The Dillon XL650 Progressive Reloading Press

The Dillon XL650 is the first reloading press I bought when I got into reloading, and I’ve had absolutely no regrets from day one. The machine is extremely well built and comes with a lifetime “No B.S.” warranty. Their motto; “If it breaks, we’ll fix it FREE for as long as you own it.” Thankfully, to this day, I have not needed to take them up on their guarantee, as the machine has run flawlessly from the get-go.

When I look back, and from a purely educational point of view, I’m sure I would have benefitted more if I had started with a single-stage press and learned the basics. However, at the time, I was primarily looking to reload 9mm for competitive shooting and needed a way to produce up to a thousand rounds per session efficiently. I had looked into a few different progressive presses and decided that the one I would choose should easily convert to reload for common semi-auto rifle calibers as well. This article is not a comparison or a “best progressive reloading press” fluff piece; instead, it’s an overview of the Dillon XL650, its components, and how I have set mine up. Yes, there are other progressive presses available, and perhaps one day I’ll pick one up to do a side by side comparison, but not today.

What does the Dillon XL650 kit include?

Out of the box, the Dillon XL650 progressive reloading press comes with almost everything you need to get set up and running. I say almost because there are a few things that you will need, and a few that you will inevitably want. The list of things you need is short. For pistol cartridges, you will need a set of three carbide dies in the caliber you intend to load, and the same is true for rifle cartridges. You will already have the one caliber conversion kit that comes with your machine, but if you intend to load another caliber, you will need that specific conversion kit as well. That’s it!

The basic 650 includes the following.

  • 1 powder measure with standard large and small powder bars (small bar installed). The small bar throws from 2.1 to 15 grains of powder. The large bar throws from 15 to 55 grains of extruded powder or up to 60 grains of ball/spherical type powder.
  • 1 primer system with large and small priming parts (appropriate size installed).
  • 1 large and one small primer pick-up tube.
  • Low Primer Alarm
  • 1 loaded cartridge bin
  • 1 toolhead
  • 1 powder die
  • 1 caliber conversion kit – installed
  • 1 set of standard Allen wrenches

dillon xl650 progressive reloading press

Dillon xl650 Upgrades

As mentioned above, the list of wants will far exceed the list of needs. There is no shortage of upgrades available for the XL650, that’s for sure. That said, they’re not all “essential,” however, some enhancements will increase your production. The following list of components is the most common upgrade available for the XL650.

Strong Mount

One thing to consider is how you intend to mount the press to your reloading bench. While it is possible to attach directly to your bench, given the nature of the progressive press, it is advisable to use a Strong Mount or Ultramount.

Electric Casefeeder

Although the basic kit does include the Casefeed mounting post, it does not include the Electric Casefeeder itself. The case feeder is likely the single most significant upgrade you can add to increase production. And to be honest, from a production point of view, I can’t picture using the machine without one. The feeder includes one of four case feed plates: Small Pistol, Large Pistol, Small Rifle, and Large Rifle. Additionally, you can get a Magnum rifle case feed plate if needed; however, it is not considered one the “free” plates included with the unit.

strong mount

Bullet Tray

The bullet tray is another one of those upgrades that can increase the overall ammunition production. It attaches to the strong mount and holds your bullets up to the platform and can hold several hundred pieces at a time, allowing for quick access.

xl650 bullet tray

Powder Check System

The powder check system takes the station just after the powder measure. Once you have dialed in the desired powder weight, you will adjust the powder check to the ideal depth of powder in the case. While the powder check system does not guarantee the accuracy of the powder charge, it does provide an audible warning if the charge is too high or too low.

dillon powdercheck system

KMS Squared UFO 650

The UFO 650 is an LED reloading press light that easily integrates with your XL650 to provide illumination to your entire shell plate and tool head. I highly recommend you check out KMS Squared; they have a wide range of lighting systems for reloading presses. Check out the article I wrote on the KMS Squared press light here.

Mr.Bulletfeeder

Of course, there are other upgrades available. You may want to look in the Mr.Bulletfeeder by Double-Alpha Academy. The Mr.Bulletfeeder automatically drops a bullet onto the charged case. Typically the bullet feeder would take station three, replacing the powder check system. I do not personally have this upgrade on my XL650; however, it is one that I will consider at some point. It would round out my setup quite nicely.

Mr. Bulletfeeder by Double-Alpha

XL650 Quick Exchange

If you want to keep your dies setup for multiple calibers, you’ll want to consider the XL65 Quick Change. The quick-change is a great way to store your preconfigured tool head, making it easy to switch between calibers. Included with each xl650 quick change is one powder measure, one powder die, one tool head, and one tool headstand.

dillon xl650 quick change toolhead

XL650 Caliber Conversions Kit

If you plan on reloading more than one caliber on your Dillon, which most people do, you’ll require a caliber conversion kit. The kit includes one shell plate, a set of three brass locator buttons, one powder funnel, and the case feed adapter parts.

dillon xl650 caliber conversion kit

Setting up you Dillon XL650 Progressive Reloading Press

The initial setup of your XL650 is relatively straightforward. As with any press, you’ll need to mount the machine, directly to your bench, or with a mounting system. I’ve adopted a bit of a hybrid system, a concept which I picked up from Ultimate Reloader. I use a strong mount and attach it to a bottom plate, I secure the plate to my bench via aluminum channels and T bolts. This method provides a modular solution for my reloading bench. I can quickly move reloading presses around, and attach individual tools and components.

For a detailed look at setting up the Dillon XL650, you can view or download their instruction manual here. The manual covers everything that you’ll need to know to set up for both pistol and rifle reloading, as well as some other helpful information about the machine itself.

When it comes to the high production of straight-walled pistol ammunition, the Dillon XL650 performs exceptionally well. If you take the time to dial in your machine and layout all your components, you can quickly produce 600+ rounds an hour or more. I usually run a bunch of test runs to dial in my powder measurement. Any adjustment made to the powder measure will require a few run-throughs to stabilize the throw.  Once the calibration is stable, I’ll load 50 rounds and recheck the measurement.  If it hasn’t made any notable changes, I’ll rip through 100 rounds before I bother to recheck the powder charge, or until I run out of primers. Since I use the powder check system in station three, I will receive an audible warning if the powder charge is +/- the desired range. When I first started with the XL650, I’d find myself checking the charge weight every 15 to 20 rounds as I was extra cautious. As you can imagine, production takes a big hit when you stop, pull a charge, weigh it on your scale a couple of times. When you become more familiar with your machine, you will tune into the feel and even the sounds that are produced as you work the press. Once you are confident in the process, you can really get it ripping!

In Conclusion

I expect a lot from the equipment I use, as should you. When you spend your money, you want it to be more of an investment rather than an expense. With the Dillon XL650, I feel confident that my money was put towards a reliable machine that will far outlive me and be passed down to my children at some point. I’ve loaded several thousand rounds of ammunition without as much as a hiccup that wasn’t my own doing.

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