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Old December 6, 2012, 11:46 AM   #1
tkglazie
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Best new or used progressive to compliment my LCT?

Title pretty much says it all. I will be starting IDPA in the spring and am considering adding another piece of equipment to up my production of the .45acp load I will be using. I currently load about 1000/month on an LCT (give or take 250), a mix of .380/9mm/.45 and some .38/.357. I use Lee dies (I use 4 dies with separate seating and FCD crimping steps). The Lee safety prime and autodisk powder measure work well for me. I would continue to use my LCT for load development and production of my other handgun/rifle loads.

I load about 125rounds an hour with my LCT. Other than tumbling/sorting the brass everything is done on the press.

I currently load on a Lee press stand (the 3 legged one), so I would want something that could be swapped on and off the stand.

This new press could be either completely dedicated to loading .45s (if for example the press is one that will work fine once it is setup, but is a pain to change over) or I would also use it for the two .380 and 9mm loads that I shoot the most of (which just so happen to use the same powder as my .45 load)

I am not looking to send more than a $200-$400 on the basic press and accessories.

Any recommendations? If the answer is that no such press exists, new or used, and that I should just stick with the LCT and put in more hours, thats fine too. I just thought I would see what other folks are doing who are in my situation.
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:24 PM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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Well, you can buy a brand-new Hornady progressive for about $415 and it looks to me that used Dillon 550s start around the mid-$400 range and go up from there.

There's a Hornady on eBay right now that includes the case feeder. Current bid $345. 13 bids with 3 days to go, so I'd expect it to go A LOT higher. Probably go up $50-$75 in the last few seconds alone.

If I were you, I'd be buying a brand-new Hornady.
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:36 PM   #3
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The Hornady is the most flexible, which is why I chose it. It does everything well, and has the most flexible die head system. You can essentially reload single stage if you want to by inserting / removing the dies in their bushings. You can also change configurations for whatever you want to do, such as running a decapping operation prior to tumbling/cleaning without using a full die plate, or having to reconfigure an existing die plate. You can leave a single powder check die on the press and move between calibers without having to put one on each die plate.

I were to reload high volume for a single caliber, I'd probably choose Dillon. That's what they do best, and I think they're probably the best single caliber progressive press around. However, their caliber conversions are expensive, and time consuming when compared with Hornady or RCBS/

If I were to reload high volume for rifle exclusively, I'd probably choose the RCBS. I like the cast iron construction as well as the powder stage being separated from the die plate. However, I've read that their indexing is a little jerky and can spill powder for smaller cartridges. I also like their APS priming system, and wish I could retrofit it to my Hornady.

Any one of the three will be a good purchase. Figure out what your needs are and match the press to your needs.
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:37 PM   #4
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One other benefit to the new LnL-AP is the 500 free projectiles of your choice. Used to be 1k, but they are slowly dropping it as they get more and more of their machines on the market.
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:44 PM   #5
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The Hornay LNL AP is a good press but, I am not a fan of the priming system.

I hate primer pickup tubes.

I can load up 100 primers in the Lee Safety Prime and reload 10-20 rounds in the time it takes to load 100 in a pickup tube and then drop them in the primer tube.

Also keep in mind that your going to have to keep an eye on more than one step at a time. Priming and finished rounds on the down stroke and powder drop, bullet seating and case resizing on the up stroke.

I personally enjoy reloading on the LCT more than running the LNL AP. I still knock out a good amount of ammo per hour and it's much more relaxed then watching for problems on the LNL.
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Old December 6, 2012, 12:54 PM   #6
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When I first got my LnL, I had the same reservations about watching so many things at once.

But it's like driving - at first you are paranoid and nearly overwhelmed, but after about 10 minutes you realize it's not as big a deal as everybody makes it out to be and you get very comfortable with it.

Each make and model has it's quirks, positives and drawbacks. Unfortunately no single one is the best at everything, and none of us can actually agree on what "the best" is anyway.

The primer tube is mildly annoying, but aside from hand priming I personally like it the best as I can feel the primer on the downstroke of the ram being seated much like I can with a hand primer. Works great for me. Other folks have, as evidenced above, differing opinions.
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Old December 6, 2012, 01:16 PM   #7
tkglazie
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For the Hornady, at least initially I would not be able to afford a case feeder or bullet feeder. What type of production could I expect without those accessories? (or is it worth using without them) At $415 base plus a $30 shellplate and $30 powder cop I would already be way over budget and would have to use it for at least a year without the feeders (only so many reloading dollars to go around)
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Old December 6, 2012, 01:27 PM   #8
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I've had mine for 4 years without either.

I don't load for speed or volume, so take my numbers knowing that I'm not in a race to see how many I can load in an hour. I could more than likely push 350 an hour if I sat down with the intent of loading as fast as possible and keep quality up as much as I can, but I rarely do that as I would much rather keep the pace down and the quality high. The last thing I want is a KABOOM because I wanted to break some record.

250-300 rounds per hour of quality ammo is easily achievable if you spend the time up front making sure you have everything you need.

I generally load up 100 here, 200 there so it's hard to really pin the max number down.
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Old December 6, 2012, 01:29 PM   #9
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Oh, and with the rounds you are loading, you really don't need the Powder Cop die - you can easily see inside those short cases (even the .357). I don't use one on my pistol rounds - instead shift everything over 1 station and use the 5th for the FCD.
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Old December 6, 2012, 01:41 PM   #10
Ole man 52
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Natchez

I have had mine for two days. I purchased everything you described from Natchez shooters supply for 490 including shipping charges. I used the lee dies that I already had on hand. They worked but I have been told that the Hornandy dies work better. The priming part of the press works but it's has it's problems. I was able to kick out a few hundred shells in a matter of minutes instead of hours. I think the priming issues are worth the hassle because of the time gained in the long run. I load for range plinking so it's works like a charm for my needs. I hope this info helps.
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Old December 6, 2012, 02:09 PM   #11
tkglazie
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Very nice, thanks all.

I would be very happy with 250-300/hr. I try not to spend more than 1-2 hours at the press at any one time and usually 2-3 times a week, which is fine for plinking volumes (2-4 boxes per session). It would be nice though to setup on a sunday afternoon and knock out 8-10 boxes of .45s in a couple of hours and be done with that caliber for the week.

Looks like I just need to save my pennies a bit longer until I am comfortable shelling out $500 vs my original $200-$400 budget.
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Old December 6, 2012, 02:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
For the Hornady, at least initially I would not be able to afford a case feeder or bullet feeder. What type of production could I expect without those accessories? (or is it worth using without them) At $415 base plus a $30 shellplate and $30 powder cop I would already be way over budget and would have to use it for at least a year without the feeders (only so many reloading dollars to go around)
I have the case feeder but it's such a PITA it sits in the corner of my reloading room. It can work if you spend time adjusting it from time to time but, the time saved when it's working and the time spent fixing case jams and other issues it seems to be a wash for the most part.

Personally I think you can reload the amount of ammo you need just fine with your LCT. I can load 150-200 rounds per hour on the LCT. I can reload about 50-100 more per hour on the LNL AP. I am like schmellba99, I load for quality not quantity.

Buy a couple more 4 hole plates to have your calibers ready to change and your good to go.
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Old December 6, 2012, 02:28 PM   #13
tkglazie
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Quote:
I can load 150-200 rounds per hour on the LCT. I can reload about 50-100 more per hour on the LNL AP. I am like schmellba99, I load for quality not quantity.

Buy a couple more 4 hole plates to have your calibers ready to change and your good to go.
I hear what you are saying, but for whatever reason I just dont seem to be getting any faster with the LCT. Dont get me wrong, I love the press and how versatile it is and could not imagine being without one given the variety of different loads I make. I have plates for all my calibers and have everything close to hand at all times but I cant seem to get beyond the 125/hour rate. My change over time is pretty much nil, it is the production rates that are holding me back a bit.

Last night I decided to test my time. I sat down at the press (which was already setup to load .45s) and it took me just over 25 minutes to load up a box of 50. I dont feel like I am loading slowly, I just pick the case out of the bin, give it a quick visual check, place it, recap/size/prime it (I never have any problems with the primer), expand/charge it (double tap/jiggle at the top and bottom of the stroke), lean forward to peak into the case, place the bullet, seat it, crimp it, then repeat.

After 2 hours I never have more than 4-5 boxes done. This is perfect for my normal range work but if am going to really practice and compete effectively I am going to need to start putting some more .45s bullets down range. I could just load more often, but that extra shooting (and driving) time means less reloading time too.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:02 PM   #14
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I think you can get you production amounts up from where your at with some practice.

I just timed myself loading 5.56 and I did 17 in 5 mins. I had to stop and remove a military crimp so I would have done 18 is my guess. That's around 200 per hour.

I do find that some rounds are easier to load then others are. 40 S&W and 10mm to me are easier to load then 9mm. Bullets are easier to pickup I guess?

I am not trying to talk you out of getting a progressive press just pointing out you already have a great press that can knock out a pretty good amount per hour.

Good luck in your competitive endeavors.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:13 PM   #15
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Dillon RL 550 B - maybe a few dollars more thna you like - but it will be some of the BEST MONEY EVER SPENT on shooting stuff.
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Old December 6, 2012, 03:36 PM   #16
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Why wait till you can save more $ when the Dillon SD will fit your needs perfectly. $380 complete w/ dies, can easily load 400/hr.
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Old December 6, 2012, 04:19 PM   #17
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I have been loading with a L-N-L AP for about 3 years now without the feeders. I run around 500 9mm and 600 45s per hour with out pushing. Starting out I would do maybe 200 an hour but after a while you gain enough trust in the machine that you one weigh and measure one every 500 or so instead of every 5th one. I do however case guage every round I make before taking it to a match. My wife and daughter got tired of loading primer tubes and bought me the Dillon primer loader. The one thing that I make sure to do is blow out the primer feed every time I refill. If I get lazy with this something will get in there to jam it up. I loaded 3000 rounds of 9mm last weekend and plan to load almost 30000 this winter along with 10000 rounds of 45. We shoot USPSA and steel challange matches and the three of use will shoot over a 1000 rounds on a match weekend. We will shoot another 1000 rounds each during the week in practice but most of that will be with a 22 then 25-50 rounds of center fire to finish a practice.
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Old December 6, 2012, 04:39 PM   #18
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I can't imagine trying to set.380 bullets in a Square Deal with all the more room there is in one. But in all fairness I have never tried. I would save the .380s for the LCT press.

I set my new Hornady progressive up for 9mm and in a few months was turning out between 400 to 500 and hour with it. 350-400 is a lot more comfortable to do and I don't loose powder out of the cases from cycling to fast. I bought mine for $394.00 on sale and the shell plate for another $33.00. I have been running it for a year with no case or bullet feeder. I don't use a powder cop die with any of my pistol loads, like already mentioned, it isn't needed. And having to look up at it every time you stroke the handle and focus on it,takes to much time when you are already looking down and only have to shift your eyes to see the powder in the case.
The Hornady has wide open spaces for setting and seating bullets but to get to the 4-500 mark, it takes alot of time tweeking the press to get there.
Because of it I don't change calibers on this one any more.
I, just last week, bought a case feeder for 9mm press to eliminate one move of having to grab a case and put it in the shell plate. It will give me more time to focus on the powder in the shell and seat bullet with out having to go crazy trying to do to much at once and get higher numbers. You'll find out the Hornady or Dillon will run circles around the LCT you have as far as your count/hr goes.

I bought about 4 extra pickup tubes for mine after about 3 months and fill all 5 of them the day before I load. This in itself saves so much time and probably got my count up more than anything else I did. My priming mechanism works very well on mine as long as I keep the area in front of the primer shuttle blown out. Like someone else said, everytime you fill your primer supply tube, clean it out. It took more time for me to tweek my dies in to get the 9mm's to run trouble free in my guns than anything else took. The press seamed good right out of the box. I use RCBS carbide dies in mine and they work really well.

Caliber changes are really easy and quick. This one of my two progressives I think will stay on 9mms.

Don't try to buy to much all at once. Get a press and just the necessities to start with and buy the rest of what you want in your own good time. The least you will do is double your load count with the basic machine once you get the feel for it.
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Old December 6, 2012, 05:37 PM   #19
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Even more good info, very nice. About the .380s, I probably will just keep loading those on the LCT even when I do get a progressive. Of everything I load on the LCT my two .380 loads are the fastest and easiest to load. Even easier than .38s because I dont have to move forward to peak down into the case to check the charge. .380s I can definitely produce at a 150-175/hour without a problem.

The Dillon SD is tempting. I could set it up to crank out the one .45 load I always shoot and not touch it. The 550 is too much press for me in my current setup and budget.

So much to think about. I will be waiting until after the holidays to decide on anything I am sure, unless some crazy deal pops up.
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Old December 6, 2012, 05:56 PM   #20
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A few things to think about with the Square Deal Press. The dies are priority and only work with that press. They also are not carbide. You have to clean the cases and use at least One Shot lube. I did get a Square Deal Press after getting the 550b. There is no comparison between the two. I got as far as mounting the Square Deal to my bench and then just got the dies and change kits to continue loading on the 500b. There is a good chance the Square Deal press may never get used. The 550b is a much superior press in my opinion. The 550 also has more room to work in as to placing cases and bullets. It also has more leverage and uses standard dies. The 550 will allow you to load rifle and pistol ammo the Square Deal will only let you load some pistol calibers.

Just something to think about.
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Old December 6, 2012, 06:02 PM   #21
tkglazie
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ah, good to know. I definitely prefer carbide dies. The smaller size I wouldnt mind (it could mount to me lee press stand) but dealing with case lube isnt ideal.
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Old December 6, 2012, 07:33 PM   #22
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I use One Shot Case lube most of the time. It is a dry easy to use lube. A couple of shots of lube and wait for a minute or two and you are good for pistol ammo. With carbide dies is isn't needed but it does make sizing easier. I lube when the cases start to feel harder to size. I don't need to lube every case to have the reduced effort.
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Old December 6, 2012, 07:44 PM   #23
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I really like my LCT. However, with the LnL you will basically pull the lever 1000 times for 1000 rounds, while you would pull it 4000 times on the LCT. Really makes a difference!
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Old December 7, 2012, 03:03 PM   #24
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Another vote for the Dillon SDB

I too started on a Lee Classic 4 hole Turret press. It is a great tool and easy to learn. I load only pistol so when I was faced with the same decision it was a slam dunk for me to move to a Dillon Square Deal B. I was lucky and found a used one but am already contemplating a second press for small primer loads. They are $379 new (incl shipping and carbide dies) from Brian Enos.com

I don't think you can go wrong with an SDB.

Hope this helps!
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Old December 7, 2012, 03:54 PM   #25
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They also are not carbide. You have to clean the cases and use at least One Shot lube.
B.S. the SDB comes with carbide dies, no lube is needed.
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