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Old 10-22-2011, 14:32   #1
George H.
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Dillon 550 & 650 questions.

I am planning on buying a new press in the near future (Dillon 550 or 650) and am wondering what the advantage, if any, of one over the other.

How hard is it to change calibers on these presses. I looked at the instruction manuals online and I hope it is not as difficult as it seemed from looking at the manuals. I have never seen either press other than pics and am thinking it would have been easier to understand had I been looking at one of those presses.
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Old 10-22-2011, 14:56   #2
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The 650 is a lot more press than the 550. Among other things, it is auto indexing and I am beginning to think that indexing is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

It is almost impossible to get a double feed with auto indexing. I have a pair of 550s (one for small primer, one for large primer) and have been using them for 25 or 30 years. Still, the possibility of a double charge scares me!

Changing calibers with the same primer size is no big deal. Change out the tool head (yes, you will want full tool heads for every cartridge) and the shell plate and buttons. No big deal. Unless you want to change primer size. Then it is a PITA which is why I have two 550s.

I have COMPLETE tool heads for every cartridge which means I have no only the toolhead and dies but also dedicated powder feeders for each. Total time to change calibers: about 5 minutes.

At the moment, I only load .223 and 9mm on the small primer 550 and, sometimes, 45 ACP on the larger primer 550.

You will want the optional stand and bullet tray so price those in.

I also have a Dillon 1050 for 45 ACP and I like it a lot. Next up will be a 1050 for 9mm.

A while back I priced a fully loaded 650 and came out somewhere around $1000 while the 1050 comes fully loaded for $1700. That's quite a difference in price but the 1050 has a station to swage primer pockets from range brass. This brass chokes up the works on either the 550 or 650. And, no, separating brass isn't a viable alternative. It takes too long and is too error prone.

The 550 with the automatic case feeder would be another option. I have been thinking about adding the case feeder to the small primer 550 instead of buying the 1050. It's intriguing but I really want auto indexing. And I really want the 1050.

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Old 10-22-2011, 15:38   #3
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A couple things to decide, how big is your wallet? And how many rounds a month do you forsee shooting? How much time do you have on your hands? I have a 550, in the peak of my shooting (when i'm not working so much) I will easily shoot between 800-1000 rounds a month, more if I do rifle aswell. The 550 easily does this. 3-500 rounds per hourish. So do the math and roughly 3-5 hoursish. I dont know many people that cant come up with a few hours in the course of a month.
As for auto index vs manual index. Unless you are not paying any attention to what you are doing its a none issue. If you are handloading and not checking every round for powder, you need to STOP and take a break. This goes for single stage, manual index or auto index. As far as speed goes unless you get a 650 WITH a case feeder again IMO its pretty much a non issue. If you go 650 W/O a case feeder you still have to take both hands off to place bullet ad case.
As for sorting crimped brass and non crimped, again hardly an issue. Crimped is pretty easy to spot. Look for the circle around the primer pocket. You can even do this while loading. Just pick up a case look at the head stamp and move one. Or do it before hand and save yourself a step.

Either will well beyond serve the vast majority of shooters needs well and beyond. The 650 ws designed to be used with a case feeder the 550 has one but it was a after thought. The 650 does offer one more thing. The tool head has an additional hole. Perfect for a dillon case trimmer or powder check. With the 550 and its anual index it makes it easy to go in revers to correct a mistake if need be. Just make sure station 2 is clear. It will also be the cheaper option in just about every sense, including tool heads.
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Old 10-22-2011, 16:06   #4
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http://www.brianenos.com/pages/dillon.html

I agree with almost everything he says EXCEPT the 650 is not a good press for your first press. ANY machine requires you to be aware and careful.

550 is all the press most people need. It's easy to change calibers and primer sizes (IMHO). It's a good, simple reliable press. Easy to use, easy to work up loads. Great ergonomics. Yes it doesn't auto index. That is not a huge loss if you don't want a casefeeder. And to the guy above who is worried about a double charge. The solution is simple. Grab the bullet as you have the handle in the down postion (charging the case), then as you raise the handle, look in the case and then put the bullet on top of the case, then index. If you some how some way pull the handle twice the bullet will be in the way.
650 is a far more complicated press, its best used with a cas efeeder (overkill for most people). It's harder to work loads up on, it's harder to convert, it's more expensive in every way.
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Old 10-22-2011, 16:17   #5
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I think the 650 is fine for a first press. I think with the auto index it is more fail safe than a press that has to be indexed by hand. My first press was a 650 and I wish I had gotten a 1050
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Old 10-22-2011, 16:38   #6
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I am way past the purchase of a first press. I have been loading on a Rockchucker for the past 15 years. I spend all winter and some into the spring and a few hours here and there loading for what I shoot during the spring, summer and fall. I don't shoot much in the winter (seems the older I get the colder winters get).
The price of the 550 or 650 would be no problem but the 1050 is a bit much since I load .38/.357, 40, 9mm and 45.
It would be nice to just sit down and put out several rounds when I need them instead of all of the time I spend loading now.
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Old 10-22-2011, 16:45   #7
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If you shoot a lot of 9mm and 40 the caliber conversion is simple on the 550. 9mm and .40 share the same shellplate, you switch buttons and toolhead. Thats it. On the 650 every one of those calibers is a different shellplate. Well, I am not 100% sure about the .38 vs the .45.
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Old 10-22-2011, 16:50   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado4Wheel View Post
http://www.brianenos.com/pages/dillon.html

I agree with almost everything he says EXCEPT the 650 is not a good press for your first press. ANY machine requires you to be aware and careful.

550 is all the press most people need. It's easy to change calibers and primer sizes (IMHO). It's a good, simple reliable press. Easy to use, easy to work up loads. Great ergonomics. Yes it doesn't auto index. That is not a huge loss if you don't want a casefeeder. And to the guy above who is worried about a double charge. The solution is simple. Grab the bullet as you have the handle in the down postion (charging the case), then as you raise the handle, look in the case and then put the bullet on top of the case, then index. If you some how some way pull the handle twice the bullet will be in the way.
650 is a far more complicated press, its best used with a cas efeeder (overkill for most people). It's harder to work loads up on, it's harder to convert, it's more expensive in every way.
Why is the 650 harder to workup loads on?
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:12   #9
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I find it more crowded. You also have to disable the casefeeder feeding a new case in the shellplate. OR, you end up removing a case in some fashion. 550 is just easier. It's not a huge deal but it's a difference.
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:16   #10
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love it

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Old 10-22-2011, 17:22   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado4Wheel View Post
http://www.brianenos.com/pages/dillon.html

And to the guy above who is worried about a double charge. The solution is simple. Grab the bullet as you have the handle in the down postion (charging the case), then as you raise the handle, look in the case and then put the bullet on top of the case, then index. If you some how some way pull the handle twice the bullet will be in the way.
The double charge problem comes in when something goes wrong. Say one of those crimped primers. You lower the handle to resize and the powder is dropped, you try to set the primer and can't.

Now you have to stop and think. You need to remove the brass (if the primer isn't jammed half way in) and index. Or, you can remove the case with powder, cycle the handle to pop out the partially inserted (and jammed) primer, put a new empty in station one and stroke the press to load a primer. Reinsert the previous filled case and index the press. Whatever, just protect that charged case.

Either way, you have an interruption in the process. Something is different. And this is where you really have to stop and think.

And, no, I don't visually check the powder dropped into cases. Unless it is spilling out of the mouth, the charge is probably right. I have the powder charge alarm on the 1050 and if I had a 650 I would have one there as well.

Unless something has gone wrong and the process is somehow disturbed, there is no reason to worry about charges. Every charge will be from a fully stroked powder bar. You either trust it or you should scrap it.

Looking at cases is another consideration. I certainly don't look at the cases in the 1050 feeder. I had a Dillon case feeder on my RCBS Green Machine (45 ACP) and I didn't look at the cases there either. I just take them out of the media separator and dump them in the hopper. If I add a case feeder to the 550, I won't be looking at those cases either.

The bad news about loading 9mm is the possibility of picking up 38 Super cases. Just another thing to consider... Same for 10mm and S&W 40. For the most part, 45 ACP really doesn't have a near match.

I don't often load a hundred rounds or even a couple of hundred rounds. When I set up to load it is at least a thousand rounds at a time. I have been reloading for over 30 years and I still hate it. Every time I start loading, the biggest thing on my mind is double charges. I have not had one yet but it's still early.

As Dillon says, the 550 is the workhorse of the industry. If incremental money isn't an issue, the 650 is a faster machine but there would be no point in having the 650 without a case feeder. And that's how the 650 price gets up to about $1000, fully loaded.

I've been looking at the Hornady Lock-And-Load presses and I have been thinking about buying one. I have seen the press with both a case feeder and a bullet feeder. Add on the Ponsness-Warren drive motor and reloading is automatic. Speed is good!

Richard
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:32   #12
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And, no, I don't visually check the powder dropped into cases. Unless it is spilling out of the mouth, the charge is probably right.

Richard
On EVERY press I own I look in the case as I put the bullet on top. It provides peace of mind. No wonder you worry about DBL charges. Your not looking in the case. It's just as easy if not easier to get confused with a auto indexing press and clearing a jam as it is with a manual indexing press. I have owned 3 auto indexing presses and a 550. To me it's a total non-issue.
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:42   #13
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Working new loads would not be an issue because the Rockchucker will be on the bench for that kind of thing.
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:46   #14
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:48   #15
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Originally Posted by F106 Fan View Post
The 650 is a lot more press than the 550. Among other things, it is auto indexing and I am beginning to think that indexing is a REALLY BIG DEAL.

It is almost impossible to get a double feed with auto indexing. I have a pair of 550s (one for small primer, one for large primer) and have been using them for 25 or 30 years. Still, the possibility of a double charge scares me!
Richard
Then pay attention to what you are doing & don't just pull the handle. You can double on an auto indexing press, you can squib on an auto indexing press. That is part of the problem w/ progressives, it makes the guy pulling the handle lazy & they think the machine can't make a mistake & usually that is true, but anything can & has happened.
I load on both a 550 & 650. I somehow have managed over 25yrs on a 550 to NEVER have a dbl charge. Imagine that safe reloading w/o auto indexing. Regardless of how the machine is setup, the operator should be visually verifying each powder drop. Anything else; COP, lockout, etc, all fine as a back check to you visually verifying each powder drop. Then you are sure to never have a squib or double.
The presses have been compared many times before. My basic point for choosing one over the other is the case feeder. If you want/need a lot of one caliber & want it fast, then a case feeder is what you want & that makes the 650 the choice. If you reload for a dozen diff calibers like I do, then the simplicity & cost of the 550 make more sense for smaller runs of many calibers. Auto indexing is nice, but not faster & not safer. The guy pulling the handle is ALWAYS the determining factor.
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Old 10-22-2011, 17:50   #16
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On EVERY press I own I look in the case as I put the bullet on top. It provides peace of mind. No wonder you worry about DBL charges. Your not looking in the case. It's just as easy if not easier to get confused with a auto indexing press and clearing a jam as it is with a manual indexing press. I have owned 3 auto indexing presses and a 550. To me it's a total non-issue.
I may glance at the 9mm and 45 ACP as I set the bullet. I can see the powder looks about right. But when it comes to .38 cal 148 gr HBWC with < 3 gr of Bullseye, I can't see the powder unless I somehow look right straight down into the case. At some point you need to trust the machine and the process.

Or verify with the powder charge alarm - a potential feature of the 650 and 1050 presses.

Another advantage of the 650 is raw speed! Not having to handle the cases (assuming a case feeder) is a simple way to double the production rate. Your right hand never needs to leave the handle and you never have to fiddle around getting the case behind that little spring. I know, no big deal, but it all takes time.

Another caliber change issue: the plate in the case feeder is caliber specific. It's just a couple of screws but it is still part of the caliber change procedure. I don't know if that little spring that kicks the shells out needs to be adjusted or not and I don't know which plates fit which calibers.

The caliber change procedure for the 1050 looks really grim. I don't think I will go there.

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Old 10-22-2011, 17:58   #17
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.40 pistol or below takes the small plate.
10mm and above takes the large.

OBVIOUSLY the 10mm is kinda in the middle and can go either way really.

Plates come with the drive hub so you don't need to do anything other then lift it out and replace it.

All those things add up in the caliber conversion time. BUT, if you have 1000 empty cases the 650 is definitely worth converting. Even 500 cases is probably worth it.
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Old 10-22-2011, 18:07   #18
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Sorry if I stirred up a hornets nest.
It's the best way to get a comparison. I like the 550s and have used them for many years. I have no problem with them but it is worth discussing the potential for error. If I wanted a slow, but almost totally safe, press, I would still be using my Ponsness-Warren Metal-Matic

http://www.reloaders.com/index.php?m...products_id=57

It loads one shell at a time as the shell holder moves below the 5 stations. Five handle strokes per loaded round. The head can be rotated 180 degrees such that 2 calibers can be mounted on the same head. This is great for .38/.357 on one side and 45 ACP on the other. It's a great press for making small runs of somewhat specialized ammo.

If I wanted a fast but dubious press I would still be using my RCBS Green Machine. It has the distinction of being the only press I have ever seen where the primer is seated directly below the power drop. After I bought the press, I got a letter from BATF stating that they would be investigating any explosions. Seriously! I laughed about it for years!

And then one day I got some Blazer small primer 45 brass and I blew up a primer under the powder drop. That was the very last time I used that press.

http://www.rcbs.com/downloads/instru...EN_MACHINE.pdf

I put it back in storage and bought the 1050. The very same day!

The 550s are great - I use them all the time. But the 650s have some nice added features.

Richard

Last edited by F106 Fan; 10-22-2011 at 18:10.. Reason: typo
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Old 10-22-2011, 18:12   #19
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[QUOTE=Colorado4Wheel;18073618
All those things add up in the caliber conversion time. BUT, if you have 1000 empty cases the 650 is definitely worth converting. Even 500 cases is probably worth it.[/QUOTE]


How slow could it be? I currently use a Rockchucker.
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Old 10-22-2011, 18:25   #20
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How slow could it be? I currently use a Rockchucker.
I will swap out even if I only need to do 10 rds.
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