Dillon XL 650

In the “Which Progressive Reloading Press Should I Buy” quest, in this article I share what I’ve learned about the Dillon XL 650 and my opinions of it.

The XL 650 is the upper-middle product in the Dillon line of progressing reloading presses. For most reloaders this is the “I’ve-died-and-gone-to-heaven.” press. It is a 5-station press, has just about every feature you could want, and can crank out rounds at the rate of 800-1000 per hour.

I should disclose my own personal bias: There is a Dillon ‘religion’.  You see a lot of Dillon Disciples on the various online forums and their mantra (and answer to almost any question) is “Get a Dillon, nothing else is as good.” I find that a bit off-putting, enough that it makes me want to be a contrarian.

PROS:

  1. It’s a Dillon.  Strong and bulletproof.  And if you are the kind who wants to make the ‘right’ impression, saying you have a Dillon 650 will do it.
  2. It has five stations. This means it can perform five operations simultaneously on five separate cases with a single pull of the handle. I won’t always use all five but having them gives me more flexibility than with a four-station press.
  3. Dillon’s Lifetime No B.S. warranty.
  4. Optional case feeder. With a case feeder essentially you dump empty shell cases into a large hopper and it automatically places them in the shellplate. It will probably be a long time before I need a case feeder but I can certainly see one in my future at some point.
  5. The Strong Mount. While it’s real purpose is to raise the press so it is comfortable operating it while standing, for me the advantage of the strong mount is that it allows the press to be mounted so that it does not overhang the front of the bench. The Strong Mount is about $50, and it’s something none of the other press manufacturers offer.

CONS:

  1. Caliber changeovers are expensive.  About the cheapest you can get away with is about $75 (Caliber Conversion Kit, Toolhead (Die holder), and powder die). It seems that most reloaders who are serious also buy a separate powder measure for each caliber and keep them permanently attached to their respective toolheads. This makes the actual cost of the changeover about $150 per caliber. With four calibers (40, 45, 223, 308) I’d have more invested in caliber changovers than in the press itself.
  2. Caliber changeovers are time consuming. Just watch these two videos to see what’s involved:Dillon XL 650 Caliber Change Part 1

    Dillon XL 650 Caliber Change Part II

    This is actually the main reason I decided against the 650. Caliber changes are such a pain that it really precludes doing them just to load a couple hundred rounds.

  3. It’s not really intended to be used without the Case Feeder. Without it, you insert cases twlve at a time in the vertically-oriented tube. As one reloader said, “Using a 650 without a case feeder is just silly.” Add the cost of the Case Feeder and feedplates and you’re now looking at an $850 price tag, and that’s without the Strong Mount and Roller Handle.
  4. My perception from reading the online forums is that the powder drop and primer systems are a wee bit less reliable than those found on the Hornady LnL AP and RCBS Pro 2000.

A really good article comparing the 650, the Hornady LnL AP, and the Lee Loadmaster can be found here.

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