New to reloading (soon). Dillon 550 vs 650?

M. Sage

TGT Addict
Jan 21, 2009
San Antonio
Is the 650 really worth more money for a hobbyist to use? Sure, it's faster and has auto-index and a couple other things, but the accessories are far more expensive, and the price difference between the 550 and 650 is about $130.

A friend and I want to go in halfs on a reloading setup, we want to load stuff from .308 to .38 S&W. We're not going to be loading 1000 round lots, but we'll probably be doing 100 rounds at a time.

That being the case, is the 650 really worth the extra scratch, or not?


Active Member
Apr 8, 2008
Coastal Texas
Truthfully, if you are only going to load a 100 rounds or so, the 550 will do just as well. The change over from one caliber to another will take more time than you will want to spend after a while. I have a Dillon SDB and I will run 1000 rounds of .45 at a time and the progressive feature is great. For small lots of reloads, a single press may be an even better way to go and a lot less expensive.

The biggest problem right now is finding components and dies to load anything.


TGT Addict
Feb 7, 2009
Round Rock
550 will work fine for the reloading your doing. jfrey is right dies are hard to come by and if you do find them they will be doubled the price. Forget about primers and brass..

at least theres a high demand for custom cabinets


Mar 28, 2009
Greenville TX
I'd get the best unit you can afford. There will come a day that you'll want to do something with a 550 that the 650 can do and you'll wish you got the 650. The only bad thing I have to say about my 1050 is its great when its "feeling good". But I swear its a woman!!! You stroke her wrong and you'll be sorry. The progressives are great but take em slow and read all the troubleshooting tips.


TGT Addict
TGT Supporter
Feb 17, 2009
Theres a place just south of where I am (Corpus area) that has had primers in stock. MY wife just picked up 3k small pistol primers for me and 2k for our friends.


Active Member
Aug 7, 2008
San Antonio
Both are good machines, depends on what you want. If you aren't going to load over a couple hundred rounds at a time, IME the 550 will do everything you need, and at a better price.

The real issue, though, as I see it, is what experience do you have with handloading? Dillons are great (I've got two), but without experience, you will not be able too use them to the greatest advantage. If you are just starting out, I'd suggest a single stage or turret press in addidtion to a progressive, and get your feet wet that way. The single stage or turret press will still be usefull to you after going on to a progressive.

Bullseye Shooter

Active Member
Apr 28, 2008
Texas Panhandle
This question or one like it comes up all the time. I have to agree with Charley, that sometimes it is best to start with a single stage press, so you get the basics down, i.e. resizing, belling (for pistol cartridges), seating, crimping, primer seating, powder weighing, etc.
I've used a variety of presses (RCBS, Lee, Star, Dillon), and the Dillon presses require a little bit of expertise to use. The 650 when outfitted with the auto case feed can be problematic if something decides not to work quite right. Yes, Dillon offers great customer service when you're having a problem, but jumping in to a high end progressive press without some basic knowledge of how things work could be a bit too much.


Active Member
Aug 7, 2008
San Antonio
nothing wrong with a lee classic turret press either.

Agreed, just didn't want to get involved in the "Lee is crap" controversy that hits so many boards. The turret I use is a Lee Classic Cast, does my small volume/case forming/general purpose work. Large volume goes on the Dillons.


Nov 7, 2008
Red Rock. TX
There is a comparison of 550 and 650 on Brian Enos's site. I do not agree with some of his suggestions for the 550, like, the necessity of the strong mount and bullet tray, neither of which I have and things go just fine. Reading that reminded me how much I have in just my one 550B, once the other tools are considered (scale, tumbler, wrenches, calipers, dies, toolheads, powder measures, etc.).

Swapping dies around on a single stage gets old REAL fast. I have a 550, and if you want to use it as a single stage you can.

At some point the cost of the extra press(es) is small relative to the cost of bullets, primers, etc., so high volume shooters will setup one press in each caliber.



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