I think most will say Mec as it is definitely the most popular. I have 366's and wouldn't trade them for the world. As much as I would like, I can't justify the Spolar price tag as all the loaders do a great job with 12ga. I would recommend oversized bottles for the 366. I bought the bottles made by Basic Design Machine. Mec has the most parts readily available but I just call Hornady and they get sent right out. As someone said above, nothing breaks on a 366. Keep an extra indexing pawl handy and you are good to go. Also, have a pacific powder bushing modified to accept a mec powder bushing and all of your bushing concerns are gone.
You do not need to set your Spolar, it comes to you set for the loads you specify. If you do want to adjust the loader it is easy to adjust and far easier than a Mec 9000, I have owned both. And the primer system holds 400, just keep loading.
Most people recommend the loader they now use. That is because there are not any bad ones around. Some are faster than others, but all work well.
jhoward- I suggest you make your choice based on availability and price in your area. You will not make a mistake with either model you mentioned. Then, in six months, you can recommend the loader you use to others as the very best.
Depends on how much you are willing to spend. I've never loaded on a Hornady press so I can't give you any advice there. But I have loaded on Mec's, RCBS "The Grand", PW 800, Dillion and a few others. All good and each has a little quirk or two. If you load a fine powder like PB I'd suggest a MEC. I've had powder migration with all of the presses using PB but, in my experience, the MEC's are the only ones that you can keep on loading several thousand PB loads without stopping to clean the press. Other than that they all will give you a decent reload if YOU are consistent in your actions.
having used most everything on the market for about 40 yrs. personal preferance is 366 or PW & i lean to 366 as nothing ever goes wrong or breaks unless i do something wrong, then my fault not the machines.. parts if ever needed are a phone call away and delivered to your door, hard to find fault with service like that..
jh, I can't stand MECs. I won't go into it because I type with four fingers and don't want to spend the time. I sold mine. Yuck!
The 366 is a bullet proof press with a couple of quirks. You cannot remove shells individually at each station because of the metal ring around the shell plate. That has good and bad points, but mostly good. The bad is crap gets stuck under it requiring cleaning. After a decade or so of removing the shell plate, the bolt and nut threads do no have much friction anymore and will move when you operate the machine. Mine moves in the direction that tightens the bolt and jams the shell plate. It is a simple matter to reach under and readjust the nut with your fingers, but it's a pain to do so often. You will be better off rigging a setup to apply some pressure to the nut to keep it from moving.
The primer catch bin is ridiculously small. Make sure to empty it often (it's opaque). It will jam the shell plate if you let it get full. The manual primer filler mechanism is the weakest link on the machine. It works well when new. After it wears, it is not as easy to use and requires fiddling to get each primer to drop. The primer drop tube is opaque, so pay attention and keep it filled.
I retrofitted mine with all the goodies. Mistake. The powder shut-off mechanism shaves powder and the shot shut-off shaves lead (a much bigger problem) and will eventually build up enough you are forced to disassemble and clean. I took that crap back off and the machine returned to its wonderful self again. The powder baffle helps powder drop consistency. The shot tube baffle hurts consistency. The spring loaded primer seating punch is worth its weight in gold.
I never had a part break on my 366, so I can't say how customer service is about repair parts. I've since moved on to another press. I still own the 366, but I wanted more speed and less fiddling. I considered the Dillon and tried the PW before deciding on the RGBS Grand. I'm quite happy with that choice. It has fewer annoying idiosyncrasies than any other press I've used.
I have 2 Hornady 366 reloaders. They are built like a tank. Hornadys' customer service is great. That being said, MEC's customer service is also excellent. You will not be disappointed with either. If you look around long enough you can save a lot of $$ by getting a used one. A guy at our gun club just sold his 366 for $250 and it was like new! I had a P/W 900 Elite at one time. I had a lot of problems with it and P/W 's customer service doesn't exist! I heard they have improved; but they had nowhere to go but up. They couldn't have went much lower. Anyway, the Hornady or MEC will not break the bank and are reliable. You can't go wrong with either. Ed
I’m like zzt but with a MEC. After tweaking, analyzing, and fiddling, my 9000 loads flawlessly but the day will come that I’ll have to tweak and fiddle again. Sounds like you have to do some of that with a Hornady also.
Pick the one that offers the best value to you. Good luck!
I use a mec 900g never loaded with any other manufacture. I would like buy a Spolar, but what makes them so much better? I would be buying my press new so I do not have to worry about rebuilding it to spec.
Thanks Mike Sharkey, DC
I agree with Pat. We all like what we have used and are comfortable with. I will say however that I used a Mec Grabber for years and went to PW and have been very happy. If I were to buy a new one today after reading a lot about loaders I would buy the Dillon for quality and service and warranty. I have used the PW for long enough to know just about every secret there is to keeping it in tune and if that fails I always have Whiz
Pat as always has sage advice. We all gravitate toward the unit we own/use.
I believe the Spolar is the "best" reloader, as well it should be with the premium price tag. It is closer to a work of art than a reloader.
I use a 800+ with the shell feeder, and love it. I do have Spolar hydraulic unit on it since I really like the electronic foot control over fluid. I DO NOT load for speed, but it is speedy due to the shell feeder, making it pretty mindless to reload. That is a great feature for me. Only have to think about the wad and watch the stations.
I, too, agree with Pat. For my part, I have had every reloader made, at one time or another, over the 35 plus years I have been reloading, except a spolar. My mainstay, over all those years, was a Mec 600Jr. that just kept pumping out the loads, no problems. Went to a Grabber when I got into trap shooting, and later added a 650 for meat shoot loads. Had a PW 800, and a Dillon at the same time. Never could get either one of them adjusted right, and they continually gave me fits. Great loaders!!! Just not right for me. About 18 years ago, I bought the very first Mec 9000H that was offered for sale in California, through Orland Supply. Denzel Sisson asked me to buy it because no one else would even give it a try and it just sat on his shelf, on display, for over a year. I bought it from Letha for $200.00 just to have it because I thought it was a neat loader, and I had never seen one with hydraulics. Well, I set up that 9000H, and started reloading trap loads, right out of the box. To this day, I have never had any problems with it other than wearing it out once. I sent it back to MEC and they completely went through it for $135.00. That was about 6 years ago. It still reloads like a champ, and is the only loader I use for trap loads. I still use the Mec Grabber for my meat shoot loads, and keep the 650 around, just in case. All the rest of the loaders I've had? All sold. I stay with Mec because that's what I'm most comfortable with. Mec's customer service has been outstanding, and, I believe they build the best, least complicated, reloader on the market today.... Just my experience. I wrote the following article for On Target Magazine some time ago dealing with this subject and feel the same way today........ Dan Thome (Trap2)
FROM A SHOOTERS VIEW
By: Dan Thome (Trap2)
This month’s topic: Re-loaders and reloading
I was talking with a shooter just the other day at a shoot when he asked me what type of loader I was using for my reloads. I asked him why he wanted to know and he replied that he liked the looks of my reloads, and that his loader didn’t seem to produce as nice a crimp as mine did. When I told him it was a Mec 9000H he was quiet for a moment, and then told me he was loading on a newly purchased Mec 9000G. He wanted to know why my loader was putting out such a nice looking shell and his wasn’t. My answer to the shooters question was that it was just a matter of getting to know your loader and what it can do. Once you have spent some time with your loader, it will, much like your gun, become a part of you. You will know what it takes to coax the very best load from it, and how fast you can load a box of shells without making any mistakes. You will know just what to adjust to get that final crimp to look like a factory shell. You will know to watch for that primer to drop properly. You will know how many loads you can get from a bottle of shot and powder. You will know which wad and powder combination works the best for any given load. You need to get familiar with your new loader.
This question got me to thinking about how the conversation always seems to go when it comes to loaders. One shooter swears that his new Spolar is the best, another says it’s his RCBS Grand, while still another claims there is no equal to a PW with all the bells and whistles. Everyone has their own opinion on which loader is best. Is there really one loader that is “better” than all the others? Will one particular loader out perform the others? For me, the answer is yes, there is! Which one is it? It’s the one I feel the most comfortable with. It’s the one I currently own, of course.
I started my reloading days with a Mec 600Jr. loading shells just for ducks and geese, in 1963. When it came time to upgrade, and I had a little more money to spend, I bought a used Mec Grabber. As I got more serious about trapshooting, and my need for even more shells increased, I really splurged and bought a new Mec 9000H. That was almost eighteen years ago. Why did I continue to buy a Mec when there were so many other loaders available? Simple: I feel more at home loading on a Mec since that was what I started with all those years before. I understand how it works, how to adjust it, what to look for if something goes wrong, how to fix it if it does, and I have an abundant supply of Mec parts, compliments of Mec, should I need them. Loading on my Mec loader feels as natural to me as mounting my gun during a shoot. I always know exactly what to expect from it. Without question, if my current Mec reached the end of its productive life and was beyond repair, I would buy another Mec 9000H. I wouldn’t spend any time at all looking at anything else simply because I just don’t want to take the time to learn how to operate another loader. This one works perfectly for me, we get along great, and I see no reason to change.
The way I see it, it doesn’t matter what make, model, or type loader you are reloading with. If you are as familiar, and as comfortable, with yours as I am with mine, then the best re-loader on the market is the one YOU currently own. Yes, some are made better than others. Some are so finely engineered; they are almost a work of art. Some are machined so well, out of such high quality materials, that they will last several lifetimes
They run the gamut of prices anywhere from $150.00 to several thousand dollars. They all do the same thing, however, they all load shells. Some faster than others, but, not one loader will reload a “better” shell than another if you know how to operate it. I would be willing to bet that the majority of the shooters out there that reload would happily replace their worn out loader with another loader from the same company. After all, we shooters are creatures of habit and will almost always continue using what we have been using because it’s what we know and what we are accustomed to…………….Dan