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Old August 2, 2017, 07:46 PM   #1
mack59
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Question on Dillon 550

I am looking, after 15 years reloading on a RCBS Rockchucker, getting a semi-progressive press. The problem I have is that I am somewhat anal about powder charges and like to keep them as accurate as possible - therefore I still want to measure and pour the charges by hand.

If I understand it correctly the Dillon BL 550 allows one to reload by manually indexing the base plate and allows one to measure and load the powder through a funnel on the press. I think I would add the on the press priming though.

So would BL 550 allow me to do what I'm looking for - I would load 45acp, 300 Blackout (supersonic and subsonic), and .223. I"ll keep my .308 on the Rockchucker.

Thanks for any feedback or recommendations for additional accessories such as extra tool heads, cartridge conversions, etc.....
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Old August 2, 2017, 08:17 PM   #2
dahermit
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Quote:
I am somewhat anal about powder charges and like to keep them as accurate as possible - therefore I still want to measure and pour the charges by hand.
You realize of course that no factory ammo has its charges weighed? All done automatically and mechanically. Sounds like you are content to be a hand loader rather than a shooter...the difference is that shooters prefer to spend their time shooting rather than hand loading or they just do not shoot all that much. It is illogical to weigh each charge...especially with a handgun round (you mentioned .45 ACP), when nothing can be gained by weighing once the correct charge is found. But, it is your life, do what makes you happy.
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Old August 2, 2017, 08:52 PM   #3
condor bravo
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Mack:
Are you talking about weighing each charge and then dispensing the charge into the case via a funnel, or mounting a hand operated powder measure at the powder station on the press and then manually throw each charge rather than rely on the Dillon measure? Keep in mind that the Dillon powder measure system also flares the case at the powder station. You would definitely need flaring for the .45s. By either of the two above methods you would have to
incorporate a method for flaring which could be done with a Lyman M die and theni run out of stations--sizing die, M die, powder station, bullet seater and taper crimp die (if you were to crimp separately). Recommend sticking with the progressive as intended to be used, but yes you can probably devise the powder system in whatever way you would prefer if you still consider that method worth while.
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Old August 2, 2017, 08:59 PM   #4
jmorris
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You can put any 7/8-14 threaded measure directly in the 550 tool head or you can get their funnel adapter and dump from anything into it.

A non progressive press is one where it takes one stroke per die you are using. A progressive press can do operations in all dies in the same stroke. In the case of the 550 that means 4 operations are accomplished at the same time in the same stroke.

Having to index the shell plate by hand doesn't make it any less progressive than an automobile would turn into a "semi automobile" if it has a manual transmission.
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Old August 2, 2017, 09:03 PM   #5
mack59
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Have a Harrell powder measure for pistol and a Redding BR3 for rifle that I use with some powders, though still weigh every 10th round. I like them and trust them with verification for everyday shooting. Want to stick with them and not a totally automated powder set up from Dillon, Lee, Hornady, etc...

If I wanted to just shoot I would buy factory ammo. But I still shoot fairly often as I have my own range where I live in the country. I also enjoy making custom loads that shoot well in my firearms.

For precision and working up initial loads I use a digital magnetic force restoration scale and a Dandy trickler, with a RCBS 10-10 as a backup scale.

Just figured (which is why I asked) that BL 550 would be a little faster than a single stage but still allow more control than a full progressive.

Having no experience using a basic 550 I hoped some who had experience doing so could verify if what I wished to do was possible or practical with the press.
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Old August 2, 2017, 09:08 PM   #6
mack59
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Condor Bravo - yes I want to manually throw the charge and then pour it through a funnel on the press - there is a separate funnel attachment for the tool head to do that? On 45acp a powder through expander die?

Last edited by mack59; August 2, 2017 at 09:18 PM.
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Old August 2, 2017, 09:24 PM   #7
Tsquared
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You want to look at the Dillon BL 550. It comes with a powder funnel instead of the powder measure. You also have to manually load the primers - I recommend getting the primer feed system.

http://www.dillonprecision.com/bl-55...8_1_25792.html
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Old August 2, 2017, 09:30 PM   #8
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I think you are looking for this

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Old August 2, 2017, 09:45 PM   #9
alexcue
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Or just swap the powder measure on the RL550 for that funnel and it should work. You'll need that die that has a set screw for the expander, like the BL 550 has.
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Old August 2, 2017, 10:00 PM   #10
mack59
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Yes, was looking at the BL 550 and adding the primer system. See how it would work with rifle as only need two stations for dies. 45 ACP though has four carbide dies in the set I have though it does have a powder through expander die - would that work? Need to add something additional to powder through expander station?
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Old August 2, 2017, 10:31 PM   #11
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Weighing the powder for every round is totally unnecessary and defeats the point of a progressive press IMO. The Dillon powder measure will dispense most powders within a tenth of a grain.

I can load over 300 rounds per hour of 45 ACP on my 550. You'll never even do 100 weighing each charge so you might just as well keep the single stage and skip the Dillon.

Trust the powder measure, it works.
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Old August 2, 2017, 10:38 PM   #12
condor bravo
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Mack:
To use your proposed system with the Basic Loader, I would set up with of course the sizing die at station 1, a Lyman M die at station 2 for flaring the .45s, the funnel powder system at station 3, and a combination seater/crimp die (adjust for taper crimp) for the .45s at station 4. Having to manually load primers is not the ideal way to go but should work OK if speed is not a factor.
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Old August 2, 2017, 10:50 PM   #13
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If you add this you can do it check highlights
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Old August 2, 2017, 10:50 PM   #14
mack59
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Condor Bravo - thank you for your input - I will however try the dillion on press primer system - pretty much everything except the automated powder system.

Disseminator - I don't weigh every charge - for most ammo - just every tenth charge - and I use a Harrell pistol measure and an Redding BR3 powder measure. I like them and want to continue to use them and not the on press Dillon.
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Old August 2, 2017, 11:21 PM   #15
deserted
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I have three Dillon powder measures and at least a dozen caliber conversion kits for the rounds I shoot most (many base plates use several different cartridges) for the 550B. Just as an example of their accuracy and consistency, at least with BLC-2, I chronographed some 30.06 out of an International Harvester M1 Garand from DCM. 147 gr hardball, 2800fps average for five shots. Extreme spread of 31. Standard deviation was something like 6. MOA groups. Average loads out of the Dillon, nothing special or fancy. When I make hunting loads for my Remington 700, and hand weigh and then trickle charge to final exact weigh each charge, they don't do any better than loads whipped out of the Dillon at the rate of three hundred an hour. Dillon makes really good stuff, and if you don't like something, they'll fix it or replace it for free. Heck, I accidentally smashed a small pistol primer tube, called them up for a new one, and they sent me three, plus three more large primer tubes. Free. In two days. Best customer service in the business, I think. Ruger, too, just yesterday mailed me free a part I lost, and that's not the first time. BTW, at last count I load about sixteen different rounds on my Dillon, and my son loads a different 12 or so on his. We don't weigh charges. Set the measure and go. I used to weigh every tenth charge, then every twenty, then every hundred a couple times and finally gave up. Weigh the first charge or two at the beginning of each session then crank up the tunes and get to making ammo.
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Old August 3, 2017, 12:10 PM   #16
BigJimP
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You should do whatever you want....

But the point some folks were making is -- the Dillon powder measure is not inherently inaccurate - in fact it is very accurate ( within 0.1 grain on even very small volume powders ).../ but even using a progressive press you should still verify your powder drop periodically.

To check the powder on a 550 ...just pull the case from station 3 before you seat a bullet...check the powder drop with a scale ...and refill the case and then put it back into station 3. ( an even better option, is the Dillon 650, that has a powder check die -- and it will alert you if you have a problem ) ...but I still weigh about 1 in 25 just as a backup on the 650. ( the 650 has a 5 station toolhead allowing the powder check die in station 3 / the 550 does not have the option ). The 650 auto indexes...the 550 does not../ to me that is a big issue - introducing more chance for human error.

Not using the installed powder measure makes no sense to me ...you are not getting any increase in accuracy doing it your way. The 550 or 650 ...fully set up with powder measure, etc...will load every bit as accurate a round as you can do using your procedures.
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Old August 4, 2017, 11:15 AM   #17
pete2
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I would suggest the 550B. It's what you will want after a while. You can use it as a single stage til you get tired of it. I load .45, 9 mm and .38 on mine. The Dillon measure it very accurate with ball powders. I loaded 1000 cast bullets in 9MM with Unique powder, not as accurate with the Unique but close enough(I was NOT loading max. loads). The only thing I'd change on the 550 is I'd add a 5th station so a powder check die could be used. Maybe I should have bought a 650 and deactivated the auto advance.
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Old August 4, 2017, 11:57 AM   #18
ShootistPRS
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For me the Dillon 550 was a waste of time. I need to check the primer depth and the powder levels in all the cases in a reloading block so I am comparing one to those around it. The Dillon would shake the brass when I advanced it so much that powder would com out of the cases and spill on the deck. I went back to my RCBS Rock Chucker and sold the Dillon cheap. I may be a bit more concerned about each step along the way and double checking my ammo but it has worked for me for over 45 years. I have a written process that I use and follow so I always get good results. When I was shooting Hunters Pistol Silhouette I was loading over 10000 357 rounds a year for my 357 loading and firing around 200 rounds a week. That only takes two to three hours a week. I was also loading 45 ACP, 357 Maximum, 308 and 30-06 on top of that. It is easy with a single stage press and a good plan.
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Old August 4, 2017, 12:12 PM   #19
Damon555
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Quote:
But the point some folks were making is -- the Dillon powder measure is not inherently inaccurate - in fact it is very accurate ( within 0.1 grain on even very small volume powders ).../ but even using a progressive press you should still verify your powder drop periodically
This is true.....the Dillon powder dispenser is very accurate. There's no need to set up any different than the press we intended. Simply weigh a random charge whenever you feel the need.

I'm very particular about my charge weight also. The Dillon put me at ease. I still check on a regular basis but it has always been spot on.....100% of the time. Be consistent operating the press and you will be rewarded with very good ammunition.....Do not over complicate this process.
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Old August 4, 2017, 01:48 PM   #20
BigJimP
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The idea that you can load better ammo on a single stage - than a well tuned fully auto indexing progressive machine ...is just nonsense. Today's better progressive machines like Dillon 650 and Hornaday LNL ...if properly tuned, with good procedures, are very accurate machines ( and they don't fling powder around if you set them up properly ).

Looking into a loading block ...at powder depth ...is just not accurate. There is no way, with a lot of low volume powders ...you can look into cases and see a difference of 0.1 or even o.3 grain ( and in many calibers, min and max on published loads with low volume powders are 0.3 or 0.4 grain apart).

50 yrs ago I loaded on single stage presses too...( RCBS Rockchucker, etc ) and they were just fine for that time..../ but loading high quality ammo on a Dillon 650 with a powder check die and a case feeder installed ( and using the Dillon powder measure installed )...will easily give you 1,000 rds an hour ...and that ammo is at least as high a quality as any single stage loader today ... !

Everybody should do what they want ...buy whatever loader they choose...but please don't fool yourself into thinking a single stage is more accurate - or that it gives you a higher quality round - than a well tuned fully progressive loader / it is just not true.

Good procedures --- on any machine -- will generally give you good results. Bad procedures, on the best machines, will give you terrible results !

Repetitive operations -- manually indexing, etc... introduce more chance of human error because of the boring routine of the process / you can overcome it by loading in small batches of time ( like 30 min at a time say )...but I would rather get 500 rds of very high quality ammo off a good progressive machine in that same 30 min...than 25 rds off a single stage.
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Old August 4, 2017, 02:21 PM   #21
ShootistPRS
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BigJimP,
I never said anything about the quality of ammo. I said that I need to be sure that each operation is done right. There is too much hope and faith put into a progressive press for me. I've had primers seated upside down and cases with split necks get through on the 550 and shaking powder out of cases when they were indexed and I just didn't trust it.
Like I said, I just feel better double checking each step. All machines fail at some point but if you physically check each operation you are more likely to spot it early. As long as you have confidence in doing it your way then that is what you should do.
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Old August 4, 2017, 02:28 PM   #22
BigJimP
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Yes, I have 100% confidence in my Dillon 650...and I reload and shoot about 25,000 rds of handgun ammo a year...but yes, you need to verify periodically what the powder check is telling you on it - or on any press.

I did not mean to misrepresent your point...more, in general...in my view.
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Old August 4, 2017, 03:44 PM   #23
John D
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The Dillon would shake the brass when I advanced it so much that powder would com out of the cases and spill on the deck.

In 20 years I've never had this happen. Unless you've got the cases filled to the top and making compressed loads, I can't see how this occurs.

Progressive presses serve the purpose of loading multiple rounds with a fair amount of precision, producing goodly amounts of ammo. If you're "exacting" you should stick with a single stage press.
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Old August 4, 2017, 07:17 PM   #24
jmorris
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Quote:
The Dillon would shake the brass when I advanced it so much that powder would com out of the cases and spill on the deck.

In 20 years I've never had this happen. Unless you've got the cases filled to the top and making compressed loads, I can't see how this occurs.
He never said how he advanced it. I guess if you flicked the shell plate on a 550 fast enough, it could happen. The operator has 100% control over speed of index.

Ad far as powder check goes, you can't have one on a 550 unless you put it in #3 and seat and crimp in #4 but with the powders I use the measures always throw the same charge to the first decimal and the powder checks are sensitive to catch an exact (again to the tenth gn) charge except in a case with a slightly different internal volume.

Like this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EU9deSKm48
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Old August 4, 2017, 08:16 PM   #25
jmorris
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For me the Dillon 550 was a waste of time.... I was loading over 10000 357 rounds a year for my 357 loading and firing around 200 rounds a week. That only takes two to three hours a week..... It is easy with a single stage press and a good plan.
A good plan and and extra 100-150 hours a year.
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