JavaScript is disabled
Our website requires JavaScript to function properly. For a better experience, please enable JavaScript in your browser settings before proceeding.
Just a question for the high volume reloaders:

I have always used an RCBS single stage setup for my reloading needs. Recently mainly due to my current AR and 45ACP habits have thought about picking up a progressive. From what I can see I have 3 main choices a Lee 1000, a Dillon square deal, or a Hornady lock and load AP. I may be missing a great choice but these are the ones I am familiar with, at least slightly. The Lee press has a great price but I know no one who uses one. The square deal is an old stand by and makes lots of ammo but I have never used one though this is what I am leaning towards. The Hornady is the most expensive but looks like a tank and would last forever but would like to hear some firsthand knowledge about it.

What do you all use and like or use and hate?

Has anyone really ever used the Lee progressive press? Looks cheap enough to get two of them.

If you have a progressive how hard is it to change calibers?

Does one of these load rifles well and pistol not so well?

Any input would be helpful, thanks ahead of time.


A Dillon Square Deal will not load rifle calibers. You need a 550B or 650XL to do that. The 550B case feeder is only for pistol. Only the case feeder for the 650XL will work for rifle.
I started out with a RCBS single stage, moved to a Lee Turret Press for pistol and when I started loading move volume for rifle got a Dillon 550. When I needed more volume i got the Dillon all around progressive press IMO, no BS warranty, any caliber and fast. I did a bunch of cabinet work for a gun shop and did some trading and got a Dillon 1050, this sucker can crank out the 5.56 at about 900 rnds an hour :D If you can afford to get a Dillon, you will never regret it.

I peruse quite a few gun boards,and the Lee presses get too much bad press for me to want one.I do use their dies,and their single stage I started out with,but their progressives are too finicky,and too many fragile parts from what I read.
I have both a 550b and a square deal on my bench. I MUCH prefer the hand room and operator visibilty of the 550.
The difference in output is very little,they both require inserting a case and a bullet after every pull of the handle.Flipping the flipper on the 550 becomes automatic,I just do it as I"m reaching for a case.I can hold 5 lead bullets in the same hand that I flip with ,so as I say very little diff. in output,and besides,I don't care how fast they 'can' go,I''m for 'slow and easy' when reloading.Either will put out way more than a single stage . been there,done that.
progressive loading of rifle calibers is a bit tricky,because u have to remove the case after sizing for measuring/trimmin.what i do is size on my s.stage,measure/trim,then finish them on the dillon with sizer die's faster than it sounds.
If ur anywhere near Washougal,come on by and I"ll let you see them in action.Just give me day or two to shovel off the bench. lol

as to changeover,not too quick..but less than 20 minutes with practice.
I suggest that in the beginning ,a newbie should run ammo thru one round at a time,to learn the ins and outs.even doing this ,you can put an amazing amount of ammo out in an evening,especially hand gun calibers.
please,somebody stop me !!!! <grin>

hope this helped.
My recomendation would be to go with the Hornady AP. It has the same type of warranty as dillon. It can load Rifle and pistol it has auto-index and the conversion from caliber to caliber if far less expensive and faster. the comparable dillon press is the 650. I have both the dillon 650xl and the Hornady AP, both have their pros and cons but for the money it is really hard to beat the Hornady. especially if they are still doing their promotion of 1000 free bullets with the purchase of the press. that can be a couple hundred dollars in bullets depending on what ones you choose.
I own a Lee Load Master progressive and use it exclusivly for loading 9mm.

I have used a Dillon 1050 for loading .223 and .308

I've also used a Hornady LNL AP for 9mm and .45acp

The Lee load master is a good cheap and effective way to load mass qtys of pistol ammo. Setup can be a bit tricky but once it is up and going U can load thousands. Only trouble I have is the occasional Flipped primer. About 1% - 2%.

With the Dillon they are nice machines and quality built. But for all those that Bash on Lee presses, I don't have to buy a Maintence kit or Spare parts kit to keep my Lee press running like U do with the Dillon.

My expereince with the Dillon 1050.
I did have some priming issues with the dillon where it wasn't dropping primers thus not priming the brass and once the case made it around and got filled with powder and it leaked thru the primer pocket hole it jammed up the case plate which required dissasembly and cleaning. Which is pretty involved on the Dillon. The case feeder and pocket swagger is awesome though.

The Hornady LNL AP would be my choice if I had to buy a progressive again. It worked as it should without error. Last time I was at fishermans marine they even seem to have the Horandy presses and parts in stock.
Every once in a while I run into a thread where someones progressive Hornady or RCBS breaks. Sometimes they get a new press out of the deal. Of the two I've read of far fewer problems with the RCBS. I'm not bashing here, I'm stating the reality of their products as related by their owners on reloading forums. Lee makes good dies and in some cases they are my favorite, but their presses are garbage made of cheap metals and plastic. They are engineered to the absolute minimum working standards, like something out of a cheap factory in china. I'm not saying they won't work, but I've seen airsoft pistols with a better build quality. Life is too short to buy cheap tools that you will be using all the time.

Then there is the Dillon 550B. It's the standard by which all the others are judged and really can't be beat unless you fall into some special reloading niche that favors the others or the speed of the 650, or the extra features of the 1050. If all you are doing is .45 acp and .223 in moderate quantities then the 550B is probably the best press in the world.

The 550B will take about 15-20 minutes to change over between the two because of the added time it takes to switch primer sizes. Some of that time will be taken for cleaning, which you otherwise would be doing anyway. If you were in a race you could probably do it in 5 minutes. I take the longer time because it's a relaxing break to be changing parts on a fine piece of machinery.

Most of Dillon's gear is top notch, but avoid their power trimmer when it's time to get a .223 brass trimmer. It must have been designed with the same mentality of the Lee engineers. The Giraud Power Trimmer is what Dillon should be selling. Nothing else on the market is anywhere close.
Thanks guys this is just the info I needed. I agree that life is to short for crappy tools. I am so ready for some faster reloading but a part of me still has a hard tome leting go of the controll of the old single stage. I am one of those guys that weighs every charge on the digital scale. :( How often do you test the loads and measure and test the powder charge?

The other option is a turret press keeping more control but loosing the speed. I guess some day I will have to give up my fear of automation.

Elkfish. :s0155::s0155:
One of the reasons I like the 550B so much is because I retain most of the control of the single stage and often use it as a single stage or multi-stage.

I have an RCBS turret as well and I actually feel less in control with that than the 550B, although it is probably about the same.

I don't trust powder measures so tend to pull rounds quite often. Sometimes I even throw ten in a row just to make sure it's exact. It's as easy on the 550B as any single stage.

If I'm away from the press for even a few minutes I like to check the next couple of drops to make sure powder didn't compress over time. Once I'm on a roll I might go 100 round if all is rolling smoothly. I also have a 25 watt lamp pointing down at the shell plate and look into every shell before I add the bullet.

It also depends on the powder. Ball powders flow smoothly and accurately. Flake powders like Unique have to be watched closely as sometimes they can get stuck in the Dillon powder measure bar and won't budge until the upstroke, and then some of it spills. Tubular powders like Varget or 4895 are best done off the press. That's when the 550B shines as a multi-stage or semi-progressive. I'll pull the case to add the charge after I trickle it to the exact weight, then put it back to seat the bullet.

It's a pain to do the same thing on the Turret press because primers have to be added individually and then the turret has to be turned back and forth between the dies. It's a lot easier to run the more automated 550B in one direction.
the 550 is a great press. For the handgun rounds it's quick for sure.

For the 223, I pretty much do all the prep work on the single stage (sizing) and with the trimmer etc. Then when I've got a bulk load of cases ready, I'll do a loading run. Primers, powder and bullet seating. Still faster than staying on the single stage, it's just that case prep takes up the most time, and the progressive is great for banging out the last stage of the rounds.
It is true that Dillon stuff is superior to the others. I have been using a RCBS progressive for quite awhile. Seems to work good for me. Loaded several thousand rounds of .45ap.
All those who just shout "Dillon" before the progressive question even finishes, have you used anything else for more than a time or two?

Yes...I have used nothing but RCBS progressive based on a Rock chucker. Have seen Dillon stuff that other people have but have never used it. Some of it looks pretty complicated.

Upcoming Events

Centralia Gun Show
  • Centralia, WA

New Classified Ads

Back Top