In the early 80's my Dad got into reloading. A gift from my granmother to him was an RCBS Rockchucker Jr. starter kit. Thats what I grew up on helping him reload...fast forward to 5 years ago...
I decided I wanted to get back into reloading now that I'm married and have a place of my own and was starting to develop my own collection of guns. Mind you I had the basics from all those years ago cranking, measuring and so on on the RC Jr. but after doing a LOT of research, I decided I wanted to go progressive. I narrowed it down to Dillon, Lee and RCBS. I didn't care as much for what I read about the warranty and support with the RCBS so that took it down to Dillon and Lee. With a couple friends that already had Dillon's, one a square deal B and another a loaded out 650 I picked up some first hand knowledge of their few dealings with Dillon support...not one thing negative could be found to be said even when they really thought about it. With the Lee I had to lean more on what I could find and research on the net. While still an extremely viable product and many swear by them I gave into my love for the color blue and their no nonsense "NO BS" warranty.
Now I was down to which one. Square Deal B was out as I knew at some point I would get into rifle reloading, the 1050 was out because of the difficulty changing out for a different caliber and the over all initial expense and lets face it, I was planning on loading for 9mm, 40s&w, 38spl, 357 mag, 380 acp, 45 acp and eventually 223 rem and 308 win...thats some SERIOUS extra expense on caliber kits for a 1050. Ok, down to 550 and 650...I really liked the idea of the auto indexing of the 650, but caliber changes were going to be more expensive the 550 would still be a huge advancement, imo, from the old RC Jr. days...which one, which one...so in my research I found Brian Enos' web page. Yes, I could have called Dillon direct, I'm sure they would have given me good information, but Brian being a 3rd party and with his reputation I decided to go that route and called him. After a VERY educational hour on the phone talking about my TRUE desired end results, ammo usage, calibers in question, mechanical capabilities and so on, Brian helped me decide on the 550b, Dillon Digital Scale, Tumbler, Seperator and the other necessities to get started and it was a little cheaper than ordering direct...Approximately $1400 delivered I think.
All that said, I could NOT be happier with my decision. Would I still upgrade someday to a 650...maybe maybe not. Only time will tell. While I don't load HUGE amounts of ammo, I do crank out 1000 rounds at any given time and that takes me roughly 3hrs of leisurely paced reloading if my wife keeps my primer tubes loaded :whistling:...if not, 4 hours.
I even went so far during the purchase process as to figure out my return on investment for my Dad and I (I bought the equipment he bought all the original supplies). The press paid for itself in a year and a half...approximately 4000 rounds of various qty's of the earlier mentioned calibers.
All that being said, here's my advice. Read EVERYTHING, take EVERYTHING in, WWW and Google are your friend BUT don't be a sheep, be logical, think about all the pro's and con's and be honest with yourself about what your needs are compared to your wants and all that compared to those that you read about's needs and wants. Stear clear of commercially printed magazines for your reviews, look to places like GlockTalk and other forums for real end user's feelings, suggestions and comments and then make your decision.
I'm sure many will find flaws in my methods, but it worked and worked well for me and friends I've recommended to do the same and it's a free opinion so I guess it's worth what you paid for it :supergrin: