View Full Version : 12 gauge reloading

November 20, 2010, 08:15 PM
So, from looking around, I'm more lost than I was when I started searching.

I'd like to start reloading my own shotgun rounds. Specifically, I want to reload 2 3/4 and 3" slugs and 00 buck, and 2 3/4 gameloads, specifically for trap. The buck and slugs will be used in 870's with 20" smoothbore Improved Cylinders. The game loads will be used in 28" RemChoke barrels.

I've pretty much settled on getting MEC 600 jr, because I'm not rich and I'm only going to load 500 rounds every couple of months, probably. What I need to know is what manual to get, and where to buy everything.

It seems that you're not supposed to use regular hulls, such as federal power-shok for slugs or remington gameload hulls. I saved all my hulls I've ever fired, around 300 total, but they're a rainbow of brands and types. Should I just buy hulls?

I read the loading basics, and it didn't really help. I'd like this simple, just post what to buy, where, and why. Thanks guys.


November 20, 2010, 08:34 PM
Lyman publishes a great book on shotgun reloading. A far as empties for reloading check at your local public ranges, many times the dumpsters will have a good quanity of fresh reloadable hulls and sometimes there will be the hard to find AA shells.

November 20, 2010, 08:34 PM
Lyman's 49th Shotshell manual is probably the best source for info and load data. Also, for buckshot and slug loading, BPI, Ballistic Products, has all the components for loading buckshot, slugs, steel, and other non-lead shot plus they sell manuals for buckshot and slugs. BPI manuals use mostly their own components such as wads and hulls for their loads so you would have to purchase mostly from them. There web site is:www.ballisticproducts.com
Their manuals also have the "how to" info that you will need loading buckshot and slugs. Lyman's manual has some data for slugs and buckshot too but not a lot of data specific for 00 buck. There is a lot to learn loading either and you need the written info. I've loaded 00 Buck and it's not easy to get 9 pellets in a 2 3/4 hull and get a good crimp. The straight walled hulls load easier than tapered wall hulls. Some Federal hulls, straight-walled, loaded ok but I had a heck of a time with RP and Win tapered wall hulls. Unless you shoot a lot of buckshot or slugs, it may or may not be worth the effort but that's part of the fun of reloading, trying new things. I'd get both Lyman's manual and BPI specific manuals you'd want. Just remember to use the EXACT components and EXACT charges listed in the manuals. It's not like working up rifle and pistol rounds. Also, use the EXACT primer listed.
I'd wait until you get all the manuals before deciding on which components to buy and which hulls you now have that can be used.

November 20, 2010, 08:38 PM
Loading for trap and skeet with shot sizes smaller than 7-1/2 is not a problem with most loaders......when you get above that size, the machines have trouble dropping it, so you wind up loading shot in the hulls by hand

You will need to follow published recipes - hulls, wads, powder, primers - they are NOT interchangeable like metallic

November 20, 2010, 10:33 PM
The REAL way to save $ reloading slugs & buck is to cast your slugs & buck with Lee molds. The slugs load with standard wads in AA hulls. I've used other hulls, but I have a lot of AA. The Lee .35 mold is 000 buck, 8 work well in 2.75 hulls, 12 in 3" hulls. 19g of red dot w lee 1oz slug cycles 100% in my saiga & rem1100. Thier .670 mold w/ 4 000 pellets make a swell buck&ball load. If you have a source of scrap lead, you could pay for all of your equiptment before you finish loading those 500 hulls.

November 20, 2010, 11:22 PM
+1 for Oneounceload's post. I tried loading some #2 shot and it jammed up most of the time. Try and find some Remington Gun Club hulls or buy a flat when they go on sale and load them up for your trap and skeet loads.

November 20, 2010, 11:35 PM
For what your are listing as needs, the Mec 600 Jr is perfect. I have had one for 30 years - invest in the adjustable charge bar. I also shoot a lot of slugs in a smooth bore and own both Lee (7/8 oz & 1 oz) molds and the Lyman 525 gr sabot slug. All shoot well in smothbores, but the lee 1oz using Herco powder, max load reduced by 2-3 grains, AA hull WW orange 1-1/8 oz wad, 1/8" nito card under slug, folded crimp, will give you the best accuracy out of a smoothbore (3" @ 25 yds). Fast burning shotgun powders like reddot, clays, titewad, ect will work well with Lee slugs, but the accuracy seems to suffer due to the minimum velocity required to keep the slug stable in flight. I also use the Lyman .662 round ball in a standard 1oz wad, but the lee slug is more accurate. Good luck and have fun.

November 21, 2010, 11:56 AM
I have the Lyman book and I read it from cover to load data and it really helped me get going. X1000 on the BPI web site, they have some good load data and products as well. I have settled on a good load with some of their stuff that just knocks things dead and it does not kick like a mule. I load BB shot for water foul in my Jr. and yes the big shot does like to jam but I just tap the drop tube with a wrench or I tap the side of the arm with by hand and it all fall though without any problem. So good luck with your adventure.

November 21, 2010, 09:32 PM
Since you're considering a MEC press, why not get their book? I have Lyman and MEC books, but the load data are soon out of date as new hulls, powders, primers and wads are introcuded.

I load 12-20-28-ga and.410-bore with 4 MEC progressive presses. I've also had a 600 Jr. -- it provides satisfactory loads if you're not a high volume shooter. Most of my recipes I've been using for years. For new data I don't use the books, but the free data provided by the powder manufacturer's.

You don't need to buy hulls, but start buying only one brand of loaded ammo. Most folks go with Win AAs or Remington Premier/STS. As far as your existing collection of mongrel hulls, it may be a bigger bother than it's worth.

November 21, 2010, 10:59 PM
The Lyman manual gives one very important shotgun reloading tool: hull cross sections. This and a hacksaw will let you break down range pickups to find out which bargain hulls are actually "premium" hulls in disguise, and which "premium" hulls are actually multi-piece garbage hulls or cardboard basewad hulls that could fail or swell internally and cause problems.
FWIW,I just use the cheap Lee Load All II. I drop all of my shot from a dipper,and my powder from the Lee Perfect Powder measure that I use for cartridge reloading. The press just resizes the hulls,primes cases, seats the wads and starts and finishes crimps. I add shot and powder off of the press.

November 22, 2010, 12:27 AM
I use the Hodgdon Book(manual) for both shotshell and cartridge loads. For my trap loads, Clays seems to work well and it is very clean. It also works well for my 45ACP loads. I like getting dual use out of one powder.

November 29, 2010, 03:21 PM
I just came across this thread. If I was to get into reloading shot shells, do I need a different press than a typical rifle/pistol press?

November 29, 2010, 03:28 PM
I just came across this thread. If I was to get into reloading shot shells, do I need a different press than a typical rifle/pistol press?
Yes, it's a different process altogether.

November 29, 2010, 04:16 PM
+1 to what Zippy said ....

Most shotshell presses are also gague specific - so you need different presses for a 12 ga, and another for a 20ga ....and one for 28ga and one for .410 ....... There are some presses out there - where you can change the gague by changing the toolhead - Dillon's SL 900 shotshell press will allow that ( but it does not have a .410 option either ) which is a problem for competition shooters / or people that like to load .410.

But the theory of reloading is about the same between metallic and shotshells.

On shotshell presses :
station 1 resizes the brass base, deprimers the spent case.
station 2 re-primes the case, dispenses the powder
station 3 seats the "wad" and drops the shot into the case
Station 4,5 and 6 handle the crimp start, final crimp, final sizing...

MEC ( Mayville Engineering ) makes probably the most common shotshell presses on the market ....but RCBS and others make shotshell presses too.

As an entry level shotshell press - I'd recommend the MEC Grabber model. Its a very good press. On the higher end / the MEC 9000-GN is a good press / or you can go the hydraulic route to the MEC 9000-HN press ....where the press is operated by an electric motor and hydraulic pump triggered by a foot pedal ( no handle to yank )...which is very nice.

http://www.mecreloaders.com/ Recob's Target Shop is a good internet source for shotshell loaders - but check out the MEC website for details on their press line-up.

November 29, 2010, 05:41 PM
RCBS does sell 12 ga dies for the RC. PITA, get a MEC press.
I 2nd casting your own slugs. I bought Lymans Foster type slug mould for my smoothbore and oh my God are those good slugs! If you have a drill press you can order the round crimp tool for it and make factory looking crimps with the slug tip exposed. I own a MEC grabber and it is a Cadillac. Never ever a problem with it.

November 29, 2010, 05:58 PM
Thanks for the tips, now I guess I'll be in the market for 2 presses:rolleyes:

November 29, 2010, 06:20 PM
Get a good new or even a used MEC. You'll be pleased and never have to look back!

November 29, 2010, 07:21 PM
Get the Lyman's manual for sure. Then check out EBay - there are always many MEC 600 Jr's up for auction. The powder companies all have website load data, and you really need to stick to established loads - no substituting unless you REALLY know what you are doing. Find a trap club or gun store near you to get the components you need. Buying some of the components (like primers) on the web will incure hazmat fees for the shipping. Buy in bulk - as much as you can, like 5000 primers, 5000 wads, 8 lbs of powder - to get the best value. You'll save some money (less if you're loading 12ga and more if you're loading pretty much anything else), but you'll also have the satisfaction of getting exactly the load you want.

November 29, 2010, 08:14 PM
some of the low end MEC presses don't resize the brass .....and that is a problem especially in a pump or semi-auto / where, if you do not resize, I will almost guarantee, you will have shells jamming in the chamber ....

You can buy a "sizer" and do that step off of the press ....but the Grabber is a very good machine, and it resizes on the press ...and its progressive, even though you rotate the shell base manually, its a good machine. Its not the "cadillac" press they sell - that one is the 9000-GN hydraulic .../and if you know you're serious about reloading shotshells, I recommend the hydraulic ( if you have room for it ). It needs a dedicated space / where it can sit on a bench / where the pump and motor sit on the floor ( and you only need one motor and pump ) and can swap out a 12ga version with a 28ga version or whatever ....but moving the pump and motor would be a real hassle.

November 29, 2010, 08:18 PM
Just thought of the question I brain farted on before, do you have to clean the shot shells in a tumbler like you do with normal brass?

November 30, 2010, 10:03 AM
I don't usually clean my hulls, I have but I have not seen a difference in them after.

What Mec press does not re size the hull. My Jr. does.

November 30, 2010, 11:11 AM
Just thought of the question I brain farted on before, do you have to clean the shot shells in a tumbler like you do with normal brass?
Most folks don't do any cleaning, but you may want to dust off grounded hulls. One of the reasons many reloaders prefer O/Us is to pass the hulls from the gun to the bag/pouch/pocket without having them hit the ground.

Grubbylabs makes a good point about sizing, some reloaders size your brass and some don't. If you just shoot one O/U, you probably won't need to size your brass; but, if you shoot several O/Us or an auto or pump, you may need a sizer. This is akin to rifle reloading: in some applications you full length, and in others neck sizing is appropriate.

So there is no confusion with the newbies, there's two types of shotshell sizing. As my friend, BigJimP, explained: sizing the brass occurs at the first station and sizing the plastic occurs as part of the final crimping operation. Some loaders don't include sizing the brass at the first station, but they all size the plastic.

With the MEC line of progressive presses the 650 doesn't size but the Grabber does. It's called the Grabber because the sizing station grabs the brass and gives it a squeeze.

If you have a MEC that doesn't size brass and add a gun that requires it, then you can get the MEC dedicated sizer -- you don't need to upgrade your loader. However, IMHO -- I've been down that road before -- for a progressive MEC loader, skip the 650 and get a Grabber, or a self indexing model, from the get-go.

November 30, 2010, 12:15 PM
I have been using MEC's lowest of the low end reloaders - the Jr., for about 30 years. It doesn't use a collet to resize the brass, but it does use a carbide-type ring sizer that makes them work perfectly in pumps and semi-autos. The one to stay away from, IMO, is the Lee Load-All versions. A used MEC Jr. can be had for 50-75 bucks and will far out perform the Lee.

While conversion kits are available, it is much easier to just get separate machines and get them tweaked to your particular load

November 30, 2010, 01:48 PM
A used MEC Jr. can be had for 50-75 bucks and will far out perform the Lee.
+1 about that. I am generally a fan of Lee tools but the Load-All doesn't hold a candle to the MEC 600. I bought my last 600 (I have three now) for $70 on eBay. Don't use the Lee anymore.

November 30, 2010, 07:23 PM
I want to reload 2 3/4 and 3" slugs and 00 buck, and 2 3/4 gameloads, specifically for trap.

You'll want a single stage like the Lee Load All II, MEC Size Master, or MEC 600 jr. Slugs and buck shot have to be loaded manually and it would be hard to do that on a progressive. Lyman and Lee both sell moulds for slugs.