Tuesday, November 14, 2006

First opinion on the Dillon press

I wish I'd bought one years ago.

I had ordered some primer pickup tubes which came in a few days ago, and I finally had time to set up the press, adjust the powder measure, tweak the seating and crimping dies for my loads. I just loaded 100 rounds of .45acp, with all operations- depriming/sizing, primer seating, powder, bullet seating and crimping- done continuously, and it's bloody wonderful. Not a hitch running the thing, and I just cycled some of the loads through my Kimber with no problems(not the same as firing, but I don't want to upset the neighbors).

Do get the primer pickup tubes. Makes charging the primer magazine fast & easy. You might also get one of their primer flipper trays: I don't have one now, but one of these days I will; it's not as nice as the pickup tubes(I'm guessing, I worked around it ok) but it would be a nice thing to have.

It is a new set of motions to learn, so start off slow and get them right. Biggest problem I had- and it only happened twice- is priming. When you pull the lever back up from the resizing step it rotates the shell holder to the next stage(priming/charging) and at the end of the stroke you then have to push the handle up just a bit further; that's where the ram pushes up to seat the primer. I didn't do that twice, which meant getting out the bullet puller to remove the bullet and dump the powder and put the cases back through.

So far, that's about it. Read the book and take it slow, and it works great. Once the first full cycle has gone through you just
put a fired case in the first position,
put a bullet in the charged case in position three,
pull the handle, then push up
and another loaded cartridge pops out the side.
Literally pops out; there's a spring that kicks the finished round out into a chute that drops it into a bin.

Kevin was right, I like it.

It does address one of the problems that keeps a lot of people- Kim du Toit for instance- from handloading: time. It does take time, especially if you cast your own bullets for some things. And when you've got kids at home- let alone home-schooling- you don't have a whole lot of free time. The ammo I shoot the most of, the handgun stuff, this will really speed up.

The single-stage will still be handy. Some ammo, like the Auto Rim for the Webley and the .38S&W I don't run through enough- at this point, at least- to make it worth spending about $75 for Dillon dies for this press. And the rifle ammo won't fit in this thing, so unless I pick up a 550 or something later on, one step at a time for it. If I can pick up that Johnson powder measure later on it'll speed up the rifle a lot as the most time-consuming part of it is measuring the powder.

So it's a good rig, and it'll get a lot of use.

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