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by: Peter M. Eick
Well my pro-2000 has now made over 150,000 rounds of ammunition for me. The precise number of rounds is 153,543 according to my records. Prior to that I was a single stage kind of guy, so let’s talk about the pro-2000 and how it worked out. First off let me state, that I have not had any KB’s with the pro-2000 nor any stuck bullets. So for better or for worse (nock on wood) I have yet to seriously screw up with the pro2000. My worst mistake so far was with 357sig rounds that I over crimped and would not chamber. One pass through a 40 S&W FCD die fixed that problem and Dillon carbide 357sig dies fixed the original issue. My second worse mistake is shown below but the synopsis is I crushed a few primers so they would not fire. No problem, easily fixed by RCBS.
I did not keep a detailed log of the press itself. I guess I should have now that I look back on it. What I did keep was detailed records of the rounds made with the unit. When I bought it I did not really think of it as more then just a tool, so I did not really keep detailed track of the maintenance etc. I bought this unit right after they came out in the year 2000. It was a gift to myself for having to work in northern Russia in the winter time on a job. I know it sounds corny, but for those of you who work away from friends and family for long blocks of time, little gifts to yourself for hard experiences go along ways. Here is the press all laid out while I was loading some rifle rounds. I still like loading rifle single stage, using all of my RCBS powder flow unit and power trimmer in the background. I don’t remember what I was doing, but probably it was 308 for my M1A’s looking at the setup.
Here is a detailed zoom in on the pro2000 and my current setup
If you look closely you will see several things I do that help a lot. First notice the big overhead cantilevered light that has two bulbs. This along the 6 40 watt fluorescent tube lights overhead really helps with reloading. More light make safer loads! I cannot stress that enough. If you want to improve your results get more light on the project! Also notice the clamped on blue capped light on the back of the press behind the uniflow measure. This light came from Target and allows me to see directly into the case when loading to check the powder level. It is a very bright desk reading light. Nearly perfect for this task! If you look carefully you can see the silver cylinder of a Dillon chamber check gauge behind the baseplate. I routinely check rounds of size and col distances. Also if you are good on your dies you can see I am using a lee FCD die and no powder check die. From the size of the dies, I would guess they are 9mm rounds. For all of the small rounds (less then 38 special tall), I just eyeball check the powder prior to seating the bullet. Anything 38 special or taller I use a powder check die if the powder charge will not overflow the case. I instituted this rule because of Titegroup powder. Ok results for me, but in 357 magnum, I could not see the powder and you can actually 5x overcharge the case easily and not overspill. No way! Not safe enough for me.
Lets talk about the general setup.
Also note that I have a very strong flat workbench to load on. This is critical so I can spread my work out. Don’t be messy and cramped. To easy too make a mistake and not realize it. Now I know that some guys are thinking “you got to much time on your hands if it is that clean”. Yes it is always that clean. I do not like to work in a mess. Loading is not a game, it is something I take seriously and want to do right. The last thing I want to do is blow up on of my favorite guns because of a stupid mistake! The absolute last thing I want to ever have to do is explain to “Ben” why I blew up my registered magnum with a double charge. He would throttle me for the destruction of such a fine weapon. Avoiding distractions is one way I protect myself.
The room is fully air conditioned and the AC does not seem to cause any problems with the digital scales. The ammo boxes shown below are all color coded. Blue means Starline brass, non-blue boxes are any other type of brass or even range pickups. I normally toss my range pickups after one use and reload my Starline till it fails. Generally I stack the loads in groups of 3 for each caliber but that is not a hard and fast rule. The stacks are from left to right, 10mm, 40 S&W, 357 Sig, 380 Auto, 25-06 Rem, 308 Win, 9 mm, 38 Special, 357 Magnum, and finally 45 ACP. Eyeballing the boxes I can see I am about half tapped down on my ammo supplies. I guess the press needs using not talking about it.
So what’s on those shelves you ask?
As you can see I am an RCBS fan for dies. I have only one set of Reddings (25-06 Remington because Midway was out of RCBS) and an old lee hand tool. I have lee fcd dies for all my calibers and Redding profile crimpers for all revolver rounds (thanks to Weshoot2 for the great advice on the profile crimpers!). I use a smattering of different powders and try to always buy my primers in the primer strips ready to go (stack of four boxes upper picture right side). There are a few “loose” primers for rifle rounds but I am slowly trying to use them up. I shoot rifles maybe once or twice a year. Handguns routinely. I am still trying to burn up my stash of primers I bought back in 1998 for rifles. Very slow going….
So let’s talk about the procedures on the pro2000. I have a simple system for using it. Right hand runs the lever and moves the base plate. Left hand feeds the unit for brass and bullets. My procedure is once all stations are going, ie: you have cycled the press 5 times and have the baseplate full of cases going, I pull the lever down to the bottom and then come up and push the lever past the center line to seat the primer. I seat my primers by feel and have yet to have a problem like setting one off. While this is going on I use my left hand to pick up one bullet and put it between my 3rd and 4th fingers. I then pick up a piece of brass and quickly inspect it. The right hand (after priming) releases the handle and rotates the baseplate. At the same time the left hand then seats the brass in station one, and I visually check the powder in station 4 then seat the bullet. Repeat. I find this system works very well for me. About every 25 rounds I check the powder charge on the scale and seat a new primer strip. I usually only load about 4 to 500 rounds in a session. I get tired after that many because I concentrate on what I am doing a lot. I then box the ammo, log it all into excel and clean up, so that pretty well kills about 90 minutes from sitting down at the press to having a beer with the family. I try to hit the press every night to sort of vent off the days frustrations. It works well for me.
Well, all is not perfect in the pro-2000 world. I have had a few problems with the unit. First off, I had a problem with the priming system. Here are the results:
Notice the offstruck primer marks from the punch. This resulted in a few misfires where my little diamondback could not smack the primer hard enough to get it to fire. Very unprofessional looking if you ask me! I could not figure out what was causing this for a while till I looked down on the press:
OOPSSS!!!!! Yep, the baseplate and the primer punch were misaligned. Ick, now how did that happen. So I call up my friendly RCBS tech support and ask how to calibrate the primer punch to the baseplate. You can’t. They just send you a new massive plate to replace the whole lower assembly of the press. WOW. What great service and at no cost to me. That was sure nice of them. This fixed my problem here.
The next irritating quirk of the pro-2000 is wear on the hinge pins. After about 100,000 rounds the hinges wear enough that the pro-2000 will twist and rotate up to 15 degrees when you are using it.
So another call to the friendly RCBS tech support and guess what, they sent me all now hinge pins and arms for free again. This is really great support and service. Once they were replaced all is perfect again. The RCBS tech commented that the problem is the hardness of the metal. It just wears out over time. SIGH….
Another quirk is the thumbscrew:
This screw tends to back out upon use and slowly loosens up. About every 30 minutes or so you need to tighten it back up to keep everything working smoothly. So another call to friendly RCBS and I struck out. Their comment was they cannot really fix this one because of the nature of the press. Sorry about that. Ok, 2 out of three are not too bad. I have been thinking that I might weld a weight onto the thumb screw to hold it down. Just a though.
My final call to RCBS was just 2 weeks ago. Some idiot (me) dropped the shell holder plate on the tile floor and the web on one of the cut outs for the brass snapped off. It must have been a perfect strike. So I sheepishly called up, told them I broke it and asked to buy another one. No problem they said and they sent me another unit for free. Heck I tried several times to get them to take my money because this was my own stupid fault. “No problem sir, please what is your shipping address?” was the response.
Another quirk of the pro-2000 is that the spent primer tube will get junked up and jam. I have not found a real solution for this and it appears to happen mostly with large pistol primers out of my 10mm for some reason. I clean it with brake-clean once in a while but I have yet to find the perfect solution to really getting it clean. I wish RCBS had made the tube about a tenth bigger so the problem would go away. This is another basic design flaw of the system.
Another quirk/dislike of the system is the 5 stations and the fixed powder dispense system. I would have liked either a 6 station system (actually if RCBS is reading this make it 7 stations for a spare) or not have the powder dispenser be fixed. The problem is you cannot have seat separate from crimp and a powder check die without moving the powder dispenser to station 2 for belling and powder dispensing. This requires a bit more finesse in setting up to force the powder dispenser to do double duty to bell and dispense at once (also make sure you seat the primer before you dispense….) With 6 or 7 stations you could powder check and seat and crimp separately. This is something I would really like to do. Would I buy a new pro-2005 for 6 stations? Most likely. Would I a new pro-2005 with 7 stations? HECK YES! With 7 stations, I would have a fixed deprime die (probably a lee with a collet) my standard 3 RCBS dies with the powder dispenser and finally a Redding/RCBS or Lee FCS crimp die at the end.
So, every time I needed parts to keep the beast running, RCBS gave them to me for free. They have a happy customer for life and I hope the pictures above show it. I think in the industry Dillon has the “no BS” warrantee reputation, frankly I think RCBS may be as good or better about it. Hard for me to say since I only use a few Dillon dies (357 SIG carbide and 308 Carbide).
So what is the good news about the pro2000 you ask? Well after 150,000 rounds I find the best part of the press is two fold. One part is the priming system and the other is the uniflow.
First the priming system. Buying the primers in strips is perfect. I just grab another box and go. Powdervalley.com has special ordered them for me and I usually order 25 to 30K blocks of primers from them. This is by far the best part of the system. Easy, reliable and quick, what more cay you ask for? Other then for rifles, I never touch a primer, can do a quick inspection of 25 at a whack and everything is quick and efficient. To bad the APS system did not catch on more. I feel it is safer then tubes (never blew up a primer yet!) and cleaner with no primer dust build up. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard or read about a guy with an APS system blowing up or having a problem with a primer? Now ask yourself when was the last time you read about a tube priming system going “boom” or having problems? I hope you see my point.
The second good news is the uniflow powder dispenser. I think it is kind of cheesy that RCBS does not include the small and large precision adjustable chambers and a powder baffle with the press, but what the heck, small additional add-ons. I bought the large chamber but have yet to put it in the dispenser. I do all of my work with the small one and the powder baffle. To bad they don’t come out with a really small dispenser. I would buy it for one that does say 0 to 20 grns of Bullseye maximum. Anyway, the uniflow works smoothly and I have had no problems with it. If you keep it full, with the baffle, I can deal with powders that seem to give others grief. 800x comes to mind. For whatever reason, my technique with the uniflow will drop +/- .1 grn 800x charges for my 10mm rounds. Perfection! All of the ball powders like the AA series are usually right on or +/- .1 grn. Normally it is perfectly spot on. Powders that really work well for me are Power Pistol, Bullseye, 800x, AA 9/7/5 and Unique. These all seem to drop very reliable charges.
What’s the final good news you ask? Well after 153, 543 rounds I have yet to blow anything up (nock on wood, bang, bang, bang…), the press is just starting to break in nicely, RCBS tech support is near perfection, and frankly I am one very satisfied and happy camper.
Would I buy another pro2000? In a heartbeat unless RCBS brings out a 6 or 7 station unit. Would I buy a Dillon 650? Well maybe, I can see the benefits of the case feeder and the 6 stations now more so then when I bought the pro-2000 originally. I just don’t like primer tubes and no uniflow would kill me! For these reasons, I will just have to “suffer” along with my RCBS unit!
Here is the testiment to the pro-2000. This is the third one of these buckets I have started to fill with the excess strips. Someday I may ebay them out but the short term, I think I will just hold onto them.
Thanks for reading this review. I will report back again in another 100,000 rounds at a quarter million mark and let you know how it is holding up. I would guess that is about 2 years away.