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Thread: Dillon 550 for case forming?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Dillon 550 for case forming?

    After doing a batch of .303 British to .256 Mannlicher I got to thinking (yeah, I know scary) why couldn't I mount the dies in the proper sequence in the 550 and have a finished or almost finished case with every pull?

    303 in station 1, 308 in station 2, 7mm in station 3, 256 in station 4.

    Cummulative effort probably isn't any more than full length sizing 44 Mag.

    Or do the first 3 operations on the Dillon, the last on the Rockchucker so you can have a little more feel and have the opportunity to partially resize, back the case out rotate the case, then finish the sizing.


    I'd try it but I don't have the right shell plate and on forming, I've gotten in the habit of using a shell holder that has been gound down .010-.015 thinner. It seems to set the shoulder back a little better.
    Less spring back, easier to chamber for the first firing. I don't know how hard the Dillon shell plates are and if I could get it ground down as flat and even as I get the single stage shell holders.

    Or should I go back to not thinking?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    The Dillon shell plate is harder than combined woodpecker lips and Chinese arithmetic. If you wanted to set the shoulder back more than standard, I think I would grind the bottom of the die body that set the shoulder position. Your idea does sound like it will work.
    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.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    376Steyr's Avatar
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    I resize military rifle brass (5.56, .308, 30-06) using multiple dies in my 550. Depending on what I'm working with, the 550 sometimes doesn't have enough leverage to do three sizing operations at once. I don't fault the press, as it wasn't intended to size down machine-gun fired brass using three sizing dies and a decap die. When I load all four stations at once with .308, and shove down on the handle, I feel like I'm abusing the press, and I'm afraid something will give.
    On the other hand, with all the dies in place, it is no problem at all to run one or two cases through at a time. I only have to handle a greasy case once, and nicely sized brass spits out into the catch box with every couple of pulls of the handle.
    Remember: Ammo will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no ammo.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 376Steyr View Post
    I resize military rifle brass (5.56, .308, 30-06) using multiple dies in my 550. Depending on what I'm working with, the 550 sometimes doesn't have enough leverage to do three sizing operations at once. I don't fault the press, as it wasn't intended to size down machine-gun fired brass using three sizing dies and a decap die. When I load all four stations at once with .308, and shove down on the handle, I feel like I'm abusing the press, and I'm afraid something will give.
    On the other hand, with all the dies in place, it is no problem at all to run one or two cases through at a time. I only have to handle a greasy case once, and nicely sized brass spits out into the catch box with every couple of pulls of the handle.
    When I'm sizing machine-gun fired 7.62 NATO brass for the first time, I do it on my Rockchucker. In fact, I size nearly all rifle brass separately on the RC, and then just drop powder and seat bullets on the Dillon. Yeah, it takes more time. I feel that I get better results sizing on the single stage press, though. Then I can either prime with a hand primer tool or prime on the Dillon. I can also clean primer pockets before priming that way. I know of many other folks that follow a similar procedure.

    And FWIW, any Dillon press would not be among my first, second, or third choices for forming brass, unless it was a very simple operation - like necking .308 down to 7mm-08. The press simply wasn't designed for those types of operations.
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    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholst55 View Post
    And FWIW, any Dillon press would not be among my first, second, or third choices for forming brass, unless it was a very simple operation - like necking .308 down to 7mm-08. The press simply wasn't designed for those types of operations.

    I typically use my Rockchucker for case conversions, but the way I do .303 to .256 Mannlicher, all four steps are moving very little brass at each step.

    Certainly not .308 down to .243 in one shot.

    I'm looking at 150 to convert in the near future --150x4=600 strokes of the press. I like loading but that doesn't sound like much fun.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholst55 View Post
    And FWIW, any Dillon press would not be among my first, second, or third choices for forming brass, unless it was a very simple operation - like necking .308 down to 7mm-08. The press simply wasn't designed for those types of operations.
    I would love to know how the commercial loaders/converters of one caliber to another do it.(as in Buffalo Arms offerings). I can't see some poor shmuck sitting down at a Rockchucker and doing it one operation at a time. They couldn't sell it at the price they are if there was that much handling involved.

    A 650 with a case trimmer in station five with a case feeder? A 1050 for more stations? A Mabel's Reloading Equipment and Donut Shop super machine?

    Anybody know?

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    I am certain that the only way to do your multiple step forming is to buy a Lee turret. Once you have all the bugs worked out, it will probably do the job way better than those crummy old Dillons.
    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 Master gnostic's Avatar
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    If you're moving the shoulder you're way better off with a single stage press and trim die. I frequently make .308 into 243, 350 mag into 6.5 mag and .223 into 221 Fireball with one pass. The Dillon toolhead is too sloppy, the single stage is perfect. I neck ream right from the trim die and they come out perfect
    Last edited by gnostic; 08-14-2019 at 10:10 AM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I have both a 550 and a 650 and I don't use either for case forming. I use my Lyman-T-Mag when forming cases. I make 300 blackouts and form them on the Lyman. The cut and de bur operations are done with a miniature chop saw and a Hornady de burring setup that de burs the neck and does the primer pocket.

  10. #10
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    ive probably did 2000 556 to 300 bo on my 550 this summer. they size like butter. the 550 sure isn't some delicate press. Its as heavy duty as any single stage press. I just wish a adapter for my Dillon press mount trimmer for 300 bo wasn't so expensive because it would make making bo brass a breeze. Just cut them off on a chop saw stick them in the press, size trim and champer all with a stroke of the handle. Ive also used it to make many 2506 from o6, 308 military to 243 and many other rounds. Nice thing about doing it on a 550 is with the same effort as a single stage press I can not only size them but prime them and in the case of everything rifle I load with the exception of 762x39 and 300 bo I can trim too. No brainer to me. To sloppy? Redding make millions selling the co ax that was adveritized as having a floating die that self centered. Lots of bench rest people loaded there rounds on them.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Its not that I necessarily view the 550 or 650 as delicate. Its more of a mess thing for me the brass powder getting into the cracks and crevices on the press contributing to possibly more wear than normal although brass is softer than steel.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    The 550 can do anything that my Lee single or turret can do, except faster.
    I resize optimally trimmed 5.56 cases to 300BLK & 277WLV quite effectively.
    Likewise from 40SW to 357sig.
    Wouldn't do it to resize rifle cases like 7.62x39 to 6.5G or 308 to 6.5C though.
    ...Speak softly & carry a big stick...

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I broke the yoke on my 550 resizing M.G. fired 7.62 nato.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by quasi View Post
    I broke the yoke on my 550 resizing M.G. fired 7.62 nato.
    MG fired 7. 62 can be some gnarly stuff. I size mine in three stages: Standard 30-06 die, Small base 30-06 die, Redding SB .308 die. The -06 dies let the brass flow forward while sizing down the rear of the case, the .308 die sets the shoulder to where it should be. Sizing three times takes care of any brass springback issues too. My 550 is real unhappy if I try to do all three sizing operations at once, but is fine with running one case through at a time.
    Remember: Ammo will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no ammo.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 376Steyr View Post
    MG fired 7. 62 can be some gnarly stuff. I size mine in three stages: Standard 30-06 die, Small base 30-06 die, Redding SB .308 die. The -06 dies let the brass flow forward while sizing down the rear of the case, the .308 die sets the shoulder to where it should be. Sizing three times takes care of any brass springback issues too. My 550 is real unhappy if I try to do all three sizing operations at once, but is fine with running one case through at a time.
    thanks for the info, it is very useful for me. I was just doing 1 case at a time in a small base rcbs die. I also broke a Rockchucker doing the same thing except I had a 3 foot snipe on the handle.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quit thinking of how much work it is. The goal is to get good brass not having fun.
    My first major 6.5X53R case forming project was done using my Rockchucker.
    My goal was to form 100 new Hornady Frontier cases to 6.5X53R. This was when new cases were basically NOT available and if they had been they would have been very expensive. So my goal was to form 100 cases with zero loss during forming.
    As part of my goal I wanted cases formed precisely to headspace on the shoulder in my chamber. This fitting to my chamber was intended to minimize case length stretching at the first firing. I used the Hornady tool attached to my calipers to measure the head to shoulder datum length of each case after it was formed. Then each case was chambered in my rifle. I set the shoulder position to give a light drag on the bolt when the bolt was closed on a formed case. This required setting the shoulders to the nearest .001" using my Rockchucker press. It took 2 sizing passes on a few cases at the start to get the shoulder set exactly right.
    I learned the following by measuring every case as I went.
    1. Speed of the case forming strokes affected the shoulder position. I learned to size the cases very slowly to permit the brass to creep to the desired shoulder position.
    2. The amount of case lube used affects the shoulder position. You have to use a very consistent amount of case lube.
    3. When you FL size or form the case more than once you do a couple things. You give the brass extra time to move, the multiple sizing strokes spread the case lube out in a very uniform way, the extra sizing strokes give the case shoulder smaller amounts of movement on the final stroke to provide more precise results.
    4. These multiple sizing strokes were done like this. I formed the cases slowly in a RCBS 6.5X54R trim die. At the top of the stroke I gave the ram a 3 to 4 second dwell to permit the brass to creep. Then the ram was retracted. The cases were turned 1/3 turn in the shell holder. Then resized slowly again and given another 3 to 4 second dwell at the top of the stroke. Then the case was retracted and turned 1/3 turn again. Then it was sized slowly with the 3 second dwell at full stroke.
    5. All the rigamarole in step 4 was done in order to make each and every case exactly the same from head to shoulder. You cannot tell if they are all alike unless you can measure them with a tool that functions similar to the Hornady case gage. You can form them without all that effort but they will not be as precise or as consistent. Yes they will shoot and they will probably be ok. However I wanted the maximum possible case life which I thought would be provided by minimum stretching when fired. That was the reason for all the NON FUN. My attention was strictly on the results and not on the fun quotient. So you can use any process or any press you want if you are happy with the results.
    Even so there was one thing I could not control. The chamber necks in the Dutch rifles are .300" diameter. I used a .286 dia neck of a 6.6X55 Swede FL die to size the necks. I had to use the 6.5X55 die because I did not have a set of 6.5X53R dies at the time.
    I only had the 6.5X53R trim die and the RCBS trim dies have a neck that is .010 larger than the neck of their FL dies. The .286 neck results in the case necks having to expand .014" every time a case is fired. This is a problem with the chamber being very large in the neck. I recommend annealing your case necks regularly to prevent neck cracking.

    A last caution. Due to the amount of work and expense involved forming new cases I used old scrap or multiple times fired .303 cases to develop the processes and die settings. Even old berdan brass would work for process development. I tried forming in one stroke with the 6.5 trim die and also using several intermediate forming/ necking dies. I got a few formed cases using one stroke in the trim die only with Federal .303 cases. All RP and WW cases accordioned - basically crushed when I attempted to form in one stroke. There are a number of different forming die combinations that might work including a .308 Win then a 7mm-08 die then a 6.5X53R trim die or FL die.
    I used a 7.35 Carcano FL die to form the neck back, then a 6.5 Carcano trim die to form the neck some more. Finally I used the 6.5X53R trim die. The Carcano dies helped support the shoulder and minimized bulging just behind the shoulder. This bulging occurs because the .303 case shoulders are smaller than the inside of the .308 and 7mm-08 dies. It should not really be much of a problem if you have a 6.5X53R FL die.

    I cannot recommend using fired .303 brass for actual shooting after forming. There is too much work involved to waste it on old cases that have already been stretched in the ridiculously over length chambers of the typical Lee Enfield rifle.
    As a consequence I killed about a dozen old cases but I did not scrap as single new case. I had 100% yield from the new brass.




    Quote Originally Posted by 15meter View Post
    I typically use my Rockchucker for case conversions, but the way I do .303 to .256 Mannlicher, all four steps are moving very little brass at each step.

    Certainly not .308 down to .243 in one shot.

    I'm looking at 150 to convert in the near future --150x4=600 strokes of the press. I like loading but that doesn't sound like much fun.
    Last edited by EDG; 08-25-2019 at 04:07 AM.
    EDG

  17. #17
    Boolit Master FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Cash View Post
    I am certain that the only way to do your multiple step forming is to buy a Lee turret. Once you have all the bugs worked out, it will probably do the job way better than those crummy old Dillons.
    Sarcasm noted.
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    GONRA sez - USE YER HEAD - do any "difficult case prep" on a Huge Single Stage Press.

    >>> Progressive Presses are NOT designed to do Hard Core Case Prep! <<<

    Check EACH NECKED CASE headspace with a gage!

    THEN run PROPERLY PREPPED cases thru yer Progressive Reloader ......

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