So you have decided that you want a Dillon press but you are not sure what press to get?
Well here we are going to take a good look at each press. I have loaded hundreds of thousands of rounds commercially on every kind of Dillon machine and also use them for personal loading for everything except precision loads.
So first we have to look at what presses Dillon makes. You have the Square Deal B, the 550, 650 and 1050 each one has an advantage. I would also say “and a disadvantage” but I just can’t bring myself to say that because they are all great presses. There really is no way to go wrong with any dillon press but some just work better than others for certain things. They all come with an unconditional lifetime warranty with the exception of the 1050 and we will go over that more when I cover the 1050.
First and cheapest we have the Square Deal B press with a base price of $404.95. With all the accessories it comes out to $583.75. This is the press I have the least experience with. We had one in the shop I worked at but we didn’t use it often. It is an auto indexing progressive press. The Square Deal B is the one press that Dillon makes that I do actually see having a disadvantage, and they are two fold, but some loaders they may not see it as a disadvantage. First is it uses proprietary dies. Second, you can only load 18 different pistol calibers and no rifle calibers. Now this is fine for some people. If you only shoot pistols and never plan to load rifle or if you have a single stage press for precision or hunting rifles and just want to be able to crank out cheap high quality pistol ammo then this is a great press to look at. All of the dies are also carbide except the 44-40 dies which is a plus for this press.
Next we have the Dillon 550. This is a great press and I have one sitting on my bench as we speak. It is a manual indexing press with 4 stations on the tool head for dies. It will also accommodate up to a 460 weatherby and 338 lapua. Yes, it is perfectly capable of loading precision rounds. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. You see a lot of people on the internet say that because it’s not a single stage press. It can give you the same precision. Do you know what all the people who say that have in common? They have never used a Dillon 550!! Now if you want to use it for precision long range loads, I wouldn’t trust the powder drop. This is only because if I am doing precision loads, I measure every powder charge by hand. But i digress. The 550 has a nice starting price of $459.95 and fully decked out it costs $764.60.
Now onto the XL 650. In my opinion, this is the best press to get for home loading. It is a 5 station auto indexing press with automatic case feeder. The 5th station is normally used for a powder check die that will warn you if you over or under charge a cartridge adding an additional safety step. They also have aftermarket bullet feeders that are available to help speed up loading even more. You can easily crank out over 800 rounds an hour with the 650. All you have to do is pull the handle, add bullets and make sure you have powder, primers and brass in the machine. It won’t let you load up to a 460 weatherby or 338 lapua but I also don’t know anyone that’s going to be cranking out hundreds of those calibers an hour either, so that shouldn’t really be a deciding factor in this press. You can load up to a 45-70 and smaller so you can still load all the popular semi auto rifle calibers. Cost is a little more on the 650 and that’s really the only disadvantage it has. It starts at $579.95 and $1,154.55 fully decked out but keep in mind that the that the $579.95 price does NOT include the case feeder and without that you are better off getting the 550 for speed. The case feeder is $224.95
Next you have the super 1050. This thing is a monster. It’s an auto indexing progressive press with a 6 station toolhead. It also has a built in primer pocket swager so if you use military brass or anything with crimped primer pockets this speeds up loading immensely. With a bullet feeder you can crank out 1200+ rounds an hour. It’s a great machine, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for the home reloader unless you already have a 550 or 650 and need to produce a large volume of a single caliber. The reason I say that is, to put it bluntly, it’s a pain in the ass to change calibers and it expensive for conversion kits or quick change kits. The toolhead alone is $200.00. If you buy it, just for example 5.56/.223, because you shoot a lot of carbine matches then it’s great to process military brass on because of the built in swager or maybe you shoot a lot of pistol matches and use a couple of thousand 9mm rounds a week the it would again be a good option, however if you shoot 4 or 5 calibers that you want to reload I wouldnt recomend the 1050 because of cost and time to change calibers. The 1050 costs $1799.95 and comes with everything needed for 1 caliber. The 1050 is also considered a commercial press and only has a one year warranty unlike the rest of the dillon presses.
The last press that dillon makes is the BFR 50 BMG Machine. It’s a manual indexing press that’s designed for the 50 BMG round. It’s built like a tank and is designed to make match grade rounds. It can only be used with the 50 BMG round. But if you shoot a lot of 50 this is the press for you. It’s price is $1,079.95