Hornady vs Dillon Presses – Which Are Better? (ANSWERED)

hornady vs dillon

Photo by Nicole G /CC BY

Hornady and Dillon are two big names in the world of reloading. They both seamlessly blend old-school reliability with the latest and greatest in reloading technology. Both systems are designed to be precise, accurate, reliable, and extremely well made.

Hornady and Dillon are often compared to each other due to the nature of their designs. Today, we are going to be comparing both Hornady and Dillon designs and seeing which does what and why you should pick one over the other. Only then will you know who’ll win in the Battle of Hornady vs Dillon.

Hornady vs Dillon Round 1: The Hornady Advantage

The biggest advantage Hornady offers is their company size. They are much larger than Dillon and therefore able to offer a wider range of presses. The multitude of reloading presses allows plenty of options for beginner reloaders and those looking to reload on a budget. Let’s take a look at two of their base level reloading presses.

Hornady Lock N Load Classic

The classic single stage press is where most reloaders start, and for good reason. Nothing gets done with a single stage press very quickly. It makes sure you take your time and ensures you are less likely to blow your gun up—or, worse, your hand!

The Lock N Load classic single stage press is capable of loading nearly any handgun or rifle caliber you can imagine. Hornady makes plenty of interchangeable parts that allows for quick and easy caliber changes.

This is the most affordable system on the market and you can get started with a much smaller investment than more expensive presses. This allows you to learn how to reload and see if it fits your shooting style. This single stage press comes with the lock and load quick change bushing system which allows for quick die changes without needing to readjust anything. It’s quicker than most but still slow enough to be safe and affordable enough for beginners.

The Lock n Load Classic is endlessly adaptable and can be customized to an extreme degree. You can go as big or as little as you want with this kit. It whets your appetite and you can reload just about everything on it because Hornady certainly produces an extreme amount of accessories for the Lock n Load classic.

Hornady Lock N Load Classic Press (HD)

Hornady Lock N Load Iron Press

The Lock n Load iron press is a slightly bigger and stronger single stage press. This is a kit both beginners and experts can use. This kit is specifically perfect for those striving to produce custom-tuned ammunition. Most of those reloaders trying to produce accurate ammo aren’t doing in bulk or as quickly as possible. They are striving for custom loads for minimizing variances and to custom tune ammo for different actions, barrel lengths, and ranges.

This heavy duty cast iron press is one of the strongest and most durable kits on the market. It’s built to ensure tight tolerances and consistently loaded ammunition. The Iron Press is one of the more expensive kits on the market but also the most accurate.

It still uses the Lock N Load bushing system so swapping dies is quick and easy, and it can be used as a normal single stage reloading press for bulk ammo loading. It utilizes the same gear and gadgets as the standard Lock N Load as well. The Lock n load Iron Press is a heavy duty design perfect for those shooters looking to score sub MOA groups.

Hornady® Lock-N-Load® Iron Press™

Hornady vs Dillon Round 2: Upscale Progressive Presses

Progessive presses are the more expensive systems designed for serious and experienced reloaders. A progressive press allows you to rapidly reload ammo, much faster than a standard press. Progressive presses are designed for bulk reloading and should be used by experienced reloaders. Going too fast too soon is a good way to blow your gun up or your arm off.

This is where Dillon reloading enters the scene. Dillon reloading produces mostly high-end progressive presses with very little focus on single stage presses. Here is where Hornady meets their main competition. The Dillon 550 progressive press goes head to head with the Hornady Lock and Load Progressive reloading presses.

Dillon 550 Progressive Press

The Dillon 550 is capable of loading over a 120 different calibers. Reloading rifle and pistol rounds of every type you can imagine. This includes tiny little rounds like the .32 ACP up to the biggest and heaviest hunting rounds like the .460 Weatherby. The sky’s the limit and DIllon produces a wide variety of accessories to allow for quicker and more efficient reloading.

THEAR15ONA : Dillon Precision RL550B Demo

Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto-Progressive Reloading Press

The Hornady Lock n’ Load also allows you load nearly every handgun and rifle caliber out there. This includes heavy hunting cartridges and meek handgun calibers. The difference is that Hornady allows you to quickly swap between calibers due to their 5 bushing system.

How To Operate the Hornady Lock-n-Load AP Reloading Press

Hornady vs Dillon Round 3: How the 2 Progressive Presses Compare

The Dillon 550 (see full specs) does offer a very modular layout with a ton of accessories available to allow quick and easy customization of your setup. This allows you to easily outfit your reloading press with a wide variety of accessories that will set you up for success.

The Lock N’ Load (see full specs) has less customization but offers more accurate and more modern accessories. This includes the EZject system that easily ejects cartridges for each and every round. Additionally, most of the accessories are quick change and that makes it easy to change calibers and to keep reloading.

The final advantage of the Dillon 550 is that it’s built to be easy to maintain. You can easily replace parts when needed and the new grease grooves allow you to keep things moving without taking anything apart.

On the other hand, the main advantage of the Lock n’ Load is how utterly smooth everything is. With a pull of the lever you’ll feel the smooth, well-designed system that will make reloading a joyous event.

Hornady vs Dillon Conclusion

Reloading is a great way to reduce your overall ammo costs and is something you should seriously consider if you are a high volume shooter. The overall entry price can seem high (especially when you’re going for progressive presses) but when you start reloading your favorite calibers for pennies you start to see why it’s worth it.

If you’re not planning to do a lot of reloading, the single-stage Hornady presses are the way to go.

If you plan to load a lot of ammo, however, either the Dillon 550 or the Hornady Lock N Load will work. Each has its own advantages, as explained above. If you can’t decide between the two, just pick the cheaper option, which is often the Hornady (though price fluctuations do happen).

Bottom line: reloading is also a fun and interesting hobby that will allow you to learn the ins and outs of your ammo, and to design rounds to maximize velocity, accuracy, and even power. Any of the 4 presses above will bring a ton of joy in life. Good luck!

  • Owner of Reloaderaddict.com, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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