Getting Started Loading 12 Gauge


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ObsidianOne
March 15, 2013, 08:23 AM
So it seems the most prevalent components on the shelf are shotgun. Always wanted to reload for 12 gauge so I figure now is the time to start. I already load for 9mm so I'm not exactly new to the whole concept. A few questions though.

If I buy the Lee Load All II 12 gauge press, is that all I need (except components) to start?

I was told that you have to use Federal hulls with Federal wads, Remington hulls with Remington wads, so on and so forth. Is this true or can I just pick up hulls and reuse them with any wad?

The components I need for target/birdshot loads are just primer, hull, wad, then shot, correct?

Now, let's move onto something else I haven't seen a clear answer on. Let's say I want to reload 00 buckshot. What do I have to do differently?

Can I use the Lee Load All for the other steps (other than shot, I assume 00 buck must be done by hand?)

Do I still use a wad or do I use something else?

Also, is the type of shell important? As in, I have to use high brass hulls for 00 buck, correct?

I appreciate any info you can provide :)

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Blackrock
March 15, 2013, 08:44 AM
http://www.ballisticproducts.com/?gclid=CPXQ-MXs37ICFWdxQgodpyQArQ

A good place to start looking for components. There are a lot of wad and shot combinations to work with. Larger shot sizes generaly need to be placed in the shell by hand.

Both Hodgdon and Alliant sites have load info.

I load 1oz trap loads on a MEC 600 JR in Rem hulls with Chedite primers and Claybuster wads FWIW

FROGO207
March 15, 2013, 08:50 AM
I am just starting this myself and there is a LOT more to it than throwing some stuff together. You have to follow a SPECIFIC recipe when reloading shotshells. You need to get a couple good books on shotshell reloading first and foremost. I have the Lyman Shotshell Reloading manual #5 and has a LOT of good info in there, you should get it IMHO. I see that when you eventually know what you are doing it might be possible to sub SOME components safely but I am not at that point yet. You need to use Buffer with buckshot and take that weight into account as well as some hulls are not easily/safely reloadable. There are four basic types of hulls out there for example and all need to be reloaded differently. They are straight wall, tapered, paper, and metal.. IMHO you need some more info before you start. I am sure others with more experience will fill in the gaps I have inadvertently left.

FWIW I have been reloading centerfire rifle/handgun ammo for 30+ years and find this relatively easy but shotshell is a whole nother thing. :)

USSR
March 15, 2013, 09:11 AM
If I buy the Lee Load All II 12 gauge press, is that all I need (except components) to start?

I use a MEC Grabber to reload with, so I am not familiar with the Lee Load All press, but it appears to come with both shot and powder bushings, so you should not need anything else.

I was told that you have to use Federal hulls with Federal wads, Remington hulls with Remington wads, so on and so forth. Is this true or can I just pick up hulls and reuse them with any wad?

There are basically 2 types of hulls: straight and tapered. Federal are straight, and Remington and Winchester hulls are tapered. You should use Federal wads with Federal hulls, and you can use either Remington or Winchester wads with Remington or Winchester hulls.

The components I need for target/birdshot loads are just primer, hull, wad, then shot, correct?

You might want to get some powder.;)

Now, let's move onto something else I haven't seen a clear answer on. Let's say I want to reload 00 buckshot. What do I have to do differently?

Can I use the Lee Load All for the other steps (other than shot, I assume 00 buck must be done by hand?)

Do I still use a wad or do I use something else?

Also, is the type of shell important? As in, I have to use high brass hulls for 00 buck, correct?

Yes, loading buckshot is a bit different. You need to load them by hand, layering them 3 into each layer. Yes, you can use your Lee Load All, just don't use the shot container. I would suggest you use single 0 buck, as it will fit into your wad without alteration. 00 buck will not fit inside the wad
petals, and you will have to cut the petals off. The type of shell is not important and you don't have to use high base hulls, but you should use a slower burn rate of powder (Unique, AA#5, HS-6, etc.) than you would normally use for field loads. Hope that helps.

Don

rbernie
March 15, 2013, 09:21 AM
My advice to new shotshell loaders (based on being one, not long ago) is to get the Lyman book and get a MEC 600 Jr. single-stage shotshell press. You can clearly get by without either, but you'll be far happier and more productive with both of those basic tools. The Lyman book will show you, step by step, how to make birdshot and buckshot loads, and provide you with recipes for most all commonly-available components. The MEC, well, you'll never outgrow that hunk and it'll make consistent ammo in a simple easy-to-understand and easy-to-setup kind of way.

I bought my first 600Jr for $50 used, and they're dang near everywhere.

USSR
March 15, 2013, 09:45 AM
Yep, the MEC is a much better shotshell press.

Don

Vacek
March 15, 2013, 10:07 AM
I have MEC and Lee Load All. I really like both of them. You can't make a bad choice here for starting, and the Lee Load All is really inexpensive.

627PCFan
March 15, 2013, 10:37 AM
I started with a RCBS Mini-Grand single stage. Stopped loading when lead shot cost went up, wasnt worth my time. Get the Lyman book, and stick to published loads. Shotgun loads are not something to hotrod with and most patterning sucks when pushed to the edge anyways.

GCBurner
March 15, 2013, 11:24 AM
The Lee Load All II has several shot and powder measuring bushings, and comes with recipes for specific shell types and plastic wad columns. Be sure to follow the recipes, when you're moving an ounce or more of lead at a time, pressures are significant.
Buckshot and slugs need to be loaded in the shells by hand.

Uncle Richard
March 15, 2013, 01:00 PM
The Lee LoadAll is a good start is you want to go cheap; otherwise, get a quality progressive press if your thinking long-term.

Reloading shotshell is not cost effective due to lead shot prices. Cheapest I've found is $39.5/per 25#bag locally. Most other places such as Wallmart and Cabelas prices are close to $50/per 25# bag.

If you can make the lead shot or get it really cheap, it's well worth it in my opinion.

Just my 2cents.

RainDodger
March 15, 2013, 02:36 PM
I've had a MEC 9000G for years. Long enough to have formed a solid opinion of it. :)

1. It's a great loader and you can crank out the loads.
2. There's a LOT of things going on when you cycle that handle.
3. You HAVE to pay close attention to what's going on!
4. When you screw up, you're going to have a huge mess on your hands.

I keep enough trap shells loaded up to keep me going for a long time, so I don't have to use the MEC all that often.... so the downside of that formula is, I review the MEC manual before I set up to load with it. I almost always pick up something that I've forgotten, that would have resulted in a bunch of lead shot pouring out all over the loader and bench... it's a pain when that happens.... and it will sometime.

The MEC is a good press though, and very fast when you get used to it.

gamestalker
March 15, 2013, 06:41 PM
Hull and wad combinations are specific to the published recipe. There are many different component recipes, but it is important to to stay within those perimeters or bad things can happen. And regarding your question about high base hulls for 00 buck or other counted shot, again, the recipe will determine what hull and components are feasible. Don't substitute with anything other than a generic version of an exact component, including primers.

Be careful with that Lee Load All, they aren't very rigid and seem to break rather easy compared to a Mec 600 Jr. I bought one a long time ago and sold it soon afterward because it was so cheesy. If it were me, and I was serious about loading 12 ga. I would upgrade to a Mec system and not just because they are stronger. They are just a bunch better to work with than the Load All is.

GS

gamestalker
March 15, 2013, 06:50 PM
Oh ya, see if you can find some reclaimed shot, check your local trap & skeet club. I've been using it for a number of years and it is usually much less expensive if you can find it locally, other wise shipping costs will defeat the savings. I was getting it for $10 per 25 lbs., but now it is running me about $15-$20 per 25 lb. sack, still a good price.

GS

BYJO4
March 15, 2013, 08:04 PM
The first thing you need to do is buy and read several shotshell loading books. Loads are very specific based on the various componets used and you need to follow them. You need to look at the loads that fit your shooting needs and see what componets can be used in combination and then buy the componets. Don't buy componets and then try to find a load that you can use them in as this is sometimes impossible. Also with the cost of lead and other componets, there is very little savings in reloading 12 Ga anymore. The real savings come in loading for 28 Ga and 410. I also suggest buying a MEC press as I think they offer the best quality for the money.

gamestalker
March 15, 2013, 09:26 PM
BYJO4 makes a very good point, in that, only buy components only after you've found supporting data for those specific components.
GS

gab909
March 15, 2013, 10:52 PM
Wow, 15 to 20 bucks for reclaimed, sign me up. Just paid 25 a bag and thought that was a deal. I had a load all for some 20 gauge when I first started and like it enough. It is nice that it comes with all the shot and powder bushings, and that will save you a bunch if youre just starting out. Reclaimed shot, claybuster wads, cheddite primers and promo is about as cheap as you can get. 7/8's ounce, 18 grains of promo, Claybuster AA12L clone, and a cheddite primer and you're in business.

hAkron
March 15, 2013, 11:42 PM
The Load All II has all of the powder and shot bushings, and it resizes. Some of the MEC don't resize. The Load All II is fine for loading up a few boxes. It works fairly well, but the MEC crimps much better. The load all doesn't 'spin' the hull to line up the existing crimp lines quite like the MEC does. You will ruin a few hulls getting the hang of the Lee.

I used a lee load all II for a few months to assess my interest level in shot shell reloading, then I bought a MEC 9000. I don't regret purchasing the Lee Load All one bit. Don't waste time with the automatic primer feeder, it's not worth the trouble. The MEC is night and day a better press, but its also 10X the price.

TonyT
March 16, 2013, 01:12 PM
You raised a number of questions which have garnered responses.
There are literally thousands of recipes for shotshell loads to be foind on either the Alliant or Hodgdon websites which provide pressure tested recipes for all the loads you mentioned.
As an aside I would opt for the MEC line of tools.

oneounceload
March 16, 2013, 05:45 PM
I was told that you have to use Federal hulls with Federal wads, Remington hulls with Remington wads, so on and so forth. Is this true or can I just pick up hulls and reuse them with any wad?

The components I need for target/birdshot loads are just primer, hull, wad, then shot, correct?


Personally, I think we need a stickie at the top showing the differences between metallic and shotshell to keep folks safe

You NEED a SCALE
You NEED a PRESS
It really HELPS to have MANUALS, although load date is available online from Hodgdon, Alliant, and others
You NEED to FOLLOW PUBLISHED RECIPES. Certain clone components are able to be substituted, but not like metallic. Hulls matter because different hulls have different internal shapes and dimensions, so you cannot safely mix Federal and Remington hulls as an example. Following that, the wads designed for one type are not safely substituted in the same scenario.

Personally, I had a LLA II, and found it to be junk; however, I shoot a LOT. If your goal is to load a few boxes for hunting and HD, it should be decent enough. However, the bushings are NOT reliable - which is why a scale is imperative.

As to cost of components, look to scrounge Remington Gun Clubs from a local trap/skeet gun club - they reload great, use Claybuster, Downrange, or Duster wads that are the equal to the factory wads the recipe calls for - a lot cheaper. Promo is a great cheap powder for a lot of loads, however, I do not know if it work for the loads you want to use. Reclaimed lead is a great way to save money for practice loads or small birds like quail or woodcock.

Even with factory lead at $45/bag, you can load a better load for less than the wally world cheap promo loads, typically about half

ObsidianOne
March 25, 2013, 08:17 PM
My apologies, thought I had responded back to this thread. Thank you for all the good information guys :) Think I'll pick up the Lyman manual before I do anything, wasn't aware that it's so dramatically different than metallic loading.

I don't deviate from published loads as it is anyway so I'm not worried about component mismatching, just meant that shotgun primers, some powders, wads, etc. are still in stock on a few retailers whereas normal stuff is nowhere to be found :)

Any other suggestions for manuals? Is Lyman the best around for learning the beginnings?

HKGuns
March 25, 2013, 09:18 PM
rbernie nailed it as far as I'm concerned. I still use a MEC 600 single stage and 700X for my 12ga loads. Simple, fast and reliable.

oneounceload
March 25, 2013, 09:53 PM
Using the powder maker sites - Alliant and Hodgdon, will give you the recipes you seek. You do NOT have to buy the Winchester or Remington wads - they are WAY too expensive and there are excellent clones from the places I mentioned earlier

MSgtEgress
March 25, 2013, 11:05 PM
Shot as mentioned before is the biggest cost per round, my gun club buys in bulk and I can get it for $37 per bag. I used to use 700x 10 years ago but it is sooo dirty. I use Alliant Clay Dot it is one of the cheapest powders for 12g Target loads at about $118 for 8lbs and is VERY clean burning. A real plus if you shoot a semi-auto. Claybuster wads are by far the best bang for the buck (no pun intended) I use the dark gray AA hulls they last forever I've gotten 15-20 loads out of them. I know a lot of guys that like Remington Gun Clubs, they are very plentiful at most clubs but don't last as long as the AA. I use 18.5g Clay Dot and 7/8 oz Claybuster wads. I get 1250 FPS from this load and it patterns very nicely in all my guns.

blarby
March 25, 2013, 11:06 PM
The loadall is a FANTASTIC start.

I use it for making :

Trap loads

Buckshot Loads

Slug loads

Buck and Ball loads

And starting this fall : Steel waterfowl hunting loads- I am very excited.

You cannot beat the value for getting into 12 ga.... and it comes with TONS of bushings, and some really good dram guides.

I use Remington hulls pretty much extensively, mainly because I can get them for absolutely free.

Most recipes can be made to conform to remi hulls.

Federals aren't bad per se- but the vast majority of them have paper basewads...which sully quite quickly when exposed to the continual element of the great northwest.

Most of the winchester hulls nowadays are absolute garbage, and the plastic hull material won't last very long... Wheras I have remington n27's still in service after 15 firings.... although thats an extreme....they are quite durable.

Even the remington gun club hulls will last you 5-6 firings before crimping becomes irritating.... and using the loadall, crimping is all about feel and material, as you cannot set the pressure or depth like you can on some of the fancier machines.

oneounceload
March 26, 2013, 12:17 PM
The MEC Jr can be found used for the price of the Lee and it is a much better machine - sturdier, adjustable and will last forever

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