Shotgun Ammo Reloading at Home

Shotgun ammunition is unique because you can reload the shells at home if you have the right equipment available. This certainly beats paying $20 for 10 rounds of shotgun shells that you will go through within an hour. If you are a hunter who frequently goes shooting or if you simply like to target practice with your shotgun then you need to learn how to reload shells at home.

In the beginning, it will require an upfront investment for purchasing the reloading machine and the shells that you will be loading up. If you already have existing shells then that’s fine too. Just make sure you have high quality shells made by a reputable manufacturer such as Remington, Winchester, Rio, etc. Between their durable plastic cases and brass heads, they will give you plenty of reloads before they are worn out. Some gun clubs may even sell empty shells over the internet at very affordable prices too. So there are a lot of options out there for obtaining shells. As for the loader, these cost between $50 and $100. This is a very minimal investment when you consider how much money it will save you on purchasing more shotgun shells.

There are five components to a shotgun shell that you will need; the hull, gunpowder, pellets, wad and primer. Then you’ll want either a progressive loader or a single-stage loader to load the shells with the birdshot, buckshot or slugs. A progressive loader is a machine that can reload many shells at the same time. All you have to do is take a little bit of time setting up the machine with the necessary components. With the single stage machine, there is only one step to set it up and then each time you pull the handle it produces one shotgun shell. Make sure you read the manual on the loader to learn exactly how to use the machine because different models have different instructions. The type of loading machine you purchase should depend on what you will need it for. If you are just using a shotgun for self defense and don’t intend on shooting it very often then go with a single stage machine. But if you are a hunter who plans on shooting many rounds of ammunition on a regular basis then you’ll want a progressive loader that can reload shells much faster.

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.

Lee Shotgun Slug Molds
Lee Shotgun Slug Molds

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.

Shotshell Reloading
Shotshell Reloading

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.

Shotshell Reloading Supplies
Shotshell Reloading Supplies

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.  

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.

Lee Precision Load All II Shotshell Reloader
Lee Precision Load All II Shotshell Reloader

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

Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA Load All
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.

LEE Load All 2 Reloading Press. Process, how to reload shotgun ammunition at home:

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.  

The LEE Load All 2 Reloading Press will load your shotgun shells so that they look and feel new when you use them. There is no sense in purchasing factory made shotgun shells for a lot of money when you can just purchase a LEE Load All 2 and turn your home into a shell factory. Then you will be able to reload shotgun shells with this press machine just like factory workers do with their press machines. Loading your own shells is very cost effective and convenient for anyone who shoots shotguns frequently.

The LEE Load All 2 can reload up to 100 shells every 60 minutes. The shot hopper of the press can hold five pounds of pellets, which is what goes into the shells. These five pounds are enough to load more than 125 shells before you have to load up the hopper again with more pellets.

So if you are a hunter or someone who shoots frequently then this machine will produce roads fast enough to accommodate your needs.

Perhaps one of the most notable features of this machine is its gauge conversion support. If you have multiple shotgun gauges that require different size shells, you would normally have to go out and buy separate presses for each gauge that you need to reload. Fortunately, the LEE Load All 2’s gauge conversion feature is compatible with conversion kits for 12 gauge, 16 gauge and 20 gauge shells. In fact, the shell can be adjusted from 2 ¾ inches to 3 inches. However, as of right now the company does not have a LEE Load All 2 that supports 10 gauge or 28 gauge shotgun shells.

LEE is a brand name that is known in the shotgun reloading world. The shells they produce will have more pattern and velocity to them than what other presses can produce. The LEE Load All 2 costs about $70, so it is one of the most affordable presses. But remember, you are paying for a top quality brand that can produce even better quality rounds of ammunition. In the long run you will be saving money while having a better experience with your shotgun.

Recommended Product:
Lee Load All II Shotshell Reloading Press Get Lee Load All II Shotshell Reloading Press on Brownells

MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″, 3″

MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4", 3"
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. 

MEC Sizemaster Shotgun Reloading Press, 12 gauge, how to use, video:

MEC stands for Mayville Engineering Company. Ever since 1955, they’ve been designing high quality shotgun shell reloaders for the average shotgun owner to use. Today the brand name is known by almost everyone familiar with shotguns. The MEC Sizemaster is one of the company’s best single stage reloaders available. It has a revolutionary resizing chamber, an automatic primer feed and creates six point and eight point crimps. The crimp starter has automatic rotation and will realign the crimp that originally came from the factory. There is also a flip-flop measure that allows pellet containers and powder to be put in and taken out without any spillage. Whether you are a novice shotgun shell reloader or an expert, the MEC Sizemaster shotgun ammo reloading press is perfect for either person who wants to reload their empty shotgun shells with pellets.

The MEC Sizemaster is best known for being able to resize collets and return the bases into the same quality that originally came out of the factory. It doesn’t matter if the shells have steel heads, brass heads, or a low or high base. The MEC Sizemaster is available for all the most popular shotgun shell gauges such as 12, 16, 28, 20 and 10. Make sure you pick the right Sizemaster to accommodate the gauge you need or else the primer feeder won’t be able to do its job on the machine.

The MEC Sizemaster is one of the more expensive reloaders, but also one of the best quality reloaders. You can purchase it from anywhere between $280 and $300. This is about three times the price of the average reloader, but you are getting so many extra benefits that it may be worth it. You just have to calculate how much use you will get out of it and how many different shell gauges you have to reload. Since it has the ability to reload multiple gauges, this may be an appealing feature to you because you won’t have to purchase any other reloaders. But if you only have one gauge you are dealing with then you might want to go with a less expensive reloader. However, the MEC Sizemaster has five star reviews on many websites of other authorized dealers. Most of the reviews talk about its quality being superior to that of other reloaders. Therefore, if quality is most important to you then the MEC Sizemaster will make a great investment.

Recommended Product:
MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4", 3" Get MEC Sizemaster Single Stage Shotshell Press on Brownells

MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″, 3″

MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 Single Stage Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4", 3"
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.  

Recommended Product:
MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 Single Stage Shotshell Press Get MEC 600 Jr. Mark 5 Single Stage Shotshell Press on Brownells

RCBS The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″, 3″

RCBS The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4", 3"
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.

Recommended Product:
RCBS The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press Get RCBS The Grand Progressive Shotshell Press on Brownells

MEC 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″

MEC 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4"
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.

Recommended Product:
MEC 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge 2-3/4″ Get MEC 9000GN Progressive Shotshell Press on Brownells

MEC 9000E Electronic Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge with 1-1/8 oz Charge Bar, 29, 30, 32

MEC 9000E Electronic Progressive Shotshell Press 12 Gauge with 1-1/8 oz Charge Bar, 29, 30, 32
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.

Molding Your Own Shotgun Slugs, Birdshot and Buckshot At Home

It must be noted first that lead is a toxin and must be handled properly to prevent lead poisoning. Always wear protective gloves, face mask and eye protection when handling molten lead or lead bars.

Shot Making

Years ago to make shot artisans poured molten lead through a sieve to form the shot and as the shot dropped through the small holes air pressure or surface tension formed it as it fell through the air. Then the shot fell in to water to cool. It cooled quickly maintaining so it was able to hold its shape. The size shot was determined by the size sieve used.

Machines that make shot today have the same basic concept except you normally place lead bars into a chamber to be heated up by heating elements. Then once the lead is liquefied, it begins to drip through holes into a cooling liquid. You need to use a cooling liquid higher in viscosity than water. You can mix water and liquid soap or use flame retardant hydraulic oil for your cooling bath. You are essentially tempering the shot and using just water tends to deform the shot. The “drippers” are what determines the shot size so you would have to have several sizes unless you are making just one size shot.

Pure lead is too soft for shot, so you will have to use an alloy. Some use what is called “wheel weight lead”. It has other minerals in it that make the shot harder.

Burgess Bullets Littleton Shotmaker
Burgess Bullets Littleton Shotmaker

Description:

An essential component for the shotshell handloader who wants to save money and produce shot pellets customized to specific hardness requirements. The original Littleton Shotmaker was legendary among serious shotgunners; this model incorporates improvements that make casting your own shot easy and repeatable. It’s like having your own shot tower in a compact package that takes up less than one cubic foot of space. Produces up to 45 lbs. of No. 7½ shot per hour. You can easily experiment with different lead alloys to produce harder shot for less deformation, uniform patterns, and more hits. Simply place at least 6 lbs. of clean lead, with impurities removed, in the Shotmaker’s aluminum alloy ladle, and flip the switch on. When the lead reaches its melting temperature and liquefies, it’ll begin pouring out the Shotmaker’s drippers in little streams that are actually individual lead balls. As they drop into a pan of coolant you provide—ordinary motor vehicle anti-freeze works best—you’ve cast your own No. 7½ lead shot. Durable, steel-and-aluminum construction with heavy-duty electrical components ensure years of trouble-free service.

The lead is melted in the trays from heating elements underneath. The molten lead then drips through the shot holes into the cooling bath. Once liquefied, the lead will drip quickly through the dripper into the cooling liquid.

Recommended Shotmaker:
Burgess Bullets Littleton Shotmaker
Burgess Bullets Littleton Shotmaker
You can get Burgess Bullets Littleton Shotmaker on Brownells

Buckshot Mould

LEE Buckshot Moulds
LEE Buckshot Moulds

Lee Eighteen cavity Buck shot moulds are available in 3 sizes: 000 Buckshot, 00 Buckshot and #4 Buckshot. Precision-machined moulds produce 18 linked pellets per cast, allowing one to easily cast over 2000 pellets an hour.

Recommended Buckshot Moulds:
LEE Buckshot Moulds
LEE Buckshot Moulds
You can get LEE Buckshot Moulds on Brownells

Slug Mold

Aluminum slug molds are inexpensive and you can purchase one practically anywhere for less than $50USD.

Mold for shotgun slugs; note the hollow core, which helps the slug maintain its balance by putting the weight on the end of the slug.

What you will need to make slugs using the pictured device is lead, welder’s gloves, facemask, a heat source, vessel to melt lead in and a small metal ladle that has a small slot for pouring. Make sure the vessel is large enough so you can dip a ladle in. You can purchase lead specifically for making your own ammunition or you can collect wheel weights from any junk yard or ask your local parts store.

You will notice once the lead begins to melt that junk will be floating on top, this is all of the impurities in the lead, such as dirt, and other contaminates. Ladle this to the side and scoop out. The liquid lead will be slight thicker than water in a molten state.

Close the mold tightly, place the slag cutter over the hole on top, and lock in place. You will be pouring the lead through the hole on the slag cutter, which will be lined up with the mold chamber. Dip some lead and make sure you have your gloves, facemask and safety goggles on. You have to move quickly so the lead does not cool. Pour into the hole until lead comes back out the hole, while pouring slightly jiggle the mold to remove air bubbles. Once full, slide the black bar away to cut off the slag. Open the mold and tap on the backside to knock the slug loose.

Recommended Slug Molds:
Lyman 12 GA, Slug Mould
Lyman 12 GA, Slug Mould
You can get Lyman 12 GA, Slug Mould on Brownells
Lee Shotgun Slug Mould
Lee Shotgun Slug Mould
You can get Lee Shotgun Slug Mould here: Brownells

Lead Melting, Lee Production Pot IV

LEE Production Pot IV
LEE Production Pot IV

Large, deep pot holds approximately 10 pounds of lead. Melt time is less than 20 minutes. Pour spout up front where it belongs so you can see what you’re doing. Infinite heat control. Uses only 500 watts of power during heat-up and a lot less to maintain temperature. Large, stable base for safety. 4″ of clearance under the spout is high enough to accept all brands of bullet molds and most sinker molds. Melter is capable of reaching 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recommended Product:
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
You can get Lee Production Pot IV on Brownells

Lyman Reloading Cast Iron Lead Pot

Lyman Lead Pot, Lee Ingot Mold
Lyman Lead Pot, Lee Ingot Mold

A lot of people were scared by the ammo shortages. So they decided to start making their own ammo. Shotgun shell reloading is very easy.

To start casting slugs you need to find lead, melt it, remove junk and make ingots for future use.

If you don’t want to buy lead you can find cheap lead in many places:
1. Old car batteries
2. Wheel weights
3. Scrap yards
4. Shooting range

etc.

Lyman Lead Pot, Lee Ingot Mold, Melting Lead, Making Ingots (Video)

Video which shows basic equipment and procedures: Lyman Lead Pot, Lee Ingot Mold. Melting lead and making ingots.

When melting lead using Lyman Reloading Cast Iron Lead Pot, you need Lee Ingot Mold to make ingots.

Lee Ingot Mold
Lee Ingot Mold

Lee Ingot Mold is inexpensive and high-quality product. It is very easy to use, this mould casts 1/2 and 1 lb. ingots (2 of each).

Lee Ingot Mold
Lee Ingot Mold
Lee Ingot Mold
Lee Ingot Mold

You will need Lyman Reloading Cast Iron Lead Pot to melt the lead. This cast iron pot has 10 lb. capacity and lets you use any heat source for melting lead. This is very important, especially for those who start casting slugs to be more independent.

Anti-drip pour spout is very convenient. Walls of the Lyman Cast Iron Lead Pot are very thick, it takes some time to make it hot but when you start melting lead it stays hot for a long time.

Lyman Cast Iron Lead Pot
Lyman Cast Iron Lead Pot

Lee Lead Ladle is small and handy tool to remove junk from lead.

Recommended Products:
Lyman Lead Pot
Lyman Lead Pot
Lyman Lead Pot
Lee Lead Ladle
Lee Lead Ladle
Lee Lead Ladle

Lee Production Pot IV

Large, deep pot holds approximately 10 pounds of lead. Melt time is less than 20 minutes. Pour spout up front where it belongs so you can see what you’re doing. Infinite heat control. Uses only 500 watts of power during heat-up and a lot less to maintain temperature. Large, stable base for safety. 4″ of clearance under the spout is high enough to accept all brands of bullet molds and most sinker molds. Melter is capable of reaching 900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
Recommended Product:
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
You can get Lee Production Pot IV on Brownells

How to Use Lee Slug Mold (Smoke, Lube, Cast Slugs)

Reloading is an interesting hobby which saves your money and makes you independent. You can even cast your own slugs.

Lee Slug Molds, 1oz, 7/8oz
Lee Slug Molds, 1oz, 7/8oz

How to Use Lee Slug Mold (Smoke, Lube, Cast Slugs)

1. Remove Oil from the Lee Mold Before Use

Remove all traces of oil using white gas or lacquer thinner.

Remove Oil from the Lee Mold Before Use
Remove Oil from the Lee Mold Before Use

2. Smoke the Lee Slug Mold

Hold the flame from a match to leave a thin film of carbon in the cavity to eliminate the wrinkles.

Smoke the Lee Slug Mold
Smoke the Lee Slug Mold

3. Preheat Lee Slug Mold

Dip corner of mold into molten lead and hold there for 30 seconds.

Preheat Lee Slug Mold
Preheat Lee Slug Mold

4. Lubricate mold.

Lubricate mold using beeswax.

Lube Lee Slug Mold using Beeswax
Lube Lee Slug Mold using Beeswax

5. Fill Lead into Mold Block Through Sprue Plate

Fill Lead into Mold Block Through Sprue Plate
Fill Lead into Mold Block Through Sprue Plate

6. Strike sprue plate with a wood dowel.

Strike sprue plate with a wood dowel.
Strike sprue plate with a wood dowel.

7. Open Handles, Tap Handle Hinge Bolt

Open Handles, Tap Handle Hinge Bolt to shake bullet onto cloth.

Open Handles, Tap  Handle Hinge Bolt
Open Handles, Tap Handle Hinge Bolt
Recommended Slug Molds:
Lee Production Pot IV
Lee Production Pot IV
You can get Lee Production Pot IV on Brownells
Lee Shotgun Slug Mould
Lee Shotgun Slug Mould
You can get Lee Shotgun Slug Mould here: Brownells

MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale

MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale for gun powder and bullets. This is very nice scale which I will be using for reloading of shotshells.

This scale is very good and high-quality product. It has a capacity of 1200 grains and measures in grains, grams, carats and ounces to within +/-.1 grain.

MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale (For Gun Powder and Bullets)
MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale (For Gun Powder and Bullets)

Accuracy is extrmely important when we deal with gun powder, that is why good scale is must have!

The platform is made of stainless steel and also protected by a plastic cover. Plastic cover also can be used as a large powder pan.

MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale has very useful auto shut-off function turns the scale off after three minutes of inactivity.

Also, calibration weight and batteries included.

MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale is highly recommended! Stay tuned for posts about shotshell reloading!

Recommended Products:
MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale
MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale
You can get MTM Mini Digital Reloading Scale here: http://tinyurl.com/b4sn94k

Reloading Shotgun Shells – What to Do Normally and During a Disaster

Given the events in the world today, and with difficult economic times people are realizing the more they can do for themselves the better off they will be. There may very well come a time when you cannot run out the store and purchase what you need to defend your family and home. The reasons may vary but any type of manmade or natural disaster can disrupt supply chains or devalue the dollar to where buying something as simple as a box of shotgun shells may be out of reach economically. Self-reliance, some skill sets, knowledge along with practice will ensure you will be able to protect your most valuable assets regardless of the situation.

Loading Your Own Shotgun Shells

The process is quite simple and relatively affordable. However, if people are truly honest they will tell you they do not load their own shells necessarily to save money, but to ensure consistent quality and something more, self-reliance and knowing they can reload their own shotgun shells anywhere and at anytime regardless of the situation.

The Basics

You will need a basic press or single stage press that is easily transported and self-contained. The materials you will need are husks (shell casings) primers, powder, wad and shot. Your basic loading press is designed for one gauge. The press will first punch out the spent primer and then the next station it will reset a new primer as well as reshape the shell casing and bottom plate, the husk as it is called is now ready for reloading. A set of dies with sized rings are used to resize the bottom plate according to manufacturer’s specifications.

The loading press will measure out the charge based on the gauge but it is a good idea to look up the amount in the manual and weigh the charge on a powder scale, which is not usually included, to ensure the machine is dispensing the correct amount of powder. Once you are happy with the weight, the next step does three things at once it loads the charge, wad and shot and crimps the shell casing closed. You now have a shell ready to load.

If you are new at loading your own shells, start by loading in increments of 10 while ensuring your press dispenses the right charge weight. Inspect each shell for bulges and leaking powder, and if satisfied do control test fires carefully measuring your shot velocity and spread. Inspect the spent shells for excessive pressure indicated by split casing walls or primers that are not seated properly. This may indicate you have loaded too much powder.

Many people draw a distinction between “hand loading” and “reloading”. A loading press essentially does the work for you and the only input you as the operator has is the material and at times readjusting the charge weight. Many experts have “recipes” they use and would call themselves hand loaders. Hand loaders tend to make smaller batches of custom loads that are of higher quality while reloading is used to make larger batches for utility work if you will.

You can of course upgrade and buy presses for various gauges but the more you have the more you will have to carry with you when you must evacuate your location. Therefore, for survival purposes stick with a single load press that may not be the quickest but will provide you the same quality shell time after time. For quality and mobility, stock as much powder and primer from the same batch as possible. This will ensure consistency. Keep in mind you may not be able to purchase materials for weeks or even months.

Considerations

Your press will need to be bolted securely so you can exert the proper amount of pressure so if you have to move your operation to a more secure location you must consider how to secure it.

  • Single Stage Press Loader
  • Powder
  • Primers
  • Wads
  • Hulls/Casings
  • Scale

It is possible to bolt it to a heavy plank board leaving enough room on the sides to drill holes and secure the press using rebar by driving the rebar through the holes securing it to the ground in a survival situation. This would mean however, you would have to work from a crouched or sitting position, which may not allow you leverage to pull the handle. This is something you must consider during a disaster situation, how to secure your press.

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.

3 comments

  1. tim clark

    Have you considered the DillonHelp@dillonprecision.com progressive machine? I haven’t used it but their metallic cartridge machines are top notch and priced right.
    Love your blog!!!
    Tim
    (In North Idaho, USA)

  2. Big vote from me for the MEC 600 Jr Mark 5. The thing’s built like a tank; it’ll last a lifetime, unlike other entry-level presses with a bunch of plastic parts. It’s also real easy to adjust, change, or replace parts when needed, in addition to aftermarket add-ons like adjustable charge bars that let you dial in an infinite range of powder & shot drop volumes, conversion kits for loading 2 1/2″ or 3 1/2″ shells, heavy-duty brass crimp starters for use with hulls that have never been crimped before, and so on. The spindex crimp starter works awesome as well – lines up perfectly every time, and you can switch between 6-point & 8-point crimps in literally less than a second.

    And like the Lee, the MEC presses work very well mounted to a portable base. I made one for my press, and it was really cheap and easy, requiring only the most basic tools. I’ll have to take some pictures and write up a basic how-to, because anyone who knows the right end of a hammer to hold could make one themselves.

    The one downside I’ve observed with the 600 Jr is with the ring-resizer. The resizer will handle most typical high- & low-brass hulls without a problem, including the really good unibodies from the big three US ammo manufacturers; but it doesn’t have quite enough stroke to kick those less-common super-high-cup hulls all the way out of the ring. They’ll be resized just fine, but you have to grab them by hand and wrestle them out that last fraction of an inch. Not many hulls have that much metal at the base though, and they’re not generally the best hulls for reloading anyway.

    This press is a great value even if you buy one brand-new, but since it’s so common & well-made, you can also get good ones used. I got 2 MEC 600s (one complete, and another mostly-complete one for donor parts) and a bunch of components & other loading paraphernalia – all for $100 off Craigslist.

  3. DAvis Davis

    I have a question, if you don’t mind. I have a Lee Load All II and have seen comments regarding accurate powder measurements. I measured out 30 loads with a GemPro 250 ranging from 16.4 to 17.90 using the recommended bushing. How critical is the variation in weight for clay shooting and hunting?? Thank you.
    Dave

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