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If you were buying a reloading setup today.......

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by SC_Dave, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. SC_Dave


    Oct 7, 2005
    Florence, SC
    Which brand and model would it be. I'm in the market and need some suggestion please. I will be primarily reloading 9mm and .223. Thanks in advance for advice and help.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  2. mingaa


    Dec 3, 2011
    St. Louis, MO
    I bought a Lee 4 turret setup in Sept. for the same reason I would today - my financial situation is not great, it's time to start reloading and the Lee CAN get the job done. If I were flush I might go a different way but, welcome to life. I'm doing 9 and 40 now and just about have my competition rounds figured out - 223 dies are in the mail.

  3. How much you wanna spend? How many gazillion of each caliber will you need each year? Have you read the pertinent Stickies?
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2012
  4. SC_Dave


    Oct 7, 2005
    Florence, SC
    I have read the stickies just wantin opinions.
  5. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    It's not really possible to give any advice without some discussion of quantity.

    Quantity is related to two aspects of reloading. First, if you load a lot of ammo, you save a lot of money and you should consider investing in better equipment from the outset. Second, if you load a lot of ammo, you won't want a slow press. There's always some relationship between equipment price and rounds/per hour.

    At the low end of production (say 250 rounds per hour), the Lee Classic Turret from Kempf's with the extra Pro Autodisk powder measure gets good comments. DO NOT buy the version offered by others. IF you are interested in a press that costs about $200, read this paragraph CAREFULLY. Others have strayed and have had to spend extra money to get back on path.

    In the middle of production (say 450-500 rounds per hour) is the Dillon 550. It is the workhorse of the reloading community. It is always a good way to start. This is probably the most recommended press. It's easy to use and extremely flexible.

    Next up is the Dillon 650 and it will set you back about $1000 for a fully loaded press with case feeder and one caliber. But you can crank out 1000 rounds per hour!

    Then things get really overpriced with the Dillon 1050. A little faster than the 650 but it has the advantage of a primer pocket swaging station.

    I don't have, nor have I ever seen, an LCT. I do have a couple of 550s, a 650 and a 1050.

    If I thought that a high percentage of my brass, either .223 or 9mm, was going to be crimped, I would opt for the 1050. I know it is expensive but it also doesn't require that I inspect every piece of brass I reload.

    If I was in a hurry and wasn't overly price sensitive, the 650 is a great choice.

    Finally, if I was really trying to start on a reasonable budget, the 550 would do it.

    There is no way in the world I would buy the LCT. It takes 4 handle pulls to produce a single round. That is just too slow for me to consider.

    Read the stickies at the top of the forum. A lot of thought has gone into them.

  6. F106 Fan

    F106 Fan

    Oct 19, 2011
    You can ALMOST get started with a Dillon 550 for $500. The press is $439 and you need a $70 scale plus some odds and ends.

  7. ron59

    ron59 Bustin Caps

    Jan 3, 2009
    Smyrna, GA
    550 at the minimum, 650 if you can swing it.
  8. M24C


    Oct 31, 2002
    I would get if I could swing it. 650 Dillon, Minimum 550 Dillon. I own the 550.

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  9. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    I am a fan of the Lee classic turret for a lot of reasons.

    It isn't intimidating and it is a bit easier for a beginner to understand. It can produce a useful quantity of ammo for the time involved. My suggestion would be to upgrade from the scale that comes with the kit however. The Lee works fine but it takes a little time to get used to it and it is slow in use. If you are not adding calibers or changing loads or powders very often it is fine to check the auto disk with.

    I am not a big fan of a beginner trying to make ammo as fast as they can in the first place. Neither do I think a beginner needs to go way over his intended budget to make good ammo. In experienced hands a Lee Classic turret can make around 200 rds/hr. You have to decide if that isn't fast enough for your shooting and whether you can afford the components to shoot more than you can make on that press.
  10. Murphy's Law

    Murphy's Law

    Nov 1, 2007
    Tampa, FL
    No brainer, Dillon 550B should easily handle the quantity. Couple this with the no "BS" warranty and you can't go wrong IMHO.
  11. HexHead


    Jul 16, 2009
    Just get the 550b and call it a day. You're going to end up wanting one anyway. If money's a real object, get the BL550. It's a stripped down version and you can always add the primer system and powder measure later, upgrading it to a full 550. It's about $250. You can even use a Lee Pro Auto Disc powder drop with it.
  12. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    Note I worte this several years ago so the prices have changed.

    I have been asking experienced reloaders questions about their presses and their reloading habits. I find it interesting that the average person loads in short burst. They average 30 to 60 minutes at a time. This seems to hold true weather the person is a competition shooter or a plinker. That leads me to believe that the mast majority of reloaders buy way more press than they really need. As one person pointed out with a Dillon 550 you can load 250 rounds in half an hour and you did just that every day Monday through Friday that’s still 1250 rounds a week. Very few people shoot that many rounds a week on a regular basis. I have shot that many rounds in a weekend but only because I went to a class. I certainly don’t need that much out put every week. Even a Lee classic turret press will yield 500 round a week with that schedule. Am I suggesting that everyone buy a Lee classic turret press? NO But 75% or more of shooters could get by with one if they had to. There is a saying in the racing industry. Speed cost money haw fast do want to spend? The same is true in the reloading industry. The faster you want to go the more it is going to cost you. Thankfully the costs for reloading are tiny compared to racing. Also a quality reloading press can last you a lifetime. Spending $500 to $1000 dollars on a reloading machine doesn’t seem so expensive when you realize that in 10 years you only spent $50 To $100 dollars a year for that machine. Also in the case of Dillons they hold there value. If you decide to sell your reloader you can expect to get 75% to 90% of current market value back on your purchase.
    Case feeders are something to think about even if you don’t want one when you first start to reload. A case feeder will greatly increases your hourly production. Not all Case feeders are made equal. The lee is the least expensive and versatile. The 550 Case feeder was an afterthought. It works on pistol cases only. The 650 1050 and LNL all have similar functioning units that load both pistol and rifle cartages. These case feeders can increases your output 40% or more. The new low cost Hornady bullet feeder has the potential to increases these press another 40% or more. While it can be installed on a four station press you have to give up something else to make it work. Both of these products are reasons to look harder at the 5 station press instead of the 4 station presses. The Hornady LNL and the Billon 650 should both be capable of production rate over 1000 rounds an hour with a case feeder and a bullet feeder.
    The Presses
    Lee Pro 1000

    Some people have fairly good luck with them and swear by them. Most people just swear at them. If you want a cheap press and like to constantly tinker with a press then a Lee Pro 1000 might be right for you. There are more negatives than positives reviews on the web about them. I know one guy that swears by his. I have never used one myself.
    . One Hour Production Rate 300
    Cost $143.99 12 2010

    Lee Classic turret press

    If you are going to look at a Lee turret press only look at the Classic. It’s not a progressive press and you have to pull the handle 4 times for each round. It’s slow, it’s cheap, it works. If you are on a tight budget it will give you more production for the same price as a lot of single stage presses.
    One Hour Production Rate 200
    Cost $94.99 12 2010

    The Dillon Square Deal

    The Dillon Square Deal is a pistol caliber only press... no bottle neck cartridges.. The Dillon Square Deal uses proprietary Dillon dies so you won't be able to use any dies you might already own. If you want to change calibers you have to buy more Square Deal proprietary dies for it. The Dillon Square Deal has a small footprint which is a benefit if you are limited on bench space but a detriment if you have big fingers. The Dillon Square Deal is the least expensive of the Dillon press line. If you are sure you are only going to load one or two pistol cartridge then this might be the press for you.
    One Hour Production Rate 400 - 500
    Cost $365.95 12 2010

    The Dillon RL550B
    RL550B is manual-indexing four station progressive press. The Dillon RL550B is the workhorse Dillon press line. It can load almost any center fire rifle or pistol cartridge. It has 120 caliber conversions available for it. In the Dillon line the Dillon RL550B is the most economical add calibers to. It has less expensive caliber conversions than other Dillon presses. If you were buying just one Dillon press and wanted the most bang for the buck, it would be a Dillon RL550B. According to Dillon more RL550s have been sold than any other progressive machine in the world.
    One Hour Production Rate 400 - 500
    Cost $376.00 12 2010

    The Dillon XL650
    The XL 650 is auto-indexing five station progressive press. The XL 650 was built from the ground up to be an auto-indexing press with a case feeder. The Dillon XL650 comes standard with a tube system for an automatic case feeder. The automatic case feeder is sold separately So the advertised starting price doesn’t accurately reflect the true price of a Dillon XL650. A fully set up Dillon XL650 cost twice what a Dillon RL550B cost but produces twice as much ammo an hour. The caliber conversions for the Dillon XL650 are noticeably more expensive than the RL550B and the LNL. For large volume reloading, versatility and ease of use a Dillon XL650 is hard to beat.
    One Hour Production Rate 800 – 1150
    Cost $ $544.95 bullet feeder $212.95 .12 2010

    The Super 1050 B
    The Super 1050 B is the king of the Dillon line. It is designed for commercial use and not normally in the running for what press should I buy. If you need it you know you need it.
    One Hour Production Rate 1200 +
    Cost $1589.95 12 2010
    Hornady Lock N Load AP
    The Lock-N-Load AP is an auto-indexing, 5-station progressive press that features the Lock-N-Load bushing system, which allows calibers to be changed very quickly. The Lock-N-Load is the cheapest press to equip with additional caliber conversions. During Automatic Indexing Each station moves 1/2 a stage on the upstroke and 1/2 a stage on the down stroke and the up stroke, making for a smoother function. This means less chance of flinging powder out of cases. The Lock-N-Load AP can be used with or without a case feeder. This allows you to start at a Dillon 550B price but to upgrade to a Dillon XL650 speed press at a later date. The earlier editions of this press were known to have issues and were more in line with Lee quality presses. With the new generation of presses Hornady is trying to go head to head with Dillon including matching their warranty.
    One Hour Production Rate 500 with case feeder 800.
    Cost $ $381.99 bullet feeder 279.99. 12 2010

    The Warranty
    lee reloading products are guaranteed not to wear out or break from normal use for two full years or they will be repaired or replaced at no charge if returned to the factory. Any LEE product of current manufacture, regardless of age or condition, will be reconditioned to new—including a new guarantee—if returned to the factory with payment equal to half the current retail price.

    Hornady Warranty “We guarantee every one of our reloading tools and accessories for Life” No-Risk, Lifetime Warranty. Hornady reloading tools and accessories are warranted against material defects and workmanship for the life of the products. Parts which by nature of their function are subject to normal wear such as springs, pins, bearings, etc… and, parts which have been altered, abused, or neglected are excluded for the warranty.
    If the product is deemed defective by either workmanship or material, the reloading tool or accessory will either be repaired, reconditioned or replaced at Hornady Manufacturing Company’s option. If it breaks, we’ll repair it or replace it at no charge.
    Dillon precision No warranty cards, registration or serial numbers are necessary. Whether you are the first owner, or the seventeenth, all our hobby-level reloading machines have a lifetime warranty. If you break, damage or wear out anything on them, it will be fixed or replaced – whatever is necessary to restore the machine to normal operating condition. If a minor part is all that is needed, contact us and we will ship the part. If something major is damaged or broken, contact us and we issue the customer a return merchandise authorization-RMA- to return the item to us for repair. The customer pays the shipping; we fix or replace as is warranted.
    I rate the warrantees from worst to best Lee, Hornady, Dillon. Both the Hornady and Dillon have excellent warrantees. The difference is that Dillon will also warrantee consumables. Hornady has been doing this lately also but it isn’t in there written warrantee. Lastly Dillon will even completely rebuild a press to new condition for a small fee. They don’t care if you are the original owner or if you found it in a garbage can. They still honor their warrantee.

    So which reloading press is right for you? That depends…
    How much ammo you are going to make a month average?
    What is your budget?
    How much time do you have to reload?
    How many different calibers do you want to reload?
    Here is my personal picks.
    You only load 1 pistol caliber and you just want to knock it out fast.
    The Dillon Square Deal
    Budget of $300 or less…… Lee Classic turret press
    Budget $300 to $600 …. Dillon 550

    Budget over $600 with more than 4 calibers…. Hornady Lock N Load AP with bullet feeder.
    Budget over $800 with 3 calibers…… Dillon XL650
    Budget doesn’t matter with 1 caliber …. The Super 1050 B
    You only want to buy one press to last for the rest of your life regardless of what you want or how many calibers you reload….. Dillon RL550B
  13. BuckyP

    BuckyP Lifetime Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    My Dillon XL650 has well over 300K through it. Admittedly, it's all handgun rounds, no .223, though someday I may go that route too. Had the press since 1996. If starting from scratch today, I wouldn't change a thing. I know it's above your price range, but well worth it if you can swing it. Obviously, mine's paid for itself many times over.
  14. droptrd


    Aug 22, 2012
    Right now Hornady has great deals on complete reloading kits. The Lock N Load single stage press is a great solid press. Also the RCBS Rock Chucker.
  15. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Just get the 550 and be done with it. I assume you have the rest of the stuff. Scale etc. If you don't then the answer is different I guess.
  16. i load for 9mm ... 223... & 45.. i bought the Dillion 650

    if you buy a Dillion... shop around for the "extras" like dies, powder scale, bullet gauges, tumbler/vibrator cleaners and things like that.. i find Dillion too expensive on their "extras"
  17. Billspider


    Sep 11, 2009
    Go to ebay and get a used Dillon 550B.
  18. Hoser

    Hoser Ninja

    May 22, 2002
    I would get a DIllon 550 and call it good. Very easy press to learn on and crank out some good ammo.

    Even though I have a few Dillon 1050s, I still use my 550s.
  19. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

    Mar 6, 2003
    Lynnwood, WA
    All I load is 9mm and .223 on a XL650... 2-3K total a month.

    I agree with F106 Fan you really need to know quantity requirements and balance your budget. That being said, if I was back at square one... I would start with a 550B along with a decent SS for .223 brass sizing, a WFT in .223 and Dillon super swage.
  20. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    A lot easier sad then done. They normally cost way too much on eBay.