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My wife will be ordering a 550 for mr for christmas. I have never reloaded before but I have read Lee's reloading manual and the instructions for my new Dillon. I have a good idea about what i'm doing but I know I need to know more. Any ideas on a good manual (besides Lee's)? Also, I'm just a lost cause when it comes to math conversions and these different measures (cc's, grams, grains) are giving me such a headache. If anyone can explain this so that this idiot could understand it please chime in.

Thanks

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Hi,

There are a ton of posts here regarding the dillon 550. When you get it and have a problem, use the search function, type in the keyword and you'll get some answer to your particular problem. I have a 650 and whenever i have a problem i can't figure out, i come here and do a search.

As for your math issues, here are a few conversions from grams to grains but when it comes to reloading, most of the measurements are in grains.

1 gram = 15.43 grains

1 pound = 7000 grains

1 ounce = 437.5 grains

Hope that helps

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I use the Speer #13 manual as my general reloading reference of choice. I use a 650, but I assume that Dillon publishes the same fine comprehensive manual for the 550. There was no problem I encountered when I first started using my 650 that I couldn't resolve by studying the manual. It might have taken some time, since I'm not especiallly technically minded, but patience is one virtue that will stand you in good stead in this pastime. Welcome to our fraternity and may you produce nothing but safe x-ring reloads!

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My wife will be ordering a 550 for mr for christmas. I have never reloaded before but I have read Lee's reloading manual and the instructions for my new Dillon. I have a good idea about what i'm doing but I know I need to know more. Any ideas on a good manual (besides Lee's)? Also, I'm just a lost cause when it comes to math conversions and these different measures (cc's, grams, grains) are giving me such a headache. If anyone can explain this so that this idiot could understand it please chime in.

Thanks

OK, here are a few items that may help.

When you reload, pay attention to reloading, not to the TV, radio, your kids, etc. One thing at a time is the order of business. The most critical thing to keep track of in your Dillion 550 is moving the plate to the next station once for each pull of the lever. The critical station is the powder station. You can cause real safety issues by double charging a case, which is easy to do when something else has your attention, or by not charging it at all, which is not as easy, but is possible. Picture this. You have a case in every station. You pull the lever and when you push it back forward, you feel that a primer has not seated properly. You check and, sure enough, no primer. So you pull the lever again, check again, and find that the primer pickup worked this time. It's easy to miss the fact that this sequence just double charged the case at station 2. If a primer does not seat, take the shell out of the first station, advance the plate, then reinsert the case in the first station and proceed with your reloading. Watch the little flap above the primer pickup. If it does not open all the way, no primer dropped.

Speaking of primers, make sure you push the lever all the way forward to seat the primers fully. Sometimes, primers that are not fully seated, will not fire, which means the bullet does not fire. It's not a big deal in practice, but it can ruin your whole day in competition. A primer that does nto fire is not nearly as dangerous as one that does fire, but finds no powder in the case to ignite. The former means you have to stop to eject the bullet. Old knowledge says you wait a few seconds before doing so. A hangfire (late detonation) that goes off after the breach is open will also ruin your day, and perhaps parts of someone's body. Either way, your match score isn't going to be good. A primer that fires without igniting the powder, however, will leave a bullet in the barrel, just waiting for the next one in line to hit it, increasing pressure and disassembling parts of your gun violently. Lucky for autoloaders, a squib load doesn't work the action. In order to seroiusly hurt yourself, you have to work the action manually. Unfortunately, in the heat of competition, it's easy to do that before it registeres that the previous round was a squib. Very bad.

I have separate heads and dies for each caliber I load. In fact, I have two sets of .40/10mm heads and dies (same components for the calibers) so that I don't have to reset all the dies every time I switch between the calibers. I set up all the dies for the caliber, and leave them. This means that, except when I use a different bullet configuration, I don't have to set anything except the powder measure when I change calibers. I considered buying a powder measure for each head as well, but balked at the cost. I load quite a few different calibers with a single machine.

When you're setting things up, start with station one. The decapping/sizing die should touch the sheel plate when the ram is fully up. When you've got it where it belongs, put a round in the station, pull the lever and tighten the locking nut with the round still in the die. That forces good alignment.

When you set the powder die, put the powder measure in place, but do not tighten it. Screw the die down (not easy) first until the powder measure cycles fully, then until you get a very, very slight bell at the mouth of the case, almost too little to measure. With the ram up and a shell in both station one and two, tighten the locking nut on station two and the allen bolts holding the powder measure on the die. Then cycle the lever again and check the bell. It will probably be bigger than what you originally set, maybe even more than you want. You want the least amount of bell that will allow you to easily set a bullet on the top of the case without having it fall over or off. Anything more weakens the case unnecssarily. Anything less, gets to be a pain in the butt quickly and leads to pinching the fingers because you didn't get them out of the way of the die in time.

Setting the bullet seating die is probably the easiest of all, particularly if you have a factory bullet of the same type. Check to make sure the seating die is set for the kind of bullet you are loading. Dillons are double ended. One end is for semi wad cutters and other squared off bullets, the other is for round nosed, JPH, etc. Pull the clip at the top of the die off and the inside of the die will drop out. Look to see which end is down and make sure it's the one you want. You change it by dropping the pin out of the die, flipping the insert and putting the pin back in. The pin drops out easily, so be careful you don't lose it. The hole in the insert which the pin fits into is larger at one end. It has to be the right way or the pin will not insert. Put the die back together, put the bullet in the plate and, with the die up far enough not to push on the bullet, pull the lever down. With the lever down, screw the die in until it just contacts the bullet. Back it off a bit, and take the bullet out. Now use an empty case and bullet to set the depth exactly as you like. Go slow, seating the bullet, measuring, adjusting, seating, etc. When you tighten the locking nut, the seating will change a bit. You're going to have to experiment a bit to get it just right, but this final adjustment isn't by much.

I do much the same thing with the crimping station. I put the factory bullet in, screw the die down until it touches, and then adjust for what I really want. Personally, I start with a crimp that just removes all the bell I put in at station two. I get a good seal around the bullet without deforming anything. So far, that's been adequate for all the autoloader rounds I've tested. All of them held the bullet solidly, none of them suffered from setback when the guns were fired. Some of those rounds were hot enough that, if a problem were to become evident, it would have. It may or may not be good enough for my full power revolver rounds, my .44 magnum and .357 magnum rounds, for example. I've not yet tested them. If I find a setback problem, I'll simply stop shooting the reloads, bring them home, recrimp them a bit tighter, and try again. Once I have everything set, I don't change it unless I load a different bullet.

When setting the powder charge, I use a digital scale until I get close, then I switch to a balance scale. The balance scale is more accurate, every time. Pay attention to what your air conditioner is doing. I often get different readings when it's moving air than when it's not. Same thing goes for ceiling fans, open windows, etc. When you're dealing in thenths of a grain, it does not take much to throw the reading off. When adjusting, throw a couple of charges that you dump back into the hopper after each adjustment before you weight it. This lets you weight a fresh charge instead of one that still relates to the previous adjustment. When you've got everything the way you want it, run four bullets through the press. When you deprime and reprime the fourth bullet, check the powder charge just thrown. You may, make that probably, will find that it's not quite what you set it for. It'll be close. The way you pull the lever changes with the number of cases in the plate which can slightly change the powder charge. Adjust as necessary and begin your reloading. Test every few, say every fifth or tenth, until you're getting consistent readings, then have at it. If you start with the powder hopper three quarters full, refill it when it gets down to about half full. The amount of powder in the hopper also has a slight, very slight, effect on the charge thrown.

As for manuals, I have two. I like one, don't like the other. The one I like is by Lyman. It's proved to be as accurate as most information I've been able to find. The one I don't like is Speer. I've found a couple loads that are clearly compressed (powder slightly compressed by the bullet) that it does not show as compressed. When I brought it to Speer's attention, they seemed disinterested and certain that their greater experience and knowledge was proof against mistakes of this kind. They were wrong, which makes it all a bit worse.

In addition to my manuals, I frequently check the internet sights of powder and bullet manufacturers. They often have loading data for their products that is as good or better than the manuals that cover everyone's products. I always compare results from one source with those from another and, when significant discrepancies are found, keep checking until I'm confident I'm starting with a safe load.

I know it sounds complicated, but it's not as hard to do as it is to tell. Once you get used to it, you're going to significantly decrease your shooting costs or significantly increase the shooting you do for the same cost, or both, particularly if you shoot less common calibers like 10mm or magnums.

Enjoy.

Lee

I use the Speer #13 manual as my general reloading reference of choice. I use a 650, but I assume that Dillon publishes the same fine comprehensive manual for the 550. There was no problem I encountered when I first started using my 650 that I couldn't resolve by studying the manual. It might have taken some time, since I'm not especiallly technically minded, but patience is one virtue that will stand you in good stead in this pastime. Welcome to our fraternity and may you produce nothing but safe x-ring reloads!

They do with one exception. I didn't manage to find good instructions for changing from the small charge bar to the large one and back again.

I also didn't pay enough attention to the part where they tell you to change the primer tube between small and large primers. Mine came set up for large primers and, when I changed to small ones, I had a lot come out upside down or sideways until I realized my mistake.

Lee

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I think you've found the best source of reloading info right here. I started a year ago with a Rock Chucker and just bought a 650 as an xmas present to myself. The reloading data is split into seperate calibers so you can look up info pretty quick. Also, use the search function. It seems as though every reloading issue to ever come up has been addressed here. I use the Speer book and VV's website as a reference and then go from there. One thing to keep in mind is a lot of the loads listed here are not in any book (at least that I could find) so start low and build up with a chrono and pay attention to what is going on. Welcome to BE.com

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My wife will be ordering a 550 for mr for christmas. I have never reloaded before but I have read Lee's reloading manual and the instructions for my new Dillon. I have a good idea about what i'm doing but I know I need to know more. Any ideas on a good manual (besides Lee's)? Also, I'm just a lost cause when it comes to math conversions and these different measures (cc's, grams, grains) are giving me such a headache. If anyone can explain this so that this idiot could understand it please chime in.

Thanks

Here's one of the best conversion apps I've seen, and it's FREE.

Bronson7

http://joshmadison.net/software/convert/

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Most of the reloading manuals are good. I have a Speer, Sierra & Hornady. Get one and read it. Keep in mind that loading for strait wall pistol cartridges ( 9mm, 40 S&W. 38 spl, 45 ACP ) is the simplest stuff to reload.

The Dillon manual is very good about how their press does the differnt step. Read one of teh Mfg. manual then compare with Dillon and it should mak sense. If not, ask the question on the forums and it will be answered :)

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If you have never reloaded you may want to get the Dillion 550B reloading video. I purchased it and found it helpful to get started with. I also use the Sierra handloading manual.

Dillion Video Manual

I collected three manuals so far and found the data to be confusing. Load information varied quite a bit. The closest to the chronographed loads were Bullseye, 231 and Titegroup in the Sierra manual. In the end I use the Sierra manual as a start and the Pact chronograph to fine tune.

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The #1 most important thing is to train yourself to look in each and every case before putting a bullet on it. Set up a light and all so you can see easily. Anything you're not sure about or looks wrong, stop and check. You can never check too much when starting loading.

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  • 4 years later...
My wife will be ordering a 550 for mr for christmas. I have never reloaded before but I have read Lee's reloading manual and the instructions for my new Dillon. I have a good idea about what i'm doing but I know I need to know more. Any ideas on a good manual (besides Lee's)? Also, I'm just a lost cause when it comes to math conversions and these different measures (cc's, grams, grains) are giving me such a headache. If anyone can explain this so that this idiot could understand it please chime in.

Thanks

When setting the powder charge, I use a digital scale until I get close, then I switch to a balance scale. The balance scale is more accurate, every time. Pay attention to what your air conditioner is doing. I often get different readings when it's moving air than when it's not. Same thing goes for ceiling fans, open windows, etc. When you're dealing in thenths of a grain, it does not take much to throw the reading off. When adjusting, throw a couple of charges that you dump back into the hopper after each adjustment before you weight it. This lets you weight a fresh charge instead of one that still relates to the previous adjustment. When you've got everything the way you want it, run four bullets through the press. When you deprime and reprime the fourth bullet, check the powder charge just thrown. You may, make that probably, will find that it's not quite what you set it for. It'll be close. The way you pull the lever changes with the number of cases in the plate which can slightly change the powder charge. Adjust as necessary and begin your reloading. Test every few, say every fifth or tenth, until you're getting consistent readings, then have at it. If you start with the powder hopper three quarters full, refill it when it gets down to about half full. The amount of powder in the hopper also has a slight, very slight, effect on the charge thrown.

Lee

I am also new to reloadong with the 550. I noticed that the hopper will put out about the powder I set it at. But for some reason it will change from time to time. I am trying for 7.8 grains and most of the time it puts out 7.8 but than it will do a 8.0 or as low as 7.4. Is this normal? I have no fans or air on when I am trying to set the powder.

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Hey Dan

When I'm reloading 9mm I always resize in a separate step. Then I take the barrel off the gun and chamber check each round. If one doesn't drop in I know that it has been "glocked". Next stop for that one is the circular file. Alternative solutions are available but they cost.

I haven't seen anything about tumbling. I use corn cob. It takes longer but it makes the brass look great. There is a place in the bottoms where you can get tumbling media for a lot better price than you can at the gun store. I think I paid $24 for a 22# bag of the stuff. I like my brass clean and shiny. I usually set a timer for 5 hours and tumble over night. If you don't tumble first, you could scratch up the inside of your resize die.

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I'm a lost cause when it comes to math conversions and these different measures (cc's, grams, grains) If anyone can explain this so that this idiot could understand it please chime in.

Good news, the only measures you'll be using will be Grains (no grams or ounces).

Bullets are grains and powder is grains - no need to convert, unless you're

trying to determine how many loads you'll get out of a pound can of powder

(7,000 grains in a pound).

Good luck,

Jack

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My wife will be ordering a 550 for mr for christmas. I have never reloaded before but I have read Lee's reloading manual and the instructions for my new Dillon. I have a good idea about what i'm doing but I know I need to know more. Any ideas on a good manual (besides Lee's)? Also, I'm just a lost cause when it comes to math conversions and these different measures (cc's, grams, grains) are giving me such a headache. If anyone can explain this so that this idiot could understand it please chime in.

Thanks

When setting the powder charge, I use a digital scale until I get close, then I switch to a balance scale. The balance scale is more accurate, every time. Pay attention to what your air conditioner is doing. I often get different readings when it's moving air than when it's not. Same thing goes for ceiling fans, open windows, etc. When you're dealing in thenths of a grain, it does not take much to throw the reading off. When adjusting, throw a couple of charges that you dump back into the hopper after each adjustment before you weight it. This lets you weight a fresh charge instead of one that still relates to the previous adjustment. When you've got everything the way you want it, run four bullets through the press. When you deprime and reprime the fourth bullet, check the powder charge just thrown. You may, make that probably, will find that it's not quite what you set it for. It'll be close. The way you pull the lever changes with the number of cases in the plate which can slightly change the powder charge. Adjust as necessary and begin your reloading. Test every few, say every fifth or tenth, until you're getting consistent readings, then have at it. If you start with the powder hopper three quarters full, refill it when it gets down to about half full. The amount of powder in the hopper also has a slight, very slight, effect on the charge thrown.

Lee

I am also new to reloadong with the 550. I noticed that the hopper will put out about the powder I set it at. But for some reason it will change from time to time. I am trying for 7.8 grains and most of the time it puts out 7.8 but than it will do a 8.0 or as low as 7.4. Is this normal? I have no fans or air on when I am trying to set the powder.

Make sure the blue plastic nut at the bottom of the failsafe rod is adjusted so half of the spring is collapsed with the Shellplate empty and the handle pushed forward as it would be when seating a primer.

be

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