Dillon Beefs Up the 550 – Comparison of 550 ,650, 1050 & Square Deal Progressive Presses- SHOT Show 2017


This is going to be an amazing year for the gun enthusiasts and avid shooters. Where most of us have been “waiting for the other shoe to drop” for 8 years, it appears that we may have a reprieve. Now we can just enjoy our hobby, our sport, our passion, whatever you want to call it. Shooters are finally going to be able to get back to shooting.

If you don’t already reload, it’s a good idea to start. We have some great introductory reloading material here, and online is full of primers to get you going. Most people will start with a single stage press, and even a set of Lee powder dippers, but if you shoot a lot of pistol ammo, that can be really frustrating. I wouldn’t say don’t go out and get a single stage press, but if you want to take yourself and your needs seriously, and you are for now only going to reload straight sided pistol cases, I would invest in a Dillon. I have tried and even advocated for other presses at times, but there are none as useful and consistent as a Dillon. All they do is progressive presses, and you should buy one.

The video introduces the newly beefed up 550, which is the second tier press, and I guess they replaced a problematic roll pin or something. I personally wouldn’t even bother with the Square Deal, because it uses Dillon proprietary dies, and I like to buy cheap Lee dies and set up for a lot of calibers. Each to his own, and all the parts and quick change sets are available today for that press that were available when it was invented. You’ll find that with any progressive press you still need to buy a shellplate for the caliber in question, but some shellplates cover a dozen or more cartridges.

You can use a progressive press for reloading necked cases, but it is a two step process. Necked cases, where the bullet diameter is smaller than the thickness of the part of the case that holds the powder, usually need to be trimmed a tiny bit after each firing because they expand. Once you figure that out, and get a trimmer, reloading them is just as easy as straight sided cases.

The Dillon rep wasn’t as specific as I would like in explaining the differences between the 550, 650, and 1050, but for most people, the 550 or 650 is all you’ll ever need. Feel free to call Dillon at 800-762-3845. It’s never a mistake to buy a Dillon reloading press.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • W.P. Zeller February 17, 2017, 9:23 am

    There are four Dillons downstairs and there’s a 650 about to arrive soon.
    But don’t snork at the Square Deal. My personal main caliber is .45ACP and I’ve had a Square Deal for ten years now. It pumps out an average of 10,000 rounds a year. Every so often I have to change some parts, but it’s fast and, in the long run, cheap.
    I also have to provide 20,000+ rounds of .40 a year for the Missus to take to USPSA matches and various other calibers to keep the guns out of the safes. The 550 is the do-it-all press.
    The 650 and 1050 are for speed.
    So, that’s why the 650 is incoming- feeding those .40s.

  • Andrew N February 9, 2017, 3:00 am

    I started reloading 27 years ago on a Lee single stage press. I finally broke it about 5 years ago. I replaced it with a RCBS Rock Chucker and OMG what a difference. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. After 6 shoulder surgeries, ( 3 on each ) I found the single stage had lost some of it’s “Zen” appeal as every stroke cost me a bit more pain. My wonderful wife bought me a Dillon 550 and I couldn’t be happier. Wonderful quality and great tutorials make reloading as much fun as it used to be, and as a progressive press, I do a lot less pulls on the handle to my shoulder’s delight. My brother has a Lee progressive, and after watching him, I know I did the right thing. I do still use my Lee dies although the fit can be tricky. Any new dies I buy are RCBS and they work just fine.

  • George February 7, 2017, 10:58 am

    If you’re only going to reload straight sided pistol cases, then identify which one you shoot most and by the Square Deal in that caliber. I’ve been a fan of Lee for over 30 years and own plenty of their dies but they don’t play well in the 550 and I have 2 of them. The tool heads on the 550 are very thick and the Lee dies sit very low in the tool head, making it somewhat awkward to get locking rings on them. I also have 3 Square Deal presses set up for specific pistol calibers. My 550’s are set up to reload 5.56 and 7.62 while my single stage presses load bigger calibers like .270, .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua.

    The elephant in the room is that at current pricing, its really difficult to justify loading handgun ammo, especially 9mm if you’re not blazing thousands of rounds down range every month. For the cost of components and your time, you can buy 9mm for about the same price and spend time shooting rather than reloading. Save your cases for a time when ammo might not be as plentiful and inexpensive. I teach reloading classes for a local big box store here and the real interest is in rifle reloading for performance and shooting more for less. Big fan of Dillon and always a great business to deal with.

    • steve fort February 7, 2017, 8:28 pm

      thanks for your input and wisdom! i wish i could take one of your tutorials! i am looking for a new press, probably a dillon but not sure! costly!

  • Mark Reynolds February 7, 2017, 8:30 am

    Well, I hope Chris remembers me. I’m sure he will as I’m the customer that called him on the phone and Emailed drawings of a design improvement that I came up with after years of using the 550. I told him that to replace the press in pins with screw in ones similar to the design of the pins that come on AR 10’s that hold the bolt stop on would make it so much easier to replace or clean a link arm or bell crank if it dies. It would screw into the side of the unit and be able to be removed with an Allan wrench so you don’t have to tear the whole machine apart if there is an issue. Yep, that was me. I talked with him and he said that it was a great idea and that if they ever incorporate it he would make sure I got a unit for the idea. Well, I hope he stands by his statement! I did it!

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