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Old May 6, 2005, 03:59 PM   #1
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Progressive reloaders: Which one to get?

I'm getting back into reloading after a several year long abscence and am interested in getting a progressive reloader.

For those of you who have progressive reloaders, what would you recommend? Are there any to be avoided?

Thanks for your input!!
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Old May 6, 2005, 05:23 PM   #2
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Progressive Loaders:
If you do a search, you will find more posts than you want to read on this subject. Most popular are the Hornady LNL Auto and Dillon 550/650. My personal choice is the Hornady LNL Auto (I have two) but will not argue with anyone who prefers another brand. My usual recommendation for people new to reloading is to start with single station press like Hornady or RCBS and move to progressive later. The single station press is always useful for small batches or special loads. (This bit of advice doesn't apply if you are an experienced reloader.)

Caution: unless you have spare hands and face, take care of the originals by loading safely!!

Good shooting and be safe.

ps: If you don't find enough posts here about "progressive reloaders", try searching 1911Forum and TheHighRoad forum. This is a VERY popular question.
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Old May 6, 2005, 05:47 PM   #3
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My experiences with progressives have caused me to rate them as follows:

Dillon 650/1050
Dillon 550

I would personally avoid any progressive made by Lee.

A quality progressive reloader is a lifetime investment. Initial cost should not be a factor in your choice. Buy the very best, and save money in the long run.
If you think a mighty military force is expensive, wait 'til you see what a weak one costs.
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Old May 7, 2005, 05:52 AM   #4
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Dillon XL650; add case feeder and powder-check station.

(And yes, with a bit of work I can load 41 AE on it..... )
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old May 7, 2005, 10:52 AM   #5
Robert M Boren Sr
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I'm a Dillon 550 fan. Works great and quick to change to calbers.
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Old May 7, 2005, 11:14 AM   #6
Terry Twit
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I have a Dillon 1050. Expensive, yeah..but worth every penny.
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Old May 7, 2005, 08:55 PM   #7
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I just recently spent a good amount of time and energy waffling back and forth on this very issue... follow the herd and and go Blue, or strike out and go Red (Hornady).

On the surface, there are a lot of compelling arguments in favor of the Hornady... basically more equivalent to the XL650 than the RL550B but priced on a level w/ the 550, equivalent or cheaper caliber changeouts, better powder measure, more solid frame, etc. The Dillon arguments basically amounted to a) everybody else uses them so they must be the best (some great herd logic there, eh?) and b) if I have problems w/ mine I have several shooting buddies that have the exact same press that I can get some help from. A lot is made of the Dillon warranty; I've not heard anything different on the Hornady warranty so that seems a wash to me on that one.

In the end, I ended up following the herd. Moo!

Figured I'd get the Dillon RL550B as there is an established knowledge base in existance on using this press to good advantage for what I specifically wanted to use it for: loading ammo for NRA HighPower XTC and LR competition. Not that the same can't be done w/ the L-n-L AP, just that there is less knowledge to draw on for getting up and running, IMHO. Also, coming from using a turret press (Redding M25) for years, the manual indexing didn't seem like much of a hindrance, and more of a good thing to retain a degree of control in the process for stop/start/reverse of steps as needed.

When/If I decide down the road that an auto-indexing w/ motorized case feeder full-progressive press is in the cards, I'd very seriously consider the Hornady. By then I should be a little more experienced (one would hope so anyway) and the 'full-auto' aspect might be a little less daunting.

FWIW, before I decided to go w/ the RL550B I'd purchased their 'video manual' which in hindsight was done something like 1993 or so. Still valid for a large portion of the setup and configuration, but there are somethings that are different. Most noticeably is the powder measure; at the time the video was made the transition had occured from the old style powder measure w/ just the return springs on the powder measure body to the spring post on the charge bar, to the newer version that added a 'Fail-safe' return bar to make *sure* the bar came all the way back and didn't hang up causing a squib or a double charge. Fast forward to the other day when I was setting up my new 550... no return springs at all, just the Fail-Safe rod and another different linkage assembly even from what the video showed. Digging around on the Internet seems to give a mixed response as to whether the new linkage is an improvement over either of it's predecessors, both in operation or in consistency. An alternative exists, to use a Hornady or RCBS powder measure w/ a case-activated powder drop, but it is another added cost upgrade, and should work better w/ short extruded powders such as N140, RE-15 and Varget from the reports I've received. At the moment I'm concentrating on setting this press up for ball powder for my short line 200/300 loads for my Service Rifle, and after that I'll have to see how well the new measure on the Dillon actually does work.


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Old May 7, 2005, 09:50 PM   #8
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Dillon 550B or 650XL all the way.
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Old May 7, 2005, 09:55 PM   #9
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No regrets on my RL550B either. Rifle or pistola!
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Old May 8, 2005, 07:10 AM   #10
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Dillon... the highest numbered model your wallet can handle.
Texas - envied by lesser states since 1845
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Old May 8, 2005, 08:40 AM   #11
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Nothing wrong with a 550.
You will find that there are a LOT of people out there with 550s.
I thought for a while about converting my special-5 to a piggyback, but then what do I do?
So I got a 550.
no major problems, only minor annoyances.
I went from a special-5 (Occasionally dumped a primer on the floor.) to a 550 (Same deal.) I guess I sweep up the floor, there's walnut media down there to sweep up anyway.
Changing over the primer from one size to another is needlessly more difficult than it has to be.
The process of changing calibers would take only seconds if the primer system and shell plate could be improved.
I DO have to admit, switching from 9mm to .40 or 357SIG (With a quick change kit.) takes about ten seconds.
(Same size primers and shellplate.)
Pull handle down 4 inches, pop out failsafe rod, pull out 2 pins, swap out toolheads, hook up failsafe rod, switch 3 locator buttons. (357SIG to 40 or vice-versa takes less time, same locator buttons.)
15 seconds tops. Really.
I'm not just a gun.
I'm YOUR gun.
(Hold me.)
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Old May 9, 2005, 09:25 PM   #12
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I own both a single stage LNL and the Progressive. I love them both. For the money I saved not getting the Blue one, I got a digital RCBS scale. I'd own another Hornady, but if you have a single and the progressive, they will do it all.

Hornady has the best customer service in the world. I broke some parts(out of stupidity and lack of patience) and called Hornady. they replaced them free of charge and did not even request the broke parts when I asked where to send them.

I know that the Dillon is a great press, it is I think the quicker die change and savings of the Hornady makes it the Best on the market.
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Old May 9, 2005, 09:56 PM   #13
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I liked my first 550 so much, I just bought a second one. I should be able to load 1100 rounds per hour now, right?
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets replaced...

SASS 47015
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Old May 10, 2005, 12:27 AM   #14
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I have two 550's and love them. I would like more production capability though, and wish I had a 1050. I get a solid 500 per hour sustained loading rate off the 550's, and that is hustling and having loaded tens of thousands of rounds to refine the technique. A 1050 would double that. My gun buying habit will keep me from having the cash on hand for a 1050, so I will end up selling one 550 and buying a 650. I will keep the other 550 for calibers I don't load for in large quantities.

Having used a 550, 650 and a 1050 I see no reason to buy anything else, I KNOW they are first rate quality, load great ammo, and hold up extremely well. The Hornady machine is interesting to me, and I would like to use one to see what it is like, but I won't spend my money to find out when I know I can buy a Dillon and have a quality press.
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Old May 10, 2005, 08:54 AM   #15
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With a 550, 350 rounds per hour easy, 400 is usually attainable, and 450 is about the best I've ever done when everything went right.
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets replaced...

SASS 47015
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Old May 10, 2005, 07:27 PM   #16
Ben Shepherd
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On my 650 dillon(w/casefeed and powder check) I can load 750 rounds an hour at a very safe pace. I could run faster, but I check EVERY case at EVERY station. Money well spent.
From my cold dead hands.........

NRA certified rifle, pistol and shotgun instructor.
Hunter education instructor
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Old May 10, 2005, 07:32 PM   #17
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Dillon sets the quality and performance standard for progressive reloaders, other manufacturers reach for it, but none are able to match Dillon.
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Old May 12, 2005, 05:53 PM   #18
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I have been loading 5 different calibers on my Dillon 650 for about 4 years, love it and would recommend it to anyone that wanted to do some serious reloading.
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Old May 12, 2005, 06:42 PM   #19
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I'm using a RCBS Pro2000 & have no complaints!!

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Old May 12, 2005, 08:44 PM   #20
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I own the Dillon Square Deal just for .45 ACP, and the 550 for all other pistol calibers. A friend and I have timed a rate of 2150 .45 ACP/hr on his 1050 with all the bells and whistles. One of us places bullets and keeps the primers coming while the other works the crank. Even on the Square Deal, having my wife place bullets while I place cases with my right hand and operate the lever with my left creates an immense speed increase.

Another possibility is to go semi-automatic. I use a Forster Bonanza Co-ax press for match rifle loads. It is not a progressive, but the dies just pop in and out, held by the locking ring sliding into a groove. A unique feature of this press is the opposing "V" style shell holder plates that slide closed on the case rim as the handle comes down. No shell holders to change at all unless you go to really large base cases. More winning match rifle shooters reload on this press than any other. Very consistent results. The best choice if you are priming with bench rest hand tools and dispensing weighed charges from a Pact machine anyway.

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Old May 17, 2005, 04:11 PM   #21
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best place to buy a Dillon? Lee Factory Crimp?

I am also looking into reloading "faster". I am using a RCBS single stage press for all my .45acp and it just is too slow. Since almost everyone recommends a Dillon, I am planning to get one. Where is the best place? Midway does not even sell them I noticed? One other question, I like the Lee factory crimp die. Is this compatible with the 550 or 650?
Thanks to all!
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Old May 17, 2005, 11:14 PM   #22
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You can usually save some money by ordering from Biran Enos

Or order from Dillon direct

You can use the Factory Crimp die on the Dillon 550 and 650
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Old May 17, 2005, 11:14 PM   #23
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If you are going to reload for rifle, I would highly recommend the Dillon 550B. I just upgraded from a Square Deal, and it cranks out very accurate match ammo in .223 for me. I am not sure I would want to go much faster than I am able to with this press, but I hear good things about the 650 line as well.

FWIW, a buddy has a Hornady L&L and really likes it.
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