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Best beginner progressive reloading press?


Obvious
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Will soon be having hopefully a spare ~$750 to spend and want to get into reloading. I’ve always heard that the Dillon 550 is the best, but just wondering about the absolute basics here. Where should I start, what will I have to buy besides the press itself? I’m looking to load 40 for uspsa as light as possible. Any and all information is greatly appreciated! If there’s a thread already posted about this please point me in the right direction. 

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In my opinion the Dillon 550 is a credible option.  It can be used as a single stage or just to decap and size, just dump powder and seat Bullets, or you can install all the dies and go full bore progressive.  Easy and relatively inexpensive to swap calibers later on if you decide to expand your horizons.  Dillon has a unbelievable warranty and the presses retain their value if you or your heirs decide to sell it.  

some people like using a single stage some like the press to be green or red,  I bought Dillon and don’t regret any part of that purchase.  I have an old 550 that regularly gets changed to 5 different pistol and rifle calibers and a 650 used just for high volume 9mm.  

 

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Good Day.

 

The 550 is the best, i have had mine from day one, it is the first 550 they ever made, it has loaded at least 600,000 rounds. The unit is the best way to learn, if you pay attention you will never have an issue, no tv no radios, and always safety glasses.

 

Russell

 

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My first, and as of now, only press is an XL750. Overall, it's been a great press and I've been able to crank out quite a few .40 cal rounds. Part of the reason I went with the XL750 is so that I don't have to spend as much time loading as I would with a 550. It seems that there is less opportunity for error on the 750. Another nice feature of the 750 is the option to upgrade as you get more into it. In addition to the mandatory case feeder, I recently picked up a bullet feeder and LOVE it!

 

That said, looking back I wish I just got a 1100 instead of the 750. I'm now looking into getting an Apex. As they say, buy once cry once!

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I started on a single stage and then a dillon 550. Based on your price range and intended use, I would get the 550.

 

In practice it takes me about 1.5-2 hours to prepare and load 500 rounds. And uninterrupted with everything set up. 

 

Buy the strong mount, bullet tray, case bins, and work in a space with good light. 

 

You'll also need a reloading scale, calipers, case lube (I use Hornady one shot) and a rotary tumbler of some type. If you don't buy dillon dies, make sure to get a 4 die set to seat and crimp separately. Carbide dies recommended. 

 

Good info here: https://brianenos.com/dillon-2/#550

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6 hours ago, ddc said:

What volume are you shooting? 

That makes a difference on what machines may or may not be appropriate.

 

When all things were good and I could afford it, I’d ball park ~1500 rounds a month. At the time I was also shooting 9mm I could get extremely cheaply. Nowadays it’s been a LOT of dry fire and ~500 a month during a good month. Almost all of my live fire is done at matches, when ammo becomes more available for me I’ll be able to bump up my match schedule and practice at the range more. 

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10 hours ago, SJBriggs said:

My first, and as of now, only press is an XL750. Overall, it's been a great press and I've been able to crank out quite a few .40 cal rounds. Part of the reason I went with the XL750 is so that I don't have to spend as much time loading as I would with a 550. It seems that there is less opportunity for error on the 750. Another nice feature of the 750 is the option to upgrade as you get more into it. In addition to the mandatory case feeder, I recently picked up a bullet feeder and LOVE it!

 

That said, looking back I wish I just got a 1100 instead of the 750. I'm now looking into getting an Apex. As they say, buy once cry once!

It won’t be hard to sell the 750.  I went from a 650 to a 2nd automated 650 (decap & size only) then a Revolution.

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If you are only going to reload one  pistol calibre I would suggest a Dillon SDB. In addition to the other accessories mentioned in previous posts you will also need (or at least have access to) a chronograph.

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Many good points to consider posted above my response but….. a couple of very important things before you decide on the unit you…..

 

1 - The 550 - A SUPER machine capable of loading hundreds of thousands of rounds - but you must turn the shell plate in order to advance to the next process - each and every time and you have four stations. A case feeder can be added but it does not come from Dillon set up for a case feeder.  Toolheads and caliber conversions are less expensive vs. the 750 toolheads and caliber conversions. 

 

or

 

2 - The 750 - Also a SUPER machine capable of loading hundreds of thousands of rounds - the shell plate advances automatically advances to the next process every time you pull the handle - and you have five stations.  The system comes from Dillon set up and ready for an automatic case feeder - an option that most reloaders want and prefer.

 

Many have started on the 550 and eventually moved up to the 650/750 while many prefer the manual control capability of the 550 and have never and would never move to the 650/750. For me I started with the 550 and then sold it and went to a 650 (which I now have two).  Whatever you decide you will hear it over and over again - Dillon Precision has GREAT service and support and I think both machines still carry a lifetime warranty……

 

Good Luck on your decision - Nothing is more exciting than setting up your first Dillon system…. 

Edited by Sigarmsp226
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Also consider Hornady lock and load progressive. Good press between Dillon 550 and 650/750. Quick change bushings are great for caliber changes. If you want smth with case and bullet feeder go to 650/750. 

 

I still use my Hornady AP for everything else than 9mm/223.

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The 550 is a viable option as others have already mentioned.  As for other stuff:

1) Dies for the caliber you wish to reload.

2) conversion kit unless you order the press for that caliber

3) reloading book for acceptable loads

4) calipers

5) Tumbler to clean brass

6) media for tumbler

The obvious stuff:

1) Brass

2) heads

3) primers

4) powder

Down the line:

1) case feeder

 

You can do the research on the best powders for your caliber and whether you'll load minor or major.

I have the 650 and absolutely love it!

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2 hours ago, Sigarmsp226 said:

Many good points to consider posted above my response but….. a couple of very important things before you decide on the unit you…..

 

1 - The 550 - A SUPER machine capable of loading hundreds of thousands of rounds - but you must turn the shell plate in order to advance to the next process - each and every time and you have four stations. A case feeder can be added but it does not come from Dillon set up for a case feeder.  Toolheads and caliber conversions are less expensive vs. the 750 toolheads and caliber conversions. 

 

or

 

2 - The 750 - Also a SUPER machine capable of loading hundreds of thousands of rounds - the shell plate advances automatically advances to the next process every time you pull the handle - and you have five stations.  The system comes from Dillon set up and ready for an automatic case feeder - an option that most reloaders want and prefer.

 

Many have started on the 550 and eventually moved up to the 650/750 while many prefer the manual control capability of the 550 and have never and would never move to the 650/750. For me I started with the 550 and then sold it and went to a 650 (which I now have two).  Whatever you decide you will hear it over and over again - Dillon Precision has GREAT service and support and I think both machines still carry a lifetime warranty……

 

Good Luck on your decision - Nothing is more exciting than setting up your first Dillon system…. 

Thank you for all the info! It seems like the 550 is the de facto here but most people end up with a 650/750. I’ll have to research the differences more to understand the pros and cons of each of them, but I’m probably going to just save up a bit more and buy a 750. Is there a preferred place to buy them other than dillons website? 

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@stick has the list down pat IMHO

 

I wa s new to reloading  a year or so back. I bought a dillon  550 c, conversions kits  for 9mm and 45 acp as well as dies, media, tumbler, an electronic scale, digital calipers,

 

I suggest reading  1 0r 2 reloading books like lymans, hornady or sierra and compare the loads suggested. Then buy your bullets according to the load you chose, get primers  when you can and  powder( I used bullseye and titegroup to start)

 

I also use hornady one shot  case  lube which may save  wear and tear on you dies and machine.

 

get some grease and a grease  gun to keep the machine running well.  Oils the parts Dillon suggests too.

 

I bought the spare parts kit . I also bought some spare primer pick up tips, e -clips for the depriming die too

 

I use corn media and nufinish  car pilish when I clean my brass  seems to work out well

 

good luck

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1 hour ago, Obvious said:

but I’m probably going to just save up a bit more and buy a 750.

 

For what it is worth, when I looked at what I wanted long term (at the time it was 650 vs 1000 not 750 vs 1100 + bullet feeder + case feeder) the 1000 option made more sense to me than the 650. 

Given that primers aren't available at a fair price the used reloader market might be getting good. 

Oh, if you plan on shooting something that needs deep seated primers for reliable ignition (competition tuned revolver for example) the seating depth adjustment on the 1000 is a very nice thing. 

Edited by IHAVEGAS
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So I started reloading a couple years on a 550 that I got for a good price used. Loading primarily 9mm for USPSA, I can crank out about 400-500 rounds an hour with ease.

 

But I'm looking to crank out ammo and eventually ended up with an old RL1050, which was the plan all along. In talking with a lot of people, the 1050/550 combo is hard to beat if you reload a lot of different calibers. The swage on the bigger press is what sold me as I also shoot 3gun and need to process a lot of 223.

 

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the blue presses. They all serve a purpose and the question really becomes a time vs money argument for how much time you want to spend reloading.

 

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3 hours ago, Obvious said:

Thank you for all the info! It seems like the 550 is the de facto here but most people end up with a 650/750. I’ll have to research the differences more to understand the pros and cons of each of them, but I’m probably going to just save up a bit more and buy a 750. Is there a preferred place to buy them other than dillons website? 

 

I think that is a good idea. Although your current volume may work with a 550 if you should get back to your original volume (and possibly increase at some point) then the 650/750 is a much better option.

 

There are a number of online purchase options other than Dillon. One that comes to mind is Bobcat Armament. They are quick to respond to questions.

Can't go wrong with Dillon.

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Two 550's here, one set up for large primers for 45 acp and one for small, 9 mm, 38 spl and 357 mag.

The only reason I see to go with a 750 would be the extra station for powder check - the long cases 38 and 357 are quite deep and the fill of powder is not easy visible.

Otherwise, I am very happy with my 550's.

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Like many others have all ready said 550 or Square Deal. If your running just pistol get a SD nice little compact machine and works great, I have two one set for 9 the other for 45. I also run a 550C for all larger 223 and up. The versatility of the 550 can not be understated you can load anywhere from a 25 or 32 do recall, and all the way up to the 416 Rigby. Theres a whole lot in between :)  

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I started with a Lee turret I picked up used and super cheap. Went to a 550 when my some and I started shooting SC and USPSA. I've added to it over the years. First a case feeder then a bullet feeder I made on a 3D printer. It more than meets my needs. I like the case feeder so you never have to take your right hand off the handle. With the bullet feeder my left hand rests on a box and only have to move slightly to index.  I don't mind mind manual indexing. To me it is not a race. 20210130_184607.thumb.jpg.21eb3e867370d8c30e9a999505c167a5.jpg

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And this thread is another example of why I love this forum. The OP asked for guidance and recommendations and everyone provided their recommendations and reasons as to why they have what they have. I am betting one, if not more of the posts in this thread “fits” into the OP’s situation/senario. 
 

These are the types of threads I love to come back to and read what others are doing and/or what pathway they followed…..Warpspeed said it best - I truly believe that whatever you buy will be not only an amazing tool once you get it set up and running but also an investment….I have yet to see a Dillon press go down in value when they are taken care of by the owner….

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