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Aftermarket Billet Aluminum Toolheads


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S391, I've been researching loading "match-grade" or "precision" (bottleneck) rifle ammunition on a Dillon. Along with other techniques and enhancements, some people report using Whidden Gunworks toolheads with their Dillon presses, including their "floating die" toolheads. Here's a link to their Dillion toolhead webpage:

http://www.whiddengunworks.com/product/dillion-tool-heads/

Here's an interesting YouTube video from one user:

https://youtu.be/_MdLpgAnZT8

I was searching eBay and came across a couple of sellers selling similar products, so it raised my curiosity. Also, their prices are competitive with Dillon's regular cast toolheads. If they are price competitive and may offer some advantages, however small, I thought why not?

One other thing, if one finds the need to install the die lock nut on the bottom of the toolhead, then at least the nut will contact a machined surface.

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Dillon make great presses. I have two...but I know what they are made for. They are not made for precision loading. Can it be done? To some extent, but not easily.

If you want precision rifle rounds use Wilson dies, arbor press, or Forster coax. If you want high volume good rounds? Use Dillon.

Therefore I have no need for billet tool heads. JMHO.

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One other thing, if one finds the need to install the die lock nut on the bottom of the toolhead, then at least the nut will contact a machined surface.

Funny you mention this. One thing to be aware of is that on the Whidden tool head it is thinner than a Dillon so putting the nut underneath is not possible since it hits the frame. This is on a 650.

As a side note, the dillon head is plenty flat underneath to tighten the nut on. It doesn't need to be machined to work.

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Anyone using either of these aftermarket billet aluminum toolheads?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dillon-Precision-550-Style-Billet-Aluminum-Toolhead-tool-head-/221576696699?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item339700137b

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dillon-Precision-550-Standard-Billet-Aluminum-Toolhead-/171353809962?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27e57ba42a

If so, what do you think of them? Thanks.

I have used the first one on a 550. It works fine. Didn't see much difference but I don't do precision reloading. However, I think they were a little cheaper because shipping was less than Dillon.

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One other thing, if one finds the need to install the die lock nut on the bottom of the toolhead, then at least the nut will contact a machined surface.

Funny you mention this. One thing to be aware of is that on the Whidden tool head it is thinner than a Dillon so putting the nut underneath is not possible since it hits the frame. This is on a 650.

As a side note, the dillon head is plenty flat underneath to tighten the nut on. It doesn't need to be machined to work.

Sarge, thanks for pointing that out. Was the lock nut that wouldn't clear the frame a Dillon nut? I'm only asking since, as you know, the Dillon nut is smaller than other nuts.

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One other thing, if one finds the need to install the die lock nut on the bottom of the toolhead, then at least the nut will contact a machined surface.

Funny you mention this. One thing to be aware of is that on the Whidden tool head it is thinner than a Dillon so putting the nut underneath is not possible since it hits the frame. This is on a 650.

As a side note, the dillon head is plenty flat underneath to tighten the nut on. It doesn't need to be machined to work.

Sarge, thanks for pointing that out. Was the lock nut that wouldn't clear the frame a Dillon nut? I'm only asking since, as you know, the Dillon nut is smaller than other nuts.
Yes sir
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Dillon make great presses. I have two...but I know what they are made for. They are not made for precision loading. Can it be done? To some extent, but not easily.

That's an interesting theory. Tell me more about why not?

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I use Wilson dies and an arbor press to seat bullets to minimize run out. Even with standard dies in a single stage press there is some runout because they are not perfectly aligned. The major exception to this is a good seating die in a Forster press because the Forster floats the die allowing it to naturally align...still not as precise as the Wilson dies, but close.

Second...the Dillon powder measures are good, but i trickle each load to the nearest .05 grain or closer using a trickler and a lab scale. The Dillon powder measure is no where near that precision...especially with stick powders.

Dillion can easily load ammo that will shoot 1/2 -3/4 Moa. For most people that is fine. If you are trying to shoot sub 1/4" you will not be loading on a Dillon.

Now...someone is probably going to get defensive and tell me that they have mastered the process and can shoot infinitely small groups with their 400 rounds/hr they cranked out on their Dillon. I can assure you that either their small group that they shot is the exception instead of the rule and they would have trouble repeating it, or they have made many modifications to their press, or they have not actually shot enough to know for sure what that ammo will do.

Again...I'm not attacking Dillion. They make the best progressive press on the market and I love them for progressive loading. I just don't use them for precision rifle rounds and I don't know anyone serious about precision shooting who does.

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I agree. One persons "precision" is another persons "pretty good". I have seen precision shooters at our club loading rounds at a match to wring the most out of them based on temp/humidity at the time of firing. That is not what Dillons do best

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I probably made a mistake choosing to use the word "precision". Let's just say, I've been researching techniques and enhancements for loading the "best possible" (bottleneck) rifle ammunition progressively or at least semi-progessively (I prep my cases on a single stage) on a Dillon. If you have something helpful you'd like to share regarding this, then have at it. At this point, I'm only trying to follow in the footsteps of others, John Whidden being one of them. I think his list of accomplishments is noteworthy: http://www.whiddengunworks.com/accomplishments/

With that said, please keep my original post in mind, i.e. are you using one of the two billet aluminum toolheads I provided links for, and if so, what do you think of them?

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Dillon make great presses. I have two...but I know what they are made for. They are not made for precision loading. Can it be done? To some extent, but not easily.

If you want precision rifle rounds use Wilson dies, arbor press, or Forster coax. If you want high volume good rounds? Use Dillon.

Therefore I have no need for billet tool heads. JMHO.

David Tubb a 11-12 time National HP shooting champion, loads his ammo on Dillon 550s

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I bought a Whidden Gunworks (WG) floating die tool head for my 550 and I intend to play with it when I get back. WG says that the floating die toolhead assists with decreasing runout of your loaded ammunition and that the press clamp kits that uniquetek sells helps to reduce the up-down slop in the tool head and reduces OAL length variations. I am excited to work with both products and I intended to do a write up on them when I have some idea of what they do or don't do.

I have been loading all my LR NRA HP ammo on a 550 for some years with standard parts. I don't use the Dillon powder measurer and used the AT500 powder funnel die thing and pause the press when its up to throw in a weighed charge. I have been doing all other operations per standard on the Dillon 550 and have shot some impressive scores. Among other things my ES has been a little high even though i'm weighing everything. I don't exactly recall what my runout was but I don't recall that it was too bad.

I plan on working with my palma gun and lapua cases.

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  • 1 year later...

Bumping this...

I'm curious about these, too.  I'm about to buy another 3-4 toolheads for my RL550B for some projects (new calibers, new dies), and these are actually less expensive than OEM Dillon toolheads... 

The seller has good feedback on fleabay, so I figure they're probably OK, but I'm wondering if there's some pitfall I'm not seeing.

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On a 550, I think the dillon tool heads work fine. The only thing I do for my long range bottle necks is add powder by hand. On the 550 your case sits on the ram plate, so even if your seating die and tool head have play, you can still get a consistant oal.

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On April 16, 2015 at 9:38 AM, dddoo7 said:

I use Wilson dies and an arbor press to seat bullets to minimize run out. Even with standard dies in a single stage press there is some runout because they are not perfectly aligned. The major exception to this is a good seating die in a Forster press because the Forster floats the die allowing it to naturally align...still not as precise as the Wilson dies, but close.

Second...the Dillon powder measures are good, but i trickle each load to the nearest .05 grain or closer using a trickler and a lab scale. The Dillon powder measure is no where near that precision...especially with stick powders.

Dillion can easily load ammo that will shoot 1/2 -3/4 Moa. For most people that is fine. If you are trying to shoot sub 1/4" you will not be loading on a Dillon.

Now...someone is probably going to get defensive and tell me that they have mastered the process and can shoot infinitely small groups with their 400 rounds/hr they cranked out on their Dillon. I can assure you that either their small group that they shot is the exception instead of the rule and they would have trouble repeating it, or they have made many modifications to their press, or they have not actually shot enough to know for sure what that ammo will do.

Again...I'm not attacking Dillion. They make the best progressive press on the market and I love them for progressive loading. I just don't use them for precision rifle rounds and I don't know anyone serious about precision shooting who does.

You are doing this with pistol ammunition for competition? This would seem to defeat the purpose of a progressive reloader. I reload all my rifle ammo on various single stage presses, and Harrell measures to throw powder, but I couldn't imagine trying to bang 300 rounds out the night before a match and seating them with an arbor press, let alone trickle every charge. I do use the Whidden on my 650 for .40. 

Jeff

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You are doing this with pistol ammunition for competition? This would seem to defeat the purpose of a progressive reloader. I reload all my rifle ammo on various single stage presses, and Harrell measures to throw powder, but I couldn't imagine trying to bang 300 rounds out the night before a match and seating them with an arbor press, let alone trickle every charge. I do use the Whidden on my 650 for .40. 

Jeff



I use Dillon presses exclusively for loading handgun rounds. Everything from 9mm to 500 s&w and many in between. I do not consider handgun rounds to be precision rounds.

Most of my precision rifle rounds are however not loaded on a Dillon as I want more precision from my rifles than the Dillon presses offer.
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  • 4 weeks later...

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