Best Shotgun Shell (Shotshell) Reloading Presses
The neat thing about owning a shotgun is that you can reload your own ammunition shells for it. This doesn’t refer to reloading the weapon by putting new shells into the shotgun’s chamber. Shotgun ammunition reloading is when you fill the empty shotshells back up with the elements that make them work such as primer, gunpowder, pellets, wad and so on. Users often want to do this to save money from having to purchase the expensive factory preloaded shells. However, the hardest part for a newbie is learning how to perform the shell reloading process. It requires someone who can give great attention to every minute detail. This will ensure that the ammunition you prepare is safe and reliable for shooting from your shotgun.
What is shotgun ammo reloading
Shotgun ammo reloading is nothing more than taking a used shell and filling it back up with the materials that will enable it to become useable again. What does this mean exactly? Well, there are steps you need to take in order to do this properly. First, you have to resize the used hull with the reloading press to make it compatible with your shotgun once again. Then you’ll want to remove the used primer from the shell, which can also be done with the press. Just make sure you don’t crush the base of the hull while you’re doing this because it will cause the pressure to drop when you load it. Also, don’t ever try to remove a live primer from a hull because it could explode and either seriously injure you or it will kill you. Only remove dead primers.
This brings us to the next step which involves adding a new primer to the shell. For this, you should wear safety glasses as a precaution. Most primers that you can purchase have a standard #209 size, so it should fit into your shell just fine. But if for some reason that it doesn’t, do not force the primer to go in. You should be able to seat the primer smoothly into the center of the shell’s base. Next, you’ll install the powder wad and then place the appropriate amount of gunpowder into the wad as per the gun manufacturer’s specifications. The last component to add will be the shots, which could be either the tiny pellets or the slugs. Then you just close the shell and mark them accordingly. This is basically how the shotgun ammo reloading process works.
What do you need to reload shotgun ammo at home?
There would be no sense in hiring a professional gunsmith to reload your ammunition for you because you’d still be paying a big price for the service. You would mine as well purchase new ammunition altogether if you were going to take this route. That is why reloading your own ammunition at home is the most economical solution that you can do. All you need are the right tools and materials in order to make it happen. Some of the most critical supplies you’ll need are empty shells, a reloading press, gunpowder, buckshot, slugs, birdshot, and primers. Let’s go over these materials in more detail as they pertain to the reloading process.
The shotshell is obviously going to be the base which holds all the elements of the ammunition. There are five components which make up a shotshell; the shot (pellets, slugs), wad, primer, hull, and gunpowder. The hull is the shell’s outer body that most people are familiar with. It is the only one of these five components that you’ll be able to reuse again after you’ve fired it from your gun. The wad is a plastic or paper barrier on the bottom of the shell which holds the gunpowder. Remember the gunpowder is what pushes the ammunition out of the shotgun. The primer base on the end is what causes the explosion after the firing pin hits it. This explosion ignites the gunpowder and creates rapidly expanding gasses which provide the momentum for the load to leave the chamber and barrel.
As for the shot component, this basically represents the projectile, or projectiles, of the ammunition that actually get fired out of the gun through this process. The shots are typically tiny pellets made of steel or lead. If you’re familiar with buckshot or birdshot, then you’ll understand this concept. But if you’re using slugs, then this will be a copper or lead component that is shaped almost like a thick single bullet. This would go inside the shot wad instead of the pellets.
To make all this magic happen, you’ll need a reloading press to reload the shotshells properly. The basic function of the press is to hold the reloading dies which are responsible for priming, reforming and then reloading the contents of the shotshell. The press will also give the operator more mechanical leverage which enables them to accomplish these tasks. All this can be done right from the comfort of your very own home. The garage or basement is a perfect place to set up your reloading den.
Why reload shotgun ammo?
A big reason why shotgun owners reload their own shotgun ammunition is because it saves them money. If you were to just purchase a box of five 12-guage shotgun shells from a sporting goods store, you would have to pay around $5. That is the equivalent of $1 per shell. This might not seem like a lot of money but it adds up quickly. Most recreational or tactical shooters don’t just shoot their weapon once or twice in a given day. They’ll likely be shooting dozens of times at least. For example, if you shoot at targets with your shotgun at the shooting range and fire out 30 shells of ammunition, that means it will cost you $30 just for that one occasion. Why do that when you can just grab the used shells and then fill them back up with wads, gunpowder, shots, and primers? It is much cheaper to just purchase these supplies and then use them in your empty used shells.
For people who are survivalists or just want to be prepared for a life-threatening situation, reloading shotgun ammunition could very well save your life. Let’s say you are trapped in a big forestry wilderness and you have no way of restocking your ammunition, the only way you’ll be able to replenish your ammunition will be by reloading it. You’ll certainly be doing a lot of shooting in the wild because dangerous predators are lurking all over the place and you have to be ready to defend yourself against them. Not only that, but you’ll need to hunt animals for food and there’s no better way to kill them than with a shotgun. It may seem harsh, but survival means that anything goes. For these reasons, you’ll experience ammo shortages rather quickly if you’re not reloading your used shells.
Survivalists often talk about fights with looters and that requires you to shoot a lot of shotgun shells, then reloading the shells is essential. It is possible that you will have to constantly shoot at enemy forces that are trying to attack you. Sometimes there’s literally hundreds of shells exchanged between the two sides. Once the fighting has stopped, you should take it upon yourself to pick up the used hulls off the ground and turn them into live ammunition again. If you’re enemy used a shotgun, then you can take their hulls and reload those as well. This will create additional ammo in your inventory that you can save for yourself or give to one of your comrades.
Differences between single stage and progressive shotgun presses.
When you start getting into the practice of reloading your own shotgun ammunition, you’re going to have to become familiar with the different presses that are available for it. The two types of shotgun presses that people generally use are either the progressive press or the single stage press. However, someone who is new to shotgun ammo reloading may have a difficult time making the choice between these two presses. The best way to go about making this decision is to look at the pros and cons of each press and understand what their differences are.
The single stage press is considered to be a basic press which can perform one function each time you pull down on the handle. You also must use one die per function. So, if you want to perform a different function then you have to use a different die. Each shotgun shell that you reload can only be done one at a time. This is the feature that many people don’t like about the single stage press. The speed for reloading shells is slower with the single stage press. It requires a few steps just to crank out one shell that is ready to shoot. On the upside, the quality of the reloading is very good with the single stage press. This is due to their being fewer moving parts in this press, which increases the accuracy and reliability of the shell being reloaded. Therefore, when you go to fire the ammunition from your shotgun, you’ll have fewer problems with your accuracy.
The progressive shotgun press is the preferred press of those who want to reload shotshells a lot faster. These presses are able to do this because numerous tasks can be accomplished with just one pull of the handle. There are two types of progressive shotgun presses; auto index and manual index. The auto index moves the shell plate automatically while the manual index requires the person to manually rotate the shell plate themselves. Either way, just note that progressive shotgun presses are great for reloading shells in large volumes. The downside is that the accuracy of the ammunition will become compromised a little bit because the shells are being moved around and loaded so quickly. Now, this doesn’t mean all of your shots will become inaccurate or unstable if you reload shells with the progressive press. It just means that reloading at a very high volume may diminish the accuracy of the ammunition.
Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA Load All
The Lee Load-All 2 Shotshell Press is the preferred shotshell reloader for any 12-guage shotgun. It can load shells that are up to 3 inches and you won’t even need to purchase a separate conversion kit either. Not only that, the Lee Load-All 2 is certainly a very inexpensive option for replenishing your shotgun’s ammunition when you consider how much it costs to purchase factory manufactured shotshells. Since you’ll only be spending $49.49 for the Lee Load-All 2 Shotshell Press, you’ll quickly get your money’s worth after you’ve reloaded just 50 shells. This is certainly an opportunity that any avid shotgun user would not want to pass up.
The Lee Load-All 2 Shotshell Press comes with eight shot bushings that are the following sizes: 1-7/8, 1-3/4, 1-1/2, 1-1/4, 1-1/8, 1, and 7/8 ounces. You’ll also receive 16 powder bushings with this reloader press which have the following measurements in cubic centimeters: 198, 189, 180, 171, 163, 155, 148, 141, 134, 128, 122, 116, 110, 105, 100, and 095. Now a lot of the more expensive presses will force you to buy important parts and accessories separately, which only takes more money out of your wallet. The Lee Load-All 2 includes many of these important parts, such as 8-point and 6-point crimp starters, 2 bolts w/ locking nuts, 1 screw, spring, pin, primer guide, spare wad guide, aluminum plate for primer catcher, steel sizing ring, and safety charge bar.
The Lee Load-All 2 is a single stage press that has a plastic base and a steel frame. The reviews of this press are pretty remarkable. Out of a total of 112 reviews, the press received a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 stars. You don’t find too many single stage reloader presses with positive reviews quite like this one. Two of the biggest praises was that the press is affordable and it is portable. That’s right, you don’t have to secure this press in stone somewhere. You can take it with you wherever you want to go because it is lightweight and easy to carry around. This makes it perfect for shotgun users who want to go out in the woods and reload their shotshells while they’re out in the middle of nowhere. Survivalists may also find it useful to keep this press in their inventory just in case they end up in a desperate situation that requires them to use it for their survival.
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MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″, 3″
The MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press is a high-quality reloader press for your shotshells. One of the big reasons why this shotshell reloader is so popular is because inexperienced users can learn the reloading process very quickly with this press. At the same time, advanced reloaders love to use this press for the efficiency and convenience it provides throughout the reloading process. It has a special collet resizer called the “Power Ring” which can transform the base of a shell back to the factory OEM specification for it. It doesn’t even matter if the heads are made of steel or brass either. The factory setting on this reloader press is for 2 ¾ inch shells. However, this setting can be adjusted for up to 3-inch shells too.
The MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press is traditionally compatible with the 12-gauge shotgun. But, there are other die sets available that you can purchase to change the gauges if you want too. Some of the gauge models available aside from the 12-gauge include the 28, 20, 16, and 10 gauge. The primer feeder called “E-Z Prime” is also included with this shotshell press. This is a great benefit because most manufacturers make you purchase this feeder separately, which only ends up costing you more money. Other accessories which come with the press include 3 interchangeable powder bushings and 1-1/8 charge bar.
The cost of the MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press is $287.63. It is a single stage press which can be handled from the top center location. This makes it very easy to use and most people are able to figure out how it works on their first try. If you look at the reviews on this shotshell reloader press, then you will mostly see positive comments. The only few negative comments about the press pertain to the primer feeder. Some say the primer feed can occasionally stop working or cause jams when you have fewer than 20 primers at a time in your tray. On the other hand, people all seem to agree that it can resize shells beautifully while still maintaining their accuracy.
MEC is a gun parts manufacturing company that gun reloaders have been familiar with for decades. They only produce shotshell presses that are made of a high-quality design and material. With a load rate of about 150 to 200 rounds per hour, you will be able to reload plenty of ammunition with this reloader press from virtually any location that your heart desires.
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MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″, 3″
The MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 Single Stage Shotshell Press is well known amongst shotgun owners and reloaders. As far as single stage model reloader presses go, the 600 Jr. Mark 5 is considered to be one of the best ones that MEC has ever produced. The reason for its popularity will be clear once you start using it because the press is so easy to use and it can actually reload up to 8 boxes worth of ammunition for your shotgun per hour. The 600 Jr. Mark 5 is meant specifically for a 12-gauge shotgun.
The shell length of the 600 Jr. Mark 5 reloader press is set to 2 ¾ inches, which is the factory setting for most shells. But don’t worry because adjustments can be made to the press so it will accommodate 3-inch shells. You won’t even need to purchase any other parts in order to make this happen. The frame of the 600 Jr. Mark 5 is made of steel, so it is durable enough to sustain tough environmental conditions in case you want to bring it with you outdoors. After all, survivalists use reload presses like these all the time to replenish their ammunition when they’re shooting at prey or enemies in the wild. If you were lost somewhere and only had a 600 Jr. Mark 5 to keep your ammunition stacked, then you would be in very good hands.
The price of the MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 is $197.87. This is a pretty decent price when you consider that competitive shotshell presses are priced at $250 and higher. Plus, you’ll also get a Spindex Crimp Starter and a Cam-action Crimpe Die with the 600 Jr. Mark 5 as well. The Spindex Crimp Starter has the ability to align itself properly with the OEM shell creases by swiveling. As for the priming feature, it comes already built into the press. Of course, you can upgrade this primer feed to an automatic primer feed by purchasing the MEC 285 CA Primer Feed separately. But if you’re a beginner then just stick with the OEM primer feed that comes with the press.
The MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 has had an almost perfect rating given to it from past customers. The biggest praise is that it is easy to setup and reload the shells with if you’re a beginner. They also say the press is very durable and can last a long time.
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RCBS The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″, 3″
The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press by RCBS is the perfect shotshell press for someone who wants to reproduce ammunition which has extra precision and accuracy to it. All you need is 12-gauge shotgun shells and you can begin the reloading process. This involves starting with a hull that gets inserted into station 1. At station 4, there is a wad guide in which you will put the wad into. If you can follow these two simple steps, everything else will be easy because all the other functions are automated. Then as the shotshell press is operating, you just pull the handle to dispense a loaded shotshell. There won’t be any spillage either with the case-activated powder system that is automated.
The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press is made out of high grade cast aluminum. The front of the press contains the powder-charging system which conveniently allows you to see the powder charge and to take out a hull so the charge can be weighed. The interchange of the powder bushings will take place in under 30 seconds. If you want to use Hornady Powder bushings in the charge bar, you can do that too. Other features of the press include universal case holders, an auto-indexing system, steel sizer ring, primer feed system, and case activated shot system. And if you want to quickly change the shell reload from a 12-gauge to a 20-gauge or the other way around, there are conversion kits that are available that will let you do this.
The price of the Grand Progressive Shotshell Press is $719.99. It may seem a little more expensive than the average shotshell press, but you are getting a better-quality press for the money. After all, it is a progressive reloading press that can reload more shotshells at a faster rate than a single reloading press. You can have up to one pound of gunpowder in the powder hopper and up to 25 pounds of shot in the shot hopper. This should give you an idea of how much more it can do than your standard press.
If you are somebody who shoots a lot of ammunition at a given time, like a law enforcement officer or hunter, then you’ll want to reload many shells within a short timeframe. For this reason, the Grand Progressive Shotshell Press should be the next press you purchase for reloading you’re the ammunition of your shotgun.
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MEC 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″
The 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press is made by MEC, which is a reputable gun parts and accessories manufacturer which also happens to produce high-quality reloader presses. What is great about the 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press is that it comes with shell ejection capabilities, automatic indexing, an “E-Z Prime” primer feeder, and the ability to have ten operations going on at six different stations. With each stroke, a fully reloaded shell is produced. The factory setting for the press is for use with 12-gauges. There are no additional die sets included that will allow you to change the gauge either. This is one limitation that you should consider if you’re someone who uses a shotgun that isn’t a 12-gauge. But since most shotgun users prefer the 12-gauge, then this probably won’t be an issue for you.
The 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press is a progressive press which means it is faster at reloading shells than a single stage press. The shell length that the 900GN is set to load is 2 ¾ inches. You won’t be able to adjust the length to a 3-inch shell if that’s the size you prefer. That is okay because the power ring resizer ensures that the reloaded shells are sized accurately so they will perform well when fired from the shotgun. It is rare to find a progressive reloader press like this once which focuses on maintaining the accuracy of its reloaded shells. At the same time, it can still produce a great number of reloaded shells quickly and efficiently. And with an outer shell made out of steel, the 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press can survive just about any environmental conditions it is subjected to. So, for example, if you’re a hunter out in the rain and you want to reload your shells without calling it quits, the 9000GN won’t quit on you either. It can sustain the water, winds and whatever else it becomes subjected too. This makes it truly great for survivalists too.
The price of the 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press is $616.07. It is a bit more money than your average shotshell press, but just remember you are paying for quality and durability. This press will last you for many years and it will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars by not having to purchase expensive factory shotshells every time you need more ammunition. Therefore, consider this an investment into your shooting practices.
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MEC 9000E Electronic Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge with 1-1/8 oz Charge Bar, 29, 30, 32
The MEC 9000E Electronic Progressive Shotshell Press is one of the highest quality shotshell reloader presses on the market today. This shouldn’t be surprising because any shotshell press made by MEC is surely going to be fabulous. If you are familiar with the MEC 9000GN then you’ll be happy to know that the 9000E has many of the same great features as it. Some of these amazing features include shell ejection, E-Z Prime primer feeder, automatic indexing, the ability to have 6 stations with 10 operations, and the capability of having each stroke produce a completed shell. In addition, the 9000E includes the original MEC Auto Mate feature which has the power to operate the shotshell press electronically with the push of 2 control buttons.
The MEC 9000E Electronic Progressive Shotshell Press is made for a 12-gauge only. You will not be able to convert the gauge into another one. However, there is a charge bar included that has a lead shot weight of 1-18 ounces. The powder bushings that come with it are 32, 30, and 29. If you want to make steel shot instead of lead shot, you’ll have to purchase a separate kit that will allow you to do this. There is no conversion kit included with this shotshell press. But that’s okay because you’ll still have a Power Ring resizer that will give your reloaded shotshells great accuracy. This will improve the performance of your shotgun when you go to shoot it at a target later on.
The price of the MEC 9000E Electronic Progressive Shotshell Press is $1,499.99. Now before you freak out over the price, just remember that you’re getting an electronic progressive shotshell press that automates most of the work for you. Instead of having to reload each shotshell separately, you can just push two buttons on the press and start producing shotshells like crazy. Meanwhile, you’ll still be maintaining the accuracy of the shells too. Therefore, you are really getting the best of the best when you purchase this shotshell press.
Although you can take this shotshell press anywhere you want, you’ll probably feel nervous about taking such an expensive press outside in the woods or some other dangerous environment. So, it would probably be wise to keep this press somewhere safe where it cannot be subjected to harsh conditions, even though it is made to survive these conditions with its steel frame.