Cheap starter 12Ga presses: Load all or MEC Jr?


March 29, 2010, 03:02 AM
I don't see much shotgun load being discussed here, but know you experts pop up when needed.

My brother and I want to try our hand at reloading 12ga. We don't shoot in volume (yet), but enjoy every minute we get to spend loading metallic ammo together.

Auction sites have the Lee Load-All and MEC 600 jr for under $50. Which USED PRESS would you recommend if you had a choice in this price range?

If intended use matters, it is for light target loads for the guys and light 00 buck loads for the little ladies in our families just learning to shoot for HD. (ages 6-45) :D


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March 29, 2010, 04:16 AM
I have the Load All and it's a good press if you're not loading in any volume. It takes me about 2.5 hours to load 125 shells. I've heard that the MEC is faster, but as far as I know, it won't deprime or resize your shells.

March 29, 2010, 07:17 AM
Buy the MEC 600 Jr. much better press than the Load All.

The Load All will work, but the MEC is a much better made press.

The MEC does size with a metal ring that is shoved down over the brass part of the shell, it is part of the depriming die.

I have a old 20 GA MEC 600 Jr that has probably loaded 100,000 rounds or more...still going strong. I have only replaced the plastic wad guide fingers once.

With the Lee, you have to take the powder and shot out to change the bushings, with the Mec you just tilt the powder-shot bottles over and change the bushings.

Jimmy K

March 29, 2010, 07:49 AM
Lots of MEC 600's for sale on Ebay for a decnt price. Just don't get sucked into a bidding war and pay more than new price for one.

March 29, 2010, 08:50 AM
I have a Load All and it works pretty well. But I would get a MEC next time through, they are built better. I load aloot at one time and then dot do it again for a while. But if I start loading volume it will end up on ebay too.

March 29, 2010, 08:58 AM
The MEC 600 Jr. is the standard by which all other entry-level shotshell presses are judged. I've had 4 of them in the 4 skeet gauges for nearly 40 years and have never felt the need to upgrade to something better or faster.

March 29, 2010, 09:00 AM
Had both, you want the Mec

March 29, 2010, 09:25 AM
If you plan on loading just a couple boxes a week, the Lee Loadall will produce ammo that does look like factory when you have the right components. I have one in 20ga that's used very little, but the bottom line is that the Mec 600 JR will run circles around the Lee for production and it's ability to change bushings and charge bars for different loads are a plus. I have a Mec 600 in 410 that gets a lot of use.


March 29, 2010, 10:00 AM

Isn't even a contest.

And when you are done with it you can re-sell for what you paid for it. I'm still using my Mec 600jr .... some 30 years now.

March 29, 2010, 10:57 AM
I don't know that the mec is any faster than the load all. I have both. My mec is basically a big, quality load all, separate stations for each step just like the load all. I only load 10 gauge anymore. The mec is a better press for sure, all steel, and the crimp is MUCH better than the load all ever produced. That alone is a reason to pick the mec. I haven't used my 12 gauge load all in years. I bought the thing back in the 70s. It's loaded a lot of rounds. I quit loading with it in the early 80s when we were mandated to use steel shot. As waterfowl is my main reason for owning shotguns and as dove loads are cheap, I just quit using it. I never was satisfied with the crimp that thing gave, though. Yes, the mec is worth the extra money for sure.

March 29, 2010, 11:01 AM
MEC without question, turns out a better shell. I started way back when, with the Lee and shortly after I started shooting targets moved to the MEC. Much better made, crimps better, and you can buy kits to change to different gauges if need be (although it is easier to just buy another one for the different gauge)

March 29, 2010, 11:04 AM
I have Lee Load Alls in 12 and 20 and a MEC in 410. They are all great. No problems with either style. I bought the LoadAlls new in 2008 for less than $40 each. That is hard to beat.:p

March 29, 2010, 11:35 AM
I'm not sure to what extent you're into reloading in general, and I don't mean to sound like a jerk.... here's what I found though.

I started reloading 12 gauge with a MEC single stage loader - can't remember the model. 600 Jr? Could be. I do know that it was painfully slow and involved in order to come up with a box of shells.

Then I took up trap shooting, which as most of you know, pretty much eats shotgun shells. The single stage press just didn't meet the need. I saved up the $$ for a little while and just went straight to the MEC 9000G. It's fully progressive. It comes from the factory all set up for whatever you want. Yep, it was around $400 at the time, but over the last 10 years that I've had it, it has paid for itself over and over.

I shoot trap fairly often in the summer, and I just leave powder, shot and primers in the press. There is nothing simpler than loading a few boxes of shells... one stroke of the handle and a loaded shell falls out the other side into a big tupperware tub. :) Fun stuff. Easy to do.

If you're going to get into any kind of sport that eats shells like trap, just go to the bigger press. It will make your life a whole lot more enjoyable. My two cents.

(this is the only time I'll recommend a progressive to a new handloader.... for rifles, I firmly believe in learning on a single stage.... )

March 29, 2010, 01:40 PM
I have the Load All and love it for the 3-500 rounds of trap I do a year of developed loads. I also load a lot of buck shot for grins. Anything more, or if I were to buy another press I would jump to the MEC progressive.

March 29, 2010, 06:49 PM
Mec 600 Jr.

I have had mine for a few years now and it works great and I like it. Does every thing I need it to do. And it does it well. I paid about 100.00 for mine new. The only Thing you will need is shot shell supplies and I go to BPI to get quite a bit of my stuff.

March 29, 2010, 08:03 PM
WOW. Thanks for all the responses guys! Very pleasing to log onto such great information.

And BTW RainDodger, nothing you wrote sounds like a jerk. ;)

I appreciate ALL your responses!


March 29, 2010, 09:18 PM
I concur with getting the MEC. I started with a used MEC Sizemaster I found used in a shop for $30. It just needed a good thorough cleaning and to have the wad finger guide replaced. I have since moved on to a progressive, but still keep the MEC around for trying new loads. One thing, if you do get the 600 Jr., make sure it has the automatic primer feed. It will save you a bunch of time and headaches.

Shotgun loading isn't like metallic where you work up a load. Stick to published loads.

The other thing is get a good scale if you don't have one. Bushing charts are just starting points and should not be taken as gospel.

March 29, 2010, 10:30 PM
I started many years ago with a MEC jr.
We were shooting every weekend--I spent too much time reloading.
I went to a MEC GRABBER ---resized the hull--auto primer feed.
I installed a adjustable powder & shot bushing.
Will load about 400 rds. per hour.
The kids are long gone ( somewhat)
No need for 400 rds per hr.--now I run them one at a time thru the machine--- I still do load a few. (

March 30, 2010, 01:39 AM
The Lyman book I bought with mine has tons of loads in them. I have found that the bushings are right on the money. I used to use the scale every couple of loads but they were so close +/- a tenth of a grain every time so I don't check very often any more. Just when I am using a new powder.

I think the real saving come when you reload steel shot for water foul. Other wise the only gain is a better round and more consistency.

March 30, 2010, 03:35 AM
Have to go with the MEC crowd here...

I am a pretty avid fan of most Lee products. My old man used a Lee Load All and loved it.

Then he got a MEC at a swap meet... Game over, MEC all the way.

BUT - either will serve you fine. Find a Lee Load All for next to nothing? Don't hesitate to pick it up.

March 30, 2010, 04:01 AM
Auction sites have the Lee Load-All and MEC 600 jr for under $50. Which USED PRESS would you recommend if you had a choice in this price range?
Just a short note on the Lee Load-All, they can be bought for $40-$42 NEW most places so don't pay that price for a used one.

As the others have said, the MEC is a better press but you can get a new press for $40 if you buy the Lee. I think the cheapest you will find a MEC 600 Jr. new is ~$170 so for under $50 used it's probably a really good buy. (as long as all the parts are there)

Peter M. Eick
April 2, 2010, 09:58 PM
When I was faced with the same question about a year ago, I went the 600 jr and don't regret it. Nice press works well.

Jefferson Herb
April 3, 2010, 12:54 AM
I purchased Sizemasters,reason;I recycle cheap hulls.Cheap hulls are steel and the collet sizer ensures that they will feed.I vote mec,and if you get a 600,spend the bucks to buy a collet sizer;you can get all the cheap hulls for free if you ask.

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