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Old October 27, 2011, 12:06 AM   #1
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,340
Caliber changes - how much cost in time and money?

I have had occasion lately to wonder what it takes to change calibers, depending on what kind or brand of press.

Single stage presses, of course, changing calibers is zero dollars (over the price of the dies and one shell holder)

Turret press caliber swaps is the same as a single stage unless you add the convenience of keeping your dies mounted as a set in their own turret head. (Of course, if you have a turret with enough stations to mount two or three full sets of dies, you can have two or three caliber changes without the cost of added turret heads.)

With progressive presses, though the calculation is a bit more complex. Swapping out a tool head (on presses that have removable tool heads) can be pricey, and swapping the shell plate can be time consuming. Having a shell plate/carrier devoted to each caliber makes life simpler, but costs more money.

Is there a comparison chart that would allow me to compare Dillon Square Deal, Dillon 550, Hornady L'N'L, Lee Pro-1000, Lee Loadmaster, RCBS, etc in a side-by-side table that would discuss cost and convenience and complications? Or is the only way to go find the hardware one at a time and research all the questions from scratch?

Particularly interesting is answering the question, "Where is the break-even point between buying multiple progressive presses dedicated to each caliber vs interchangeable heads/carriers vs changing just the bare minimum of parts (dies, shell plate, primer feed and powder measure)?" The break-even point, of course will depend on what price you put on convenience, swap time compared to the extra parts or presses needed to achieve that speed and convenience.

I am using an auto-indexing turret now, but wonder what that simplicity and economy has cost me in terms of speed and convenience.


Lost Sheep
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