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Well guys,
       I'm beginning to realize that if I'm going to keep this pistola fed I'm going to have to step up production! Me and my trusty Rock Chucker are lagging behind given my time constraints.
     What can any of you guys tell me about the various progressive presses? I am on a very tight budget and am considering the Lee. Is the Lee a decent piece of equipment for the price? How about the RCBS?  Sure I'd like to have the Dillon, but...
     I don't know squat about these presses. Will they work with my RCBS powder measure? Do I need special equipment that doesn't come with them? How do they work - I mean literally what steps are involved? Hate to sound ignorant, but I am when it comes to this topic. I've reloaded a gazillion rounds, one step at a time, but man I go through the .357's fast! Thanks,  IDShooter
 

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ID,

I guess I ought to start with the final answer:  DILLON!

I own 2 Dillon presses, all of which are progressive, and each of which has a different purpose.  I load and shoot several calibers, both rifle and pistol.  If I was to limit myself to a single press, it would surely be my 550.  That said, my 1050 is the neatest thing going for large volumes of .45 ACP.  I still have my Square Deal B for other pistol calibers.  I guess I should explain further.

I bought the SDB originally when my shooting exceeded my time to reload singlely, upon the recommendation of a couple of friends.  Boy, was I impressed!  I have 5 caliber changes for it.  I can load 300 to 350 rounds per hour on it without pushing at all.

I had the opportunity to buy 3 1050s, but chose to buy only the one .45 ACP.  It was too cheap to pass up.  WOW and double WOW!  I load so fast it is scarey!  It is dedicated to the .45 strictly.

When I went into .223 for varmints and 2 boys to help me shoot them, I looked at a caliber change for the 1050.  I found I could get a 550 for the same price and load a much wider variety of cartridges, rifle and pistol at a very reasonable cost of cartridge change.  So I bought a 550.  I am not sorry!  It is a great machine.  I have converted to doing even load development on it, although I would never give up my Rockchucker or my Junior.  

The other people around here mostly have Dillons, but a few RCBS, Lee and other progressive.  One guy, who is slightly stubborn (like me) has a Lee that he swears by.  Two have (or had) Lees that they swore at!  The RCBS piggyback is tempermental as H**l, but works well, when it works.  Each have their eccentricities, with Dillon having the fewest and the best reputation around here.  And great service!

All that said, I would recommend the 550 if you intend to shoot several calibers or rifle and pistol calibers.  It is extremely reliable and easy to learn to use.  Yes, it costs somewhat more than some other alternatives, but worth every penny in the long run.  

You as an interesting question on the use of other powder measures.  The "pre-550" - the AT-50 - has some accessories that permit the use of RCBS and other measures.  I have those accessories and use the other measures for load development with stick powders in rifles on a regular basis.  It is still considerable faster than a single stage.

There are a number of ways to keep the cost to a minimum, and ways speeding up the changes of caliber, which I would be happy to discuss if you request.  But the bottom line to your question is DILLON!

Hope this helps.

dclark
 

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Like Dclark said DILLON
I have a 300 for 45 auto rim
A Square deal for 357.
A Square deal for 44 spec.
And a 650 for 45 Colt and 45 acp.
They all came with their own powder measures. With the exception of the two Square deals, which come with their own dies, you will need to use your dies.
There something nice knowing that all I have to do is walk into the loading room, fill a couple primer tubes and go to work.
Jim
 

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"Bad Joke Friday" Dan (moderator emeritus)
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IDShooter,

Like the other two fellas, I have two Dillons, both 550b presses that I have set up for .45 and .44. The Lyman turret with auto-primer/powder measure is used for the smaller quantity loads and .454 loading (don't want to change back and forth from large primer to small primer on the .45 press). I've had excellent results from the Dillon presses as well as customer service from the Dillon people.

You can consider the turret as an intermediary step between the single and progressive press. It is faster than a single press, but not nearly as fast as the progressives. Note that the 550b is a progressive, but not an auto-progressive like the 650 Dillon. And as the other fellas said, the Square Deal is cheaper and works well -- but is for pistol cartridges only.

And you're correct, by the time you get the extra mount, fancy handle and bullet tray, it does add up. But you don't really need the extra stuff to still load good volumes, it's just a little handier.

But you indicated $ were a consideration, so I'll second dclark's comment about the Lee press. Some really like them and other swear at them.

I had their top-of-the-line press and it had a number of features I really enjoyed. For about $15 I bought the case funnel that allowed me to auto-load the cases, a very convenient and speedy apparatus. I also liked the powder measure with the ability to with a twist of the wrist, take the powder container off for switching powders. But I did have one serious problem that caused me to get rid of it. The primers would get flipped upside down and I couldn't tell that happened until the shell was completely loaded. This would happen about one in ten or fifteen, and with the hard crimp, I wasn't able to salvage the material.

I would also suggest that if you get a Lee, make sure you get their adjustable powder measure insert.

My recommendation for reloading presses is a lot like what they say to folks buying a motorcycle, never get one too little or cheap, because you'll immediately want something better and it will be cheaper in the long run to save the egg money a little longer and get the right thing. How's that for cheap advice?

Dan
 

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DILLON, no ifs ands or buts. Save a while longer if you have to, but buy the Dillon. (550 user for 13 years)
 

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Hey guys, I've never used a progressive, and am considering stepping up to one.  I remember several years back there were some complaints about inconsistency (never heard a complaint about Dillion, though).  Do the progressive presses provide the same consistencies as the single stage presses?  If so, the progressives do seem to be the way to go.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I have used progressive presses from Hornady, MEC, and Dillon.  While this isn't EVERY brand out there.... I will tell you that they all have one thing in common.  If they don't feed primers reliably you will be very sorry you bought it.

Now, even the most reliable will occasionally flip a primer.  So, in my opinion, it's important to be able to see each and every primer as it goes into the mechanism.

I currently have a Dillon 450 (quite old) which I found a good deal on a few years back - used, of course.  At first it did not feed primers very well, however a quick call to Dillon got the problem straightened out.  They even photocopied an old .450 manual and also sent me a 550 manual, all free of charge.  So I can't say enough good things about them.  One thing that I could wish for is a 5-station instead of a 4-station, but I made the choice to get the used press so that's what I've got to live with.

For any press, I think that one key piece of information is how much will it cost to upgrade to another caliber?  Shellplates, turrent heads, even another powder measure, this all adds up.  My 450 came with about 8 different shellplates, so this was a real strong selling point to me.

Also I wouldn't want a press that could not load rifle calibers.  Even though nearly all of my rifle rounds are loaded on a single-stage, a progressive can be handy to process a lot of rifle brass in a short amount of time.

I strongly advise that you save your money and either get a 550 or 650.
 

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Dillon!!!!!!!!!  Very happy 550B user.  Load all my metal cartridge ammo on it; it will turn out some wickedly accurate stuff if you use good ingredients.
Mark
 

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ID,
A Dillon is the only way to go. Save a couple extra $'s get a 550. I have had mine over 12 yrs and of the couple minior problems I have had a quick phone call to them cleared it right up (2 were operator error) I tried a hornoday 007 press and almost had to pay a guy to take it, had an RCBS 4x4 and spent several trips to RCBS (only 54 miles away) to get it fixed, couple of the guys that have the Lee progressive presses are switching to the dillon 550's. I've been loading for over 45 yrs and the dillion is just one of the better things that has come along. You might want to look at E-bay under reloading, see 550's for sale up there every once in a while.

Regards

Gun Runner
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #10
Well guys,
    So far it sounds almost unanimous - I'd better keep saving my pennies until I can get the Dillon. I noticed the 550 is not much more than the top of the line RCBS. Guess that extra little bit would be money well spent!
      I've been tucking money away for a rebarrel project. Now I'm having to rethink my priorities. Barrel? Press? Barrel? Press? <!--emo&???--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/confused.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt='???'><!--endemo-->??
     I do know two things....  I've GOT to get a better job, and I sure wish I had finished college!

(Could the two be related? <!--emo&:)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo--> )

Now I know what that look on my dad's face was when I told him I wanted to go into the music business! Little did I know at the time I would end up as a retail grunt.
      Hope springs eternal!  Maybe someday I'll have a better job and a Dillon press!      IDShooter
 

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IDshooter,
            I have been using a Lee pro 1000 for many years, without problem. I can crank out 50 loaded rounds from spent cases, in about 5 minutes. The pro 1000 has auto indexing, meaning with each pull of the arm, it advances the case to the next stage, while picking up another. This is important in preventing double charges. Something the Dillon lacks. Dillon makes a great product, but for 1/3 the price, the lee comes complete, with dies. The pro 1000 is also easier to load primers, in that it has a primer tray exactly like the Lee auto-prime. Just dump your primers in, shake them right side up, and your ready to go. No primer tubes to deal with.

I load 5 or 6 different calibers on my pro 1000, and can change dies by simply replacing the turret plate and shell carrier,which can be bought for about $20.00. And you can use your current dies. I think you need Dillon dies for their presses, although I'm not positive. Something to consider when tallying up costs.

I've been very happy with my pro 1000. In what use to take about 30 minutes to reload 50 rounds, now only takes about 5 timed minutes. Again, Dillon makes an excellent product, but the Lee has some nice features that the 550 doesn't, for about 1/5 the cost. I've never regretted buying my pro 1000. Like you, I have many other projects that need attending to.

                         Jeff
 

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All of the Dillons (except the SDB, I believe) will use any brand of die.  I use Hornady dies on my 550 for some calibers, Redding for a couple others (especially the Competition Seating die).  As another point, the list in the Dillon catalog shouldn't be taken to exclude other calibers not listed.  A quick phone call to them can set you up with a kit for about anything, provided they make a shell plate for the parent case (this is how I got the kit for my .500 Linebaugh, a .348 WCF plate and 50 AE powder funnel).  
Lee makes a lot of basic hand tools that work OK, but to me their progressive stuff has always had, as my Dad would say, a "cat's [email protected]#" look about them.  Seems like everybody I've ever talked to that has one has been waiting for repair parts so they could get it back in operation...
ID Shooter: don't fret too much.  I went to college, got a political science degree, and ended up in the trucking business.  Strange how stuff works at times...
Mark
 

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Dillion is the best.  So yes it is the most expensive.

I own a lee pro 1000.
Bought it through midway.  Got a good price.

It is not as smooth and it is more tempremental than Dillion's I have used (a buddy's).  However after the first session or two with my Lee I am happy with it.
 

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I had a Lee for about two years.  Never could get it to work right so I went back to my single stage press until I could get a Dillon.
 

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My vote would go to the Lee Loadmaster for several reasons, Price, Ease of use, Quality. I aquired both a Lee Loadmaster with 3 shell plates and 2 powder measures and a Pro 1000 with 2 shell plates and 2 die sets on ebay for less than the price of a square deal with one set of dies. The Load master was easy to set up, uses standard dies and works perfectly cranking out 500+ rounds per hour. Changing calibers only takes a few minutes if another turret is set up to go.The Pro 1000 was a lot more trouble to set up and keep in time. Changing calibers takes me 1/2 an hour or more. Maybe I have not figured it all out yet, I am stubborn and cheap so I will keep trying. I have used a friends Dillons and they are definetly a good press but I would not rate them that much higher than the Loadmaster. For the money it is a real good deal.
 

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DILLION .............. Need i say more?Have had a 550 for years.Works like the day i got it. I have timed myself many times, I can crank out over 500 rounds a hour just having fun, And thats counting filling the primer tubes.Have a problem , Just call dillion and they fix you up on the phone or send you a part for free. Go with the best......
 

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idahowarden
I cannot agree more with your comments on Dillon. I find it difficult to use the word quality and Lee in the same sentence. My experience with Lee products has lead me to the opposite conclusion.
Jim
 

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Idshooter,
I have to go along with the other guys on the Dillon but another approach since you're like me, (financially embarrassed) You might consider going with Dillion's AT500 for $194 bucks. You get a basic loader but it's completly upgradable to the 550B.
 

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Hornady

Soory, but I'm not on the Dillon bandwagon. They are excellent presses in my opinion, but . . . I would choose my Hornady over them. The Hornady has the LNL inserts instead of a loose die plate. Read you don't have to setup under single cases to get started and then under progressive load to keep tune it in. Powder measure is incredibly accurate and easy to set up. Need more primer tubes!(note to self) Primer system seem bullet proof. No mafuncttions yet. Last it doen't have caliber connnversions which mostly seem to eat money. Sorry to flame, but I really do like the engineering better on the Hornady.
 

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Here's a clue:

You will find guys 'n gals that have gone from a Lee progressive to a Dillon... BUT you will NEVER find anyone who's gone from a Dillon to a Lee.

I skipped the Lee route myself. However, I've got a friend that loaded on a Lee 1000 for several years, until a friend literally gave him a Dillon 550. Within a week, he gave the Lee press to somebody far away (so he wouldn't have run next door and help them problem-solve).

His comment to me: "Wish I had bought this Dillon when I bought the Lee to save a hundred-bucks!"

By the way: The primer-feed design on the Dillon 650 can not 'flip' a primer. You can load a primer upside-down, but once the primer is in the feeder, it cannot 'flip'.

I suspect someday Hornady and RCBS may make a progressive press that runs better than the Dillon, but I seriously doubt Lee will ever get there -- they're just too busy trying to make products out of thinner or cheaper materials. Lee owns the low-end market, Dillon owns the high-end market, and everything else falls in-between.

You pays yore money, and you gets what you paid for.

Dillon stuff makes very nice father's day gifts. :D The AT500 is an excellent way for a new handloader to get started.

(Now hold on just a second here while I zip-up my flame-proof suit) --CC
 
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