Dillon XL-650 Press + Hornady Dies + RCBS Bullet Feeder + Hornady Bullet Feed Die
In this multi-part Frankenlöder series, we’ll be using the Dillon XL650 to load 9mm Luger. What’s going to make this scenario interesting is the fact that we’ll be using Hornady dies, including the Hornady 9mm pistol bullet feed die. In this case however, we’ll see what it takes to use the RCBS bullet feed collator assembly (the entire bullet feeder except bullet feed die) with the XL-650 and Hornady bullet feed die.
I started this process by getting the Hornady pistol dies (sizer/decapper and bullet seat/crimp die) setup and working well on the Dillon XL-650. Here’s a quick breakdown on the die stations I’m utilizing for testing:
- Sizer/decapper (upper right side)
- Priming (bottom of stroke), expander/powder charge (right hand side)
- Empty (will use powder check)
- Bullet Feed Die (left side) – not used for initial loading session
- Seat/crimp (top left side)
Die stations - Image copyright 2011 Ultimate Reloader
Initially, I was going to use a spare Lee 9mm sizing/de-priming die that I had laying around, but I found that I could not get the die adjusted low enough to ensure proper seating. This is because Dillon dies tend to be longer (more threads) due to the thickness of the toolhead on the XL-650. The Hornady dies do work however, with just enough threads to lower the die until it touches the shellplate.
The next task at hand was to adjust the powder measure charge setting and depth so as to properly flare the case mouth, and also “dial-in” the charge I am working with here.
Here’s the load specifics: (use load data at your own risk, always cross-reference load data against manufacturer’s published data)
||124 grain jacketed (various)
||Range pick-up (mixed)
||Wolf Small Pistol
After some fine tuning adjustments, I was able to start loading in volume at a good clip, placing bullets manually. My plan was to use a bullet feeder to crank out some big volumes of ammo, but my approach is to start “basic” and work your way towards more elaborate equipment setups by adding one piece of equipment at a time, waiting until each successive setup is working smoothly before advancing to the next stage. Now that my baseline setup was working smoothly, I was ready to move on towards adding the bullet feeder to this setup. Without a bullet feeder in the picture (when loading on a 5 station progressive) I would normally use separate stations for seating and crimping, but knowing that I was going to use a bullet feeder, I knew that I would need to leave two stations open, one for the powder check, and one for the bullet feed die.
Using a single die for seating and crimping is a little more exacting in terms of setup. My approach is to back out the seating plug, and first work on the crimp setting (depth of die in press). Once the crimp is set, the bullet seating depth can then be dialed in. If you have a completed cartridge that you want to mimic (with same bullet or at least bullet profile), this can be a quick two-step process:
- Setting crimp:
Put the completed cartridge in the bullet seat/crimp station, and raise the ram to the top of the stroke. Screw in the die (make sure the lock ring is near the top of the threads) until you feel it contact the cartridge. lower the ram, Turn an additional 1/8 turn, set the lockring, then raise the ram to the top of the stroke. If there is not enough crimp after testing completed cartridges, incrementally add an additional 1/8 turn until the proper crimp is achieved. (with this setup you’ll need to back out the seater plug and repeat step #2 below when adjusting crimp).
- Setting bullet seating depth:
Raise the ram to the top of the stroke (with completed cartridge in place) and then turn down the seating plug until it contacts the bullet – tighten medium finger tight. That will get you *real* close, and you can then make micro adjustments when the first few rounds come off the press using digital calipers to measure cartridge overall length (COL).
A 5-station progressive is definitely fast when you’re loading with a case feeder (as I am on the XL-650) – but when you add a bullet feeder, things really pick up! This increased loading speed makes a powder check die even more important. Safety should always be the first order concern! In the follow-up post, we’ll take a look at taking this Frankenlöder setup to the next level of diversity – we’ll see what it takes to use the RCBS Pistol Bullet Feeder (upper half, collator and drop tube) with the Hornady Pistol Bullet Feed die assembly.