Author Topic: beginner shotshell reloading?  (Read 7771 times)

Offline offbeatbassist

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beginner shotshell reloading?
« on: November 27, 2013, 10:37:19 PM »
I am interested in learning about reloading 12 gauge. I am not at a point where I am ready to start, but I have been approached by a non-tsp'er asking for some direction in the purchasing of shotgun reloading equipment. I figured Id do some research for them and can expand my knowledge base as well.

I am somewhat familiar with some of what goes into reloading for shotgun/pistols, but am not familiar with all of the tools needed to complete the process, and then I know its different reloading shells than spent brass.

Any suggestions on equipment for 12 ga reloading? What of all is needed? What brands are recommended?

any other useful information is greatly appreciated

Thanks!

Offline Knecht

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2013, 12:11:05 AM »
People seem to be happy with Lee Load All series. I got one too, great price, just didn't start using it yet, all my reloading is concerned with pistol calibers by now. The Load All device looks easy and handy.
I'd be happy to hear someone experienced here about shotshell reloading as well. Also interested to hear about possible use of round musket balls as slugs. My 18mm wheellock could easily share lead with the shottie then.

Offline hillclimber

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2013, 06:14:39 AM »
I used to have a MEC progressive myself, but it got to the point where I could buy 12gauge for not much more that I was paying for the components.  If I remember mine was the MEC Junior.

Offline res45

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2013, 06:19:50 AM »
Basically your Lee Load All II will come with everything you need to load 12 ga. with the exception of automatic primer feeder but you can buy that for around $11 extra if you so desire. I know lots of individuals that use that shotshell press and it does a fine job.

I use to load all my own 12 ga. shell in 1,1 1/8 and 1 1/4 oz. loads years ago when I shot a lot of shotgun ammo but the price of lead just made it not worth it over buying bulk factory ammo,but nothing is cheap anymore.  I use a MEC SizeMaster that my brother has now and it can be customized more but it also cost about 5 times as much as the Lee Loader.  You might also take a look at the MEC 600 Junior which runs around $180.  But again you have to buy individual charge bars for shot charges and bushings for powder charge weights,where with the Lee setup you don't.

Although there is plenty of online reloading data from Alliant and Hodgdons you will need a good shotshell reloading manuals,i recommend this one.   http://ads.midwayusa.com/product/887011/lyman-shotshell-reloading-handbook-5th-edition-reloading-manual

Offline Mortblanc

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2013, 11:52:34 PM »
People seem to be happy with Lee Load All series. I got one too, great price, just didn't start using it yet, all my reloading is concerned with pistol calibers by now. The Load All device looks easy and handy.
I'd be happy to hear someone experienced here about shotshell reloading as well. Also interested to hear about possible use of round musket balls as slugs. My 18mm wheellock could easily share lead with the shottie then.

I am doing some load development work using round ball in both 12 and 20 gauge.  .69 and .600 round ball and slugs cast from a Lee slug mold.   I have finished the set up work on the shotguns and have loaded rounds built up.  I am simply waiting for the weather here to break so I can have a day for range work.  I do not shoot my best when my rear is frozen to the shooting bench. 




Offline Knecht

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2013, 12:26:46 AM »
Please let me know how it worked. Good luck!

Offline offbeatbassist

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2013, 09:54:13 AM »
I am doing some load development work using round ball in both 12 and 20 gauge.  .69 and .600 round ball and slugs cast from a Lee slug mold.   I have finished the set up work on the shotguns and have loaded rounds built up.  I am simply waiting for the weather here to break so I can have a day for range work.  I do not shoot my best when my rear is frozen to the shooting bench.

 very true.  my brother and I tried shooting clays last winter. we were throwing them with a $5  clay thrower from Wal-Mart.  it worked fine with the exception of being winter in Maine.  They're just  some months  you don't do stuff like that.

Offline SnoHam13

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2013, 11:44:10 AM »
good info so far
I started with a 600jr used 20.00[some times good stuff just falls into your hands]
the only issue I have had is case head sizing
certain shotguns have a tight feed tube [Ithaca 37 for one]
a mod 77 MEC case head sizer fixed that
my choice of cases are Winchester AA , Remington Premier

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Offline Steve Cover

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2013, 04:25:35 PM »
+1 on the information given so far.

Being an instructor, I always recommend to someone interested in shot shell reloading to get a reloading manual first and really study it.
Both Lyman and RCBS manuals are excellent, and I advise to get both.

Forget the endless list of reloads for now and concentrate on how to identify the components. 
High base and low base is not referring to the brass on the outside of the case.
Really go over and understand the dangers of deviating from exactly the loads presented in the manual.
Once you understand and can reload safely, it will be time to get started.

MEC is a tough press to beat.
After I finally wore out my first 600 Jr. reloading 12 Ga. for over 30 years, I bought a Grabber for the 12 and got a couple of 600 Jr. presses for the 410 and 20 GA.

Naturally as you progress, your equipment inventory will expand.
A must have is a powder scale to check and confirm that the powder and shot charges weigh what they are supposed to.
A handy addition to the MEC 600 Jr. is the automatic primer feed.  It isn't required but comes in handy when loading large (100+) batches of shells.

Also, be sure to keep good records of every reload you make.  Include notes on performance in this notebook when fired.
Later you can see what worked will for you and what did not.  That way you can reproduce the better loads and not reproduce those with did poorly...

Be sure and let us know which way you choose to go and keep us posted on your reloading exploits.

Steve
...
 
About the Roundball experiment:
I cast my own 12 GA slugs, but have thought about going to a round ball too.
I'm very interested in how the round ball experiment works out for you.
Naturally, I'd be interested in case, powder, wad and primer data. Along with the chamber used (2 3/4" in a 3" chamber..? etc.)
Accuracy information such as overall group size, number of rounds per group, how many groups fired and range.
If you have a chronograph, velocity and Standard Deviation information would be handy too.

Good luck on your experiment, there are several of us interested.

Steve
« Last Edit: November 29, 2013, 04:57:26 PM by Steve Cover »

Offline offbeatbassist

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2013, 07:05:42 PM »
 thanks for the great info.  I live in an apartment right now and we are limited on space,  so I haven't started into anything for myself yet..  but that being said,  I'm sure we have room for a manual or few to start reading up on it.

I am sharing what information I get to my friend who asked me for help in picking out equipment,  but they are looking to purchase everything needed to reload as a Christmas present for someone else,  but I know the person receiving the gift and I'm sure they'll do the reading up on it first.

Offline Koh

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2013, 07:58:45 PM »
Another vote here for the Lee Load-All, a lot of doves and bunnies became dinner because of shells I loaded with one of them 20+ years ago!

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2013, 03:42:50 PM »
Another vote here for the Lee Load-All, a lot of doves and bunnies became dinner because of shells I loaded with one of them 20+ years ago!
+1
I didn't mean to exclude other loaders in my last response.
LEE has a good reputation for quality and I own lots of LEE products.

Thanks for the follow up.

Steve

Offline Mortblanc

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2013, 12:29:57 AM »
I am interested in learning about reloading 12 gauge. I am not at a point where I am ready to start, but I have been approached by a non-tsp'er asking for some direction in the purchasing of shotgun reloading equipment. I figured Id do some research for them and can expand my knowledge base as well.

I am somewhat familiar with some of what goes into reloading for shotgun/pistols, but am not familiar with all of the tools needed to complete the process, and then I know its different reloading shells than spent brass.

Any suggestions on equipment for 12 ga reloading? What of all is needed? What brands are recommended?

any other useful information is greatly appreciated

Thanks!

I am going to be a party pooper and offer the results of my Sunday afternoon digital shopping event.

I checked all my normal outlets and found that the cost of wads, powder, primers, and shot (shot is $40/25lb!!!) is $0.03 more per shot than the cost of Walmart field loads!!!!

That is for the production of 2,000 rounds including shipping and haz-mat fee on the products.

Unless one belongs to a club where they can get deep discounts from suppliers and work the haz-mat fees to best advantage one is just as well off buying finished shells by the 100 round pack.

A secondary issue is that I was not able to purchase my normal (in use for 35 years) supplies and had to settle for what was "in stock", which left me with a choice of one powder and one brand of primer.

I am still better off reloading my buckshot and slug rounds, but the prices are going to have to change and the supply of components improve before I go back to reloading the small shot sizes.

It used to be that one could factor in the savings per box of shells to justify the cost of the press and setup.  If every shell you load costs three cents more than a factory round one never pays for the press and goes into the hole firing each round.


Offline Knecht

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2013, 03:00:23 AM »
I may get some old supply of 3,5mm shot from a guy here for a good price, so I thought I'll try to make some shells anyway. As for buckshot, is it worth casting the lead by yourself? I have some lead to cast from and could likely get some more, either cheap or free.
Does anyone load with non-standard homemade lead, such as coin-like cutouts, sheared lead sheet...?

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2013, 12:11:13 PM »
I am going to be a party pooper and offer the results of my Sunday afternoon digital shopping event.
I checked all my normal outlets and found that the cost of wads, powder, primers, and shot (shot is $40/25lb!!!) is $0.03 more per shot than the cost of Walmart field loads!!!!
That is for the production of 2,000 rounds including shipping and haz-mat fee on the products.
Unless one belongs to a club where they can get deep discounts from suppliers and work the haz-mat fees to best advantage one is just as well off buying finished shells by the 100 round pack.
A secondary issue is that I was not able to purchase my normal (in use for 35 years) supplies and had to settle for what was "in stock", which left me with a choice of one powder and one brand of primer.
I am still better off reloading my buckshot and slug rounds, but the prices are going to have to change and the supply of components improve before I go back to reloading the small shot sizes.
It used to be that one could factor in the savings per box of shells to justify the cost of the press and setup.  If every shell you load costs three cents more than a factory round one never pays for the press and goes into the hole firing each round.

All valid points.
I've been reloading 12 Ga. since 1962.
It is an interesting and enjoyable hobby.
(Beats needle point hands down on the interest scale)

But, if I were still shooting competition, I would be buying case lots of factory ammunition to feed that part of my shooting hobby.
Not so much for the cost savings, (saving $0.75 in ammo cost on a round of trap really isn't that big of a deal.) but for time involved in reloading all the rounds necessary.

However, crafting ammunition that performs best in my firearms is a worthy endeavor.
The variables available are vast.

Spreader loads can be made as simply as inserting pieces of playing cards into the shot charge.
What shapes work best?... Disks layered lateral to the shot charge or crossed vertical spacers?
Fun to find out and then make as needed.

Different sizes of shot in the same round like some Turkey Loads....

Over the years I have been able to scrounge lots of different size shot, ranging from reclaimed shot from a range to estate buys of new shot.
(I went to the trouble of further screening the reclaimed into more uniform sizes.)

For me shot shell reloading is an enjoyable hobby and is still a bargain too.

As you accurately stated, for anyone new getting into reloading, there won't be any savings at all.

And, during the current Obama scare, components are rare and expensive.

That being said, I still feel that getting involved in reloading is a practical matter.

Since this is a Survival Forum, I'll state the obvious; being able to use scrounged components to keep a survival shotgun fed means reloading is a must.
Suppose you have a 20 Ga. and can only come up with 12 Ga. ammunition.
Breaking down the 12s for shot, primers, powder and possible wad material is obvious.
You would already have empty cases and could make card wads as needed.

Leaning back to the original question, Both LEE and MEC are great entry level reloaders.
They also cover more advanced designs and are joined by several other quality brands of progressive reloaders.

Thanks for the financial observation, it definitely should be a consideration is this discussion.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 12:21:30 PM by Steve Cover »

Offline SnoHam13

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2013, 05:43:14 PM »
I use the English theory on shot shells
12 ga ,low recoil,7/8 oz, larger shot at 1400+ fps for field game
only need a few pellets to do the job and it don't hurt my neck with the recoil
same thing for buck shot

and yes I do drop my own shot but that is another story for another day

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Offline offbeatbassist

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2013, 08:17:54 AM »
a few people have recommended MEC 600.  is any one familiar with if the   MEC 600 jr mk 5  works with the  large capacity feeder tray?

Offline offbeatbassist

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2013, 09:25:15 AM »
I found one person who said they will not work together,  and one person  who  said that particular pies is designed to work with the  large capacity  progressive Feed tray

Offline hutchsteaders

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2013, 09:29:34 AM »
Thanks everyone for the info on my Christmas present. As it turns out I got both the Lee and the MEC 600 Jr Mark 5 for Christmas lol Now I get to choose. I guess the main question I have left is can I "easily and economically convert to another gauge" with the MEC? Lee claims that right on the box but I dont see anything about it in MEC's paperwork.

Offline trekker111

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2013, 08:28:47 PM »
I don't load a lot of shot shells, but I have an old Pacific DL-150 single stage press that my wife bought at a yard sale for $20. I use it for reloading #7 1/2, 2 3/4" shells. I may buy the powder and shot bushings to be able to use it for loading other stuff, but I really don't shoot enough shotshells to push me to that point.

I also load 00 buck, mostly into full length brass shells, with black powder and homemade wads. If I load 00 in a plastic hull I will use the press for priming, and crimping, and do the rest by hand, measuring the powder on my beam scale.

Offline SnoHam13

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2013, 09:23:31 PM »
Thanks everyone for the info on my Christmas present. As it turns out I got both the Lee and the MEC 600 Jr Mark 5 for Christmas lol Now I get to choose. I guess the main question I have left is can I "easily and economically convert to another gauge" with the MEC? Lee claims that right on the box but I dont see anything about it in MEC's paperwork.

you can get kits to switch from 12Ga to what ever Ga. you want
for me its easier having another press
contact Mayville Engineering Co. for more info

 http://www.mecreloaders.com/

I have dealt directly with them and have been treated very well
wish I could say the same about lyman  >:(

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Offline Knecht

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2014, 02:14:28 AM »
With the price of lead shot in the shops and with some lead in my supplies, I'm now thinking about casting buckshot. Question is, which shot size? I don't want to have too much equipment, trying to keep it simple. Got a 14" Fabarm 12ga pump and 16ga BP caplock by now, planning to get some old SxS 16ga yet (they're very cheap and plentiful in my country), so I'd like to have one shot size that could be used for all of those - to reload the 12ga shells for practice (or possible defence use if factory ammo isn't available) and for hunting with the 16s.
Ideas?

Offline trekker111

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2014, 04:17:57 AM »
While all shotgun guages can shoot any size shot, with buckshot, each guage has it's preferences. Such as 00 in a 12ga. 3 00 pellets lay very nicely in a 12ga shell as one single layer, so 9 pellets of 00, the standard load, is literally 3 layers of 3 pellets each. Yet in a 410, 00 has to be loaded as a stack, which is sort of haphazardly staggered. In the 410, 000 buck loads as a straight column, which is why that is the most common 410 factory buck load.

The only buckshot factory loads I could find online for the 16ga, was #1 buck, which would be a very good defensive load. #1 buck actually beat 00 in the fbi tests, and is the shot size the fbi recommended to law enforcement. They tested 00, 000, #1, and #4. #1 was found to penetrate reliably and sufficiently from all angles while providing nearly twice the pellet count and wound surface area of 00. #4 was found to have insufficient penetration.

The fun part will be finding a mold for #1buck.

Offline Knecht

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2014, 04:26:05 AM »
The fun part will be finding a mold for #1buck.

This place seems to have it: http://buckshotmold.com/ (you have to scroll deep down), plus they offer various custom molds and two-in-one size molds. Could be a way to go. They even ship worldwide, which is good news for me.

Offline SnoHam13

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Re: beginner shotshell reloading?
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2014, 11:59:35 AM »
This place seems to have it: http://buckshotmold.com/ (you have to scroll deep down), plus they offer various custom molds and two-in-one size molds. Could be a way to go. They even ship worldwide, which is good news for me.

the mold throws 20 at a time and is high quality machining 
FYI the handles get really HOT so wear insulated welding gloves

SnoHam13