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    • #32343
      Bodean98
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      I have been contemplating the purchase of an progressive metallic reloading machine and would like input from you fellas as to which ones are the best.
      The candidates are the Dillon XL 650, Hornady LNL AP, and the RCBS Pro Chucker 5 or 7. I have read several reviews and the Dillon XL 650 seems to rank pretty high. The RCBS presses will require a fairly large cash outlay to get them up and running. I’m not looking for the cheapest solution, I’m looking for the most value.
      I am familiar with progressive presses in that I have a PW 900 shot shell loader. I understand there will be a learning curve and the need of paying attention to all of the functions going on simultaneously. I know they can load lots of ammo fast and they can screw up lots of ammo just as fast!
      As of this post I would be loading 3 different calibers. 45 ACP, .223 Rem., and 300 BO. Set up time and caliber changes would be an important factor for consideration too. Reliability and ease of use are also very important.
      What do you like and why?
      Any info would be greatly appreciated!

      Thanks

    • #32346
      Larry Gibson
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      Over the last 45+ years I’ve had the opportunity to work with and use extensively numerous metallic rifle and pistol cartridge progressive loaders. Stated out on CH inline progressives and Star loaders. Found the CH to be totally unacceptable and a general PITA to operate(it was the root cause of numerous 38 SPL revolver blow ups). The Star was satisfactory loading 38 SPLs and 45 ACPs as long as just one load for each was used. I started using a Dillon 450 then upgraded to the 550B when I got my own about 35 years or so ago. Got a SDB shortly afterwards to just load pistol ammo on. I also got a 650 some years back and worked with a couple 1050s also. I found both to be like the Star; very good when set up for one load. Changing the tool heads and “timing” everything was always a PITA if not loading thousands of any one cartridge before changing to another. I’ve also had the chance to work with the RCBS and Hornady progressives. They are good but I prefer the Dillons, more likely just because I am used to them.

      I have kept the SDB and the 550B. What I found essentially was the SDB handles all my handgun “bulk” loading (9mm, 38 SPL, 357 midrange, 41 Mag midrange, 44 SPL, 44 Mag midrange, 45 ACP and 45 Colt). I still load most top end magnum and performance loads on the single stage press for absolute quality control.

      I prefer the Dillon 550B for loading rifle cartridges in bulk. I can and do load 22 Hornet, 223/5.56,22-250, 6.5-308, 6.5×55, 7×57,30 Carbine, 7.2×39, 30-30, .308W/7.62, 7.62x54R, 30-06, 8×57 and 45-70 on the 550B. I load precision or target rounds on a single stage press though (Forster COAX). I also load some handgun cartridges on the 550B; 32 S&WL, 32 H&R and 38 Super just because I haven’t got the SDB conversion for them.

      Converting either the SDB or the 550B to another cartridge is relatively easy. Even switching the primer feeds isn’t that difficult. You also can’t beat Dillon’s service. One thing I’ve found essential for all progressive presses is the bench must be solid enough to allow absolutely no flexing or vibration of the press under operation. Eliminating that has solved every primer feed problem with every make of progressive. A large steel or thick aluminum plate covering and securely bolted to the top of most benches solves that. When sizing and operating the handle, especially at the bottom of it’s throw, there should be absolutely no movement of the press. If there is, fix it. Doing so will save you lots of problems and frustrations.

      When loading cast bullets I also find the manual rotation of the 550B to be very handy. I can remove a case after powder charging to insert a Dacron filler or check the powder level. If interrupted I can see where I am and back up to get back in sync if necessary. I can put dies in different stations. When loading cast bullets in say the 8×57 I clean the cases, NS, clean primer pocket and inspect using a single stage press or just using station 1 on the 550B. I then put the M-die in station 1, station 2 throws the powder, at station 3 the seater die is but 1st I remove the case, insert the Dacron filler and start the bullet in the case and then seat the bullet, at station 4 I use a taper crimp die or a Lee FCD to just close the case mouth or crimp if needed. If I’m using cases that need to be FL sized I size them in a single stage press or at station 1, clean the lube off, clean the primer pockets and inspect.

      The 550B is the most versatile of any of the progressives, especially for cast bullet loaders.

      Larry Gibson

    • #32350
      bjornb
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      Two great testimonials from two shooters whose opinions I value. It may just be time to upgrade from the old Lee turret. It’s been cranking out pistol ammo for years but at a snail’s pace…..

    • #32352
      skeettx
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      Dillon all the way !!
      I have one press for large primers and one press for small primers.
      The caliber switch-over is a snap.
      Mike

      p.s. I have two 1050s, two Stars, 3 Hornady Pro-jectors, RCBS Green Machine, C-H Auto Champ and more.

    • #32354
      Bodean98
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      Thank you gentlemen for those write ups!
      Yes, the loading I would be doing on this machine would be 1000’s and not 100’s. I too load all of my ammo now on a co-ax. 1 or 2 hundred at a time is not too bad but I have several thousand 45 ACP and .223. I have needled away at them for what seems an eternity and the bucket just seems to never empty. (I guess things could be worse!)
      I had been leaning toward the Dillon brand and your write ups clinched that part of the decision. I am curious about the preference for the manual indexing vs. automatic indexing. I was pretty dead set on loader that performed its functions automatically but I will take another look based on your preferences.
      Thanks again for the comments!

    • #32357
      Anonymous
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      I load all my pistol calibers plus 223 rem on my 550B and all other rifle on my Rockchucker. I am completely ignorant on the Square Deal B. What are the advantages of it versus the 550 for pistol loading? Obviously I have never been around one to see the set up.

      Jay

    • #32359
      bullet maker
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      I have a 650 and love it. I too, load thousands at a time. I also have a Square deal. Loads 38 spl like a champ. Can’t get it to load 357’s. Even with that problem(most likely operator error), I would recommend either Dillon.

    • #32365
      LenH
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      I met a guy at an indoor .22 Bullseye match. He was looking to get out of reloading. He had a Dillon 550B and pile of stuff to go with it. He wanted $350 for the whole
      lot. I took him the money and he helped me load the box in my car. I looked and saw the press and that was it.

      I get it home and pulled the flap back on the box and started unloading and found that there was about $1200 worth of stuff in the box. A Dillon case cleaner, media separator
      the press, 4 tool heads 2 powder measures and a pile of 9mm brass and bullets, primers and more stuff I bargained for and was just about in shock. It seems that the guy bought it
      to reload 9mm and that was when you could still get 9mm ammo for about $5 a box. I called the guy and asked him if that was a fair deal and he was happy to get rid of it.

      I mainly load .45 Colt, .45 ACP & .38 Special. I keep about 2k worth of .45 ACP at any one time and it really don’t take that long to load that amount. If I change to priming system
      from LP to SP it takes about 20 minutes to change it over, mind you that I am cleaning everything as I go.

      I use my old single stage to load rifle.

    • #32404
      dverna
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      Another Dillon fan. Used to have 5 of them but now down to 2. A 1050 and 550B. Like others here, I have loaded on others. Loved the Star for but the 1050 is better IMHO. If you are only loading the one pistol caliber, the 1050 is a great choice. It has enough stations that a powder checker can be added (as with the 650 as well) but the 1050 will swage primer pockets if you run military brass. Mine is set up for SP primers as it takes about 30 minutes to change primer systems; and I use it only for pistol rounds. The 1050 primes on the downstroke (like the Star) so you will not get a high primer. It will do the .223 but I do not need them in that kind of quantity.

      All my rifle is done on a Co-Ax. I will likely buy the .223 conversion for the 550B as I plan on shooting more of that this year.

      I had two SDB’s and missed not having a case feeder. They can be a bit cramped if you have large hands and are significantly slower than the 650 or 1050 due to having to feed both the bullet and case. Still good machines if maximum productivity is not your goal. The other downside is proprietary dies sets that are costly. A good choice if loading one pistol caliber as your are.

      Don Verna

      BTW, I admire you Skeetex…I had a Green Machine and gave up on it.

    • #32425
      dragon813gt
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      The ProChuckers have issues w/ breaking priming parts if you weren’t aware. I would stay away until this is worked out. Don’t know if they finally have case and bullet feeders for them as well. Once all the bugs are worked out I want the 7. But they released them to early.

      I have a 550B and won’t be getting rid of it. Picked it up along w/ a whole host of parts for a fair price. It was in pretty rough shape. But all it took was some cleaning to get rid of the rust and it’s been running since. Came w/ three powder measures that didn’t have the fail safe on them. Makes for a smoother running press but I upgraded two of them.

      I like the press so much that I recently bought a 450. I don’t leave Dillon tool heads setup because the dies get used on a LCT as well. The solid top really appeals to me. I do need to upgrade the priming system though. I wasn’t aware the 450 was completely manual when I bought it. Wondered why it was so cheap.

      Buy a 650XL or 1050 if you’re going to do large runs of the same load. I want at 1050 just for brass prep but it’s not in the budget. Buy a 550B if you want an extremely versatile press that can load it all. Buy a SDB if you want to crank out handgun ammo.

    • #32428
      kens
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      W.R.Buchanan wrote:
      “I size and deprime all my Rifle brass on my Rockchucker. then tumble Then run the ones that are volume loaded like .223’s in the 550. I recently set up the 550 for .45 ACP and it runs those well. I have a tool heads set up for .40S&W, .45 ACP, .223 and .308, and need several others.”

      This statement leads me to ask, is priming brass the most difficult stage in ALL the reloaders?
      If Dillon is suppose to be the cat’s meow in reloaders, then why do you prime on a totally separate stage?

      i myself only have a single stage press, and priming is the PITA. Well now I have to wonder if progressive loading is 10 times faster, then is priming also 10 times the PITA??

    • #32429
      Scharfschuetze
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      W.R.Buchanan wrote:
      “I size and deprime all my Rifle brass on my Rockchucker. then tumble Then run the ones that are volume loaded like .223’s in the 550. I recently set up the 550 for .45 ACP and it runs those well. I have a tool heads set up for .40S&W, .45 ACP, .223 and .308, and need several others.”

      I should have mentioned that I too deprime all my cases before using the Dillon. The reason is that it keeps all the nasty and erosive carbon residue out of the friction points on the compound leverage of the Dillon (or my Rockchucker). I use a cheap Lyman press with the Lyman universal decapping die. I put a trash can under the the Lyman press and the old primers pop into the trash can. Quick and mess free.

      i myself only have a single stage press, and priming is the PITA. Well now I have to wonder if progressive loading is 10 times faster, then is priming also 10 times the PITA??

      No, priming is a piece of cake with the Dillon outfit. The only time consuming part is loading the priming tubes which have a 100 primer capacity. It only takes a few minutes and saves beaucoup time. Dillon sells a mechanical loader to do that, but I’m too frugal to buy one.

    • #32430
      Bodean98
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      My loading on this machine would be large runs of one caliber. It’s just that one caliber could change from time to time. I am mainly looking at loading 223 for my son and son in law and myself. I load a lot of 45 ACP on occasion. I am looking at loading a lot of 300 BO on occasion as well. Perhaps 9mm in the future as well as some other calibers if the need arises. I would set it up and load a bunch of which ever I needed and change when the need arises for another caliber. My lower use cartridges are not a problem to load on the single stage. I have been doing that for many years. These dadgum self loaders eat a lot of ammo and I have felt the need to be able to keep them well supplied with fodder!!!!!
      BTW Thank you all for the input!!!! It is MUCH appreciated.

    • #32432
      Bodean98
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      Here is one on eBay that I’m looking at.
      http://www.ebay.com/itm/152377734149?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
      Seems like a pretty good deal to me. Is there anything you folks see that would make you pause?

    • #32441
      dragon813gt
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      kens;n12837 wrote: W.R.Buchanan wrote:
      “I size and deprime all my Rifle brass on my Rockchucker. then tumble Then run the ones that are volume loaded like .223’s in the 550. I recently set up the 550 for .45 ACP and it runs those well. I have a tool heads set up for .40S&W, .45 ACP, .223 and .308, and need several others.”

      This statement leads me to ask, is priming brass the most difficult stage in ALL the reloaders?
      If Dillon is suppose to be the cat’s meow in reloaders, then why do you prime on a totally separate stage?

      i myself only have a single stage press, and priming is the PITA. Well now I have to wonder if progressive loading is 10 times faster, then is priming also 10 times the PITA??

      No. it’s not. And there is no reason to do it off press on a Dillon when it comes to straight wall cases. I know people have their own processes. But I haven’t had any issues w/ primer residue causing priming issues on the Dillon. All I do is tumble the cases in crushed walnut, primers intact, and then load them from start to finish on the press. W/ bottle neck cases you’re usually doing a bunch of case prep. So depriming/priming off press is a typical step. I don’t load rifle rounds on my Dillon but I do deprime in a separate step before processing the brass.

    • #32456
      DaveInGA
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      I may have gotten the only lemon 550 ever made. Mine would never do primers right. Dillon and my buddies all gave me a hard time about it. I finally gave up on it and sold it to one of those buddies. He ended up getting an exchange unit from Dillon. He couldn’t get it to work either. :/

      Aggravated with Dillon at that point, I bought and used a Hornady LnL for years and was very happy with it. I really liked and miss the ability to change out some, but not all of the dies go change setups, very quick and versatile.

      Grew tired of the Hornady after a decade (wanted something new and different) and bought an RCBS Pro 2000 auto advance. Received a defective one (I have the worst luck for things like that.) and ended up having to change the subplate out, which resolved the problem (improperly machined). RCBS service was more friendly and less arrogant than Dillon, plus they stuck with it and got the problem resolved for me. I love the primer strips, but I took the time to fine tune/adjust mine properly and my first experience was several thousand .223 cartridges loaded up with boring consistency. Extremely happy with the machine, but I never wanted a case feeder (and still don’t). I did add a bullet feeder and for small bullets, this is a Godsend for my now arthritis hands. The combination of the bullet feeder with the primer strips makes it pretty easy to keep going with the press and not stop much for “top offs.” The longer you’re pulling the handle and not topping off, the more cartridges you’re making.

      During the last decade, I’ve gotten to load on other folk’s 550 and 650’s. They are good machines, but they tend to get dirty from primer filth, which I don’t like. The Hornady and the RCBS don’t have that issue, spent primers are routed down a tube and away from the machine. One the other hand, the Dillons, once setup, crank out lots of rounds. I prefer them with a bullet feeder if possible (One buddy made his own adapter to add bullet feed to his 550, works really well.)

      I’ve heard the new RCBS units have a primer plastic part issue and they went away from the primer strips, the very thing I liked the best about them. So that pretty much takes them off my list as a potential progressive.

      The Hornady had a kludgy (spelling?) case feeder that to me was a pain to get setup and change over. The 650 case feeder, if money is no object, is a much better solution. But again, I think a bullet feeder is a much, much better upgrade than a case feeder, especially if you have any issue handling smaller bullets.

      I do think that if I was young, I’d setup multiple presses for the specific calibers I load the most, then have a slightly less sophisticated progressive setup for those cartridges I shoot less.

      Something I think should also be considered is if you’re going to be loading some cartridges in batches of 300 or less (like ammo for your occasionally shot milsurps), then look real strongly at adding a Lee Classic Cast (iron) auto advance turret to your bench. Really fine way to load small batches and changeover is pretty fast/easy.

      I guess after all that wind bagging, it depends on your application. Think through your needs and wants real hard, then look at the various presses available that’ll get the job done for you. As far as best, that’s relative. After all, which gun is best? Depends on what you want to do with it.:)

    • #32467
      Butch Wax
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      Bought a RCBS Green Machine long ago when a dealer and gunsmith. Cost my $285 dealer cost. It broke 3 times in one day. I beat the he’ll outta that thing with a 4# maul and threw it on the curb for the trashmen to remove.

      Went back to my Lyman Spar-T turret and Spartan press and also my treasured 310’s. Will never go near a progressive press again as long as I live. I personally feel they’re evil!

    • #32573
      Bodean98
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      Thanks to all for your advice!
      I finally made a decision and purchased a Dillon XL 650, case feeder and all. Should be at my door soon!

      Thanks again!

    • #32691
      DaveInGA
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      Think real hard on adding a bullet feeder system to that. When you get older, your hands will thank you for it.

    • #32692
      Bodean98
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      Oh, I have thought about it quite a bit. Probably in the future because I have just about exceeded my monetary limit on these types of purchases for the year!

      :rolleyes:

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