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Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
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I have been loading with a Lee Classic Turret for the past few years, and it has done well for me. I hate the priming system, but apart from that it's a fantastic press for the money, and has suited my needs well. I've probably loaded somewhere between 7 to 10,000 rounds on it.

I recently began shooting some informal competition, though, and find that my 9mm consumption is hard to keep up with on what is essentially a single-stage press. It's still working out fine for my other calibers: .40 S&W (which is hopefully going away sometime in the not too distant future), .38/.357, .45ACP, .223, and .45-70, but I'm shooting somewhere between 200-400 rounds of 9mm a week, and that makes for a lot of lever pulling when you're loading one at a time.

I've pretty much decided on a Dillon. I don't have a ton of bench space, so the Square Deal B is pretty appealing. I know it limits me to pistol calibers, but at this point, I'm planning to only use it for 9mm anyway, so that's not really a problem. The price is pretty appealing, too, at basically $400 OTD, ready to go. The one major concern I have with it is that it uses proprietary dies, and I really like my Lee FCD...and doing a second run through the LCT just for that would kind of defeat the purpose of buying a progressive in the first place.

The 550 is manual indexing, which I'm not a huge fan of...I may be thinking wrong, but it seems to me that it would be a.) quite a bit slower and b.) easier to create a double-charge by accidentally forgetting to advance the press.

My buddy has a 650. It's really nice, but also HUGE, pretty complex, and probably overkill for what I need.

If I could find a good deal on any of these used, it would probably make the decision for me, but that hasn't happened, so I'm currently looking at new. Any advice on this decision from those who have experience with any or all of these presses?
 
Posts: 2512 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by 92fstech:
The 550 is manual indexing, which I'm not a huge fan of...I may be thinking wrong, but it seems to me that it would be ... easier to create a double-charge by accidentally forgetting to advance the press.
I am a pretty new reloader. I have a Dillon 550B which, to date, I have only used for 9mm.

I was working with it today and decided to see what a double charge would look like, just so I would recognize one if I accidentally did that in the future.

The powder filled the 9mm case completely and just a tiny bit spilled over the edges.

Based on that, I'm pretty sure that I would notice a double charge if I ever did one.

I did not take it far enough to see what would happen at the bullet seating stage, with no room left in the case for a bullet.

Another give-away would be the absence of a "clunk" sound -- the reward when a completed round falls from the crimp station into the "finished" box.



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Posts: 15066 | Location: Central Florida (near Orlando) | Registered: January 03, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've never used a Square Deal B, but I do use a 650 progressive. The thing about a self-indexing progressive, vs. say a 550, is that if something goes wrong, you cannot "back up". Once you pull the handle, everything advances; you can't pull it part way down, say "oops", and retreat. When it does mess up, for any reason, you have to at least clear out your most recent cases and get things cleared up, advance a few strokes on empty stations, then resume. So it takes a bit longer to recover from a mess-up.
 
The really great thing about a progressive self-indexing press is when it hums, it hums. Keep it lubed, keep it clean, keep it adjusted, be aware of the common problems that can crop up and stay ahead of it. It takes a bit of getting used to, if you've never used one. The 650 does have the advantage of an extra station just for a powder check die. It will alert you with a tone to a "no charge" or a "double charge" situation.
 
V-Tail mentioned a double charge spilling over the case, and therefore being "obvious". This is not true with every powder, especially a low charge volume one like Titegroup. You can easily double charge with Titegroup without ever spilling over. This may affect your choice of powders if you use the Square Deal B, or set up some way to monitor the charged case. Some of my fellow shooters use a small mirror clamped to the press so they can see inside each case as it passes by on their 550's.
 
 
Posts: 6552 | Location: South Congress AZ | Registered: May 27, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is not true with every powder, especially a low charge volume one like Titegroup


Agreed, and I am well aware. I used to use a lot of TG, and still do for .40, but I've migrated to HS6 for my 9mm powder of choice. With the LCT, I do everything in batches, and visually inspect my charged cases as a group before moving on to the next step, which made it very easy to observe any irregularities before any bullets got seated. With a progressive, I imagine it would be a lot easier for something like that to go unnoticed. IMO, the ability to use a powder check die is a strong point in favor of the 650...
 
Posts: 2512 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Years ago when I bought my first Dillion I went through the same thought process about the self indexing 650 vs the manual indexing of the 550. At the time I shot a lot of shotgun so I had progressive shotgun reloaders with auto indexing and I knew first hand the problems associated with a screw up (and there will always be screw ups) so I got the 550. Manual indexing becomes second nature after loading only a few rounds and the ability to clear them with minimum effort is really great. As to loading speed, you can really crank out the ammo on any of the three choices so don't worry about that. Overall based on your space issue and desire to use your own dies then go with the 550. IIRC the Square Deal is somewhat harder to change calibers than either the 550 or 650 which use a tool head that you pre set then just change the shell plate and pop them in. Both the 550 and 650 offer the case feeder option.



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Posts: 533 | Location: Northern Alabama | Registered: June 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The 550's are great presses,I have two and they have served me will for about forty years and over that time I have loaded many calibers.
I started out on 9 MM myself.
I like the fact you can back the feed up.
 
Posts: 20981 | Location: Georgia | Registered: February 19, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The self-indexing and extra station for the powder check system is what sold me on the 650. I was new to reloading at the time and had no experience in reloading. Took my time and eventually figured it out. Finally purchased a single stage press 5 years after the 650 so I could load a wildcat cartridge. Wouldn't hesitate to add a 550 if I see what that's a deal. But the 650 is hard to beat when it comes to loading pistol rounds. A real time safer. I load .40, .45, .223/5.56, and 6.8 on my 650. Will probably add 9mm down the road. The single stage is used for .308, 30-06 (M1) and 270 AR.
 
Posts: 481 | Location: DFW Area | Registered: January 12, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have all of the Dillon presses and they each have something going for them.

I have had my SD's for over 30 years now and they have loaded many thousands of rounds over the years. 100 rounds on one of them takes about 10 min to load once the primer tube is full. If you want to run a Lee FCD, don't buy one. When I bought mine new they were under $130 for what they cost today I would just get a more versatile press.

I use my 550 for rounds that can't be loaded on an SD and I need in more volume than I want to load on a single stage or turret but not enough of to convert a 650 or 1050. It is the easiest Dillon to swap calibers and primer size on, the manual index will allow the operator to screw up but if you can chew gum while you walk and pay attention to where your going, you could successfully operate one. I don't operate the 550 as fast as I can run the SD. No matter what your doing on a progressive you don't "back up" a problem, you remove it from the shell plate. Doing things twice is how you get double charges and other problems. Get in the routine of full an complete strokes and feeling the primer fully seating, keep an eye on powder level in the case and you'll be fine with any of them.

If you get a 650 just go ahead and add the collator to the price. The base press comes with the case feed device so you have to stack cases into the tube provided and it inserts them into the shell plate. What Dillon calls their optional "case feeder" is actually a case collator or case feed feeder. It speeds up the process quite a bit. Also add in their powder check die, it will alert you to a squib or double charge and if set just right will also alert you to stepped brass. Yes, it's another $70 but you have already spent much more money than that on insurance and that's what it is. If some day you decide you want a bullet feeder you can still retain the PC if you get the GSI feeder. With that setup they leave the SD's and 550's in the dust, 100 rounds can be loaded in under 4 minutes.
 
Posts: 407 | Location: DFW | Registered: May 03, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I started on a 550 a few years ago. It was extremely easy to understand everything going on with the press. The manual indexing part wasn't an issue at all once you got into a rhythm. The key is to look into each and every case for powder.

I ended up loading a couple thousand 9mm and .45 ACP on that and decided to upgrade to a 650. I had a few reasons for wanting to upgrade.
1. I wanted the increased output with the 650. I am not able to spend hours upon hours loading ammo, so I wanted to be able to get the most out of my time (within reason of course.....couldn't justify the cost of the 1050..LOL). I could get away with probably 300 rounds per hour on the 550. I can get closer to 700 with the 650 and that is not moving too quick to where I'm uncomfortable. With my wife and now kids starting to shoot, I'm loading more and more ammo.
2. I also wanted the powder check. Just more assurance if it isn't me, but my wife or kids pulling the trigger. It has caught a couple no charges for me already when my a part broke on the powder drop system that I didn't notice right away.
3. The case feed is really nice. Yes I know it is available for the 550, but if I remember right, it has its limitations. With the case feeder, it makes it easier to deprime my brass (I wet tumble).

Overall, I'm happy I made the switch. The 650 is a bit more complicated, but I sat and played with it when I first got it to try to learn how everything works. I don't think it is too hard to understand what is happening or how to diagnosis a problem. The best advice I can give is don't force it. I learned that the hard way and had to replace the indexing ring early on.
I still have the 550, and am more than likely going to sell it in the near future. Part of me, however, wants to hang on to it for smaller batches of ammo.
 
Posts: 1583 | Location: St. Louis | Registered: January 28, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My $.03...


I have a 550 and a 650. At one time I had 2 550s. Sold one 550 and replaced it with a 650.

On the 650, I load .223, blackout, and 9mm.

On the 550, I currently only load .45 ACP.

The 550 was my first press. I bought it because a buddy that taught me to reload had a 550, so it was a no-brainer to buy the same thing I had learned on.

I used it for 3 or so years, and reloaded 9mm, 40, 45, 30-30, 308, 223, and blackout on it.

Then I decided I wanted a press set up in small primer, and one for large primer, so I bought another 550 when we moved and I had a larger bench. That worked great, except I was shooting so much small primer stuff that I replaced the small primer 550 with a 650.

Never, not once, did I forget to manually index the 550. When I was first starting out, I was so paranoid that I double-checked every single thing I did, and you probably could go faster than me using your turret.

What that did for me, is it ingrained the order of operations in to my head SO well, that when I finally got comfortable, indexing was literally second nature, so I never forgot.

Plenty of other fuckups, though - bullet seated crooked crushed the case, primer didn't feed so I had powder all over when I charged a case with no primer, all sorts of nonsense. Being manual-index, it was VERY easy to interrupt the process, remove the faulty round, and continue on.

The 650, again, I was so paranoid about missing a step in the process, in addition to the fact that correcting a screw-up would be that much more difficult, I went VERY slow in the beginning. Now, I can easily crank out about 800 rounds per hour with the case feeder and placing bullets by hand.


Case feeder and auto-indexing aside, the biggest advantage of the 650 is it has 5 stations instead of 4. That said, I only use 4 (or fewer) stations on every single one of my toolheads, but you CAN use 5.


Now, some time later, and I literally haven't pulled the handle on my 550 in about 2 years.

I have lots of stuff for it - a Whidden clamped/floating toolhead, multiple regular toolheads, several shellplates (though I think I sold the 9mm/.40 one with the other 550 that I sold), both the large and small primer setups, and a pile of various locator buttons. Also has the strong mount, aluminum roller handle, and bullet tray.

If you're interested, let me know and we can take the discussion offline.




Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.
 
Posts: 15623 | Location: Location, Location  | Registered: April 09, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wow, these are some incredibly thorough and well-thought-out responses. Thanks for taking the time to give me input. What I'm taking away from this is that I should probably just save up and go with the 650. It's the most versatile, can use the dies I want, and can accommodate a powder check die. And if I only set it up for 9mm, it's only about $180 more than the SDB. It also provides the most upgrade options if I decide to pursue that down the road.

It's not going to happen right away...I've bought too many guns in the last couple of months to talk the wife into this right now...but that'll give me some time to figure out how to accommodate that monster on my 4x6 bench.
 
Posts: 2512 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by 92fstech:
Wow, these are some incredibly thorough and well-thought-out responses. Thanks for taking the time to give me input. What I'm taking away from this is that I should probably just save up and go with the 650. It's the most versatile, can use the dies I want, and can accommodate a powder check die. And if I only set it up for 9mm, it's only about $180 more than the SDB. It also provides the most upgrade options if I decide to pursue that down the road.

It's not going to happen right away...I've bought too many guns in the last couple of months to talk the wife into this right now...but that'll give me some time to figure out how to accommodate that monster on my 4x6 bench.


Uhh, it's gonna be a lot more than $180 more. My 650 set up for a single caliber was over a grand. You're forgetting all the "stuff" - bullet tray, roller handle, and most importantly - the case feeder.

I just re-read my previous post - the list of stuff I said I had? That's for my 550. The one I haven't used in 2 years. The one that's looking for a new home. Wink




Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.
 
Posts: 15623 | Location: Location, Location  | Registered: April 09, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Do I need the case feeder right off the bat?
 
Posts: 2512 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by 92fstech:
Do I need the case feeder right off the bat?


If you don't get it, you're going to have to stop pulling the handle every 15-20 rounds or so to manually put more cases into the little tube. The 650 is *designed* to use a casefeeder. Also, I edited my previous post..




Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.
 
Posts: 15623 | Location: Location, Location  | Registered: April 09, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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exx you have mail.
 
Posts: 2512 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Another advantage to the 650, though an expensive one, is that the entire primer system is modular. You can buy ($$) a complete large (or small) pistol primer setup and have both on hand, so switching between the two is a snap. A couple of screws (well, you have to remove the shell plate, too), and you switch from one to the other.
 
This is also true with the case feeder system, though less $$. That case feeder switchover probably holds true for the 550 as well.
 
 
Posts: 6552 | Location: South Congress AZ | Registered: May 27, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Do I need the case feeder right off the bat?


If it was a 650 without a case feeder or buy a lesser press, I would get the 650 then add the case feeder when I could.

I setup a friends 650 with an extra long tube that holds over 25 45 ACP cases. When he is checking is brass for small primers, he drops the large ones in PVC tubes that hold 25 cases with clips on them not unlike the primer tubes. He has a bucket full of them by his press. Every 25 rounds he picks up a tube of cases and drops them into the feed tube every 4th one he also fills the primer tube with primers.
 
Posts: 407 | Location: DFW | Registered: May 03, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by jmorris:
quote:
Do I need the case feeder right off the bat?


If it was a 650 without a case feeder or buy a lesser press, I would get the 650 then add the case feeder when I could.

I setup a friends 650 with an extra long tube that holds over 25 45 ACP cases. When he is checking is brass for small primers, he drops the large ones in PVC tubes that hold 25 cases with clips on them not unlike the primer tubes. He has a bucket full of them by his press. Every 25 rounds he picks up a tube of cases and drops them into the feed tube every 4th one he also fills the primer tube with primers.


This is a good idea. While obviously not as fast as an electronic case feeder, it still beats loading them into the shell plate one at a time by hand.
 
Posts: 2512 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Alea iacta est
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Originally posted by 92fstech:
quote:
Originally posted by jmorris:
quote:
Do I need the case feeder right off the bat?


If it was a 650 without a case feeder or buy a lesser press, I would get the 650 then add the case feeder when I could.

I setup a friends 650 with an extra long tube that holds over 25 45 ACP cases. When he is checking is brass for small primers, he drops the large ones in PVC tubes that hold 25 cases with clips on them not unlike the primer tubes. He has a bucket full of them by his press. Every 25 rounds he picks up a tube of cases and drops them into the feed tube every 4th one he also fills the primer tube with primers.


This is a good idea. While obviously not as fast as an electronic case feeder, it still beats loading them into the shell plate one at a time by hand.


All things considered, with you loading those tubes and stopping to swap them and such, I bet I'm faster on a 550. There's an empty case bin that locates the brass directly next to the insertion station on a 550. All of Dillon's presses are very well-thought out designs, and the 550 is no exception.

This may be a good temporary solution, but unless you either 1) need the 5 stations or 2) plan to buy a casefeeder, I don't know that I'd do it.

The 650 with a casefeeder is suuuuuuper nice.




Every time you make a typo, the errorists win.
 
Posts: 15623 | Location: Location, Location  | Registered: April 09, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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All things considered, with you loading those tubes and stopping to swap them and such, I bet I'm faster on a 550.


Not if you have small primer cases mixed with large. Having to check every case by hand to separate them is what eats up the time and I had to do that no matter what press I was loading on.

Until I built this device that culls SPP 45 ACP brass while I am loading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V7vSEAqkZw

But, yeah, collators are what takes the work out of it.
 
Posts: 407 | Location: DFW | Registered: May 03, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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