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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Northern Berks County, PA
I drank the blue Kool-Aid
A friend came up with a good deal on a used Dillon 450RL progressive press. One I couldn't pass up, so I now own it.
Doing some digging, my lucky stars aligned. This used 450 came to me with the automatic powder and primer systems of a 550 already installed. I called Dillon to confirm, I need one small part for the primer system, and I'm in business. I inquired, while I had them on the phone, about a conversion to a 550. For those not familiar, the 450 and 550 are essentially the same, with one major difference.
In the 450, you have to screw in/screw out your dies to change the round you're loading. That means die setup each time. The 550 was made with a toolhead slot, so basically the dies stay set up. You just slide out the tool head (top of the press, basically) and leave the dies installed/setup. You have to buy a new toolhead for every set of dies you want to use, but then you can switch your shell plates, tool head, and you're switched over to the next cartridge you're reloading (yes, yes, I know...you have to reset the powder measure and if the primers are small vs large, you mave have to change that).
For most, the conversion from 450 to 550 is not practical because the total cost till done is about the same. In my case, I got the press and automated powder/primer systems for close to highway robbery pricing. Dillon told me for $100, I get a 550 frame with one toolhead and they assemble it at no added cost to me other than shipping it to them. When the dust settles, I'll have a 550 press at about 1/2 the best online price I can find on one.
Kinda feel like a kid waiting for Christmas as I get this thing sorted out. It's a 4-station progressive, manually indexed. While I'd like auto-indexing, the cost to move up to a 650 to get it is steep. And my work flow with this press (once fully setup and running on a cartridge)....
1- insert fired brass in station 1, insert bullet on station three. Ram up, ram down, press forward to seat the primer on station 1. Index the plate clockwise.
2- It has an auto-eject system installed, so the finished round will eject into a catch bin when I index the plate.
3- repeat until all components are used/reloaded.
Now I might actually not spend 3x as long at the press as I do at the range!
Ok, that's wishful thinking, but it'll cut it down some!