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Thread: Researching progressive press options

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Researching progressive press options

    Round count is not my motivation, time at the press is. As family responsibilities increase, I just simply can not set aside several hours to make 200rnds of ammo anymore. This is now starting to impact my ability to enjoy range time when I do have range time.

    Dillon 550- Proven brand according to the vast majority who have a wide range of experience using different presses. I feel good about that. BUT, sometimes I wonder if the 4 hole station can make things less flexible. For example, I'd like to use a Lyman M-Die in some situations. A fifth station would be helpful.
    Does the Dillon 550 powder/expander option provide the same benefit as the M-Die? Or is it just a basic flair only die? If it does, then the 4 hole issue is a moot point.

    RCBS 5 hole - Lots of complaints on the primer system. It sounds like RCBS has made a lot of people happy with their speedy service in replacing the issue. The RCBS offers 5 holes, which makes me feel I can 1 size, 2 expand with M-Die, 3 Powder Charge, 4 Seat, then 5 crimp. The 5 steps give me a little comfort. I tend to use these same 5 steps on a single stage already.

    Hornaday LNL - Lots of happy customers. 5 stations as well. I've read some reviews that make me believe that Lee dies might be a tad too short to work properly. I use a mix of dies, Lee is a part of that mix.

    Thanks folks!

  2. #2
    Boolit Man
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    I can comment on the 550, dillion started making power Thur extenders for rifle like the m die.
    The size they make is not planned for cast. I bought one and sending it to ladesmith (vendor here) to custom make them for my size. Pistol can be done the same way.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master glockfan's Avatar
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    you're going to get many different opinions depending who use what, and be aware that your thread might turn into a ford VS gm kind of debate. this said, i'd say that, if you're willing to spend some on a progressive, my mindset is '' buy once, cry once''' and go dillon. it is trouble free,no parts in need of tweaking, only a machine that spits a fresh round at each strokes of the handle. you can mix dies as you feel alike (while some dies aren't suited for the dillon tool head) .......there's a saying that runs around since awhile : ''if you want troubles,don't go dillon'''....and i subscribe to it. now, if you have the ressources , a XL650 will last for the rest of your life, otherwise the 550 is always faster than a 4 holes turret with no indexing.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I have or have had progressives from Lee, RCBS, a couple of LNL’s and all the Dillon’s. For least time at press the only thing that beats a 650 with collated case and bullet feed is the more expensive 1050 with both also.



  5. #5
    Boolit Master Outer Rondacker's Avatar
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    I own the 550, 450, square D, LnL, LoadMaster, lyman turret, many singles and so more I am not listing. Every press has its corks. I will say the Dillon's have the least for me anyway. When I did have a issue no mater how old the press and let me tell you I have some old ones. Dillon had parts shipped to me no questions asked free of charge and was willing to talk me though what ever I needed. Hornady gave me some **** on the phone but that was my issue. They did not back the priming system but did offer to replace the press for a large fee and trade in. I fixed it myself over time. Lee was great on the phone and shipped me out parts I needed when I needed them for free. My lyman is a tank and works no mater what but indexing that turret makes for one tired arm after 50 or so rounds.

    Keep in mind that I have never owned a New press. All mine are used and most not even set up when I got them. I have always purchased what I could afford not what I wanted. The goal was to make it work and be happy until I could tailor my collection to what I wanted. If you can make it happen I agree with glockfan go 650 and you will be very happy. I had a 650 and even a 1050 but I was offered to much money for them and had to let them go. NEVER once had an issue that was not user error. That is just me and some light reading I am sharing with you. What ever you buy be happy and enjoy the hobby of reloading just like the sport of shooting.

    AH jmorris beet me to it. He has great advice and has used them all.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    JBinMN's Avatar
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    Perhaps size/deprime on a separate press in lots & then put those lots thru the case feeder of whatever progressive ya choose? Then a 4 hole would be adequate, as the fifth hole is no longer needed for size/de prime.

    Just a suggestion, anyway...

    That is what I am considering, but I am looking at one of the new Lee progressive & not your selections. I just can't afford them right now based on "my" budget/income.

    G'Luck! with whatever ya decide!
    2nd Amend./U.S. Const. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "A man ought ta do what he thinks is best" - "Hondo" Lane.(John Wayne)

    "If ya don't like my gate, ya don't have to swing on the hinges..." - L. Ackerman ( RIP)

    Enforce the Immigration laws & deport the illegal immigrants. Quit fooling around.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    I have been using 2 Dillon 550s for close to 30 years with full satisfaction. A five hole 550 would be nice but the times when I have to work around the 4 hole restriction are so few that I am unable to justify the cost of a 650 or other press. Personal taste does not run to case and bullet feeders so the simplicity and functional reliability of the 550 is satisfying.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    LEE has a new press do out in April. It has 4 die stations and can be automated to feed bullets & cases or just keep it simple like a Dillon 550.

    https://leeprecision.com/auto-breech-lock-pro.html

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have 2 550 dillon's and love them. I save more time lubing with home made lanolin/alcohol spray(1000 223 cases in 1 min.) resize in single stage, clean with alcohol bath(takes about 2 or 3 min) let dry. then load on dillon. my sizer hole is mty. loading Blackout same way and using 30 carbine powder drop/neck expander to load cast. works great saves lots of time!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks folks. Of the Dillon users, it doesn't appear anyone has expressed any problems with not having the 5th hole. I take it to mean that Dillons powder/expand operation is plenty adequate for our cast boolit needs.

    As another poster stated, it would be possible to size/prime on my single stage.

    I've heard of the new Lee press. I have Lee stuff. But I am particular about the Lee items I incorporate. I'll have to see some successful reviews before I go that route. Thanks folks!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    One thing to remember with a Dillon 550 is that you can process your brass into ammo on two different toolheads. For instance, you could size on one toolhead, and then expand, drop powder, and seat bullets on another. You could either prime on the press or prime with a handheld or bench mounted tool.

    Depriming on the 550 can be problematic, because it dumps a lot of ash and trash onto the primer slide. This can cause cycling issues as you continue. Solutions are either cleaning the primer slide frequently, or priming off the press.
    Boycott YouTube

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    The 650 is great except I don't like the priming system. The 550 priming system is better IMO. The Dillon warranty is the cats meow. I have the case feeder on the 650. The Mr. Bullet bullet feeder doesn't work well with lubed bullets.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    + on what Adam 20 says. The Dillon powder thru is a neck sizer and flaring die. The problem is Dillon only makes one size for a given caliber.
    My 9mm likes .358 boolits. The Dillon sizer leaves the neck size too small for that diameter boolit. The boolit is sized down when seated thus destroying accuracy. There are forum members that will custom make you a powder through die.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    The comments about the filth of primers and possible left over media in the Dillon does sound problematic. It sounds like keeping my single stage for the size/prime option will be a clean decision

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
    JBinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    The comments about the filth of primers and possible left over media in the Dillon does sound problematic. It sounds like keeping my single stage for the size/prime option will be a clean decision

    Good idea. LOL I have been considering the same thing lately & that new Lee progressive coming out next month. Been saving my pennies...
    2nd Amend./U.S. Const. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "A man ought ta do what he thinks is best" - "Hondo" Lane.(John Wayne)

    "If ya don't like my gate, ya don't have to swing on the hinges..." - L. Ackerman ( RIP)

    Enforce the Immigration laws & deport the illegal immigrants. Quit fooling around.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    I do pistol rounds exclusively and the SDB is my progressive of choice

    I replace the tool head with one that just has the decapping pin. (4 screws)
    remove the priming system (3 screws)

    now I just put the case in and deprime. the machine will move the shellplate around and drop the deprimed shell in the bin. cuts work in half not having to remove before adding a new case

    a good blast or two from air compressor gets all the junk out and 7 screws later I'm reloading

    I do wet tumble my brass and since I'm OCD I like primer pockets to be clean--yeah I know it's not necessary but what can I say???
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master Outer Rondacker's Avatar
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    If you wet tumble your brass then there is no soot to build up in the primer area. Well 99% less we will say. This helps no mater what press you are running.
    Loadmaster has five holes. Just saying.

  18. #18
    Animal,

    I have the Hornady LNL progressive and the Dillon 550, both with case feeders. I have had the Dillon for about 15 years and used it without a case feeder for most of that time and it worked like a champ. It also works well with the case feeder but once set up with the case feeder it is a major chore to use it without the case feeder. I have had the Hornady for about two years and have used it exclusively with the case feeder and have had more issues with the Hornady case feeder than the Dillon case feeder. It is easier to disable the case feeder on the Hornady than on the Dillon. The big advantage to the Hornady is the automatic indexing but the speed advantage is lost due to issues with the case feeder. I may work out the issues with the case feeder over time but not yet.

    If I had to choose one or the other I would probably go with the Dillon.

    Gus Youmans

  19. #19
    Boolit Man Newboy's Avatar
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    They all have idiosyncrasies. I like Lee the least. The Hornady was okay. I had an early model, and the ejector was garbage. I think that is resolved on the newer ones, but not positive. I their dies are easy to change, but at the same time, they do not allow you to “fine tune” the adjustment. For example, with normal threaded dies, I prefer to have cases in every station, and then lock them down so there is no slop. With the Hornady, I have to live with the slop. The Dillon square deal was okay for limited shooting. Real downside is proprietary dies. My Dillon 650 I still have, with case feeder. It is not a magic machine, as I have had small plastic pieces wear out or break, and you do need to keep things clean. I keep mine grounded, and keep the yellow primer residue cleaned out of the primer tubes, and have had no issues. I would like to use an “m” type die for my cast bullets, but such is not available for Dillon.


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  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    The real advantage of the 5th hole is to add a Powder Check die.

    If I were you, I would go with the 650.....assuming the bulk of your time is spent reloading a few calibers. The calibers that do nit get a lot of time stay on your current set up.

    If you can afford it, and do not plan a lot of caliber changeovers, the 1050.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check