I just decided to get back into metallic cartridge reloading and have recently done a LOT of research. Dillon has a very good reputation - especially for customer service. The dies, as Jerry stated, are proprietary. You can't use a Redding, RCBS, Lee, or any non Dillon die in the Square D press. And you can only load pistol ammo on the Square D. Dillon has "higher grades" of presses that are progressive - check out the Dillon website. Suffice to say the Dillon 550 is a progressive that you have to manually advance, the 650 automatically indexes as does the Hornaday LocknLoad. To really crank out the ammo you need to purchase a shell case feeder - several hundred more. For utmost production you also need a bullet feeder. With those additions all you do is pull the handle and a loaded cartridge is kicked out with each stroke of the press.
For low volume loading I think you can use any single stage press, especially if you purchase a powder measure that will throw a measured charge without having to weigh each one. Lee makes one to consider as does RCBS and others. Think of the whole process as purchasing a MEC jr. for very low volume with multiple strokes of the handle to end up with a loaded shell/cartridge or purchasing a MEC 9000,PW, or Spolar for ultimate volume of reloads. And then adding a the hydraulic or electric mechanized unit.
If you plan to shoot quite a bit then a progressive press is practically a must. I ruled out all but Dillon and Hornaday . . . . specifically the Dillon 650 and the Hornaday LocknLoad models as they were the most comparable re: features. There are multiple reviews given if you Google Dillion 650 vs Hornaday LocknLoad. You'll need to be aware after the initial investment, even with the package deals, that you'll end up spending additional dollars, perhaps even hundreds of dollars, to obtain the dies, shell holders, etc.
Right now there is a feeding frenzy in the metallic cartridge ammunition world. (As I'm finding out). I did get rather lucky to find a Hornaday at a discounted price for cash at a local reloading store. The Dillon and Hornaday presses are on back order or for sale at a multiple of MSRP on eBay. I just purchased the Hornaday LocknLoad and now need the shell plates for 9mm and .45ACP. Hornaday has them on back order and eBay sellers are getting 50% over MSRP. I'm trying to refrain from paying an inflated price and waiting until the situation normalizes with costs returning to not more than listed retail.
You'll also need to locate the required components - powder, primers, and bullets. The local reloading shop got a delivery of 150,000 smal pistol primers and they were sold out in two days.
That being said I have been to a number of outlets including the big box stores and there is little, if any, ammo for sale in the standard pistol calibers including .22 short,long, or long rifle so reloading may be your only source of ammunition at less than inflated prices.
Send me a pm if you'd like more info. Best of luck
I have the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP. It handles everything from 380ACP to 340 Weatherby Mags with ease. Slick setup with the splined bushings. Just rotate a partial turn and pull the dies out. Replace them just as quick and they're already set, no adjustments.
I develop the load on a Rock Chucker, then once I'm content I switch everything over to the Hornady.
Good advice from amboy49. I would start out with single stage press if you are not loading hundreds of rounds a week for competiton. That way if you like reloading metallic you can always sell your machine and move up to a progressive. Dillons are fantastic machines from a great company, but someone once told me you shouldn't learn to drive in a Porsche.
Buy manuals and read all you can. Start with The ABC's of reloading by Rodney James about $15 on Amazon. You can borrow it free if you have Amazon Prime and Kindle(the wife was surprised when that one showed up in her Kindle library). The Lyman and Speer books are also good. 9mm is a small cartridge with some high pressure and not a lot of room for error. You will need to taper crimp your loaded cases so they feed correctly and do not chuck the bullet into the barrel when feeding. 9mm headspaces on the case as well so you have to trim your brass between .744 and .755. You will need calipers.
Finding a local reloader who is willing to help you get started is a real plus. The internet forums that discuss metallic reloading and YouTube have something to offer as well.
As I think was said before, first buy a good manual or two.
While they cost more, I personally use a Redding press and Redding Titanium Carbide dies and Redding Profile Crimp dies. Yes, I know the Redding costs a bit more but I sure have been pleased with their products.
I don't load for volume as much as I load for relaxation. I can still produce all of the ammunition I need. I was fortunate and had already purchased a good bit of bullets, primers and powder before these componets started to vanish from the market.
Here's a picture of my Dillon Square Deal set-up. I bought it used, immediately sent it to Dillon for a go through, which brought it to better than new condition.
I use it to load both .45ACP and 9mm. It works like a champ. The downside as mentioned earlier is the limit to handgun loading only--not a problem if all you need to do is handgun.
I bought the mounting brackets cheap on EBay, but learned they weren't for the Square Deal, but for other Dillon models. I wanted my unit to be above the bench so I fabricated two C-channel extenders and a top plate. As you can see the unit is permanently mounted to a piece of 1" oak and then lag bolted to my bench. My Mec on the other end of the bench is mounted the same way providing bench top configuration flexibility.
I'd look for a deal on a used Dillon. They are the best, on par in my opinion with Spolar and PW in the shotgun world. Dillon products are expensive though, but very high quality. The Dillon Blue Press is their monthly catalog.
My advice worth what is cost. Buy the loader that U feel will serve your
needs for years to come.
why buy something to learn on - sell or give it away,then buy another and
have to learn all over again. Just my opinion from 40+ years of