Definitive comparison of Dillon Progressives to Hornady LNL press
This off CMP forum. Its a thorough report by a reloader who owns all Dillon progressive presses and owns a LNL Hornady press ....and compares Dillons to the Hornady LNL progressive press. Few who drink the blue cool aid are so honest !!! ..LNL comes out on top. See below
Originally Posted by Sailormilan2 View Post
I found this writeup on another forum, comparing the Dillon vs the Hornady. This is not my write up, but you can take it for what it is worth.
This question usually ignites a firestorm of of "Blue verses Red verses etc." What you are not going to find is very many people that have actually loaded on BOTH DILLON AND HORNADY. I have loaded on the Dillon SDB, 550, 650, 1050 and the Hornady LNL.
I currently own a Hornady LNL and a Dillon SDB.
Here is my perspective:
Consider the Hornady Lock and Load Progressive. It’s cheaper than the Dillon and has several features that, IMHO are better than Dillon.
The Dillon has been on the market a long time and have great customer service, as a result, Dillon users are very dedicated to their blue presses. Dillon presses are EXCEPTIONAL and do an exceptional job in reloading. The competition to the Dillon is the Hornady Lock and Load Auto Progressive. Because most of the Dillon users are so satisfied, when you ask the question “Which is better?”, you get swamped with comments like, "The Hornady LNL is Junk!" If you asked if they have ever loaded on the LNL and 99.9% said no. When I did find someone that had experience with both presses, most liked the LNL and many had sold their Dillon's and bought the LNL. However, there have been those that sold their red presses and bought blue. I can also unequivocally state, based on my experience, that HORNADY has equal customer service. You just have to decide what you like best. Some times it’s just the color, red or blue!!
IMHO the Dillon has one major shortcoming and, most Dillon owners will agree if they are honest. The Dillon powder measure is sorely lacking in ease of use and adjustability. It is sliding bar type measure. It meters ball type powder well but, flake type powder less so. Extruded stick type powder is VERY troublesome and not all that accurate. To be fair, extruded powder is difficult in all powder measures, irregardless of design. Be advised that flake powder has been known to “leak” around the Dillon sliding bar as it is activated back and forth. Particularly if the sliding bar is worn. The LNL powder measure is a rotary barrel design that handles all types of powder MUCH better than the Dillon. A rotary barrel is the same design used by RCBS, Sinclair and other manufacturers. I have never heard of a rotary type measure “leak”. Also, it is a pain to swap out the Dillon powder measure to another die plate. As a result, many owners have several powder measures on separate die plates for changing calibers. This significantly drives UP the COST. I have never heard of a LNL owner that has more than one powder measure. There is no need. It is easy to adjust. Many LNL owners, myself included, own several "Powder Dies" that are pre-adjusted to load a specific case. (Note: Powder measure fits into the Powder Die.) Each LNL powder die costs about $20. A Dillon powder measure costs $75.
Also, IMHO, the Dillon de-priming/priming system is less reliable than the LNL. With the Dillon system, spent primers drop through the bottom of the shell plate into a small cup. It is an “open” system and is easy to empty. However, the press gets dirty with carbon. Whenever carbon/dust/dirt or “primer dust” fouls the primer seating station this causes "flipped" or "skipped" primers. The DILLON de-priming system works well provided it is kept CLEAN. With the Hornady LNL, spent primers are dropped completely through the press into a plastic tube and into the trash or bottle or whatever you want to use. It is a “closed” system. You never get carbon in and around the bottom of the shell plate. The point is the dirt off the spent primers does not foul the workings of the press. I have never had a “flipped” primer. Although, I have had “missed” primers that I feel were operator error (ME!) and not the fault of the primer system. (I forgot to seat the primer!) In all fairness, the LNL primer seating station will also not work properly if the primer slide is fouled with dirt or powder. Please note that neither Dillon or LNL primer systems will work flawlessly unless they are adjusted properly. Users of BOTH systems have expressed exasperation with these adjustments.
If you want a “Powder Check” system you need a press with at least five stations. The Dillon Square Deal and Dillon 550 both have 4 die stations. The LNL and Dillon 650 both have 5 stations. However, the 650 costs significantly more than the LNL. The Dillon 1050 is really an industrial machine and has eight stations.
How the presses indexes is an issue for some people. In reading the web about "KABOOMS" (Blowing up a gun!!), many of the kabooms I have read about were directly traced back to a manually indexing press. This is not the fault of the press but, operator error. However, with a manually indexing press, If you get distracted while reloading, you can easily double charge a pistol case. (A double charge will depend on the powder you are using and the charge weight.) IMHO, a double charge is less of a problem with auto-indexing presses. The Hornady LNL, Dillon 650 and, Dillon Square Deal auto index. The MOST POPULAR Dillon press, the 550, is a manually indexing press. Some people prefer manual, some people prefer auto.
In addition, the LNL auto indexing is significantly smoother than the Dillon 650. The LNL indexes 1/2 step while the ram is going up and 1/2 step when the ram goes down. The 650 indexes a full step on the ram down stroke and can cause pistol cases to spill SMALL AMOUNTS or powder with the indexing "bump". IMHO, the LNL is dramatically better. Of course, the amount of powder "bumped" from a case is dependent on the powder charge, operator and, speed of reloading. As I stated above, you get primer problems with a dirty press. "Bumped" powder fouls BOTH Dillon and LNL.
Next, the LNL uses a really slick bushing system for mounting loading dies and powder measure to the press. It makes changing calibers and SNAP. After a die is adjusted for whatever you are loading you can remove the die from the press with an 1/8 turn and insert a different die. Each die has it's own bushing. The Dillon uses a die plate that has the powder measure and all loading dies installed. The Dillon die plate costs more than LNL bushings. Another neat feature with the Hornady is that you can buy a bushing conversion setup and use the same bushings on your RCBS, Lyman or other single stage press and the LNL!
Additionally, the LNL seems to be built like a tank! The ram is about 2"+ in diameter and the basic press is similar in construction to the RCBS Rock Chucker. I would say that a side-by-side comparison to the either the Dillon 550 OR 650, the LNL is at least as sturdily built. And, in some areas I think the LNL is better built. i.e., The massive ram, powder measure, and primer system. The head/top of the press is solid except for where the dies are inserted. The Dillon has a large cutout that is needed for their die plates. By just looking, it would seem the LNL would be stronger. But, of course, that may not be the case.
There is one piece that can get damaged on the LNL. There is a coil spring that holds the cases in the shell holder that can get crushed if you improperly change shell holders. That's the bad news. The good news is that they are only about $2-3 for three and they won't get crushed if you change shell plates correctly. Also, recently Hornady sends these out as a warranty item free of charge. The other good news is that this spring is the primary reason while loading you can easily remove a case at any station. The spring is durable if it is not abused. I have been using my current retainer spring for about 2 years. I have loaded at least 12,000 rounds in that time. With the Dillon you have to remove small individual brass pins in order to take a shell out of a shell plate. My fingers require needle-nose pliers or forceps to remove the brass pins. It is a PITA.
(For the next discussion keep in mind that BOTH DILLON AND LNL shell plates rotate CLOCKWISE.)
Another item to think about. For NON-CASE FEEDER users; all Dillon presses (Except 1050) require you to use BOTH hands to insert brass and bullets on the press. The Dillon 650, 550 and, SDB operates as follows;
1. Right hand inserts an empty case at the right, front side of the press.
2. Left hand then sets the bullet on the case mouth at the left, rear side of the press.
3. Right hand then activates the operating handle.
4. For Dillon 550 only, Left hand manually rotates shell plate.
5. You then release the operating handle and insert another case with your right hand and so forth. (Right, left, right, left, right, left)
(Note: With the Dillon 550 you also have to manually rotate the shell plate at step 4. Most people do this with their LEFT hand.)
With the Dillon, “right-left-right-left” hand operating procedure, clockwise rotation and, the fact that you start your loading process at the front, right side of the press, your bullet seating die is at the rear, left side of the press. Why is this important? The Dillon powder measure drops powder into the case and the case is rotated clockwise to the REAR of the press to the bullet seating die. It is very difficult to see inside of the case to see the gunpowder. Many Dillon owners rig up flashlight, mirror or, believe it or not, a video camera to “look” into the case to see the powder charge.
With the LNL you start your loading process at the REAR, left side of the press. As your case rotates clockwise, after the powder is dropped, your case is directly in the front of the press and the bullet is seated directly in front of the person operating the press. Is is VERY EASY to look directly into the case to see the powder charge. Even though I use a “Powder Check” die. I look directly into each case as I am loading. I have never had a squib load OR a double charge. This is not to say that it can’t happen. It can. I just haven’t experienced one.
Loading cases and bullets with the left hand is very natural to me. Others may really dislike this feature and prefer the right/left/right/left/right operation of Dillon. Please note that a case feeder eliminates this operation and both Dillon and LNL only load bullets on the left side of the press. Dillon at the back of the press and LNL at the front of the press.
Dillon Customer service is legendary. You can buy a used Dillon press that is a total wreak and they will rebuild or send you a new one for about $40-$50 bucks. Any parts you break will be replaced free of charge. Hornady service, in my experience, is equal. When I needed some replacement springs that broke do to age, Hornady replaced them free of charge. They will also rebuild your press if it needs it. I think most other manufacturers are matching Dillon’s service. Dillon raised the bar pretty high for customer service and other companies see how devoted customers are to the BLUE presses. I do feel that is one of the primary reasons Dillon’s prices are HIGH. But of course, I have no way of knowing that.
You can load anything on both the Dillon and LNL from .25 ACP to 500 N.E. Realistically, I would say that people with progressive loaders mostly load pistol ammo 99% of the time. After using the LNL, I feel confident that my Grandkids will be using when I'm gone.
In summary, the Hornady LNL has all the features of the Dillon 650 but, is much cheaper. However, the Dillon automatic case feeder is about $50 cheaper than the Hornady. Changing calipers on the LNL is faster and cheaper. The powder measure on the LNL is VASTLY SUPERIOR TO THE DILLON, at least in my opinion. I bought the LNL and am very satisfied. A shooting buddy of mine is a long time, dedicated Dillon user. He has three! After giving me a ration of "stuff" about my choice, he came over and used my LNL and sheepishly said, "That's a very nice setup!!"