The Blue Press is well known as Dillon Precision’s catalog featuring the World’s Finest Reloading Machines. We also get a bit of recognition for the excellent articles that fill every edition of the Blue Press. Some people have even commented on the models that grace the cover of the Blue Press. What we don’t hear too often is mention of the short fiction that has appeared in the Blue Press. Okay it was really just a couple of stories but they were good and we’ve reprinted them a few times over the years. The first of these stories was initially published nearly a quarter century ago but the dystopian society the author imagines rings a bit too true for comfort at times. We hope you enjoy Sundown at Coffin Rock and the follow up story Sunrise at Coffin Rock.
We’ve posted a lot about our Break Even Calculator, the handy tool that helps you figure out how long it will take to “break even” on your reloading equipment, but not as much about which companies reloading machine you should buy. Well we think you should buy a Dillon, of course, and this excellent article from October 2006 does an excellent job of explaining why. We hope you enjoy this installment of Classic Blue Press.
Each year we attend SHOT Show, the NRA Annual Meetings and several other shows and events where we get to interact face to face with the public. Of course we also have our retail outlet in Scottsdale Arizona where we get to meet with the public year round. Over and over again we hear “well, I’ve got an old single stage that I use, I’m not sure about all this stuff that’s going on with these progressives…” and then we show them just how easy it is to run a progressive press. It isn’t easy because we already have it all setup and ready to go. It isn’t easy because we are standing there walking them through the process. What makes it easy is that these people already know how to reload from the experience they have had with their single stage press. As they watch our staff and see just how a progressive reloader works we often see their faces light up because they know that they can do it because they’ve already done it countless times. All we did was show them how to do it faster and more efficiently.
So what are the arguments against progressive reloading? Ease of use is one and on the surface a single stage press certainly looks much less complicated but that notion is quickly dispelled once you take into account all of the steps involved in using a single stage press. With single stage reloading you get your initial settings dialed in for each die and then you very likely will use a die lock ring to “lock in” your settings. Then you unscrew that die, carefully so you retain your settings, setup the next die and repeat until you’ve got everything set for each die that you plan to use for that cartridge. Over and over you set the dies and unscrew them for each stage of the reloading process each time you make a new batch of ammo. With a progressive you go through the exact same process to setup each die but when you are done you don’t have to adjust that die again unless you decide to change something. After that initial setup your reloading sessions have fewer steps to keep track of, less to remember, and a higher production rate.
How easy is this setup? Let’s take a look at the instructions from the Dillon RL 550C Instruction Manual.
Station One is where we are going to resize our case and remove the spent primer.
Using the die lock rings provided, screw the sizing die into the tool head. Raise the platform and screw the die down until it touches the shell plate. Lower the platform and insert an empty case into Station One. Raise the platform so the case is in the die, tighten the lock ring on the die. This will keep everything centered.
Station Two is where we are inserting a new primer, flaring the case mouth (on pistol cartridges) and where we are dropping the powder charge into the case.
On rifle cases, the die should be adjusted so that the powder funnel will contact the mouth of the case and then fully actuate the powder bar. These adjustments are accomplished with a case in the shell plate and alternately raising and lowering the operating handle, while adjusting the powder die. When properly adjusted, the powder bar will be moved to its full rearward (open) position by the case while the handle is at the full up position. When you have determined that your adjustments are correct tighten the die lock ring. On pistol cases once the powder bar travels fully across you should continue to adjust the powder die for the desired amount of bell (turn the powder die 1/8 of a turn at a time). The desired amount of bell is just enough to allow the bullet to sit on the case mouth without falling off and to keep the case from shaving lead during the seating process. The powder die may be higher or lower depending on the caliber it is being adjusted for. You’ll soon learn to judge the correct amount of bell by simply looking at it. In the meantime, you might want to use your dial calipers to check it. Twenty thousandths of an inch greater (at the mouth of the case) than its original diameter should about do it. Once you’ve achieved the desired amount of bell, with the case in Station 2, raise the platform and turn the die lock ring down hand tight.
In this station the bullet is seated to its proper depth. You need to refer to a loading manual for overall length of the completed round. Overall length (OAL) may vary up to .016”, and this is normal. Put a case into the shell plate at Station Three. Raise the platform up and screw the die down until it just touches the shell plate and back it out two turns. Now, back your seating stem out. Place a bullet on the case and operate the handle. Using a dial caliper or case gage, check for overall length. Keep screwing the seating stem down in small increments until the correct overall length is achieved. Once you are satisfied with the overall length, tighten the lock ring.
The crimping operation is performed at this station. Insert the crimp die and place an empty case in Station Four. Raise the platform and screw the crimping die down until it touches the rim of the case. Now lower the platform and screw the die down an additional one-quarter of a turn. Place a round in Station Four with a seated bullet and cycle the operating handle. You will need to refer to a loading manual to get proper crimp dimensions for the caliber you are loading. A dial caliper is required to take accurate measurements from your crimped round. If more crimp is needed, screw the crimp die down in small increments until you get the desired crimp, now tighten the lock ring.
Once the dies are properly setup in the removable tool head all you have to do is place a case into station one, pull the handle, and start cycling the brass through each of the four stations that you’ve already setup. Following these steps, and using a recipe from a reliable reloading manual, you’ll be able to produce hundreds of high quality rounds per hour whenever you need more ammo.
But Can I Make Accurate Loads With A Progressive?
Another old saw is that progressive reloading machines are, somehow, incapable of producing ammunition of the same quality, consistency, and accuracy as a single stage press. We actually addressed this very issue in the first edition of Dillon Precision’s Blue Press which came out in October of 1990. The article, which was originally written for the June 1990 edition of Guns & Ammo by Bob Milek, covers the author’s efforts at proving that his varmint hunting ammunition was just as accurate when produced on his Dillon RL 550B as it was from his single stage reloader. We won’t reprint the entire article here but you can read the article in the First Edition of the Blue Press here if you like. What is really striking about the article is the accuracy comparison at the end. The Dillon RL 550B produced more accurate ammunition than the single stage press.
Are there those who might report otherwise? Sure. This happens because of many variables that are difficult to predict or measure in each reloader’s setup and techniques. What this chart does tell us is that it is certainly possible to wring every bit, if not more, of the accuracy potential out of a round made on a progressive reloading machine with potentially better results than you might achieve on a single stage press.
In the end you just have to ask yourself if time spent behind the reloading bench is better than time spent behind the trigger. Whichever way you may go the important thing is safety first. Always consult a quality reloading manual, take careful measurements, and stay focused on the task at hand when reloading. Keeping the shooting sports safe and enjoyable is everyone’s responsibility.
Father’s Day is fast approaching (it’s Sunday, June 17th for those of you who forgot and are about to start a panicky search for the perfect gift) and Dillon Precision may just have what the dad in your life wants. Sure a Super 1050 would be nice but if we are talking about more of a necktie and bottle of Aqua Velva budget then maybe we should change up our search parameters. As part of our large catalog of top quality reloading machines, firearms parts and accessories and shooting related gear Dillon Precision also carries some really handy books. Sure you can find pretty much anything on the internet or you could whip out the old library card and go down to your local branch looking for the information you need but who has time for that? I know I don’t. Why spend hours searching through articles or charts full of load data when you can have it all right at your finger tips? Why read some internet commando’s opinions about the best shooting gear and techniques when you could be reading articles written by true experts in their field? The Lyman reloading manuals that we carry give you all of those things and more and you don’t even need a library card to enjoy them.
Precision Rifle Shooting is the hottest new shooting sport in the USA. Just like all the other “gun games” out there you can probably show up with the gear you have and participate but to really be competitive you’ll need to dial in your loads and you’ll probably be buying a lot of new gear and guns just to play the game. Why not give yourself a head start with Lyman’s Long Range Precision Rifle Reloading Handbook? This book is full of load data for all the popular cartridges used in Precision Rifle, and articles by top shooters and industry experts.
If you’ve graduated from shooting the budget shells from your local big box store and you need to tune your shotshell loads to give you the edge in the field or on the sporting clays course then Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook has all the information you need. This in depth resource covers all of the components from wads, cases and primers to the most current powders and shot. There’s even a section covering Non-Toxic loads with data, loading instructions and articles on the subject.
Maybe long guns aren’t your thing and you’d prefer to spend your time perfecting your handgun loads? Lyman’s Pistol and Revolver Handbook has load data for all the most current powders and projectiles as well as the classics that fans of Cowboy Action Shooting use on the range. In addition to those classic cowboy loads this manual offers data for modern big bore cartridges like 480 Ruger and 500 S&W. This is all topped off with articles covering varmint hunting, big bore loads and more.
For those of us who are generalists there is a lot to like in the Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook. Packed with a wide selection of cartridges, bullets, and powder from all of the major manufacturers this manual is the only data source that incorporates multiple brands throughout the entire manual. Why hunt all over the internet to find that perfect combination of components when it’s all right here in one easy to read manual? This is a must for any reloader’s library.
So whether you are searching for that perfect Father’s Day gift or you just need the best reloading data and shooting information at your finger tips we’ve got you covered. Oh, and if you want to buy your dad that Super 1050 just click here to get started 😉
As gun owners we are all too aware of the constant assault by forces that would reduce, or remove, our right to keep and bear arms. One of the more frustrating aspects of this is the often willful lack of education regarding firearms usage, ownership, and even functionality. We are all better off when we are better educated and, as gun owners, we owe it to ourselves to make sure that we are knowledgeable on the topic of firearms. The April 2011 issue of the Blue Press had an article, written by not one but 3 authors, discussing the value of firearms education. This article holds up well and the advice of the authors makes it worth the read.
Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, commonly referred to as “The Colonel” or “Colonel Cooper”, was known for an impressive array of achievements. Colonel Cooper’s advocacy of the “Modern Technique” for self defense with hand guns has influenced shooting schools worldwide, even if his penchant for large caliber handguns isn’t always shared by others. Cooper’s own school, Gunsite Academy, remains a respected institution among firearms enthusiasts many of whom travel to Paulden Arizona to seek out the finest training available. Cooper was known for writing about firearms and self defense and is often quoted when the topic of firearms comes up. Perhaps his most quoted words are what, at first, appears to be a simple set of rules.
All guns are always loaded.
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
Identify your target, and what is behind it.
As many writers do Colonel Cooper restated those rules several times and there are subtle variations in word choice and even a slightly expanded set of rules that appear on Gunsite’s own “About Us” page. The expanded version reads:
All guns are always loaded.Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.(For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.This is the Golden Rule.
Identify your target, and what is behind it.Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.
I recently read an article in which one rule, the first one, was examined as a stand alone entity to explore it’s meaning. “All guns are always loaded” sounds extreme and the author opined that this rule be expanded to mean that they are always loaded until you personally have checked the chamber. I would state that the first rule does sound extreme and with good reason. We are dealing with deadly force here. No risk is an acceptable one when someones health and well being is concerned. There are no caveats, and there is no “unless” or “but” at the end of the rule. Rule one is extreme, and inconvenient sometimes, because the consequences of disobeying it may very well be extreme and inconvenient.
Another interesting fact to note is that the first rule is different from the others. Rules 2, 3, and 4 all dictate your actions in the physical world. “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy” dictates where you are allowed to point a firearm. “Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target” provides you with guidelines for trigger discipline by telling you when you can and cannot have your finger on the trigger. “Identify your target, and what is behind it” pairs up with the second rule and determines not only what we are shooting at but if it is safe to shoot at all. The first rule is unlike these other rules in that it establishes a mindset. “All guns are always loaded” is why we must be diligent in following the other rules. Of course we have to watch our muzzle direction, keep our finger off the trigger, and be aware of our target and what is behind it because we are holding a loaded gun. If we accept the first rule the other three are logical and necessary.
Cooper’s Rules are a SET of rules. To really gain the benefit of following them we have to take them as a whole. If we follow the whole set of rules we greatly increase our safety and the safety of others. If we break even one rule we open ourselves up to the potential for disaster.
If you follow any competitive shooting forums ( and who doesn’t?) you’ve probably read the arguments, which go on ad nauseam, over whether IDPA is a game, or training, or a training game… well, you get the idea. Six years ago Col. Mark Lisi, US Army (Ret.) addressed this very issue in the pages of The Blue Press. The game has changed a bit since this article was published but Col. Lisi’s arguments are just as poignant today as they were in 2012 and we think the article is worth a read.
Magazine fed shotguns are coming into the mainstream this year with pump action offerings from Mossberg and Remington to go with the somewhat more exotic offerings from companies like Kalashnikov USA. In the past we’ve seen magazine fed shotguns but they were a niche market with few mainstream offerings and, for most consumers, they were just a bit too gimmicky to be relied upon. Now major manufacturers are putting their weight behind these guns and we are sure to see more in the years to come.
First up lets talk about the Mossberg 590M. The 590 has long been a major contender for “Best Pump Shotgun Ever” and the 590M brings a double stack, 20 round, magazine to the already impressive feature list of this model. Whats better is that the 590 magazine, which itself seems built like a tank, locks into the receiver very solidly with little to no movement. Some might think this means it is finicky to lock in or difficult to master. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The magazine locks in just like any AK style mag would by hooking the front of the mag into the receiver and then rocking the mag back to lock it in. Magazines are also available in 5, 10, and 15 shell capacities.
The Mossberg 590M is definitely on the “want” list. It is conceivable that a reliable magazine fed pump shotgun could beat quite a few less reliable semi-auto shotguns in competition shooting. Sure pumping might be a little slower but a 20 round mag is a nice way to start off the stage and the smaller capacity mags might be perfect for reloading to slugs or buckshot on stages that require multiple types of shotgun shells. Are there any 3-gunners out there considering this?
The Mossberg 590 has been in use as a combat shotgun since 1960. With such a long history the 590 will certainly lend itself to the law enforcement and military communities.
You can read more about this impressive shotgun on Mossberg’s site. This video, also courtesy of Mossberg, provides an excellent overview of the guns function and features.
Remington 870 DM Tactical
Next up we have the Remington 870 DM Tactical. While the magazine and it’s lockup were the heart of the Mossberg 590M they seem to be the downfall of the Remington 870 DM Tactical. The magazine has a lower capacity, feels less “substantial”, and locks in a bit looser. That last bit may not matter as long as the function is there but the lower capacity is going to be a bit of a problem for some people. Couple that with the fact that the Remington magazine is a single stack, so any really big magazines that someone might make are going to be really long and unwieldy, and you have an even less desirable setup.
All that being said though the 870 hasn’t been around this long for no reason. Legendary reliability and durability have kept the 870 going for around 68 years now and it’s fans are many. The 870 DM Tactical does come with some nice XS Ghost Ring sights, a rail for mounting optics, and a “Tactical REM Choke” that looks a lot like a breaching choke. So, while this gun may not make it onto a list of potential 3-gun shotguns, it is certainly well suited to law enforcement and military applications.
You can read more about the Remington 870 DM Tactical here.
Kalashnikov USA – Autoloading Tactical Shotgun, KS-12T
The Kalashnikov USA KS-12T looks like what it is; an over-sized AK47. That being said it looks like a well made shotgun with a smoothly operating bolt, decent (and also smooth) trigger, and a generally tight build that seemed of higher quality than most AK based shotguns I’ve held in the past. With the factory 10 round magazines this gun could easily be a contender for 3-Gun competition use but it screams for a drum or other, higher capacity, magazine. Optics can be mounted via the ubiquitous AK variant scope mount on the side of the receiver. If this gun runs and is durable it should be a force to be reckoned with.
No we aren’t adding a check engine light to our presses but, just like your car, they do need regular maintenance to keep everything running at peak performance. Some of our users are pretty fastidious about things (you’ve seen them, they post pictures of their spotless reloading benches on the internet to make the rest of us look and feel bad) and they keep the press well lubed and clean. Then there are other users that come to us, or post to online forums, that they are having problems and they need help. Just like when you contact tech support for your computer and they tell you to reboot we are going to ask you some questions and one of those just might be “have you cleaned the press?” Quite frequently the response is “no, not really… when should I do that?” Well that’s where things can get complicated. The answer is “when it needs it” and that is because this can vary.
The environment the machine is in will make a big difference. A machine stored in a garage or shed will very likely need maintenance more often than one stored inside a climate controlled environment. You can tell a lot by look and feel. Dillon Precision reloaders require a certain amount of oil and grease to operate smoothly. If you check the appropriate area and there is no oil or grease, or very little, it is probably a good idea to freshen it up with a bit more lubricant.
The same holds true of debris on the press. If you can see a good amount of spilled powder, or bits of tumbling media that adhered to the lubed cases, then you should consider getting out the canned air, vacuum, or dust rags as appropriate and remove the fouling.
If a part on one of our consumer grade machines breaks we’ll take care of it but it never hurts to have spares on hand. That way you can replace the part immediately, call us for replacement, and then replenish your spare parts kit with the part we send. You can find spare parts and maintenance kits here: https://www.dillonprecision.com/spare-parts-maintenance-kit…
We also have knowledge base articles covering cleaning and maintenance for each machine. Just follow the links below to find the article for your machine:
There is nothing worse than ordering a new item only to find out that you didn’t get everything you need when it gets there. Reloading machines are definitely in the category of products that need supporting products to be useful. Did you get all the caliber conversions you need? What about a scale? Dial calipers? Even if you already have a lot of the tools you need it’s still a good idea to make sure you didn’t forget that one gadget that you just have to have to make it all work.
If you’re thinking about getting a reloading machine and need a little guidance as to what to get with the machine (it’s all about accessorizing, right?) we have interactive guides to help you make the right choices. Of course you can always call to talk to one of our helpful representatives at 800-223-4570 but if you would rather work through the process online before making your decision we have these interactive guides to help you.