Shooters Forum banner

Want to start loading shotshells

4824 Views 27 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  mattsbox99
I'm not at all new to reloading but have never done shotshells and am thinking I need to tool up to do it. I was searching this forum for the classic "noob wants to start reloading" thread but didn't have any luck. Can someone point me to a thread or two that explains the equipment and processes?
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
As usual Lee Precision makes a fantastic product - Load All at an unbelievable price - around $ 40.00 dollars I believe. Get "Modern Reloading" by Richard Lee. If you are a "Dillion" type - i.e. want the "best" then get an MEC. As usual if you just read the customer reviews on Midway USA you will see the amazing value of the Lee product.
You'll need a shotshell manual before you start to load, but for a very basic description of equipment an process, you can download any MEC manual and look it over.

If I was just starting out, I believe I'd get a single-stage press, probably the MEC Sizemaster or 600jr.

Another vote for MEC SizeMaster

It is a great reloader at a reasonable price. They do show up used at local guns shops at a fraction of the cost of a new one. I would also suggest getting the Lyman Shotshell Manual. All the best...
What is the difference between the MEC 600 and MEC 700. I'm not an equipment snob by any means, I just like to know the differences in the products before I spend any money.

Do all the systems come set up with the appropriate "dies" and tooling or do you have to buy the basic press and get the tooling for the specific shotshell you want to load separately?

Going to Midway to read the reviews is a good idea, don't know why I didn't think of it myself.
Go with the MEC loader 600jr or the 700. You can go to the MEC web site and all the differences are explaned.
The loaders come setup for one gauge and usually one load (powder/shot charge). Lyman publishes a great book on shotshell loading, usually there is no playing around with powder charges, just use the recomended case/powder/wad/shot combination. There is a lot of data supporting the published loads.

You can safely say that MEC equipment has loaded more shotgun shells than any other out there. It's just the casual shooter outnumbers the pro's. And MEC also makes a full progressive hydraulic unit for someone shooting everyday.
MECs are pretty good. Get one with the collet resizer. I forget all the model numbers but it should be pretty evident. Not all of them have it.
No Doubt that the MECs are the most numerous out there. If I were to buy a MEC, or most any other shotshell reloader, I would get the MEC "Sizemaster" along with the press. This device will bring your fired hulls back to factory diameters, then you can run the resized hulls through whichever press you decide on.

If you can tolerate some higher pricing, then I would decline all others, and go with the Ponsness Warren. The hull stays within a resizing die throughout all loading operations.

I have had a PW for over 25 years, and it still cranks 'em out like new, with beautiful 6 or 8 point crimps.

The least expensive PW is the 375C, and once in awhile you can find one on E-Bay, or Gunbroker Auctions at an acceptable price. Do not be concerned about buying "used" when it comes to the PW. They just last and last and last!

After using my MEC Sizemaster, that is the only press I'll use. They are about $180, Natchez has the best prices on them for new.

I have the RCBS Mini Grand... its a little cheaper, but doesn't have the base resizer or auto primer feed. The base MEC's are like that, but can be upgraded. The Auto primer feed is very nice. I take my time and load about 100 shells an hour.
I've loaded thousands of rounds of 12ga on a MEC Size Master, it really is a great press, my cousin got it cheap out of the Money Saver ads 20 years ago, I tried to buy it from about 10 years ago, he said he sold it.
I've recently switched to 20ga for upland birds, so the search for a press commenced, could have got a NEW Size Master for around $189, but I ended up with a used 600jr I got for $15 (with a universal charge bar), after getting the missing pieces I'm into it a grand total of $46
Buy a new one or a used one, get the MEC! witch one really depends on how many round you plan on loading every week!
Thanks for all the advice. What I am really wanting to take a crack at is reloading 00 buckshot for 12 ga. Does that change the thinking at all for the basic system?
My bad flashole and all.

Instead if the "Sizemaster Press", my meaning was the MEC "Super Sizer" for bringing spent hulls back to spec.


No biggy, I saw it on their website and knew what you were talking about.
For your puroposes - 12 guage Buckshot the Lee Load All rated at 4.5 stars on Midway with many, many reviews cannot be beat. $ 40.00 - a fraction of the cost of the MEC - My Load All is simple and "works" like most every Lee product. The Hornady 336 is a better rated unit than the MEC. I put a lot of weight in the reviews especially when there are over 30 and a couple have both MEC and Lee and give the Lee 5 stars. The MEC are rated the same as the Lee by actual customers.
In the MEC tools the only plastic parts are the powder/shot bottles!:D
I've worked the Lee tool some and can report that it works fine for someone that does not go through a huge number of shotshells. Even functions in auto-loaders.

For buck shot loads, you could size, prime, seat a wad, and crimp with the Lee tool.
Use your powder measure and scale to powder charge and weigh shot.

It will be slower that way, but you can put together some good shells.

DO NOT DEVIATE FROM PUBLISHED DATA IN ANY WAY. Even a change of primers can turn a good load into a squib. Read a book about that.

Just trying to save you a buck in the event you are NOT looking for high volume shooting.

See less See more
If you are only looking to try out shotshell reloading, then +1 for the Lee Load-All. It is inexpensive enough that you could buy one, use it and then "step up" to one of the other presses and have the Lee as a back up or for the occasional oddball load.
I have a MEC for my 20 gauge loading. I have the Load-All in 12 gauge and - I think it's a Lee product - an even smaller press that could be what Lee sold before the Load-All.
I also use old Lee Loaders - not made any more - for one off loads.
Truth be told - you don't need a press of any kind to load workable shotshells. I've loaded many, many slug loads without a press. The only tools that I use are a Lee Loader to deprime and reprime and an antique roll crimper. The loads function perfectly well and are accurate out of my smoothbore Savage O/U. BPI sells a modern roll crimper that works very nicely. Shotshells with no press.
You DO, however, need that Lyman Shotshell manual.
Handloading vs Reloading

Thanks for all the advice. What I am really wanting to take a crack at is reloading 00 buckshot for 12 ga. Does that change the thinking at all for the basic system?
For specialty loads with new primed hulls you do not need any reloading press; just a method for measuring powder charges and a roll crimp head for your drill or drill press.
Pete, thanks for the mention of BPI. I looked them up on the internet and I think their tools and approach to loading is more in line with what I want to do.
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.