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Old February 2, 2011, 07:40 PM   #1
TheKlawMan
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Reloading Shotgun Shells for Dummies

Can someone suggest a how to do it book and possibly a list of what I would need to reload 12 gauge shells. I don't anticipate needing to have the capacity for high volume reloading and so far have looked at youtube videos of the MEC JR. I am thinking not only of saving some money, especially if the family comes out to shoot some, but I may enjoy it.

In addition to the usual items, does California have some special requirements such as a 5 ton ammunition bunker located on no less than 5 acres?

If possible I will try to get some used equipment, but given the cost of an MEC JR that may not be worth the time and effort.

Thanks.
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Old February 2, 2011, 08:01 PM   #2
oneounceload
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Lyman has a shotshell reloading book that gives you the basics.

It is really simple - you need hulls, primers, powder, wads, shot, and a way to close the hull.

Even on a basic single stage MEC, first you deprime and resize the empty hull; then you reprime the hull in the next station. Then your powder charge (determined from the powder maker charts), is placed in the hull, followed by the insertion of the proper wad (again, from the recipe) over the powder. Finally, you add the desired amount of shot into the wad where it then has the crimp started and then, at the last station, finalized. While recipes and components are more stringent than metallic in certain requirements, it is also a little less precise when it comes to things like OAL in .001 increments
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Old February 2, 2011, 08:19 PM   #3
TheKlawMan
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Yeah, oneounce. I was surprised how easy it looked when I watched some youtube tapes of guys reloading. Will I need a special "bar". I think I saw where someone had to get one or is there a replaceable thing that goes in the bar to to measure the amount of shot and powder selected?
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Old February 2, 2011, 08:40 PM   #4
jaguarxk120
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The MEC JR loader (if bought new) comes with a 1 1/8 oz. charge bar and three powder bushings. Many used machines will come with a standard bar throwing 1 1/8 oz shot and a target load of powder.

There is a universal charge bar that can be set for shot weight and powder weight.
Most reloaders settle for a standard loading (target) and use just that for most of their shooting.

Last edited by jaguarxk120; February 3, 2011 at 02:56 PM.
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Old February 2, 2011, 08:57 PM   #5
Xfire68
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Honestly I don't think you have a need to reload 12g shot shells?

They are super cheap as it is and you said your not needing a setup that would have "high volume" ability so what's the point other then just being interested in reloading your own which I am all for if that is what your looking for?

I have reloaded 12 in the past with a nice MEC progressive a friend of mine bought while I was in the Air Force and it was a nice setup!
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Old February 2, 2011, 09:09 PM   #6
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First, cheap shotgun shells are just that - cheap, not necessarily inexpensive - the components are cheap, the quality is cheap, they perform in like manner. The advantage? I can reload a 3/4 or 7/8 oz load that won't beat me up - cheap wally world promo loads are all heavy and fast - perfect for adding insult to injury with a lot of recoil.

TKM - I have MEC jr's with the Universal Charge bar - this lets me adjust powder and shot drops to EXACTLY what I want with the components I am using - Charge bars are great IF you know what your load needs to be and if you are using certain components. The shot bushing is based on using soft pure lead shot - if you use harder shot or "magnum" shot with even more antimony, your volume will be the same, but that shot weighs less. There's not a clay out there where you need 1-1/8 oz and shooting heavy hard-hitting loads will result in a flinch and long-term damage - something you are now trying to resolve. If you go to www.shotgunworld.com, you find a lot of data about all types of reloading.

My progressive press is a RCBS Grand with the 20 gauge conversion kit - so far it is working well and saving me a LOT of shoulder working the press handle

For generic clay shooting like 16 yard trap, skeet, 5-stand, or similar....any 7/8 oa load at 1200 fps will do the job just fine and be a little easier on your shoulder than 1 or 1-1/8 oz - not to mention cheaper to reload with less shot
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Old February 2, 2011, 09:19 PM   #7
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Winchester AA Target loads I would say they perform well and they are "cheap"?

They are pretty much all I shoot at clays although I don't shoot nearly enough.

If he were to shoot a bunch of 12g every weekend then by all means buy a reloading setup and load away but, if not then a box of AA is a better option.
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Old February 2, 2011, 09:23 PM   #8
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AA aren't cheap - I'm talking about the wally world promo loads. AA's are running almost $9/box here - I can reload a box of 12 gauge soft-shooting reloads for $3.37/box - it adds up in cash and the recoil department quickly
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Old February 2, 2011, 09:50 PM   #9
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I shot a box of AA light loads and paid just about $9. If I was only going to shoot a box or two a month, of course it may be better for the wallet to pay that, but so far I have shot 9 boxes and would have shot more if it wasn't for getting use to the mule. I might be content with the WalMart 1 ounce stuff, if it was readily available but it was only in stock for a few days out of this month. Even then, I think the 7/8 sound as though they may not even be better as far as delaying the onset of chronic shoulder problems, that I expect I will have to eventually deal with, but they would be more challenging. I also want a supply for my wife and daughter to shoot and may even try loading 3/4 for them. Checking the online discounters the prices are pretty good, but the shipping (usually around $28 a flat) kills me and all the discounters, many of which will let you pick up from their location, seem to be outside of Cali. I am going to follow the link oneounce supplied.

BTW, somehow I had the impression that the WalMart 1-1/8 ounce loads we light. Probably because I thought it was target ammo, even though it says "multi-purpose" right on the Federal box. Doh! I wondered why the Winchester Super-Target seemed to kick less (FPS is about the same but it is 1 oz 2-3/4 dram so it wasn't my imagination and it should have less recoil that 3 dram 1-1/8 ounce). I looked up what dram means after asking at the Big 5 today and the manager had not idea. The equivalent of X drams of black powder.

Last edited by TheKlawMan; February 2, 2011 at 09:57 PM.
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Old February 2, 2011, 10:02 PM   #10
oneounceload
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Check out J&S in Jackson CA - I do not know if they deliver to your area, but they used to deliver to Carson and Reno, or ask at your local club if they do good deals or have folks who do group buys.

I would also get that gun fitted, especially with your bad shoulder
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Old February 3, 2011, 01:04 AM   #11
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Lyman Shotshell Reloading Handbook by Thomas J. Griffin (2007) is the freshest shotshell specific guide book available.


All of my shotshell loading tools are Mec progressives. They aren't the best money can buy, but Mec delivers the most bang for the buck.


In addition to state and local requirements, a 5-acre parcel is roughly 156-yards square, and a safety zone for a standard trap field is 300 x 400 yards (24.74 Acres).

Oops, you asked about an ammo bunker, not a trap bunker. If you wanna store quantities greater than are allowed in a typical dwelling, be prepared to be buried in red tape. California is one of the states that has adopted the NFPA (National Fire Protection Assoc.) standards. Aside from the building code requirements, you'll need to meet your local land use regulations. And, your local fire marshal may enforce standards from Mars.

Why do you think you need a 5-ton bunker? The NFPA 495, 2010, Explosives Materials Code, Chapter 14, Small Arms Ammunition and Primers, Smokeless Propellants, and Black Powder Propellants, now allows 150,000 primers (DOT 1.4s) to be stored in residences instead of the old limit of 10,000. You are also permitted to have 20-pounds of black powder, 50-pounds of smokeless powder and an unlimited supply of loaded ammunition provided you meet the storage requirements.

The 2011 Alliant Reloader's Guide includes the NFPA standards. Unfortunately they are from 1995. The Accurate Powder site uses NFPA 495, 1992. The standards are treated as boiler plate, but they are revised every 3-years, so the guides are a little behind. The biggest change has been the increase in primer quantities.
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Old February 3, 2011, 02:08 AM   #12
TheKlawMan
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Sorry, Zippy, but what I said about an ammunition bunker was meant as a joke. My poor excuse for humor. I don't expect to have much.
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Old February 3, 2011, 02:16 AM   #13
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No worries, I learned that I'm no longer over the limit on my primer storage. The primer cartons have "DOT 1.4s" on them.
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Old February 3, 2011, 02:25 AM   #14
TheKlawMan
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Is this MEC Jr loader also usable for rifle or pistol ammunitioin. I imagine you at least have to have the right dies, charge bars or whatever.
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Old February 3, 2011, 08:26 AM   #15
jaguarxk120
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The MEC is just for shot shell loading. The JR is one of the best presses to start with. There have been thuosands / no hundreds of thousands of shells reloaded on the JR. Getting a used one will save in the inital investmant.

Be well advised thet reloading is a verrry badddd thing -- you start reloading them you shoot more/ reload more--shoot more---reload-- you get the idea.
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Old February 3, 2011, 10:08 AM   #16
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Quote:
Be well advised thet reloading is a verrry badddd thing -- you start reloading them you shoot more/ reload more--shoot more---reload-- you get the idea.
Yeah, you should get a Dillon SL900 and see where it gets you. You can easily load a case with that thing in no time flat.
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Old February 3, 2011, 10:09 AM   #17
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For shotshells - I recommend the MEC Grabber model. Its a progressive machine / with a manual index ( where you rotate the shell plate / before you cycle the loader again). It'll load about 10 boxes an hour. Its a good solid machine. Its also easily portable / you can mount it to a plank - and move it around / clamp it to sawhorses to use it, etc. But no matter what press you pick / make sure it resizes in station one. Some of the models do not resize on the press - and that's a mistake / it will cause cycling problems if you don't resize the brass.

My reloads for 12ga are under $ 4 a box / and like others advised you're loading a "premium shell".

MEC has a good website - and you can check out all their models. At the top end are the 9000 GN / where its manually operated by pulling a handle - but the shell holder rotates as you cycle the handle up and down. They also offer a 9000 HN - which is operated hydraulically. You have an elec motor and hydraulic pump on the floor - and you cycle the press by stepping on a foot pedal. Its a great machine - but you have to dedicate a space for it in your shop ( moving the pump and motor is heavy and clumsy ) - so you need to leave it in one place - and disconnect the loaders for each gague from the press. Most of us that use the Hydraulic machines - have a cutoff valve - where we leave 2 presses hooked up to the pump / and just operate one at a time. I have a bench/ pump is underneath -- and I have 2 loaders on top of bench. My 12ga loader stays in place all the time on the left - the loader on the right is either my 20ga, 28ga or .410 ...and I move them in and out in about 10 min. I load 40 or 50 boxes - then swap out a different machine.

So it depends on how deep you want to get into this stuff - but its fun / and becomes part of the "game". I've reloaded for almost 50 yrs / learned when I was about 10 from my grandfather ...and have kept it up / and now I'm passing it on to my boys and my grandkids.

It'll save you money - but you can also tailor your shells to what you want .... 7/8 oz 12ga loads at 1150 fps for one of the kids ....or even a real light 20ga load / where its basically a 28ga load.

Personally, I don't like the Universal charge bars - I just have a supply of charge bars for 1/2 oz, 3/4 oz, 7/8 oz, 1 oz, 1 1/8 oz ....and its a 2 min process to switch one out ...so no big deal.
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Old February 3, 2011, 10:31 AM   #18
Dave McC
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I have bad Karma with MEC progressives, but I've loaded thousands of rounds on my old,bought very used, MEC JR I also have a shiny new JR in 20 gauge.

MEC presses are a lot of bang for the buck. They last forever, and when they break, parts are easy to get and Tech Support at MEC reaches a height more companies should aspire to.

When the bottle support broke on my ancient JR, MEC not only sent me a new one without my paying in advance, the receptionist told me over the phone how to patch the old one with JB weld.

The Lyman manual #4 has a step by step photo heavy directive that will guide even a cretin through the process of making good, reliable, safe ammo.

Buy the manual, then a scale. After that, the rest of it.

When I started loading shotshells back around 2000, from the time I unpacked to when I closed up the first box of reloads was about 1 hr.

I did have extensive experience reloading metallics, but still....
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Old February 3, 2011, 11:20 AM   #19
Nowhere Man
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Like Xfire said, do you shoot enough to justify reloading? You'll only be saving ~ 10 cents per round.

How long will it take to pay for your reloader?


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Old February 3, 2011, 11:35 AM   #20
BigJimP
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Since we know some of this stuff is new to you - what I was trying to say, is at least educate yourself on all the MEC models - and how they're different. You certainly don't need to go to a hydraulic progressive ...a Mec Jr is a good machine as well... but understand your options.

The other thing - is shop your local gunshows ...I see quite a few Jr's, and some MEC Grabbers at my local shows - $ 100 - $150 usually depending on what they have for extras. MEC's are hard to abuse / but a lot of guys don't keep them clean and lubed properly ( just like their guns ) and sometimes you can find a steal at a show - where the loader is just ugly and dirty ...and clean it up and rebuild it. About a yr ago - I bought a used Mec Grabber for $100 / hardly used ...it was just dusty ....

There are other machines out there RCBS, Dillon, etc - but MEC gives you a lot of machine for the money. If I had to guess - MEC probably has at least 80% of the market in shotshell loaders. I have a dozen or more buddies that reload locally - and we all use one of the MEC models.
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Old February 3, 2011, 11:55 AM   #21
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Among the comp shooters, the progressive MECs are very popular. The reloaders without MECs typically have an upper scale loader like a PW. Comp shooters are of two varieties. Guys, like Jim and me, shoot all four gauges and have 4 MECS. Trap shooters, who shoot only 12-ga, and a lot of it, are the ones who tend to go with the high end loaders.
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Old February 3, 2011, 12:09 PM   #22
TheKlawMan
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Cost of Shells

We aren't talking about a dime a shell or $2.50 a box savings. If I thought it wise to shoot up the 1 oz stuff from WalMart I would be tickled, but I think it my 63 year old body will thank me if I swith to 7/8 oz loads and as near as I can see in they are pretty expensive near me. Online prices are good but the cost of shipping kills that. The costs of loading may be less then some think. I may be able to get a used MEC Jr for $50 or $60. Then it is possible that some other member of my family go out shooting once and a while. I figure the loader, Lyman book, needed accessories (scale, bushings, extra shot bar) will be paid for in three months or less.
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Old February 3, 2011, 12:19 PM   #23
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Zippy and BigJim. Should there be a need for a better loader down the road, I can always sell the MEC Jr I am trying to get used for nearly what I am trying to pay for one, which is not to say if I saw a deal on someting a bit more than I need I would not take it. Last week's local gun show was rained out on Sunday.
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Old February 3, 2011, 01:58 PM   #24
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If you want to load your own shotgun shells you do not need a justification. Many people are being short sighted when they say oh SG shells are so cheap so you have no need. Pfft! They could pass some crap legislation that would increase the price and deny availability to you almost overnight. Where would you be then?

Get a MEC. I have the grabber and it is a sweet machine. When I pass my shotguns down to the kids, they get a press and stuff too to ensure they will be able to shoot. Who cares how cheap they are...they wont stay cheap forever.
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Old February 3, 2011, 02:08 PM   #25
BigJimP
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Sounds like a plan man ....

I have the one used Grabber ....and I keep looking for a 2nd one ...or one in 20ga to pickup ( I'm sorry I gave the one I had away in 20ga a few yrs ago ) / and then pass them on to each of the boys - when I give them a couple of shotguns in a few years.

They can have my hydraulics ...when I'm too old / or too blind to shoot ....

Shop July 08 017.jpg

Shop July 08 012.jpg

Shop July 08 018.jpg

This is how I have the reloading area of my shop setup ....the blue press is a Dillon 650 for metallic / then there are 4 Mecs - 2 always on the loading table above my pump / and 2 standing by ....

It works real well for me ...
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