Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Progressive Experiment

No, I haven't gone politically insane... at least I don't think so; though I kinda feel a bit out of sorts, since I've just spent way more on guns and gun stuff this month than I had planned.

Why WAY more? Because after dropping $700 on the Defender (and getting a $1500+ gun in the bargain - I'm not complaining), I just bought one of these:

Now, for those of you who know me, this may come as something of a shock...

See, I'm a big Dillon fan. The first progressive press I ever loaded on was a Dillon. I know how they work, I like them, I trust them. The company is only about 20 miles from me; and they have the best warranty and service in the business.

Given this, I haven't been very receptive to peoples blandishments towards the Hornady Lock-n-Load progressive press. I figure, with Dillon right there, why bother with anyone else; and I've been planning on buying an XL650for a while. I'd finally settled on picking it up next month.

People complain about the cost of a Dillon; but the Hornadys list price is actually WORSE than the Dillon XL650 (the press most comparable to it).

The $439 list price, plus $325 for a case feeder, and $37 each for a feed plate and a shell plate didn't seem to present a significant price advantage over the Dillon (or rather, it actually presents a significant disadvantage). $834 all up is really no bargain; compared to the XL650 at $685 with case feeder, one shell plate and caliber kit, and one feed plate. Hell, it's a $150 list price disadvantage.

Even with the current "get loaded" rebate offering 1000 bullets to anyone who buys the press; that's not much of a deal.

Also, people complain about the caliber change costs on the 650... and at $90 I admit they are high; but again, the LnL is not a huge bargain in comparison, given that you need a shell plate, and a bushing set, which together list for $55.

...Or rather, it WOULDN'T be much of a bargain, if you were actually paying anywhere CLOSE to list.

See, Dillon machines pretty much sell at list price only. I have occasionally seen a nice package deal, but never a significant discount on the machines themselves...

This is by no means the case for the Hornady.

Prompted by the rebate program, I decided to look for the best discounted price I could find on the L-n-L; and I found it at MidSouth for $320.

Well damn... that $120 off...

And then there's that rebate package... One of the bullet choices you can get is 1000 10mm 180gr XTP bullets, which sell for $190 locally.... minus the $10 shipping that's effectively a $180 rebate...

That makes the press itself equivalent to $140; which is actually cheaper than a Lee Pro 1000 (though the pro 1000 comes with more "stuff; including a case feeder, shell plate, and die set).

Ok, but the case feeder is still $130 more expensive than the Dillon, and doesn't come with any of the $40 shell plates, for a $170 disadvantage right? And theres still the fact that the L-n-L doesnt come with shell plates...

Well... Then I found the case feeder for $265, the shell plates and feeder plates for $27 each, and the bushings for $3 a piece... and that's about $75 off list on the case feeder and feed plate, $10 off on the feed and shell plate, and $2 off each bushing.

All told, you're talking about $460 dollars after the rebate...

At that point, the only thing the Dillon has going for it is the fact that it's a Dillon.

...Well, Hornadys got a warranty with just as good terms as Dillon. Of course Hornady doesn't have the huge record of outstanding service that Dillon has; but they do have a GOOD reputation for service; in fact I've never heard a bad word about their service.

The thing is though, for effectively $140 for just the press (I actually only ordered the press tonight, along with shell plates for 10mm and .45; and another set of bushings) It's cheap enough that even if I don't like it, I can not buy the case feeder, sell the press for more than I've got into it (after I get my bullets); and buy the Dillon anyway.

Ok, why buy now? Well that $320 price is by far the lowest online; and it isn't going to last forever... especially since Midsouth is the only company that actually has any L-n-Ls in stock; with other companies reporting a 30 day or more backorder (I guess the rebate is working).

Given the fact that I now have a 10mm pistol I've got to lay in ammo for; and I don't feel like paying $22 a box for FMJ, nor loading by hand 2000 rounds on my turret press... let's just say I had a pressing need for a progressive (ok, I'm sorry about that pun, I jsut couldn't resist).

Like I said; I was planning on buying the XL650 next month anyway; I just shifted the budget for that from next month to this month; and we're off to the races with money to spare.

There are some things I really like about the L-n-L; even over the Dillon; but at list price I didn't see any reason to bother.

For one thing, the L-n-L rotary powder measure is a hell of a lot better than the sliding bar measure that Dillons use (they are a real pain to adjust; and take a bunch of fiddling when switching calibers). For another, I kinda like the Lock-n-Load die change system. Also, Dillons primer system is a pain in the butt to change out when switching calibers... in fact in general the XL650 is a pain to change calibers on. Experts recommend you buy it to set it up for one caliber. The Lock-n-Load doesn't have these disadvantages.

With the press so comparatively cheap now; I'm cautiously optimistic about trying it, and seeing how well those advantages for the Hornady work out for me. if I like it, great I got a spectacular bargain. If I don't like it, Oh well, I'm not out much, and I can still buy a Dillon.

I'll be sure and let y'all know how it goes.