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Trying To Decide On My First Dillon

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To preface, I've read all the 550 v. 650 stuff on both the store and forum that I could find. That said, I'm still not sure whether I want a 650 or 550. The dealbreaker for me is not, perhaps suprisingly, the speed of the machine. I'm planning on loading up to 2500-3000 rounds per month, and I'll be loading for several calibres. I know this puts me in 550 territory, but the 650 has one option that keeps drawing me back to it- the powder check die. I'm still a rank reloader by any measure, but when I first started I was using a friend's 550. He got me going and I did a case's worth in two sittings. The thing was, I had a squib (my first) in that 1000. I feel like I'd be more comfortable with the check die, but if I'm just more careful and observant can I do without it?

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Have a well lit workplace and be observant and you will have no trouble identifying a case with low powder. IMHO. I also (from other's) have heard the 550 will soon have a case feeder. IMHO - again - the 550 seems to have a better primer system that the 650. This is based ONLY on the posts I see here on this Forum. I have 2 550's and no 650 so you see what I think is the best.

All that being said I had my first squib ever a couple of days ago - but it was from pulling cases to check weight and trying to chew bubblegum at the same time. :(

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I have a 650 (without a case feeder) and I'm probably biased... I have loaded 300 rounds on the commercial breaks of a 1-hour TV show. I don't know how fast I could load on a 550 (never had one), I did have a Square Deal B and I could only load about 300 rounds per hour at that time.

I don't have a powder check die; I look into the case after the powder is dispensed ever since I had a squib about 2 years ago.

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I have two 650's (not braggin', I just like 'em). Never had a problem with either one.

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I love my 650 for its speed. I have blown up many primer systems because I use Federal primers.

I think the powder check system is silly. I look at every case before putting bullet on it. That's my powder check system. Oh, I have a bright desk lamp mounted on the left side of my 650 to help see the powder.

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For ease of use, first Dillon machine, I'd go 550.....mainly due to the complication/finickiness of a 650's setup... but if you're mechanically inclined, or familiar with reloading machines, I'd go 650. Especially because of the case feeder.

550's are great machines also, but I do love my case feeder :D

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Another vote for a 650. I wanted an auto index to prevent mistakes on my part and the case feeder is great. Keep it clean and it runs great. I can run 6 months worth of ammo in one weekend clean it and I'm ready to go for the next time. (6months = about 6,000 rounds)

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For me it came down to $$, adding up the additional cost, and the fact that each toolhead and conversion for the 650 costs more, the 550 won the coin toss. also used conversions for the 550 seem much more plentiful.

Don't forget to factor in the cost of the casefeeder and conversions for it as well, the 650 to me seems silly without a case feeder.

Bill

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The vast majority of shooters that have a double charge...and blow up their gun (often a 40 S&W) seem to be loading on a 550...and, they made a mistake.

That is my un-scientific opinion.

The 650 (and the SDB) have auto-indexing. I feel it is safer.

YMMV.

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Another vote for the 650. The only reason I would ever go back to my 550 is if the 650 went down without enough time to fix prior to a big match. I had a friend of mine loading nationals practice ammo for me on his 550. So far, I've had 2 bullets stuck in my barrel.

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I havn't tried a 550 but I am spoiled by the 650.

I have loaded 1000 rounds in one hour. I'll never do it agian, but I can if I want.

I can pump out a quick 300 for practice any time I want.

Waiting 'till the last minute to load up match ammo is no longer a worry.

Hey Bill, the powder check is silly, but I'm happy having it on my .40 toolhead. No need for it on a 9mm head loading 7-8g of powder. Empty or full, that's it.

I prefer the auto indexing. It's safer. You have to really try to get a double charge.

The case feeder alone is worth the investment.

Good luck

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I feel like I'd be more comfortable with the check die, but if I'm just more careful and observant can I do without it?

Absolutely. A forum member (who'd never reloaded) once bought a 550 from me, After quite a bit of convincing that by simply paying attention, he did not have to fear a double or no charge. His habit picked up, and later he bought a 650, along with the Powder Check System he'd always longed to have. Some time after that, he posted a picture on the forum of how he replaced the Powder Check System with a mirror, that looked down through the empty station in the Toolhead.

To me the Powder Check System is just one more thing to adjust and keep in adjustment - every time you change calibers or change the powder charge. Even when sponsored by Dillon, my Powder Check Systems never made it out of their bag. I preferred to look right into the case just as I was setting on the bullet.

be

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My wife and I bought a 550 about 6 months ago and have loaded probably 5000 or so rounds now. I have to say that you do get in the habit of looking in the case for the powder. We are loading 45 with a load which would be obvious for a double so I am pretty safe there. I would say tho that a case feeder would be VERY nice. I find I can only do about 200rds/hour. For one my shoulders/arms hurt after this much and I think the other part is looking for powder. I am VERY anal about that.

Has there been any news about the 550 case feeder?

I sometimes wish we got the 650. But overall the 550 is a good machine and has run well for us. Now that I have gotten used to it I like it. She is going to 40 cal so perhaps we will go with the 650 for her and I will keep using the 550 to not have to change out calibers?

Ira

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That's a beautiful setup - a 650 for your prime caliber, and a 550 for everything else.

be

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I started with a 650 - the auto indexing was the deciding factor for me.

After I got it, I asked about the powder check, and well, no one really could justify its cost to me but a lot of people insisted it was good insurance.

Since then I found Hornady makes something called a Powder Cop, and RCBS also has a powder check die that will lock up the machine - both are significantly less costs than the Dillon fancy version. I bought the Hornady one. It gives me an easy visual that is as good as looking in the case without having to look in the case (the mirror ideas sounds intriguing as well). The money I saved went towards bullets.

I have the impression that a squib or double load on a 650 is 99.9999% of the time a user error.

If you are someone who tends to make mistakes (or lose concentration) while doing something like reloading, then maybe you need the fancy check system, but then again, should you be reloading? Pay attention to what you are doing and I doubt if a 650 would ever throw a dangerous load.

my $.02

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I looked at the options available from just about everybody and went with the 650 complete with case feeder, strong mount, and powder check. I had a (maybe irrational) fear of ammo loaded on progressives for years, and never even considered one until I saw a 1050 with the powder check. It doesn't replace careful attention, and you can still look into the case before setting the bullet in place at station 4. Maybe redundant, but it makes me feel better.

The search narrowed to the 550, 650 or the Hornady. The 550 lost out due to lack of a 5th station, lack of a case feeder option, and lack of auto indexing. I cannot offer a good reason for passing on the Hornady, maybe I just like blue better than red.

Whichever you decide on, the bullet tray would seem to be a worthwhile addition. I didn't get it, but will order one with my first caliber conversion.

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I haven't heard you mention anything about financial limitations. If that isn't an issue, go for the 650. Much less effort. You're going to find yourself loading a couple of thousand rounds at a sitting instead of just what you need for the next day.

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You could have loaded thousands with either by now.... ;)

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Had a 550 for about four years. Have had a 650 for a year now. If cost is not an issue, go for the 650. I wanted a 650 to start with, but didn't have the money. That being said, when I finally did sell my 550 with some accessories, I was able to get 75% of the new cost, so they do hold their value. 550 is a simple setup to run. 650 is a little more challenging, but very doable. #1 reason to go with the 650 is the auto indexer, for safety. Yes, we all want to look down into each case and we don't have any distractions, but, Murphy is out there. Shit Happens. I was lucky and only has some squibs and not a double, but it made me nervous, especially with .45 and Clays. #2 reason is the casefeeder. Once I had it set up, WOW, what a difference in speed. You can take your time double checking your loads before you start, then really crank them out once everything is verified. Take your time to look at all the costs. Depending on what you want to reload, there are lots of components to buy for caliber changes. Some work with other calibers so you can just buy the parts instead of a conversion for every caliber. ie. .45 and .308. Same shell plate. .223 and 38 Supercomp, same shell plate. Do a search on google and you can find a chart that tells you what components are duplicated.

Bottom line, Go for the 650. You won't regret it.

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I am using an RCBS Lockout Die on a 650 for pistol calibers, works as advertised in preventing squibs though I have never had a double charge. $20 a die is reasonable as well so I have a few toolheads with them mounted.

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I feel like I'd be more comfortable with the check die, but if I'm just more careful and observant can I do without it?

I have the check die on a 650 and no check die on a 1050. The difference is in standing or sitting. I got the 650 first and after loading a couple of squib loads I ordered the check die and never had another problem. When I got the 1050 I thought I would just swap the die out since I did not forsee loading two calibers at once. The 1050 is mounted directly to my bench, the 650 uses the strong mount. I find that I prefer to stand to load at the 1050 and sit at the 650. Standing at the 1050 I can easily see into each case as I place the bullet and notice instantly if there is more or less powder than what I've been loading. Sitting at the 650 I do not see into the case nearly as well and am happy to have the check die keep me safe.

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I have two 550s. One I have had for over 10 years the second a friend bought and gave it to me last year. I have never had a squib with my 550 but I look in the case for powder and I reload without distractions. I have plenty of time to load becasue I get up 2.5 hours before I leave for work so when I need ammo I load in the mornings before work. I have alot of practice with a 550 and I do a 100 rounds in 5.5-6.0 mins. If my wife decides to start shooting this year then I will get a 650 for our primary machine. Dillon is the best hands down no matter which one you deside on.

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I know I'm the exception to the rule. I've had the 550B and the 650. Only time I had a squib in thousands of rounds was with the 650. Although I had the powder check, I didn't install it for the 9mm. For whatever reason, it didn't seem to work well. Also, the only time I had a problem wiith high primers was with the 650.

I prefer the 550 over the 650 because of the simplicity of the design. When I bought my 650 I mistakenly sold my 550. Now, I'll be selling my 650 to buy another 550B. The 650 is much faster when it decides to cooperate. On the other hand, fixing a problem takes much longer than on the 550B. It's definitely more finicky. In fact, I've sent the machine back to Dillon for repairs and have replaced a lot of components. It just hasn't been reliable like the 550, which I loaded about 40-50k rounds on.

When calculating my reloading time, I add the total time it takes to reload, including futzing around with the machine when there's a problem and checking the rounds. With the 550 I never checked for high primers. I have to with the 650, which adds to my overall time. If the pending casefeeder for the 550 is reliable (the casefeeder on my 650 was one of the more reliable parts), along with the simplicity of the 550, it should be dyamite setup. More speed with the simplicity of the 550.

The last problem I had was when the frame broke under the handle. To their credit, Dillon completely rebuilt the machine, including installing a new frame, shellplate, etc. The 650 is now basicaly new, but I'm so snake-bit that I don't even want to even try it again.

Anybody want to trade?

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Rounds per hour should not be the deciding factor IMO....but rather, how ,any can you SAFELY load adhereing to SAFE reloading techniques. If $$$ is no object, why not go with the 1050? Don't want to spend the $$$, go with the 650; don't want to spend that much $$$, go with the 550. Any Dillon press will give you a lifetime of use with just a little care and maintenance.

I use the 550 and the 650 (with casefeed and no powder check system). I use my

M1 MOD 2 eyeball (read bifocals) to check EVERY powder charge. How many can I load an hour on each machine? I don't know because I have never (nor will I) timed myself reloading. The nature of design of each machine (550-650-1050) will ultimately allow YOU to complete more rounds/hour, but, just how many, is a function of adhereing to YOUR safety margins.

As an airline captain, I'm often amazed at the number of people who are more concerned with "what time are we getting there" rather than the simple request "please get me to our destination safely".

Further, not wanting to ding anyone here, but, why in the world would you want to watch TV while reloading? Talk about the ultimate distraction. Pilots at my carrier are not permitted to read any nonflight related material, listen to or watch entertainment devices while on duty on the flight deck. Why? Loss of situational awareness, greatly reduced safety margins, along with numerous other reasons. Not very hard to apply those issues to reloading. In this thread I've read about squibs and double loads. Sounds like either a break down in safe loading technique, distractions, or loss of situational awareness (I wonder if powder drop into that case?).

Please don't make reloading a race against the clock....we are all doing this for fun and relaxation (well mostly fun, relaxation and the simple joy it brings). Live to reload and shoot another day with all your body parts properly intact.

Time or how many YOU vs someone else can pump out in an hour should never be an issue.

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