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Considering Reloading Shotgun Shells

Colt45

Operator
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
If your going to reload much of a quantity get a progressive reloader. I used a Pacific 366 for a few decades. Well worth the $$ and the time savings.
 

Colt45

Operator
I just checked the price on it $1350 whooee! I think I paid around $300 back in the late 70s. Still it ran like new when I gave it to my friend a couple of years ago. Shot competitively and you could win cases of ammo and reloading supplies back then in the sanctioned shoots. I probably shot 1200+ rounds /month then.
I could not shoulder the O/U that many times today.
For practice I loaded 1 oz. 7 1/2 @ 1145 fps and competed with factory ammo at the maximum allowable 1 1/8 oz 7.5 @ 1205 fps
Used WW AA exclusively although Those Federal paper hulls shot so sweet and soft. Ahh memories
 
Started with Lee Load-All II. Worked great. Too slow for weekly shooting. Could do about 100 rph. Sold it for what I paid for it after 1,500 rds. Bit the bullet and bought a used MEC 9000. Never looked back. 400 rph. paid about $400. Not bad in this market. Replaced a few things. MEC has good support. Midsouth Shooters and Precision Reloading carry lots of parts.
I definitely recommend the Lee if you can live at that production rate. like all reloading, slow and accurate are best. Learned a lot with the Lee. The MEC can go off the tracks quick if you screw up. Have made 50 rds of crap in no time a few times.
 

Bassbob

SAINT
Definitely going to stick with the Mec 600 Jr’s I already own. May spring for the add on sizemaster if it turns out I need it, but I’ve reloaded tens of thousands of shells without one so…..

Really just looking for advice on reloading slugs and buckshot. Neither of which gains any great advantage from a progressive loader since the buckshot and slugs have to be placed in the hulls by hand.

Buckshot: What wads ? Buffer ? Shot cards ? Star crimp or roll crimp ? Star crimp seems better to me but…. Any favorite recipes ?

Slugs: Looking for something inexpensive and reasonably accurate. Gas seals? Wads? Overshot cards ? Recipes ?

This is all just for training and range use. I’m not looking to rival Flite Control 8 pellet or Truball slugs. I won’t be using any reloads for defensive purposes.
 

billt

Operator
If you want to get into shotshell reloading NOW to learn, and to enjoy the experience, that's fine. But leave any hope of "saving money" at the doorstep right here, right now. Because you won't.

Not today with shot selling at, or over $50.00 @ bag, and powder at $30.00+ a pound. And I won't even get into 209 shotshell primer cost...... Assuming you can even find them. And when and if you do, they'll be ridiculously expensive, and only available on a limited basis. Most gun shops here that have them, limit individual purchases to a few hundred at a time.... Not a few cases.

I've been reloading shotshells for over 50 years. (I started back in 1972). And the only way you will EVER "save money" is if you buy your components in bulk quantity, and amortize the savings over several years, and literally thousands of rounds. That takes a somewhat large financial outlay. (I did it many years ago, and only NOW can say to my wife, "I told you so").

Another thing is your time. It has an element of value as well. If you load on a single stage press, you will be wasting A LOT of it. I load on 2 progressive machines. Once set up, I can reload a box of Trap loads in about 5 minutes. That doesn't include stopping to refill powder, shot, and primers. And to take a break every now and then.

In the cooler weather I shoot about 6 to 8 rounds of Trap a week. That amounts to 150 to 200 shotshells every 7 days. There is no way I could accomplish that on a single stage press, with any type of productivity rate. I would simply be wasting too much time doing it.

Also, I buy my components in large bulk quantity. Back in the 90's I purchased 1-1/2 TONS of shot at $12.00 @ bag. (That's 120 bags). I'm still shooting it. I still have 2, 8 pound jugs of Clay's powder left, from a bulk purchase at the same time. That powder cost me $74.00 @ 8 pound jug back then. I'm still shooting that stuff.

Today, shot at my local gun club is $50.00 @ bag, (when they even have it), and assuming you can even find 8 pound jugs of ANY powder, it's going to run you over $200.00+ a jug. Yes, factory shells have gone up as well. But today saving money reloading is extremely difficult to realize, due to limited availability of components, coupled with extremely high prices.
 

HayesGreener

Professional
I started loading in in my teens the 60's with a MEC single stage loader. I was shooting a lot of trap and it was the only way I could afford the volume.

Years later when my sons were old enough we started shooting trap and skeet. Loading for the three of us and a neighbor who shot with us, a single stage reloader just could not keep up, so I ended up with two MEC progressive hydraulic machines in 12 and 20 ga. I started getting serious about skeet in 2000, shooting around 500 targets a week, and my MEC machines were wearing out, so I moved up to a Spolar Gold machine. I don't shoot as much anymore and just load 28 ga now.

I am simple minded and like to keep things simple. There are all kinds of "recipes" that shotgunners use for their pet loads, with a dizzying number of powders and other components. I found that using one brand of hulls (AA), one powder (Unique), one primer (Winchester), and one type of wad (Winchester AA) makes loading much less confusing. Pick a load and components from the literature available and stick with it.

Hodgdon has a pretty good site for loading education and data. Here is the link: https://www.hodgdonreloading.com/?_ga=2.44776416.557931587.1657625332-1694189635.1657625332

The Sizemaster is a good choice for starting out reloading. I would not recommend a progressive machine for a beginner-too much going on all at once. When starting out you will have some goofs, don't get discouraged, there is a learning curve.

Loading safety should not be overlooked. Aside from keeping flames away, you really need to focus on what you are doing. Load when it is quiet and you can focus on what you are doing. Leave your phone in another room and ask people to leave you alone while loading. Safety issues arise when loading. One is getting a double charge or more of powder in the cartridge, or the wrong kind of powder, which results in overpressure in the chamber when firing. Another is squib loads, which do not have enough "oomph" to get the wad clear of the barrel. It happens because you run out of powder on the loader or not enough powder dropped and you didn't notice it. This can become catastrophic if a subsequent full power load is fired while the previous wad obstructs the barrel. Your powder should be kept in a climate-controlled environment and away from moisture. Damp powder can result in a hang fire, then an unexpected, delayed detonation.

Loading is a safe and satisfying process if you organize your process and follow the safety rules.
 
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Gofer

Operator
Just as cheap to buy factory loads unless you are talking about 28 or 410. Cannot find primers and shot, powder and primers are all through the roof in price if you can even locate them. Wads are still available at reasonable cost but that’s it.
The size master is a great loader but unless you just want a new hobby I’d just wait until the current prices and availability calm down. So far it has been about 2 years plus…
 

HayesGreener

Professional
Just as cheap to buy factory loads unless you are talking about 28 or 410. Cannot find primers and shot, powder and primers are all through the roof in price if you can even locate them. Wads are still available at reasonable cost but that’s it.
The size master is a great loader but unless you just want a new hobby I’d just wait until the current prices and availability calm down. So far it has been about 2 years plus…
Agreed. I have not loaded 20 or 12 in years because it is almost cheaper to buy them, or was.
 

Bassbob

SAINT
Agreed. I have not loaded 20 or 12 in years because it is almost cheaper to buy them, or was.
It depends ( or should I say it used to depend) on how much you shoot. Between my dad and me we went through dump truck loads and the juice was definitely worth the squeeze for us. I imagine it still would be worth it for me as I still go through a S ton of shotgun shells.
 
When I started cowboy action shooting, I bought 26 cases of Remington game loads at about $2.76/box. I saved the hulls and the boxes. Now and then I would buy AA cases when on sale or needed some for a match and kept those hulls. I find factory AA shells can be oversized or out of round, so a Slixpring sizer/checker is handy. A 3/4 " deep socket can be used as a poor man's sizer. They will load and shuck much easier if you do any competitive sport. Remington hulls do not seem to need sizing after reloading, so I prefer them. I only use 8 point hulls.
Remington hull, Clays powder, Claybuster wad, reclaimed or new shot, and Winchester or Cheddite primer. I now use a Sizemaster which sizes the brass.
 
If you want to get into shotshell reloading NOW to learn, and to enjoy the experience, that's fine. But leave any hope of "saving money" at the doorstep right here, right now. Because you won't.

Not today with shot selling at, or over $50.00 @ bag, and powder at $30.00+ a pound. And I won't even get into 209 shotshell primer cost...... Assuming you can even find them. And when and if you do, they'll be ridiculously expensive, and only available on a limited basis. Most gun shops here that have them, limit individual purchases to a few hundred at a time.... Not a few cases.

I've been reloading shotshells for over 50 years. (I started back in 1972). And the only way you will EVER "save money" is if you buy your components in bulk quantity, and amortize the savings over several years, and literally thousands of rounds. That takes a somewhat large financial outlay. (I did it many years ago, and only NOW can say to my wife, "I told you so").

Another thing is your time. It has an element of value as well. If you load on a single stage press, you will be wasting A LOT of it. I load on 2 progressive machines. Once set up, I can reload a box of Trap loads in about 5 minutes. That doesn't include stopping to refill powder, shot, and primers. And to take a break every now and then.

In the cooler weather I shoot about 6 to 8 rounds of Trap a week. That amounts to 150 to 200 shotshells every 7 days. There is no way I could accomplish that on a single stage press, with any type of productivity rate. I would simply be wasting too much time doing it.

Also, I buy my components in large bulk quantity. Back in the 90's I purchased 1-1/2 TONS of shot at $12.00 @ bag. (That's 120 bags). I'm still shooting it. I still have 2, 8 pound jugs of Clay's powder left, from a bulk purchase at the same time. That powder cost me $74.00 @ 8 pound jug back then. I'm still shooting that stuff.

Today, shot at my local gun club is $50.00 @ bag, (when they even have it), and assuming you can even find 8 pound jugs of ANY powder, it's going to run you over $200.00+ a jug. Yes, factory shells have gone up as well. But today saving money reloading is extremely difficult to realize, due to limited availability of components, coupled with extremely high prices.
gotta make your own shot from free wheel weights 😆

1658017101528.png
 

dad

Master Class
I started loading in in my teens the 60's with a MEC single stage loader. I was shooting a lot of trap and it was the only way I could afford the volume.

Years later when my sons were old enough we started shooting trap and skeet. Loading for the three of us and a neighbor who shot with us, a single stage reloader just could not keep up, so I ended up with two MEC progressive hydraulic machines in 12 and 20 ga. I started getting serious about skeet in 2000, shooting around 500 targets a week, and my MEC machines were wearing out, so I moved up to a Spolar Gold machine. I don't shoot as much anymore and just load 28 ga now.

I am simple minded and like to keep things simple. There are all kinds of "recipes" that shotgunners use for their pet loads, with a dizzying number of powders and other components. I found that using one brand of hulls (AA), one powder (Unique), one primer (Winchester), and one type of wad (Winchester AA) makes loading much less confusing. Pick a load and components from the literature available and stick with it.

Hodgdon has a pretty good site for loading education and data. Here is the link: https://www.hodgdonreloading.com/?_ga=2.44776416.557931587.1657625332-1694189635.1657625332

The Sizemaster is a good choice for starting out reloading. I would not recommend a progressive machine for a beginner-too much going on all at once. When starting out you will have some goofs, don't get discouraged, there is a learning curve.

Loading safety should not be overlooked. Aside from keeping flames away, you really need to focus on what you are doing. Load when it is quiet and you can focus on what you are doing. Leave your phone in another room and ask people to leave you alone while loading. Safety issues arise when loading. One is getting a double charge or more of powder in the cartridge, or the wrong kind of powder, which results in overpressure in the chamber when firing. Another is squib loads, which do not have enough "oomph" to get the wad clear of the barrel. It happens because you run out of powder on the loader or not enough powder dropped and you didn't notice it. This can become catastrophic if a subsequent full power load is fired while the previous wad obstructs the barrel. Your powder should be kept in a climate-controlled environment and away from moisture. Damp powder can result in a hang fire, then an unexpected, delayed detonation.

Loading is a safe and satisfying process if you organize your process and follow the safety rules.
Ah yes the double charge. When I was very young my father bought a MEC loader so we could shoot trap and skeet. I was always next to my father when loading. He was always meticulous and very detail oriented. Being 12 at the time I always wondered what a double load of powder would be like. being left home alone a lot I decided to do a double load of powder topped off with just a paper wad. My curiosity was answered. Just wish I had fired it outside instead of in the garage.
 
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