Regarding your answer on progressive presses; not to start a Red vs. Green vs. Blue war (this is a reference to the colors of different brands of reloading presses), but there are some other considerations to take into account. Here’s a link to a paper that compares three popular progressive presses.
I was considering purchasing the Hornady LNL AP but decided to go with another option. I upgraded from a single stage press to the Lee Precision Classic Turret Press. It’s a compromise between a single stage and a true progressive press. You have to pull the handle four times to make a completed round of ammunition, compared to a single pull on a progressive. In reality, it’s theoretical rate of production is about half that of a progressive press. However, its simpler design translates into higher reliability.
HJL responds: While purchase price is significant on something like this, there were other concerns that I weighed as well. I have used Dillon presses for 30 years and have watched their warranty polices change the market. I do have some brand loyalty there. While other manufacturers are now offering much of the same warranty that Dillon does, it wasn’t always that way. With that said, I am well aware of many of the presses short comings that are listed in the article that you reference. I have owned all of the Dillon lineup except the Square Deal B. I eventually sold the RL1050 because it was too expensive and too difficult for caliber changes. I would consider that one a specialty press that can be set up for large runs of one caliber. I sold my original RL550 but purchased another after I sold the 1050 because caliber changes on it are a piece of cake– easier than any other progressive I have used. I use my XL650 for largish runs of a caliber, but most of my load development is done on the RL550 because it can be used in the same fashion as a single stage or a turret press.
All of the deficiencies mentioned in the article comparing presses have been addressed by third parties, and some of them are pretty ingenious:
- Micrometer powder adjustment
- Larger powder hopper
- Toolhead clamp kit – reducing OAL variation
- Shell plate bearing – for smoother indexing (less powder spill)
- Bin-Dam – Your Akro bins now hold more finished rounds.
- CNC machined toolheads – for the most accurate pistol rounds
- Floating Die toolheads – for the most accurate rifle rounds
- The BobChute or XL650 Spent Primer Chute – for better control over where those little things go.
- XL650 missed live primer chute – replaces the ski jump for total control of missed live primers.
- XL650 G.S. Primer pocket Swager – run military brass on your press (voids the warranty!)
- You can even convert your RL550 or XL650 into a single stage press for those operations not possible on a progressive.
- And the list goes on… it just depends on how deep your pockets are and what performance you expect from your machine.
While many of the press enhancements require a considerable outlay of cash, many can be done with a little elbow grease like polishing the powder funnel. Also, while many of these improvements are specific to Dillon, some are also available for other presses as well. A simple Internet search on press enhancements yields a plethora of data. In the end, a progressive press is one of the most expensive investments that a person reloading their own ammo will make. Like the author of your letter suggests, you get what you pay for.