Hands on with the Dillon RL550C: .308 Tracers, and .308 Subsonic Loads

After bulk-processing .308 brass with the CP 2000 and DA 3000, we’re bulk loading tracers and subsonic rounds on the Dillon RL-550C.


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About the Loads

Some time ago, I published a story about reloading .308 tracers. I pulled the 143 grain .30 cal bullets from some old military surplus years ago. We also have Guy Miner’s subsonic load, featuring the Berry’s .30 cal 220 grain plated bullet

.308 Subsonic Load Components

I decided to load both of these on the Dillon RL-550C, a basic but reliable manual-indexing progressive press. I’ve enhanced my press with upgrades from Armanov, Inline Fabrication, and KMS Squared, including a UFO press light.

Station 1 normally has a resizing die, but  I already resized twice during case prep, so I left it empty. Station 2 is for powder charging, Station 3 is for bullet seating and station 4 gives a light crimp.

As a manual indexing press, I  take extra care to make sure I don’t accidentally double charge a case. The UFO press light makes this process much easier. 

I loaded the tracers over 40 grains of Varget and the plated bullets over 12.0 grains of Trail Boss. Trail Boss’s unique shape takes up lots of room, 12.0 grains matching the volume of 40 grains of Varget. 

Loaded .308 Tracer Rounds


We tested these rounds through our 16” .308 Shorty in an Ultradyne UD3 chassis.

I fired from a variety of positions, including off our tank trap and attempted a 1,300 yard offhand shot.

While I never made it, I enjoyed seeing how close I could get, watching the trajectory of the tracers through the Leupold Mark 5HD.


“Shorty” maintained its ultra-compact style and balance in the UD3 chassis. I combined the subsonic loads with Silencer Central’s BANISH Backcountry. Everything ran flawlessly and was very quiet. 

The subsonic load had significantly reduced recoil compared to the 143 grain tracer load, but neither were unpleasant to shoot.

Get the Gear

Dillon RL-550C at Creedmoor Sports

Berry’s .30 Cal 220 Grain Plated Bullets

Hodgdon Trail Boss (Discontinued)

Hodgdon Varget at Midsouth Shooters Supplies

Ultradyne UD3 Chassis

BANISH Backcountry 

Leupold Mark 5HD 2-10×30

UFO Press Light

Dillon DA 3000 

Dillon CP 2000

Dillon RT-1500 Case Trimmer

CP-2000 caliber conversion kit

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Gavin Gear

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