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I have made up my mind to buy a progressive press but can't decide what to buy. I am interested in the Dillon RL 550B and the Hornady Lock N Load AP. Having never used a progressive press I am not sure what I should be looking for. I have seen a Hornady in a local store and it looks really nice. I have never seen a Dillon but the hot chicks in their ads look really nice. I almost bought a Lee Loadmaster but I have been lead to believe I will spend more time maintaining it than actually reloading. Does anyone have any advice to offer on this?
 

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There have been a lot of comparisons between the two, the Hornady is an update of the old Pacific brand of loading equipment, their quality was mid level at best, and I've seen a lot of complaints about Hornady dies. Dillon sets the standard in progressive loaders, nobody else even comes close.



Some are saying the Hornady is a better deal because you can get some free bullets, of course to get those bullets you have to buy the mediocre Hornady dies, not a very good incentive, but when you have to resort to giveaways to move your product, it doesn't say much for your product.



LNL press Midway price $369.95

Dies $27.99

Shell plate $25.99



Hornady Total $423.93



Dillon 550 $379.95 dies and shell plate included
 

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Ok, I'll give you my $0.02. I have a LnL AP, and my friend has a 550B that I have checked out.



The biggest difference between them is that the LnL is auto-indexing and the 550B is manually indexed. Usually this means you coudl load faster with the LnL than the 550, but don't count on it. This mainly has to do with where the supports are placed. On the 550, some folks find it easy to place a new empty case and the bullet to be seated simultaneously. If you are one of those folks, the the 550 is only slightly slower than the LnL. If you are not, then the LnL should be much faster. One other thing to consider, is that your safety is contingent on how well you can keep focused using the 550, as if you don't move things forward, you have a double charge. It is much harder to double charge on an auto-indexing press. I've known a couple of people who have blown up their guns. Both used 550B presses. I think the brand is irrelevant, but the fact it was a manually indexed progressive is IMO.



Once you get past that, it's mostly smaller issues.



1) the biggest of the smaller issues is cartridge ejection. The 550 has a better, lower hassle setup. The LnL uses a bent wire device that you have to tune a little, and if using lee dies, and using the factory crimp die in the last stage, you ahve to grind the die to work with it. I've run into some people VERY frustrated with getting it to work who say they can't. Personally, I've got mine running very reliably from that standpoint, although getting it setup WAS more work than getting a dillon set up.



2) depriming. LnL has a clean depriming system that keeps the press cleaner and doesn wind up with runaway dead primers everywhere. I love this feature. The 550 does not, and it can be annoying and requires cleaning more often.



3) case retention mechanisms. The brass buttons used by dillon are more robust, by a good measure than the long spring used in the LnL. However, taking a case out at any stage and putting it back in are easier on the LnL. I find this useful when working up a new load. If your spring comes apart, you CAN put it back together. In fact i'd recommend such as if you reassmble it right, it works better than new. I'd definitely keep a spare spring around for the LnL in case you kink it and a spare button or two around for the dillon in case you lose one.



4) Tool heads. The LnL tool head has less play in it, and as the bushings are about $3.20 a piece, A set of 5 costs about $16 bucks, so it is cheaper too. If I were to reload rifle rounds for acuracy on a progressive press, I'd probably pick the LnL.



5) Powder measure. The LnL powder measure is a better design than the dillon, but the dillon measure is cheaper. I'll say this with a big asterisk though because hornady changed the powder measure to bell the case and drop a charge in one go, and the case belling seems to have some issues. I ahve the old style that doesn't bell and charge in one station, and the powder drop consistency, and les sheering of powder is a good thing. IMO they BOTH should ship with micrometer adjustments, but don't. Hornady makes one for theirs, for the dillon you have to go third party. Almost forgot, the hornady system is easier to empty of unused powder than the 550.



6) Priming. The hornady priming system is dead simple. The 550 system is pretty close, but the 650 priming system is more complicated and needs more TLC to stay happy.



7) cost. The LnL AP used to be a bargain, now it is only about $100 cheaper than a 650. However, if you plan on getting a case feeder, that is about $100 more for the LnL than the 650, so price is a push for a fully loaded system. Someone also makes a bullet feeder for the 650, which nobody does for the LnL.



8) support. Hornady has gotten much better, dillon has gotten a little worse. Dillon is still probably a bit better, but they are both good. Dillion presses are more popular, so odds of finding someone local to help you out in person may be higher.



9) Dillon includes a shell plate. Remember to order one with yoru hornady, because it does not. Also a pistol sized powder measure insert. It comes with a rifle sized one. At elqast mine did.



10) caliber conversions. Honrady is still a bit cheaper. Changeover is quicker though. elaving out the adjustment of dies and powder measure fore a new load, chanign calibers with the same size primer is about 2 minutes. Different size about 4-5. Dillon is about 10-15 for a full changeover unless you keep a populated spare toolhead around.



Those are the big differences.



IMO if I were shopping for a press again now, knowing what I know, and pricing being what it is, I'd probably buy a 650. If the hundred dollars was not negotiable, I'd get a LnL AP. I still don't think I'd buy a 550.
 

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For what it's worth:

I have been using a Lee Pro 1000 for a bit over a year with 10,000 or so rounds loaded. 9MM, .40 S&W, .38 and .357. Having read all the bad press about them I chose to purchase one anyway cause most companies that stay in business 40 years or so are serving their customers. I had a couple of minor difficulties coming out of the box but once resolved by myself have been quite satisfied. I also saved several hundred dollars getting set up.



A couple of friends have Dillon 550's and have had more trouble with them than I with my Lee. Two other friends decided to go with Lee after comparing the two and have been satisfied with their decision. The simple but very effective case loader of the Lee systems works well and will cost an extra $250 or so for other systems I am aware of.



I am quite certain several brands of loading equipment will work satisfactorily and am not downing any. I do believe however that the anti Lee Groupies should try before they bad mouth a viable lower cost approach.



If I had it to do over I would purchase the Lee Loadmaster to enable using a factory crimp die during the basic load cycle rather than on a second pass.



Enjoy whatever you buy.



:twisted:
 

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I have a Loadmaster. I don't have the comparison of the LM versus the Dillon or Hornaday, as I've never used them. I do know the LM is very efficient, hard to double-charge, and easy to do caliber changes on. Midway currently has the Loadmaster kits (includes feeder, Pro Autodisk measure, AND the set of dies) for $215.99. I think I paid 350 for mine earlier this year. The whole thing's limited amount of bad press revolves around the set-up. If you do your initial setup of the press right, there are no problems that aren't usually user error.



If I had to pick the weak point, it's the primer feed. It can gunk up and start to bind/jam, but compressed air is the best medicine for that. The press auto-indexes, the nature of which requires a firm, but gentle hand to operate. This is not difficult, and is merely a matter of technique. Pull down the handle with whatever force you want, but use a medium speed, consistant pressure up-stroke to index it smoothly. THe case feeder is easy to work and understand, as well as change out (one nut and pull the little bar out and you can quickly swap from 40S&W to 9mm). The best part about Lee stuff is that the accessories are not expensive. Skip the bullet feeder. They are bullet length specific and really don't save you much time at all. If you have any other questions, about the LM, feel free to ask.



Chris
 

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I still am a big fan of my LNL because of a few reasons: 5 stations, auto index, lnl bushings, better powder measure and probably more I can't think of off the top of my head.



Theres those issues, I worked my ejecting issues out pretty well:



Regarding the speed of inserting a case and bullet with one hand, I made this video for a disbeliever last night:



http://youtube.com/watch?v=huhI-BtQHU0



Grab the bullet with index finger and thumb, then use middle finger and thumb to grab the case, insert the case then insert the bullet, its very quick. I like it because I don't have to take my hand off of the handle.



Keep in mind that I've never used a Dillon press, only seen them in the stores(550B only) and the powder measure did not impress me one bit.



I use the pistol meter for pistol rounds, set it and forget it, I've never had any variation.

In that extra station you can kind of see my powder check die peeking up over the seater die, It sure boosts my confidence in all my loads.





Jon
 

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Get a Dillon and save the headaches. If you only plan on loading pistol calibers, you could save money by going with the Square Deal "B". It is better than the 550 IMHO.







Square Deal B Auto-Indexing Reloader



4 Station Progressive Loader

Station 1) resize/deprime

Station 2) prime/powder drop/flare

Station 3) seat

Station 4) crimp

Loads only the listed handgun cartridges Automatic Indexing shellplate Auto Powder / Priming Systems Uses special dies Manually fed cases and bullets Typical loading Rate is about 300-500 Rounds per Hour Comes Complete With Factory Adjusted Loading Dies Ready-to-Use, machine set up with proper primer size & shellplate installed.

Lifetime "No-B.S." Warranty



The Basic machine includes the following:





1 machine

1 powder measure with large and small powder bars (small installed)

Small bar throws from 2.1 to 15 grains of powder Large bar throws from 15 to 60 grains of powder

1 priming system with large and small priming parts

1 early warning buzzer and rod for primer system

1 packet of tubes containing: 1 large, 1 small primer pickup tubes, 1 magazine tube, and one primer slide assembly, 1 powder measure failsafe rod assembly with bracket (13355)

3 locator buttons

1 toolhead

1 powder die

1 caliber conversion kit

1 set of carbide dies (except for 44/40)

1 Spent primer cup bracket, screws and cup

1 loaded cartridge chute, screws and plastic bin

1 written instruction manual
 

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the only thing i don't like about my dillon is the deprimer/primer setup. I have to agree that it can make things a bit dirty around the press shaft and there is the run away spent primer issue at times. Every now & then I get a spent primer that gets stuck in the catch shoot right under the retaining pin that holds the shoot open allowing spent primers to just be ejected onto the floor.



As for the priming portion, due to the dirt that builds up you have to keep the primer slide clean or it will stick. This is bad cause every now and then the slide will stick back and when you lower the pres plate (or raise the handle) the slide will could eventually work itself loose and slam into the plate throwing the new primer ...... it usually doesn't go far though, think the worst case I've had was it landed on the bench but it usually just lands on the press plate.



One other issue I've had with the primer slide seems to only happen with large pistol primers for the 45 and never with the small primers for the 40. Once in a while, mainly towards the last few, one of the primers will rotate/flip in the tube and get stuck. Not hard to get out, just need to tap it with a hex wrench or something, but could lead to the last few rounds not getting primers if your not paying attention. I have found a work around to that issue though ..... on the primer tube there's a low primer warning system. I take the rod from there and place it in the primer pick up tube when dropping new primers in. Pull out the pin on the pickup tube and the rod seems to make all the primers go in right. When the warning system goes off I take the rod out and lift up the lever and put the rod back in which allows it to go down the tube further keeping the primers seating into the slide correctly.



Other then that I can't say I have any issues with the dillon 550. Once you figure out what your doing it's no hard to work the press.
 

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"the bushings are about $3.20 a piece, A set of 5 costs about $16 bucks, so it is cheaper too."
The Dillon tool head is $16.95, not much difference.



The Dillon powder measure is one of the most consistent on the market, it's more consistent than any drum type powder measure. The Dillon powder measure comes with metering chambers for both rifle and pistol, the Hornady powder measure only comes with one metering chamber, you pay $28.99 extra for the small chamber for pistol on the Hornady.



Dillon sets the standard for customer service, the only company that approaches their level of service is RCBS, Hornady's isn't even close.



If you are loading pistol calibers they should be taper crimped, that's a 4th die separate from the seating die, Hornady die sets don't come with a taper crimp die, it's $19 extra, the taper crimp die is included in Dillon's die sets.



I've done the math, and the cost for a change of calibers on the Hornady isn't much different from the Dillon, when you really count everything you need.
 

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G56 said:
"the bushings are about $3.20 a piece, A set of 5 costs about $16 bucks, so it is cheaper too."
The Dillon tool head is $16.95, not much difference.


Was thinking of the 650 head as that is what is usually asked for in comparison.



The Dillon powder measure is one of the most consistent on the market, it's more consistent than any drum type powder measure. The Dillon powder measure comes with metering chambers for both rifle and pistol, the Hornady powder measure only comes with one metering chamber, you pay $28.99 extra for the small chamber for pistol on the Hornady.


Yes, the dillon comes with both chambers. Like I said, given hornady's price increases, if I would shell out for it, I'd seriously consider the 650 as fully tricked out, it is about the same. THe old pistol micrometer insert used ot just be $18. Which was a kick ass deal. Now that you need to buy the whole drum to go with it, it's kindof annoying. But it still owkrs nice.



As for accuracy of measure, uhh no. The slide type measures do have some issues with certain powders. Mostly with powders that shear, but you can also get some odd binding. I've heard enough dilon users bitching about it, that I'm willing to believe it isn't just made up. As far as more consistant, bit the dillon and the LnL seem to throw very consistant measurements. Realisticly, both throw within a tenth of a grain consistantly.



Dillon sets the standard for customer service, the only company that approaches their level of service is RCBS, Hornady's isn't even close.


Yes, dillon does, but they have been reeling it in some. Hornady on the other hand has been improving theirs. I bought my LnL about 4 years ago and had some issues with setup, I had to get the first part replaced last week. The difference in CS was night and day between then.



If you are loading pistol calibers they should be taper crimped, that's a 4th die separate from the seating die, Hornady die sets don't come with a taper crimp die, it's $19 extra, the taper crimp die is included in Dillon's die sets.


Just like the folks I know who use dillon presses, I don't bother with the dillon dies. For .45 I use all lee dies. For 9 as well (which I don't load much. For .40 I use a EGW U-die, a lee factory crimp, and a RCBD micrometer seating die. I don't consider the hornady dies a good value for the dollar, and their dies have nothing to do with the press being good or not.



But I'll give Dillon one more plus, they are easier to set up with lee dies.





I've done the math, and the cost for a change of calibers on the Hornady isn't much different from the Dillon, when you really count everything you need.


I'll leave dies out. People will use what they like, and it'll be the same cost no matter which pres you stick them in.



I haven't done the shopping in a while, but it used to be about $10 cheaper for a hornady conversion. So some quick online shopping.



Hornady with single setup:

shellplate - $26

4 bushings @ $4 each - $16

total - $42



Hornady with re-using bushings

shellplate $26

total $26.



Dillon 550 single setup

toolhead $16

conversion kit $40

total $56



Dillon 550 with reusing toolhead:

conversion kit $40

total $40



Dillon 650 single setup

toolhead $21

conversion kit $70

total 91



Dillon 650 reusing toolhead.

conversion kit $70

total $70





So 550B vs LnL AP, $14 cheaper

650 vs LnL $49 cheaper.



It adds up.



On the flip side, the dillon powder measure is much cheaper if you want to own multiples, although IMO your money is better spent on a good micrometer adjustment for it.



I also don't get why dillon fans, most of whom never used anything else, are so blatantly hostile towards any other brand.
 

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raz-0 said:
...I also don't get why dillon fans, most of whom never used anything else, are so blatantly hostile towards any other brand.
It must be something in the koolaid. :wink:
 

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While raz-0 gave a fair review of the presses, I have just a couple of comments: First, the Dillon 550 does NOT come with dies, only the shellplate of choice. Small price differences, even of a few hundred dollars, will be inconsequential when a few tens of thousands of rounds are produced and the initial price is amortized. Third, many Dillon owners/users are very UP on their brand because, well, because we have rarely ever used another brand, if we happened to have bought the Dillon first. Bought my 550 Jan 1988. Fourth, I have been very satisfied with the operation of the Dillon powder measures that I have used on my several Dillons and with the powders that I have used over the years. As with anything mechanical, you do need to set aside time to clean the machines, including the powder and primer slides. I tend to leave cleaning for too long a time and have experienced the primer feed problems noted. Still, that was my fault.



I was given a Lee and have not been able to get it running properly. This may be just that I am a mechanical klutz..or not!



I do not ever try for speed, but have at one time or another noted that I had loaded 200 rounds of .45 acp on the 550 in a half hour, but only since I started with the primer tube full and another loaded ready to refill the machine.



I have no problem in sequenceing the shellplate. It is a simple five step process. Insert shell; place bullet; handle down; handle up to prime; index. Repeat. With the Square Deal it is a four step process with the auto indexing.



It is always good to see positive posts of experience with various products.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the advice!

I really appreciate the time and thought you all put into your responses. There were some good points brought up that I hadn't considered before. I'll still have to think about this but the extra input from experienced reloaders sure does help!
 

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Seems that if you research you will find.



Dillon- has excellent customer service, free parts, very well sorted machines especially the 550. Dillon has that lifetime warranty and parts so people love the customer service.

LNL- has improved the machine lately but still has issues with 9mm. Great quality besides that issue which some people seem to know how to work around. Good customer service from recent reports.

Lee- Machine quality is dependent on the users ability to set the thing up. I have owned a Lee Classic Turret and a Load Master. Both have been great but the LM clearly needs someone who knows how to set it up. Free casefeeder, great price, fast. If you need LM help you go to www.gloctalk.com and You Tube has good setup videos. Lee has good customer support as well.



All machines can be setup to work great (well except for maybe the LnL with 9mm, research that on your own if it's your caliber). Good luck with your choice.
 

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I will be purchasing a progressive next week.

It will be either the Dillon 550 or 650.

I haven't decided yet.




I know a couple people that load on the Hornady LNL AP. And they are happy with them.

But I think the Dillon has more advantages for me.
 

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As for accuracy of measure, uhh no. The slide type measures do have some issues with certain powders. Mostly with powders that shear, but you can also get some odd binding.
Yes, they can bind on the coarse stick type powders, just like the drum powder measures, neither type dispenses the coarse powders without some binding.



The Lee powder measure is about the only powder measure that doesn't bind, and that's because they use a flexible plastic wiper and very loose tolerances, so instead of having problems with stick powders, they leak with ball powders, not a very good trade off.



Most people who use Dillon presses use Dillon dies, their quality is exceptional, the quality of some other brands of dies has fallen off the last 3 or 4 years, the RCBS and Redding dies that I have bought in the last couple of years aren't polished nearly as nicely on the inside as their older dies, the Dillons are still polished very smooth on the inside, they are first class in every manner. I buy other brands of dies for the calibers that I don't load much, so I see both Dillon and some of the other brands as well, and I've been disappointed with the quality of the newer RCBS and Redding dies.
 
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