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Hornady Lock-N-Load AP

Filed in Articles, Choosing a Progressive Press, Hornady LnL AP by on June 23, 2011 9 Comments • views: 5568

In the “Which Progressive Press Should I Buy” quest, the current top contender is the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP.

Some reasons why:

1. Except for the Lee Loadmaster it is the least expensive press but it’s quality seems to be comparable to Dillon and RCBS. The fact that they are offering 500 free bullets helped too – for me that’s $150 worth of .308 bullets. Of course, this will be a long-term investment so spending spending a couple hundred dollars more or less is not a major consideration.

2. It has five stations. The RCBS Pro 2000 has five stations but the powder drop is really fixed in Station 3 so you lose some flexibility. The Dillon 650 also has five stations but it is a lot more money. The Dillon 650 has other issues that make it less attractive as well (I’ll cover them elsewhere)

3. Fast, easy, and inexpensive caliber changes. I’ll need to buy a shellplate for each caliber. I’ll want a set of LnL Die Bushings for each die.  It comes with five, but a pack of 10 more is about $55. It comes with both rifle and pistol powder measures (the thingy that sticks into the powder drop’s rotating cylinder and and sets the amount of powder). It comes with everything for both small and large primers. It could turn out that I’ll want a separate powder drop for pistol but that’s not a necessity.

Here is’s video of doing a caliber change

4. Earlier vintages of the LnL AP had problems with the case ejector and the priming system. Based upon all the reading I’ve been doing, they have worked out the bugs.

5. Though I liked the straightforwardness of RCBS’s APS priming system, the thought of having to load priming strips causes me to hesitate.  You can get APS strips preloaded with CCI primers but I use Winchester primers.

6. I can add a case feeder and/or bullet feeder in the future if the need arises. The RCBS Pro 2000 offers a bullet feeder but not a case feeder.  The Dillon 650 has case feeder and bullet feeder but it is not really designed to be used without the case feeder.

7. It is a relatively simple press.  When I watch videos of the Dillon and the Loadmaster I start thinking about Rube Goldberg.

8. I like it that as the ram moves stop-to-stop, it needs to rotate only a half-step. This means that the casings rotate a half-step on the way down and a half-step on the way up.  I think that this will mean things will run much smoother with less chance of spilling powder.

9. The powder drop/powder measure system seems to be held in high regard, better than the Dillon and on-par with the RCBS (I think I read that RCBS actually licenses the design from Hornady).

10. As I scan the various online forums, All the LnL owners seem to he happy with almost no problems.  (I do find a lot of older posts describing problems with the case ejector and the priming system but owners seem to say that these two issues have now been resolved.)

Some concerns:

The Hornady LnL AP appears to require more space in front of the bench than any of the others.  It sticks out from the front edge of the bench almost 6 inches. (One of the plusses of the Dillon 550 is that when mounted on their Strong Mount there is no overhang). Why is this important to me? because I’m probably going to construct a bench along the side wall of the garage.  I’m one of those strange people who keeps his cars in the garage.  As a result, I’ve got about 20 inches of depth available along the wall, meaning that the combined depth of the bench and the protrubing part of the press needs to be 20 inches or less.

Likewise, it looks like there is more of the press below the bench than the others.This means that if I choose to mount it on some kind of thing like the Dillon Strong mount it’s going to raise the press up pretty high.

Primer PIckup Tubes are a little pricey, about $8-$9 each. A tube holds 100 primers. I’d like to load 1000 rounds in a session. This means I have to stop every hundred rounds and load the pickup tube or spend $90 on ten tubes. I’m told that loading the pickup tube is a 2-minute job so perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions. I’m also told that the Dillon tubes also work and they are a lot less money.

There is a really good side-by-side comparison of the Hornady LnL AP vs Dillon 650 vs Lee Loadmaster here.

UPDATE: After weighing all the factors, the Hornady Lock-n-Load AP won out and I bought it.

Here is a link to the Hornady LnL-AP press at Brownells.

Click Here To Read:
Hornady LnL-AP Setup


Comments (9)

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  1. Which Progressing Reloading Press Should I Buy? | | March 21, 2013
  1. Mike says:

    I wish I found this site earlier when I bought my press, but after reading this, I guess I made the right decision. I love my Hornady LnL.

    Great site btw. I enjoy reading the articles and I’m glad that stumbled on your YT page which lead me here. Keep up the good work.

  2. Dave says:

    It has been almost a year since you did your review of the Hornady LNL AP Press. Since that
    time has your opinion changed with regard to which would be the better press for the new
    reloader? Hornady LNL AP, or Dillon? I’m hours away from dropping down the money and need
    your help as to which one would be the better choice.



    • dbarnhart says:

      I am not sorry I bought the LnL and faced with the same choice again I would most likely make the same decision.

      Both machines are excellent high quality machines. In my opinion, your reloading style will dictate which you choose.

      BTW, I’m not sure which Dillon you are considering, the 550 or the 650?

      Dillon designs machines that – once set up – excel at producing thousands of rounds of ammunition reliably. The downside is the setup, ie caliber changes. Caliber changes are time-consuming, particularly primer changes). You can spend money and buy enough extras to make them fast but when I looked at it I found that by the time I bought enough ‘stuff’ to quickly change among three calibers I had exceeded the cost of the press itself.

      Therefore (at least in my opinion) If you are going to be reloading a single caliber (or doing infrequent caliber changes) then a Dillon would be a better choice.

      If you live in the Phoenix, Az area, there is something to be said for being able to walk into the Dillon facility in Scottsdale with the piece that’s causing you a problem, so that might be something to think about too.

      I really have no complaints about my Hornady LnL. I would say that the only thing that requires a little occasional attention is the priming system. It has a couple of aspects of its design that are important to understand in order for it to work flawlessly. This thread on THR covers the topic pretty well:

      If you reload for lots of calibers and/or change calibers frequently then I think the Hornady is a better choice. I typically reload in batches of 500-1000 rounds and I find that the Lock-N-Load system allows me to change calibers quickly without spending a lot of money doing so. I would think nothing of changing calibers to reload a couple hundred rounds, and have done so on several occasions.

      I will also add that when I reload .45acp I’m using all five stations so the four-station Dillon 550 would be a problem for me. (That was the biggest reason I ruled out the 550 a year ago.)

      A side note: I frequently read about guys owning multiple Dillon 550’s, one for each caliber. I never read about anyone owning multiple Hornady LnL’s. there’s a message there.

      Case Feeders and Bullet Feeders:
      I have neither. For the amount of ammo that I need to produce, I really don’t feel the need for a case feeder or bullet feeder and I have no experience with either one. The only thing I will add to that is that the design of the Dillon 650 almost requires a case feeder. One reloader said that trying to use a Dillon 650 without a case feeder was ‘silly’.

      • David says:

        Thanks for the reply. I did make the purchase of a New Hornady LNL press based upon
        your comments and advice. I’m very anxious to get started. 600 Hornady 185 grain bullet
        arrived this week because of the press purchase, and die set.
        Keep up the great work ! Again Thanks


      • Dave says:

        Thanks for your review. It helped alot! The Hornady LNL press was a easy choice after reading
        your review.
        Thanks again,,,,keep up the “Great” work


  3. T Blain Newman says:

    Hi, I just recently found your website and I really enjoy reading your articles; I find them to be very informative. I reload as a hobby(my only hobby) and have learned much from your site.
    I was hoping I could ask you a question: I currently have a LoadMaster and am very happy with it but I am considering buying either another LoadMaster or the Hornady LNL AP. The reason I want another press is – I would like to set-up one press to Decap, Size and Prime only, and then, set up the other 5 station press as follows – (using an auto case feeder),Station 1. Powder drop & bell case mouth, Station 2. Powder Check Die, Station 3. Bullet Feeder Die, Station 4. Bullet Seating Die, Station 5. Factory Crimp Die.
    I already use a Hornady LNL Powder Measure and like it and have been leaning toward the LNL AP press as the 5 station press (described above); My question is – could the Powder Measure be stationed in Station 1?(I know I can place the powder measure in station 1 on the LoadMaster)
    Thanks again for your great website…please let me know what you think.

    • dbarnhart says:

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Yes, you can pout the powder measure at station 1 on the Hornady LnL. Keep in mind that priming happens between station 1 and 2, so priming would have to be done as a separate step.

      My advice is that if you are truly happy with your Loadmaster then you should get another one instead of the LnL. People tend to either love or hate Loadmasters, and for those that love them they are extremely cost-effective.

      By staying with the Loadmaster, you’ll have one set of spares for both and won’t have to learn a new press. The Hornady Lock-N-Load bushings are great, but if you have to move dies between the LnL and the Loadmaster then that negates the advantage that the LnL bushings provide.

  4. 2 Trick Pony says:

    I shoot 45 Colt loads for Cowboy Action and own the Hornady Lock n Load AP.
    I have the Hornady case feeder and use station one to charge and flair the case mouth.
    Had to shave off one corner of the metal portion of the case feeder drop assembly to
    prevent it from hitting the powder measure body.PTX expander and linkage stop also works great and allows RCBS lock out die in station 2. Station 3 holds Hornady bullet feeder die with homemade pvc bullet feed tube inserted into the top of the die.
    I did the die collets polish mod so that cast bullets feed thru. Station 4 is the Hornady bullet seater die with crimp stem backed out
    Station 5 is the Lee Factory Crimp die which contains a carbide sizing ring that keeps the
    case sized. Hardly feel any drag on the case and FCD does not size the cast bullet. I pulled a few and
    checked with the micrometer.
    Polished the primer slide assembly and adjusted the primer rod guide by loosening top allen screw
    and sliding rod back slightly.
    Simple tinkering tips on the forums will make this or any press work better.
    Lee Loadmaster seems to need a bit more attention than the others but is a solid press at a great
    into to reloading price.I might just add a used one to my bench if and when the price and hoarding frenzy stops!

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