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Dillon RL 550B

Filed in Articles, Choosing a Progressive Press, Dillon RL 550B by on June 20, 2011 1 Comment • views: 2904

In the “Which Progressive Reloading Press Should I Buy” quest, in this article I share what I’ve learned about the Dillon RL 550B and my opinions of it.

Dillon makes fantastic equipment and the RL 550B is no exception. It’s a fine press that I would be very happy with.  I’m a tool junky and so it’s important to me that the tool gives me pleasure as I work with it. If you are a tool junky then you understand. On top of that Dillon Precision is right across town in Scottsdale, AZ so they are easy to visit.

I should start out with 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.


  1. The RL 550 is a strong, bulletproof press that will last a lifetime.
  2. 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.
  3. Popular and proven.
  4. Dillon’s Lifetime No B.S. warranty.
  5. Very reasonably priced


  1. It’s a four-station press, not five. If I’m going to buy a tool I expect to have for many years then I want the most capability and expandability that I can reasonably afford. There are too many good five-station alternatives in this price range for me to settle for a four-station press.
  2. Manual Indexing.  First an explanation: Casings are held in place in the press in a shellplate, with positions that align with the dies at the top of the press.

    In a manually indexed press you must manually rotate the shellplate before each pull of the handle. This makes the mechanical aspects of the press simpler, but it is an additional operation that your hands need to perform.

    In an auto-indexing press the shellplate rotates automatically with each pull of the handle. In the early days of progressive presses, getting auto-indexing to work reliably was very frustrating. The RL 550B is not the only press to use manual indexing. You can stil get the RCBS Pro 2000 in a manual indexing version.

    These days however, the major manufacturers have gotten the bugs worked out.  I hear of almost no one complaining that their press’s indexing doesn’t work.

  3. I’ve watched the YouTube videos and I’ve even operating the RL 500B for a bit while visiting the Dillon store. There are enough parts in motion that it brings back memories of Rube Goldburg. The word ‘simple’ is not one I would use to describe a Dillon press.
  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
  5. When you start adding in a few really-nice-to-have extras (Strong Mount, Roller Handle, etc) the price starts to get expensive.
  6. Caliber changes can get 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 three calibers (45, 223, 308) I’d have more invested in caliber changovers than in the press itself.

Comments (1)

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  1. Boyd says:

    This makes me want to try Dillon. The pros are all good but I think they have been outnumbered by the cons. But overall it;s still good.

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