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Dillon 550b/Hornandy LNL AP, what all do I need?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by spengo, Oct 13, 2010.

  1. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    I'm finally going to get into reloading. I have decided on a Dillon 550B because everyone seems to unanimously agree that it kicks ***.

    I want to start off with the equipment to reload 9x19mm and 5.56x45 NATO.

    Here are the parts I have selected from Dillon's website:
    550B press 20128 (.223 version) - $419.95
    .223 dies - $64.95
    .223 case gauge - $23.95
    Dillon 'Eliminator' powder scale - $54.95
    Primer flip tray - $17.95
    Stainless dial calipers - $28
    Lyman 49th ed. loading manual - $24.95
    Kinetic bullet puller - $24.95
    9mm Dillon dies - $61.95
    RL550 Toolhead - $20.95
    -Dillon 9mm case gauge - $13.95
    Total: $781.49

    Holy balls that's expensive. Suggestions for alternative equipment or anything that should be added?

    Also this is all off Dillon.com, dunno if there are better deals elsewhere.
     
  2. Ghost_Rider

    Ghost_Rider Oregon Member

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    Your going to need a caliber conversion kit for the 9mm, Dillon Precision: Reloaders, Reloading Equipment, Bullet Reloading, Bullet Reloaders $43.95ea

    And a powder die for the different caliber and to put into the new tool head,
    Dillon Precision: Reloaders, Reloading Equipment, Bullet Reloading, Bullet Reloaders $10.50ea

    Then you might as well ad this to hold the tool head setup that's not mounted on the press,
    Dillon Precision: Reloaders, Reloading Equipment, Bullet Reloading, Bullet Reloaders $18.95ea

    That should do it for the first go around. LOL :thumbup: You wont regret it! There customer service is excellent!
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2010
  3. duginsky

    duginsky Tualatin Active Member

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    Google Brian Enos and check out his Dillon packages. He ships for free with orders over $400 and puts things/packages together that make a lot of sense. Don't know if you'll need the case gauges - on the cheap I use the barrels for the firearms I am reloading. Don't forget conversion kits for each caliber. The press will come with one conversion kit for the caliber you are ordering; for other calibers you need the kit for the shell plate holders. For calipers I bought one at Harbor Freight for about $17 and they work well. Primer flip tray - plastic $5 unit at BiMart. If your extra toolhead is for the additional caliber, that makes sense, but the press comes with one tool head. Enos has a "Deluxe" caliber change set up for about $200 that includes dies, tool head, caliber conversion, and powder measure. I personally found that to be very worthwhile, but it ain't cheap... Enjoy the 550; I love mine.
     
  4. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    @ghost: ah right, I forgot the caliber conversion kit and powder die. I thought I had the right tool head but I guess not.

    @duginsky: thanks, free shipping is always good
     
  5. tkdguy

    tkdguy Portland, Oregon Silver Supporter Silver Supporter

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    I just purchased a 650 from Brian Enos. He is a great source of info and does know the in's and out's of the machine. He has his own web site.
     
  6. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    Dillon's lock rings do not 'lock' to the dies,they spin free when the dies are removed.that means it's a very good idea to have tool heads for every set of dies,or use other brands of lock rings that lock into positon on the die body, so you don'lt lose settings every time,and have to re set them every time you change calibers.
    you'll need case lube for sizing rifle brass,this is a MUST.
    Also you'll need a case trimmer for rifle brass. pisotl brass seldom if ever needs trimming.
    You can easily get by with dies other than dillon for less money. I belive Hornady dies are radiused at the mouth for easy case insertion. the ease of cleaning via a clip arrangement is not that big a deal,more hype than need.

    If they try to talk you into a roller handle
    and/or strong mounts...if ur bench is tall enogh the strong mounts are NOT needed.
    I have the roller handle,the ball handle works just as well I found out.
    oh yea,and a tumbler and media to make the brass alll nice and clean and shiny,pretty much a must,but u could just hand wipe the brass if need be .

    use the pres as a single stage for a while until u get the hang of things.never ever go for speed,you'll hurt youself or blow up a gun. the 'speed' will come with usage,and 2-300 rounds per hour is plenty. go for 500 and all youll be is tired and frazzled.
     
  7. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    Yeah, that's why I put an extra tool head in the list. :)
    good to know, I'll add that stuff.
    Heh, wasn't planning on it, I'm building a bench specifically for this. :cool: Also, I'm going to start out as bare bones as possible so no tumbler or roller handle for now.
     
  8. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    If you're really set on this press....

    Press
    3 550 tool heads ($20 each)
    9mm conversion
    2 Powder dies
    Dillon bench wrench
    Strong Mount (you really really really want this on the 550)
    #3 (.223) shell plate (uses the same locator pins as 9mm)
    .223 powder funnel (#B?)
    Powder Measure (order a few extra charge bars)
    RCBS .223 Small base reloading dies (about $35 through midway, also lifetime replacement of decapping pins)
    RCBS 9mm Carbide dies (about $45 from midway)
    RCBS 505 Scale (look for one used first, if not buy it new from midway)
    Lee Chamfering tool (about $2 from midway)


    Forget the case guages, if you want to get some, the LE wilson guages are better IMHO. Buy the calipers at your local auto store, usually about $15. You will probably also want to get some extra primer feed tubes.

    I will also point out that this press is also $400 and needs about 1/10th the accessories:

    Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive Press - MidwayUSA

    Gives you an extra station, auto-indexing, casefeed capable (the 550 only has case feed for pistol rounds).

    If you're going to reload .223 on the 550, you should also get yourself the super-swage, the RCBS primer pocket swager, or a similar product (some people use a deburring tool) to remove the primer crimp. The 550 is horribly picky about seating primers, any mismatch in alignment and smash... also, the primer slide tends to get fouled with debris from the resizing operation, so you want to process your .223 brass in a seperate step from reloading (set up one tool head with just a sizing die), when I used to do this on my 550 I also had the RT-1200 case trimmer in the same head. Made sizing and trimming an easy one step operation. (one step through the press anyways).

    You will probably also want a brass tumbler in very short order, midway has thier own rebranded stuff as "frankford arsenal" most of the products are somewhat inexpensive, and usually really good quality. I've had the same 1492 tumbler for 15 years.

    I also didn't see any case lube in your list... the dillon case lube is pretty good. If you're bored you can make your own, go to the health-food store and buy liquid lanolin (usually about $10 for a 4-oz bottle), then buy 2 32-oz bottles of 91% rubbing alcohol from walmart/fred mayer/etc and mix the lanolin and the alcohol together an 8:1 mix works as good as the dillon stuff, and costs about $2/bottle.

    Also, go with the sierra reloading manual, the lyman manual is good, but is generally geared towards cast bullets rather than the jacketed stuff most of us shoot. If you're looking for cheap... the lee manual isn't too bad, or the hornady manual. If you are familiar with reloading, all of the powder companies publish loading data which is availible on thier respective websites.

    All things considered, I got the 550 a few years ago for doing 1-off load development and some other stuff, if I had to do it over again, I would have bought a 650, a hornady lnl or an RCBS Pro-2000. The 550 is great if you are doing really long cartridges (that's where the lack of auto-index shines) like .45-120, .50 Basic or some other ridiculously long cartridges.

    Hopefully I havn't scared you off, I just want you to know there are some other options out there than buying only dillon gear, like anyone out there, they have some good products and they have some stinkers. Whatever you decide, I HIGHLY recommend RCBS die sets, as RCBS has a lifetime warranty on their dies. While they probably won't replace a scratched die, they will usually dig that stuck case out of your .223 die for $5, and they will supply you with replacement decapping rods/expander balls/decapping pins from the first time you find a rock/berdan case until the last. Also, don't be fooled by the dillon "no BS-warranty" it's mostly BS, they do charge you for every single replacement part, even though it may only be a few dollars it's still a pain to have to whip out your credit card every time a spring breaks.
     
  9. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    Unfortunately that press is out of stock at midway. :/ Also, are you sure it is cheaper? It looks like I would still have to buy dies, tooheads, powder scale, calipers, bullet puller, and all that stuff. It does look very nice though. I will check out the other reloading supplies at midway and see if I can come up with a cost for this one with all the crap I need.

    I wish there was like, a kit that I could get that just had EVERYTHING.
     
  10. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Brian enos sells a package called "as it should be" for each of the dillon presses, comes with all the common/recommended accessories. I think I forgot to put that in my post... don't buy direct from dillon, buy from brian enos, only suckers pay full price.

    Also, if you have a friend who is a type 03 (collector) FFL, midway will give him/her a dealer login. He can get you that LNL for "dealer" price, which is usually about 10% under listed retail.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010
  11. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    Ok, now I have a midway order set up that looks like this:

    - Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Case Tumbler Master Kit with Quick-N-EZ Rotary Media Separator 220 Volt / Product #: 184804 / $78.99
    - Hornady Cam-Lock Case Trimmer Kit / Product #: 315831 / $64.99
    - Hornady Electronic Caliper 6" Stainless Steel / Product #: 417494 / $24.99
    - Hornady GS-1500 Electronic Powder Scale 1500 Grain Capacity / Product #: 438260 / $34.99
    - Hornady "Handbook of Cartridge Reloading: 7th Edition" Reloading Manual / Product #: 438424 / $23.99
    - Hornady One Shot Case Lube 5-1/2 oz Aerosol / Product #: 438512 / $6.59
    - Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension 2-Die Set 223 Remington / Product #: 440144 / $30.99
    - L.E. Wilson Case Length Headspace Gage 223 Remington / Product #: 456614 / $24.99
    - Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension Nitride 3-Die Set 9mm Luger / Product #: 667162 / $37.49
    - Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive Press / Product #: 679228 / $406.99
    - Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive Press Shellplate #16 (17 Remington, 204 Ruger, 223 Remington) / Product #: 738344 / $28.99
    - Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive Press Shellplate #8 (30 Luger, 38 Super, 9mm Luger) / Product #: 771537 / $28.99
    - Hornady Lock-N-Load Die Bushings Package of 10 / Product #: 786036 / $38.49
    - Total: $831.47

    Am I missing anything I need? Not sure if I have enough dies there since the .223 set only comes with 2 and the 9mm set only comes with 3. 5-station means I should need 4 dies excluding the powder thingy, right? I have added a case trimmer and tumbler here.
     
  12. JohnH

    JohnH Milwaukie Active Member

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    Have you ever seen any of these presses people are pointing you too?
    If possible you should try to get out and see some of these, just so you can get some ideas before buying.

    You say you've decided to get into reloading, have you seen the process and understand all the steps, time, costs associated?

    Don't get me wrong I REALLY enjoy reloading but I know quite a few people who thought it was something they wanted to do, bought a bunch of stuff and then realized it was not for them.

    The first question you really should answer is just how many rounds a week/month do/would you shoot if you were loading your own ammunition.

    How much time a week/month do you have to spend processing brass, and reloading?



    I'm sure you can cite the times this has happened to you but I have contacted Dillon on several (5-6) occasions regarding warranty parts and have always gotten my warranty parts 100% free (including shipping). This includes the times when I tell them I have bought something used (example a d-terminator scale) and it was missing parts (in this case the powder pan) and they sent me a new pan free of charge. I also have had the same great results with RCBS and Lyman. Haven't had to deal with Lee yet but I do have an issue with one of my Hornady new dimensions dies I need to see how they will respond.
     
  13. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    I have not seen the process in person, but I have watched many youtube videos of how to assemble and set up the Dillon 550B and the Hornandy AP.

    I shoot A LOT, usually I blow through 90-120rds of 5.56 and 100-150rds of 9mm every week (plus lots of .22lr). I have a reasonable amount of free time to do the loading. I have also been saving most of my brass which means I have a pretty huge brass collection right now so I only need to buy primers, powder, and bullets.
     
  14. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Spengo,

    To a certain extent you are missing my point... I'm not trying to play one manufacturer off another, I'm trying to play each press off another. Just because I said the hornady LNL is a better deal doesn't mean you should drop everything and buy all hornady. I think hornady's dies are atrocious, and they charge you for every busted part! Unless the hornady dies do something you really like, I do not suggest them!

    Unless you're really hot to up your credit card balance, look for what is cheaper, and try to compare features. I hate to say it... but shop like a woman, check out EVERYTHING before you buy it. This forum is a great place because a lot of the people here have used these presses and can give you some insight as to what the positives and negatives of each press is. I'll tell you as a matter of practice, I only buy RCBS dies unless there is a special purpose die I need (redding SB sizer or micrometer seater, lee factory crimp die, etc).

    Also, avoid the digital calipers, those things are always running out of batteries, and generally arn't as precise as standard dial calipers. This is the same reason I discourage people to use digital scales. If you have a regular balance scale, by all means get an electric one, but make sure you always have a balance to double check your digital.
     
  15. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    Lol, I am not buying anything just yet, I am just trying to get a handle on all the stuff I would need. I have no allegiance to any particular manufacturer, midway just happened to have lots of Hornandy stuff. I had mechanical scale/caliper selected in the first set, but I noticed midway had some pretty cheap electric ones. I will stick with mechanical then.

    Also, I noticed Lee dies are pretty cheap, what do you think of those?
     
  16. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    I started out loading with lee, I no longer load with them. If you need a spare seater or something like that, their dies are ok (marginal though), the one die they make that is worth the money is the factory crimp die, it does a very good job of giving you a solid crimp on the case mouth without the fear of ballooning the shoulder. The rest of the dies... yick. Also, thier "unbreakable" decapping rod tends to jam in guatemalan 5.56 cases and rather than break, simply tears out of the decapping rod.
     
  17. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    you asked about 2 die sets vs 3 die. rifle dies don't flare the case mouth like a pistol set does,for bullet insertin. most folks use a chamfer tool to barely chamfer the rifel case mouths . It is also used after trimming to clean up the burrs,both inside and out.

    re: 4 or 5 hole presses. I like to crimp in a seperate operation,some folks use a 'powder cop ' lockout die,etc.

    Since you are just starting out,start with pistol rounds,then graduate to rifle. just easier to do. You must measure rifle rounds after sizing,so running them prgressive is not really prossible although once sized/trimmed you can remove the sizer die and use the rest of the dies progressively.
     
  18. gehrheart

    gehrheart fidalgo island Well-Known Member

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    I was raised on the 550 and then the 650. They are nice, however I went with the lock-n-load and have not regretted in the slightest. I love it. I also use the single stage for all my rifle stuff. I have a lyman turret as well. I would never recommend a person start reloading with a progressive, not trying to talk you out of it, I just would not recommend it.
    The Dillon stuff is very nice. I just prefer the Hornday stuff. Never have had an issue with it. For just a little less then the 550 I have all the features of the 650 and works really well. I have lost count how many times my dads 650 has gone back to dillon (granted all free of charge, still inconvenient.)
     
  19. spengo

    spengo GLORIOUS CASCADIA Active Member

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    Bi-mart has an RCBS kit that comes with everything you need to start reloading. Single stage. What do you guys think about that one?
     
  20. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Is this the rock chucker kit, or the partner press kit? For what you're talking about doing, the partner press kit is probably a good one, it's a smaller press, (the RC was intended for bullet swaging and is a _VERY_ heavy press) and will be cheaper.

    Most of these kits come with a lot of stuff you don't need, but are still a good deal.

    The backup reloading kit I have at my cabin consists of the following:

    * Whole bunch of die sets (if I have a duplicate set it ends up here)
    * RCBS Partner Press (when i bought a rock-chucker used I put the partner press in this kit)
    * Lee shell holder set (comes with 10-12 shell holders and is usually about $20)
    * Lee Chamfering tool (about $3)
    * RCBS/Ohaus 505 scale (bought used for $20)
    * RCBS powder dispenser (bought used for $40)
    * Couple of old plastic holders from boxes of pistol ammo I use for loading blocks (free)
    * Big selection of bullets (Priceless)
    * Tub of Imperial Sizing wax
    * Bottle of spray on lubricant
    * Misc selection of primers and gunpowder
    * RCBS Hand Priming Tool
    * RCBS Stuck case removal tool
    * RCBS Primer Pocket swager

    This is a bare-bones kit which allows me to load up a few hundred rounds a night listening to the short wave. Realistically, you can spend tons and tons of money on a reloading setup, the only thing that changes from the $100 kit I have and a $2000 dillon 1050 is how long it takes to make ammo. (well, and I can produce more accurate rounds SS than anyone could on a 1050) If you decide you need 200 rounds a week, that's a reasonable amount to do single stage, on monday after work lube your brass up, size it all while watching some TV. Clean it with hot water and some laundry soap, let it dry overnight. Tuesday, throw it in the tumbler overnight, Wednesday, prime all your brass, charge with powder and seat bullets. So by thursday you are ready to rock and roll.