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Old September 18, 2012, 11:40 PM   #1
idek
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Is there a simple (and small) system for loading shotgun shells?

I live in an apartment at the moment, and don't have room for a workbench or big equipment. I currently have a Lee Hand press that suits me very well for loading .357/38 sp. ammo.

Now I'm wondering if there is anything compact and simple that would allow me to load shotgun shells. I don't shoot a whole lot and don't need a system that puts out huge quantities of ammo. I'd just like to be able to make some cheap, mild loads for occasional clay target shooting and maybe small game hunting.
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Old September 18, 2012, 11:51 PM   #2
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www.ballisticproducts.com - Check their house brand line - vise etc.
http://www.ballisticproducts.com/BPI...partments/540/
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Old September 19, 2012, 01:24 PM   #3
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NO!

Simple/small don't belong in a sentence concerning shotshell reloading. Rustle up some funds and get a MEC 600 jr mark 5 reloader. It's AS simple and small as it gets.

http://www.mecreloaders.com/ProductLine/600JrMark5.asp

Some will say get the lee load-all for shotgun. It's a flimsy plastic and aluminum toy that "kind of" loads shells.

Both are presses, requiring you to have SOME room to mount them to a table. In a pinch, you COULD mount them to a board that could be clamped to a kitchen table. Then put away when done.
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Old September 19, 2012, 03:31 PM   #4
dahermit
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You may be able to find an old Lee hand die set. It had the charge card, everything that was needed. However, when I had one (for hand loading hunting shot shells), it used paper shells and cardboard/fiber wads...it was before plastic wads became the norm. It worked very well, albeit quite slow compared to a press.

Also, those Lee Load All's work a whole lot better than they should, considering the cost and what they are made of.
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Old September 19, 2012, 06:34 PM   #5
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MEC sells the best loaders on the market...single stage and progressive in my view....and they are easily sold later ..if you don't want them.

The lowest model I'd recommend is the Grabber....its progressive / but manually indexed ...so its pretty basic / but a good value.

New they're about $ 375 ...and I've seen them around used ...for $ 250 or so ...

All of the MEC loaders can be mounted to a 2" X 18" plank ....clamped to a good bench / or even a portable bench ....then just cover them with an old pillow case when you're done / put them on a shelf. I did that for many years...and still have the Grabber models I purchased in the 1970's ...one was rebuilt for $ 100 ...and I'll give it to one of my adult kids pretty soon ...so it'll stay around for another generation or two ....
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Some will say get the lee load-all for shotgun. It's a flimsy plastic and aluminum toy that "kind of" loads shells.
I loaded on a Load-All for twenty years without issue. I kept myself and three boys in shotgun shells for each of those seasons. Never had a problem with the Load-All. I also had an old Texan reloader and couldn't tell the difference in the finished product. They all loaded, shot, ejected fine.

If I were taking up shotshell reloading again, I'd get a Load-All and load for another twenty years.
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:16 PM   #7
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Lee Precision Load-All. It has a 4.25 star out of five stars rating on Midway USA. Anyone who says that it not a reasonable and inexpensive option is ignorant of objective evidence to the contrary. Is it as highly rated as the MECs which cost many times more, but for $47.99 it is worth every penny.
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/436...-gauge-2-3-4-3
The MECs have the same "4.whatever ratings" by owner/users. So, for way more money, you get a product that is no better rated by owner/users. Straight-up I'll take an MEC, but let's be real. And again, I would suggest you check out the Ballistic Product's site and consider their simple, specialized products.
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:51 PM   #8
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I think Lee still make the Whack a Mole Lee Loader for shot shell. If so they work with just a mallet, and the supplies needed.
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Old September 19, 2012, 07:55 PM   #9
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They stopped making it but it is just what the O/P needs. Here is Bush Boy using one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g06a6RWC4A
I would buy one if they still made them. Used ones show-up on ebay.
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Old September 19, 2012, 08:06 PM   #10
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I loaded a few & I used a mec super sizer then dropped the stuffins with a Lee load all. never a problem .

But ifin ya got the coins go the mec 600 route , sturdier set up for shore !
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Old September 19, 2012, 08:38 PM   #11
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With the price of a press and components I'm not sure you will save much money reloading for occasional clay bustin. Might want to see what you could produce a box for in components alone. Being able to get custom loads is one thing saving money maybe another.
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Old September 19, 2012, 11:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
I loaded on a Load-All for twenty years without issue. I kept myself and three boys in shotgun shells for each of those seasons. Never had a problem with the Load-All. I also had an old Texan reloader and couldn't tell the difference in the finished product. They all loaded, shot, ejected fine.

If I were taking up shotshell reloading again, I'd get a Load-All and load for another twenty years.
When I said the lee was flimsy and crude, I said that from experience. Back in the early 80's, I had a 12 ga MEC, but wanted to load 20 ga. SOoo I bought a lee. Sloppy crimps, no way to measure wad pressure, the final crimp station is one-piece, their primer feed is a joke. I was spoiled, no two ways about it. My mec did a beautiful job of loading, the lee did not.

Those that love the lee would be amazed at how well a MEC 600 jr. works. For someone just starting out, a progressive MEC would be too steep a learning curve. Too many things going on at the same time.
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Old September 20, 2012, 12:59 AM   #13
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Here is what I load my 12g on. Nice and compact. Almost free....



Here is the youtube video (three parts) where I got the idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ4IB...eature=related
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Old September 20, 2012, 01:11 AM   #14
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Two words

Unless you are loading sub gauge DON'T BOTHER.
12 and 20 gauge are not less expensive to load unless you can get components at real wholesale. You need to buy quantities like
8 lbs. powder
5 K primers
lead a ton at a time.

There really are no savings in 12 or 20 gauge clay busting loads unless you buy at wholesale, and that means large quantity's.

Unlike metallic loading shot shells are strictly a follow the recipe deal. No working up loads. It does not have as much "fun factor"

Before you jump in google shotshell reloading calculator. Plug in the prices you find for components. Now go to Wal-Mart and find clay target loads at 5.25 a box. Your choice.
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Old September 20, 2012, 01:52 AM   #15
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"Whack a Mole" reloaders are an option, if you're loading ONLY shells that have been fired in your manually-operated shotgun. If you shoot an auto-loader, or have hulls fired in other shotguns, they're not likely to work. These tools don't resize the base, so you run the chance of not being able to chamber the shells.

Lane's Reloading version. Seems decent, haven't tried one. I contacted the manufacturer last year, with some questions. End result: His tools have the same limitations as the Lee Loader.

Lee Loader (scroll down a couple paragraphs) Discontinued, but can be picked up for $15-30 on auction sites or $5-20 at yard/garage sales. (I snagged one for about $18 on eBay.) It works, but not well. Wad seating pressure and crimps are difficult to keep consistent. And, the lack of base-sizing got me in trouble, even with some hulls fired in my own shotgun.

There are a few 12 ga Ideal hand tools floating around, but they're hard to find and pricey. I haven't ever even seen one in person.

Other than that, you're pretty much stuck getting a press.

For casual reloading and loads that won't be taken too seriously, the Lee Load-All is fine. The newer Lee Load-All II is easier to get your hands on, but I have come to prefer the older version (even with its cheesy "aluminum" base). I picked up a '60s-'70s vintage original Load-All for about $30, shipped, with all of the original powder and shot bushings. I clamp it to a piece of plywood when I use it; and throw 20-30 lbs of shot/bullets on the wood, to weigh it down.

Either version is actually fairly compact. So, storage isn't difficult. Your wads, hulls, shot, powder, and primers will take up at least 5 times as much space as the press.

I would very much rather have a proper shot shell press; but for what I do... the Load-All gets 'er done.


As for cost...
Other posters had a very good point. The "savings" margin is really slim for 12 ga and 20 ga. But, you can make it worthwhile by using non-name-brand components. I use Claybusters and Ballistic Products (BPI) wads, and reclaimed shot.
That still only saves me about $1 to $1.25 per box. But, to me, it's worth it; even if other shooters think it's trivial, when considering the time and labor involved.


(You see, wncchester, I'm not an elitist that hates all Lee products. The Load-All is one I happen to like, when you understand its intended purpose.)
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Old September 20, 2012, 01:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Before you jump in google shotshell reloading calculator. Plug in the prices you find for components. Now go to Wal-Mart and find clay target loads at 5.25 a box. Your choice.
Yeah, what you get is the cheapest crap they can find anywhere. Cheap non-reloadable hulls, hard plastic wads, soft pure lead shot and the fastest powder available,(so you can use less of it). Those el-cheapo shells go bang and MAY break a claybird, or kill small game.

Sure, you can load shells just like those, but why would you WANT to.

Try to buy the best, like the Remington STS, Winchester AA or Federal gold medal. THEN load those excellent empty hulls with premium wads, Magnum hard shot, good powder and soft plastic wads triggered by a decent primer. You'll break more birds, or harvest more game. And do it cheaper than the original load.

Now price some name brand field game loads. Better be prepared with some smelling salts! Oh yes you can load field loads with that reloader. AND save a bunch of money.
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Old September 20, 2012, 05:42 AM   #17
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When I was living in a cramped apt I used a Pacific DL-105. It is pretty small, worked great and you can still get parts for them from Hornady. There is a really nice one on ebay at the moment.
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Old September 20, 2012, 06:45 AM   #18
Mike Irwin
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I've turned out many, many thousands of shells on a Lee Load All and have nothing but praise for it.

The new Load All 2 is even better
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Old September 20, 2012, 02:19 PM   #19
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dont bother, the price for reloading componance is high. just go to walley world and pay $5.00 box. if you shoot a few clays and hunt you will be ahead. i know i used to shoot all four ga. in comp. and i reloaded and made my own shot. cjs
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Old September 20, 2012, 03:24 PM   #20
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To me 'cost' of end product doesn't enter the equation. I like being able to roll my own whether shotgun, rifle, or handgun. Plus if you like to use black powder you can do that too. I maybe shoot 0-100 loads a year .... So no need for store bought loading 'equipment'. I did buy a 12 gauge Coach Gun for fun and defense along side my single shot.... But hand gunning is my main priority.

On another note, I bought a couple Short Lane Adapters for shooting .22 and .45Colt/410 for the heck of it. Not really practical ... but fun and different .
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Old September 20, 2012, 03:31 PM   #21
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I reload slugs and 000 buckshot to avoid paying insane amount of $$$ and save a bundle. I'm into self-defense ammunition and not into plinking or clay pigeons.
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Old September 20, 2012, 05:00 PM   #22
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My average cost for a high end shell...12ga 1 oz ..is about $ 4.40 a box...and Rem STS new shells are at least $ 9 a box ..../ so no, you won't save a ton of money over wally world shells...but you're reloading a lot better shell -than the low end stuff....

and its based on buying reasonable quantities of components....a few bags of shot at a time, no more than 8 lbs of powder at a time, no more than a few thousand primers at a time ....and using Rem STS hulls ..

but the low end stuff will break clays too...

You do save a lot more money on 28ga and .410 shells by reloading....but to me, reloading is part of the game...and I'd reload even if it was a push on costs...../ and I've been doing it for 50+ yrs ( on MEC machines of one type or another ).
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Old September 20, 2012, 06:36 PM   #23
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Price today for 12 ga "target or field loads" was $23.97 for a 100 round-box. Unless they've changed math laws, that's almost $6 + tax per box. That's Winchesters cheapest and federals bargain basement stuff. If all you want is a once a year tune-up before heading out on a hunting trip, then those should work. BUT if what you want is quality loads that will pattern better, hit harder, and THEN the hulls make good reloads, you're SOOL.

My nephew decided he was going to enter a trap league with his son. They needed shells, and did NOT want that cheap junk at wally world. I hadn't loaded any target ammo for a long time. I didn't know what shot was. I got it @ a big gunshop-slash-sporting goods store at Lomira, Midwest shooters supply. IIRC it was $37.50/25 pound bag of magnum hard shot.

I totaled everything including primers, powder, wads, and the shot. I could load these into once fired AA shells,(old style), that I had bought. Considering the shells will have AT LEAST 5 reloads on them, that too was factored in. Total cost per box was $4.87 per box.

Shazam! I loaded premium loads for LESS than that cheap crap at wally W. 1 ounce #8 hard high antimony lead shot, claybuster pink copy of the Winchester light wads, 16.0 grains of Alliant e3, AA hull, Remington 209 primer. 1200 fps, nephew says they crush 16 yard trap clays.
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Old September 20, 2012, 09:30 PM   #24
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I have the Lee Load All II in 12 and 20ga and an old original Load All and I'm happy with the small amount of bird and buckshot/slugs I do. I bought a MEC 600 jr to get me into .410 and it's nice too. Lee stopped making the Classic Loader for shotshell years ago and despite many requests won't be making any more, (same for custom rifle cals).

I find the quality of the hull is the bigger factor in a good crimp (technique and press of course matter too)
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Old September 21, 2012, 04:58 PM   #25
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I find the quality of the hull is the bigger factor in a good crimp (technique and press of course matter too)
Yep. And, I've found speed to be very critical with less-than-top-shelf hulls (at least with hand tools and/or the Lee Load-All).
The low end Federal hulls I loaded a few months back, for example, had to go straight from the crimp starter to the final crimp, as fast as I could move them. Otherwise, the crimp did not set; and I had to open them back up and start over. You need to get some heat in that low-grade plastic, or it doesn't play nicely.
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