Shot shell reloading


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rikman
October 21, 2011, 02:47 AM
Hi All,

I'm looking into shot shell reloading and interested in a MEC press. I have 2 Dillon 550B's and a Lyman T mag. Not sure what to start with. The size master in 12 Ga looks nice for the price and the auto indexing presses like 8567 and 9000 are almost double the price. Any pros/cons?

Thanks

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RhinoDefense
October 21, 2011, 02:57 AM
MEC are great presses and are the "Dillon" of shotgun presses. Dillon offers a case feeder and that's the only advantage over the MEC progressives.

I would look to what you want to load and let that decide what press you get. If you load mostly target loads with a few boxes a year for hunting, a progressive will suit you well. If you load mostly hunting with a few trips for clays or skeet, then a single stage will suffice.


Don't let anyone tell you you won't save money loading 12ga. The point of handloading is matching ammunition to your firearm. You can't buy optimized to your gun/choke ammunition anywhere for the same cost it takes to handload them. So you might save $1-2 per box rolling your own, but that's "custom" ammunition for a bit less than "let's hope this works well" factory ammo. That's the whole point.

rikman
October 21, 2011, 03:03 AM
It's mostly for target ...skeet,trap,sporting clays,5 stand. Is the size master a progressive with manual indexing? Would you think it's enough or too slow vs the 8567 or 9000?

ArchAngelCD
October 21, 2011, 03:11 AM
MEC are the shotshell presses all other are compared to. That alone should tell you something.

IMO you can't go wrong with a MEC reloader no matter which one you choose.

RhinoDefense
October 21, 2011, 03:21 AM
Sizemaster is a single stage. It loads 6-8 boxes per hour.

8567 I'm not sure if it's manual index or not. The 9000 series is auto index, auto ejection.

I load on Steelmaster and 600JR presses as I load mostly hunting ammo. I'd love to get some 9000H hydraulic press setups but I don't load target ammo and don't need that speed.

rikman
October 21, 2011, 03:23 AM
Ok, I'd say 6-8 boxes an hour would be plenty for me... I'm always jumping around between pistols,rifles and shotgun sports.

ArchAngelCD
October 21, 2011, 03:26 AM
A friend bought a new MEC 600Jr Mark 5 a while ago and he can easily turn out 100-150 shells per hour and he is a slow worker. He paid ~$175 w/shipping so that's not bad at all for a high quality press. I like to shoot clays informally and will rarely shoot more shells that what he can make in 1 hour.

That's a lot of ammo you can push out with a Sizemaster. I just might have to look into that press...

rikman
October 21, 2011, 03:29 AM
That's cool. I shoot about that , around 5-6 rounds of trap or skeet. My sporting clays course is 100 birds.

RhinoDefense
October 21, 2011, 03:30 AM
In that case, a single stage will suit your needs. A progressive will cover you for future volume loading.

rikman
October 21, 2011, 03:33 AM
I'm looking forward to it. I just setup my second Dillon 550B tonight.

Uniquedot
October 21, 2011, 05:04 AM
I use a sizemaster and it's definitely the better choice in a single stage because of the collet sizer. I have used a good many shotshell presses over the years and nothing else can resize a hull like the mec collet sizers. Only bad thing i can say about the sizemaster is that it's pretty tiring to load a case of shells on it. I do much of my loading these days on several load alls and a couple of load all 2's because they are small and light weight and i move them around when i use them because i have no bench space as metallic loaders have claimed it, but when i run into hulls that a ring sizer cant size i bring the sizemaster out. If you plan on loading new hulls it might be a good idea to get a load all to go with the mec because it loads better looking shells when using NEW hulls and they are inexpensive.

Hootus
October 22, 2011, 09:32 PM
Yeah for that amount you don't need a progressive. I used to shoot skeet competitively back in college and do it for fun nowadays; no more than 100 shells at a time now. I've used a MEC 600jr since 1977 and have always been able to reload a lot more shells than I could shoot.

BTW, the MEC 600 jr I use today is still the same one I bought way back then. I dont' know how many rounds I've loaded with it, but it's a LOT... and it still cranks 'em out as good as the day I bought it. You can't go wrong with one, period.

HOWARD J
October 22, 2011, 09:47 PM
I started with a MEC jr---nice machine--works great-$$
Then I went to a grabber--fast turns out a lot of shells--$$$$$$$$
With the kids gone( not far enuf) I don't need a fast press anymore.
Wish I had kept the MECjr

rfwobbly
October 23, 2011, 12:43 AM
► Before you buy any shotshell press you need to go price reloading supplies, especially the #8 shot. Most big box stores have shot for $50 a bag now! Shotshell reloading is no where as cheap as pistol reloading, and few if any of the hulls you find are even reloadable.

► I concur, the MEC 9000 is not the way you want to go. After getting used to the features of a Dillon 550, you'd be pulling your hair out. For instance the 9000 will drop shot and powder whether there is a hull there or not. Makes for a huge waste of expensive components. Stick with the "single stage" MECs and you'll do OK.

If you need a full progressive, then look at RCBS, Hornady, Spolar or Ponsness-Warren. Believe it or not, the Dillon 900 is not even in the running.

rikman
October 23, 2011, 12:48 AM
wobbly,

THanks for the post. I haven't gone as far as pricing components. I just assumed it was cheaper than rifle/pistol because of less metal, but didn't think about the shot.

For the amount of trap/skeet shooting I do, I'm kind of leaning toward the size master and not the grabber or 9000.

Rikman

rfwobbly
October 23, 2011, 01:44 AM
The payback is much longer on shotshell reloading.

• You can realistically reload only Remington (most all), Winchester (only AA), and some Federals hulls. Everything else is trash.
• You MUST use the exact components in the reloading book. No mixing primer brands or experimenting with powder charges.
• Hulls last for about 7 reloads
• You have to buy a "bush" for each shot and powder load
• If you want to reload 2 gauges, then you need to buy 2 MEC machines.

It's just completely different from metallic reloading. Really the only reason to reload shotshell is if you must have special loads, say 3/4oz shot for 12ga.

rikman
October 23, 2011, 01:48 AM
Wobbly,

THat's very good info, thanks. I was just watching some kid on you tube reloading using a size master ...now I'm kind of thinking of the grabber, let's see if there's a good video on that machine. What mating do you use?

rikman
October 23, 2011, 01:50 AM
PS

I know pretty much pistol/rifle components cost. If I was to reload 12 gauge how much would I be looking to end up spending?

gamestalker
October 23, 2011, 02:23 AM
I've owned the same Mec for about 35 years, and I'll tell ya, I don't think anyone makes a better press, with better customer service / parts availability, or simplicity of repair. Go with Mec and you'll never be happier.

Now regarding which model to go with, it depends mostly on how much volume you need. From the bottom, which would be the 600 Jr.. Once you get your rythm, putting out 5 boxes, or 125 rounds per hour is about maximum, but average even if your just kicking back a littlecyou'll do 75-100 rounds per hr.. And you can speed that up be adding a couple up grades that are relatively inexpensive.

But the mid range and upper shelf models are extremely fast and reliable, and will allow you to keep up with a demanding hobby such as a competitive trap & skeep enviroment.

My 600 Jr. that I have had for so many years is so extremely simplistic and portable, so much so, that on occasion, due to time constraints preventing us from loading up in advance for the hunt, we would drive down the interstate reloading for our pheasant hunt with a C-clamped 600 Jr. to a small wooden platform with lead shot bags weighting it down. While I was driving one of my son's would be in back loading up our pheasants shells for the day.

Any how, you asked for an opinion, Mec!

rikman
October 23, 2011, 02:25 AM
Gamestalker,

Thanks for the info!

gamestalker
October 23, 2011, 01:32 PM
When you get ready to buy components search out a good source for reclaimed shot, other wise you'll be dropping around $35-$40 per 25 lb. sack. Also check with your local range, some have deals on reclaimed for members. I buy from my local range and get 25 lbs. for $15, it's cleaned and looks no different than new chilled shot.

Another cost saving deal is using generic wads at about 30% - 40% less than name brand.

Someone also mentioned being careful to match components according to published recipe, very important in preventing bad things from happening!

Hulls, I like Gold Medal's and AA's, and sometimes a couple of other 8 point crimped hulls. But also as stated already, many of the other's are indeed trash and not worth the hassle of trying to find matched components for.

Red Cent
October 23, 2011, 09:40 PM
Needing or not needing a progressive is very subjective. I do not enjoy reloading that much. I want to get it done fast and do something that is not quite so boring.
On one end of my bench sets a very old Mec 600. Still works very well. On another bench sets a Ponsness/Warren 800 Plus. They both produce quality reloads. On a bench sets a Lee Turret. And three Dillon 650s on a bench. They all produce quality reloads.
It comes down to how much do you want to/can spend and how much time you want to spend in the reloading room.

These days it is difficult to justify reloading shotgun. I compete in SASS. I load my 97s with 11grs of American Select, one ounce of 7 1/2, and Claybuster wads. You cannot find that soft shooting load in a store. Not even featherlites.

vaskeet
October 23, 2011, 11:04 PM
I see a lot of falsehoods written above about the mec 9000 reloaders powder and shot turn off with no hulls in the stations or you have a problem with the reloader. You can load one shell at a time starting out. The week link like with all progressives is the primer feed you have to watch it at all times. I have 4 9000s on my bench as i type this and I could not replace them with any better reloaders for twice the money. I hav had lee, hornary and pw and I will stick with Mec Maybe a Spolar but my checkbook says no. I load 12 ga. for around $4.00 a box comparable target loads are around $6.50 a box. Randy

rfwobbly
October 23, 2011, 11:08 PM
That's very good info, thanks. I was just watching some kid on you tube reloading using a size master ...now I'm kind of thinking of the grabber, let's see if there's a good video on that machine. What machine do you use?
I use a Ponsness-Warren 375 Duo. It's called a Duo because it really can be setup to reload 2 different gauges. Unfortunately there's not a lot of information in the form of videos about this great little machine.

I know pretty much pistol/rifle components cost. If I was to reload 12 gauge how much would I be looking to end up spending?
Go to one of the powder company web sites, like Alliant (for Red Dot) or Hodgdon (for Clays), and look up a load for your gauge. Then you can plug that data into THIS CALCULATOR (http://www.trapshooters.com/rlcalcadv.htm).


The infuriating part for a metallic reloader is this: You cannot mix hulls, wads or primers. To reload 75 hulls you need 75 of all one brand of hull, and then 75 wads that match that hull, and 75 primers that match that hull. There is NO mix and match like you have with metallic reloading. None. There are so many types of hulls and the reloading recipes are so strict that you may have to saw hulls in half to view the interior construction to discover how to properly reload them.

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTm6DkmI7m6xHqXooYotAhnay506iOYVm7gFST2C_-Hzmxh9PSXfxaHf_8h

I highly suggest a copy of Lyman #5 for Shotshells.

;)

vaskeet
October 23, 2011, 11:28 PM
I use a Ponsness-Warren 375 Duo. It's called a Duo because it really can be setup to reload 2 different gauges. Unfortunately there's not a lot of information in the form of videos about this great little machine.


Go to one of the powder company web sites, like Alliant (for Red Dot) or Hodgdon (for Clays), and look up a load for your gauge. Then you can plug that data into THIS CALCULATOR (http://www.trapshooters.com/rlcalcadv.htm).


The infuriating part for a metallic reloader is this: You cannot mix hulls or wads. To reload 75 hulls you need 75 of all one brand of hull, and then 75 wads that match that hull, and 75 primers that match that hull. There is NO mix and match like you have with metallic reloading. None.

I highly suggest a copy of Lyman #5 for Shotshells.

;)
If you look you can find a load that will work in both winchester aa hulls and remington nitro, sts and gun club hulls I load them both interchangabily. Both are listed as 17 grains 700x cb1100-12 wads and win 209 primers for 1oz. loads

rfwobbly
October 23, 2011, 11:52 PM
No doubt, there are singular loads that allow that. However the point I'm driving at is that unlike metallic reloading, you can't go down to the range, grab the first hundred 12ga hulls you find in the trash, and reload them with whatever wad and powder you have sitting around at home. The reloading recipes are highly defined and much more restrictive.

For instance, the load you mentioned could not be done substituting WAA12L wads, Red Dot powder, and/or Cheddite primers willy-nilly. The OP is coming from a background of picking up and reloading whatever brass he finds and freely substituting any of 4 or 5 primer brands.

oldreloader
October 24, 2011, 01:09 AM
I use a Mec 600JR. I enjoy reloading for rifle, pistol, and shotgun. The quality and special loads are as good in shotgun as metalic. As RF and other have stated, you have to stick very close to published data. You can save money but have to be careful where and what supplies you buy.

aerod1
October 24, 2011, 08:47 PM
I have a MEC Versamec and a MEC Grabber 762 and a Ponsness Warren 375 DuoMatic. I prefer the Ponsness Warren.

Uniquedot
October 25, 2011, 10:46 AM
The payback is much longer on shotshell reloading.

True, but as recent as 8 or so years ago one could get payback on shotshell loading in only one or two loading sessions assuming he/she started with a single stage press. Now it's only worth reloading shotshells if one needs or wants specialized (expensive) hunting loads.

I've owned the same Mec for about 35 years, and I'll tell ya, I don't think anyone makes a better press

I don't know exactly how old my sizemaster is, but it's one of the first run (no patents yet) and it's loaded thousands of rounds. I just don't think it's possible to wear one of these out. The newer versions have plastic on them, but i have heard the only things that seem to wear or break on them is the wad guides and crimp starters. I don't imagine the plastic is too big a deal though as the dies on my load alls are all plastic and one of mine is from the mid seventies and still loading good shells and i have two more from the early eighties that still turn out great ammo. Even the bases on the load all II's i have are plastic and they still seem fine.

oneounceload
October 25, 2011, 04:19 PM
Wow - whole lot of misinformation

To save money you buy in BULK - that means 8# jugs of powder, wads by the case of 5000, primers by the sleeve of 5000, shot by at least the hundredweight, or better yet, by the ton - reclaimed is the cheapest - but sweep it with a magnet for steel

Components, in certain circumstances CAN be easily and safely interchanged
There are two basic types of hulls - straight walled - Federal, Estate, European ones; and tapered - ALL Remington, Winchester, etc. Using Win AA or Rem STS in the same batch is FINE.
Wads - there are clones of the Factory wads that are perfectly safe and fine to use and will cost you half
Primers - many are easily interchangeable in the same recipe - just do not substitute a magnum one for a regular

Typical hulls from promo loads from wally world are not worth saving for reloading - they were designed for one shot and throw away; whereas, the better hulls from Winchester AA, ALL Remington (all the same) are worth buying, shooting and then reloading - you can get 10+ reloads per hull if you aren't trying to load rocket rounds. The better quality hull you start with, the easier the reloading and the better the end product.

Shotshell reloading is NOT rocket science, but it is repetitive - there is any where from 6-8 steps (depending on machine) to reload a hull - size and deprime; insert new primer; load powder; insert wad; drop shot; pre-crimp; and then final crimp.

My progressive works on 8 at a time - that means I am ALWAYS watching out for potential issues - if you do not have that persistence, use a single stage.

You can buy a MEC Jr. used on Craigs List or similar for about $75

drsfmd
October 25, 2011, 04:24 PM
MEC's are not the "Dillon" or "Cadillac" of shotshell presses. They are more like the Lee. Very functional, easy to use, and affordable.

If you want the fancy shotshell presses, look into Ponsness Warren and Spolar.

sellersm
October 25, 2011, 04:29 PM
oneounceload is speaking truth!

I am the 2nd (at least) owner of a MEC Mark V 600 jr for my 12ga, and it's still going strong. Works great for my needs: I don't shoot high volumes and am always working on lightweight loads for my daughters.

Another alternative to the cost of lead is to either cast your own shot or find someone that does.

The cost savings add up faster with gauges other than 12. The ability to fine tune loads is, to me, a great benefit.

Have fun, be safe.

vaskeet
October 25, 2011, 09:28 PM
MEC's are not the "Dillon" or "Cadillac" of shotshell presses. They are more like the Lee. Very functional, easy to use, and affordable.

If you want the fancy shotshell presses, look into Ponsness Warren and Spolar.
I will match my mec 9000g's against a pw any day for speed and ease of use I had lee hornady and pw presses and stayed with the mec 9000g I have 4 12.20,28 and .410. I woul like to try a spolar but 4 mec 9000's cost less than 1 spolar Randy

oldfortyfiveauto
October 26, 2011, 08:31 AM
I've got a couple mec 9000's and if I had to do over would get the RCBS machines. The mec's are just too fickle. Also I load the same 1oz trap load into pretty much any low base hull I run across without any issues.

drsfmd
October 26, 2011, 11:04 AM
Va Skeet-- I own both. A properly tuned PW will blow the doors off a 9000g, both in terms of speed and of the quality of shell made.

The MEC is a MUCH easier machine to tune and troubleshoot though.

vaskeet
October 26, 2011, 07:37 PM
drsfmd when I had my pw press it would not stay in tune Randy

drsfmd
October 27, 2011, 12:43 AM
It took me quite a bit of time to get my first PW adjusted properly (as well as some very helpful advice from a PW expert at SGW), but since then it's been absolutely flawless. The other wasn't nearly as out of adjustment, and within 15 minutes I was making perfect shells.

I can do between 500 - 600 shells an hour on a PW, I can do 300 - 350 an hour on a 9000g...

vaskeet
October 27, 2011, 05:24 PM
I do 300 in a little over 30 min. with the 12 20 and 28 the .410 is down around 200 in 30 min The new primer feed make a big differance. The only parts I have had to replace are the hydrolic actuator rods (look like car hatch operners) Randy

blarby
November 12, 2011, 09:59 PM
A few helpful hints on your shotshell reloading adventure : #1 being Remington Nitro 27.

These hulls are easily identified for pickup and sorting by their "brassine" color, and were designed specifically with reloaders in mind.

They also happen to be one of the few hulls commercially available that are both great out of the box, and can be reloaded extensively with either birdshot, buckshot, or slugs.

As for shot : If you shoot at a nominally active club, you should be able to buy reclaimed shot for far less than new. If grading your shot sizes to the "nth" degree is important, shot size sorting colanders can be obtained from most supply houses fairly easily.

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