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  #1  
Old 05-03-2019, 10:38 PM
DubfromGa DubfromGa is offline
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Reloading......possibly my next hobby. Have a few questions.

I handloaded many years ago with a single stage and the vast majority of my experience was with hunting rifle handloads.

It was a lot of fun seeing the group sizes shrink to dime size in my basic rifles.


Family and work demands cut down severely on hunting time as well as time at my bench. Had a buddy who wanted my gear and we struck up a deal and he took it all.

Years have passed and I find myself getting back into quick trips to the local ranges and having fun with my handguns.

I could use another hobby that would keep me occupied while I’m hanging out at home and caring for my wife, driving her to doctors appointments and such.

I’m thinking of buying a reloading setup and getting to the point where I can work on putting together some range ammo for my 9mm & 45acp 1911’s.


1) Is this something I could setup in my garage ? I have a nice bench out there but I live in an area where heat and high humidity are here a large part of the year.

2) Right now my range ammo is costing a little over twice the $$ for .45acp vs 9mm. Will this same ratio be the case with handloads ?

3) 1,000 rounds of new .45acp ammo costs me $350. What do you think my cost will be on handloads? (Assuming I’m using recovered brass and not considering equipment cost ?)

4) I have two Dillon dealers in the area. One of them runs classes that I would certainly be looking into. I’m not sure which specific press I’ll get. A buddy suggested I get two.....set one up for 9mm and the other for .45. I don’t know how valid that approach would be...but I’m open minded to various approaches)

Anyway, I could use any insight you’d care to pass along to an old dog wanting to learn new tricks.
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  #2  
Old 05-03-2019, 11:10 PM
TRX302 TRX302 is offline
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Buy another single stage press. I wouldn't go with a Dillon or similar unless I was using huge amounts of ammo in competition. It takes one or two minutes to change or adjust dies. (I have a Dillon; the time savings simply arent there for the small lots of odd calibers I load)

Cost of handloads is most dependent on what bullets you use, then how much brass you can recover, then powder, then primer prices. The largest single cost saving would be to use cast lead bullets instead of jacketed bullets. And you can buy once-fired brass instead of new stuff.

Right now, I can buy cheap 9mm for less than I can reload jacketed .45 for, and leave the aluminum, Berdan, or steel cases on the floor for the broom guy to sweep up. You might want something nicer than that, but you're going to have to watch your component prices like the proverbial hawk.

I'd like to finish by reminding you of Dean Grennell's observation from long ago: "I have found reloading doesn't save you any money. It just lets you shoot more for the same amount of money you were going to spend anyway."
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Old 05-03-2019, 11:35 PM
DubfromGa DubfromGa is offline
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Thanks for your insight TRX302.

I’ll bet that quote will prove to be true in my case, too.
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Old 05-04-2019, 12:32 AM
frogfurr frogfurr is online now
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If the time spent at the reloading bench isn't a consideration a single stage works as well as anything else and is a smaller investment. I went to a Dillon 550 because it was a better fit than a single stage to allow me to reload and take care of everything else. My shooting increased, my reloading increased, but my other chores did not decrease. So something had to give. The Dillon 550 worked out very well for this.

I reload in my garage. The metal surfaces are wiped down with an oily rag when a session is done. No different than any other metal tool in the garage.

Some may say otherwise but I do not like to store primers and powder in the heat of the garage. Powder and primers are kept in the house. No powder left in the dispenser in the garage. This to keep this powder from being affected by humidity.

Last edited by frogfurr; 05-04-2019 at 12:36 AM.
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  #5  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:05 AM
Twoboxer Twoboxer is online now
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Folks use different components and get them from different sources, sometimes on sale, most often bought in quantity. So telling you what your cost will be is problematic. And your own decisions on what to use will likely change over time. So we need to pick a single example to give you some idea what to expect.

Personally I ignore brass cost. If you can't get it for free, a good source for brass is to buy a case of factory ammo that uses BRASS cases and preferably does not crimp the primers in place.

Your bullet choice will be the major cost driver (~60%-75% of a pistol reload's cost). For this example I'll use Precision Delta FMJ RN bullets, 115gr in 9mm and 230gr in 45ACP. The cost when bought in 2,000 quantities is currently $166 and $268 including shipping, or $0.083 and $0.124 per round respectively. Some plated bullets can be bought cheaper . . . coated bullets are cheaper still . . . lead even cheaper . . . and cheapest can be cast-your-own depending on your lead source.

Powder Valley is arguably the best source for low everyday pricing for powder and primers. Those are Hazmats, so there is a charge for each shipment (~$28) plus the cost of shipping (varies, but $17 is a good average). 8 lbs (56,000gr, $156.50) of HP38 can be used in 9mm (4.7gr) and 45ACP (5.3gr). 8 lbs of powder using those charge weights is good for ~11,000 rounds of the 2 calibers combined. Cost per round is $0.013 and $0.015 respectively.

Winchester SP and LP primers cost $28 per 1,000, or $0.028 per round. The best buy would be to purchase 10,000 primers along with the 8lb jug of powder to minimize shipping and hazmat. Done that way, the cost per round for shipping and Hazmat is ~$0.005.

So, 9mm and 45ACP will cost $0.129 and $0.172 per round respectively. As mentioned earlier, costs can vary significantly based on bullet choices, vendor choice, quantities purchased, and more.

Compared to today's prices for 9mm (Blazer Brass $160/1000, including shipping, online source), there isn't much to be saved. But 45ACP can be made for roughly half of what you are currently paying for factory ammo. (Note that as the 2020 election gets near, prices for ammo and components will likely rise, and availability will suffer.)

Finally, using a progressive press for reloading doesn't make much sense for runs of less than 500, and preferably 1500 rounds, before a caliber changeover.

If you assume $600 to get set up with a Dillon 550 (an absolute minimum), at TODAY'S COSTS you would need to shoot 19,000 rounds of 9mm or 3,400 rounds of 45ACP to simply recover your equipment costs.

Hope this is more helpful than confusing lol. Reloading pistol is more than a tad different than rifle where savings can be $0.75 per round (308 or 30-06 match) to $3.00 per round (338LM match).
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  #6  
Old 05-04-2019, 02:12 AM
DubfromGa DubfromGa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogfurr View Post
If the time spent at the reloading bench isn't a consideration a single stage works as well as anything else and is a smaller investment. I went to a Dillon 550 because it was a better fit than a single stage to allow me to reload and take care of everything else. My shooting increased, my reloading increased, but my other chores did not decrease. So something had to give. The Dillon 550 worked out very well for this.

I reload in my garage. The metal surfaces are wiped down with an oily rag when a session is done. No different than any other metal tool in the garage.

Some may say otherwise but I do not like to store primers and powder in the heat of the garage. Powder and primers are kept in the house. No powder left in the dispenser in the garage. This to keep this powder from being affected by humidity.

I can set up a storage spots for primers and powder that will be inside the house but near the garage.

Iím not going back to the single stage-only world again. I may add one to work on hunting rifle rounds, but Iím wanting to be able to run more efficiently for my handgun range ammo.

Iím looking forward to heading by the shop again and getting some updated pricing and a schedule of their classes. Hopefully I can get some saddle time on the different models and see what will fit my budget the best.
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:49 AM
DWARREN123 DWARREN123 is offline
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I do 9mm and 45 acp on a Lee Classic Turret. Works well for me and although the savings are not great I do have a lot of fun making my own ammo.
The Lee works well and has for years and many thousand of rounds.
I use mostly plated bullets and get primers and powder ae cheap as possible, local supply house (Midsouth Shooters Supply).
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:22 AM
JamieC JamieC is offline
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A lot depends on how much time you intend to devote to reloading, how big each 'block' of time might be. My first press was a Lee turret, still works well but in time I realized that the total time required started to out pace the time I had not to mention how long my attention span might be on a particular day! A progressive allows less and smaller 'blocks' of time to reload a lot more ammo. If your life style only allows an hour at a time let's say, being able to produce 2-3 times the ammo makes a lot of sense.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:35 AM
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Imissedagain Imissedagain is offline
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For 45/9/380 ammo ..... get a 550 or 650 with all the goodies.
It’s more about loading ammo to do exactly what you need than saving money.
In big bore handguns 44Mag/45Colt/460-500 S&W Mag a single stage is useful and the savings make it down right affordable.
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2019, 07:17 AM
DesmoAndrew DesmoAndrew is offline
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Like you, I handloaded many years ago ... got out of it, then got back into it.

My 45 acp handloads run me about .175 per round. Winchester large pistol primer, Bullseye, Xtreme plated bullets. Cost savings aside (but not time savings), I do enjoy being able to craft ammo that meets my needs/uses. I do ~10,000 rds per year.

Much of my reloading gear was purchased used. Mixture of Lee presses and wide variety of the rest of equipment. A Lee Classic turret provides enough throughput for my needs. I usually run batches of 100 to 200 rds.

And best wishes for your wife ...
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:19 AM
RandyP RandyP is offline
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Unless you are a high volume shooter, I would highly recommend the Lee CLASSIC turret, holds 4 dies, auto-advances, and can easily make 150-175 rounds per hour at a relaxed pace. Your budget WILL appreciate the choice of this specific Lee press. Likely 1/2 the $$$ investment of any Dillon model, and even the Lee haters agree this one is a good tool.

Been reloading on mine for 10 years now, and find it serves me well as a hobby provider and an ammunition plant that more than meets MY realistic ammo needs.

Obviously Dillons are known as the Caddy of reloading machines, and the choice of many very high volume shooters, but the LCT is a great mid-point option between the single stage and a full-boat progressive. I will NOT expect your local Dillon dealer to agree with me - LOL
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:59 AM
lhawkins lhawkins is offline
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I have a Lee Turret and a Hornady LnL. I still load PR as a single stage on the Lee and use it for depriming rifle.

I load many calibers, so the LnL made more sense to me than the Dillon. I have other Dillon products as well.

You can buy cheap 9 for maybe a few cents more than you can reload. If your press was a turret or SS, I would just buy the ammo. For me, my time is not worth saving a buck or 2.

45 will be more favorable in the way of costs if you get into reloading. Reloading really is a cost savings for Precision Rifle and magnum handgun carts.

Reloading really becomes a hobby unto itself. I find load development and reloading enjoyable when I am not rushed to crank out ammo for a match. Then there are gadget and gizmos we buy to make reloading "easier"

Once you have more access to ammo, you pretty much shoot more and overall, there is little savings in total. Your costs per round will go down, but typically you shoot more.

For comfort factor alone, I would not reload in a hot humid garage.
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Old 05-04-2019, 08:40 AM
Nitro.45 Nitro.45 is offline
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As suggested by some, a Dillon 550 might be the ticket. The interchangeable tool head will have you converted to a different caliber in minutes, no need for two presses. These things do not cost as much as a car as some would lead you to believe. You still have to buy all of the other stuff that goes along with loading regardless of what press you settle on. Despite an earlier comment, you can certainly swing out to the garage and zap out a hundred rounds in no time. Iím not sure what that 500 to 1500 rounds to make it worthwhile comment was about. Itís a simple machine. You can always upgrade to bigger models with bullet and case feeders if you feel the need to up production. You are past a single stage, a turret would be fine too, but you will soon look toward the progressive.......itís a sickness!
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Old 05-04-2019, 08:51 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DubfromGa View Post

2) Right now my range ammo is costing a little over twice the $$ for .45acp vs 9mm. Will this same ratio be the case with handloads ?

3) 1,000 rounds of new .45acp ammo costs me $350. What do you think my cost will be on handloads? (Assuming Iím using recovered brass and not considering equipment cost ?)

Anyway, I could use any insight youíd care to pass along to an old dog wanting to learn new tricks.
For both 9mm & 45acp the cost of powder & primer will be about the same. Approx. 2 cents per round for powder and approx. 3 cents per round for primer. The biggest cost item is the bullet. Purchased bullet prices range from about 7 cents up to about 25 cents for a premium HP bullet.

My recommendation for 45acp is a 200 grain coated semi-wadcutter at about 10 cents apiece. For 9mm, a 115/125gr plated round nose (Xtreme) at about 10 cents each.

So, in general, you can load 45acp and 9mm for similar costs of about 15 cents per round. Some say they can purchase factory 9mm for less than that so (to them) the time & expense of reloading is not warranted.
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Old 05-04-2019, 08:56 AM
flechero flechero is online now
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good 45acp loads can be made $0.13/ea if you shop smart

Once you find a lead coated bullet you like you can buy them for 10 cents+/- delivered (ex. precision bullets 200gr RNF is one of my favorites) some even cheaper but I really like these

Then buy primers and powder in bulk on a free hazmat day from one of the online suppliers (they all run a free or $5/$10 hazmat day every month or two. Or I also buy CCI primers 5/k for $120 (no tax or hazmat) and certain bullets from a guy who sells bulk at the gunshow

I paid off my 550 and accessories in about 4 months over bulk online ammo costs... but I wasn't shooting any 9mm them. If you shoot anything odd (like 38super, 10mm or 460, etc you can really save some cash.)

I don't factor my labor costs into loading because I enjoy it. Although I have done the math for fun and I make about $68/hr if I start with loaded primer tubes. It would be my only hobby that makes/saves me any money!
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Old 05-04-2019, 09:09 AM
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I started on a single stage, loading about fifty rounds of handgun ammo an hour.
Switching to a progressive increased output to 200 rounds an hour.
Different people gauge their per-hour differently, some considering only the time spent pulling the handle, others including filling primer tubes and boxing the loaded rounds.

I remember showing-up at a buddy's house, to carpool to a match, not leaving a whole lot of extra time to get to a ferry landing, and when he told me he still needed to load his match ammo I was more than a little surprised, but with a case feeder and other time-saving features on his press, he loaded 100 rounds in twelve minutes.

I have two Dillon Square Deal B presses, they're perfect for cranking out handgun ammo, though not as capable as bigger, more expensive models.

I had one of them set up for 9mm, and after loading 100 rounds, switched it to .38 Super, loaded 100 of those, then switched it back to 9mm, all in about an hour and half.

I consider loading to be a relaxing pastime as well as a money-saver, so I'm not really interested in breaking any records.
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Old 05-04-2019, 10:43 AM
flechero flechero is online now
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Different people gauge their per-hour differently, some considering only the time spent pulling the handle, others including filling primer tubes and boxing the loaded rounds.
That's true... I'll note that in my case it only takes a couple minutes to load primer tubes and with a shockbottle gauge, I gauge and load mtm boxes in one quick step.

Quote:
I consider loading to be a relaxing pastime as well as a money-saver, so I'm not really interested in breaking any records.
I do as well... I just wanted to see what my hourly output could be and what the numbers looked like in a dedicated, focused hour. I normally load slower and in 100 or 200 round increments.
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Old 05-04-2019, 11:11 AM
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I'd suggest you approach reloading again from a brand new experience perspective. I'd tell a new reloader to get a copy of The ABCs of Reloading. Read it to renew your reloading knowledge and you will see not only the "how to" but "whys" and equipment used. A single stage press is an excellent way to get reminded of the basics (you can't go wrong with any press made today, except maybe Smart Reloader, and if you decide later, once you get the basics down, to get a "faster, more, faster" set up you will always have good use for a single stage). Get some up to date reloading manuals; at least a Lyman 50th for general reloading and a manual from the manufacturer of the bullets you choose...

When you ask "what's best" on a reloading forum you are gonna get 98% personal opinions, and very few if any facts. No all bad, but keep that in mind. And beware the "tool snobs" ("If it ain't RCBS [or Redding, Dillon, etc.] it's junk")...

Another hint I post for newer reloaders is my Rule #1; I pay no attention to any reloading data that I don't see in my published reloading manuals (nuttin' from any forum, range or gun shop conversation or "pet loads" website).

Go slow, double check everything, and most important, have fun...
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Old 05-04-2019, 11:35 AM
Oldfut808 Oldfut808 is offline
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I approach a problem from the backside. Define your goal first.
So, I have 2 questions for dubfromga.....

1. How much ammo do you want to shoot every month? Specifically, how many of each caliber?

2. How much time do you have to produce it?
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:32 PM
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Ditto on the Lee turret for this reason: you can easily remove the advancing mechanism and use it as a single stage when desired.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:07 PM
frogfurr frogfurr is online now
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I reloaded for decades on a single stage and got my first progressive (Dillon 550) about three years ago. I enjoyed reloading on a single stage and I enjoy reloading on the Dillon now.

Would it have been more practical and economical, investment wise, for me to have stayed with the single stage? It certainly would have.

Getting in a hurry or trying to do something when there is just not enough time can take the enjoyment out of a lot of things. I was getting to that point when I bought the progressive. There's no price tag on this.

Finally, no matter how practical, you'll never hear me say I'm going to sell my progressive and go back to a single stage. And I enjoy reloading on the Dillon more than a single stage now. Dillon makes an awful nice press. Not saying the other brands aren't as good but once I went progressive there was no going back.

Last edited by frogfurr; 05-04-2019 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:01 PM
flechero flechero is online now
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I began loading on a 550 as my first press. I ran it 1 round at a time until I was comfortable with each operation and the die settings & powder measure. Once you decide to run it as a progressive, you can go as slow or as fast as you want and with manual indexing, you can still easily check the work piece in each station before advancing. (or dump the charged case into a scale to verify accuracy)

I have a couple SS presses now and everything has a purpose but for general pistol ammo, I couldn't see loading on a SS. I really enjoy loading but I have a job and family so I can't dedicate tons of hours to it.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:33 PM
Sergio Natali Sergio Natali is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieC View Post
A lot depends on how much time you intend to devote to reloading, how big each 'block' of time might be. My first press was a Lee turret, still works well but in time I realized that the total time required started to out pace the time I had not to mention how long my attention span might be on a particular day! A progressive allows less and smaller 'blocks' of time to reload a lot more ammo. If your life style only allows an hour at a time let's say, being able to produce 2-3 times the ammo makes a lot of sense.
I agree completely I've been using a LEE Turret for decades now, and reloaded I don't know how many thousands cartridges in cal .45ACP 38SPL 40 S&W 357 MAG. and many more still in cal 9x21 IMI.
My advices are never be in a hurry, take your time and concentrate while reloading, always start small and working your way up is the safest way to reload; all my reloads group tighter and reliability is probably better than any factory ammo.
Never had one single issue in 30+ years.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:00 PM
FN in MT FN in MT is offline
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I have a pair of early Dillon 550's that have loaded over a hundred thousand rds in the past 25+ years. Hell...maybe 30 years?

Sent both in for upgrades and rebuilds a few years back. One is set for small primers, the other large. An extravagance, as changing over from one to the other isn't REALLY a huge deal.

The 550's are IMHO a nice starter press for progressives. Easy to note whats going on with each station and easy to back up if required as your finger does the advancing.

I have the little LED light set up as well, which has really lit up the cases so one can always be sure there's the right powder level in the case, before a bullet gets seated.

If You go Dillon, use Dillon dies.

Keep your bench clean, with only ONE powder, bullet, primer combo on the bench at one time.

Check for proper powder charge weight as well as over all ctg length from time to time. I have screwed up and loaded LOTS of bad ammo a few times until I learned that lesson. Learn from my 30 yr old mistake!

I have had great success with thousands of .45 acp's on the Dillon. I also cast my own slugs which work well at the .45's relatively low velocities. a 200 gr H&G #68 SWC target slug and a 230 gr RN lead for other work. Casting can really get your costs down for .45's IF You can easily set up for it, have the time and ACCESS to free or cheap lead. THAT is a whole other issue.

Frankly I like loading for pistol. Casting and running the Dillons are my winter time hobbies.
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:24 PM
bgw45 bgw45 is offline
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I'm 73 and have reloaded for 24 yrs. I started with a Lee progressive. Good ammo produced but too much tinkering to keep it going. I switched to Dillon and found reliable equipment. My first blue press was a 550. I loaded everything on it for about 7 yrs. Added a 650 ... dedicated to 45 with case and bullet feeders. Started shooting 9s later so I got a Square Deal B. The SDB is a great little press and produces ammo a little faster than my 550 does. But, my big old hands require me to be more "careful" with the SDB.

If I had it to do over, I would buy two 550s leaving one set-up for small primer and one set-up for large. I could easily forgo the speed advantage for the simple rhythmic function of the 550.having two would reduce caliber change times to less than 5 minutes while lowering the total investment in equipment.

So if anyone wants a used SDB, let me know. ( sorry )....
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