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Shotgun reloading without press?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by alemonkey, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but is it possible to reload plastic shotgun shells without a press? I know guys do it with brass shells, and just glue in a card wad over the top. With plastic, could you cut off the crimp and do the same thing?

    Just a thought...I've toyed around with the idea of loading up a bunch of 00 buck for a "just in case" scenario.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    While it might be possible, I wouldn't recommend it for SHTF use.

    Shotshell presses resize the metal head of the fired case to permit easy chambering, for one thing.

    For another, shotshell loads using smokeless powder are very specific in components, wad seating pressure, etc.
    It would be impossible to get that consistently by hand.

    The brass case guys are doing it with black-powder, which is a whole nother deal from loading with smokeless powder.

    With black powder, all you have to do it put it in there, and keep it in there long enough to shoot it.

  3. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    Got it...might have to pick up a cheap press, then.
  4. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    You need to look at the Lee Shotgun presses. I've picked them up on eBay for as little as $15.00, and they work great!
  5. ants

    ants Well-Known Member

    The Lee presses work OK. The bushings make it hard to get exact loads with some powders, and you need to be careful that the shot doesn't bridge, and crimping is functionally good but not always pretty. Nevertheless, the press works OK and I've loaded thousands of shotshells on a Lee.

    But if you're really cheap, look at the simple Lee Loader. That's where I started reloading, back in 1968. They seem crude but they work, no doubt about it.

    I don't know what kind of shotgun you have, but if I don't resize the brass base the shotshells will chamber perfectly in my 870 pump, but not at all in my 1100 autoloader.
  6. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    when i was in grade school back in the 1970s, i spent a good bit of my time reloading shotgun shells. i never owned a press. just some lee hand stuff.

    it was a long time ago. no problems i can recollect. however, i had orders of magnitude more time/patience back then than I do now. were I to get into shotgun reloading, I'd for sure want a press.
  7. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    good memories now that i think about it

    during those years, it seems all my christmas presents were either reloading components or estes model rocket engines. :)

    note: It is difficult to wrap bags of lead shot so as to disguise their contents. :)
  8. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Well-Known Member

    I concur with Mr. Dillon and ants, the lee shotshell loaders are quite adequate. I also use a Mec 600 Jr.V extensively for my 410's. You'll just have sticker shock when you purchase the shot.

  9. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    I think I'm going to go with the Lee setup. My local store has it for $32. That's cheaper than Midway with my C&R discount, even before shipping.

    I really don't shoot a lot of shotgun, but I'm thinking of joining a trap league eventually with some guys from work. Plus, this way I can load up a metric crapton of buckshot. I figure $32 is a cheap investment to see if it's for me. I can always upgrade later.
  10. eastwood44mag

    eastwood44mag Well-Known Member

    Buckshot isn't loaded like trap loads. Not even close.
  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    With the price of shotshell components thees days you will probably be able to replicate 12ga Winchester AA shells for just over $5 a box. Since they are now $9 a box in the stores you will only need to load 8 boxes to break even on your $32 layout. You will probably break even in the first weekend or at least by the second weekend for sure.
  12. David Wile

    David Wile Well-Known Member

    Hey RC,

    I think this is the first time I have ever seen anything you said that I would disagree about, and I just had to make note of it.

    You said, "Shotshell presses resize the metal head of the fired case to permit easy chambering..." That is certainly true, and I always resize all my shotshells even if they are usually used in the same gun.

    Then you added, "For another, shotshell loads using smokeless powder are very specific in components, wad seating pressure, etc. It would be impossible to get that consistently by hand." I would disagee with the part of that statement concerning wad seating pressure. With today's modern one piece wads, wad pressure is no longer an issue as long as you insure the wad is seated on the powder and the rest of the load fits the shell. I never loaded shotshells by hand, but I would thing modern shells with modern wads and powder would be relatively easy to get consistent loads with a Lee hand tool. If the powder and shot were weighed for each load, they would probably be more consistent than machine loads.

    That's it. That's the first thing I ever saw you post that I thought you might be wrong. However, since I never loaded shotshells by hand, I am prepared for you to explain something to me that I was unaware in the hand loading process.

    I did once load a box of 3-40 Krag ammo with a Lee Loader hand kit, and I never did that again. I occasionally load a few calibers with a Lyman 310 Nutcracker tool, but that is a walk in the park compared with the old Lee Loader process. Now that I think of it, the Lee Loader involved pounding things with a mallet instead of the more controlled features of a press, and that difference could make for less consistent loads. A 310 Tool can be kind of neat when you are feeling old fashioned, but the whole idea of loading ammo with the Lee Loader just makes me cringe.

    Everytime I see a thread and find you have already made a comment, I always think RC has hit the nail on the head, and I usually have nothing to add to your comments. This time I thought I might have a different take on the idea of making consistent shotshell hand loads, but I am prepared to learn something different. I know I would not want to load them by a hand tool, but I thought it could actually be done with consistent results with today's components.

    Best wishes,
    Dave Wile
  13. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    you can load 12 guage with out any kind of press. very easy to do. i have done it. i learned about it on guns of the wild west a magazine. there was an article back in january of this year. tools needed

    5 inch piece of 3/4inch dowel
    1 1/2 nut
    1 3 1/2" nail
    3 inch 5/8 dowel

    First put the shell (used) on the 1/2 nut. then put the nail in the shell tap on it to drive out the primer.

    2nd use the 3/4 dowel to reshape the shell. tap it in place. With your hand work down all the high or rough spots

    3rd place a primer on a flat surface. put the shell on top. place the 5/8 dowel inside tap it to seat the primer.

    4th. pour in your desired amount of powder followed by your desired type of wad. use the 5/8 dowel to seat the wad 5th pour in your shot. then use the 5/8 dowel to compress again. Make sure the shell is on the 1/2 in nut during this point

    5th. Crimp. you can use you hands to start the crimp then use the 5/8 dowel striking the center to finish the crimp. Make sure the shell is on the 1/2 nut

    5th optional. I like this one better. With out a crimp starter or finisher. Use an over the shot over the powder fiber wad. Insert it in the shell then use the dowel to seat. 3/4 dowel works best. Now use an exacto to cut around the top removing the original crimp. Then use a small amount of elmers glue to keep the wad in place.
  14. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    here are some pics of the finished products. by the way the wads a very cheap source can still be found on ebay as not a lot of people use fibre wads anymore. Alcan shot shell wads are great. i bought this box of 1000 wads for about 3.00. all together i think i spent about 20.00 for over 10000 fibre wads. over the shot and over the powder.
  15. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    notice the 3 shells have had the crimp cut off using an over the shot wad. glued in place with some elmers glue. the other two lying on the side are with a lee load all jr.
  16. Ranger J

    Ranger J Well-Known Member

    I loaded many a thousand 12 ga shells with a lee classic hand loader that I bought back in the 60s. I don't know if they still make them as I haven't seen one in a catalog for a long while. I still load slugs with it once in a while.

  17. Curator

    Curator Well-Known Member

    100 years ago (minor exageration) we loaded those new-fangled plastic shot shells without dies on the farm, by using a razor blade and cutting off the crimp, and using a nail to remove the primer. We seated a new primer (15 cents per 100 at the hardware store) with a hardwood dowel and the flat on a metal vise. Powder was weighed carefully, two over shot .125 card wads placed on top followed by a 1/2" cushion wad, scoop of shot and over shot card wad. Actual cost about 6 cents per shot. These could only be used in the gun that originally shot the cases, but since we mostly had single shot scatter guns they worked just fine.
  18. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    thats what im talking about. slow to make but easy to do
  19. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    Well, I think I'm going to spring for the Lee setup, but it's good to know it would work in a pinch.

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