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Old April 23, 2014, 01:25 PM   #1
Doc Hoy
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Need advice on progressive press....

I have owned several single stage presses from different manufacturers.

I have and like the Lee Turret press.

I keep two presses bolted to the bench, and both are from Lee.

But I think it is time to consider a progressive press.

I don't think I want one from Lee, but rather a Dillon, RCBS or Hornady.

Would anyone care to guide me in my search?
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Old April 23, 2014, 01:28 PM   #2
Jimro
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Of the three you listed I would buy in this order if price were no object;

Dillon
RCBS
Hornady

If price were an object;

Dillon
Hornady
RCBS

Hope this helps.

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Old April 23, 2014, 01:50 PM   #3
Misssissippi Dave
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I like my Dillon presses. Since they make more than one, it might help to know which calibers you plan to reload on one and the volume you expect to do. Is the price a major concern?
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Old April 23, 2014, 01:56 PM   #4
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I've test driven presses from all 3 of your mfg's ...and I settled on the Dillon 650...and for what its worth, I've had it about 10 yrs, and I'd buy it again.

Dillon's line of presses:

a. SDB - proprietary dies, handgun calibers only, it does auto index...pretty good press...( no case feeder / no powder check option).

b. 650 ....uses standard dies, lots of calibers, it auto indexes, good case feeder, it has a 5 position tool head so it has room for powder check die.

c. 550 ... does not auto index, does not have room for powder check...those are deal breakers to me / but it uses standard dies and it has some calibers ( especially older rifle calibers that are not available on Dillon 650) ...but most of us don't care about it.

d. 1050 ...is a commercial press, 1 yr warranty is all ...I would not buy it.
--------------
Dillon 650 and Hornaday LNL are roughly equivalent presses....but they handle primer feed and powder drops a little differently. Both good presses / but I still give the nod to Dillon 650

RCBS is not a bad press...and a couple of buddies have them / I just wasn't that impressed --- Dillon 650 just felt like it was more solid.
-------------
Among the 3 companies its hard to pick a "bad" press....its about features, customer service, etc...and I still think Dillon is a little bit ahead of the other 2.

Out of 20 or so buddies that reload...probably 15 of them have one of the 3 Dillon presses ( SDB (3), 550's ( 2), 650 ( 10 )..../ RCBS (2) ... Hornaday ( 3)....some have more than one .../ some have the SDB set up for one handgun caliber only....and a 650 for other calibers...mostly because they bought the SDB first and have just kept it. But one buddy likes the simplicity of the SDB - and has 3 or 4 of them...all setup on his bench. One guy has a Dillon 1050 - and he's happy with it.
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Old April 23, 2014, 01:58 PM   #5
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Love my Hornady
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Old April 23, 2014, 02:05 PM   #6
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I'm dumping my trusty old Dillon RL450 (with the 450b upgrade) which dates it a bit.

Why?

Cuz I'm upgrading to a 550 instead.

What more can I say.

I like the manual indexing because it lets me use it as both a single stage or a progressive, it also covers me from more "Oops" moments than an auto index would. I haven't found a need for more than 4 die stations even as my reloading needs have expanded to rimmed revolver & multiple bottleneck rifle cases.

My only negative with the Dillon 450 & 550 after 25 years working with the 450b is changing from small to large primers *& setting up seating depth*. Its a pain in the tush.

*update on that*
I now believe the 550 dispenses with the depth seating hex bolt & locknut. I'll confirm when my new press arrives but I don't see those 2 parts listed in the online manual. Maybe the 550 doesn't use a positive stop?
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Old April 23, 2014, 02:23 PM   #7
madmo44mag
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I like Dillon presses and have loaded many rounds on them but they are more costly up front and to maintain over time due to they are more proprietary than RCBS and Hornaday.

Never was a fan of the RCBS system.
Just don't care for the mechanics / workings of it.

I prefer Hornaday over Dillon or RCBS.
They are straight forward in their function. Have fewer proprietary parts and add on's and heavy duty.
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Old April 23, 2014, 02:38 PM   #8
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If one were looking to load about 300 an hour of one caliber, but reloading to be more accurate then inexpensive, which would be better?
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Old April 23, 2014, 02:54 PM   #9
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Some of the things I would want to do with it.

I load .45 LC, .45 ACP, .357/38 SP. .44-40. I would probly set up the progressive press for .45ACP (smokeless powder) and .45 LC (black powder or subs) first and then move to .357 and .44-40.

I also will be loading .45-70 .43 Spanish, Tokarev and Nagant pistol but would probly do that on the Lee presses. I may start loading .38 LC but would do that on the Lee presses as well. I won't be loading them in enough volume that the expenditure for the additional set ups would not make sense at least for now.

Speed would be a consideration but only on .45ACP.

I have all of the dies and would want to be able to use them rather than buying all new ones. (They are from Lee)

At this point case feed is not important. Bullet feed is not important. Powder indicator is not important.
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Old April 23, 2014, 02:56 PM   #10
BigJimP
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All of these presses are well made....and if you take care of them / and operate them properly, they will all turn out very high quality accurate rounds.

300 rds an hour is no big deal...for any of these presses.

Pick the press that has the features you need....like a powder check-nice extra safety factor ...like auto indexing which means there are less actions where you might screw it up....the more human error you introduce, the more potential for disaster in my opinion.
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Old April 23, 2014, 03:16 PM   #11
Misssissippi Dave
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The 550b will allow a person that is comfortable with the press to easily load 300 rounds an hour. It can even be done with the SDB. 300 rounds an hour is very easy to do with the 650. A case feeder can be added to both the 650 and 550. It will increase your output as well.

There is one way to use a case powder check die with the 550. You have to seat and crimp with the same die. This makes one position available. I prefer to just visually look into the case (pistol ammo) prior to setting the bullet to be seated.

You can make a simple mod to the head rails that hold the dies to get them to fit very snug. This tends to keep the OAL a bit more consistent. Using a powder made to measure well in volume powder measures, will also allow you to load accurate ammo.

I do prefer Dillon dies on the 550 but I also use RCBS dies for some of my reloading. The SDB only uses dies from Dillon made for that press.

I have 2 presses. The 550 is always setup with small primers and the SDB is always setup with large primers. When I'm loading .45 acp I set them both up for that caliber so when I need to switch because a case takes the a different primer than the one I working with I step to the side and run it through the other press.

I prefer the 550 press and like the control I get with manual indexing. It also has better leverage compared to the SDB. Both presses can turn out a good amount of ammo and is pretty consistent. My reloads are more accurate than any of the cheap factory ammo I have purchased. They are also loading to the level I want them to be.
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Old April 23, 2014, 03:25 PM   #12
Misssissippi Dave
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One thing to note about loading on a progressive press. Loading black powder is something not normally done. If you are wanting to use black powder you would be better off using a powder through die instead of the powder measure. This should make things much safer to load. The way progressive press powder measures work you could compress some black powder a bit too much. What happens to black powder when it get rapidly compressed?
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Old April 23, 2014, 03:48 PM   #13
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I'm new to the progressive world. I bought a RCBS and it brought the fun back into reloading pistol ammo. I did some research and decided he RCBS had the features I wanted, easy to change calibers, easy to set up, and in my price range. My problem now is keeping enough reloading supplies to feed the darn thing!
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Old April 23, 2014, 04:00 PM   #14
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I have only used the Dillon 550 B. I love it. I lost some small parts, emailed them offering to buy some and asking how much and they said no charge and mailed them to me.

For that reason alone I will never buy anything but Dillon.

Oh and BTW I am not the original owner either.

I like how easy it is to switch calibers with four tool heads!

I also have RCBS rock chucker. I don't know how the warranty is since I have never had to use it.

Mel
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Old April 23, 2014, 04:21 PM   #15
Real Gun
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The Hornady LnL AP does not require as much investment in caliber changeover parts. For the dies you already have, you only need LnL bushings that allow quickly installing and removing each die from the press head. The bushings are about 4 bucks apiece, bought in 10 packs.

Last edited by Real Gun; April 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM. Reason: typo
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Old April 23, 2014, 04:25 PM   #16
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I've been using the Hornady for a few years now and am really happy with it. It might take a few minor adjustments out of the box to get it running smooth as glass but once you do its an awesome machine.
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Old April 23, 2014, 04:35 PM   #17
wogpotter
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Quote:
You can make a simple mod to the head rails that hold the dies to get them to fit very snug.
Details, dammitt man, details!
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Old April 23, 2014, 06:47 PM   #18
guruatbol
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FWIW, I was considering the LNL when I found an awesome deal on my Dillon.

I did check one out and was impressed with it.

Just can't beat Dillon's warranty.

Mel
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Old April 23, 2014, 07:10 PM   #19
chiefr
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I am familiar with most. Dillon pioneered the affordable progressives and IMHO they are superior to all others hands down. Dillon CS is outstanding.


Lee progressives are boat anchor junk.
I can only think of one worse progressive than Lee and that was the RCBS Green Machine that came out in the 80s. RCBS discontinued them due to a myriad of problems.
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Old April 23, 2014, 07:40 PM   #20
Misssissippi Dave
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Quote:
You can make a simple mod to the head rails that hold the dies to get them to fit very snug.
Details, dammitt man, details!
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The mod is quite simple. You center punch the bottom side of the rail on the head. The center punch is placed about 1/2" in from the ends in the middle of the rail front and back rails only. You don't need to do the end rail. This raise the material around the punch marks. If it is too tight to slide into the press you simply file, sand or stone the raised material until it becomes a snug fit. This takes any play out of the head there might be.

I would go easy on the punch when you try this. I just used an auto punch from Harbor Freight and found one or two hits was plenty. Try just one hit and you might find that is all it takes. The second hit is made in the same spots if needed.

All the real pressure is on the top side of those head rails so mod on the bottom side doesn't change with use as far as I can tell so far. I think the punch I used did cost me some where between 2 & 3 dollars. Probably about as cheap as you will be able to get one of those. A hand center punch will work too. Just don't get carried away. A little indentation goes a long ways.
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Old April 23, 2014, 07:43 PM   #21
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If I had loaded mostly for IDPA or IPSEC for one or two calibers I'd probably have gone with Dillon's 1050....or 650 if I couldn't swing the other...either would have to have a case feeder.

But since I load many calibers I chose the RCBS Pro 2000. Much simpler press to load several calibers a session on. I use Hornady's bullet feeder instead of a case feeder for pistol, and each caliber change on the press even with the feeder is just 5 minutes.

The Pro 2K's best feature is the APS primer system. Easily the fastest safest way to seat primers if you use preloaded APS CCI primers.

One really nice feature that makes loading multiple calibers simple is their famous 10 second primer size change.

The only two press that are cast iron strong is Dillon's 1050 and RCBS's Pro 2000.

If I had the time space and money I'd probably have one of each color progressive.

They're all good but have vastly different features, you need to analyze your personal need rather than have a poll. For me, I prefer die plates (tool heads) rather than separate lock & load dies. But that's just a personal preference....and not decided by a poll.
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Old April 23, 2014, 08:02 PM   #22
boxing21
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650XL here. If you choose this option, I highly recommend the roller handle. I think I enjoy that silly handle more than the case feeder, but I consider both to be mandatory to really see the full potential of your press. I only reload small primers on the 650, as I've gotten tired of making the swap. If I could afford it, i would have one set up for small, and one set up for large primers.
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Old April 23, 2014, 08:10 PM   #23
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Most of my friends with progressive presses have the Dillon 550 or 650. They love their presses.

I went with the Hornady LNL-AP, later adding a casefeeder.

I load several different calibers. The parts required to accomplish this on the LNL-AP is less than on the Dillon. A little simpler too, I think, but neither is very complicated. There are a couple of other features on the Hornady that I like, for example, it is very easy to remove and replace a case from the shellplate at any station.

The press was less expensive than the (comparable) Dillon 650 but if you factor in the cost of adding a casefeeder, the package price for the Dillon is pretty comparable. I find the casefeeder on the Hornady to be the "fiddliest" part of the machine.

Good luck in your search. Whichever press you choose, I'd recommend adding the RCBS Lockout Die. Cheap insurance.
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Old April 23, 2014, 08:25 PM   #24
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I went from a Lee Turret to a Dillon 550. I just moved my Lee dies over (but I did switch to the Dillon powder measure and expander for most of my calibers).

It was a great move. The Lee Classic Turret is a fantastic press but I'm much faster on the 550... from 100 rounds/hour to 300 or so. I'm not sure if I'd like an auto-index... I have an auto indexing shotshell press (MEC 9000) and the auto indexing seems to cause more trouble than it solves. Manual indexing doesn't take any longer but does allow you to pause and double check things if stuff doesn't feel right (instead of advancing the shell plate).
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Old April 23, 2014, 10:22 PM   #25
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I just finished loading 100 45 ACP and 50 rounds 223. Took about 1 1/2 hours including the caliber change on my 550b.

I have a tool head for each caliber I load and it is all set. The hardest part is adjusting the powder measure. I have got to get one for each caliber. Right now I have one for rifle and one for pistol.

Mel
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