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Considering Reloading Shotgun Shells

Walt

Alpha
Founding Member
Greetings,

This forum is rather informative and as such I am seeking some information and input from those that are experienced in reloading.

My family has started shooting clays when we get together and we can easily go through a couple hundred rounds in a day. As a result I'm considering getting into reloading shotgun shells. Not looking to reload center fire rounds. After looking around I found the MEC Sizemaster Reloader which appeared to fit my needs.

Cabela's MEC Sizemaster Reloader

Before I "pull the trigger" on a purchase like this what advise would you offer? Any experience with this platform? What do I need to know going in?

Just wanting to be informed on the front side instead of learning hard lessons as I go.

Thank you for your time,
Walt
 

TEXASforLIFE

Professional
@TEXASforLIFE maybe able to help you he's very involved in reloading.
Greetings,

This forum is rather informative and as such I am seeking some information and input from those that are experienced in reloading.

My family has started shooting clays when we get together and we can easily go through a couple hundred rounds in a day. As a result I'm considering getting into reloading shotgun shells. Not looking to reload center fire rounds. After looking around I found the MEC Sizemaster Reloader which appeared to fit my needs.

Cabela's MEC Sizemaster Reloader

Before I "pull the trigger" on a purchase like this what advise would you offer? Any experience with this platform? What do I need to know going in?

Just wanting to be informed on the front side instead of learning hard lessons as I go.

Thank you for your time,
Walt
As 10mm said I reload a lot, but no help for shotties. Pistol and rifle only. Wouldn't mind having a 45lc/410ga and load slugs for the 410.
 

Tenbones

Master Class
Founding Member
Back when I was in high school and college I had a Mec reloader and reloaded all my shotgun shells. The Mec loader was easy to use and I could reload a box of shells in no time at all. It got me in the habit, which I still have to this day, of picking up my shotgun shell empties. You could get 2-3 reloads out of one used casing and then they came out with plastic shell casings and you could reload those almost forever. I had to buy a shotshell heater for the plastic casings, worked pretty well for the paper casing too. The heater would take the crimp out of the plastic shells and give you a nice, smooth round hole making it easy to seat the wads.
 

Walt

Alpha
Founding Member
Bassbob and Tenbones,

Hadn't heard of a shot shell heater and I'm sure quite a few other things. What else would you recommend for an initial set up to get started? Looking at the link I posted is there anything else you would recommend regarding initial purchases? More importantly, what book(s) should I get my hands on before I start?

The responses demonstrate the reason I posted these questions here. Thank you for the input.

Walt
 

Bassbob

Custom
Bassbob and Tenbones,

Hadn't heard of a shot shell heater and I'm sure quite a few other things. What else would you recommend for an initial set up to get started? Looking at the link I posted is there anything else you would recommend regarding initial purchases? More importantly, what book(s) should I get my hands on before I start?

The responses demonstrate the reason I posted these questions here. Thank you for the input.

Walt

I have an ( Old version) Hodgden reloading manual. I never heard of a shell heater before this thread either. Never needed one. Primers, wads, powder ( I'm partial to Unique) shot, hulls and the Hogden book is all you need. There may be stuff ( and new stuff for sure, because I am still doing it the same way I have been since I was about 10 years old with the old man) you find that you want or that will make it easier for you, but you can dam sure load shotgun shells with what's listed here.
 
Hi Walt,
I got my first MEC loader in 1972, a 600 Jr. Your choice of the Sizemaster is a good one. I run Mec Sizemaster in 12, 20, & 28 ga. The advantage with the Sizemaster is the collet resizer which squeezes the brass back to the correct size for chambering. Its a real asset in the fact that there’s really no adjusting it for differing heights of brass, or even the brass type (many companies are using brass or nickel plated steel), AA, Remington STS still use brass. The Sizemaster will work with all. Beyond the machine itself I would recommend a good manual, the Lyman Shotshell Handbook 5th(or most current edition). Instructions are well written by MEC and cover setup and basic operations. The Lyman manual goes into in depth descriptions of components and how to choose your load.
In some of the replies I saw talk of a hull “heater”, this is something you do not need and you would have a very difficult time finding one. In the days when paper hulls ruled the day and many loaders (mainly duck hunters) loaded for the field, they ran into issues such as deformed hulls or hulls that had absorbed moisture etc. The heater that was referenced is actually called a hull iron, and it was used to condition old paper hulls; especially those impregnated and coated with wax. It would restore the shape of the hull, remove moisture, and evenly distributed the wax. They also had another “heater” that was actually a crimp sealer for paper hulls, after the hull was reloaded, they put (very small) wax chips on top of the crimp and sealed it, the extra wax weatherproofing the crimp.
For target shooting you really won’t need the hull iron or the crimp sealer. There aren’t many companies making paper hulls, and if you do want to load, say Federal Gold Medal Paper, it’s doubtful they will end up on the floor of a duck skiff. With paper you can get typically 3 loads, then the hulls develop pinholes just above the brass where the powder burned through. Most clay shooters use plastic. I usually have an endless supply of once fired hulls picked out of the plastic hull recycling barrel. The non premium loads (other than STS,AA) use cheaper plastic and I typically reload them 2x and toss.
I hope this is helpful. I’ve loaded all gauges except.410 bore and the euro bores(24ga etc), and I load over 20 different metallic calibers.
I would be glad to help anyone with loading, anytime.
Kind regards, Todd O.
 

Walt

Alpha
Founding Member
Guys, thanks for all the thoughts, views and input. The Lyman reloading manual is on my reading list and with your reactions I think the MEC loader will be a good choice.
Not going to be getting to it for a little bit, busy between work, work and projects at home. Same reason I haven't replied as often or early as I would have liked.

Thanks again for the input. I may be in touch regarding the offers to help out.

Take care,
Walt
 

EL LOBO

Custom
Greetings,

This forum is rather informative and as such I am seeking some information and input from those that are experienced in reloading.

My family has started shooting clays when we get together and we can easily go through a couple hundred rounds in a day. As a result I'm considering getting into reloading shotgun shells. Not looking to reload center fire rounds. After looking around I found the MEC Sizemaster Reloader which appeared to fit my needs.

Cabela's MEC Sizemaster Reloader

Before I "pull the trigger" on a purchase like this what advise would you offer? Any experience with this platform? What do I need to know going in?

Just wanting to be informed on the front side instead of learning hard lessons as I go.

Thank you for your time,
Walt
I used a lee loader for years and the MEC loader I reloaded Winchester AA AAA HULLS only and 25 surplus military brass hulls I would load a 2 3/4 magnum in a low brass AA shell and had a guy thinking my #4 2 3/4 " # 4 magnum was a low brass field load smoking Ducks over decoys .you can load up all kinds of stuff from Slugs to field loads.I even had 25 12 gauge brass military hulls I reloaded and those things brought up many conversations.I even reloaded them with OOO & OO buckshot.Check for used equipment on craigs list my buddy got a dillion RL 550 for 150 bucks .
 

UUUPER

Alpha
MEC is a great way to go , great support, the size master is an excellent choice. I advise adding a reloading scale to your initial investment, Lyman, RCBS all make balance beam scales. When you buy a new MEC loader they will include several powder bushings and a bar that is calibrated to shot weight, eg 1oz, 1 1/8 oz ,etc. also included is a chart that lists the powder charge by mfg and the weight of the charge that bushing will drop into the empty shotgun hull. It is not always exact but a guide. There are many variables that can cause the powder charge to vary. Contact me and I will be happy to answer your questions. The powder manufacturers have free manuals that are generally available from the shops you buy reloading components from. They contain info by shell manufacturer as to shot charge, primer used and more. All shotgun shells are not created equal ! Winchester AA's, Remington Premier's and Nitro 27's are a one piece tapered hull that are capable of numerous reloads, exact number varies by components used. Federal Gold Medal Hulls are straight walled hulls that are capable of numerous reloads too. These shells cost more new because of their construction and the fact they use "hard shot" which has a higher amount of antimony added to the lead give the pellets less deformity as they leave the barrel, therefore tighter , more consistent patterns. Economy shot shells made by the same manufacturers use cheaper components to sell to a price point.

I have loaded tens of thousands of shot shells, mostly for trap, skeet and sporting clays. It is a great way to add a new dimension to clay target shooting. I have also conducted reloading clinics at several large retail stores and have personally brought in MEC personnel to conduct reloading clinics at major firearm retailers.
 

UUUPER

Alpha
What type of clay target shooting is your family doing ?
Besides the satisfaction of reloading my own ammo and tailoring it to my shotgun , improving pattern density and somewhat of a cost savings. It has become a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy. although I am a competitive trap shooter, my reloads are cost effective when compared to premium loads such as Winchester AA's, Remington Premier's and Federal Gold Medal's which retail from $8 to $9 /box, you can reload at lower costs by using chilled shot, selecting a powder that meets your needs and buying it in it's largest package size as well as primers. Scrounge hulls from non-reloaders and then you will have ammunition that competes price wise with the economy target shotshells such as Winchester Super Target, Federal Top Gun and others. Lead is the most costly component, in my market area Lawrence Brand "magnum: hard shot is around $41.00 for a 25lb bag thats 400 ounces , if you load 1 oz loads thats 400 shells do the math for 7/8 oz or 1 1/8 oz and you can start to determine what your costs will be. Chilled shot is $4 to $5 / bag cheaper also many locations have reclaimed shot that is cheaper yet.
 

Walt

Alpha
Founding Member
UUUPER,

We're not competing, just having fun when the extended family all gets together. A few years ago I bought a box of shells, a box of clays and a hand thrower on a whim to see if it would take. It took and pretty hard. At time's well have 8-10 people shooting. It's turned out to be a lot of fun for the family. Dad took a picture of my brother in law throwing, my sister and nephew preparing to shoot that he's pretty happy with.

Last year my nephew asked Grandpa about going in on a seated thrower, Grandpa wasn't going down alone so he had me get in the mix. Got a nice one that works well. Been saving shells for a while and probably have close to a 1,000. Now I finally have a place that I could reload, primarily in the winter, so I'm getting educated before I get going.

Thanks,
Walt
 

UUUPER

Alpha
Great that the whole family is participating. It is something you can all do together and enjoy. Kids to Grandparents is the beauty of clays shooting. In my earlier post I spoke about the economies of reloading. If you can locate a used MEC 600 Jr in good shape that would be my suggestion. I started with a used one over 30 years ago and it is still gong strong. Lee also makes a very inexpensive shotshell loader but I don't think if you will be the principal loader in the family that it would be best for you. I will assume that both 12 and 20 gauges are being shot so powder selection is important as well as shot weight, the MEC loaders are guage specific so if you plan to load several gauges additional loaders are required. Google MEC Outdoors, they have a good bit of information about their products. One of their downloads is the Powder Bushing Chart I referenced in an earlier post. Go on Hodgdon powder reloading site as well as the one for Alliant powders and they will have valid and safe data for both metallic cartridges as well as shotgun. There are numerous publications that address shotshell reloading. If you contact MEC ask them about their publications. Shawn W. is their sales manager and I know he and his staff are very helpful. Gather all the info you can and if you want additional info I would be happy to answer any new questions you might have. Think of shotshell reloading as following a cook book recipe. Use the proper method with the proper ingredients in the proper quantity in the proper environment with the proper equipment and you will produce a shotshell that goes bang when the firing pin strikes the primer.
 

Colt45

Alpha
FWIW I've used a Pacific 366 progressive reloader (now Hornady)for decades and it has loaded thousands upon thousands of rounds both target and hunting flawlessly. Shooting competitively I shot an estimated 1000-2000 rounds monthly occasionally winning a case or two of shells. I used AA hulls and wads the loads you can figure out what you like best. My practice rounds were 1 oz. 7 1/2 @ 1145 fps from the 27 yard line, in competition I shot 1 1/8 oz. @ 1205 fps

Smoke 'em!
 
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