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Picking up shotshell

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by somethingbenign, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

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    Getting into hunting and the bulk of what I want to hunt around me would be done with a shotgun. Problem is all the public land is nontoxic shot only. Are there any issues loading steel vs lead? What is a good book to pick up to learn shot shell on, my current load books only have pistol and rifle? Also I'm looking at the MEC sizemaster as it sounds like it will cover everything I need and allow for other gauges to be used later, anyone have any experience with this press?
     
  2. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    I had one, and really liked it but I did lead only. I also got the universal charge bar, and consider it essential, esp if you load a bunch of different load. The sizing action was nice and smooth, quality is good, primer feed worked well, and speed was very adequate for my needs. Lyman used to (I guess still do) make a nice book to get you started, with lots of step-by-step help.

    Shotshell reloading is so easy, and no working up loads... Use exactly what hull, wad, powder, primer and shot is spec'd, and load em up. My completely non-gun, non-hunting parents looking back were pretty cool... I was 14, maybe 15 when they let me buy a Lee Load-All in 12 gauge, and I taught myself to reload... That's how easy it is, yet I always found it very satisfying.
     
  3. sbwaters
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    sbwaters Contributing Member

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  4. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Loading steel is a PITA, or at least was when steel became mandatory. I don't believe you'll find significant savings reloading steel. as sbwaters says, BPI is the go-to for steel, as well as MEC, whose presses I'd recommend first. SIzemaster would be a good choice.
     
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  5. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    Yes and one is you won't save much money, if any at all.
    I used to load it many years ago, nothing difficult about it.
     
  6. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

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    So just did some quick math using prices from the site sbwaters provided and assuming I didn't forget anything (wads, shot, primer, powder) it looks like just under $7/box not counting shipping or hulls. I can get most of my reloading components delivered to a LGS on top of their normal orders to save on shipping and hazmat and hulls aren't going to be in any shortage for quite awhile. Last time I bought steel loads from the store the cheapest was ~$15/box. So what other things make it a pain besides lack of savings?
     
  7. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    The only way to save money is to load your own buckshot or slug loads. Or the smaller ammo like .410 or 28 GA those will save you more per round from what I have done. 12 GA not much savings on steel or skeet these days over promo loads or bulk buying. I was using Teflon sheet inserts to protect the barrel from the steel/Bismuth and this was a PITA. I could never get the darned things to pattern well either.
     
  8. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I have loaded steel shot. The issues you generally run into, are the drop tube which seats your wad into the hull is not long enough for the long steel shot cups. The powder generally used (alliant steel) is very flakey and doesn't meter well. I charge with a scale for steel shot as I got a full grain of variation with dropped charges. Steel shot is not compatible with standard charge bars, you'll need the steel specific bar for the MEC. Due to the burning characteristics of the powder, near perfect crimps on once fired hulls are necessary, and an overshot card is recommended by BPI. That being said, you can make some specialty loads that are not available in stores. I would buy the BPI "status of steel" manual, and also one of their general shotgun manuals.

    You should start out making some basic target lead loads to get the hang of it before you jump into steel shot reloading.
     
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  9. Muddydogs

    Muddydogs Member

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    I load 3" steel, I kind of treat it like rifle rounds. First I deprime, size and reprime on a mec 600 jr. Then I use my Uni-flow and trickler to throw charges and weight them. Hand seat the wads, weight the shot charge then back to the press for crimp. 100 3" steel loads is a lot for hunting porposes, in 2 to 3 evenings I can load a couple hundred easy.

    For 2 3/4" steel loads loaded in Estate plastic base trap hulls I load on one of my Mec 650's that's set up for lead. This is my swatting load or close in over decoy load.
     
  10. George P

    George P Member

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    A lot of good info here, and a lot of bad info.
    The Sizemaster is a great press
    BPI has excellent stuff, as do others.
    Steel versus lead, usually means using a slightly more open constriction and no full for steel loads, especially in older guns
    I reload a 3/4oz 12 load and my costs are $3.50/box and they crush targets, so there can be savings besides just buck or slugs.
    If you are using the right bushings, there is no need to trickle powder charges or weigh every payload.
    I can crank out 100 rounds in 45 minutes on my Jr; 200 on my Grabber.

    Look up the loads you are wanting, get the right hulls, wads, primers, shot and have at it. It isn't hard, just pay attention.

    Shotgunworld.com has a lot of folks who can help if you run into trouble with your press or reloads
     
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  11. Muddydogs

    Muddydogs Member

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    Have you ever tried dropping 1 1/4 ounce of 2's or 1's through a Mec drop tube? You spend more time tapping on the drop tube freeing up the bridged shot then you do reloading shells. Steel powder doesn't meter all that great and I'm usually loading right up to max so I like to keep an eye on my powder weight so I weight my charges. Basically I'm not in a hurry loading hunting rounds and find it kind of fun, if I want to kick out a lot of rounds I'll set down and burn out 1000 + trap loads on one of the Mec 9000's. Most of my loads use a felt wad under shot and an over shot card to its easier and faster to seat the wad and add the shot off press with the hull in a loading block so I can add the parts to the shot column.
     
  12. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have a MEC jr I use for “special” loads two 366’s for .410-12, make ammo that will run like a top, even in semiautos.
     
  13. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

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    For you guys that load more than on gauge. Do you switch out dies or just have separate presses? I'm fairly limited for space but the die sets I've looked at seem pricey compared to another press.
     
  14. STCL01

    STCL01 Member

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    I loaded steel years ago when it became mandatory for waterfowl. Now this was back in the late 80's early 90's. I know things have changed, so take this for what it is. The loads I made were safe, and they went boom. I had very inconsistent patterning results. You need a different wad, one that is harder. The powders are also slower because the steel shot is not malleable, so it needs a gentle and accelerating push to get it out the choke. Then I had issues with the shot bridging in the tube. Now that was with #2 shot. I would expect that if you were loading 6's or something like that you would find it easier. To answer your question about multiple presses vs. dies, I have multiple presses. Just much easier. I will say that I don't load for anything other than sub-gauge any longer. I don't find the savings to be worth my time otherwise. If you do proceed with loading steel, or other non-toxic shot, please repost with your results. I would be interested in how the newer components work, and how you made out. Good luck.
     
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  15. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    If you can get the gauge you want, and you other gauges are low volume you might consider a LEE Load-All for lead practice/Nice Shot non-toxic for hunting. I used mine to fill up two or three large coffee cans worth of spent primers, no parts breakage, orig wad guide, and found it a capable reloader indeed. Did 3" mag loading just fine too. You get a lot of powder and shot bushings to achieve pretty much what you might need, two starter crimp positions at the ready, and at least the one I bought new around 1982, provided very nice finished crimps. - I imagine the new versions still do. One nice feature with newer Load-All presses is their removable spent primer catch. You can also buy a primer feed attachment; how well it works I have no idea.

    Resizing is not very convenient with the separate sizer ring, and lack of detachable bottles is not a great feature, but this is why I say you might consider it for smaller volume, single recipe loading for lead, maybe even non toxic "nice shot".

    *** To add, you can also buy just the LEE conversion kit, to load other gauges with the Load-ALL you already have. Even if you would have to use dippers for the steel shot and/or powders, the press could complete the job, and at a very good price.

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1013165898/lee-load-all-2-shotshell-press-conversion-kit
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
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  16. somethingbenign

    somethingbenign Member

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    Looks like MEC sells a steelmaster that is a sizemaster but comes with the charge bars and feed tube redesigned for steel. I'm guessing the tube is wider to prevent any bridging and it is advertised to work with lead as well. Don't know how I missed it the first time but I'll save up the few extra dollars for that unless someone has any experience that says it binds with steel just as much as the lead version.
     
  17. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    Going from memory only, one of the concerns with loading steel is damage to the edge of aluminum charge bushings from the hard shot.
    I think Mec sold a different charge bar for steel shot with plastic inserts to protect the bushings. Pacific presses already have them.
    Either way you need to use a little more care when moving the charge bar.
     
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  18. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    The Lyman Shotshell Manual (5th Ed) is the standard of the hobby and covers lead, steel, bismuth, and all the others for about $20.

    Lyman Shotshell Manual link
     
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