Thursday, July 31, 2014

An AR15 with a Different Approach to Almost Everything

An AR15 with a Different Approach to Almost Everything

I love to try new products, new ideas, and new manufacturers. In this build I attempted to showcase a number of those new ideas from the front to the back of the rifle. The result is one uniquely forward looking rifle which looks awesome and shoots great.

From the interesting looking muzzle brake to the Mission First grey Minimalist buttstock, there are a number of manufacturers products who are delivering AR15 performance products which are different than the expected Mil-Spec norm. Some purport to deliver performance upgrades, others look cool, and others add features the AR15 never had or in this cases take away something the AR15 has had for a long time.

Aero Precision No-Forward Assist Upper - I started with Aero Precision's unique No-Forward Assist upper. This is a unique product in the industry which actually takes away a classic AR15 function which  some folks such as myself are pretty excited about it - they removed the forward assist. The forward assist did not exist on very early M16s, but due to reliability was added to assure rounds made it in the chamber.

There are heated debates on whether the Forward Bolt Assist mechanism is a relevant feature any longer. It was initially added as a solution to solve of the early ammo woows experienced in the Vietnam war. The thought was that if you could get a round in the chamber it would blow out and kinda self clean the gun until the next lull in shooting caused the in barrel poweder residue to cause feeding and functioning issues again. The military did at one time teach to hit the forward assist after each reload to assure the first round from the mag was definitely in the chamber. Most of the military guys I know say this is not the case any longer.

The very few times I have used the forward assist just left me swearing with some out of spec inexpensive steel cased ammo. It pushed the rounds in the chamber, but I ended up jack hammering the AR15 on the ground to free the now jammed rounds after detonation. Sure, in some very extreme situations the forward assist can help keep an insanely dirty AR15 shooting even if there is damage or gunk preventing normal cycling. My opinion is if a normal Condition 1 or Condition 2 failure clearing drill does not re-enable firearm operation, there is something serious wrong which requires disassembly.
What goes better with innovative design
than more innovative desings.
H&K P30L and Extrema Ratio Nemesis

I am not alone in my complete non-use of the forward assist. The current industry best practice for misfeeding rounds is not to hit the forward assist, but instead to get that damn round the hell out of the gun and put a round it that will cycle. So.. Aero Precision asked the question "Do we really need a forward assist if no one is using it?" Customers surveys on the company's Facebook page indicated that a mil-spec upper without the forward assist would be a great product as long as they kep the ejection port cover and they whipped out the CAD eraser tool and removed the forward assist milling process. The upper is cleaner looking and of course shaves ounces from the weight of the upper.  All great things if you never use the forward assist. $84.99 MSRP


Aero Precision Ambi-Lower - Another AP innovation is their Mil-Spec compatible AR15 Ambi Lower receiver designed around the Battle Arms Development Short Throw Ambi-Selector Switch (abbreviated B.A.D. A.S.S.) Aero  Precision's design adds a right hand trigger finger bolt release/catch control paddle which is proprietary to the AP Ambi lower design.  The index finger can simply reach up after dropping the mag and be ready to release the bolt when the fresh mag is inserted. If you are a lefty, this delivers right side controls to drop the bolt after reloading.  Aero's Ambi-lower is probably one of the cleanest and least expensive ambi-lowers I have tested without jumping into custom billet price ranges.

Aero went a step further into the custom lower receiver realm by making their forged Ambi-Lower pictograms which align to the B.A.D. A.S.S. short throw ambi-Selector switch. This selector adds ambi-controls to the right hand of the receiver and features a short 45 degree throw to speed selector switch operation. Beyond that, the AP Ambi-Lower is just like any other top shelf Mil-Spec AR15 Forged lower receiver. $165 with Ambi-Bolt release + BAD-ASS Ambi-Selector $85. The receiver is also compatible with any standard ambi-magazine release such as the Norgon control I purchased through Aero for an additional $75.

PWS Enhanced DI Carrier & Billet Buffer Tube - This ain’t your daddy’s carrier or buffer tube. PWS - Primary Weapons Systems decided to offer a version of its carrier used in the PWS MK1 rifle famous for reliability but in a DI - Direct Impingement version.

The PWS Enhanced DI Carrier is made from tool steel, isonite QPQ treated for durability. The DI Carrier has increased carrier mass to extend dwell time and delay unlock to allow chamber pressure to be greatly reduced for easier extraction. They have placed strategic gaps and channels between skid pads to allow for fewer points of contact to deliver smoother cycling and less friction even though the carrier is overall a little heavier.  It not only looks different, but feels a little different cycling as well.

- Length  6.625”
- Diameter  0.98”
- Coating Isonite QPQ®
- Weight  9.9 oz
- MSRP $199.95


The PWS Billet Buffer Tube $149.99 is machined from one piece of 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum and packs more features into the PWS buffer tube including eliminating the castle nut, a unique indexing screw & plate system ensures precise alignment of the buffer tube, features a lip that extends into the receiver to support the carrier, integrated QD attachments are machined directly into the aluminum for durability and weight savings, fluting creating channels for debris, a nickel Teflon coating, 4140 steel, and features several drain holes to allow water to escape the system. Innovative? You Betcha!

Sharps Relia-Bolt - The standard $65 AR15 bolt available anywhere is essentially a non-optimal squares on squares engagement with the barrel extension that requires near perfect alignment to work.  Luckily the original Stoner design assures that in most cases the bolt will turn clockwise to unlock from the barrel extension lugs and the top of the cam will be held in unlocked position throughout the cycle by a groove in the upper receiver, the BCG cycles, picks up another round and relocks with a counter-clockwise twist after clearing the barrel extension lugs about the same time the top of the cam pin can move over in the can pin rotation recess in the upper receiver. Ultimately this is what is supposed to happen, however in extreme situations, grit, grime and wear to the cam pin, receiver, and piston rings can throw everything off and cause problems which prevent the bolt is not locking or engaging fully.

Sharps Relia-Bolt answers these problem is deliver a self-lubricating self-cleaning design.  The bolt is coated with NP3 which for all practical purposes is hardened Teflon and is essentially self-cleaning which can literally be cleaned by wiping with a soft cloth.  The tapered leading edges of the bolt lugs in theory also help to plow through buildup around the barrel extension lugs which could occur during extreme neglectful maintenance or situation where a high amount of debris may have found its way into the chamber area. Revolutionary? Well, possibly, but definitely a unique compared to any other AR15 bolt on the market.

- Compatible with all existing .223/5.56 variant parts groups and bolt carriers. No modification or tools are required for installation. Also works with all .223 cased variants - 300 Blackout, 25-45 Sharps, ...etc.
- The Relia-Bolt is machined from S7 tool steel, which significantly increases its strength. When compared to mil spec Carpenter 158, the S7 steel provides a 75% increase in tensile strength, and 60% improvement in yield strength.
- Every Relia-Bolt is coated with NP3, an electrodes nickels-based finish that co-deposits sub-micron particles of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), commonly known as Teflon. Even after thousands of rounds without cleaning, carbon residue can be wiped away with a soft cloth.
- Lifetime Warranty - MSRP $149

Black Hole Weaponry .223 Wylde Barrel - Black Hole Weaponry offers match grade polygonal rifled barrels that starts around $320. Not heard of Black Hole Weaponry? They sell barrels direct to customers, however they are primarily an OEM barrel supplier for many AR brands you know that punch tiny little groups. I have featured Black Hole Weaponry barrels in a number of builds and have always been impressed with the accuracy of their barrels.



If you want a certain stainless barrel weight, feel, barrel profile, fluting, or finish in a carbine, mid, or rifle-length gas system, Black Hole Weaponry can accommodate almost any request within their regular list of options.

What makes Black Hole Weaponry barrel different is their three-land polygonal rifling based on 416R stainless steel blank. The rifling shape is a series of arcs instead of square corners, as in the traditional style of Enfield rifling. This arc shaped rifling has long been held in very high regard for its accuracy, increased velocity, reduced gas cutting and ease of cleaning.  From my experience now with three Black Hole barrels, polygonal rifling delivers outstanding accuracy and run significantly cleaner and requires far less cleaning compared to other comparable cut rifled barrels. Black Hole Weaponry barrel are thankfully different from the norm and perform far beyond the capabilities of all but the best premium AR15 match barrel.

Bird of Prey Muzzle Brake - This manufacturer was literally handing these Muzzle Brakes out to almost any media person walking by his booth. Due to the outrageously futuristic design of this triangular brake, stupidly many folks were just saying “uhh, no thanks”. I on the other hand am always looking for new and interesting products and the Bird of Prey muzzle brake is definitely interesting, intriguing, possibly cool, and some would say a little weird looking. Though it does not look like an A2 birdcage or a standard brake, I will admit that this seems to be one of the more effective brakes out there. It also does not jack up the sound pressure for the shooter like regular brakes, does an outstanding job of keeping the muzzle down and the rifle flat.

The design is basically a stacked set of custom milled triangular washers with the bottom sealed to reduce dust signature when shooting prone.

Unlike many “muzzle brakes” I have tested which provide a felt and forcible downforce, the Bird of Prey delivers a softer downforce feel while still delivering zero muzzle rise on this rifle. As strange as it may look, this is an incredibly well made brake, all USA manufactured, and very high quality piece. At MSRP $150 and Street price of $115 it is not especially cheap, however it works exceptionally well and is definitely outside the normal muzzle brake design.

- Patent pending design “renders generic cylindrical compensators obsolete”.
- The Bird of Prey eliminates muzzle rise, helps to reduce recoil and muzzle blast.
- Case hardened USA steel, and available in 1/2x28 threads for .223/5.56 caliber firearms. $124.95

Nordic Components Heavy Duty Charging Handle - I have used Nordic’s billet aluminum Heavy-duty Charging Handle on many builds including the Lone Survivor Charity rifles I donated. The beauty of the design is that the charging handle stays true to the charging handle raceway as it slides and doesn’t rotate while pulling back. Machined of billet aluminum and anodized matte black to match your AR. Comes with a standard latch. For only $24.99, it is the best and strongest in the business. Revolutiony? No, but definitely evolutionary.

SLR RIfleworks Adjustable Gas Block and Solo 14” Keymod Handguard -  I needed a handguard and adjustable gas block for this build and I thought it appropriated to use a few of SLR Rifleswork’s products.  SLR was one of the first companies to offer an expansive line of KeyMod handguard forends in a variety of lengths and designs. SLR also offers some of the features I love in handguards including: a long barrel nut to add strength to the handguard/upper receiver union, a slim handguard design, any standard barrel nut tool can be used for installation, and a price which is very competitive in the market.  Another little addition and modification to the KeyMod design is that every KeyMod slot doubles as a QD sling mount - a feature which SLR pioneered. All very cool innovations. MSRP $240

14" Solo KeyMod
SLR's Q-Mod - All Keymod slots double as QD swivel mounting points
12.7oz oz - ​1.3" ID
Mil-Spec Hardcoat Anodize
7075 Barrel nut w/ Handcoat Anodize
Free Floating Design - Grade 8 Fasteners
Ti Anti Slip plate - Anti Rotation- Anti Slip Design
No Special Tools Need for Barrel Nut
Continuous top rail design
Mil-Spec 1913 Mounting rails

SLR Rifleworks also took the idea of the adjustable gas block in a different direction. Several problems with adjustable gas blocks are that they can clog and they can fall out of adjustment. SLR developed a design which prevents gas from leaking and fouling the adjustment and paired it with a detent that assures it will never fall out of adjustment. My favorite adjustable gas block made and definitely different than your typical gas block with a screw in it. $119.99

HiperTouch HiperFire 24-3Gun Trigger - If you have not heard about the HiperFire line of Single-Stage triggers, you should seriously consider them. They are absolutely revolutionary from the HiperTouch 24 to the enhanced HiperTouch 24E, to the full blown super tuned 24C competition and new 24 3Gun models all in a game changing cam-action trigger design.

The problem is that many of these trigger design goals are all opposing forces. A smooth, fast, and flat pretravel and crisp light final break all require low forces at the sear which equates to the need for lighter hammer and trigger springs which can lead to light hammer strikes and less reliable ignition. In standard trigger designs, very fast trigger resets, minimized lock times, and high hammerfall impact require heavy springs which creates a crappy feeling heavy trigger. The final dimension is tuning out pre-travel, overtravel, and ensuring a crisp trigger break which are all impacted by the above light or heavy springs. Bad tuning can further impact reliability and safety. The end result is that trigger engineers have their work cut out for them to strike a balance for a great trigger.

The magic of the HiperTouch HiperFire design is delivered via spring cam-ed pressure on the hammer which counteracts much of the hammer spring force within the first couple of degrees of movement around the point of sear engagement. This delivers the perfect situation for a great feeling trigger and break. After the hammer begins to move forward the cam applies pressure the other way and greatly increases the hammer force. This increases hammerfall force, decreases lock time...etc.  It's a mind screw when you first pull back the extra force hammer and have such a light trigger pull.  It's a best of both worlds design and its a totally new trigger design. Actually I consider it the most revolutionary trigger design available for the AR15 and it works wonderfully and the HiperFire 24 3Gun is their top model with a curved blade trigger.

Mission First Tactical Engage Grip and Battlelink Minimalist Buttstock - It is not very often that a new company takes on a market giant and actually begins eating their lunch on a regular basis. This is what Mission First Tactical did when it took on the very dominate market leader Magpul. The battle is far from over, but Mission First has used its parent’s company distribution connection (Fobus) and jumped into the market with something different, more interesting, and some would argue better than what is on the market already. 


My personal favorite feature is that they were the first to offer some of their products in the color grey. I find their Engage Pistol grips and Minimalist buttstock more comfortable than what their competition offers and cooler looking. Mission first is bringing new evolutionary and innovative designs.

Optics - Sadly, I could not get my hands on a high tech auto tracking Tracking Point scope, however I did win an auction on Ebay for a Trijicon 1-4x scope which is perfect for this 3Gun feeling build. It was $400 well spent on an optic which still has a little glimmer of tritium glow left in the dot and looks great when light is present with the fiber optic lit reticle.

FINAL THOUGHTS
All in, I have around $2400 in this build including other accessories such as the KNS anti-rotate pins, Troy single point sling, and the used Trijicon Ebay find. So how does it shoot?  At 50-yards it delivers single hole groups, at 100-yards .5”-.6” groups are common with Hornady Tap and Match, Federal Gold Match, and Liberty Ammo Silverado Copper bullet ammo and all the way out to 300-yards I can still hold under 4”-6” with the 1-4X scope. I have around 1000 rounds through the build without cleaning or lube beyond the first clean and lube and have not had a feeding or functioning bobble.

Am I burying a $2400 custom AR15 in a foot of mil-spec mud or caking the breech of a match grade barrel with mud to test durability? No that would be moronic, however I did add up round count to see how the build all worked together. I have had “stock” rifles fail far before that round count. Frankly, I loved putting all these new ideas into one rifle to test whether all the new and innovative ideas worked together. Give some innovation a try on your next AR15 build.

SOURCES
BLACK HOLE WEAPONRY BARREL - http://www.blackholeweaponry.com
BIRD OF PREY MUZZLE BRAKE - http://www.stockpilelogistics.com/
AERO PRECISION NO-FORWARD ASSIST UPPER - http://aeroprecisionusa.com/
AERO PRECISON AMBI-LOWER - http://aeroprecisionusa.com/
MISSION FIRST TACTICAL GRIP & STOCK - http://www.missionfirsttactical.com/
HIPERTOUCH HIPERFIRE 24 TRIGGER - http://www.hiperfire.com/
NORDIC COMPONENTS HEAVY DUTY CHARGING HANDLE - http://nordiccomp.com/
PRIMARY WEAPONS ENHANCED CARRIER - http://primaryweapons.com/accessories/dicarrier/
SHARPS RELIA-BOLT - http://srcarms.com/
USED TRIJICON 1-4 SCOPE - ebay - http://www.trijicon.com
KNS Precision - http://www.knsprecisioninc.com/
Troy Industries - https://www.troyind.com/

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dillon Precision 550B Reloader Review

Dillon Precision 550B Reloader Review


The Dillion 550B needs no introduction to those in the industry who already know the legacy of this top of the line reloaders, however I thought I would tell my story on how I ended up with one.

Over the last five years, there were some points in ammo outages where where if you were not reloading, you were not shooting. I broke my Lee Pro1000 somewhere in that time frame and had a bit of a wait for replacement parts. That breakage coupled with powder availability issues left me frustrated.  Through that shortage, I was still reloading and shooting through and eroding my component stockpiles after picking up a Dillon 550B.  I suddenly did not feel so stupid having 20,000 primers on hand, 200 lbs of bullets, but the power seemed to consistently be my limiting factor. Through it all, my then new Dillon 550B received a workout delivering thousands of rounds and probably hundreds of calibers swaps. It has been a reloading workhorse with zero downtime wrapped in a premium quality reloading machine.



The reloading process is pretty simple and the same with any reloading machine; knock out primer and resize brass, reprime, charge, and flare case mouth for bullet seating, seat bullet, crimp, and on some rounds taper crimp.  This process is a simple process when reloading one round at a time, however once you start to have more than one case being reloaded at a time on a progressive reloader, there is a lot to keep track of for the person behind the reloader. Add in automatic case feeding and indexing and things can go wrong quick if everything is not tuned perfectly. One little problem ends up being compounded as you realize that the last fifty rounds you reloaded did not have a primer due to primer feeding issues or that your powder was out. You begin to scream words like “drat”, and phrases like “darn it all to heck” or some other four letter words with different vowels and consonants.


This Dillon 550B is my third reloading press. I started with a single stage Lee Breech Lock Hand Press and then once I learned the basics graduated to a Lee Pro1000 Progressive Loader designed for pistol calibers which can in theory load up to .223 case sizes. It was a decision based more on the $250 price than performance. I wanted to achieve higher reloading volumes in less time, so I thought the next best idea was to jump into progressive reloading.  The Lee Pro1000 is not a bad or crappy reloader by any means, it is not not up to the volumes I produced. The end result was that I ended up pushing it too hard which resulted in the breakage.  I needed something stronger, beefier, and up to the task to take a beating.


I noticed that I lost a lot of control with the auto-feeding progressive reloaders. Handgun cartridges were fairly problem-free during the reloading process once I had the Lee Loader tweaked and tuned. On the other hand, the longer .223 rifle cases were problematic on the Lee. A jammed round caused a linkage breakage, so I started looking for a different reloader to dedicate to calibers requiring more reloading force, precision and control during the reloading process.


The other issues with the Lee was that swapping calibers was a total pain in the butt. You could pop out the toolhead and leave the dies in place, however the shell plate, and brass feeder were enormously painful to readjust, test, tweak, and re-adjust again to get working and feeding properly for each caliber. My decision was to just dedicate the Lee Pro1000 Loader for 9mm and go shopping for something to handle all the other calibers.


My FFL dealer swears by a used Dillon 550B he picked up in a gun trade which now has to be well over 10 years old. That used 550B takes a beating loading thousands of rounds per month. "My Dealer's" points were that it was one of the easiest loaders to swap calibers on, it delivered a very high degree of precision, and struck a great balance between control and speed during the reloading process. I flipped open the laptop and hit Dillon's site to build a reloading kit to fit my needs to reload .357/.38 Special, .223, and .308. I did go ahead and also order 9mm dies just in case my Lee reloader went offline again. The Dillon setup was not inexpensive. In fact I have around $1100 invested in this setup which includes toolheads for each die set and case gages for .223 and .308. I will easily drop another $500 for all the other toolhead and dies to swap to other calibers I would like to reload such as 10mm, .45ACP, ...etc.


Despite the sizable initial and planned investments, the Dillion 550B has easily paid for itself and I have not had one moment where I looked back and wished that I had made another decision. All the major and minor complaints about my Lee Pro1000 were addressed on the 550B. High quality, rapid caliber swaps, high production volumes, and a ton of control during the reloading process. The Dillion 550B is an outstanding investment for any shooter providing flexibility and reloading precision.


ABOUT DILLON
Dillon industries has been around for a while making the most durable and reliable reloading equipment available. The company is probably most well known for its booklet sized quarterly reloader and shooter's accessory catalog which always features a beautiful fresh faced lass tastefully posed on the front cover usually with a gun. Growing up, I loved to get my new catalog as a teenager.  Mrs. Pandemic lovely refers to it as the "Girls Next Door has a Gun Catalog"... I guess that is where my girl with a gun fantasy started and has never stopped. Dillon Precision was actually the first company to offer an affordable progressive reloader the RL-1000. The company has done very well for itself since its start in the early 1980s as a catalog driven manufacturing retailer, but today, their products can also be found at most sporting retailers around the globe.  


Dillon has also been on the forefront of reloader technology and innovation improvements in reloading since their  models were first introduced. Although Dillon claims this 550B can deliver 400+ round an hour volumes, their full auto feeding 650XL model is even faster and is noted to be one of the fastest home reloaders made. As a testament to the reliability of the Dillons, some people have added high torque motors and automation kits to the the 650XL to allow it to sit there and crank out rounds. In short, Dillon reloaders are known for their tank-like durability and reliability and if it ever does break, the have a lifetime warranty backing that claim up.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL & FEATURES
Where a Pro1000 Lee Loader is around $250 complete with your choice of handgun or small rifle caliber, the Dillon Precision 550B typically equipped runs around $750 for one caliber. Additional caliber dies and toolheads run about $100 per addition caliber.  That noted, there is such a chasm of quality between the two products I would hardly call it a comparison. Not that the Lee is junk, it just a budget targeted product. There is a pretty huge quality difference between the two loaders which look similar on paper to the beginner reloader. Structurally the Dillon is significantly stronger in nearly every aspect and part, the quality is higher, and the tolerances tighter. The quality on the Dillion it every bit as nice as the RCBS, Redding, and Hornady loaders I have seen. Where the Dillon excels over other brands is heavy duty durability, longevity, and consistent operation with parts designs a bit heavier, thicker, or tougher than other competing brands. All this durability provides a stiffer reloader which inherently delivers a higher tolerance, more accurate, and more reliable round of ammo.


The Dillon 550B is a 4-position progressive reloader with Station 1 handling the resize, deprime and prime functions, Station 2 dropping the powder and flaring the case, Station 4 reserved for bullet seating, and Station 4 case crimping. Of note, my Lee Pro1000 only had three stations which meant I still needed to run rifle or certain pistol calibers back through for a final taper crimp for increased accuracy or reliability. The Dillon 550B's four stations can handle it all in one pass. Every reloading machine manufacturer has their own combination of how the standard step by step reloading process should go, however many reloaders have noted that Dillon's process greatly increases reliability and according to some also safety. One of the main benefits of Dillon's, staging sequence on each station is that priming is pushed to the first station where an accidental primer ignition cannot ignite the powder delivery reservoir which is typically full of powder. Great idea!


Where some progressive reloaders, such as Dillon's own 650XL model, can support fully automated indexing, case delivery and bullet feeding, the 550B relies on your hands to load the brass, add a bullet, and manually index the shell plate to the next station. This gives the relaoder a best of both world capability with the control of a single stage or turret reloader and the speed of a progressive reloader. This hand indexing and hand feeding process may sound tedious compared to the specs of fully automated progressive reloaders, however I wanted this level of control to assure powder, bullet, seating, and crimping were all consistent.


With the automated indexing shell plates, if there is a problem, it can be problematic to remove the round or work around the shell plate indexing drive mechanism. If you are just turning the shell plate by hand you have much more control to reload cases like the .223 and 308 which have tapered necks. Hand indexing the shell plate also has one enormous benefit; there is no wacky linkages or drive mechanism to mess around with to change shell plates. All you need to do on the Dillon 550B is just unbolt the shell plate and screw on a different one. That swap can be done in about a minute.


The next time saver for swapping calibers is Dillon's removable toolhead design. A removeable toolhead allows all your reloading dies to stay perfectly in place and perfectly adjusted in the removable toolhead. Although almost every major reloading machine manufacturer has some option for a removeable toolhead, Dillon's locking dovetail slip in design is probably the fastest and most secure I have worked with. All that is required to change dies for another caliber is lift the locking pin and slide out the toolhead.  The only other swap which may be required is to re-calibrate the powder drop for the new caliber. The beauty of the Dillon 550B design is that in under 5 minutes, you can be swapped over to a new caliber just by swapping the shell plate, toolhead, potentially changing the contents of the primer tube and recalibrating the powder. If you have dedicated a powder die or, better yet, a dedicated measure for each toolhead, then the entire conversion process is even quicker. By contrast, my Lee Loader takes about 30 minutes including re-calibration and tuning which sucks the big one.


Another big feature for me on the Dillon 550B was that is reloads nearly every pistol and rifle cartridge available without any modifications other than an XL powder die for the really huge calibers. Buy a 550B once and you can reload pretty much anything on it with the exception of .50 caliber rounds. By my count, Dillon offers dies for over 200 calibers for the 550B with more on the way.


I do have a love/hate relationship with the Dillon primer tubes. On one hand they are crazy reliable and I have had zero problems with them. On the other hand, the primer tubes are no where near as easy to reload as dumping a box of primers in my Lee primer tray and rattling them around until they are all upright. The Lee method is easy and fast, but delivers less than excellent reliability where the Dillon's primer tube configuration is slower to reload but delivers flawless reliability.  The primer tube does have a low primer warning which as a forgetful person I find rather convenient. Its a compromise I will accept.


FINAL THOUGHTS
The Dillon 550B hardly requires a review, but it deserves on. Functionally the Dillon 550B has been an awesome and reliable reloading machine. Do I still use my single stage press for reloading? Sure and even my Lee Pro1000 for 9mm, however the Dillon delivers a very flexible reloader which minimizes caliber change times and pretty high rates of ammo production.

The beauty of the Dillon 550B is that once you get the toolhead setup caliber swaps can literally take under five minutes with a dedicated powder measure. The 550B is also a best of both worlds reloading machine with the hand indexing feature it gives you the control of a single stage press with the reloading speed of a progressive multi-stage loader. Think of it as a turret loader which is progressive.


All in, all I am quite happy with the extremely great quality of the Dillon 550B and how flexible it has been reloading everything from .357 - to .308. Buy the 550B once and you will never need another reloader again.


SPECS DILLON 550B
4 station progressive loader
Station 1) resize/deprime/prime
Station 2) powder drop/flare
Station 3) seat
Station 4) crimp
The RL550B is able to load rifle as well as pistol cartridges The RL550B uses standard 7/8 by 14 thread per inch dies, as long as they deprime in the size die Manually indexed shellplate Manually fed cases and bullets Capable of loading 400 to 600 rounds per hour
Lifetime "No-B.S." Warranty
No dies are included with the RL550B. If you need to order dies, please click Here


Typical price as shown with optional accessories is $735.60


The basic 550 includes:
Machine with caliber conversion kit (shellplate, locator buttons, powder funnel) in the caliber of your choice.
Powder measure with standard large and small powder bars (small installed), Small bar throws from 2.1 to 15 grains of powder Large bar throws up to 55 to 60 grains of powder.
One prime system with large and small priming parts.
One large and one small pick up tube
Low Primer Alarm
One toolhead
One powder die
One loaded cartridge catch bin
One written instruction manual
One set of standard Allen wrenches
* No dies are included.
Machine height from bench is 21"
Cartridges marked with an "*" afterward require a separate XL Powder Die #21253 be purchased


.22 Jet Revolver 20165
.30 Mauser/.30 Luger 20175
.32 S&W/.32 H&R Mag/.327 Mag 20146
.32 ACP/.32 Short Colt 20160
.380 ACP 20133
9 X 18 Makarov 21656
9mm 20127
9 X 25 Dillon/.357 SIG 21526
.38 AMU 20278
.38 S&W 20159
.38 Super 20127
.38 LC/.38 Sp./.357/Mag./Max. 20132
40 S&W/10MM 20179
.40 Super/.400 CorBon 20129
.41 Magnum 20135
.44 Colt/.44 Russian 20136
.44 Special/Magnum 20136
.45 ACP/.45 GAP 20126
.45 Auto Rim 20158
.45 S&W Schofield 20137
.455 Webley 20137
.45 Colt/.454 Casull 20137
.45 Winchester Magnum 20221
.460 S&W 20888 $10.00 Additional Charge
.475 Linebaugh/.480 Ruger * 20116 $10.00 Additional Charge
.50 Action Express * 21428 $10.00 Additional Charge
.500 S&W Magnum * 20121 $10.00 Additional Charge
.17 remington 20203 $10.00 Additional Charge
.204 Ruger 20307
.218 Bee 20151
.219 Zipper/.219 Donaldson Wasp 20180
.22 BR 20145
.22 PPC 20182
.220 Swift 20154 $10.00 Additional Charge
.221 Remington Fireball 20128
.222 Remington/Magnum 20128
.22-250 20145
.223 Remington 20128
.223 WSSM * 20676 $10.00 Additional Charge
.224 Weatherby Magnum 20235
.225 Winchester 20154
.22 Hornet 20150
.22 savage Hi-Power 20180
.240 Weatherby Magnum 20192
.243 WSSM * 20316 $10.00 Additional Charge
.243 Winchester/6mm Remington 20192
6mm BR 20276 $10.00 Additional Charge
6mm PPC 20265 $10.00 Additional Charge
6mm TCU 20252 $10.00 Additional Charge
.25 WSSM * 20315 $10.00 Additional Charge
.250 Savage 20147
.25-06 20147
.25-20 Winchester 20176
.25-35 Winchester 20197
.256 Winchester Magnum 20215
.257 Roberts/.257 Ackley Imp. 20147
.257 Weatherby Magnum 20199
.25 Remington 20233
.260 Remington 20207
6.5 X 52 Carcano 20208
6.5 X 54 Mannlicher Schoenauer 20208
6.5 X 55 Swedish/6.5-06 20207
6.5 X 68S 20267
6.5 X 57R 20269
6.5 X 284 20207
6.5 Arisaka 20209
6.5 Grendel 20894 $10.00 Additional Charge
6.5 Remington Magnum 20210
.264 Winchester Magnum 20210
6.8 SPC 20323
.270 Winchester 20142
.270 WSM/7 WSM/7 RSAUM * 20122 $10.00 Additional Charge
.270 Weatherby Magnum 20140
7mm-08 20142
7 X 57 Mauser 20142
7 X 57 R 20268
7 X 64 Brenneke 20142
7mm Benchrest 20216
7mm Dakota 20682 $10.00 Additional Charge
7mm Express 20142
7mm International/Rim 20223
7mm Merrill 20230
7mm Rem./Wby. Mag./STW 20140
7mm Rem. Ultra Mag. * 20682 $10.00 Additional Charge
7mm TCU 20141 $10.00 Additional Charge
7-30 Waters 20223
.280 Remington/.284 Winchester 20142
7.5 X 55 Swiss 20432
.30 M1 Carbine 20131
.30 Herrett 20214
.30 Merrill 20231
.30 Remington 20184
.30R Blaser 20270
.308/.30-06 20130
.300 H&H 20188
.300 Savage 20190
.300 Weatherby Magnum 20188
.300 AAC Blackout/Whisper 20236
.300 WSM * 20243 $10.00 Additional Charge
.300 Winchester Magnum 20188
.300 Remington SA Ultra Mag. * 20243 $10.00 Additional Charge
.300 Remington Ultra Mag./300 Dakota * 20239 $10.00 Additional Charge
.30-30 Winchester 20139
.30-338 Winchester 20188
.30-378 Wby* 20249 $10.00 Additional Charge
.30-40 Krag 20185
.303 British 20183
.307 Winchester 20237
.308 Norma Magnum 20188
7.62 X 39 Russian 20213
7.62 X 53 Mauser 20130
7.62 X 54 Russian 20346
7.7 Arisaka 20130
.32-20 Winchester 20177
.32-40 Winchester 20139
.32 Remington 20184
.32 Winchester Special 20139
8 X 57 Mauser 20201
8 X 57 JRS 20271
8 X 68S 20272
8mm Remington Magnum 20155
.325 WSM * 20891 $10.00 Additional Charge
.33 Winchester 20202
.338 Lapua * 20257 $10.00 Additional Charge
.338 Winchester 20156
.338 Winchester 20156
.338 Remington Ultra Mag/330 Dakota * 20258 $10.00 Additional Charge
.340 Weatherby Magnum 20156
.348 Winchester 20217
.350 Remington Magnum 20167
.356 Winchester 20238
.357 Herrett 20172
.358 Winchester 20170
.358 Norma Magnum 20167
.35 Remington 20166
.35 Winchester 20168
.35 Whelen 20170
9.3 X 62 20273
9.3 X 64/9.3 X 74R 20274
.375-38/55 Winchester 20226 $10.00 Additional Charge
.375 H&H Magnum 20204
.375 Super Magnum 20226
.375 Remington Ultra Magnum * 20261 $10.00 Additional Charge
.375 Ruger 20497
.375 Weatherby Magnum 20204
.376 Steyr 20260
.378 Weatherby Magnum * 21665 $10.00 Additional Charge
.38-40 Winchester 20178
.38-55 Winchester 20226 $10.00 Additional Charge
.40-65 Winchester 20264 $10.00 Additional Charge
.416 Remington Magnum 20771 $10.00 Additional Charge
.416 Rigby/Weatherby/.404 Jeffries * 20262 $10.00 Additional Charge
.444 Marlin 20164
.44-40 Winchester 20206
.45-70 Gov't 20143
.450 Dakota * 14261 $10.00 Additional Charge
.458 Winchester Magnum 20161
.460 Weatherby Magnum * 21664 $10.00 Additional Charge
Lazzeroni Cartridges * 14261
.50 Beowulf * 20467 $10.00 Additional Charge


SOURCES