Dillon BL-550 Basic Loader: Unboxing, Setup, Loading 308 Winchester

Here at Ultimate Reloader I’ve shown a lot of Dillon presses including the XL-750, RL-550C, and RL 1100! In this story I’ll show you Dillon’s BL-550 basic loader. We’ll start with unboxing, and end with loading 308 Winchester. Let’s get to it!


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About the Dillon BL-550

From the Dillon BL-550 Product Page:

Stock Number: 15399
The Dillon BL 550 is the basic version of the RL 550C reloading machine. Instead of having the automatic powder measure and priming systems included with the RL 550 model, the BL 550 offers a funnel system so weighed powder charges may be poured into the case without removing it from the shellplate. Primers are set into the primer seating arm by hand. The BL 550 will accommodate the widest variety of cartridges, from 32 ACP up through 338 Lapua, 416 Rigby and 460 Weatherby.

What’s In the Box

The Dillon BL-550 comes with the following:

  • Press assembly
  • Press handle
  • Powder charging die and funnel
  • Primer punch and cup (large and small included with press)
  • Allen Keys
  • Shellplate hold-down bolt and indexing star
  • Spent primer cup
  • Owner’s manuals (RL-550C and BL-550)

Setting up The BL-550

I chose to use my standard press mount for this project: the Inline Fabrication Ultramount with Quick Change:

Setting up the BL-550 is pretty much the same as setting up the RL-550C, with a few exceptions. Here’s the full process for the RL-550C:

For the BL-550, the setup is different in the following ways:

  1. You setup a powder drop funnel instead of a powder measure
  2. You setup a primer punch instead of a complete tube-fed priming system

Here’s the installation of the powder die:

Loading 308 Winchester on the BL-550

Just like setup, loading on the BL-550 is very similar to loading on the RL-550C. However the flow is a bit different.

Here’s what you’ll do for each cycle at the bottom of the stroke:

  1. Press forward on handle to prime the case
  2. Index the shellplate
  3. Place a piece of brass in station #1
  4. Place a bullet at station #3

Here’s what you’ll do for each cycle at the top of the stroke:

  1. Place a primer in the primer cup
  2. Dump a powder charge into the powder funnel

It takes a bit more time to load on the BL-550 (compared to the RL-550C), but it’s a lot faster than single stage reloading!

The Dillon BL-550 has the following advantages:

  • VERY fast caliber changeovers
  • Flexibility for off-press powder charging
  • Lower cost (about $150 savings compared to RL-550C)

The Dillon BL-550 has the following disadvantages:

  • Manual priming takes an extra step
  • Manual powder charging takes longer

Get the Gear

You’ll find the BL-550 at Dillon’s website:

Also note that dies and caliber changeover kits are the same as with the RL-550C!

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One thought on “Dillon BL-550 Basic Loader: Unboxing, Setup, Loading 308 Winchester”

  1. I like the simplicity of it. Although slower than other
    Dillon models, the lack of gadgetry and ability to control the rate of progress better, should help in making precision loads. For accurate rifle ammo it should be great. For handgun ammo you’d likely be better served with other Dillon models -(650,750,1050).

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