Dillon Precision Resources on BrianEnos.com:
|Click links in the Answers for pics of the items.|
|Dillon Precision FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)|
When I was a dealer for Dillon Precision’s products, as you can imagine, I got a lot of questions about their products…
|Which machine is right for me?|
|The Square Deal B or the RL 550B?
|Dillon Precision Videos (on youtube.com)|
|Note: All the links below open in a new window.
Getting started reloading with the RL 550B (Check out all johniac7078’s excellent Dillon videos)
RL 550B in action, loading 9mm (good to see overall operation)
Dillon Case Trimmer in operation on RL 550B (just operation, no set up instructions)
|As initially purchased – what comes with the RL 550 B or the XL 650?||FAQ Top|
Dies DO NOT come with the 550 or the 650 press.
The caliber selection for either press includes the Caliber Conversion Kit for that caliber.
Both the RL 550B and the XL 650 press come with:
|Does 550 or the 650 come with Dies? Can I use my own Dies?||FAQ Top|
The RL 550B and the XL 650 presses do not come with Dies.
Note: Dillon Dies vs. "Other Brand":
I highly recommend Dillon’s Pistol Dies. Every aspect of each die has been redesigned to enhance the operation of a progressive machine. (The Square Deal B comes with factory adjusted Dies that only fit the Sq Deal, and the Super 1050 B includes Dillon Dies.)
Note for Dillon Dies in non-Dillon Presses
For 5-station, non-Dillon presses, you could use Dillon’s 3-Die sets, but you may need to purchase an additional Expander Die. (They’re available for $10 – $15.)
Dillon’s rifle dies will work fine in a single-stage press.
|What machine options should I consider for the 550?||FAQ Top|
Strong Mount (also fits the 650)
Empty Case Bin and Bracket
Aluminum Roller Handle
Low Powder Sensor
My version eliminates the Low Powder Sensor and replaces the Plastic Roller Handle with the more popular/requested Aluminum Roller Handle, and also includes the new Empty Case Bin and Bracket.
One last thought on the Low Powder Sensor: I know several very experienced loaders who use it. The reason: You pay for it once, and never worry about ever running the measure dry again.
|Why isn’t the 550’s new Casefeeder recommended with the 550 initially?||FAQ Top|
[Dillon intorduced a Casefeeder for the 550 at the beginning of 2006.]
In my opinion, 550 owners, especially if they’re already set up to load several pistol calibers, have the most potential to benefit from the Casefeeder. After some experience with your 550, if you feel you really need a Casefeeder, for 250 bucks, you could upgrade your 550 without having to start all over with a 650.
This is a tricky topic. If you’re considering buying your first Dillon press and you’ve narrowed it down to either a 550 or a 650 – if you think you just have to have a Casefeeder – then you should buy a 650. But – if you’re buying your first Dillon press, in 19 out of 20 cases – the the 550 is the machine for you. More on the 550’s virtues in Which Dillon…
The beauty of the 550 lies in its simplicity. And although hanging a Casefeeder on it may give you 200 rounds/hour, it will substantially increase your "fiddling with it" time. Especially every time you change calibers.
Will the 550’s Casefeeder increase the 550’s output? Certainly. But I still do not recommend buying it with a 550 initially.
|What machine options should I consider for the 650?||FAQ Top|
Note: The Casefeed Assembly includes the Casefeed Plate to match the caliber selected.
Also, you only need to buy one Casefeed assembly, then for additional calibers, depending on the caliber, you may need to buy and additional Casefeed Plate.
Special note for 40 S&W: The 40 S&W/10mm will work with either the Large or Small (Pistol) Plate. Considering that on your initial purchase may "save you a Plate," for a future caliber addition. For example, if you order a 650 in 40 S&W, and plan to add 9mm to the press later, order the Small Casefeed Assembly initially, since the 9mm requires the Small Casefeed Plate.
Strong Mount (650 only)
Improves every operation of the machine through stability. (Case feeding, priming, auto-indexing, and powder dispensing.) I highly recommend it unless your reloading bench is seriously heavy-duty.
(Raises machine 6.5" off bench.)
Bullet Tray – Aluminum Roller Handle
Low Powder Sensor
Powder Check System
But please understand – the Powder Check System IS NOT a replacement for paying attention to everything that is happening every time you pull the handle on your reloading press.
My thoughts on the Powder Check System: When I was sponsored by Dillon and they gave me Powder Check Systems, I never even took them out of the bag. To me they are just one more thing to fiddle with, not only every time you change calibers, but also every time you adjust the powder charge within a caliber. You have to look at the (charged) case to set the bullet on it – and a double charge or no charge (with most pistol charges) is very obvious. Also I prefer to visually confirm the powder charge, rather than rely on an electrical buzzer.
And with rifle cartridges, if you were to somehow manage to get out of sequence and double charge a case, powder would be flowing out of the case’s mouth.
|What other Dillon accessories are normally bought with a 550/650?||FAQ Top|
Primer Flip Tray
Primer Pickup Tubes
It has a 1" open-end wrench on one end, which fits the lock rings on Dillon’s Dies (only), and a 7/16" box-end (fits the Powder Measure) on the other. It’s super handy, especially in the tight confines of a four or five-station Toolhead.
The Bench Wrench is also available with a five-pack of one-inch Dillon Die Lock Rings, which allows you to use Dillon’s Bench Wrench on your "other brand" Dies.
Toolholder w/ 1" Bench Wrench and 5 ball-end Hex Keys
Spare Parts Kit
The Maintenance/Spare Parts Kit is the Spare Parts Kit plus lube.
|What other reloading accessories are necessary to begin reloading?||FAQ Top|
Dillon offers a standard balance-beam "Eliminator" Scale for $54.95, and their digital "D-terminator" Scale for $139.95.
I still sell my Pro-digital Scale, for $159.95, which includes a LIFETIME warranty. (I sold them when I was a dealer for Dillon Precision, and I ship them USPS Priority Mail.)
I also still sell my Stainless Steel Digital Calipers, which have a large, easy-to-read display, are accurate to +/- .001" (+/- .0005 resolution). They read in either inches or millimeters, and come with an extra battery, for $38.95. (I ship them USPS Priority Mail.)
I’m often asked, "Which manual is "best"? There isn’t answer, because each manual has a completely different collection of load data. The longer you reload, the more manuals you will probably want to accumulate.
|How high should I build my reloading bench?||FAQ Top|
The answer depends on several factors: Your physical size, whether you plan to stand or sit (and how high your chair is), and whether or not your machine has the Strong Mount.
With the following information, however, you can figure it out.
Also consider bolting your bench to the wall if possible. Anything you can do to strengthen your bench, or the connection between your bench and the machine, is a good thing.
|What is needed for case preparation? Case lube for carbide pistol dies?||FAQ Top|
CV-750 Vibratory Case Cleaner & CV-500 Media Separator
CV-2001 Vibratory Case Cleaner & CM-2000 Media Separator
Are huge versions of the same thing, and are typically recommended only for "serious, high-volume competitors."
CV 2001 Capacity: Approx. 1300 38 Special cases.
The cheapest, most effective way to clean your range brass is to tumble it with coarse-grade corn cob media. You can find it locally at a feed and grain store, or at PetSmart, Wallmart, or anywhere pet bird supplies are sold. (It’s for lining bird cages.)
Dillon’s Rapid Polish
I recommend: Always lube rifle AND pistol cases – even with carbide dies.
You will load appreciably faster, and with less strain on the machine and yourself. Dillon’s environmentally friendly pump spray works great. However, Hornady’s "One Shot" case lube is my favorite for straight-walled pistol cases. (I don’t sell it – pick it up at your local gunshop.) For rifle cases, Dillon’s lube is the best.
How many cases can you lube with a bottle of Dillon’s lube: Approximately 1,500 – 2,000 .223 cases, depending how much you apply.
Technically, case lube is not required with carbide pistol dies; however, load some rounds without lube, then spray some "One Shot" on the next batch of pistol cases, and you’ll never load without lube again. More in Which Dillon…
The main advantage of a carbide, rifle re-sizing die is longevity. In a recreational reloading environment – you’ll never wear out a set of steel rifle dies.
Even with a carbide re-sizing die, you still have to lube the brass to re-size rifle brass. And, because of the bottleneck case, you do not get the reduction in "handle effort" with a carbide rifle die that you do get with a carbide (straight-walled) pistol die.
For those reasons, I don’t recommend carbide rifle dies for anything other than a commercial loading environment (50,000+ rounds/year).
|Is it necessary to trim brass?||FAQ Top|
It’s seldom necessary to trim cases. In my opinion, for pistols, revolvers, and rifles – unless the round will not chamber in the gun because the case is too long, or you’re attempting to win your State’s Benchrest Championship – trimming brass is a waste of time.
One exception to the above for .223 or .308 rifle: Say you’ve collected a lot of "range brass" (brass that was not fired in your rifle) of unknown origin, and you’re ready to start loading it for your semi-automatic rifle. Now Dillon’s RT 1500 Power Case Trimmer, installed in a separate Toolhead, would work great to "batch-prep" all the brass, before firing it the first time in your rifle.
Due to the RT 1500’s 4800 rpm motor and carbide blade, the trimmed brass is absolutely burr-free. So chamfering the inside or the outside of the case neck is not necessary.
Keep your cases organized by the number of times they’ve been fired. This will keep all the cases in a particular batch of brass you’re loading near the same overall length. Then you can forget about trimming.
I highly recommend starting with a batch of new brass. Put it all in one box. Then as you load from it, return it to a different box when you get back from the range. When you’ve fired all your new batch of brass, tumble it all and start over.
After a batch of brass has multiple (5-10) firings on it, you may notice the Seat and Crimp Dies (for handguns) could use a small "backing out" adjustment (or you may not), to compensate for the slightly longer, general overall length. It’s much easier to fine tune the Seat and Crimp Dies every now and then than it is to trim the brass.
|Back to Last Page|
|What is required to convert (change) calibers on a 550?||FAQ Top|
|For each additional caliber, adding a caliber to an RL 550B Requires:
AND, either a:
Click the pic to see the above explained visually (opens new window) ->
The Deluxe Quick-Change Kit includes a Toolhead, Toolhead Stand, Powder Measure and Powder Die. Since the Deluxe Quick-Change Kit includes the Powder Measure, when changing calibers, you will be able to leave the Powder Measure on the Toolhead along with the Dies, adjusted to throw the exact charge for a specific caliber. In other words, when changing calibers, you can change the entire Toolhead assembly in a couple seconds, without having to move, adjust, or re-calibrate anything.
Instead of the Deluxe Quick-Change Kit, you’ll save approximately $65 by buying a Toolhead and Powder Die. With a Toolhead & Powder Die, when changing calibers, you’ll move the Powder Measure from Toolhead to Toohead, then re-calibrate the Powder Measure to dispense the correct amount of powder for the new caliber.
I also recommend getting a Case Gage for pistol (not revolver) and rifle calibers.
Caliber Conversion Kit "Crossover" Notes for the 550:
RL 550B Caliber Conversion Cross Reference ("Crossover") Chart (Opens a new window)
Caliber Conversion Cross-reference Chart for all Presses: Click to download Excel Spreadsheet
Common calibers that share the same Dies and Caliber Conversion Kits:
Although the ultra-cadillac setup would be to have dedciated Toolhead assemblies for both calibers – that can get a bit pricey, especially if you buy Deluxe Quick-Change Kits in addition to the Dies, for both calibers.
Here’s how I setup a single Toolhead and set of Dies to load two calibers.
Say you are loading for 38 Special and you are ready to switch to 357 Mag. Before you readjust the Seat, Crimp, and Powder Dies to load 357, mark each Die body with a blue Sharpie marker, and also make a corresponding mark on the Toolhead. Then before you readjust the Seat, Crimp and Powder Dies to go back to 38 Special, mark the Dies/Toolhead again, but this time with a black Sharpie marker. Now with those reference marks for each caliber, you can quickly readjust the three Dies to change back and forth between the two calibers.
|What is required to convert (change) calibers on a 650?||FAQ Top|
|For EACH Caliber Conversion, Changing Calibers on an XL 650 Requires:
AND, either a:
The Deluxe Quick-Change Kit includes a Toolhead, Toolhead Stand, Powder Measure and Powder Die. Since the Deluxe Quick-Change Kit includes the Powder Measure, when changing calibers, you’ll leave the Powder Measure on the Toolhead along with the Dies, adjusted to throw the exact charge for a specific caliber. In other words, when changing calibers, you can change the entire Toolhead assembly in a couple seconds, without having to move, adjust, or re-calibrate anything.
Instead of the Deluxe Quick-Change Kit, you’ll save approximately $65 by buying a Toolhead and Powder Die. (Available as a "one-click-purchase" in my Dillon Store.) With a Toolhead & Powder Die, when changing calibers, you’ll move the Powder Measure from Toolhead to Toohead, then re-calibrate the Powder Measure to dispense the correct amount of powder for the new caliber.
I also recommend getting a Case Gage for pistol (not revolver) and rifle calibers.
Additional Considerations for the 650:
|If I don’t buy a Deluxe Quick-Change Kit – why buy a Toolhead & Powder Die?||FAQ Top|
A summary of what’s below: A Powder Die comes with a Powder Measure; so it is included with the machine initially, or if you buy the Deluxe Quick-Change Kit when changing calibers (which includes a Powder Measure). When changing calibers, if you do not buy a Deluxe Quick-Change Kit, you should buy a Toolhead & Powder Die at the minimum (in addition to the required Caliber Conversion Kit and Dies). This will allow you to leave the Dies and the caliber-specific Powder Funnel adjustments intact in the Toolhead.
The Deluxe Quick-Change Kit includes a Powder Measure and Powder Die, Toolhead and Toolhead Stand. Which allows you to leave all the caliber specific adjustments intact – the Dies and the Powder Measure – when switching calibers.
If you don’t buy a Deluxe Quick-Change Kit (in addition to a Caliber Conversion Kit and Dies when converting calibers):
The Powder Die threads into the Toolhead and requires caliber-specific adjustment.
The Powder Measure attaches to the top of the Powder Die (with two allen-head bolts).
Unlike conventional reloading presses, all Dillon’s Powder Measures drop the powder through the Powder Funnel, (which is inside the Powder Die).
The Powder Funnel does three things (for pistol cartridges):
The Powder Funnel is caliber specific and comes with a Caliber Conversion.
The Powder Die is not caliber specific and does not come with anything – except a Powder Measure. (The Deluxe Quick-Change Kit includes a Powder Measure.)
The correct amount of flare or "bell’ is applied to the case by adjusting the Powder Die, which has the Powder Funnel inside it, up or down (threaded adjustment), in the Toolhead.
So for caliber conversions, in addition to the required Caliber Conversion Kit and Dies, if you don’t buy a Deluxe Quick-Change Kit, buy a Toolhead & Powder Die.
Powder Funnel for Rifle Calibers
It’s only function is to drop the powder from the Powder Measure through to the case below. For rifle calibers, neck-sizing is accomplished in the sizing die, and instead of "flaring" the case mouth, normally a slight chamfer is applied to the case mouth with a chamfering tool. (Dillon sells the classic "Wilson Deburring Tool.")
|Which Powder Bars come with a machine or a Powder Measure?||FAQ Top|
|Dillon manufactures four sizes of Powder Bars for all machines.
The Extra Small (typically 32 Auto/S&W, or very light "Cowboy" loads in 38 Special – below 3 grains of powder) and Magnum Bar (required for 50+ grains) are non-standard and must be ordered separately.
In addition, Dillon also has a Belted Magnum Powder Measure, which is required for rifle charges over approximately 85 grains.
|Do I need the Universal Mount Kit?||FAQ Top|
You do not need it if you buy the Strong Mount (for any machine), because the Strong Mount includes all the hardware needed to bolt the machine to the Strong Mount, and the Strong Mount to your reloading bench. If you do not buy a Strong Mount for your press, however, the Universal Mounting Kit – an assortment of 1/4" bolts, nuts, and washers – might save you a trip to the hardware store.
|The SqDeal or the 550?||FAQ Top|
The 550 will load virtually all pistol and rifle calibers, whereas the Square Deal will only load straight-walled pistol cases.
I almost always recommend the 550 for your first reloading purchase because it is a simpler, more versatile, and more reliable machine than the Square Deal. Day in day out the 550 will readily churn out ammo. And as your shooting hobby expands, your 550 will expand along with it, inexpensively able to accommodate over 160 calibers. It’s simplicity, ease of operation, and rugged dependability make it my favorite machine, and Dillon’s biggest seller by far.
The only time I recommend a Square Deal is if you have loaded on a friend’s Sq Deal and liked it, cannot afford a 550, and never plan to load anything but a few pistol calibers. And did I mention that it’s kind of small?
More in "Which Dillon" on The speed-illusion of auto-indexing without a Casefeeder…
|The 550 or the 650?||FAQ Top|
Although one of the tougher comparative decisions, I seldom recommend the 650 over the 550 as your first progressive machine, and even less as your first reloading machine in general. The 650, w/Casefeeder and auto-indexing, is a complex machine compared to the 550. However, a few exceptions for the 650 might be:
You usually know if you are ready for the 650. Almost always, the 550 is a better choice over the 650 because of the reasons mentioned in the Sq Deal vs 550 comparison above.
Sill not sure: 550 vs. 650; or 650 vs. 1050
Rounds you will load before changing to another caliber:
It’s so easy to switch calibers on the 550 – if you just load 100 or 200 rounds, you won’t mind changing to load another caliber. On the 650 however, I wouldn’t want to change calibers unless I’d loaded a minimum of 1000 – 2000 rounds. And on the 1050, that number would be 5000 or more rounds, at the absolute minimum.
|The 650 or the 1050?||FAQ Top|
I could probably afford the 1050, but do I really need it?
In the same way one knows if they’re ready for the 650 over the 550, one usually knows when they’re ready for a 1050.
One last note on the 1050’s warranty: Unlike the lifetime "no BS" warranty for all other Dillon’s machines, the Super 1050 has a one year warranty. Meaning, if after a year, you break the Shellplate on your 1050 by adjusting the primer pocket swager improperly, you’ll buy a new one. But if something small or inexpensive breaks, they will probably take care of you, if you ask nice, maybe. I loaded 30,000+ rounds a year for many years on one 1050, and I can’t remember ever breaking anything. To me, the 1050’s one year warranty would not even be a consideration when choosing between a 650 and a 1050.