Thread: Dillon 550
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Old June 22, 2006, 07:23 PM   #2
Join Date: March 4, 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 13,727
Tumblers are for cleaning cases. Cartridge cases really only need sand and grit removed to keep from scratching up the sizing dies, and that can be done with various liquid cleaning agents you mix up at home. A teaspoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid and a couple of tablespoons of powdered citric acid (from a wine making supplier) in a gallon of water works. Just shake the cases in a plastic jug half-full with the liquid. Rinse and shake out the execess water, wipe the outside with scrap terricloth and you are done. Be cautioned that lead from primer residues are in the liquid, so when it stops cleaning, it should be disposed of accordingly. In the opinions of many, the tumblers are more hazardous since the lead becomes dust that gets in the air when you separate the cases from the media. It saves you having to let the cases dry out, however. You will find that if you clean in liquid it is a good idea to decap (knock out) the expended primers as a separate step so water doesn't get trapped in the primer pocket under the primer. The tumbler gets you around that step.

In addition to the press, you will need a set of dies for each caliber you want to reload. Dillion includes one chambering already setup, which is why there are all the cartridge names on the price list. It can be converted to other cartridges by adding dies and shell index plates.

A scale is needed for setting up the powder measure on the Dillon to throw the correct charge weight.

You will have to buy bullets and powder and primers, obviously. I would consider getting an inexpensive metal caliper to measure cartridge length. I would get a couple of data books on reloading. Lee's book is a good starting place, as is Lyman's book. Get one from your bullet maker, as well. Most people like to check three and use the lowest starting load listed among them.

The Dillons are good machines, for the most part, and I own two. However, if you have never reloaded and unless you need a high volume of ammo from the git-go, you might want to consider starting with something simple like the Lee Anniversary kit and a set of dies. This will introduce you to reloading and train you in problems to watch out for. Since every round is one-at-a-time, you will inspect each one at every stage. Once you are familiar with what to watch out for, add the Dillon to your gear. You will already have one set of dies and can get a different set with the press. You will have a basic scale from the Lee kit. The kit parts will be useful to you for other purposes. I use my Lee press for decapping and for sizing some cast bullets. It is light enough to mount on a board to take to the range as a portable for load development.

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