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Old April 1, 1999, 04:30 PM   #1
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I have been researching handloading for about two years and now need to make a decision on what to buy. I have two primary interests: precision hunting loads for .30-06, .243, .338 WM, .300 WM, 7mm STW, 30-378 WM, and a few others; and for pistol: 9mm and .44 mag. I shoot quite a bit and recently joined a gun club so now can shoot a lot more. I’m interested in IDPA, and plan on shooting my pistols a lot more than I have been (it wasn’t convenient without the gun club). So here’s the dilemma. I would like a progressive press, and have been looking at the Dillon 550B and XL 650. I had actually decided on the 550B and then went to a reloading store, and compared it to the 650, and now I don’t know. I can afford either, but like the 550 price more, but I really like the auto indexing of the XL 650, the case feeder, etc. However, I don’t need to spit out 1000 rounds of 30-378 WM for hunting this fall.

So here are my questions:
1) All things being equal (bullets, brass, primers, powders, operator, scale, etc.), is there any reason a progressive reloader would not produce the same quality handload as a single stage press?
2) Is the auto indexing on the XL 650 a significant advantage over the manual indexing of the 550?
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Old April 1, 1999, 05:30 PM   #2
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Unless you have a handmade rifle such as is used in benchrest shooting, you will have a hard time shooting the difference in ammunition which uses "ball" powder between that which is loaded on a single stage press, and that which is loaded on a progressive press. I am assuming that you will give the same amount of attention to case preperation in both instances. The biggest downside of the Dillon machines (I own a 1050) is that they don't handle extruded powder at all well. You certainly won't be able to shoot the difference in your handguns.

I personally see no reason to use a progressive press without automatic indexing.

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Old April 1, 1999, 05:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. You are the first person I have heard say anything negative about Dillon, other than price. I think I'm off the fence.

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Old April 1, 1999, 09:38 PM   #4
Chris H
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Join Date: March 23, 1999
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Now I'm not a proud Dillon owner but I do have a progressive and have found that for rifle cartridges, progressives are a waste! If you do them right, you trim them, clean the primer pockets, debur the flash hole, hand seat the primer, etc... the only thing left is the powder dump and bullet seating which don't take that much time anyhow.

So in my opinion, just use a progressive for handgun ammo... in which case the square deal B would work (if only loading one type of caliber)

that's just my 2 cents (sense?)
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Old April 2, 1999, 12:10 AM   #5
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FWIW... I've been loading for a long time, and have loaded many thousands of handgun rounds on my 550 (started life as a 450). Outside of 4-5 handgun rounds, I also load for: .221RFB, .222 Rem, .308 Win, .220 Imp, .338 WMag, 6MM Imp, .30-30 - all on my single stage presses. I'm a varmint hunter, and need my loads to be precise. In the rifle, that means single-stage. By all means get the 650, its a great machine, but get a single stage press for the rifles if you want their full potential. My opinion - worth what ya paid for it...

Shoot carefully... swifter...

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Old April 2, 1999, 12:35 AM   #6
Art Eatman
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Location: Terlingua, TX; Thomasville, GA
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My hunting loads in my '06 and .243 are max. I weigh every powder charge to the nearest granule of 4064 or 3031.

All other loads for rifle or pistol are one or two grains under max, and I have no qualms about using a powder measure.

I may be a Nervous Nellie about this, but I just don't trust the overall uniformity of a powder measure for max loads. And, no, I've never had a problem when I re-checked the powder measures' settings during long stints of loading...

There's more to insurance than having a piece of paper from Aetna, et al...And after 49+ years of handloading I have both eyes and no powder marks on my face.

I have an early Dillon progressive. I also have a couple of RCBS presses. Used presses are pretty cheap. Double your fun and have both!

Later, Art
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Old April 2, 1999, 07:15 AM   #7
Join Date: November 22, 1998
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 34
What a coincidence ... I just asked the same question of my gun club's reloading experts. The consensus seemed to be that a progressive (550B or 650) is the way to go for pistol and for high-volume rifle rounds (e.g., if you want to load a few hundred .223 rounds to go to the range and plink). For highly accurate rifle rounds, though, while it is possible to use a progressive, it takes so many trips in and out of the machine that you'd probably be happier using a single stage. So, I guess the consensus would be to have at least two presses!
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Old April 3, 1999, 05:53 PM   #8
Dave Finfrock
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Ideally, you should have two Dillon 550s. One for small primers, one for large. I hate swapping priming systems and it's worth the extra money to avoid that hassle. Also, if one press (small primer) is set up for 9mm/.223 casehead, and one (large primer) is set up for .45/.308, then all is right with the world (i.e. I don't have to fiddle with tiny parts).
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Old April 4, 1999, 06:29 AM   #9
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From what I've "heard" from the net, even if you buy a Dillon s/h, they (Dillon) will refurbish & replace parts at NO COST !

So if you go the used road, your'e covered.

"The Gun from Down Under !"

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Old April 4, 1999, 01:35 PM   #10
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
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Hi, Art Eatman,

Better not use factory loads - I guarantee they don't weigh charges to the nearest granule!
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Old April 8, 1999, 01:00 PM   #11
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Well, I bought the XL 650 and set it up last night. What an impressive piece of engineering. I haven't loaded anything yet but will this weekend. I very pleased. Thanks for the advice.
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Old April 8, 1999, 03:01 PM   #12
Art Eatman
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Sir Keenan: Yeah, I know. I also know that my pet '06 doesn't seem to care about which primer I use, nor whose bullet. And, I've gotten curious and varied my loads by a tenth of a grain, or two, and not even that seems to matter!

Having a suspicious nature, though, I sight in with the load I plan on using regularly, and it's always a Winchester Large Rifle primer, 52.5 gr. of 4064--to the granule, and a 150-grain Sierra BTSP. The load always groups inside one inch, and I can sometimes hold my nervous system in check and clean my trifocals and get 1/2" 3-shot groups and brag about it. And so I no longer think about the ammo, and focus on what's in the crosshairs. Or on finding something to put in the crosshairs.

And I've gotten inside-one-inch groups from factory ammo...Damfino. I'm just a natural-born do-it-yourselfer, I guess...

Later, Art
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