Progressive reloading press recommendation



  • I want to be able to load about 500 rounds of 308win and 6.5cm each per month. I'm not overly concerned about precision, I'm looking to load 500 rounds per rifle quicker and safely for semi auto rifles. Give me a recommendation on what will work best. I have NO experience with progressive presses. Also curious how trimming and case prep comes into play with progressive loading.



  • The only one I have experience with is the Dillon 550. I don’t load rifle ammo anymore with it but have in the past and it worked well for plinking rounds.



  • @donnie I have a dillon 550 press and use it to load my plinker ammo for my 308 ar rifle. some of the upgrades from Uniquetech (don't quote me on the name) helped to make my loads better. they machine some precision die plates that are more accurate than the factory ones. Also the die plate hold down screw takes some of the wobble out of the top plate. The powder system is fairly consistent with ball powder up to +/- .2 grains. You can also get a powder funnel for the 450 press if you want to throw your own.



  • What I do for my .223 AR bulk stuff.

    1. lube/size/decap on my single stage
    2. tumble/case prep
    3. prime with the CPS Lite (I can't seat primers on my progressive, but if you can, you could skip this step)
      At this point I can store the prepped ready to load brass if I want too.
    4. charge/seat/crimp on the progressive
    • Station 1 I leave empty
    • Station 2 I have a Lee Auto Drum with a Lee rifle charging die for charging the cases
    • Station 3 Hornady Powder COP die
    • Station 4 Seating Die
    • Station 5 Lee Factory crimp die. Its not needed, but I like using it on my bulk loads.
      Even with hand feeding cases and bullets onto the press, this process is super fast. I can load a couple hundred rounds in a hour.

    If your going to go with a Dillon (which is the best) I'd personally look at getting two tool heads setup. One for sizing and trimming. Dillon does make a trimming die setup. Process the brass through, and then clean it to get all the lube off. Swap over to your other tool head and load up the cases.



  • Dillon 550 is going to be hard to beat. I have two and have owned or do own most other Dillon presses. The 1050 is great for one caliber and at least 2500 rounds. Any less and the 550 is better cause changeovers take time
    With the 1050, and less than a minute with the 550 once you are used to it. Quick change kits (which I highly recommend) are much cheaper with the 550 as well. Only upgrades I have done to mine is a roller handle and a steel primer tube gauge rod.

    How do you currently trim? Thing is...if it is just for plinking then you really don’t need to trim every time or even tumble. Just check to make sure they are not too long.

    Trimming on Dillon works fine. I have two trimmers but it does have limitations. If you go with the Dillon trimmer, get the 1500 as it is much beefier than the 1200. Don’t worry about getting carbide trim dies...for two reasons. 1. The Steel trim dies will last well over 50,000 rounds before they won’t headapace properly. 2. You really need to follow up the trim die with a full length size die. Get the trim/size die within 0.008 or so of where you want it and finish it with a full length die in the final station.

    Now...limitations

    1. I don’t think you will be able to fit a decapping die, trimmer, and full length sizing die in a 550 toolhead. Not enough room. So you have to decap and trim with one toolhead and then size/prime, charge, seat, crimp (if necessary).

    2. The Dillon trimmer cuts a square face on the case. It is not chamfered or deburred. Meaning you have two more steps to do after running them through the Dillon trimmer if you want them chamfered and deburred. They don’t need to be for plinkng if you are using boat tail bullets, but will cause problems if you try flat base.

    3. The Dillion trimmer is not extremely precise. I would say it is within .003 usually...but nothing to write home about.

    4. The Dillon trimmer is expensive. IN addition to the trimmer you need extra tool heads and trim dies which will put you in the price range of a Giuard...which is slower, but also more precise and chamfered/deburred.

    5. The setup on the trimmer isn’t quick or easy. It will take you probably 20 minutes to get it set up each time as you must adjust the headspace as well as the trim length and it is very finicky to adjust. This is the reason I have two trimmers. I trim two calibers and this allows me to leave them setup so they are ready to go. If you are only buying one trimmer and only trimming 500 at a time, the Giuard will he just about as fast and will also be useful for precision loading.



  • Thanks everyone for the info. I have some reading to do on the Dillon presses. Correct me if I’m wrong, it seems you still have to do some case prep prior to running them through the progressive press. One would normally trim after sizing the brass, so is the best function of a progressive press to throw the powder charge and seat bullets faster?



  • Normally you would trim after sizing. Keep in mind however that you are not going for ultimate precision. If cases are not too long, you can take fired cases and run them right back through the press again with absolutely no case prep at all.



  • Would a turret press be almost as quick? Looks like dillon presses can be hard to find around here, and I don't want to cheep out on a progressive press. Minus the addition of a shell per throw, looks like a turret press would almost be just as quick? I'm probably looking at $3000 by the time I order a 550 dillon press and all the attachments.



  • Turret presses are not at all the same and will be much slower. A dillon progressive is performing four operations with each handle pull while a turret only does one operation. Each pull of the dillon handle produces a loaded round. If you don't go with a progressive, then a forster coax is almost as good as a turret due to the quick change dies. I see no need for a turret press. Either progressive or coax.



  • @dddoo7 said in Progressive reloading press recommendation:

    Dillon 550 is going to be hard to beat. I have two and have owned or do own most other Dillon presses. The 1050 is great for one caliber and at least 2500 rounds. Any less and the 550 is better cause changeovers take time
    With the 1050, and less than a minute with the 550 once you are used to it. Quick change kits (which I highly recommend) are much cheaper with the 550 as well. Only upgrades I have done to mine is a roller handle and a steel primer tube gauge rod.

    How do you currently trim? Thing is...if it is just for plinking then you really don’t need to trim every time or even tumble. Just check to make sure they are not too long.

    Trimming on Dillon works fine. I have two trimmers but it does have limitations. If you go with the Dillon trimmer, get the 1500 as it is much beefier than the 1200. Don’t worry about getting carbide trim dies...for two reasons. 1. The Steel trim dies will last well over 50,000 rounds before they won’t headapace properly. 2. You really need to follow up the trim die with a full length size die. Get the trim/size die within 0.008 or so of where you want it and finish it with a full length die in the final station.

    Now...limitations

    1. I don’t think you will be able to fit a decapping die, trimmer, and full length sizing die in a 550 toolhead. Not enough room. So you have to decap and trim with one toolhead and then size/prime, charge, seat, crimp (if necessary).

    2. The Dillon trimmer cuts a square face on the case. It is not chamfered or deburred. Meaning you have two more steps to do after running them through the Dillon trimmer if you want them chamfered and deburred. They don’t need to be for plinkng if you are using boat tail bullets, but will cause problems if you try flat base.

    3. The Dillion trimmer is not extremely precise. I would say it is within .003 usually...but nothing to write home about.

    4. The Dillon trimmer is expensive. IN addition to the trimmer you need extra tool heads and trim dies which will put you in the price range of a Giuard...which is slower, but also more precise and chamfered/deburred.

    5. The setup on the trimmer isn’t quick or easy. It will take you probably 20 minutes to get it set up each time as you must adjust the headspace as well as the trim length and it is very finicky to adjust. This is the reason I have two trimmers. I trim two calibers and this allows me to leave them setup so they are ready to go. If you are only buying one trimmer and only trimming 500 at a time, the Giuard will he just about as fast and will also be useful for precision loading.

    Nice write-up DDD thanks. What calibers are you reloading using the 550's? Anything that you use to get out to 1000yds? Just curious how close you get with a progressive and wondering if I can speed up the process a lot and give up only a little accuracy. I have a Benchmark barrel like you and was wondering if their forgiveness will make up for the not deburring and .003 trim variance.

    I never loaded Rifle/Pistol with a progressive before, only shotgun at a Rod in Gun club.



  • I have quite a few quick change kits in various calibers...but only for plinking/pistol. It again has to do with stacked variables. 550 press introduces concentricity issues, powder measure is not quite as precise, trimming is not a precise, priming is not as precise. All of these tolerances lead to less consistent ammo. You can probably load sub moa ammo on a 550, but not likely to get sub 1/4 moa ammo.

    Calibers I have for the 550
    380, 9mm, 40, 45, 10mm, 357 sig, 9mm Dillon, 38, 357, 45 colt, 44 mag, 500 S&W, 223, 300 Bo



  • @dddoo7 the 650 press seems more common up here. Any comments on the 650 press?



  • The 650 press is a good press as well. Change overs take a little longer than with the 550, but not nearly as long as with the 1050. Priming is a little different with the 650, but nothing that cant be learned. The 650 is capable of having a case feeder added which is nice...however adding the case feeder gets one awful close to the price of a 1050. 650 has fewer calibers than the 550...but a lot more than the 1050. 650 has auto indexing case plate which is nice. You don’t have to turn the shell plate manually. 650 also carries the excellent Dillon warranty (1050 only has a 1yr warranty). 650 has an extra hole in the toolhead to run a “powder cop” or whatever dillon calls theirs. They work well with pistol rounds but are finicky with rifle rounds.

    If you can get the 650 for near the same price as the 550 then I would say go for it. It also will be a very nice press.



  • Brian Enos (http://brianenos.com/pages/dillon) is probably the best source of information about Dillon presses. If I was seriously considering buying a progressive press, I'd be having several cups of coffee and reading his site then maybe calling him with any questions remaining.



  • I found a dealer up in Red Deer and got into a 550 with everything I need plus an extra tool head for $873. Some of these mofo's around here are asking more than double what new cost is for used equipment. Should have everything next week. @dddoo7 Thanks for the recommendation on the press.



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