sure the bullet didn't move, or at least not excessively. Pressure spikes very rapidly in the .40 case, and if it's short, it really goes overpressure really fast.
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Old March 29, 2006, 11:50 AM   #6
cliffhanger
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Thanks for all your help and answers. I have several more questions that have arisen since. Rivers, you made the comment that you would not reload .40 cal. why is that? What is the 6 o'clock bulge? Also, I am looking at the different types of bullets to use for reloading. I am leaning toward fmj, but I came across a good deal on some hard cast lead bullets. I have heard that lead bullets do not work as well in a semi-auto due to problems with catching and deforming on the ramp. Have any of you had the same issues, or are they feasible bullets to use? Thank again for all your help
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Old March 29, 2006, 01:11 PM   #7
Rivers
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cliffhanger: Lots of folks successfully load .40s, with no problems. However, I'm pretty heavily invested in 9mm and .45 (and variants on that platform). It's JUST my personal opinion that the .40, due to its high pressure and short case for the caliber it is (compared, for example, to a 10mm) leaves very little room for that old nemesis, human error. Just a little setback, or just a little too much powder, particularly if you're using a fast powder, can bring disastrous results.

The 6o'clock bulge is the bulge the brass makes when fired, when that brass is subjected to high pressure and isn't supported @ the 6 o'clock position of a pistol's chamber. Very few, if any, pistols offer total case support.

If I were going to reload 10mm bullets, they'd be for 10mm cases. Well, I would load .400 Cor-Bon, which uses 10mm bullets, but the pressure is much lower than on a .40.
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Old March 29, 2006, 02:37 PM   #8
caz223
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*shudder*
Shooting 180 grain 'hardcast' lead bullets through any .40 is not where you want to start reloading. No offense intended.
Load 9mm with lead, jacketed or plated first. Use medium powders. Unique/WSF/HS-6/power pistol/longshot, etc.
All of them will work for most general purpose 9mm or .40 loads.
Unique is prolly the most versatile, mainly because it has been around the longest. Metering is ok, but not great.
WSF is as accurate as unique and almost as versatile. Load data is not widely available. Easy metering.
HS-6 is basically the same as WSF, except that it's more dense, and there's more load data available. easy metering.
Power pistol isn't the most accurate powder ever made, but it's hard to imagine a more suitable powder for 9mm and .40, at least in higher power loads. Very forgiving, easy metering.
Longshot is THE powder for high octane .40 loads with light bullets. You won't believe the load data hodgdon has listed. It's standard pressure, but it's hotter than most factory 10mm loads.
135 grain nosler JHP .40 cal+longshot=WOW.
http://www.hodgdon.com/data/pistol/longshot/index.htm
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Old March 29, 2006, 04:14 PM   #9
azredhawk44
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Ditto on the .40 as a last caliber to learn to reload. Stay with the lightest bullets possible until you are extremely proficient and fully understand for yourself WHY heavier bullets are more dangerous.

Stick with 115gr for 9mm and 135gr for .40 until you are a bit more proficient.

But with most rifle powders, you will not be able to double-charge a 270 case. There is also a lot more case volume for pressure variations due to different bullet length. Rifle loading is more tedious than handgun loading, but is also much more forgiving (to a point).
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