Dillon RL 550C

Dillon RL 550C

This is a discussion on Dillon RL 550C within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I have had my Dillon RL 550C for about 8 months now and have moved 9mm, 223/5.56 and now 45 ACP to it. In general, ...

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Thread: Dillon RL 550C

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Dillon RL 550C

    I have had my Dillon RL 550C for about 8 months now and have moved 9mm, 223/5.56 and now 45 ACP to it. In general, I am very happy with it and about the only negative that I have found is that the Dillon powder measure does not handle fine spherical powders as well as I would like – it does occasionally leak a little bit of powder, not enough to cause any issues like it did when I first tried using this powder, just enough to make me clean the bench when I am done. However, to be fair, that is the powder measure and not the press – I also think that it might have something to do with the Dillon Case Lube I am using. I think that the case lube is causing a small amount of powder to stick to the powder funnel and then that powder is spilling out once enough of it has accumulated. I think that the solution will be a different case lube or a different powder, both of which I have already decided on. I will try the Hornady One Shot case lube, which sprays on and then dries so that there should not be anything sticking to it. If that doesn’t solve it, I will try AR-Comp, by Alliant. AR-Comp is a small kernel extruded powder so it should not have the tendency to leak like a fine spherical powder. I am sure that one or the other will solve it.

    Coming from the Lee Classic Turret, I wasn’t real sure how much benefit I would see other than speed of production, but I have found that the way that the 550 holds the case in place as it indexes through the stations is “head and heels” above the case holder on the Lee turret. I found that on the turret, if I was not careful, I would find the case would move out of place just enough for it to not go into the die. On the 550, that just does not happen. Soooo happy about that.

    The one thing that I was worried about a little bit was the primer feed system. No, the Safety Prime on the turret is not automatic, but it is just so easy to put the primers into it that I was concerned about how it would be moving to a system that required me to fill a tube and then dump that tube into the primer feed system. Not to mention having to disassemble the primer feed system to change from one size primer to the other. Well, finally getting 45 ACP setup today, I actually had to change from small to large primers. Not as bad as I was expecting. I was expecting the Primer Track Bearing to be a real pain to get lined up again, but it wasn’t. Everything went back together really easily and it worked like a dream!

    As for the difference in speed…. Honestly, this was the least of my concerns since I currently reload more that I shoot, but I was happy to see the increase anyway. I work from home, so it is easy for me to reload a batch of 100 rounds anytime I get a short break. I had already timed myself at 15 minutes for 100 rounds of 9mm, but this past week I started thinking “that 15 minutes is with everything ready to go, primer system filled, powder hopper filled and powder charge checked”. So, today I decided to see how long it would take to load 100 rounds of 9mm from the time I got to my bench. Well, it took me just under 21 minutes to fill the powder hopper, get primers and bullets out of my drawer, fill the primer tube and put the primers into the primer feed system, get a bin full of cases, check the powder charge and load 100 rounds. So, about 5 – 6 minutes to prep and then 15 minutes to load the 100 rounds. That is still about 4 times faster than it took me to load on the turret (on the turret I was loading about 125 rounds in an hour, not counting prep time).

    So, now my dilemma is whether or not I should even keep the turret setup on the bench. I will be converting my last caliber, 308 Win, to the 550 sometime after the 1st of the year. Between now and then I do not expect to be loading any 308 since I already have more than I expect to shoot anytime soon. When I moved to the turret, I kept my single stage setup for the occasional odd jobs, but finally took it down when I realized that I hadn’t touched it in over a year. Now, I have moved from the turret to the 550 and honestly, I do not see any reason that I would be doing anything on it that I could not do just as well on the 550, it is a good press, it just doesn’t compare with the 550! I could just sell it and use the $$ to get what I still need to finish moving 308 over to the 550 that much sooner. Hmmm, decisions, decisions…

    Yes, I am a happy camper and am enjoying my glass of blue kool-aid.

  2. #2
    VIP Member Array OldVet's Avatar
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    Glad that you're glad. I never got into the progressives because I never had the demand for the quantity to justify one, and for me, there's too much going on that makes me uncomfortable. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool single-stage man and doubt I'll ever change. It suits my needs and requirements. The only weak point in my reloading equipment is me, which has been known to screw up on a very rare occasion.

    My reloading is done in batches and steps, meaning I deprime a batch of cases, resize that batch, prep whatever prep (delube, trim, deburr, etc.) that batch, prime that batch, and then charge and stuff bullets in that batch. A batch may run from 25 to 200 cases, but usually in the 50-100 range. Powder charges may change every 5-10 rounds, so setting up a progressive would not be all that advantageous.
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    VIP Member Array Chuck R.'s Avatar
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    I'd keep the turret, if you've got the space for it.

    I'm up to 4 center fire presses; Dillon 650, 550B, Redding Ultra-Mag, and my original RCBS Rockchucker I've had sine I was 15. I only use the Rockchucker for de-capping rifle brass before cleaning, but it keeps my other presses clean.

    I do some loading on each depending on the cartridge or task. To really achieve some speed look at case and bullet feeders. Your set up time for calibers is greatly increased, but it's not a setup for short runs of ammo anyway.
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    VIP Member Array G26Raven's Avatar
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    I've also got a Dillon 550. Very nice machine. I use mine exclusively for 9mm and 45 ACP. I use an RCBS Rockchucker for rifle rounds (.308, 7mm-08, .223) as they are for hunting and hunting practice.
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    Distinguished Member Array StripesDude's Avatar
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    I use my Classic Turret for rifle loading (223, 308). My progressive is for pistol rounds only. Both are bolted to my 6’ bench. But I have three 6’ benches in my workshop. So I have the space.

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    Even after getting a progressive I still keep my turret press set up for some calibers that I do low volume on. If I had a 550 that didn’t auto index then I may not use it, but for me, getting rid of the press didn’t provide a benefit but keeping it did. Also priming for me is the big downfall of my progressive. So I do that on the turret. Once agin, with a Dillon that may not be necessary
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    I have two Dillons. One is set up for larger primers and one is set up for small primers. I also have an RCBS single stage that I use when developing loads. Once I get that figured out, I'll move it to the Dillon load up 500 rounds or so in a hours time.

    If your time is worth anything, the Dillons are hard to beat.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StripesDude View Post
    I use my Classic Turret for rifle loading (223, 308). My progressive is for pistol rounds only. Both are bolted to my 6’ bench. But I have three 6’ benches in my workshop. So I have the space.
    Yes, I have the room. I have a 5 1/2 foot bench that has the 550 on one end with the turret almost at the other end. My tumbler is between the two presses and the swager is mounted on the outside of the turret press. My current plan is to keep the turret setup, at least for a little while. I am just not sure how much I will actually use it. I have found that the 550 is giving me loads that are just as consistent and accurate as the turret does and the Dillon is just as easy to setup. unless I have to change primer size, and even then it is not that much more on the 550.

    Just out of curiosity, why do you continue to load 223 and 308 on the turret instead of moving them to the progressive? In my case, the only reason that I have not moved 308 over to the 550 yet is the cost. I can only afford to move over one caliber at a time and 308 is the one that I shoot the least. Once I have that moved I am just not sure how much I will use the turret. I could possibly see using it if I were to decide to start loading an additional caliber (maybe 30-30 or 45 Colt), simply because it would be less expensive to get setup for a new caliber than it would with the 550, but since I would end up moving it to the 550 anyway and I would not begin reloading for an additional caliber until I was certain that I really wanted to become invested in it, I am still not sure that it would make sense for me. Doing small batches of custom loads would, I think, be just as easy on the 550 as on the turret,but only time will tell on that since I am not doing much in way of small batch custom loads right now.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Havok View Post
    Even after getting a progressive I still keep my turret press set up for some calibers that I do low volume on. If I had a 550 that didn’t auto index then I may not use it, but for me, getting rid of the press didn’t provide a benefit but keeping it did. Also priming for me is the big downfall of my progressive. So I do that on the turret. Once agin, with a Dillon that may not be necessary
    I agree with you on the indexing. If I had gone with the 650 (the 750 was not out yet when I got the 550), I would be keeping the turret, no question about it. But since the 550 is a manual index, I am just having a hard time picturing what I might want to use the turret for that I could not use the 550 for.
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    Senior Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    I have two Dillons. One is set up for larger primers and one is set up for small primers. I also have an RCBS single stage that I use when developing loads. Once I get that figured out, I'll move it to the Dillon load up 500 rounds or so in a hours time.

    If your time is worth anything, the Dillons are hard to beat.
    I have thought about a second Dillon specifically with the idea of having one for small primers and one for large primers, especially since 45 ACP and 308 both share the same shell plate, pins and primer size. However, since the vast majority of my loading right now is 9mm and 223/5.56, both using small primers, I do not see myself changing primer size often enough to justify the cost of the second press. For me, this is something on the back burner that I will keep in mind in case I ever do have the spare cash.

  12. #11
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    You could just limit yourself to reloading small-primer .45s. I would gladly trade you the 700 or 800 I have in a bucket under my bench for "normal" .45 cases. If I threw a quarter into a cuss jar every time one of those miserable things slipped into my press, I could probably buy the next gun on my wish list. Eventually I'll load them up and use 'em for a lost-brass match. The best thing I can say about them is that they are nearly all fired just once.
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    Distinguished Member Array StripesDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackJack View Post
    Yes, I have the room. I have a 5 1/2 foot bench that has the 550 on one end with the turret almost at the other end. My tumbler is between the two presses and the swager is mounted on the outside of the turret press. My current plan is to keep the turret setup, at least for a little while. I am just not sure how much I will actually use it. I have found that the 550 is giving me loads that are just as consistent and accurate as the turret does and the Dillon is just as easy to setup. unless I have to change primer size, and even then it is not that much more on the 550.

    Just out of curiosity, why do you continue to load 223 and 308 on the turret instead of moving them to the progressive? In my case, the only reason that I have not moved 308 over to the 550 yet is the cost. I can only afford to move over one caliber at a time and 308 is the one that I shoot the least. Once I have that moved I am just not sure how much I will use the turret. I could possibly see using it if I were to decide to start loading an additional caliber (maybe 30-30 or 45 Colt), simply because it would be less expensive to get setup for a new caliber than it would with the 550, but since I would end up moving it to the 550 anyway and I would not begin reloading for an additional caliber until I was certain that I really wanted to become invested in it, I am still not sure that it would make sense for me. Doing small batches of custom loads would, I think, be just as easy on the 550 as on the turret,but only time will tell on that since I am not doing much in way of small batch custom loads right now.
    The turret produces more consistent OAL than my progressive does. So I load 223 and 308 on the turret. If pistol rounds vary a small amount (0.001-0.005), no big deal. But I don’t like any variation in my rifle rounds.

    Plus, I find it easier to load small batches for rifle round load development on the turret. I don’t do nearly as much load development for pistol. When I find something that works, I stick with it.

  14. #13
    Senior Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    You could just limit yourself to reloading small-primer .45s. I would gladly trade you the 700 or 800 I have in a bucket under my bench for "normal" .45 cases. If I threw a quarter into a cuss jar every time one of those miserable things slipped into my press, I could probably buy the next gun on my wish list. Eventually I'll load them up and use 'em for a lost-brass match. The best thing I can say about them is that they are nearly all fired just once.
    I appreciate the offer, unfortunately, I have a 15 Qt tote full of "normal" 45 ACP brass and I'm afraid that if I were to take you up on your offer all I would be doing is inheriting your problem. Now, If I didn't already have 45 ACP brass, then I would be interested in keeping as much as possible with small primers, but I'm afraid I have already gone too far down that road to turn back now.

  15. #14
    Senior Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StripesDude View Post
    The turret produces more consistent OAL than my progressive does. So I load 223 and 308 on the turret. If pistol rounds vary a small amount (0.001-0.005), no big deal. But I don’t like any variation in my rifle rounds.
    Makes sense. In my case, I have a dial caliper (analog, not digital) so I can only take a guess at anything beyond the second decimal place. Also, my requirements are "better than 2 MOA and as close to 1 MOA as I can get, out to 300 yards". Right now, I am at just about 1" 5 shot group at 100 yards for 223/5.56 and it has not changed by moving to the 550 and I have not seen any difference in the consistency of my OAL. I am using Sierra 65gr SBT GameKing and I do get the occasional difference in OAL, but it never exceeds +- .005 (unfortunately, with my calipers, I can't tell any more accurate than that), but this is about the same as it was on the turret as well. I don't know how much of that is the press/die vs the inconsistencies of the bullet manufacturing. What I can say is that it has given me what I am looking for and is within my budget. For 308, I am at just about 1 1/4" 5 shot group at 100 yards, hoping that it will not be adversely affected when I move it to the 550. In 308, I am using the Sierra 165gr SBT GameKing. For both, I was getting SD in the mid to high teens. Hoping to get out with the chrono this weekend to see what impact moving to the Dillon powder measure has had on that (depends on the weather). Of course, these groups are off a rest with a 3-9x Leupold scope, these days I doubt I could even see the center of the target at that distance with irons. But, with this kind of accuracy, I am well within minute of deer out to 300 yards off of an improvised field rest.


    Quote Originally Posted by StripesDude View Post
    When I find something that works, I stick with it.
    This is pretty much where I am for both rifle and pistol. My range only goes out to 100 yards, so I do not have anyplace to shoot paper for accuracy beyond that available to me. When/if that changes, my needs might change along with it.
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