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Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Steve Koski, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Got Insurance? Millennium Member

    Jan 31, 1999
    The Dillon RL550b vs. the Hornady LNL AP with EZject.

    Which is the better press for the money these days? Has Hornady caught up or passed the "standard" progressive?


  2. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    I wish I hadn't bought the LNL AP.
    I wish I hadn't sold the Dillon 550.

  3. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Not only have I used both but I have owned both. And the 650 as well.

    My LnL would not prime CCI so they would work in my Glock with a light weight striker spring. Both Dillons do this with no issue. Hornady rebuilt the press, sent me parts, eventually gave me my money back. I got a 650 instead. I had replaced my 550 with a LnL+Casefeeder. It was not a upgrade. HUGE step back.

    Here are the design flaws on the LnL.

    Two different subplates Hornady has to try and solve the issue. Notice the depth of the primer punch (the little nut thing) in the two pictures.


    Here is a picture of a 650 primer punch on the LnL carrier. Notice how small the LnL primer punch is compared to the LnL. LnL simply does not have enough stroke to truely seat a primer deep enough in some situations. More and more people are reporting the same issue.


    Both Dillons have better priming leverage as well. Hornady told me that.

    I hated the way the LnL bushings would unloosen when I tried to adjust some dies. You would use a wrench to loosen the lock nut and the entire bushing would loosen. Total PITA. I thought I would like the separate bushings but I ended up hating them.

    I thought the powder measure was going to be a improvement. I did like the micrometer. Powder measure worked OK but it was not a big improvement. The drop tube is very long, it's not stainless, I cleaned the grease off with water (mistake), it started to rust, even though I dried it properly. I got some light charges as the powder clung to the rusty spots. Not a improvement.

    Horandy PTX is a PITA to adjust. The entire linkage is a PITA compared to the simpler Dillon Design.

    Index is also not great. The press is always indexing. It indexes on both moves of the handle (up and down). I had powder sling out with my fairly full 9mm cases. At least on the 650 the press only indexes on the upstroke and then at the end. You can catch the spot it starts to index and make the speed what you want it to be. On the LnL you have to go slow the entire time. Total waste.

    In the end the LnL+Casefeeder was barely faster with my then I was with my 550 with no casefeeder. It was a little faster but not a big jump in speed.

    My LnL was a nightmare with a casefeeder. 9mm cases kept falling off the slider area. So I made this


    Cases kept flipping in the funnel so I made this..


    Cases kept tipping going into the shellplate. No fix for that. Tried a ton of stuff. It's missing this part that is on the 650. LnL casefeeder is a afterthought. Just like the 550 one. 550 one is better but neither is great.


    On the surface the LnL seems to be a better optioned press. It's in the execution that it really looses points.

    550 has one weak spot. The primer area gets dirty and then it hangs up. You have to keep it clean. Wipe it every time you use the press. You also end up polishing the area with a scotch brite pad or very very fine wet dry paper to polish it up every once in a while.

    I prefer the workflow on the 550. Probably because I am more used to it. I like that I can grab a case with my right hand as my left is doing something else. Lack of indexing is not a big deal. I would seat bullets right after looking in the case in station 2 (not 3). No way to double charge like that. Bullet is in the way. Bullet gets seated just as the ram reaches the down position.

    I owned the LnL for about 5 months. I tried and tried to get it 99.9%. But it was never better then about 98%. Both Dillon and Hornady have excellent Customer Service. Neither is better then the other.
  4. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Both have features that are unique to each which may or may not be attractive to the user.

    If one is used to loading on a Dillon the transition to left hand orientation may result in a longer learning curve. Others may find the ability to always keep the right hand on the handle beneficial. My medical condition makes the LNL much less fatiguing to use than the 550 but mine is not a normal situation so should not be much of a considering factor.

    Some like the quick removal bushing system, negating a separate toolhead or readjusting dies for caliber conversions... some do not care for the system. Mostly personal choice. Complete conversion, with shell plate and primer size change and be done easily in under 5 minutes... not counting powder measure adjustment.

    One extra station in the LNL, nice if you want to use a powder cop or flare with say an 'M' die or install bullet feeder. Extra station isn't absolutely necessary but nice to have.

    550 has a better priming set-up, requires more cleaning but is probably more reliable than the LNL. I've really had no problems to speak of when priming with either of my LNL's but others have. Other than frequent cleaning I've had no problems with the priming system on the 550. I've always had it set up for large primers so I'm not that versed with changing sizes. It's not nearly as fast as changing sizes on the LNL but we're only talking about 2 or 3 minutes difference... no big deal either way.

    It's been reported that a case feeder doesn't work all that well on a 550, I don't know, I've never tried.

    Those who have most of their experience with a Blue casefeeder comment that the Hornady casefeeder doesn't work. That is completely contrary to my experience. I have casefeeders on both my LNL's and both 1050's. I've had by far more problems with the 1050 feeders but it should be noted that I DO NOT run 9mm's through my LNL's and that seems to be where most of the complaints come from... especially when using brass with Glock fired primers. (I don't shoot Glocks either.)

    As has been noted by others the Hornady feeder is louder than the Blue but not so much that I have to turn the volume up on the TV. Even though the Blue feeders have 2 speeds the Hornady is by far faster with its single speed.

    Due to my arthritic hands I find the spring case retainer on the LNL easier to use than the locater pins on the 550. I almost always drop them but again, it's not a big concern for someone of normal health.

    I find the bigger footprint of the LNL easier to work with and vision of what's going on with the shell plate far superior than on the 550 but certainly not to the degree that the 550 is a safety issue. The LNL is just easier for me since I'm restricted in my movement.

    Many comment on the high standards of Dillon customer service, I would be one of them. Some enthusiastically proclaim that Dillon CS is the best there is... I can only assume they have never dealt with Hornady CS. I have dealt with both on as regular a basis as any press owner would and can honestly say that neither has an advantage over the other... both are excellent and bend over backwards to please the customer.

    All in all I'd say that the 550 is a better built machine with a better priming system but the LNL has features that fit my personal needs better.

    Do I have both, yes, do I use both, yes, the LNL'S more than the 550, (but I shoot those calibers more. Would I buy them both again, yes.

    If I was a brand new loader which one would I buy, (not taking my restrictions into consideration), probably the 550 if for nothing else there are more people out there to ask questions of.

    There are other differences but I'm tired of typing.

  5. noylj


    Jul 20, 2010
    I have used both. I have owned each of the three or four iterations of the Hornady press and I used a friends 550.
    When I first considered a progressive press, back in the late '70s(?), I knew I wanted 5 stations. Dillon had a 4 station press and Hornady came out with the 5-station press (Pro-Jector or Pro-7 or something like that).
    I have never regretted buying the Hornady.
    I have had no problem seating primers, except when the shell plate came loose once. I put some blue loc-tite on the bolt and the residue keeps the bolt in place.
    I can feel the primer being seated.
    Never had any problems with the PTX and the Hornady powder measure.
    I gave the press to my son and taught him how to reload. It was very easy on the Hornady. I know the blue folks will not understand, but the Hornady is more open and easier to follow what is going on.
    As for the 550, I do not want a progressive with less than 5 stations and I wand auto-index. When my friend bought the 550, I came over to help. Did not like the press. It just seems to cramped. Didn't like not having the case feed on the left side of the press. It just was so weird after loading on a real progressive for at least 30 years.
    To me, there are three presses that I like:
    the Hornady L-N-L AP, with or without a case feeder
    the Dillon 650XL WITH a case feeder
    the Dillon RL or Super 1050.
    I think I would prefer the SDB over the 550.
    I just shake my head reading some of the things people say about the Hornady--the press they describe is so different from the press I owned, I wonder how many have ACTUALLY used the press.
  6. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    You don't seriously think I would make all that up?
  7. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    I own the 550, used a LNL qutie a bit. It just depends on what you want. Both suffer from a poor priming system. I am not a fan of the bushings on the LNL, seen them come loose too often. Hornady provides shims, so tells me it IS a problem. Obviously if you want a 5 stn, then it's a LNL. If yo uhave to have an autp indexing machine, then it's a LNL. Personnaly, I have no issue running the 550B, it's just as fast as the LNL. The speed somce form the case feeder & neither is as good w/ a case feeder as the 650. So if I havd to have a case feeder, step up another $125 & get the 650. If you want to feed cases by hand, I think the 550B offers a slight advantage in motion by being able to use both hands. Personnal pref. I could live w/ a LNL, but I'll never get rid of my 550 & I also load on a 650.
  8. jmorris


    Apr 13, 2006
    I have more Dillon presses (and prefer them) than anything else but the last press I ordered was another LNL. Over $100 cheaper than a 550.

    I will say it's for a round I don't load "a lot". More rounds than I can stand on a turret but not enough to justify a bullet/case fed 6/1050.
  9. Steve Koski

    Steve Koski Got Insurance? Millennium Member

    Jan 31, 1999
    You guys ROCK!!! Thanks a ton.
  10. mizer67


    Nov 26, 2011
    I haven't owned a 550, or used one. I do own a case fed 650 and a (formerly case fed) LNL.

    I want to chime in to say my experience with the LNL was very similar to yours. Priming was the main issue, mainly with my M&Ps. I just couldn't get them to light off CCIs well using the LNL and stock M&P striker springs. Win SP were almost 100% and Federals ran 100%. I'd also like to thank you for posting pics of your fixes and things you tried to fix your LNL. Some of those helped me.

    I think I had even more issues than I've read you had using the LNL case feeder. I gave up on mine for loading 9mm and got rid of the case feeder. I think the case feeder can be caliber specific as to how well it runs, though.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  11. Horsky

    Horsky Gun Nut

    Feb 7, 2005
    New Hampshire
    I have used both and believe that they both have pros and cons. I currently own the LNL-AP and have never had a problem with it that was not addressed and taken care of by CS. IMHO you can not go wrong with either unit. I find that for beginning reloaders the 550 is the better alternative than a full progressive. I learned on the RCBS rock chucker and use it for my hunting rifle ammo still to this day. I think the rock chucker or any single stage press is the best to learn on as it forces good reloading habits by separating every stage.
  12. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Just to keep it clear, a 550B is a full progressive, it just manually indexes. Like a car is a car, manual shift or auto, still a car. The point of the progressive is you get a loaded round w/ every pull of the trigger.:wavey: Proof is in the speed of a LNL vs 550B, they are virtually identical.
  13. Horsky

    Horsky Gun Nut

    Feb 7, 2005
    New Hampshire
    Thanks for making that clear. I should have mentioned that.
  14. Clemsum


    Jan 24, 2011
    I currently own both the LNL-AP and a Dillon 550, I load small primers on the LNL and large primers on the 550. Both presses work well but I have more small glitches on the LNL (related to being unable to get the timing adjusted perfectly). It seems to me to be more trouble to get back into sequence after stopping in mid run with the LNL due to the auto index.
    Both presses provide reliable ammo but if I had found the 550 first I would not have bought the LNL.