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Buckshot Frank

I'm getting a Dillon- Need some advice

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Well- the 550 is back in the running. I watched a lot of videos of both presses and learned two things. First, I was making the manually indexing out to be more hastle than it really is, and second, I could make a month's worht of ammo in less than an hour on the 650 with the case feeder :o . I want the new press because I'm currently spending too much time reloading, but I really don't need to go that fast.

 

I keep reading that changing calibers in much easier on the 550, but the conversion cost is about the same. What makes the 550 better for multiple calibers?

 

I think that I'm going to have to call Brian Enos or Dillon on Tuesday. I'm terrible at making decisions...

 

I *love* that I can make a months worth of ammo in an hour! Actually, when I was practicing, it was 2 hours a week reloading. I now have about half a million rounds through my 650. Great press.

 

 

 

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I've decided to go ahead and buy a Dillon. I was looking to buy another pistol, but my wife convinced me that the money would be better spent on a progressive press. I was looking at the Hornady, but the thread about Dillon's customer sevice was the tipping point. I've been researching quite a bit on the Brian Enos site, and plan to order from there (free shipping). I would like some advice on upgrades.

 

I have decided on the 650. I am used to auto-indexing on my Lee Classic Turret and I can't go back, so the 550 is out. I'll be loading for mutiple calibers (not immediately, but I want the capability) so this eliminates the Square Deal. I'm not opening an ammo factory, so I don't need the 1050 :). So, by process of elimination, the 650 is the one for me.

 

When it comes to the upgrades is where I need some help.


  •  
  • I currently have Lee carbide 4-die sets for all of the calibers that I reload for. Can I stick with these and skip the die purchase?
  • Is the powder check worth it, or is it just a needless hassle?
  • The "as it should be" upgrade seems like nice accesories to have, but $41 for a bullet tray and $43 for an aluminum handle seem a little excessive. Yeah or ney on this one?
  • Primer flip tray and primer tubes- No brainer here.

 

Anything that I am missing?

#1 priority is powder check-main reason to get a 650 as far as I am concerned

Handle is nice and a lot easier on your arm. If you are going to reload a large volume or have arm or shoulder issues, get the handle

Bullet tray holds bullets closer to the shell plate so you can run faster with it. You could also make your own.

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I keep reading that changing calibers in much easier on the 550, but the conversion cost is about the same. What makes the 550 better for multiple calibers?

Caliber change is about the same on a 550 or a 650 - you change the shell holder, the locating pins and the die head. Tighten the nut on the powder measure actuator, and go. Now, that assumes you do NOT have to change primer size. The difference comes because the 550 is faster to change primer feed mechanisms.

 

550 is also pretty much immune to the primer-tube explosions that lots of folks have on the 650, caused by the circular feed disk that channels an explosion of the seating station primer back to the primer feed tube. Federal primers are not recommended by Dillon on the 650 due, I am pretty sure, to such explosions.

 

But, I run and like them both. There is a place for each of these presses.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Both the 550 and 650 are great presses,have both on my bench. I don't enjoy reloading and shoot way to much ammo for someone who doesn't like to reload so I want to get as much ammo done at one time that I can. Many believe that you can't get quality when going for quanity. I disagree. If you do your part you can make stuff thats better than factory and do it without standing there all day.

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Both the 550 and 650 are great presses,have both on my bench. I don't enjoy reloading and shoot way to much ammo for someone who doesn't like to reload so I want to get as much ammo done at one time that I can. Many believe that you can't get quality when going for quanity. I disagree. If you do your part you can make stuff thats better than factory and do it without standing there all day.

 

I actually enjoy reloading, I just don't like having to do it (if that makes sense). With my current press, it seems like I have to reload every two or three days to keep up. After accessing my reloading needs per month (about 900 .38 and 200 .40), I think that the 650 might be more than I need. I'm leaning heavily towards the 550 now. I'm thinking that I will leave the 550 set-up for .38, and use my Lee Classic Turret for .40 and other calibers. If I start shooting another caliber more, I'll add a deluxe caliber conversion to the 550.

 

I did definitely decide on the Dillon dies. After cleaning all of the wax and lead out of my Lee bullet seat die yesterday, I fully appreciate the quick disassembly feature on the Dillon dies.

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I actually enjoy reloading, I just don't like having to do it (if that makes sense). With my current press, it seems like I have to reload every two or three days to keep up. After accessing my reloading needs per month (about 900 .38 and 200 .40), I think that the 650 might be more than I need. I'm leaning heavily towards the 550 now. I'm thinking that I will leave the 550 set-up for .38, and use my Lee Classic Turret for .40 and other calibers. If I start shooting another caliber more, I'll add a deluxe caliber conversion to the 550.

 

I did definitely decide on the Dillon dies. After cleaning all of the wax and lead out of my Lee bullet seat die yesterday, I fully appreciate the quick disassembly feature on the Dillon dies.

 

Sounds like you have it figured out. At under a thousand a month for your .38's you should be served well by that setup. You can leisurely do at 300-350 and hour on the 550. You won't regret the Dillon dies either.

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I actually enjoy reloading, I just don't like having to do it (if that makes sense). With my current press, it seems like I have to reload every two or three days to keep up. After accessing my reloading needs per month (about 900 .38 and 200 .40), I think that the 650 might be more than I need. I'm leaning heavily towards the 550 now. I'm thinking that I will leave the 550 set-up for .38, and use my Lee Classic Turret for .40 and other calibers. If I start shooting another caliber more, I'll add a deluxe caliber conversion to the 550.

 

I did definitely decide on the Dillon dies. After cleaning all of the wax and lead out of my Lee bullet seat die yesterday, I fully appreciate the quick disassembly feature on the Dillon dies.

 

Frank

 

I easily load 400+ an hour on my 550B and thats with a powder check every 100 rounds. I really don't know why I even bother to check powder that often as it has never been off in all these years. I also use 2 different loads/bullets, one for pistol and 1 for rifle. I have a complete set of dies, powder measure and quick change block for both. Changing them takes about 2 minutes. One thing I suggest is that you use the seating die for seating only and use the 4th hole for a crimping die. Buy at least 4 extra primer tubes (you'll have a total of 5 then) that way you don't have to stop after 100 rounds.

 

I think you'll find that you made the best decision, tell Cass I said hey.

 

C.S.

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Sounds like you have it figured out. At under a thousand a month for your .38's you should be served well by that setup. You can leisurely do at 300-350 and hour on the 550. You won't regret the Dillon dies either.

That's good information right there. I don't shoot much... lucky if I get ONE match a month... and zilch for practice... And that leisurely 300-350 per hour is right about what I load. When I was loading for multiple shooters (3 in family) two different calibers and multiple monthly matches, I could work up faster speeds... but could easily load the entire month's needs at one sitting. So, now that it's just me shooting, I leisurely load about 200-250 rounds per reloading session. It's 100 yards out to the barn, and to walk out there, dump my used brass in the tumbler, cast for a half hour, get the press prepped for the caliber I'm reloading while the boolits cool, size & lube needed bullets, and start reloading, I'm in no hurry, the music's nice, no one buggin' me... (phone's way off in the house and the wife can yell till she's hoarse - I can't hear), and I have a couple month's worth of ammo loaded. I then dump the tumbled brass in my clean brass bucket for the next session, crank out 50-75 rounds of shotshells on the lil' MEC 600Jr, and I'm done. Back in the house to listen to what a "bad man" I am in about 2 hours.

 

One additional piece of advice: if your bench is in the garage or other out-building, and you live in mud-dauber or wasp country, keep your dies, brass and empty shotshell in sealable containers. My dies are taken off the press after every use, and put away in a closed drawer the varmits can't get into. (Yea, I found out the hard way!) Came back from EOT to find all my dies full of dauber nests! Another "nice to have" accessory is the press cover. If I'm going to be reloading over a couple of days, (used to be a lot less rare than it is now), putting the press cover over the assembled unit to keep everything nice and clean is handy. I needn't worry about leaving powder in the hopper or the dies in place for just a nite. When I lived in CA, I left it set up all the time.

 

When I get the kid's room cleared out... I'm movin' my reloading bench from the barn to that room. My bench is set at a regular counter height, and use a barstool to sit on while I reload at any of my presses. Eases any back strain substantially. With it at that height and seated, I don't need the strongmount. While I have about 10 primer tubes for each size, (LP & SP), I usually just fill about three for the size I need, and with the balance beam powder scale, cases on the right side of the press, bullets in a Dillon bin on the left, all within a comfortable arm's reach, I can run that 200-250 rounds thru in about 45 minutes.

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Waimea

 

Go down to the hardware store and get yourself a 10' length of 1/2" (1/2 inside dimension, 5/8" outside dimension) plumbing pvc pipe. Measure 15 .38 cases and cut the pipe 2" longer than that. Drill a hole near the end of the pipe large enough to insert a small dowel, nail, whatever. You can now fill the tubes with .38 cases at your leisure kinda like primer tubes and fill the case feeder on the machine without stopping for as long. Just a thought.

 

Sun

 

Sun

 

Great idea, Pard! Thanks!

 

W

 

:FlagAm:

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Caliber change is about the same on a 550 or a 650 - you change the shell holder, the locating pins and the die head. Tighten the nut on the powder measure actuator, and go. Now, that assumes you do NOT have to change primer size. The difference comes because the 550 is faster to change primer feed mechanisms.

 

550 is also pretty much immune to the primer-tube explosions that lots of folks have on the 650, caused by the circular feed disk that channels an explosion of the seating station primer back to the primer feed tube. Federal primers are not recommended by Dillon on the 650 due, I am pretty sure, to such explosions.

 

But, I run and like them both. There is a place for each of these presses.

 

Good luck, GJ

Dillon has no issues with Federal primers on the 650. Call them yourself and get their latest. It may have been true at one time.

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I think that I'm ready to order:

 

550 press

.38 dies

4-pack primer tubes

flip tray

wrench

 

I was also thinking about a caliber conversion for .40. If I have this right (need to call to confirm), I can just buy a shellplate and toolhead and use my Lee 4-die set and powder measure. The locator buttons are the same as on the .38, and I shouldn't need the powder funnel or die if I use my Lee powder through expander die and measure. This would only cost me an additional $55 to be rock and rolling .40 on the 550 also.

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A case feeder is on my list to get soon. I saw on the web a guy adapted a Lee bullet feeder to work on a 650 I wish he would have put up more specs other than contact him on the details. One thing he remanufactured the piece that returns the powder measure. When I got my 550 a few years back it was in a box used. I never have problems I keep spare parts based on the maintence kit and things that have went awry on me. That way I am not shut down on a weekend waiting for a replacement part.

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I placed my order yesterday after confirming what I will need for the caliber conversions. I got the 550B with Dillon dies in .38 and the necessary shellplate, locator buttons, and toolheads to also load .40 and 9mm. Since I will use my Lee dies and powder measures for .40 and 9mm, the conversion costs were relatively inexpensive ($81 for both calibers). I originally planned on using my Lee Classic Turret for these calibers, but I don't have the bench space for three presses and I figured that swapping presses out is just as hard as converting the 550; I might as well use the better (faster) press.

 

I should have my new press next week! I think that I will have to schedule a vacation day so I could have a whole day to play with it.

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Buy from Brian Enos the freight is less. Its a must to add his site to your "Favorites" or "Bookmarks". Unless you are switching frequently you don't need a powder measure for each caliber. Buy two powder dies plus a powder bar for each or install a Unique Tek micrometer conversion kit on the different sized bars you use. They also have a kit which replaces the toolhead pins with socket head cap screws. This fixes the toolhead movement and is a must when not using Dillon sizing dies for straight walled cases (32, 38/357, 44Spl/Mag, 45LC, etc.). As others stated, have a toolhead for each caliber with sizing, powder, seating, powder and crimp dies installed in stations 1, 2 , 3, 4, & 5 respectively. The powder measure and powder check are easily moved from one toolhead to another. Also have a check rod with check rod sleeve setup for each caliber. I haven't yet had to change from large to small primers so I don't know if its worth it to have two primer systems. The case feeder is a must. I didn't purchase my 650 with it. The case feed tube only holds 13 45LC cases so filling every 13 handle strokes is a real pain. My 650 now has one. The first batch of ammo I manufactured had missing and high primers. Searched Dillon's FAQ's and found the fix for the problem. You must push the handle forward past 12 o'clock to the stop. The primer is seated in this part of the stroke.

 

PS My reloading bench is a desk and the strongmount places the press at the correct high to stand while operating the press.

JD

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