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reloading...more I research, more confused I get

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by DaveXT, Sep 6, 2012.

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  1. DaveXT

    DaveXT Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    I am interest in joining the ranks of the reloaders. I have been saving AAs and Gun clubs. I am considering Mec, PW, and Dillon. I hear love them, hate them about each one from several reviewers. I will only be loading 12 gauge. I could probably create one load and stick to it but might like 2 different loads. Any advice to help me choose a loader would be appreciated. I have decent mechanical skills but would rather not have to fuss with the loader much.

  2. grntitan

    grntitan Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2009
    IL(The gun friendly Southern Part)
    My suggestion may not be popular but I suggest you start with a MEC Sizemaster or even a MEC 600jr until you fully grasp the concept. These are single stage machines. Then you can progress to a bigger more expensive progressive machine. The two machines I listed can be bought new for not a lot of money but used ones are out there at very affordable prices. It's not brain surgery but there are things that are important to get a good grasp of. Also, there are no loaders that are trouble free. They all have their quirks and need adjusted or kept in adjustment. You need not be an engineer but you will need to know the loader inside and out to have a good relationship.

    I started on a MEC 600jr and now use a Pacific DL 366. I also have a Pacfic DL 300 that I use occasionally. While I like both of my progressive machines and use them most of the time, I also still load on that old 600jr single stage as well. It turns out loads that look and function the same as Tge other two loaders. The only difference is speed. The ease of setting up and and adjusting from load to load is very easy with the single stage loaders.
  3. lboh

    lboh Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    I have been loading for a year, so could be considered new.

    Some thoughts:

    - Buy a progressive loader as it will save a ton of time. I have a MEC grabber and very pleased

    - Get a loader with a sizer as part of the progressive process.

    - Stick to a single manufacturers hull. If not, you will have to use different wads, different recipes, etc... You can do it but do you really want to keep up with different components and recipes?

    - Some good reloading forums on the net. Learned a lot on them.

    - You will lose shot and powder from time to time as you learn, but you also get to customize and get to a load you really like.

    - Buy a scale and test your powder drops. Don't be the guy on the line that almost blows up his gun because he is dropping way too much powder into each shell.

    It is fun and relaxing for me. I fortunately work from home when not traveling and will go and load a box in between calls or after a tough customer call.

    Have fun and buy in bulk to maximize your cost per box.
  4. mike campbell

    mike campbell Active Member

    Jun 19, 2009
    "I have decent mechanical skills but would rather not have to fuss with the loader much."

    Makes me wonder why you want to reload. If it's purely for cost savings, forget it. Lots of guys have dusty, unused reloaders because they couldn't get past the fact it was a chore for them and just not "worth it". If you don't think you'll enjoy it, like experimenting, take pride in making shells the equal of factory premiums and want to pursue it as a hobby almost unto itself, reconsider.

    If you still thnk you'd like "try it", I second the MEC Sizemaster.
  5. X Trap 2

    X Trap 2 TS Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    I too vote for the MEC Grabber. I started with one and still like it. I also recommend the adjustable charge bar. Ray
  6. mooster1223

    mooster1223 Member

    Jul 11, 2012
    Great post by "lboh". There is a good deal on a 12 gauge grabber in the classifieds right now. It requires you to manually turn the shell plate which would be a good place for a "newbie" to start. It allows you to pull a shell out at each station if you're not sure what's going on and they produce fine looking finished shells.

    I just recently purchased a new PW and I wouldn't recommend one for a beginner. I makes a great shell but, they have a steeper learning curve than the red machines.
  7. 12ShotTwo

    12ShotTwo Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Dave, I agree with Iboh, get a grabber or 9000 because you will progress quickly in the learning proess and you will be sorry you have a single stage loader if you are going to load any volume at all. I am very carefull to stick to a few components, for instance for 12 gauge I use 700X, STS hulls, W209 primers and CB wads. My reloads are really reliable and work well. BTW I shoot lots of reclaim shot. Joe
  8. Shooting Coach

    Shooting Coach Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2006
    Nashville Tn
    How much do you shoot?

    100 rds a month? Buy a MEC Sizemaster. Loads the best ammo of any press.

    A flat a week? You might want to get a Mec 9000G. It can be run one shell at a time until you see how it works in progressive mode. A flat in around 22 minutes.

    I have owned, sold, and serviced most of them, and prefer the MEC over all others.

    Get a press that has a resizer. If you pick up range brass, you will need it.
  9. Old Cowboy

    Old Cowboy Active Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    IMO if you're trapshooting you're prob'ly shooting a LOT, might as well get a progressive right off the bat, FWIW I have a MEC 9000G with the new style primer feed added making it a 9000GN I guess.......I like it! Watch the primer drops, EVERY ONE. When the machine screws up it's usually caused by a bad primer drop.

    John C. Saubak
  10. Ross

    Ross Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    You don't say what ( which game-s) or how much you are are planning to shoot, but I have to agree with grntitan about starting with a single stage because there is a learning period and with a single stage you do each step on one shell at a time in sequence so you can see exactly what each step actually does. You will undoubtedly make some of the same mistakes we all did when we started, it's much easier to proceed SAFELY and slowly and double check yourself on each step "one" shell at a time. Also as per |boh a good scale is a must, ask a friend that re-loads for newby help-lessons. My choice of machines would be a used Pacific AKA Hornady and Bair in the 260-266 series (they are somewhat scarce but show up now & then)which is a single stage, much stouter than Mec. After you get comfortable loading is the time to start looking into (trading for) progressive units, or just keep the SS for special or trial loads. Ross Puls
  11. wayneo

    wayneo Active Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    A Mec Jr. will do 4 boxes an hour at a nice relaxing pace. It's fool-proof, and makes a great shell. If you want to reload to save money, forget about. If you want a good hobby, and make premium shells for $4.25 vs. $8.95, then a Jr. is all you need.

  12. Straight50

    Straight50 Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Grntitan nailed it!

    Learn to walk before you run. Buy a used 600jr and start loading. AFTER, you reload for awhile, you can decide if you want to continue or not. If the answer is yes, you may want to buy a faster machine. If the answer is no, you can sell out and quit without having a ton of money invested.

    Good luck with you decision.
  13. Mapper

    Mapper Member

    Aug 10, 2008
    SW Michigan
    I agree with those above who endorsed the 600 jr. Then save it so you can repair the hulls you mess up learning a progressive press. Like Grntitan, I have a 366 Pacific/Hornady, but I also have a PW. The 366 gets in less trouble and I bought it in the late 70s.
  14. School Teacher

    School Teacher Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Louisville, KY
    +1 for Grntitan:

    Start with a single stage size master. This will provide you with a near fool proof machine that will turn out lots of ammo. I have a size master, grabber and 9000G.

    As you progress in ability and understanding, move up to a 9000G.

    Don't ever be in a hurry, weigh your initial powder charge for each loading session and mount a metal cookie baking sheet under your machine as you will certainly spill some powder and shot.

    Starting with a 9000 series could easily cause you to get frustrated. Sometimes a primer will fail to drop or not fall into the priming station. Sometimes you will forget to insert a wad or insert two wads, sometimes shot will fail to completely drop, sometimes a hull will separate while crimping and so on.

    Please be patient and you will be rewarded with first class ammo.

    Buy at least 4 or more of the MEC bins as they are great for catching shells on the 9000, holding empty hulls and wads and sorting all manner of things. They are also stackable.

    Ed Ward
  15. Uncle Screech

    Uncle Screech Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Hi Dave,

    I've been reloading now for a bit more than 3 years and in that time I've had 3 different reloaders. I started with a MEC Sizemaster, graduated to a hydraulic MEC 9000 and just recently purchased a Spolar. Trust me, you WILL be putting your mechanical skills to use. Of the 3 machines I've had the simplest, easiest to use, most trouble free was the Sizemaster. It's drawback is it's a single stage machine which means I wasn't loading anywhere near enough to keep up with how much I shoot. And I will say this, primer feeding will be an issue; no one has "figured it out", not MEC, not Spolar, not P/W, no one. The little buggers WILL ruin a loading session on you at some point. Truth be told, I am so frustrated with reloading right now that I wish I had never started. You don't save much on money and as a hobby, well there are better ones to have. I would counsel that if you do not have a burning desire to roll your own ammo then just don't.

  16. bkt514

    bkt514 Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I have reloaded about 10,000 rounds over the last four years with a MEC 650N. Recently, I purchased a used Poness Warren 800 Plus and have that set-up exclusively for 7/8 oz. Loads. Reloading for me is fun for a summer evening or Sunday afternoon during the winter snow season. Get a MEC take your time and learn the basic fundamentals of shot shell reloading. A scale is a MUST, and I have a $100 electronic one. Enjoy.
  17. StonewallRacing

    StonewallRacing Well-Known Member

    Jul 17, 2008
    I recommend picking up a used Pacific/Hornaday 366. You can get them for right around $300.00 and they are near impossible to ever wear out. Horanday has best warrenty/service in the business and with minimal mechanical abilities you can fine-tune for any hull/wad/load combo.

    Buy a nice balance scale, use known safe data and don't play chemist.

    As stated above, use one brand of hull and stick with it; mine are all green.

  18. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    I've had MECs and I've had some of the "better" loaders. I've been back to a MEC for seven years and have NO intentions of trying anything else. They are simple to learn, simple to adjust, simple to repair if/when that is required, you don't have to turn the powder and shot drops on and off and they "know" when there is no hull under the powder drop. They are less costly to buy, parts are inexpensive, the footprint on your bench top is small and customer service is top shelf. I've mentioned ten attributes of a MEC; I can tell you from personal experience that every other loader will not offer at least one of those attributes; most of them won't offer several.

    Disadvantages are pretty much limited to the fact that a MEC will not last as long as a "better" loader but factory rebuilds are available at a reasonable cost and you'll have to load a ton of shells before reaching that point.

    I would recommend a progressive 9000G - as others have mentioned, it can be used as a single-stage loader if you prefer that and you might at first. It will cost more to start with a single-stage and advance to a progressive later on than to start with one that will serve your needs forever.

    As I offered in another recent thread of a similar nature, if you live near south-central Pennsylvania, I would be glad to help you get everything set up and running.

  19. shot410ga

    shot410ga Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Start with the Mec 600jr. Learn, load different receipts. Then buy a Dillon 900SL when your ready to go to a progressive. The Dillon is very easy to change powder and shot weights as it has no bushings. Keep the old Mec for messing around with new loads, or you can sell it for about 80% of what you paid for it.
  20. schneep

    schneep Member

    Jun 6, 2012
    I agree with getting a MEC, one small bit of advise is to install a short sided cooking sheet under it. This will catch the majority of shot and powder that is spilled when you make a mistake od you have any malfunction. This works great at keeping shot from running all over the place.
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