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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never reloaded. When I start I think it will be for handgun loads, in 3 calibers (one being .45LC, for an 1894). I have been saving brass for awhile now, anticipating "the day". Reloading is not yet in my budget, the start up costs are considerable. However I like to plan ahead.

The Dillon Square Deal B comes highly recommended by someone I respect. What say you who have experience with different equipment, is this the hot set up? Plusses? Minus'?

Thank you,

Niftus
 

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Hey Niftus,

They are a fine handgun loading machine.

The 550B, is much more versatile. (and easier to change calibers)

Later, Mark
 

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The Dillon Co. makes fine reloading machines. They stand behind their equipment, great customer service.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks for the replies, fellas. There's a lot to consider and I don't want to buy, regret & re-buy.
 

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Dillon presses are pretty much at the top of the game with only Hornady Lock N Load series up for contention.

The Square Deal is a compact press that uses a proprietary die block. It's a little more complicated to change out calibers but not terribly so. It's geared towards pistol calibers. Most folks that use one have it set up for ONE caliber and then simply buy another Square Deal in a different caliber and mount it next to the first...and so on. Know of a few reloaders that have 3 permanently set up. Do have one friend that just changes calibers on his only press. The die block/caliber conversion is a bit pricey, but not extremely so. It's an excellent press if you're only reloading one or two pistol calibers at a low to moderate volume. It's auto indexing.

The 550b is a much larger press and manual indexing, but uses standard dies from any manufacturer. It's easily rifle caliber capable and many folks use theirs for 223 and 308 reloading among other calibers. It's the easiest and most cost efficient Dillon to caliber change. Assuming an extra toolhead of adjusted dies, same size primers and an attached powder dispenser, it's literally a 2 minute change. If you need to swap the dispenser it'll add another 2-3 minutes. Changing the primer size is another 5min. Loading 500rnds an hour is completely possible with minimal work.

The 650 is a step up with auto indexing and a 5th die position. It's a bit harder and slower to change calibers. A bit faster in production though

So basically if you're looking at one or two pistol calibers for with low to moderate volume, the Square Deal will suit you fine. If you plan on expanding your calibers to four or more, doing high volume reloading, or rifle calibers then the 550 would be a better place to be.

For what it's worth, while expensive, several of the Dillon accessories make life easier. The Brian Enos forum put together a 'as it should be' package that includes things like the strong mount, bullet tray, and roller handle upgrades that makes the work go even smoother and faster. I've got near $1k invested in my Dillon with accessories including a pile of extra powder dies and tool heads, but can knock out several hundred rounds of over half a dozen calibers in less than an hour. If you think you are going to go down this same road.
 

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Nuftus,

I'll just throw this into the mix.

I recently sold my progressive. Have handloaded since the 60s, and even though the big bright read progressive had a real WOW factor to impress those viewing my set up, I enjoy hand loading and have never needed more ammo then I could produce on my single stage.

Then, while I have looked at the Square Deal B a number of times and few can question the Dillon company quality and customer service, the deal breaker was always the cost of conversion from one caliber to another with the Square Deal.

The dies are proprietary, made for and usable only in that system and the cost of conversions was excessive when other options were considered.

Soooooo, first do you need a progressive? And do you want to be saddled with a system having issues such as proprietary dies and the caliber limitations inherent with the Square Deal B?

No one will think any less of you as a handloader if you don't have a progressive now OR ever. And should they ever do so, they have a personal problem.

I'm not coming down on progressives in general OR their owner/users, but think you would be much better off as a new handloader to begin with a good single stage and maybe, if needed or desired, move to a progressive at a later and more experienced date.

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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I have been reloading since the mid 1970's and started with rifle on single stage that I still use. I also went to turret presses and they are great for rifle and pistol. I also have a Dillon Square Deal B that I purchased from my brother and while it might have issues to some it has non with me. The nice thing about Dillon is their on line help and upgrades. They sent me a new priming system free and even will sent parts if they break. They do stand behind their products.
I like progressive for pistols but will stay with the single and turret presses for rifles. If you ever get a turret press be sure to get plenty of extra turret heads in the case they quit making them.
 

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When I was regularly shooting 3 gun in a group twice a month, we were loading thousand of rounds a week sometimes to get everyone enough ammo to practice for, and shoot an upcoming match. For volume like that a progressive is the only thing that will keep up. In that case it was a Dillion 650, owned by one of the other group members. Although it can hiccup, I have nothing bad to say about the press or the great company. No that I shoot less, I've gotten pretty handy with a Redding T-7, and it can do at least two calibers per turret. A turret change takes about a minute. Volume wise it cannot compete with a reliable progressive, but it certainly does enough for my current needs. Plus the time spent is like therapy anyway. If I get back into a heavier volume, I will be going for the 550b as well.
 

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I mostly use my single stage for rifle and sometimes pistol as well. I'm not sure if I shoot to load or load to shoot so I'm in no big hurry usually. I don't always use my progressive......but when I do, it's a Dillon 550b. :biggrin:
 

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To add the voice of dissent, I have an SDB and a 550 and I much prefer to load pistol ammunition on the SDB. The handle has a shorter stroke and the shell plate auto indexes. I load faster on the SDB than the 550 by a fair margin. As for the cost of conversions. They really aren't all that dissimilar if you include the cost of dies for the 550 (the SDB conversions come with dies).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
...The Square Deal is a compact press that uses a proprietary die block. It's a little more complicated to change out calibers but not terribly so. It's geared towards pistol calibers. Most folks that use one have it set up for ONE caliber and then simply buy another Square Deal in a different caliber and mount it next to the first...and so on. Know of a few reloaders that have 3 permanently set up. Do have one friend that just changes calibers on his only press. The die block/caliber conversion is a bit pricey, but not extremely so. It's an excellent press if you're only reloading one or two pistol calibers at a low to moderate volume. It's auto indexing.

The 550b is a much larger press and manual indexing, but uses standard dies from any manufacturer. It's easily rifle caliber capable and many folks use there for 223 and 308 reloading among other calibers. It's the easiest and most cost efficient Dillon to caliber change. Assuming an extra toolhead of adjusted dies, same size primers and an attached powder dispenser, it's literally a 2 minute change. If you need to swap the dispenser it'll add another 2-3 minutes. Changing the primer size is another 5min. Loading 500rnds an hour is completely possible with minimal work...
If we were to take a poll in my house (this means if we ask my wife) it would come back with the clear result that buying different reloading machines for different calibers is HIGHLY unlikely in the foreseeable future. So that 550B really looks interesting. I've been on the Dillon site (I am not stuck on Dillon but I am starting there based on good reviews) and need to better understand the differences in day to day life between the 550B & Square Deal. Different caliber change outs appear to be 1/2 the cost with the 501, and rifle calibers can be done with the 501. These are two pretty good selling points.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As for the cost of conversions. They really aren't all that dissimilar if you include the cost of dies for the 550 (the SDB conversions come with dies).
Noted! Probably shouldn't admit to this but it took me a few minutes to figure out that SDB was Dillon Square Deal B. :)
 
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I bought my first Square Deal before they had a B in the 80's for 44 mags. Prior to that I loaded everything on my Herters single stage. I ended up sending the Dillon in after a gazillion rounds for a rebuild and they sent it back FREE with instructions about kits , and essentially it was now a SDB. Being as how it loads 45LC, 38Special/357Mag and those 44 Mags it gets used a lot more and I have replaced the bushings in it again. Basictly though, this Square Deal is 30 years old and I love it. Yes I do have a 550 for some rifles and two single stage presses for the misc/custom. Buy a SDB, no BS and a NO BS warrantee to boot.
 
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I have never reloaded either, but have been doing my research. I will probably go with the Dillon 550. The SDB is still on my radar. Only think keeping me from buying one already is the availability of powder. Powder for handguns is not available anywhere. I have been talking to someone who feels handgun powders will start appearing on shelves this summer, but until I can get my hands on some powder, I’ll not be buying any equipment at all. Just reloading manuals.

There are some good videos on YouTube on the SDB and the 550 that are worth watching. Changing calibers is much easier on the 550. A second SDB is an option, but not if you can’t afford it.
 

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I simply don't understand the "changing calibers is much easier on the 550" statements. The sum difference is 2 pins vs. 4 cap screws to remove the tool head. Yes, removing 4 cap screws takes more time than pulling 2 pins, but it doesn't take 60 seconds to do and it is as straight forward as any job gets. Heck, you'll waste that 60 seconds messing around with the shell plate bolt and set screw of the 550 as opposed to the SDB shoulder bolt.

The only reason to get a 550 over the SDB is if you plan to load bottle necks progressively.
 

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Both presses are great, but the SDB is limited the 550b is not, when I got back into shooting (spent 40 years in NJ so I was severely limited in what I could own) and moved to South Carolina, I swore i'd only be using handguns, but, less than a year after purchasing a few handguns I started picking up rifles, now I have 3 hand guns and over a dozen rifles, if I had chosen the SDB I'd be s**t outta luck for reloading and would have had to buy a new press to accomodate. Since this fellow hasn't started yet, I would think he'd be better off with a press that will do ANYTHING vs just pistol.
But, that's just me, honestly, it's a win win, if he gets a SDB and decides to get a rifle or two or three :) or more ESPECIALLY with Marlinitis then he'll just need another press! Well, and all new dies, I don't recall if the dies that work on the SDB will fit the 550b or not...but even so...it's all part of the fun! I mean, it's only money right? right? Please tell me I'm right! :flute:
 

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Thren' covered the differences between the SDB and the 550 well and the only thing I would take exception with is the statement that the SDB is at it's best for low to moderate volume. With the SDB it's not at all dificult to maintain 500 to 600 rounds per hour with nothing more than a half dozen pre-loaded primer tubes. In my experience, it would be a challenge to match that on a 550.

But...I'm going to take a different tract...

I have never reloaded.
With this in mind, I would suggest a simple single stage press or possibly a non-progressive turret press until you are fully aware of each step in the reloading process. There are a lot of nuances involved in even small things like case prep, primer & bullet seating, crimp, and a host of other things, that are often overlooked, or at least obscured, with a progressive. I feel it's best to learn each step in the process individually, then "progress" to a progressive when that understanding is complete.

Single station presses are inexpensive and will remain a useful tool even after the move to a progressive....and good speed can be accomplished even with a single station, when batch processing methods are employed...but you must learn to walk before you can run.

Roe
 

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I started out on a SDB press many years ago and would still have except some guy just had to have it and paid me all I had invested (plus) in it. I was shooting competition at the time and so was about 5 family members. I moved up to a 650 XL and with in 2 years, what I saved from reloading my own to what store bought ammo would have cost us I figured I paid for that press. The 650 XL is the Cadillac of the fleet IMHO. It will do them all. For a few pistol/revolver calibers a SDB will do a fine job. Big difference in price but also a big difference in what it can do. Make a sound decision in what you want to do as these things are not cheap but they have build in quality that will last a life time.
 
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I would like to speed up my reloading process and have looked at the SDB, 44 is my only pistol caliber . The 550 is not considered because of the manual rotation. I don't have enough hands. My question and or concern is the flipping of primers. How much of a problem is this ? Thanks, Jerry
 
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