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Can I Reload Match Rounds on a Dillon?

Updated: May 17

What’s up reloaders!


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it helps us out a lot so that we can continue to do tests like this.


This is a pretty interesting experiment we did that will benefit everyone. So, let’s get down to it.


Can you reload match ammo on a Dillon? The short and simple answer is yes, but there is a twist and I’ll tell you why.


We first started out the experiment with regular reloading equipment that most individuals would have. We did this in order to keep the test fair and represent good data without adding third party upgrades to presses or expensive dies.


We next then used three different methods for our testing with 6.5 creedmoor.


1st test: Pour the powder into each cartridge manually for the Forster Coax press

2nd test: Pour powder manually into each cartridge with the Dillon 550 and complete the loading process like most PRS shooters do

3rd test: Use the factory included powder hopper from Dillon and run each hand-load through all dies as you would range ammo.


The dies we used for this first test were regular RCBS FL die set. (I will get to the importance of the dies later in the article and why this matters so much).



Rifle set up


Barrel: Criterion Remage drop in

Twist: 1/8

Length of barrel: 26"

Action: Rem 700

Stock: Grayboe Ridgeback

Glass: Vortex Razor Gen ii EBR-2C



Now, here is the data shown for each three methods we tried out with regular FL die set



1st Set

Brass: Starline

Primer: CCI 200

Bullet: 140 Match Burner

Powder: H4350 37.9 grains

OGIVE: 2.987"

SD: 7

ES: 18

Group at 100 yards: 5 shout group 0.441"

Runout .002"



2nd set Set

Brass: Starline

Primer: CCI 200

Bullet: 140 Match Burner

Powder: H4350 37.9 grains

OGIVE: 2.987"

SD: 11

ES: 30

Group at 100 yards: 5 shout group 0.526"

Runout .003"



3rd Set

Brass: Starline

Primer: CCI 200

Bullet: 140 Match Burner

Powder: H4350 37.9 grains

OGIVE: 2.987"

SD: 18

ES: 42

Group at 100 yards: 5 shout group 0.934"

Runout .003"



Not the best SD’s or ES’s, right? But groupings were not bad…until you get out further obviously than that will become a potential problem for you as a shooter as you engage targets at further distances. It all comes down to probability, and with higher SD’s and ES’s the percentage of you hitting a target out to a thousand starts to not look so good in your favor.


For the second test, we decided to use some Redding competition style dies.


Now, check the data out with the same load data.



1st Set

Brass: Starline

Primer: CCI 200

Bullet: 140 Match Burner

Powder: H4350 37.9 grains

OGIVE: 2.987"

SD: 1.94

ES: 4.61

Group at 100 yards: 5 shout group 0.210"

Runout: under .001"


2nd Set

Brass: Starline

Primer: CCI 200

Bullet: 140 Match Burner

Powder: H4350 37.9 grains

OGIVE: 2.987"

SD: 3

ES: 8

Group at 100 yards: 5 shout group 0.245"

Runout: under .001"



3rd Set

Brass: Starline

Primer: CCI 200

Bullet: 140 Match Burner

Powder: H4350 37.9 grains

OGIVE: 2.987"

SD: 5

ES: 12

Group at 100 yards: 5 shout group 0.398"

Runout under .001



So, what gives? Why were the results so much better in the second run than the first?

the dies themselves is what made the two data sets completely different. What’s important here to mention is that the Redding competition dies, some of the Hornady dies, and others have a “sleeve” inside the seating die which helps align the projectiles upon seating.


If you refer to the first set of data, you can clearly see that with the Coax the grouping and SD and ES was better than Dillon, making it seem like you could not load match ammo…which is wrong. It simply shows that by design the Coax helps keeps thing concentric among loading. With the Dillon, there is a little wobble, but not too much when indexing and pulling the ram to load. So, by using dies that would help with concentricity when seating projectiles you can clearly see that loading on a Dillon is possible.

Another important note about the Dillon we had noticed was the huge spike in ES and SD, was that simply because of the factory powder measure. After each time of charging the case with powder in the first set with the Dillon Powder Hopper, we had noticed variances of .1 and .2 grains of powder being overthrown from setting it to the original powder charge of 37.9.


There are many fixes out there for the powder dispenser, but again we had wanted to run everything completely stock in the first test run to be completely fair and accurate.

So, what can you do to make match ammo with regular dies? Well, among sorting projectiles by weight, knowing how to properly do brass prep for matches, you can use a Hornady Lock-N-Load Concentricity gauge to readjust your seated projectile runout back to zero. This should ultimately help you lower your SD’s and ES’s if you are having trouble.

Moral of the story, you can load match ammunition on Dillon progressive presses with the correct set of dies. However, if you are seating projectiles completely concentric with cheap regular dies, kudos to you and keep doing it. Concentricity is the biggest player in this experiment.





As always, shoot straight, be safe, and happy reloading!





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