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Old December 6, 2007, 11:01 PM   #1
Sigma 40 Blaster
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Dillon 550b???

Hey guys,

I'm seriously thinking about upgrading from my Lee Pro 1000 to something else...I'm just having too many small problems from it and am tired of hand-priming due to the "funky" priming system.

I reload for a few different calibers so a Dillon SDB really isn't an option (way too much for a conversion kit and dies). I'm looking at a 550b but online it says that it's manually indexed?

I current have to auto-index my Lee...that's kind of why i want to get another press for my .40 cal because I shoot and load a LOT of it. Will I really be saving any time by going to a different press that I still have to manually index? I'm trying to keep in mind the time I'll save by priming on the press but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea of forgetting to index the shellplate, punching a live primer and potentially double charging a case.

Am I looking at the dangers/disadvantages of this press in the wrong way??? I suppose I could save up some more money for a 650 but it's really more money that I'd like to spend.
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Old December 7, 2007, 05:53 AM   #2
hodaka
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I don't think that you will have a problem forgetting to rotate the shell plate. The 550 is so much better than the Lee. I started with a Lee many years ago. Seemed like I was always working on it. Flipping the shell plate to the next stage is a simple, natural movement with your left hand. Rotate, set bullet with left hand, set case and pull handle with right. You can go pretty fast.
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Old December 7, 2007, 09:36 AM   #3
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Don't know about the 550 as I have a 650. However, I will say that Dillon tech support is excellent. I've called about 6 times and each time I got a live person in the U.S.A. within 30 seconds that knew the equipment and was able to answer my questions.

I haven't used other equipment so I have no idea how their tech support stacks up.
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Old December 7, 2007, 12:26 PM   #4
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Rl550b

I've been loading on my RL550B since the mid-90's. No problems. Load .45 ACP, 38 Spec/.357 mag., .45 Colt, .223, 7.62x39, and .308 Win. on it. I loaded .45 ACP in volume for USPSA competitions for many years. Once set up, I'd often get into a groove and load 400+ rounds an hour. Not bad for a manually-indexed machine. I too progressed to the Dillon from a Lee Pro 1000. Nothing against the Lee - it was a great way to get started in reloading. But I found that I spent alot of time keeping it in adjustment. I don't have that problem with the Dillon. Once it's set up to throw the charge I want, and seat the bullet to the depth I want, I don't have to adjust it again. The limiting factors to how much ammo I load are: The mount of brass, powder, primers and bullets I have on hand, and my own physical endurance. I loaded for two hours straight once - had alot of great ammo when I was finished.
I will say one thing - if you have alot of Lee dies, their threads sometimes seem a bit short for the Dillon toolheads - not quite enough thread for the Lee lockring to get a good solid puchase. I haven't had this problem with Dillon, Redding, or Hornady dies. Just something to think about.
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Old December 7, 2007, 12:38 PM   #5
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If your going to buy a 550b, now is the time Dillon's prices are going up on 01.01.2008.
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Old December 7, 2007, 03:05 PM   #6
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I purchased a Dillion 550B back in 1985 or so. I am certain I have loaded at least 100,000 rounds with it. Since I have used other brands of progressives, I cannot comment or compare between brands.

I like Dillion’s customer service. They have a great no “BS” lifetime warranty. They have replaced old and worn out items for free. The compound leverage block cracked, they replaced it. Powder bars have worn out, they replaced them. I still have the original powder funnel and it is working fine.

The priming system is reliable. Gummy residue will get the primer feed arm out of time, so I keep a toothbrush nearby to wipe away reside around the shell plate, primer feed arm, each time I dump 100 primers.

The powder dispensing system is reliable, but without graduations, you have to spend too much time in changing the throw weight. Once set, the thrown weight is very consistant.

Pistol ammunition is easy to reload, each time you pump the handle you get a round. I figure I pump out 250 rounds an hour. I know folks who are much faster.

I use my Dillon to dump rifle powder and seat the bullets on my match ammunition. I no longer use IMR 4350 with the Dillion as the throw weight varies too much, and I weigh my long range charges off the press. My Dillion throws IMR 4895 well enough that I shoot HM scores with the stuff. While numerically you can’t do better than a clean, you can try to shoot 10 X’s. With Dillion reloaded ammunition my highest is 100-8X. And that with an M1a!.

I size my rifle brass on a Redding T-7 Turret press. I don’t like getting case lube all over my Dillion press.

I also prime rifle brass by hand and inspect each and every primer to verify it is below the case head.

With sized, trimmed, and primed rifle brass, I can load an ammo can of the stuff extremely rapidly. Much faster than using a single stage.

The shell plate pins are a winning idea. If you have a mistake, you remove a pin, and remove the offending case.

I do like the manual indexing. Without a doubt automatic indexing would be faster, but manual indexing gives you more control of the process.

I have a couple of Dillion pistol sizing dies. They are expensive but they have the best features for progressive presses that I have found. Mostly I use Lee Carbide dies on my dillion, for handgun ammunition. They cost less, and the decapping pin does not get loose.
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Old December 7, 2007, 06:47 PM   #7
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I have a 550 and it is good press, but not a great one. It is now used to load only one cartridge of the dozens that I regularly load.

Go to this thread for my feeleings:
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=270224

For all the reasons listed in that thread, by several people, you will see why the Hornady LNL Progressive is recommended over Dillon.
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Old December 7, 2007, 07:27 PM   #8
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I respectfully disagree with Shoney - in my opinion, there is nothing Hornady makes that is as good a piece of equipment as Dillon makes. Dillon isn't perfect - but neither is Hornady, or RCBS, etc.

But I think you might be overlooking something as well -when you say the square deal is out because conversion kits are too expensive ... To change calibers on Square deal - converion kit comes with dies at $ 75 / on the 550 you have to buy a conversion kit for $ 98 and dies at $ 58 / the 650 the conversion kit is $ 128 and dies $58 ........and usually you'll want a toolhead and powder die at the very least for every caliber for another $ 27 - or go to a quick change kit instead ( they're $ 85 - $ 90 ) which adds a powder measure and tool head stand. So if the square deal B is too expensive to convert - the 550 or 650 isn't going to make you happy either.

However, I think the 550 is a good press and it is about $ 110 cheaper than the 650 right now. There is nothing wrong with the 550 - but it is different than the 650. The 550 does have to be indexed manually and that might be a hassle for you. The 550 does a lot more calibers, especially rifle calibers, than the 650 does so that may be a factor. The 650 has a powder check system that the 550 does not have - and I think that is a great feature - but that system adds another $ 64 . But nothing is free ....
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Old December 7, 2007, 07:43 PM   #9
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Go with the 650, that 100 bucks will be nothing in six months from now, and you will be happier with the auto index.......................ck
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Old December 7, 2007, 07:59 PM   #10
Chief-7700
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Love my 650, as I stated above BUY IT BEFORE 01.01.2008 Dillon's prices are going up.
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Old December 7, 2007, 08:27 PM   #11
James41
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"am I looking at the dangers/disadvantages of this press in the wrong way??? I suppose I could save up some more money for a 650 but it's really more money that I'd like to spend."

Manual indexing the 550 is no problem at all. It is almost reflex by the time you have used it for awhile, and if you make a mistake, just back it up. If your thinking about it taking extra time, i do between 250 to 350 an hour on mine and don't even break a sweat.

Better check the price of that 650 closely before you go shelling out the bucks for it. For example that fancy case feeder does not come with it, it is a $200 option, which brings the price to $689 right off. Without the case feeder it really isn't that much better than the 550. By the time you add all the little options like tool heads and such your gonna be way up there. If you have the bucks and the volume, go for it, it's a great machine when you get all the options, just expect a price of between $1500 to $2000 by the time your done. I sold off a Lee Loadmaster progressive for the same reasons you want out of the 1000. To much time trying to keep it running. Picked up a 550 and haven't regretted it for a second.

If your like the majority of us and are doing mostly your own stuff and aren't shooting 5k rounds a month then the 550 will do you a great job for quite a bit less money. I sold off a Lee Loadmaster for the same reasons you want to get away from the Lee 1000, to much time spent trying to keep it running. Picked up a 550 and haven't regretted it for a second.
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Old December 7, 2007, 08:39 PM   #12
BigJimP
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Based on my analysis - the 650 with all the attachments ( if you had to start from scratch, buying a case cleaner, scale, etc ) the press, case feeder, mount, etc makes the 650 about $ 1,600 for one caliber and $ 2,600 for 5 calibers (with conversion kits, quick change kits, etc).

Is it a perfect machine - no - but I think it's worth every penny. The 550 has a case feeder option for it as well. I think the Dillon case feeder is a good buy - but it has some issues as well and will occasionally invert a case or jam where the cases drop into the feed funnel.
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Old December 7, 2007, 09:05 PM   #13
Chief-7700
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I started out reloading a few light years ago with a CH press, Dillion 450, Dillon 55OB and now the XL-650. Over the years I have found a good press is expensive however now that I shoot close to 2500 rounds of .45ACP per month.
I was until 11.27.2007 when I had sugery to repair some work related damage to my left ankle and still walking on my hands (crutches) the worst part is my reloading/gun space is upstairs. So I pass the time surfing the gun forums and sorting brass. If you have the funds buy the best reloaded that you can, you will not be sorry in the long run. JMHO
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Old December 7, 2007, 09:42 PM   #14
BigJakeJ1s
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BigJimP wrote
Quote:
- in my opinion, there is nothing Hornady makes that is as good a piece of equipment as Dillon makes.
I suppose that is why more people have replaced Dillon PMs with Hornady or RCBS powder measures and Hornady case activated linkages than the other way around. Dillon even sells an adapter to let you use other makers' PMs on their presses (manually).

You are right about one thing though, none of them are perfect.

Andy
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Old December 7, 2007, 10:53 PM   #15
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All of the current auto-progressive presses have advantages and disadvantages. And, each has it's dedicated supporters. I have loaded on Dillon and Hornady LNL presses. I like the LNL best and that is what I bought. Another factor in favor of the LNL is the "1000 free bullets" offer with a purchase of the Hornady Lock and Load. I got about $240 of free bullets.

Here is a good side-by-side comparison that may help you with your decision:
http://www.comrace.ca/cmfiles/dillon...Comparison.pdf
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Old December 7, 2007, 11:03 PM   #16
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This type thread always takes a turn.

I like my RL-550 just fine. It consistantly cranks out excellent ammo with very little effort. The primer feed functions flawlessly. The powder measure consistantly drops Varget at ±.1g. which is as close as I can measure with a degree of certanty.
My machine has loaded thousands of rounds without a hickup either on the machine or at the range. I do not intend to replace or upgrade.
If you chose a Dillon product, you will not be dissapointed. There are other machines out there, or so I have read. None better IMO than MY RL-550.
And for the Hornady guys I think the "M" scale is the best. And thats about it.
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Old December 8, 2007, 07:33 AM   #17
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The SDB isn't such a far-fetched option

Thanks guys.

Last night I was looking at the cost of changing calibers and found out what one of our members stated....that caliber conversions are about the same, if not a little more, for the 550 than a SDB.

Here's my way of thinking...please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm basically going to have to buy Dillon dies to take advantage of seating and crimping at separate stations on a 550 UNLESS I buy an extra Lee seat/crimp die and adjust one for seating only and another for crimping only. Even if I do it's still going to cost about the same as a SDB caliber conversion kit.

So with the SDB I get auto-indexing, order a caliber conversion kit, adjust my powder measure/flaring die, and be off to the races. I don't see myself spending the money for an extra powder measure...I don't switch calibers often enough to warrant that. I load primarily 40 S&W and do an occasional case of 9mm and .380, I will be loading .45 ACP when I get my 1911 out of layaway and I'm sure I'll be shooting a high volume with that until I get comfortable with it and start competing with it.

So I'm thinking I'm going to go with the SDB set up for .40 S&W. If Dillon's shellplates are like Lee and RCBS I can load 9mm with the same shellplate, different dies. When I rescue my 1911 I can buy a caliber conversion kit for .45 ACP and start cranking those guys out. I'll still use the Lee for any oddball low-volume loading I do (.223, 30.06, .380) after I get it fixed.

Anyone think I'm giving the SDB too much credit here? I'm OK with manually feeding cases and bullets, all the extra bells and whistles don't do much for me...I'm fine with having to manually verify powder is in the hopper and I have primers left. A case feeder would be nice but not worth the money IMO as I am just loading for myself in batches of 1000.
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Old December 8, 2007, 09:00 AM   #18
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Have little experience with the Dillons, Lee, RCBS, Hornady, Redding, etc.

Recommend the Dillon. 550 if immediate cash is a serious issue. 650 otherwise.







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Old December 8, 2007, 09:20 AM   #19
hodaka
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Gee Hammer, what do you do for a hobby?
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Old December 8, 2007, 11:53 AM   #20
Slamfire
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Hammer: Man what a rig!. Looks like instead of buying a conversion kit, you buy an entire Dillion 650! Wow!. Three RCBS single stage presses, one to decap, one to size, and one to seat the bullet?!

A Harrill powder measure. Top of the class man. http://www.harrellsprec.com/

And I see a shooting rest. Do you have your own ballistic tunnel out front?
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Old December 10, 2007, 10:10 AM   #21
Hammer1
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Reloading is just a hobby. At last inventory, reload for about 135 cartridges from 14-221 Walker to 585 Nyati.

From the shooting port, the bullet passes through a sound chamber which reduces noise to the level that horses grazing 25 yards away are not bothered at all. Have targets setup out to 1,000 yards. Every bullet passes over seven chronographs for velocity measurement. From the shooting port, can fire a round, reload that exact piece of brass including trimming it and changing the powder charge, and shoot again in under a minute without leaving the shooting stool. Easier to work up loads that way and saves money on brass. If tired, can replace shooting from the bench with a complete shooting machine that adjust point-of-aim by coarse and fine screw adjustment and pull the trigger remotely.

After loads are worked up, then can shoot in field conditions over flat and mountainous territory from a variety of angles with steel resetting targets.

Other hobbies are horses and airplanes.

.

Last edited by Hammer1; December 10, 2007 at 10:42 AM.
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Old December 10, 2007, 10:20 AM   #22
KeithB78
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Hammer1 that is some setup ya got there

With 650 can the auto indexing be turned off?
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Old December 10, 2007, 10:41 AM   #23
Hammer1
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Am sure that the auto-indexing for the 650 could be turned off. Think it would not be too difficult. The Dillon training tape shows adjustment of it.

Have never turned it off myself.
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Old December 12, 2007, 03:27 PM   #24
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This assetion that more Dillon powder measures are replace by Hornady, RCBS, etc is interesting - maybe its true, maybe not.... I don't know how you would ever know for sure.

I know a number of reloaders that are perfectly happy with the Dillon powder measures - me included. So while it may be true there are people replacing the Dillon powder measure with a Hornady or RCBS measures or something else - there may also be thousands of Dillon powder measures out there with happy customers as well.

Is the Dillon powder measure perfect - no - but it works very well with the powder I choose to use for all my handguns - which is Hodgdon Titegroup.
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Old December 12, 2007, 03:31 PM   #25
Sigma 40 Blaster
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Finally decided and took the plunge.....550 is in the house

After being wishy washy and flim-flamming a little bit the guys at the gunshop had just sold a SDB and were actually setting it up for the guy on-site. I happened to be there and got to watch the set-up, and got to operate it a little. Put some rounds through the 550B...decided that was the one I liked.

So now I have this box in my front room that says Dillon 550B and no time to play with it until tomorrow night. I was very impressed with it, especially the primer seating and like the idea of having the Lee FCD in the forth station to get a good crimp and slight re-size if needed.

I am NOT looking forward to messing with that powder bar but it can't be any worse than the Lee...thanks to everyone for their input. Wish me luck with setting this thing up.
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