The RL-450

We need to look at one more of Mike Dillon’s innovative presses to see the full scope of where he started and how we got where we are today.  We’ve seen the RL-1000, which cost too much for the average consumer to afford.  Then we looked at the RL-300, which cost Mike too much to make.  Finally we come to the RL-450 which hit the mark on affordability both for the consumer and for the manufacturer.

Mike learned from the past and made the RL-450 with a strong, but much more affordable, cast frame.  He also kept the automation to a minimum, which again helped keep the price down.  The RL-450 was such a great value that the price was around half of what the RL-300 had cost and it was still affordable to produce.  The RL-450 was so successful that Mike started to get the attention of the major players in the reloading industry at the time.  Here’s what Mike had to say about that in The Highly Irregular and Somewhat Improbable History of Dillon Precision Products,

“By 1984, both Hornady and RCBS either had introduced or were preparing to introduce their own progressive reloaders, and they were much stronger than us in the distributor market. I wasn’t going to fight their fight. All good fighter pilots know that you don’t fight the other guy’s fight. Instead, I went into direct marketing. This was a go-for-broke thing. I spent every dollar I could raise on advertising. We had to sell 500 machines that month to pay for all the advertising we had purchased – we sold 5000.”

This ad from the March 1984 edition of Gun’s & Ammo shows the RL-450 at a mere $185, a far cry from the $2475 that the RL-1000 had cost.  No wonder he sold 10 times his goal for that month.  Finally reloaders had access to a machine that could reload hundreds of rounds per hour and do it affordably.

guns-and-ammo-march-1984, RL-450, Mike Dillon

The RL-450 is out of production but Dillon Precision Products still offers parts and upgrade kits that allow you to turn that RL-450 into an RL550 B.  When you examine the RL-450 you can readily see the designs that are still in use on the RL550 B and the XL650 both of which continue to lead the industry in quality and performance.


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