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Posted: 10/6/2014 9:47:13 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/6/2014 9:51:13 AM EST by jself24]
I've been reloading rifle and pistol rounds for almost 5 years now. I started reloading to save money (or shoot more), and turned out that I enjoy reloading almost as much as shooting. I've had a pretty good stash of 20g I got cheap 4-5 years ago, but I'm down to my last 2 boxes. I've been kicking around the idea of shotshell reloading for a while now. I finally took the plunge, ordered a Mec 600Jr, 50lbs of shot, 1k wads and 750 once fired AA hulls. I probably only shoot 12-15 boxes per year, so I'm not going to really save any money for a while but I will have another excuse to spend some time at the reloading bench! Here are some of my initial thoughts on shotshell reloading:

- The cost savings per round is just not there like it is with metallic reloading. I can save $2/box on similar loads, but prob only $.50-$1/box vs the cheap stuff (what I would buy). I'm reloading just about all my metallic rounds for (at minimum) 50% cost of factory
- There doesn't seem to be the "working up a load aspect" to it. Seems like experimentation requires different wads/powders
- Quality hulls are hard to come by - I'm use to reloading any brass I can get my hands on. I probably over paid, but I ordered 750 win AA hulls off gunbroker.
- Powder is still crazy hard to find... I have ~2lbs of unique that I don't currently use for anything else so hopefully that will get me through the shortage.
- It is not convenient to convert a press to a different gauge (like it is on my 650). Seems like most people have dedicated presses for different gauges. I only shoot 20g right now so not really an issue for me.

Any one have any other advice, tips, or comments for a new shotshell reloader?


Link Posted: 10/6/2014 10:17:30 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/6/2014 10:30:37 AM EST by Redarts]
All of your points are correct. Loading shotshells is not very easy to justify economically, which is why so few people do it.

Making consistent shot is also very difficult, so you can't try and save money there.

If you shoot a lot of buckshot or slugs you can save quite a bit, but for trap/skeet loads you're better off just buying the big boxes at the store.

A LGS has a Pacific 366 I want to buy just because it's a cool machine but reloading shotshells is something I can't justify at all.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 11:38:32 AM EST
I have been around the block but the main idea was never about the money , more for the ability to learn how to do it and have the gear.


It never gets you ahead if you are using a few boxes now and then for hunting birds. If you wand high performance waterfoul loads you will be better off just buying factory.

In the past the serious (high volumn) trap and skeet guys at my club used to chip in and do big buys of shot , keg powder and primers. Deals are now harder to get on components and if you are buying pallets you will still make out if you just do the big buys of loaded shells.


Still a good skill to have
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 12:52:25 PM EST
I enjoy reloading also. I have the Mec Sizemaster and I do convert it from 12 to 20 ga. and back. Not hard to do. I've just about stopped reloading shotshell because of the cost plus I'm well stocked. You have it correct that there is no load work-ups and you must use the exact components specified in the load books. Use the exact hull, wad, primer, and powder charge. For 7/8 oz. field and target loads Unique works great. I have used Blue Dot for 1 oz loads but prefer HS6 or HS7 for 1 oz. field hunting loads. HS6 and HS7 are the same as discontinued Win 540 and Win 571 powder. Another great powder for 20 ga. loads is Winchester Super Field WSF. Used to prefer Winchester hulls, the old kind that were one piece compression formed, but don't like the new Winchester 2 piece hulls. Today Remington Premier STS type hulls are the best to load in 12 and 20 ga. Lyman's Shotshell Reloading Handbook 5th Edition is a top choice for a shotgun reloading manual. Have fun with your new toys.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 1:13:33 PM EST
Check out the reloading forums on shotgunworld. Especially with the mecs, there are a lot of very knowledgable folks over there.

The AA's are Ok for reloading but they can have issues with hull buckling, especially if you get a little too much stuff in there. Remington Premier ( real brass bases) or even Remington Gunclubs (steel bases) are much better 20 gauge hulls.

Unique is a good 20 ga. powder. At least for target loads, I couldn't say about field loads. I use Alliant 20/28 or Hodgdon Universal Clays - neither of which have been redily available for some time. Supply is supposed to be easing, but we'll see.

For 20 gauge wads I use RXP 20's if you can get them. I have a case of 20 gauge Windjammers hidden in the closet when I finish up the case of RXP's.


You are correct in that there is no 'load work up' in shotgunning. Follow the recipies. Look at the powder mfg. website for loading data and make sure the hull, primer, and wad combo are listed for your powder. The powder co's tech people can be helpful if you want to try a substitution. Tell them exactly what it is you are trying to do and they will generally tell you if it's ok or not.

Also - bushing charts are just a guidline to help you with ordering the more or less right bushing. Always verify your drops with a scale. The way you operate the machine, how well it's mounted, single stage or progressive, etc. all have bearing on the powder throw weights. Generally the single stage machines will drop a bit heavier than progressives because you cycle the handle many more times per given shell, so the charts tend to make sure they are 'safe' with single stage loaders. Also, very generally specing the bushing tend to drop a bit light, so if you are ordering bushings, order one or two to either side of what you're looking for.


SAAMI pressure for the 20 gauge is 12,000 psi. Most reloaders tend to like recipies that leave some margin on this, maybe 10,000 - 11,000 psi. Too low a pressure and you may not get good burns or you may get 'poopers' in cold weather, too high a pressure can get you a kaboom.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 1:47:06 PM EST
One of the advantages of reloading shotshells over buying factory is the ability to produce lighter loads. The stuff at the big box stores is loaded so it would reliably cycle in just about any semi-auto, and tend to be hotter loads. If your focus is on busting clays instead of perforating pheasants, it's nice to have a lighter recoiling load.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 2:31:33 PM EST
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Originally Posted By Moondog:
One of the advantages of reloading shotshells over buying factory is the ability to produce lighter loads. The stuff at the big box stores is loaded so it would reliably cycle in just about any semi-auto, and tend to be hotter loads. If your focus is on busting clays instead of perforating pheasants, it's nice to have a lighter recoiling load.
View Quote


Good point. I need to try some 3/4oz loads and see if I can get my wife shooting again..
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 3:14:25 PM EST
On Hodgdon's load calculator, they commonly list 3 loads (light, medium, heavy) for each powder/ wad combination.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 3:28:47 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/6/2014 3:31:17 PM EST by slimcookie]
I load shotshell....and a lot of it!

I shoot trap quite a bit...roughly 1k-1500 rounds per month. I shoot on average about 5-7k hulls a year.

I like to shoot remington STS hulls as they are very well made and can be reloaded quite a few times.

My choice is 18gr of red dot and 1 1/8 of 7.5

A box of factory new STS hulls run about $9.99/box of 25. I can reload for about $5-$6/box depending on what I can get shot at.

I can produce about 355 loaded hulls of 1 1/8oz shot in a 25lb bag.

1lb of Red Dot at 18gr per hull i can load about 388 hulls with powder.

So for me...roughly 1lb of powder and 25lbs of shot and I can get 355 loaded hulls. That is using a 1 1/8oz load. for 12ga.


The best reccomendation is to get a shotshell reloading manual and STICK to the recipe! Hulls, Primers, Powder and Wads all require a particular recipe and shouldn't be changed.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 3:32:57 PM EST
If your shooting for fun and it seems you maybe do one to two flats a year....

Stock up on Federal hulls from wally words at $20-$25/100
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 3:43:39 PM EST
I agree with your (OP's) analysis of metallic reloading and how it often grows from cost savings to an enjoyable hobby. Also that shotshell reloading is hard to cost justify lol - and it's difficult to "work up a load". But all that doesn't stop a dedicated reloader lol.

Buddy and I are expecting a hydraulic Spolar reloader delivery shortly; impossible to cost justify for ~200 rounds a week maybe 40 weeks a year, but it looked like it'd be real fun to use :) We *were* influenced by watching the Spolar Gold User Video, but not entirely in the way you might think :)

Also agree with all of johnh57's comments, except on 20ga specifics where i have no experience. With a chrono (and great care :) ) and some help from component manufacturers you MIGHT find a charge/load that patterns a bit better from your gun than, or is softer but as effective as, a bone-stock factory or book recipe. And since you make the load, you can "always" get the load you used last time. But those are not likely to bring your score from 23 to 24/25.

OTT, we buy our lead locally, finding that the extra shipping charge online-to-home takes too much of the already slim reloading profit margin.
Link Posted: 10/6/2014 5:58:25 PM EST
Originally Posted By jself24:
I've been reloading rifle and pistol rounds for almost 5 years now. I started reloading to save money (or shoot more), and turned out that I enjoy reloading almost as much as shooting. I've had a pretty good stash of 20g I got cheap 4-5 years ago, but I'm down to my last 2 boxes. I've been kicking around the idea of shotshell reloading for a while now. I finally took the plunge, ordered a Mec 600Jr, 50lbs of shot, 1k wads and 750 once fired AA hulls. I probably only shoot 12-15 boxes per year, so I'm not going to really save any money for a while but I will have another excuse to spend some time at the reloading bench! Here are some of my initial thoughts on shotshell reloading:

- The cost savings per round is just not there like it is with metallic reloading. I can save $2/box on similar loads, but prob only $.50-$1/box vs the cheap stuff (what I would buy). I'm reloading just about all my metallic rounds for (at minimum) 50% cost of factory
- There doesn't seem to be the "working up a load aspect" to it. Seems like experimentation requires different wads/powders
- Quality hulls are hard to come by - I'm use to reloading any brass I can get my hands on. I probably over paid, but I ordered 750 win AA hulls off gunbroker.
- Powder is still crazy hard to find... I have ~2lbs of unique that I don't currently use for anything else so hopefully that will get me through the shortage.
- It is not convenient to convert a press to a different gauge (like it is on my 650). Seems like most people have dedicated presses for different gauges. I only shoot 20g right now so not really an issue for me.

Any one have any other advice, tips, or comments for a new shotshell reloader?


View Quote


After reading a Shotshell reloading manual, I was convinced there is higher risk in it and no rewards (at least for my minimal shot needs).

OP, If you are near Austin, You can borrow the book for a wee bit to see if it answers some questions. I also have a year old box of primers you can keep.
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