It has been almost a full year since I first saw
the prototype for an electric casefeeder for the Dillon
500B loading press at the 2005
SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ever since, the folks at
Dillon have been hard at work perfecting the design, and now
they are ready to ship.
The Dillon 550B
is, in my opinion, the best and most versatile progressive
loading press on the market. It has been around for a couple of
decades now, and is perfect for loading pistol, revolver, and
rifle cartridges. Its versatility lets the operator load one at
a time, as on a single-stage press, or fully progressive,
getting a loaded cartridge with each pull of the handle. For
more information on the 550B, I refer the reader to my review of
the machine here: http://www.gunblast.com/Dillon550.htm.
While the 550B allows the operator to achieve a
high production rate, Dillon now has an automatic casefeeder
available which allows an even faster rate of production.
In use, the 550B requires the operator to use his right hand to
place an empty cartridge in the first station, while the left
hand loads a bullet into the case at station three, and indexes
the shell plate. With the casefeeder, the operator never has to
release the operating handle with his right hand, except to load
the primer feed and case hopper every 100 rounds or so.
The automatic casefeeder works with just about
any pistol or revolver cartridge. Dillon lists 32 different
cartridges that can work with the casefeeder, most requiring
only a separate conversion kit, which are caliber specific.
The conversion kit shipped with the sample
casefeeder was for the .45 Colt cartridge. Once the
casefeeder is installed on the machine, changing to another
caliber is quick and easy, and requires no tools. The
casefeeder comes with good assembly instructions, and I had it
installed in less than an hour on my 550B.
Getting started with the casefeeder was easy,
and I quickly could see how this will speed up production. I had
only one minor glitch with the casefeeder, and it was easily
corrected. Sometimes, the case falling down the clear plastic
tube would hang its rim on the edge of the lower tube. Slightly
chamfering the inside edge of the tube, as can be seen in the
pictures, immediately corrected the situation, and it never
exhibited that problem again.
I was concerned about the case having to slide
from the feeder onto the shell plate, but the casefeeder slid
them in quickly and smoothly. It worked just great. The
casefeeder ran much quieter than I expected. There is an
automatic shutoff that only runs the feeder when the tube gets
low on cases, so that the motor is not running when not needed.
Pouring in about 100 cases at a time, I tried to outrun the
feeder, but could not. It kept the cases ready to load, and
inserted them as fast as I could pull the handle and advance the
shell plate, as I was cycling them through without actually
loading the cases, to see how fast it would run. I ran several
hundred cases through the machine this way, before actually
loading any ammo, to check for potential problems. It of course
also ran smoothly when loading ammo, whether I used the Dillon
powder measure, or another measure such as the Lee. There
was plenty of room for any die set or powder measure that might
be used on the 550B.
As stated earlier, changing to another pistol or
revolver cartridge is fast and easy, but the casefeeder will not
handle most rifle cartridges. To load these, the lower
feed assembly must be removed, which requires a couple of Allen
wrenches and a few minutes' time. If a person loads mostly
handgun cartridges, or rifle cartridges which are of handgun
length, such as the .32 and.44 WCF cartridges, the casefeeder is
a very worthwhile investment. It will save time and operator
fatigue while loading a large batch of ammo. Ideally, I would
like to keep one 550B set up with the casefeeder, and have
another set up for rifle cartridges. I will most likely buy
another 550B, and just leave the casefeeder on one of them at
all times. Either way, it only takes a few minutes to remove the
lower feed assembly. The case hopper and related hardware is not
in the way when going back to manually inserting cases into the
Like all Dillon equipment, the new casefeeder
for the 550B is a high quality piece of equipment. It adds speed
and ease to the job of loading quality ammunition, while still
keeping the versatility of the 550B intact. I like it.
Check out the extensive line of America’s best
loading machines and accessories online at: www.dillonprecision.com,
or order by phone by calling 1-800-762-3845.
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