What do I need to load shotshells?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Axis II, Jan 9, 2021.

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  1. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    My brother aquired a Mec 600 I believe it is and everything appears to be there. He told me if I wanted to mess around with it to have at it. I want to load 12ga 1-1 1/8 oz trap and skeet loads. I have about 500-600 Win AA shells my buddies grandfather loaded and I would like to take them apart and use the shells and I also have access to 500-600 Win AA shells from a buddy. I began looking on Hodgdons site at powder to see if something I had would work and noticed a ton of data for different wads and primer types. What power, wad and primer would you guys recommend? Any other tips to loading shotshells? I have been reading and watching videos and it seems pretty straight forward. I will be loading for a gas operated semi auto and a pump.
     
  2. mdi

    mdi Member

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    For a beginner it has been always suggested to use the same combination of components, same manufacturer (with the exception of "clones") as what is listed in manuals. If the data calls for a specific type of shell, powder, wads, shot (and amount) it is best to follow those recommendations for "fit" and performance. There are several different ID shapes for shells with different powder "chambers" (base wads). There are many different types/shapes of wads, and combinations of wads to achieve a specific component "height" inside the shell. And all this plus a specific shot charge to that takes up a specific amount of room to give the completed shell a good length for a proper crimp. I have only reloaded a few, 1,000-1,200 rounds and haven't gotten into changing components, custom reloading, I have stuck with manual component lists, even though I have been reloading center fire ammo for a few decades...
     
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  3. IMAhobbyist

    IMAhobbyist Member

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    If you haven't already looked at this table, bookmark/download it whatever cause it will be invaluable.

    https://www.mecoutdoors.com/content/images/document/PowderBushingChart.pdf

    Most of the guys around me stick with ALLIANT cause it's a regional thang with regard to availability. Green Dot and Red Dot are two common examples that fit the hull well allowing for a good crimp with the hull you mention. Of course that will also depend on your wad choice. You'll probably get many different hull suggestions. Many different hulls will work for your load depending on powder volume. We kinda favor Claybuster cause again they're available close by and cheap.
     
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  4. George P

    George P member

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    What is wrong with the loads already loaded?

    Pick the hull, go to Alliant and Hodgdon's websites, find a powder, wad and shot charge that goes with your hulls and gives you velocity you want. Personally, as expensive as shot is, I would opt for 7/8 or 1oz at the most. You WILL need to verify powder drops on a scale as MEC bushings are notorious for not dropping what the chart says. I have only been doing this for 35 years or so, but I tend to keep things simple and not try to load tons of different types.
    So which Win AA hulls? Older types (called the CF for Compression Formed) are different from their newer ones ( called HS for High Strength) The HS hulls have that stamped on the side of the hull.
    Try for US primers like WIN 209s. Euro primers can be used (check the load data); however, being metric, they tend to stretch primer pockets just a smidge, so going back to Win 209s may cause issues like loose primers.
    This is NOT metallic so do not go mixing hulls, primer brands, etc. Pick one and follow the data and you'll be fine. Also unlike metallic, with powder drops and shot drops, close enough is good enough. You will want velocity ranging around 1200fps and pressure ranging from 7-10K; too low and you get incomplete burns and bloopers in cold weather, too high and you get other issues.
     
  5. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    His grandfather quit loading shotshells about 20+yrs ago and these were found in factory boxes in a large box in the attic of his shop. I dont have any info or data on them as his grandfather passed away a few years ago. I would rather air on the side of caution then blow up my $700 shotgun. :) We know they are reloads because my buddies uncle got 2 presses, bags and bags of wads, hulls, and shot. He was just going to sell the stuff so didnt want the ammo.

    I am not really sure what I have at home. I saved a few boxes of Federal target and Win AA I shot 2 summers ago and my other buddy used to shoot competitivly and said he's got several grocery bags I could buy from him. He said mostly AA and gun club.

    Thanks. I planned on picking something from their data and sticking with it. I can get claybuster wads locally and Hodgdon has data for them. I have Hodgdon 700x too. I figured use up all my Win primers, Win AA hulls and load those up and then see how many gun club and federal hulls I had and do each of those seperatly following data for each. I maybe taking a trip to a pheasant preserve in March where we shoot 200-300rds of clays and then hit the fields. I cant find any target ammo anywhere but I found components. I know it wont save me any money but I like to tinker and figured try something new other than metalic loading.

    How do you feel about 1oz #8? All I can find is #8 shot.

    Anything I need to check or calibrate on the press?

    I'm glad you mentioned PSI because I noticed that would go from low to a few thousands higher.
     
  6. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Generally speaking, if not already pointed out, shot shells are “ components specific”. You have to use the combination of hull, powder, wad/shot cup and shot to arrive at a length that will crimp properly. Pick a recipe and go for it.
    There is wiggle room in the shot size as an ounce is an ounce regardless of shot number.
     
  7. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    What do I need to load shotshells?

    You need to win the Lottery... because unless you are a member of a club that harvests shot, the cost of shot is going to put you in the poor house.
     
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  8. George P

    George P member

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    I just bought some shot; Lawrence/West Coast magnum - all in delivered was right at $50/bag. If you are SURE they are reloads in factory boxes, and he left no load data, then salvage everything else. I have drawers for my shotgun ammo inn a huge Steelcase cabinet - 10 drawers, each drawer holds 45 boxes of 12 gauge - 1 is a drawer of reloads in 12, 1 a drawer of reloads in 20, the rest is factory 12 BUT my reloads are in factory boxes with a label on each, so IF you have that data, great; if not err on caution and light up a campfire with the powder.
     
  9. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Shotgun shells are reloaded with the exact case hull, amount of shot, wads, primer, brands of product and powder charge listed in the data found in manuals, or on line data sources. Most of this data is developed by powder companies and can be located on line at websites by Hornady, Alliant, Dupont, Winchester, Accurate Arms and others.

    Read George P post above. He gives good advice.

    Years ago I used to do a lot of trap shooting and reloaded to save money. Over the years my shotgun shooting has declined and the price of new shells at Walmart has changed the economy one used to get with handloading. At around $5 a box for target and game loads you can't save much money handloading shot shells.​
     
  10. GoldieMI
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    GoldieMI Contributing Member

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    same here...when it goes on sale every few weeks- I buy 4-5 flats of them depending on how much room is in the shotgun closet.
    MEC 600 has been on vacation for a long time
     
  11. George P

    George P member

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    With ammo basically unobtainable, when you do find it, it is now closer to $8/box for even the cheap stuff so even at $5/box, you have ammo to shoot
     
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  12. Bill M.

    Bill M. Member

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    There really is no good way to open a shotgun shell, dump the components, and reload and crimp it. You will end up just cutting the ends off the shell to get the components out. You can save and reuse the shot but that is about all you can salvage. The wads if you can identify them and if they match what you want to use. As an experienced reloader and old enough to be a great grandfather I would cut a few of the reloaded shells apart and try to identify the powder and wads used to see if they might be safe to shoot. It is likely that one will not be able to identify the powder. If not I would cut the ends off and save the shot and toss the rest. Yes, you could push the primers out and use them if you can identify them and use you load mild loads. The bottom line is that what you were given in terms of ammo is worthless unless it can be shot as is.

    As to what you need to reload: The press which you have. A scale. Win 209 primers. Claybuster 1 1/8 wads. Shot. Then look at the Alliant website and the Hodgdon website under the specific hulls you have and look at the powders recommended. Clays, Claydot. and Green Dot or Red Dot come to mind. What is available might be a factor. I use Clays with either WinAA or Rem STS type hulls. I have seen primers for sale lately. I expect you will find some. We have a local supplier that currently has Win 209 primers and a number of powders in stock. I use whatever shot I can get. Currently I am using Eagle shot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2021
  13. George P

    George P member

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    You can use a drywall screw to open a hull, but it is some work.
     
  14. NMexJim

    NMexJim Member

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    There is a lot of discussion about whether or not to reload anything but sub-guage - 28 ga, 410 - mainly due to the cost of available factory ammo. And, Fiochhi, Rem Gun Club, and others are now putting out a good product at a reasonable price - $6/$7/box. The difference comes in when you start talking about premium loads like AA or Federal Premium. If you want to duplicate a premium load that runs upwards of $10+/box, then reloading 12-ga makes a little more sense. I can load a premium round for $5 -$6/box. Plus, it's handy to know-how and fun.

    When you look at shot count, an 1 1/8 oz load of lead looks good because of the high number of pellets, but you really don't need it. For skeet 7/8 oz is fine and bangs on your shoulder less although autos do absorb more recoil. Load for low fps like 1050 or 1100 fps, but try a few to see if your auto likes them. Most autos have adjustable gas pressure. 5-stand and Sporting Clays can be shot very well with 1 oz although I do keep a few 1 1/8 available for long crossers and such. And, the lower shot loads will certainly stretch out a 25 lb bag of shot. I appalled at how fast an 1 1/8 load empties a bag of shot. Must be the Scot in me.

    Given the sketchy availability of shot, most any brand will do. I like Lawerence as it's a hard shot, but it's a bit more expensive. I've shot a lot of Eagle brand, and it's good too.

    J-Ron Claybusters makes great wads at a reasonable price. Cheaper than OEM.

    Choke selection is important and often missed by newcomers - for skeet either open choke or skeet choke. For 5-stand improved cylinder. Skeet is shot at about 21-yards to the center stake which doesn't require much choke at all. Look up choke patterns and their recommended yardages.
     
  15. stillquietvoice
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    stillquietvoice Contributing Member

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    It's been a long time since I reloaded for shotguns, so I won't try and give advise on that. One thing with shot she'll reloading is the crimp starter bushing there should be 2 a 6 crimp and an 8 crimp. Check wich bushing is inserted in your charge bar because, like Lee dippers, the bushing will throw different charge weights dependent on a particular powder type.
     
  16. NMexJim

    NMexJim Member

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    BTW, MEC has free manuals for all their products on their website if you don't have the instruction manual.

    Join Shotgun World (http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/index.php) for great forums on shotgunning.
     
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  17. George P

    George P member

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    SGW is a great site (yes I am on there as well)
     
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  18. Fishtales

    Fishtales Member

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    If you are going pheasant hunting, I would not use nothing less than 71/2 if hunting behind dogs and number 6 if it is a driven hunt as the ranges are usually longer. Save the 8's and smaller sizes for quail (bob white), doves and skeet.
     
  19. George P

    George P member

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    I'd opt for larger shot, 6s for the first shot and 5s for the second
     
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  20. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    Ballistic Products specializes in shotshell reloading. Worth a look and I bet they could suggest a wad choice.

    I use Claybusters wads. Most of their products are “clones” of name brand wads. Each package contains load data but you have to start with a wad that is compatible with the type of hull you have and that accepts the desired payload of shot.

    Your semiauto may be picky about the pressure level of the ammo it will cycle. I’d avoid loading a large volume before function testing.

    One issue with MEC’s entry level press is that it lacks the collet resizer for the base of the hull. If you find that your hulls won’t chamber fully MEC sells a bench mounted sizing tool.

    Good luck!
     
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  21. George P

    George P member

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    The sizing ring on the Jr works fine, even with steel bases and I have NEVER had an issue with chambering any 28, 20, or 12 in any semi or SxS or O/U
     
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  22. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    That’s good to know.
     
  23. Muddydogs

    Muddydogs Member

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    I would cut open a random sample of the old reloads, weight the shot and powder charge and if they matched a known recipe I would shoot them. You could narrow down the powder type by asking what supplies the old man had left and posting a pic of the powder here for identification. Could be easy if it happens to be Green or Red Dot.

    You don't need to find specific load data for some Clay Buster wads as some are direct clone replacements for manufacture wads. CB 1118-12 is the same as the Win AA wad.

    We could recommend a bunch of powders but right now it's going to be what you can purchase so make a list of powders that will work and purchase them when you can find it. Unique, 700x, Promo, Longshot and Herco are a few that can be used in Rem, Fed and Win hulls with the WAA12 wad and Win209 or Ched 209 primers. The Dot powders work as well I just don't have data sheets with this powder as I don't use it.
     
  24. NMexJim

    NMexJim Member

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    Spooky wild birds take some shooting. #5 @ 1400 fps.
     
  25. George P

    George P member

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    Decades ago I used #4s for ND pheasants before I had a dog.....but I will say Fiocchi Golden Pheasant ammo is a good one to use.
     
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