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Old June 13, 2001, 12:20 PM   #1
Join Date: December 7, 2000
Posts: 33
new 550

Took a new Dillon 550 home a few days ago, mostly on the recommendation of TFL members. I am a complete beginner to loading.

Did get some primer jamming in the first 50 or so (not feeding from magazine) and one went in backwards (I suppose operator error, dunno).

Took my first 100 of .45 ACP to the range and they all went bang, which was a pleasant surprise (after all, I am acquainted with the machine operator).

Couple nights ago did 50 more, and they all went smooth. So far I'm using all used brass. I'm looking forward to trying SWC soon. And later, .40 and .308.

What should be the next (hopefully not too pricey) gadget I should buy? I took the 550 home without many bells/whistles ... or probably without many "necessities" frankly. I don't have anything for cleaning brass. I do have a slide caliper. Don't have a powder sensor or strong mount. No chronograph.

Thanks to those of you who pointed me toward the Dillons!
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Old June 13, 2001, 08:47 PM   #2
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Got a primer flip tray? Handy little beastie. Not too pricey. IMHO the Dillon one is over engineered(most Dillon stuff is...this is not a bad thing )over rated and over priced. The RCBS one I have had for 10+years does just as good of a job as the Dillon one the wife bought me for my birthday a couple years ago
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Old June 13, 2001, 11:06 PM   #3
Join Date: November 22, 2000
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 68
Wow! This could be a long list! Little gadgets seem to accumulate.

The flip tray Rottweiler suggested is a good idea. I am still using the one I got from RCBS in 1964, couldn't get along without it.

I trust you have a good scale and a couple of reloading manuals you have studied. You don't need a high-dollar digital scale, a good balance beam scale will be fine.

I just got a kinetic bullet puller today. Wanted one for 25 years and finally got it. $8.95 from Midway USA.

A case gage for each caliber you reload is also nice to have. Under 10 bucks from Dillon and others.

I also got a Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die for each of my 550s today. The Crimp Die and Case Gage should eliminate nearly all of my feed failures in .45ACP. BTW, if you ever run across any American brass (Headstamp: A-MERC), throw it away. It really isn't reloadable. Worst brass I have ever seen.

If you are going to load in quantity (and you will, eventually), GI ammo cans are nice. The .30 Cal holds about 650 rounds of .45 and is handy for trips to the range. The .50 Cal holds 1250 rounds and is good for storage. I tell my buddies that "happiness is a full ammo can on range day".

I am familiar with the primer problems you described. My Dillons prefer Winchester and Remington primers, hate everything else. YMMV. Also, there are a couple of adjustments you can make to the primer mechanism on the 550. They are quick and simple and solved my problem completely. The good folks at Dillon can tell you all about them.

You will appreciate having the following: an oiler for applying 30wt motor oil to the ram, various brushes for cleaning the press and bench after a loading session, a needle-type applicator so that you can put lithium grease on the linkage, and a kitchen trash bag to cover the press between sessions.

These are just off the top of my head and the list goes on, but you get the idea. You will soon have a list of your own. Welcome to the Wonderful World of Reloading. If you EVER have a question, this is the place for answers. But you already knew that.


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Old June 14, 2001, 01:29 PM   #4
Join Date: December 7, 2000
Posts: 33
Thanks, tawakoni, what an informative reply!

I do have a Dillon balance beam scale and a flip tray.

The scale is a "3-poise" model.

I am checking with the scale at least every 50. I'm trying to get a handle on what consistency I can expect (I have no idea) the machine to have when it comes to amount of powder. (Or maybe the question is, how consistent is the scale?)
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Old June 14, 2001, 01:36 PM   #5
Join Date: April 24, 2001
Posts: 90
My Dillon 650 meters everything I've run through it to a max variation of .1 gr. Smaller powders like titegroup run with no measurable variation at all once the shellplate's full, and extruded powders like V-V N350 run right at the .1 variation.


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Old June 16, 2001, 07:17 PM   #6
Johnny Guest
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Join Date: August 28, 1999
Location: North Texas
Posts: 4,121

Another welcome to the wunnerful world of reloading, and of Dillon use. You'll find the Dillon tech support second to none. Don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call 'em--I have Always been treated courteously by their staff.

As I read your question, I began mentally composing my answer, but found that the others had pretty well covered all I was about to write. We have a really great bunch on TFL in general, but in THIS forum in particular. As moderator, I wish I could take credit for 'em, but I kinda imagine they're all great folks in the other facets of their lives as well.

Only a couple of additional suggestions I can make in using your 550B--

Did you buy Dillon dies with your press? I really like them, especially for lead bullet pistol loads-- because you can leave the die body adjusted in the tool head but drop the inserts out to clean the dies frequently.

The more you use your press, the more often you'll need to tighten things up. Get TWO sets of hex keys (Allen wrenches) because, if you're anything like me, the one you REEELY need will have hidden from you. Also--get some colored tape and put little tags next to the various size bolts, and same color on shaft of the appropriate hex key. Makes it easy to find the proper one.

I tend to drop small items in hard-to-reach places--You might do well to have some long-nose pliers, long tweezers, and, best of all, some old surgical hemostats hanging nearby.

Wrenches: Sm, med and lg Crescent or other adjustable wrenches. The Dillon bench wrench does NOT serve every need, but fairly nice to have.

Boxes-- Dillon sends ONE Akro bin with each press, to catch the loaded ammo as it drops from the press. These are VERY handy for all other used. I bought half a dozen at a garage sale, and wish I had a dozen more in various sizes. They are not cheap in the Blue Press catalog, but sure serve well. Might check your local hardware store or machinists supply.

And a can or two of spray air, and a small whisk broom, to clean up the minor spills.

Suggest you keep a note pad nearby, to jot down the little items you'll discover you need.

All the best,
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Old June 16, 2001, 09:47 PM   #7
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Join Date: April 14, 2000
Posts: 2,926
Welcome to the wonderful world of reloading! May your Dillon bring you years of joy and personal satisfaction

Now to the business side....

What kind of scale are you using? If you want fast and ease of use, go with a digital scale. It's definitely not necessary because a good ole' beam scale will work just fine but the digitals are very nice.

Got a bullet puller yet?

How about extra primer pickup tubes? You can greatly increase you loading output by having extra pickup tubes.

How about a powder funnel? Once you start experimenting with different powders, the funnel is an absolute must! Otherwise, you'll have powder all over the place

I also use a RCBS primer flip tray. I have the huge Dillon one but the RCBS serves me much better. It's not quite as heavy and bulky.
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Old June 16, 2001, 09:49 PM   #8
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Boxes-- Dillon sends ONE Akro bin with each press, to catch the loaded ammo as it drops from the press. These are VERY handy for all other used.
BTW, you can buy those bins at Staples for 1/2 the cost of what gun stores sell em for. In addition, you can buy HUGE ones that fit just fine on your Dillon.

I have 24 of these handy dandy boxes.
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Old June 17, 2001, 06:37 AM   #9
Join Date: February 20, 2001
Location: Mi.
Posts: 23
A case trimmer and a deburring tool are a must . Things go much better if all cases are exactly the same length .
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Old June 17, 2001, 02:15 PM   #10
Steve Smith
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Join Date: December 9, 1999
Posts: 4,131
Yet another welcome to our Super-Secret-Squirrel-Handshake Club of Reloading! You've decided to enrich your shooting experience tenfold. You'll no longer just only pull the trigger, Now yuo'll be making your rifle or pistol respond with your experimentation! You may never save a dime. You may even spend more than you used to...but for sure, you'll shoot more, and you'll be able to find a recipie that will allow you to shoot more accurately, too!

Well, you've already gotten a pretty good list going,I do have a few tips of my own:

Look for a cheap used turret press. Yes, this is an accessory to a Dillon. I used my Dillon for quite a while, but eventually bought a used Lyman Spar-T turret press as an addition. It now holds a lot of unique operation items that just don't go in the Dillon well since my toolheads are being used. Some of these are special size dies, primer pocket reamers, and the latest, a collet type bullet puller. That brings me to my next point.

I firmly believe that the impact bullet puller is a real stone age device. If you wind up getting a turret or even a single stage to accessorize your Dillon, consider heavily the RCBS or Forster collet bullet bullers. You put it where a die goes, raise the ram with the cartridge on it, tighten the collet, and lower the ram. No whacking, no destruction of the puller (as is inevitable with the impact type), and you can re-use your powder. It's really the thinking man's pullet puller, (of course would a REAL thinking man even

need a bullet puller? Anyway, jsut something to think about.

The RCBS primer tray is good, and the extra pick-up tubes is almost a must-have. If you're loading for rifles, you'll need some type of trimmer an deburr tool. If you need to be cheap, consider the Lee lock-stud, cutter, shellholder, and case-length gague...for $12 you can trim your cases. Add a power drill and it's way fast. I have a Forster myself, but the Lee looks pretty darn good.

Things you don't need: Strong mount, powder sensor.
Favor the X.

Steve Smith
NRA Life Member
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Old June 17, 2001, 05:59 PM   #11
Join Date: May 17, 2001
Location: Richmond, IN
Posts: 27
You will probably want to invest in extra toolheads and toolhead stands. They are just the ticket to make caliber changes quick and easy. The toolhead stands will hold the toolhead and the conversion kit for the caliber you want to load.
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Old June 27, 2001, 01:55 PM   #12
Join Date: December 7, 2000
Posts: 33
Thanks to everyone for the great information!
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