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Pondering loading shotshells again


Mustang Gregg
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1 hour ago, Badlands Bob #61228 said:

If my wife's lottery ticket had paid off, I would have a Spolar Gold Premier with a hydraulic drive unit.

https://spolargold.com/spolar-gold-premier

That's what I load on. I've had mine about 10 years and there is no better. Their service is as good or better than Dillon, and that is saying a lot. If you do your part it is 99.9% flawless and makes the best shells out there, BUT with the hydraulic and as fast as it loads, if you brain cramp and miss a step, it is a mess and is time consuming to get straightened out. On a good flow I can load 32 shells per minute and I will load for about 5 solid minutes and then move on to something else to avoid those mental lapses. I like to load in bulk over the course of a full day. I'll load 10k Pistol, 10k rifle, and then two 5 gallon buckets of 12ga and then hand sort them into match boxes over then next few weeks. The remaining cartridges go into a practice bag and the hulls will get used in practice or checked and loaded into the boxes that get emptied. The Spolar puts out a well better than factory shell. The base is sized perfect and the crimps are so neat and tight. Even using very old, cracked and weakened hulls that have been reloaded a dozen times will still come out very nice and I will use those for practice once or twice before tossing them out. 

 

I guess that may be a reason I find the Lee Load-all so poor. I know the two machines are no way near being in the same ballpark, but it is what it is. The Lee gets the job done and then the MEC Supersizer does an fantastic job on the base. Then the Slix crimp tool gets the ends good enough for match play. I will use the Lee until the little guy steps up to our Spolar load and then it'll probably get sold, well.....unless I like my 1st BP match. Then I'll may keep it for that......unless I find another RCBS Mini Grand.   

 

JEL

 

 

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I load my 12g on a Lee load all...very easy little machine, I use it to load my black powder shellls.....only problem I had is I wanted to load 10g, but the Lee Load-All doesn't have a 10g option.....

Maybe a better name is Lee Load-most

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Start with your Dad's.

 

I had a MEC Jr I bought used.  It was okay but slow. 

Then I upgraded to a used MEC 650 and it is so much faster.  I did have to buy a separate Super SIzer (that is a sizing tool).  Again, a used one that was MUCH less than new.

I'm happy with the combination.

Helped a friend get the upgraded Grabber that resizes as well as the 650 "progressive" functions.  It is nice but takes just a little more adjusting.

I like the simplicity of the 650 with a super sizer best.

 

As mentioned, you can get replacement/upgraded parts as I did for a few things that really helped.

 

The Lee is okay, but does not do the final finish of the shell that the MEC 650 and above do.

Edited by Marauder SASS #13056
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My family started out shooting trap. So I have loaded on lots of different reloaders.  Started with a lee load all and a Mec 600jr (both were pre 1990 models conservatively) the lee got replaced by an early 90’s model 600jr.  Moved up to a Hornady 366. Replaced a lot of parts on it through the years, and the primer system and shell plate advance had plenty of quirks but it worked. Bought a used older Ponness Warren 800C and thought we arrived in heaven! Had some of the newer model upgrades and man did it make ALOT of great reloads in fast hurry! It did not get a shell feeder, but was an option. Newest acquisition and resurrection is an older Dillion SL900 with auto shell feeder. It’s slick! i don’t remember all the Mec  numbers of the few other Mec presses that have passed across Dad and I’s reloading table. Currently it has 5 on it the PW 800C, D SL900, D 550, Mec 600 jr, and another Mec. Also  set u a RCBS The Grand for a neighbor that was nice. 

 

Every loader has its place, pros, and cons.  My opinion the PW is the best and easiest progressive to learn on. It’s just flat out consistent and dependable and can see every station and every station only doing 1 action. 

The SL900 has fewer stations than the PW, so it does multiple actions in every station, and is A lot to watch and keep up with, especially for a beginner or someone who only loads a few boxes occasionally. It’s also very compact, so finger space when trying to adjust anything or fix an issue (usually caused by operator error) can be an issue along with line of sight to trouble shoot where the issue really is. However it is a super slick, fast, reliable reloader that does produce consistent quality reloads. This is my go to reloader now, mainly because of the shell feeder. 

The Mec lineup is great bunch of quality reloaders, but they are a least favorite of mine. They are the “work truck” base models of reloaders. They are stout and reliable, but fast and luxurious they aren’t. For low volume reloaders they are more affordable and simple to set up and use, without sacrificing reliability. 

 

For a person with simple needs who only loads a few boxes at at time/week/month I recommend a Mec, even a 600jr single stage (you move the shell through every stage and manually operate charge bar and wad guide) or maybe jump up to the manually indexed model of the 600jr (shell at each station, you manually rotate/advance the shells, still manually operate charge bar, wad guide, depending on model, some models got more automation) I can’t remember each model and their differences. If your like some smoothness and any sorta frills, step away from the Mec’s.  If your average loading is 1 or more bags of shot at a time multiple times of the month the PW gets my vote and add a shell feeder for super frills, and super duper Cadillac frills you could add hydraulic drive! The D SL 900 with shell feeder is a tie for that vote though. The PW wins if you can’t deal with lots of simultaneous actions at a time in a compact package, even without the auto shell feeder.  The RCBS The Grand reloader is an excellent mid range loader, but I think they quit making it unfortunately. Almost bought a new one but I lucked into the PW instead! The Hornady 366 would be a step above the Mec’s because of the automation, but my past experience says step over it. 

 

For me personally, the PW and D SL900 have made shotgun shell reloading a joy, instead of a dreaded chore. 

 

 

 

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I had 2 Mecs, one for smokeless and one  for BP. Both worked great for more than 10 years. Then I got a good deal on a Texan and haven't touched them since, especially since both kids now shoot and I am loading for 4 shooters.  Not as fast or fancy as a P- or a Spolar, but it only cost me 100.00 and will never break. It does take bushings but you really don't need that many to do CAS loads, and they are easy to change out. I run mine with manual primer insertion as I never could get the factory primer feed to work 100%. But I can load over 200 an hour with it without hurrying. They are on e-bay all the time.

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A lot depends on how much you intend to reload.  I have had the RCBS Grand, Dillon 900 and pretty much everything else at various times.  Right now I have three.

 

The first is a Mec 600 Jr. set up for loading 2 1/2" BP loads.

 

DSC_0001.thumb.jpeg.f4436468546f2b91ffef4980e45b0919.jpeg

 

 

The next is a Mec Sizemaster for CAS smokeless loads.

 

1019887416_DSC_0004(1).thumb.jpeg.048937b4cc29ac162a389bfda2109d60.jpeg

 

 

The last is a powered Spolar for trap and other competitive shotgun sports.

 

DSC_0006.thumb.jpeg.989f799b488ab59b77815c5e56d0d5fc.jpeg

 

 

For CAS I like the Sizemaster over the Junior as it has a collet sizer while the Junior uses a ring sizer.  For my CAS shells I run them all through a Roger Rapid taper die.  This one is mounted on an old Mec shell conditioning press.

 

821409525_DSC_0001(1).thumb.jpeg.39bb1c644ad2fa94025fb97f38f2d983.jpeg

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MG... I have just got started with reloading shotshells this year and have heard many using the MEC600 jr are very happy with it. I got lucky and scored a Hornady 366 progressive from a co worker with everything needed. It takes a bit to set up, but anyone with decent mechanical aptitude can get it to run like a top. You can definitely crank out some shells in a short amount of time. If you can't find primers.. let me know, Guns unlimited in Omaha has tons of powder, wads, and shot.

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Since I'm spending your money, I would get a Mec 9000. I am very pleased with mine. I bought it second hand off of ebay. Don't know if they still do, but they use to recondition your machine and ship it back to you for $75. Once I learned to pay attention to what I was doing, I stopped spilling powder and shot, and can crank out a box of shells very quickly. If you take the time to learn just where your wad needs to end up, you can crank out shells that are near perfect. The collet resizer does a great job, and with the proper adjustment of the dies, the shells will fly right out of your SXS.  

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On 9/1/2022 at 10:17 AM, Marauder SASS #13056 said:

Start with your Dad's.

 

I had a MEC Jr I bought used.  It was okay but slow. 

Then I upgraded to a used MEC 650 and it is so much faster.  I did have to buy a separate Super SIzer (that is a sizing tool).  Again, a used one that was MUCH less than new.

I'm happy with the combination.

Helped a friend get the upgraded Grabber that resizes as well as the 650 "progressive" functions.  It is nice but takes just a little more adjusting.

I like the simplicity of the 650 with a super sizer best.

 

As mentioned, you can get replacement/upgraded parts as I did for a few things that really helped.

 

The Lee is okay, but does not do the final finish of the shell that the MEC 650 and above do.

I am also using a MEC 650 and a Super Sizer. The priming system is the weak link but not bad if you keep an eye on it. 
 

Randy

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I began with a Lee Loadall when I began to reload. Someone gifted me a Mec Jr. I have been using that for years . It is pretty much my go to press for loading BP sg ammo. I came into a MEC 9000 and that is mostly used for loading smokeless ammo for my wife. But sometimes I will use it to deprime and size and prime the hulls that I will use for my bp ammo. I like to roll crimp then I use the Mec jr to drop the powder and shot.  The 9000 can crank out lots of shells in a very short period of time. But can get messy if you get out of sync. That is why when I bolt it to the bench its mounted in a baking pan so if I get an oops it goes in the pan instead of all over the bench. There is also a PW 375 on hand which makes a real nice shell. Forgot to mention on the Mec jr I added the primer tray and adjustable powder bar.

 

Hochbauer

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I've gone through several but current system serves me well 

 

1st Super Sizer (bought used) to get hulls back in tolerance and cull out cracked or rough cases

MEC Grabber with manual powder loading (I load ½oz loads and don't trust powder bar set-up to be consistant

add a 5/8 in piece of foam backer rod (home depot) to fill up shot cup

then run all through the QuikLoader to put the SASS allowed 3° taper on shells

 

not the fastest but I can knock out 100 per hour from time I want into garage till everything is back in place and I head to the house

 

 

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I am in the minority, but for the amount of shotgun shells we use, I am a big fan of the Lee Load All II. Works well with no issues, and I can load a couple boxes in about a half hour. I know it won't last for generations, but it has never steered me wrong, and when it wears out, at that price point I can pitch it and buy another (current unit I paid $30 for on sale and is 5 years old)

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