Square Deal B or 550 ?

Square Deal B or 550 ?

This is a discussion on Square Deal B or 550 ? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Howdy all, I'm planning to start reloading one handgun caliber soon. I've been shooting for a few years, but have been away from the reloading ...

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Thread: Square Deal B or 550 ?

  1. #1
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    Square Deal B or 550 ?

    Howdy all,

    I'm planning to start reloading one handgun caliber soon. I've been shooting for a few years, but have been away from the reloading press for twenty years, so you could say I'm a newbie starting from scratch.

    I'm primarily wanting to load handgun, .45 ACP, and was considering a SDB. Space is somewhat limited, as my reloading bench will take the place of my desk in the spare bedroom, which was until recently the computer room. Being that the amount of space I have is limited, and that I don't plan to reload rifle calibers for at least two more years, I was strongly leaning towards the SDB.

    One of my buddies, a former licensed reloader, ATF Class VI License IIRC, has advised me to go with the 550. he makes a strong argument for the 550 and almost has me sold. Being that space is at a premium, and that I have no intention of reloading rifle calibers in the near future, I was wanting a SDB dedicated to just .45 ACP. My intention was to put a Lee Turret Press, or even a Rock Chucker in the garage to handle the much smaller amount of rifle ammunition I would reload. The rifle calibers I plan to reload are .223/5.56 and .375 H&H. The amount of rifle ammunition that I plan to produce is in the neighborhood of 500 rounds/year with the majority of that being .223/5.56.

    I shoot an average of 150 rounds/week, handgun, in training and now that my source of factory ammunition has "dried up", while I'm still wanting to shoot, I am forced to look at other avenues of bullet procurement. The opinions of the members here would be most appreciated, along with the rationale for their opinion. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration in what, for me, is a most perplexing question.

    Biker


  2. #2
    Member Array usmcj's Avatar
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    Get the 550B. You can easily load single stage with it, and as your loading technique improves, you can change to progressive by flicking a mental switch. The footprint of the 550B isn't all that much bigger than the SDB, and the SDB will not reload anything other than straight-walled pistol cartridges. The 550B will reload rifle and pistol. Progressive presses will not likely go down in price in the future. With my 550B, I can easily load 150 .45 ACP rounds in about 15-20 minutes. Then, with a 10 minute changeover, I can load rifle cartridges. Dillon isn't the cheapest, but seems as if in the firearms world, you pretty much get what you pay for. I'm not trashing any other brand of press. Just my two cents.
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    I'm a commercial reloader and use a Dillon 550 as one of my many presses. I would get it over the SDB any day of the week.

    The SDB has proprietary dies so you can only use those dies with that press. The 550 uses standard 7/8-14 tpi dies so any brand will work with that press and virtually all others. Complete caliber changes are 5 minutes tops. Clearly the 550 is the most versatile progressive press on the market. The manual index feature allows you to operate from 1 to 4 cases at a time, so you can load at a pace you are comfortable doing. This also allows you to load larger rifle cartridges like the 375 H&H Magnum (yes I do).

    The 550 also can be easier to change cartridges than other presses. If you start to load rifle on the 550 (and you will, trust me) the .45 ACP shellplate and locator buttons will work with any case in the .473" casehead family. So that means the .308, .30-'06, and 8mm Mauser and their offspring (.243, 270, 25-'06, 7mm Mauser, 7-08, 338 Fed, 35 Whelen) can be loaded with a simple die change and powder change. I have one 550 setup for this using the .45 ACP shellplate and buttons and I have toolheads set up for all the rifle cartridges in the .308 and .30-'06 family. I have one primer size and only swap out toolheads to change cartridges.

    You mention loading the .223 and that is made for the 550. With .223 components being so cheap, you can get a toolhead and conversion kit for it and run off 500rds no problem and be done for the year in about an hour's work.

    In your case I would absolutely buy the 550 over the SDB. I really can't think of any reason I would buy a SDB when a 550 is a bit more but so much more versatile offering an exponentially greater value for your money. Why Dillon doesn't cut the SDB from their catalog I'll never know. If I were Mike Dillon, I would.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  4. #4
    Member Array jfrey's Avatar
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    If you are going to only load .45ACP, get the SDB! It is a fantastic press and you get the dies with the press and don't have to buy them seperately. A lot of people always recommend the 550 but it isn't that much better, if any and costs more. The SDB with the strong mount is very solid and doesn't take up that much room. You can also get certain caliber conversions for the press and it isn't any trouble to change over from one to the other. I have two SDB's, one for .45 and one for 9mm. Having loaded on a 550, I wouldn't change either one of mine for the 550.

    Any ideas of cutting the SDB from Dillon's line would be a huge mistake. It is a great press. If it weren't, John Taffin( gun writer) wouldn't be using so many of them and recommending them in his articles.

    If you want to load rifle ammo, get a single stage press. Rifle ammo is a lot more critical from many standpoints and you won't get the accuracy in your loads from a progressive press. I measure and weigh every rifle round I load because the final product is expected to yield accuracy much better than any pistol will deliver. At 500 rounds a year, that is only 45 rounds a month and won't take any time on a single stage to run off that amount. When I sit down to load pistol ammo, it is hundreds of rounds at a time. The biggest thing is the time savings you get.

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfrey View Post
    Any ideas of cutting the SDB from Dillon's line would be a huge mistake. It is a great press. If it weren't, John Taffin( gun writer) wouldn't be using so many of them and recommending them in his articles.
    I'll hold my tongue about Mr Taffin, but I can't see any advantage the SDB has over the 550.

    Rifle ammo is a lot more critical from many standpoints and you won't get the accuracy in your loads from a progressive press.
    David Tubb loads his competition rifle ammunition on a progressive press. He's won many trophies, so I don't think it's as critical as some make it seem.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  6. #6
    Member Array usmcj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfrey View Post

    If you want to load rifle ammo, get a single stage press. Rifle ammo is a lot more critical from many standpoints and you won't get the accuracy in your loads from a progressive press.
    The groups below are representative of 100 yard, 5 shot groups, shot with .223 Rem loads that came off my Dillon 550B several years ago. Perhaps my definition of accuracy isn't up to snuff, but ... well, you get the idea...

    1020b.jpg

    1020c.jpg

    1020d.jpg
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  7. #7
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your input. More is always welcome.

    Looking at the final cost, which is a consideration at this point, and that I can be up and running as fast as Dillon can get the press shipped to me, I'm leaning more and more towards the SDB.

    While I may desire to load other caliber handgun rounds in the distant future, they are all quite common. 38/357, 9mm, 45 ACP, and 40 are all of my handgun calibers, and frankly I only desire at this point to load .45 ACP. I don't see myself putting out a lot of rifle rounds anytime soon, and was planning on having a second press, single stage, set up in the garage for such endeavors. The reason for that is, I want to go super slow with the rifle stuff, and probably only reload in the garage once per year once I get my loads dialed in.

    With the handgun my desire is to crank out enough ammo to train and shoot a match or two with every month. I'd like to go back to shooting weekly, but can't afford to at today's ammo cost. That leads me to reloading. I am not any more mechanical than I have to be, and really have no desire to reload, except for the number of rounds I can shoot for the same amount of money that I would spend on factory ammo. I hate adjusting things and tinkering.

    Given that the SDB is "pre-set" at the factory eliminates what I consider to be a major headache. In my simplified version I see it like this: "Bolt it down, pour powder in, start cranking out ammo." Is that too simplified of a view? The majority of my tinkering will come with finding a reload that approximates my POA/POI of my carry load, as well as the very subjective felt recoil, using a less exspensive JHP round. My reloaded ammo will either be JHP or FMJ, but I'm inclined towards JHP so it can be used as secondary defensive ammunition.

    Please sway me to one side or the other, as I have learned a lot from the various responses, and while it may seem to some of you that I'm only looking for validation of a pre-determined choice, I am actually reading and considering each reply. Thank you again for your help. Take care and stay safe.

    Biker

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Biker, the SDB will be perfect for your applications.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array Freedomofchoice's Avatar
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    Biker:
    I have a square deal B which I purchased many years ago when I was shooting in competition. At that time, I was shooting 38 revolver for bullseye, and plate matches. I literally shot thousands of rounds in practice and competition, and all rounds were made on that press.

    I now shoot mostly 9 mm and 45 acp; to a lesser degree 40 S&W which I am loading on a Lee turret press. Now, I wish I had bought the 550, because it is far more adaptable to other calibers. I could convert the SDB to other calibers at a cost of $195 each caliber, but the truth is I find the SDB to be only marginally faster than my current setup with the Lee turret press. Difference for me is about 25 rounds an hour.
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  10. #10
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikerRN View Post
    While I may desire to load other caliber handgun rounds in the distant future, they are all quite common. 38/357, 9mm, 45 ACP, and 40 are all of my handgun calibers, and frankly I only desire at this point to load .45 ACP.
    When you add additional cartridges, the 550 will shine above and beyond the SDB. For that you will have your 45 ACP kit. The 9mm and .40 share the same shellplate and locator pins, so I suggest buying the .40 kit and 9mm funnel. Then buy the plate and pins for the .38 Spl. Use the 9mm powder funnel and you're set. That's the cheapest way to get it set up for all those cartridges.

    Given that the SDB is "pre-set" at the factory eliminates what I consider to be a major headache. In my simplified version I see it like this: "Bolt it down, pour powder in, start cranking out ammo." Is that too simplified of a view?
    Yes. You will need to fine tune the dies. It's not a turn key operation where you just load up powder, primers and pull on the handle.

    Please sway me to one side or the other, as I have learned a lot from the various responses, and while it may seem to some of you that I'm only looking for validation of a pre-determined choice, I am actually reading and considering each reply. Thank you again for your help. Take care and stay safe.

    Biker
    Again, I would steer you to the 550 for versatility, production, and simplicity. It also holds it's resale value better than the SDB.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  11. #11
    New Member Array brolin_1911a1's Avatar
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    If .45ACP were all you ever planned to load, then the SDB would be the best choice. But since you do expect to later load other calibers including rifle calibers getting the 550 now will save you hassle and money later.

    I loaded for years using a Lee Turret Press before getting a Hornady Pro-jector. My son still has that Lee press. It worked wonderfully for the half dozen handgun calibers I loaded as well as .222, .223, and .30-30. Loading .30/06, 8x57, and 7.62x51mm was a serious strain on that Lee Turret, however. My buddy's 550 handles them all without a problem. As for accuracy from the 550, well, my friend is an accuracy fanatic who uses his loads for shooting prairie dogs. Groups with his .223 and .250 rifles like what were posted above are what he expects and gets with his loads from that press. And finally, the ability to add features over time such as case and/or bullet feeders make the 550 a more versatile and cost-effective press.

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Get the 550,it's very user friendly and if you want to load rifle in a coupla years all you need is the caliber conversion and dies and your good- to go
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  13. #13
    VIP Member Array nedrgr21's Avatar
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    1) It's not just the press, each manufacturer's dies offer different pro's and con's and with the SDB you are married to what Dillon has to offer in their proprietary line of dies. You're just starting out and don't know what features you prefer over others; you just can't rely on others' opinions for that.
    2) While you may only load 500 rifle rounds/year now, things (can) change. Ever think about getting into 3 gun?
    3) The savings for the SDB over the 550 will be wiped out getting 2 other calibers in the future (potentially only 1 caliber if you choose another makers dies).
    4) You can do on the 550 what you what a separate press for.
    5) If you get a separate press + the SDB, you could potentially wind up with 2 sets of dies for the calibers you initially were loading on the spare press if your volume increases.
    6) It's not a plug and play deal. You don't want it to be either. In order to safely reload ammo and get the most out of your investment in tools and time, you need to understand what is going on in each step of the process. Besides, that's a big (the biggest) part of the fun.

    While Dillon does have the best presses out there, you really won't be reloading a whole lot and you should think about starting with a Lee Turret press. The Lee Turret will do everything you want and easily make the transition from single stage to auto indexing and caliber changes are quick and cheap ($4/turret)). The difference in cost will buy a ton of ammo components or training or entrance fees or ...

  14. #14
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    My vote goes to the 550B. The only regret I have about my 550 that I've had for several years now is that it's not a 650. May have to rectify that in the future though.
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  15. #15
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    I don't know squat about reloading, but I was over at Dillon's website looking for other gun parts this morning and wandered into the tech section on reloaders. They have a ton of info online about the systems you mentioned.

    http://www.dillonhelp.com/helpindex/...lp_english.htm

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