The most original concept in shooting equipment reviews: comparing reloading machines. You’ve always wondered: is a Dillon 1050 “worth it” over a Hornady LNL. Now you’ll know and next time at a cocktail party when somebody brings it up you can cite my groundbreaking and painstaking research as if you came up with it yourself and impress your colleagues and be admitted to MENSA by fiat.
Hornady LNL Ammo Plant and Dillon 1050 with Mr. Bulletfeeder
Cost: Advantage Hornady. The Hornady clocks in somewhere around 1100-1200 bucks with dies and the Dillon is about twice that as configured. From this it’s clear that as long as the Hornady works, the Dillon has to save a lot of time to be “worth” it unless you just like the finer things in life.
Packaging: The Dillon was packed like they really care about it; the Hornady like they were glad to be getting rid of it. The Hornady box, though, was covered with exciting graphics of a well ordered reloading space with a gleaming LNL waiting to make precision ammo – not misleading as in a Sea Monkeys ad but wildly optimistic.
Set Up: Dillon gets the nod overall. The claim to have set up the machine for the caliber you requested and include a couple of dummy rounds to prove it. Nice. Overall it was easy to get ammo moving through the machine fairly quickly after unboxing. Hornady isn’t terrible, per se, and at least they include a mounting template, but there are many many small parts to assemble.
General machine layout: The Dillon gets much praise for its many stations but that’s overblown. Other than the swaging station, you get no extra room for dies over the Hornady. Hornady has an advantage with the die bushings that allow you to quickly remove and replace dies without any wrench turning or resetting. That’s pretty sweet.
Hornady indexes half a step as the handle is pulled or raised rather than the whole step the Dillon does, which should make it smoother. However, the Hornady jerked a lot until I pounded in the balls on the shell plate and put grease everywhere so the balls did not seat so aggressively as they reached the detents.
The Dillon also has a ratchet system that prevents you from short stroking a pull. On the Dillon the toolhead comes to the shells whereas on the Hornady the shells are raised into the dies, like most reloaders.
In general, the Hornady as a clear advantage for caliber changes or messing with dies due to the bushing system and Dillon has an advantage of just being a generally overall more solid feeling machine, which it seems to me pays off in reliability.