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Progressive Press: Hornady LnL AP vs. Dillon 550C

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Rathmatik, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. Rathmatik

    Rathmatik Member

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    I'm considering getting into progressive reloading, as I currently load on a RCBS Rockchucker for 9mm, .223, and 6.5 Creedmoor. For 6.5, it's fine because I'm more concerned with high precision there. For 9mm (and future pistol) and .223 (plinking) it's quite slow and actually a bit tiring for larger batches.

    I do use Hornady dies at the moment and also the LnL bushings on my RC. So, the LnL AP seems like a good fit for that system, and less costly for multiple calibers in general (no conversion kits).

    Now, Dillon obviously has a good reputation, so the 550C seems like a good option in the same price range as the AP. The main difference I see is the 550C does not auto-index, conversion kits + toolheads can be pricey, and it's only 4 stations vs. the AP having 5.

    Do you think the Dillon is worth the eventual additional cost, in terms of overall quality of ammo and ease of use, etc.? I'm also curious if anyone is able to get good match/hunting-quality ammo with one of these progressives. If I can load 6.5 with similar quality (concentricity, runout) as the RC, then that's a huge plus as well.
     


  2. toddnjoyce

    toddnjoyce TGT Addict

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    Either will be fine. Blue has diehard followers. When I made the step up, I went Blue and have stayed their ever since.

    No real reason, except the price difference isn’t that big.
     
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  3. Axxe55

    Axxe55 Professional Troublemaker, and Dog Whisperer!

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    Subbed......
     
  4. Dave68

    Dave68 Member

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    I don’t understand the point of manually indexing a progressive press, especially for making large volumes of range ammo.
     
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  5. toddnjoyce

    toddnjoyce TGT Addict

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    The only thing I’ve heard that seems plausible is the length of stroke needed for auto indexing limits cartridge lengths that can be accommodated in the shell plate.

    I’d more likely guess it’s price-point related since you get most of a 650/750 cheaper.

    If super high volume is your game, then 750 is what I’d recommend, but it’ll add a couple bills to the price. That also opens the door to automation though.
     
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  6. Axxe55

    Axxe55 Professional Troublemaker, and Dog Whisperer!

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    I currently load on a few older RCBS single stage presses. All of them were gotten free, or for very little money. But I have given some thought to getting at least a turret style press ot speed up loading pistol ammo, and possibly even to expand into loading 223 ammo.

    These are the two presses I have been giving heavy consideration to.

    https://leeprecision.com/4-hole-turret-press-with-auto-index.html

    https://leeprecision.com/4-hole-classic-turret-press.html

    And input or suggestions would be much appreciated.
     
  7. Rathmatik

    Rathmatik Member

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    Well, I can see the manual index as a nice feature if you're not going for volume alone. Clearly that would be less ideal if you're just going for straight rounds/hr, but I'm not in this case. Progressive presses with manual indexing allow for you to still use it as a single-stage if you'd like for more precise operations, such as using an electronic powder dispenser for rifle ammo, etc. It's still a progressive, since multiple rounds are still being constructed simultaneously. I see it as a step up above a turret press, and one below an auto-progressive. Seems like a good compromise, which is partly why I have some interest in the 550C.

    @Axxe55 The Lee Classic Turret Press (the second link you provided) is a great option as well, for a somewhat hybrid experience that is below progressive in terms of speed, while having the ability to auto-index. It's also the only press I know about that you can actually both auto and manual index with the use of the indexing rod that it uses. It's pretty solid construction, and considerably cheaper if you don't want to go full progressive just yet. Now, I will say that I have often seen people saying they went Single -> Turret -> Progressive and wished they just went Single -> Progressive, but that all depends on preference and your reloading goals.
     
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  8. toddnjoyce

    toddnjoyce TGT Addict

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    That was a lot of my thought process, too.

    You can put some volume thru the 550 in short order; it’s not that intensive to thumb the shell plate holder while your picking up the bullet. Gives you a second to visually check the powder throw, too....a double charge is real obvious.

    Realistically, I see the breakpoint for the 750 being about 1500 rounds/week in production.
     
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  9. avvidclif

    avvidclif Sturgis '95, RFTW 2010

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    I understand manual indexing. It allows me time to eyeball everything before moving on. I started years ago with a Star with auto-index and case feed. It took a while to get used to all of the activity. Once dialed in, it and me, if my wife loaded primer tubes and cases in the feeder 600 rounds an hour was doable. But it took time to get to that point. Fast forward abt 30 years to the Hornady LNL. It wasn't a Star but had many other things going for it. Once dialed in it did OK, but it took time to get there. Then I got a Dillon 550. Once I got it dialed in it works fine. It didn't take as long to get it running right because the non-auto index made me slow down and pay attention to everything. It takes time to learn the feel and sounds of a loader when it's running right. Once I got that the auto-index wasn't needed. My hands learned the steps and it became almost automatic. Approaching the top of the stroke the left hand has already picked up a bullet while the head was going down, it places the bullet on the case under the power drop and indexes it. The right hand has meanwhile picked up a case and feeds it and then moves to the handle. Downstroke and on the way back up start over. After a bit the hands do their thing and the eyes check primer feed level and powder in the case. Any glitches and you can stop right there with no worries about half indexing or having to figure out how to back up. Is it as fast as a 750 with a case feed and auto-index, nope. But it's around 3-350/hr for me currently but I have to fill my own primer tubes. It will get faster with more practice but I'm just not in a hurry. It's a much more relaxed speed with less activity to keep up with. I'll probably add a case feeder later on.

    I sold the LNL to my SIL BTW.

    My 2 cents.
     
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  10. Axxe55

    Axxe55 Professional Troublemaker, and Dog Whisperer!

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    Rath, appreciate the input on the turret press. I don't think at this late in life that I will be needing to load ammo as to what a progressive is capable of! Just would like a little easier and maybe a little faster than a single-stage press can do.
     


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