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Dillon vs Lee vs hornady

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Quigley_Sharps, Mar 30, 2008.


  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some" [FONT=Arial,Arial]What’s the Deal? [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Why bother? Some people like blue, others shades of red. Who cares? [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Often, when a new reloader asks ‘what progressive should I buy’, the dillonophiles charge in – "don’t think, just buy a Dillon." "Dillon is the best." "To sum up all Dillon equipment: If it's blue, buy it!" "Everything else is junk." "…while the other is, well, a Lee." "The Lee may do and it may suffice but is not a Dillon period." "There really is no comparison...it's the Dillon." "Umm....just buy a Dillon and be done with it." "Go Dillon or don't bother." "It's Dillon or nothing." "Dillon 550, you will buy one somme [[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]sic[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]] day anyway." "More Dillon envey [[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]sic[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]]." "Blue." These are actual quotes from my favourite gun boards[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]1[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I see three possible explanations for this: either people who spend a lot of money on a product feel pressure to justify their purchase (pushing-back on buyer’s remorse), or Dillon presses are the best thing since sliced bread, or Mike Dillon has outstanding marketing. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]To be fair, Richard Lee has his fanboys – they are fewer in number and less febrile. I haven’t noticed any widespread cheerleading with the Hornady LNL AP. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]If a Dillon is really that good, I want one! If something else is going on, I want to put some real information in front of people, to get past the cheerleading, so new reloaders can make a better-informed decision. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]So I bought a Dillon XL650 to compare to my Lee Loadmaster, then later picked up a Hornady LNL AP. Before this started I had the Lee for a few years. Should I upgrade (crossgrade?) or not? [/FONT]
    My Biases
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I am neither poor, rich, cheap, nor spendthrift. I like total value, not frilly features. I enjoy my ten-year-old BMW motorcycle, my newish Hemi-powered car (which is going to last ten years), and my well-used ten-year-old walking shoes. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I own and like a lot of Lee, Hornady and RCBS products, and use Redding dies for precision work. My motto: buy for purpose, not for show, and never pay retail. Don’t tell me what you like, tell me [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]why [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]you like it. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]1
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]These quotes are the epitome of unreason: they offer naked opinion as unchallengeable fact without a shred of evidence as support. I find this perturbing in principle, and it is plainly unhelpful in practice. [/FONT]
    V1.4.3 1 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]2 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Most of this writeup applies to 9mm – it’s a common calibre. I also load .357, .45ACP, .50AE and now .223 on a progressive, so some comments apply to different calibres and to changing from calibre to calibre. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]The Competitors [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]All are configured for 9mm​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]2[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman], and are configured with their own-brand dies. Here are the [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]optional [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]extras: [/FONT]
    Dillon 650


    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Automatic case feed with small pistol wheel[/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    3. - Automatic Powder Check System[/FONT]
    Lee Loadmaster ​
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - case collator (aka "automatic case feeder")[/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    3. - adjustable charge bar[/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    4. - RCBS LockOut die (part number 87540, [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]get [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]one for [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]your [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]progressive)[/FONT]
    Hornady Lock-n-load AP ​
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - case feeder with small pistol wheel[/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    3. - RCBS lockout die[/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    4. - Micrometer pistol metering insert[/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    5. - Powder-through expanders[/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]
    Fit and Finish ​
    [/FONT]​


    [FONT=Arial,Arial]<DIR><DIR>[/FONT]Great, Good, and Good Enough

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Dillon has a clear win in general fit and finish compared to Lee – less casting flash, a nice metal top for the powder container, and so on – with the Hornady a close second to Dillon. But how much of that matters? For example, the Dillon cartridge bins are really just blue, Dillon-branded akrobins. They are the best akrobins I have every seen - straight sides, no flash, near-perfect surfaces. But the functional difference between a great akrobin and a good-enough akrobin is zero. The only difference is in pride of ownership. As long as the working parts – bearing surfaces, pivot pins and so on – work well what they look like is a matter of aesthetics only. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]On my presses, the Dillon ram was a zero-lash fit in the press, as was the Hornady, while the Lee had some free play. Also, Hornady uses an over-travel linkage, so repeatability is a matter of arm movement, not judging force. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Of the three, the Hornady requires the least force to operate – good leverage combined with low-friction / close tolerance fittings do the job. Interestingly, the Hornady’s [/FONT]​
    V1.4.3 2 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]3


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I finally switched to Redding Competition Pro-Series Titanium Carbide dies. Smooth like butter – smoother than the Dillon dies, less effort – precise tolerances and specifically designed for five-station progressives with a wide-mouth entry, a dedicated crimp die, and no expander (the presses have one anyway on the powder drop). The Redding seater is micrometer-adjusted, so if you use different types of bullets, you dial back in instantly. The Hornady dies can be outfitted with a "Microjust seating stem" for less, but the Hornady’s markings are much harder to read and the system is slightly less repeatable than the Redding. On the Hornady LNL AP, the case ejector wire does not clear the Redding crimp die (apparently true of all non-Hornady crimp dies), so I just had the die shortened. You can get useful, reliable ammo for the action sports with a Lee die set – with Redding you get potentially the best accuracy and definitely the greatest ease of use, although at a higher cost. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]4


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Out of the box, you may have to debur, file, polish, and check function – Lee has excellent online guides to ensuring the primer system works – but once you’ve done this, if you have to, everything will just work. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]5 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Some of those ‘zing’ out of the cup. [/FONT]
    tolerances are so good that I had to use firm pressure on the grease gun to force grease into the fittings.
    Other than that, the differences were aesthetic – except for the dies. ​

    <DIR><DIR>The dies

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win for Dillon​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]3[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. Dillon dies have an attractive anti-corrosion finish, and are smoother and easier to adjust than the Lee. On the Lee, I have to use a touch of lube on 9mm cases, carbide or no – on the Dillon, no lube, smooth in and out (although lots of people recommend a bit of case lube anyway) – on the Hornady, no lube required but not as slick as the Dillon. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I don’t know if this matters – the ammo that comes out shoots the same for action sports. When you have to hit an 8" circle at 7 yards in a hurry, pure accuracy is not an issue. If you’re loading .32S&W for 25-yard slow fire, the dies make a difference. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]You get what you pay for (sometime less, but never more). Hornady dies are about half the cost of Dillon, and Lee is slightly less than Hornady. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]Function [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial,Arial]<DIR><DIR>[/FONT]Primer handling

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Let's dispel a common Lee myth: the priming system works fine​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]4[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. Keep it clean and loaded and it will work right every time - I never worried about missed or flipped primers. The Dillon is just as rock solid - it functioned perfectly for me. I like that the Lee only presents a primer when there’s brass for it, but having the Dillon slide a few into a tiny cup[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]5 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]when there’s no brass is no big deal. Hornady also feeds a new primer only when one is used – it’s a simple mechanism similar to the Dillon 1050. [/FONT]
    V1.4.3 3 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]6


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]When the darn thing works right: it can be fussy, but I’ve figured out the quirks.. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]7


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]In spite of the relative quickness, I despise the waste of time, and switched to small-primer 45’s. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]8 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Some will ‘zing’ out of the cup – not many. [/FONT]
    Of course, if you whip the case past the case sensor too fast, the Lee priming system may not pickup a primer. This is a non-issue with the Dillon and Hornady feeders. So find the "Lee Rhythm" for continuous success.
    The Hornady has one easily remedied flaw: you can’t see how many primers are left in the tube. A cut-to-length plastic rod or wooden dowel solves that… but why doesn’t Hornady include something to do that job? ​

    <DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[FONT=Arial,Arial]Refill speed [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Clear win to Lee. You just take the tray off, dump and shake your primers in the tray, then put the tray back on. With Dillon or Hornady, you dump and shake, then pickup primers one at a time. Yes, you can get a Dillon or Frankford Arsenal tube filler. Lee is still faster, and tube-fillers aren't free. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]It takes me about two minutes to pick 100 primers, about 30 seconds to fill a tube with a Frankford Arsenal Vibra-prime[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]6[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman], and essentially no time to dump primers onto the Lee tray. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Large/small change [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Out of the gate, the Lee and Hornady are nearly tied. On the Lee, you just remove the shell plate, pop the primer system off and put the new one on (with some fiddling on the case retention arms). No tools required. On the Hornady, unhook a small spring and remove the primer feed slide by hand, swap in a new slider and tube, then swap-in a new primer punch with a wrench (you may need to empty left-over primers – one allen bolt) – less or no fiddling is required, which makes it faster than the Lee​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]7[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. With the Dillon, you have five or more minutes of work with simple tools. You can get an entire replacement unit, and do it in a minute with only two bolts – but that’s more money. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Primer feel [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Clear win to Dillon and Hornady – they prime at the bottom of the stroke with nothing else going on. In principle, you can ‘feel’ the anvil pushing into the cup. On the Lee, you prime at the top of the stroke – primers can’t be felt at all with sizing, seating, expanding, and crimping going on, so they’re seated to a more-or-less pre-set depth instead of by feel. This matters for accuracy. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Used primer management [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win to Hornady, with Dillon second. All reliably capture used primers – Hornady into a tube directed to a waste bin, Dillon in a modestly-sized cup​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]8[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman], Lee in the hollow ram – but disposal is much faster and easier on the Dillon and instantaneous on the Hornady. On the Lee, you slide a door open at the bottom of the ram, and tap-tap-tap with a screwdriver handle for a few minutes to get them all out. [/FONT]
    V1.4.3 4 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]9


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Or powder check, bullet feed (http://www.bulletfeeder.com/ ), and seat/crimp. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]10 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]You may have to try several wipers before you find one that gives a snug fit. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR>[/FONT]Case Retention

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Dillon uses calibre-specific buttons. The Lee uses screw-tensioned arms that you manually (and easily) adjust. The Hornady uses a coil spring wrapped around the shellplate. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win to Hornady – the spring is one-size-fits-all, keeps mild pressure on the case throughout its travel, and you can move cases out of and back into the shellplate with one hand – a definite plus while doing load development or fixing a stoppage. Further, if a case is not quite "in" at the first stage, the spring rolls up and pulls it in. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR>[/FONT]Powder handling

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]With a powder-check installed, each system should have zero squibs/doubles coming off the press - it comes down to how often each system will make you stop to correct one or the other condition. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Lee forces you to choose between powder check and separate seat/crimp, since there are only four useable die stations (station 2 of ‘5’ is dedicated to priming). The Dillon and Hornady has one extra usable station, so you can have your powder check and seat/crimp separately. This matters for accuracy. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Generally, the Hornady powder system is superior. The rotary throw is accurate, easy to adjust, has a wide range of throw weights, and leaks / jams not at all even with fine ball powders. Using the optional powder-through expanders you can powder check, seat, and crimp in a true five-die setup[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]9[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Lack of powder: squibs [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Two factors here: how reliably does powder fill and exit the charge bar / rotor? How reliably does the charge system move? [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]On fill and exit, the Dillon and Lee are about the same as the cavity shapes are about the same. Flake powders with light loads may bridge, giving you a squib. The Lee has a slight advantage with ultra-fine ball powders - it leaks less, using a rubber wiper system to reduce clearances and give more forgiveness to any powder build-up[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]10[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]As for reliability of the charge bar - let's dispel another Lee myth. The return chain will only break if it is maladjusted. [/FONT]​
    V1.4.3 5 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]11


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]UniqueTek sells a micrometer-adjusting adaptor for Dillon charge bars. I did not consider it in this review because a) it’s not a Dillon product b) it’s quite expensive c) it isn’t "drop-in" – you have to marry the parts to the Dillon charge bar or pay more for the pre-installed setup. With enough aftermarket parts one can correct many product line shortcomings – I just don’t think we should have to search, buy (including shipping), install, etc. when an obvious need could be managed by the OEM. A nit? Perhaps, but a notable one. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]12


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Use some Locktite on the Hornady cap/plunger interface area to prevent slippage. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]13


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Lee system, even with the double disk kit, will just barely throw enough powder for .308Winchester. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]14 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]When a primer is missed on the Lee, you can’t tell – too much goes on at the top of the stroke – until the round pops off the press. [/FONT]
    The Hornady system, a conventional rotary measure, throws flake powders more reliably than Dillon or Lee, and will not jam with ultra-fine ball powders. It is also better with long-stick rifle powders, although cutting grains is always an issue.
    Win to Hornady. ​

    <DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[FONT=Arial,Arial]Too much powder: double charges [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win for Lee. The powder bar is recharged near the bottom of the stroke - on the Dillon and Hornady, the powder recharges on spring pressure as soon as the case is dropped - so it's easier to double-fill on those presses. You could take the springs off and rely on the return rod on the Dillon – I didn’t try this. You want an RCBS Lock-Out die (or Dillon’s audible powder check setup) in any event. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Just the right amount of powder: adjustments [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I can't believe Dillon doesn't make for a micrometer adjustment on the charge bar​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]11[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. Everything takes time and adjusting the Dillon charge bar is fiddle-work. Some owners have multiple powder bars for this reason. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Lee adjustable charge bar has a vernier scale for quick repeatable settings. You can also use the fixed-size cavity disks from Lee – they throw just as, if not more, consistently than any of the adjustable charge bars. Repeatability is a simple here. I used the adjustable for working up charges, then found the nearest fixed-size cavity for production. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Hornady can supply a micrometer insert for its rotary measure, and I used it in the evaluation. You just dial-in a recorded setting and go. It is more repeatable than the Lee adjustable charge bar[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]12[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win to Hornady / Lee[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]13 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]for multi-calibre loaders, tie for single-calibre shooters. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Missed primers [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]It’s going to happen on any press. You’ll eventually miss a primer, and pour fine-grained powder right through the flash hole. On the Lee​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]14[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman], it goes into the hollow ram with the used primers. On the Dillon, and I’m not going to try this to prove a point, you’ll be [/FONT]
    V1.4.3 6 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]15


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Usually a case bouncing out of the feed system or hanging on the mouth of the sizing die; sometimes the shellplate does not want to index. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]16 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Hornady does half its rotation up, and the other half down, moving only 36 degrees each time – the Dillon and Lee move 72 degrees at a time, making it harder to be smooth. The Lee system can be quite abrupt if handled roughly. [/FONT]
    taking the priming system off and apart to clean the gunk out. The Hornady will get some powder under the shell plate (not much, it tends to wipe outwards and fall off), but not in the primer system.
    Rare – and more rare on the Dillon and Hornady because you will normally feel when a primer goes missing – but a win to Hornady. ​

    <DIR><DIR>Speed

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Machine guns quote two rates: the cyclic rate (raw speed) and the sustained rate (taking into account reloading, barrel changes, waiting for the gun to cool, and so on). People quote wild rates on Dillons - I am convinced that these are cyclic rates, not accounting for stoppages or primer, case, and powder refills. Lee has faster primer refills, Dillon and Hornady are faster and less frequent on cases. Lee has more stoppages than the other presses​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]15[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. All systems can spill powders from near-fully-filled 9mm if operated roughly, although the Dillon is easier to operate smoothly than Lee, and the Hornady is the smoothest of all[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]16[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]In practice, I found the Dillon and Hornady to be a little faster for the same level of effort and concentration - around 500 rounds per hour with your supplies laid out near the machinery, versus about 400 rph for the Lee. The cyclic rate on the Dillon is slightly higher than the Lee, because all aspects of the brass and primer movement are fully-captured – no need to find that "Lee rhythm" for everything to work right. The Hornady is slightly less fully-captured than the Dillon, but vastly smoother in operation, and I’ve never had a problem with the case feed path in practice. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win to Dillon and Hornady. Between the two I don’t know that there’s a difference, and picking a speed winner here would ignite a reloading jihad. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR>[/FONT]Calibre changes

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]On the Lee, you take the powder measure off, remove the turret, change the shell plate, put a new turret on (with your new calibre) and reinstall the powder measure with a new disk or new setting – all without tools in less than five minutes. You might need to change the case slider and case feed height (which requires one wrench), or you might not – I go from 9mm to .45acp without this. [/FONT]
    V1.4.3 7 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]17 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Of the three, I found the Hornady the easiest to work on. The Lee’s smaller overall size makes the workspace – in and around the shellplate – cramped at best. The Hornady feels spacious, with easy access and no rods/gizmos in the way – the case and primer feed are tucked away toward the back of the press. Not that the Dillon is difficult to access, just that it’s a little trickier than the Hornady – only one side is uncluttered. Any press can and will have stoppages (eg., 9mm stuck in a .40 case), and you may change calibres, so easy access is a plus. [/FONT]
    The Hornady takes nine minutes to go from .45acp to .223Rem (the worst-case changeover), and is done with tools – accessibility is very good17, the Lock-n-Load system is fast, and the micrometer powder adjustment takes essentially no time.
    On the Dillon, it takes a little longer and you need tools. There are a few more parts to swap in and out. Count on nearly fifteen minutes for the .45-.223 changeover, including powder bar adjustments. You can buy a bunch of charge bars for the Dillon – but that’s more money.
    Price is more clear-cut. Going from a large- to small-primer case is about two and a half times more expensive on the Dillon than the Lee, with Hornady the best for small/large swaps (it comes with both small and large primer parts).
    Slight win to Lee, Hornady close second. ​

    <DIR><DIR>Case Feeding

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]When you buy the ‘case feeder’, you get two things: a collator to present cases in the right orientation, and a feeder to put them into the shellplate. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]In practice the Hornady and Dillon were equally fully effective and the Lee, while useful, was a clear second. I found the Lee case feeder/collator to be the primary source of stoppages on the Loadmaster. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]The Collator [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The collators on the Hornady and Dillons are essentially the same: a large drum with a slotted wheel (large/small, pistol/rifle) that presents and drops cases into a feed tube leading to the feeding system. You can dump a few hundred cases in and start loading as the tube fills. They both rarely drop a case upside-down with pistol rounds, and I found both to be ‘perfect’ with rifle rounds when adjusted properly. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Lee is a marvel of low-cost engineering. The collator is a dish that sits flat on top of four feed tubes (each holds about 25 cases). You stick four fingers in the collator holes, pour in about 25 cases, remove your fingers and shake. Then repeat until the tubes are full (about 100 cases). This is ‘one size fits all’ – I found that 9mm ended upside down somewhat frequently, 45’s not as often. The system works only with pistol rounds, and not with all of them – so no .50AE, no .223. [/FONT]​
    V1.4.3 8 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]18


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Either use Hornady crimp dies or cut-down another brand. People use Lee Factory Crimp Dies, by bending the wire enough for the FCD to shove it out of the way and/or by filing flat in the side of the die. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]19 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]It works perfectly with every calibre I’ve tried except 9mm. Two tips: an occasional shot of dry-lube and ensuring that the wire is set deeply in the carrier. Aging brass hangs relatively more often. Many people report no problems at all. [/FONT]
    Win to Dillon/Hornady. ​

    <DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[FONT=Arial,Arial]The Feeder [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Three different philosophies: Dillon is calibre-specific with a fully-controlled feed path. You can whip the cases around and they generally go where they are supposed to (dinged-up rims may fail to enter the shellplate without some manual persuasion, as with the other feeders). [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Hornady is a mostly-controlled feedpath – when the ‘v-block’ pushes the case forward, if you’re rough and fast the case may skitter and hang-up entering the shellplate. In practice, going that rough and fast is going to spill powder anyway. The Hornady comes with every part (except collator plates) required for every calibre Hornady makes shellplates for – so your multi-calibre costs look better. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Lee drops cases in free air – usually this works OK, but some cases are more likely than others to bounce and exit the feedpath (.357Magnum). Of the three, the Lee was more prone to double-feeds, and least successful in getting a case into the shellplate straight and far enough to enter the sizing die. Lee has only two sizes of slider (the case-pusher) – I had to custom-modify a slider to work reliably with .40S&W – and it’s fussy to swap out. The feeder does not work with rifle cases, so you are hand-inserting with .223 and so on. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Win to Dillon/Hornady. The Dillon is theoretically superior, but worked no better or worse than Hornady in practice. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR><DIR><DIR>[/FONT][FONT=Arial,Arial]Ejection [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]

    </DIR></DIR></DIR></DIR>[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]That which is fed must be ejected. Dillon and Hornady use a wire ejector, Lee a plate. Dillon and Lee are both mostly-perfect – badly-dinged rims can jam. Hornady has two quirks: the wire interferes with non-Hornady crimp dies in station five​
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]18[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman], and small rounds (like 9x19mm) can be fussy about ejecting[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]19[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]. [/FONT]
    V1.4.3 9 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]Space [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Lee wins hands-down. The Dillon and Hornady are taller, bulkier (mostly due to the massive case-feeding mechanisms) and needs house current. Most people have a large enough loading space to handle this - some don't, so the Lee looks more attractive in their space. [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR><DIR>[/FONT]Die Storage

    </DIR></DIR>
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Regarding space, Lee turrets or Dillon toolheads loaded with dies are bulky, and storage is awkward . The Hornady dies with their LNL collars fit in a Hornady (or RCBS) die box, which slides into a standard shelf in a toolchest. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]Maintenance [/FONT]
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=7 width=575 border=1><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top width="33%" colSpan=2 height=21>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    Dillon [/FONT]​

    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="33%" colSpan=2 height=21>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    Hornady [/FONT]​

    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="33%" colSpan=2 height=21>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    Lee [/FONT]​

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top width="25%" height=131>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    Lubrication [/FONT]​

    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" colSpan=2 height=131>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Disassemble linkage, grease, reassemble. Messy.
    3. - Occasional greasing of friction sliders[/FONT]
    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" colSpan=2 height=131>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Grease fittings[/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    - Rare grease/oil other parts. ​
    1. - Occasional shot of dry lube around the shellplate and case feed areas.
    [/FONT]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" height=131>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Grease/oil fittings
    3. - Light oil on case slider
    4. - Light oil/grease on advancing arm[/FONT]
    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top width="25%" height=131>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    Cleaning [/FONT]​

    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" colSpan=2 height=131>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Infrequent cleaning of primer system, modest disassembly required.
    3. - Occasional cleaning under shell plate.[/FONT]
    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" colSpan=2 height=131>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    - Infrequent cleaning of primer system, easy/simple disassembly. ​
    1. - Occasional simple cleaning under shell plate.
    [/FONT]</TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" height=131>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - More frequent cleaning (~1000 rounds) of primer system, awkward disassembly.[/FONT]
    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top width="25%" height=223>[FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    Adjusting [/FONT]​

    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" colSpan=2 height=223>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Generally you don’t past initial setup.[/FONT]
    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" colSpan=2 height=223>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Generally you don’t past initial setup.[/FONT]
    </TD><TD vAlign=top width="25%" height=223>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. - Occasional adjustments to accommodate wear, such as the shellplate advancing/locking arm.
    3. - Periodic hand-retightening of the shellplate retaining nut.
    4. - Periodic resetting[/FONT]
    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>​

    V1.4.3 10 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]20


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Not only are grease fittings faster, they are easier and less messy than disassembly/reassembly. The real-world impact is that grease-fitting-equipped gear gets greased more often – it’s just human nature. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]21


    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Less flex in critical areas due to better station placement and the LNL system, which is more stable than a Dillon toolhead. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]22 [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]I’ve been loading precision .223 on the Hornady. Runout averages .0017", OAL standard deviation using a Sinclair comparator is 0.0007" (using Hdy 75gr HPBT), and velocity standard deviation is about 12fps – all with banged-up brass from a precision AR15 upper. This surprises me, as it matches or exceeds what I get on a Redding Ultra-Mag single stage with RCBS powder throw, and is ten times the production rate of the single stage. I have not done these comparisons on the Dillon, but people do load good ammo on them. Lee could not compete here – simple measurements on pistol cases (like .015" OAL variances) prove that. [/FONT]
    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=7 width=129 border=1><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top height=39>
    1. [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]
    2. of the case retaining arms.[/FONT]
    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>​

    Overall, I’d rank them Hornady, Lee, Dillon from easiest to hardest. Grease fittings make a big difference here20.
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]Longevity and Service [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Dillon has a no-questions-asked service policy – you need parts, you call and get them. Hornady is basically the same. Lee has a two-year warranty. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]One of my shooting buddies has two Loadmasters, one with nearly one million rounds through it and one closing in on six hundred thousand. He’s replaced a lot of wear parts, like the inexpensive wedge-lock bar (it advances and locks the shell plate). We’ve all heard similar stories about Dillon machinery. The Hornady is too new to assess here. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]If you like the cradle-to-grave security of unlimited warrantees, then Dillon or Hornady is for you. Just remember that "there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch" – you pay for the warrantee for yourself and all of the future owners when you buy it. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial,Arial]Conclusions [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Is the Dillon three times the press as a Lee, functionally speaking? No, although it is the better machine. Is the Hornady twice the press as the Lee, functionally speaking? Darn close – maybe more so. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Does the Lee allow for powder check and separate seat/crimp stations? No - if that's a show-stopper for you, you have to take a Dillon or a Hornady. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Dillon should, in principle, make more accurate ammo than the Lee – and the Hornady should be a little better than the Dillon[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]21[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman],[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]22[/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]). How much more, and how much that matters, is an issue for each shooter. [/FONT]​
    V1.4.3 11 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]After some soul-searching, I have switched to the Hornady – compared to the Lee, it’s smoother, the powder system is better, the case feeder is more reliable and versatile, and it’s a true five-die setup – compared to the Dillon it’s cheaper and faster to do calibre changes, and smoother to operate. I’ll miss the Dillon – finely-made equipment is a joy to have around. I’ll miss the Loadmaster too – simple, low-cost equipment feels like value. [/FONT]​
    V1.4.3 12 of 13 AB/ab Dillon vs Lee vs Hornady Or "How I spent my Winter and Then Some"
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Table of Contents [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]What’s the Deal?.................................................................................................................1 [/FONT]​

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR>My Biases........................................................................................................................1 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]​
    </DIR>The Competitors..................................................................................................................2 [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR>Dillon 650.......................................................................................................................2 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Lee Loadmaster...............................................................................................................2 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Hornady Lock-n-load AP................................................................................................2 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]​
    </DIR>Fit and Finish......................................................................................................................2 [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR>Great, Good, and Good Enough......................................................................................2 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The dies...........................................................................................................................3 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]​
    </DIR>Function............................................................................................................................3 [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR>Primer handling...............................................................................................................3 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Refill speed.................................................................................................................4 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Large/small change.....................................................................................................4 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Primer feel...................................................................................................................4 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Used primer management...........................................................................................4 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Case Retention................................................................................................................5 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Powder handling.............................................................................................................5 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Lack of powder: squibs...............................................................................................5 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Too much powder: double charges.............................................................................6 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Just the right amount of powder: adjustments............................................................6 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Missed primers............................................................................................................6 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Speed.............................................................................................................................7 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Calibre changes...............................................................................................................7 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Case Feeding...................................................................................................................8 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Collator................................................................................................................8 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]The Feeder..................................................................................................................9 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Ejection.......................................................................................................................9 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]​
    </DIR>Space...............................................................................................................................10 [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]<DIR>Die Storage....................................................................................................................10 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]​
    </DIR>Maintenance....................................................................................................................10 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Longevity and Service......................................................................................................11 [/FONT]
    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Conclusions.....................................................................................................................11 [/FONT]​
    V1.4.3 13 of 13 AB/ab
     
  2. Valkman

    Valkman Knifemaker Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Interesting. When I bought all my stuff there was no LNL and I had no qualms about calling up Brian Enos and ordering all Dillon stuff and a 550B. Since then I've added another 550 from ebay and just love 'em. I'd never say they're better than the Hornaday as I haven't used one but I am a BLUE koolaid drinker for sure. :)
     
  3. Tackleberry

    Tackleberry Krieg Hündchen

    I use both Lee and RCBS. I might have a few Hornady items... I prefer RCBS dies.
     
  4. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I bought a Dillon progressive a while back on ebay but haven't had time to play with it. I still use my Rock-chucker for most loading.
     
  5. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Not my report I was just passing it along.
     
  6. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Likewise, bought a barely used loaded Dillon XL650 that's still sitting in the factory boxes. :oops:

    Quig, if you're still looking for a progressive press let me know. Unfortunately, work is slow and I need to sell it. I'll get some pictures and full description of exactly what accessories come with it. Selling as a package not press alone. Shipping isn't cheap though because it is heavy. Press is currently set-up for .45acp with large pistol casefeeder. Hate to let it go but I can always replace the press in the future, unless .gov decides to ban presses.

    Also will be listing some metric 20 rd. Fal mags, an Izzy HB Fal parts kit and an Imbel NGL receiver for sale. I was going to build another Izzy HB and plans have changed. Sorry for the highjack. [beer]
     
  7. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Colt,

    I just talked with Quigs on the phone and he's out in the field doing some crane work, but he will PM you tonight about your Dillon press and components.

    He just wanted me to let you know he's very interested in it.


    Con
     
  8. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Thanks, I just spoke to him and he's got first dibs on anything I'm selling. [beer]
     
  9. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    How many FAL metric mags do you have and how much do you want for them?

    Thanks,
    Con
     
  10. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I have 10 or 11 20 round mags left, some are steel some are alloy. I don't remember how many have witness holes and what not. I'll get out the box and get some pictures and accurate description. I should probably keep one or 2 of the Izzy mags to include in the parts kits. Sorry for being so vague at the moment.

    $8 per mag plus shipping.
     
  11. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Sent you a PM with my phone number, if you need it. I'll be around later this evening after 5PM, getting ready to head out the door. I'll get the box out and let you know what I have.
     
  12. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

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