Dillon XL650 Progressive Reloading Press Review

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TGT Addict
May 29, 2017
Austin, TX
Dillon XL650
Progressive Reloading Press

Price: $600+ (Depending on Options)
Source: Dillon Precision

If you are having trouble with some of the terminology, see this thread here for an explanation: http://www.texasguntalk.com/forums/reloading/21531-reloading-terminology.html

I was on the search for a reloading press and I wanted one that would keep up with my shooting habits, in particular, pistol shooting. I was kinda torn between the Hornady Lock-n-Load Progressive, especially with the deal they were running at the time, and the Dillon progressives. Since I could get a deal on the Dillon through my employer I opted to go with the blue kool-aid. Dillon came HIGHLY recommended from two people that do ALOT of reloading and have decades of experience, which also kinda pushed me towards them.

A short phone call and a swipe of my card and I had a Dillon XL650 and some accessories. Here's a list of what I got:

- Dillon XL650 Reloading Press
- Dillon Carbide 9mm Dies
- Dillon Carbide .45 ACP Dies
- Dillon Strong Mount (Optional Mounting Plates)
- Dillon Powder Check
- Extra Die Head Assembly
- Extra Powder Check Assembly
- Caliber Change Kit (9mm Luger)

And I bought these things later after using the machine a bit:

- Dillon Case Feeder Unit
- Dillon Die Wrench
- Extra Primer Tubes

When you order the press it comes pre-configured for the caliber that you order it in. Mine happened to come with the .45 ACP components installed, so order it with the caliber you intend to load first in mind otherwise you'll be switching components like I had to. The XL650 also comes with a low primer warning buzzer, which is a lifesaver. The guys at Dillon even made it buzz at a different pitch than the powder check which is pretty smart.

Initial Setup & Parts

The Dillon is pretty straight forward, simply follow the instructions (which are good) and put everything together. You'll need a few things like ...

- Wrenches (Standard SAE)
- Allens (Come with the Unit)
- Ratchet & Standard Deepwell Sockets (Very Handy)
- Adjustable Crescent Wrench
- Drill

Sorting out the dies on the first go-around is probably the most time consuming aspect of the entire process. Dillon has a basic how-to on their instruction packet, but I would recommend looking at a few videos on YouTube. Fortunately I have already been through this process, and saved some time in doing so. What I was not used to was the busy interface you get with a turret press. Having to spin a piece of brass around, remove index buttons, etc. and removing dies you forgot to tighten down ... all in all you'll make some bonehead mistakes, but no harm done. It's alot busier than your basic RCBS single stage.

Loading Rounds

People say the progressives are too busy for a first time reloader, but I still maintain that this is hogwash. It IS busy, but you control the entire operation. Set a list in your head similar to this:

1) Primer In (Push Forward)
2) Check For Powder Charge (Visually)
3) Place Bullet on Case
4) Charge / Seat / Crimp (Pull Op Rod Down)

Basically if you can slow down, pay attention, and work methodically you can jump on a progressive and smoke out some rounds. I am running a powder check die on the #3 stage which acts as preliminary checker, but I still visually check for powder before placing a bullet on the charged case.

The machine itself is pretty smooth, but there is a good amount of feedback when you load since you are always sizing a case. You can run lubed cases even with straight walled pistol rounds to reduce sizing effort but I don't feel that it's laborious enough to warrant that. If you find this to be too hard then you are either physically weak, or a communist, maybe even both. It's almost like exercise, but it's not exercise because you are manufacturing fun ... that's right, it's a fun factory.

Progressive over Single Stage

If you have a handgun ... get a progressive. The single stage is a dinosaur compared to this ammo factory.

If you load precision rifle, this press is not for you. I recommend the RCBS Rockchucker with good dies and a detailed process.

If you have the wanton desire to put the chrome lining in your AR15 down range ... get a progressive. Lubricating the brass is about the only real difference besides some longer die setup (shouldered cases). If you have military brass and really want to hammer out rounds, look into the Dillon 1050. It has a swaging setup on it and can be configured with an automatic case trimmer.

Caliber Switching

The first time you do this you'll be wanting another 650 setup for the other primer size. It's pretty straightforward, but depends on the switch.

Going from .45 ACP to 9mm you can expect to...

- Remove the .45 Shell Plate
- Remove the .45 Die Head
- Remove the Priming System
- Change the Priming Wheel
- Change the Primer Tube Feeder
- Change the Primer Pusher
- Reinstall Priming System
- Install 9mm Shell Plate
- Install 9mm Die Head
- Install 9mm Locater Pins

After you do it once, it shouldn't take more than 10 - 15 minutes to do this.


Casefeeder ... this is absolutely the best upgrade you can add to any press. Just go ahead and budget in the $215 when you order your XL650. You will NOT be disappointed. The XL650 is configured to run this upgrade, and loading the cases by hand sucks big ones compared to the RL550 which is optimized for hand feeding.

Strong Mount ... I have one for the press to raise it up. It also gives it a wider birth which gives a wee-bit more stability. Frankly, if you nail the sucker down on the bench, it's not going to make a huge difference.

Die Heads / Caliber Conversions ... GET A SEPARATE DIE HEAD FOR EACH CALIBER! This is the beauty of the Dillon system. You'll only have to setup the dies once so long as your load remains the same for the various calibers. I wrote down the caliber on the die head with a sharpie ... easy mode engaged.

Powder Bars / Throwers ... GET A SEPARATE SETUP FOR MAJOR CALIBERS. I have one for 9mm and one for .45, this keeps the charge weights the same and makes for faster changing between calibers. It's not particularly hard to switch between charge weights, but the "assembly line" nature of the progressive lends towards just interchanging the powder assembly and going. Why waste 5 - 10 minutes screwing around with charge weights each time you change calibers on top of the primer system changes.

Dillon Die Wrench ... I think one of the guys at Dillon looked at a Summit catalog or works on a racecar with alot of AN fittings. These are basically the same design as the AN wrenches you use on a race car, just it's steel and skinny for snaking around reloading dies. It does make it alot easier to use than some ginormous crescent. Toss a few bones into the blue fund and snag one when you order the press.


The Dillon XL650 is everything that I want it to be. It loads a ton of ammo with minimal effort and is supported by quite possibly the best customer service in the entire United States. The guys at Dillon would probably behead their fellow coworkers if it was necessary to please the customer. They have a strict no-BS policy when it comes to helping you. I couldn't find, or never got, or forgot to order, a small part in the priming system ... one phone call and BAM, I had it for free.

The XL650 is quite simply the first step into a "prosumer" reloading press. It's a step beyond the normal progressive you get with an RL550 in that it's optimized for small amounts of automation such as the case feeder and auto-indexing, but it's not quite an automated Super 1050. If you are looking to load a bunch of rounds quickly, especially those of you involved in IDPA / USPSA, then this is the press for you.

I am absolutely satisfied with my purchase and I enjoy loading on it.
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