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Reloading 12ga

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  • Reloading 12ga

    A older gentleman that I know through the skeet club on base recently gave me a MEC 9000 12ga reloader. I’ve been reloading for rifles for about 3 years but this is my first venture into shotguns. I plan to primarily reload non-tox for waterfowling as I’d actually be spending MORE money to reload target loads than to just buy factory ammo. I have a shotshell reloading manual on the way so while I’m waiting to get started, would anyone here be willing to share their favorite loads?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Outlaw View Post
    A older gentleman that I know through the skeet club on base recently gave me a MEC 9000 12ga reloader. I’ve been reloading for rifles for about 3 years but this is my first venture into shotguns. I plan to primarily reload non-tox for waterfowling as I’d actually be spending MORE money to reload target loads than to just buy factory ammo. I have a shotshell reloading manual on the way so while I’m waiting to get started, would anyone here be willing to share their favorite loads?
    First outlaw! Good to hear from you again!
    All my data is old and I only load lead shot.
    What powder bushings came with it?
    Shot bars?
    Click image for larger version

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    The above shot bars are for lead shot. The 302 is the MEC part number.
    The 100 on the left bar means "1 oz lead shot".
    The 118 on the right bar means "1 1/8 oz lead shot".
    A "7/8 oz" bar will be stamped 78.
    I don't know if you'll need specific shot bars for steel or nontoxic shot or not.

    Hope I helped "any"! LOL!

    Comment


    • #3
      I am going to the skeet range Wed with a guy that reloads. I have a MEC Sizemaster but have not reloaded anything yet. I have been saving my hulls. One thing I notice is a published load will even include the wad used and even the primer. I plan on my friend helping me set up and work me through the first batch. Probably target loads at first. Good luck with yours.
      Last edited by jhjimbo; 10-12-2019, 08:38 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Outlaw View Post
        A older gentleman that I know through the skeet club on base recently gave me a MEC 9000 12ga reloader. I’ve been reloading for rifles for about 3 years but this is my first venture into shotguns. I plan to primarily reload non-tox for waterfowling as I’d actually be spending MORE money to reload target loads than to just buy factory ammo. I have a shotshell reloading manual on the way so while I’m waiting to get started, would anyone here be willing to share their favorite loads?
        Quite a gift! Those are MEC's top of the line loaders.

        Very few guys I know mess with loading steel. It is finicky stuff! Very dangerous if you don't get it just right. The wads can also be hard to get. You'll also need special steel loading bars. I suspect if this fella put that much money into it he probably had an adjustable bar? Not sure if those are good for steel.

        An automatic progressive reloader will definitely take some getting used to. Keep an eye on it during operation. If something screws up, like a primer doesn't drop or a hull gets wrinkled during sizing, it's a real pain getting everything into sync again. I know a lot of guys who had progressive machines and went back to single stage ... including our shotgun editor on here. My advice to you would be to trade that thing off unless you plan on loading a LOT ... like several times a week for trap/skeet league. Most guys I know who reload only do it for 28 or .410 gauge because that ammo is so expensive. Or a few guys who shoot break open 12 gauge in competition will load for 7/8 oz to reduce recoil. Anyway, if you're just wanting to load for waterfowl (like a half dozen boxes per season) a single stage loader will serve you much better. You don't need to load high volume and errors are easier to fix. I have a MEC Grabber progressive loader (manual station change not automatic) and it can sometimes be a pain in the arse. It does load a lot faster IF nothing goes wrong. Also, stopping and starting a progressive loader can be a bit tricky. No problem with a single stage loader. And finally, progressive loaders have to be kept clean or they get bound up. Cleaning my loader is a GIANT pain in the butt. Required certification in surgery to take it apart and get it back together properly. Ugh! But an idiot can do maintenance on MEC 600 single stage loader.
        Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 10-13-2019, 12:22 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the advice. The only bar that came with it was a 1 1/8oz lead bar, I plan on purchasing some other bushings and bars but don’t plan on reloading with it all that much. It’ll be cheaper for me to shoot cases of factory lead ammo most of the time. Was just wondering if anyone here had any tips or “pet loads”.

          Comment


          • #6
            If you're loading lead keep in mind that MEC's bushing chart is WAY conservative. For example, Hodgon website's loading chart may say 18 grains of such-and-such powder is for 1 1/8 oz shot and MEC's loading table says a #29 bushing will yield that weight of same powder ... but it doesn't! Check it on your powder scale. Often the correct weight is produced with a bushing two sizes larger. Also, MEC bars are conservative for shot weights too. This can be particularly important if you're loading light loads as many powders won't burn properly if enough pressure isn't generated in the shell during ignition. In other words, the powder needs to match the shot payload or you'll get some shells that fire "poomp" (poor ignition) and some that fire "KABOOM" (burning off unburned powder left in the barrel from previous shell). I checked the shot weight of bars with my powder scale (converting oz to grains using on line calculator) and found they were also light. Bought my progressive loader used (estate of an old skeet shooting friend) and it came with 3/4 oz, 7/8 oz, and two 1 oz bars. I needed a 1 1//8 oz bar so I reamed out one of the 1 oz bars with Dremel tool grinding stone, checking it against the scale till it threw a true 1 1/8 oz load (restamped the code on the end too). Then I opened up the other factory 1 oz bar to throw a true 1 oz shot load. I have worked up a great 1 oz load that is very easy on recoil yet still ejects from my Browning Magnum A-5 (but just barely ... which is just right for reduced recoil). They are also quite comfortable to shoot in my Citori. Seem to break the clays well too.

            You might want to consider buying an adjustable loading bar for the machine. I believe a steel bar works fine with lead shot ... but not vice versa. Steel shot bars have rubber slots next to the shot drops to allow hard steel shot to be levelled off without jamming against the edge of the aluminum bar and damaging it. Not a problem with lead shot because it's softer than the aluminum bar and pellets can be cut or forced without damaging the bar. Also, 1 1/8 oz steel is a lot larger volume than same weight in lead shot so the steel bar needs a lot larger shot cavity. Again, the best way to deal with varying shot and powder types/loads is to pick up an adjustable bar and check the charges with a scale. Adjustable bars aren't cheap ... but you only have to buy one ... ever.

            Recently picked up two five hundred cartons of Winchester primers (another estate sale) and very disappointed in them! A couple of cards had undersized primers that wouldn't stick in any hulls except Winchester. Makes a hell of a mess when primer falls out during loading ... or worse when my auto is cycling! Since using them I have also noticed a lot of unburned powder in the gun. French made Chedite primers seat flawlessly in any hull and reloads seem to burn a heck of lot cleaner. I think I have had two failed Chedite primers in three thousand rounds which isn't bad.

            I use Claybuster wads and have had very good luck. The pink wads are good for both 1 oz and 1 1/8 oz 12 gauge loads (the 1 oz loads don't crimp as pretty but they seal up fine). I have had very bad luck trying to reload Federal "blue box" trap shells. The hulls are not consistent (Federal is notorious for crappy quality control). Winchester AA hulls seem to be preferred by all the hotshots. I have had good luck reloading cheap Canadian made Score shells and RIO. Be advised though, that it's not a good idea to reload cheap hulls more than once or twice. Fortunately, there's usually an ample supply of fresh ones at the range. I will usually use a Sharpie to mark those reloads with an X on the side so I don't pick them up again. Winchester AA or Remington can be reloaded till the crimps give out. Or so I'm told.
            Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 10-13-2019, 11:05 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Outlaw View Post
              Thanks for the advice. The only bar that came with it was a 1 1/8oz lead bar, I plan on purchasing some other bushings and bars but don’t plan on reloading with it all that much. It’ll be cheaper for me to shoot cases of factory lead ammo most of the time. Was just wondering if anyone here had any tips or “pet loads”.
              My "pet load" is 1 oz lead with Claybuster pink wads (= Winchester WAA12SL), Chedite 209 primers, and 19 grains of Hodgdon Titewad powder. Again, forget about MEC's bushing chart. Use bushing #31 for 19 grains (= 8,600 psi at 1235 fps). I seem to recall their chart said #29 produced 19 grains Titewad which is baloney. If you use MEC's recommended bushing the shells' crimps won't close tight and they don't have enough poop to make my auto work. Anyway, using #31 for that weight shot and TW powder produces a very comfortable shooting load. If you decide to try Titewad, I suggest spraying your powder funnel and inside of the reloader's powder drop tube with StaticGuard. Titewad powder is prone to clinging, especially to things plastic. For 1⅛ oz shot loads use the same wads and primers with #30 bushing. I actually use #31 bushing and get away with it but the shell is packed a little tight. Not to worry about too much pressure as 18.4 grains of TW with 1⅛ oz lead only produces 10,200 psi and a moderate 1200 fps. 19 grains won't produce much more heat. Certainly not enough to worry about. These shoot much more comfortably than either Score or Federal factory loads of same weight and velocity so they're definitely not overheated.

              I tried Red Dot powder and though it worked fine with lighter loads (different bushing though), it shot very dirty. Left a lot of powder residue in my A-5's action. Had to clean it after just a couple of boxes at the range or it wouldn't cycle. Fixed breech shotguns should do okay with it. As I recall Red Dot is considerably cheaper powder.

              I strongly suggest working up a good light load, especially if you're shooting a break open or pump shotgun. Makes shooting high volumes at the range a lot more fun. And can sure perk up the scores too. A couple of the old hotshot trap shooters at my club load up very soft 7/8 oz twelve gauge and do well with them. I may give it a try for my Citori (would never cycle in autos) but I don't have the wads for it now. Hmmm. I have about a thousand old paper 16 gauge wads that I could split in two and use as filler in the pink Claybuster shot cups. That should work for a trial anyway.

              Through the club I can order loading components and/or shells wholesale. We figured it out and the cost of reloading is only slightly higher than buying cheap shells. But there's usually not many options available for the cheap shells. And our supplier has a bad habit of not sending us what we order. I usually order about half the shells I'll need through the year (sixteen flats) and supplement with reloading. That way I always have a good supply of quality fresh hulls (a few of us have been ordering our shells direct from Score since the club's supplier has decided to only sell crappy Federal ammo).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Outlaw View Post
                Thanks for the advice. The only bar that came with it was a 1 1/8oz lead bar, I plan on purchasing some other bushings and bars but don’t plan on reloading with it all that much. It’ll be cheaper for me to shoot cases of factory lead ammo most of the time. Was just wondering if anyone here had any tips or “pet loads”.
                Outlaw:
                Question asked on the MEC website FAQ:
                What do I have to do to safely change from reloading lead to steel and back again ?
                Answer:
                A steel shot kit and charge bar "must" be installed to reload steel shot.
                Once a kit is on you only need to change bars to go back and forth to lead shot.
                If you have any questions about this call them and ask, they are very knowledgeable and helpful.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post
                  If you're loading lead keep in mind that MEC's bushing chart is WAY conservative. For example, Hodgon website's loading chart may say 18 grains of such-and-such powder is for 1 1/8 oz shot and MEC's loading table says a #29 bushing will yield that weight of same powder ... but it doesn't! Check it on your powder scale. Often the correct weight is produced with a bushing two sizes larger. Also, MEC bars are conservative for shot weights too. This can be particularly important if you're loading light loads as many powders won't burn properly if enough pressure isn't generated in the shell during ignition. In other words, the powder needs to match the shot payload or you'll get some shells that fire "poomp" (poor ignition) and some that fire "KABOOM" (burning off unburned powder left in the barrel from previous shell). I checked the shot weight of bars with my powder scale (converting oz to grains using on line calculator) and found they were also light. Bought my progressive loader used (estate of an old skeet shooting friend) and it came with 3/4 oz, 7/8 oz, and two 1 oz bars. I needed a 1 1//8 oz bar so I reamed out one of the 1 oz bars with Dremel tool grinding stone, checking it against the scale till it threw a true 1 1/8 oz load (restamped the code on the end too). Then I opened up the other factory 1 oz bar to throw a true 1 oz shot load. I have worked up a great 1 oz load that is very easy on recoil yet still ejects from my Browning Magnum A-5 (but just barely ... which is just right for reduced recoil). They are also quite comfortable to shoot in my Citori. Seem to break the clays well too.

                  You might want to consider buying an adjustable loading bar for the machine. I believe a steel bar works fine with lead shot ... but not vice versa. Steel shot bars have rubber slots next to the shot drops to allow hard steel shot to be levelled off without jamming against the edge of the aluminum bar and damaging it. Not a problem with lead shot because it's softer than the aluminum bar and pellets can be cut or forced without damaging the bar. Also, 1 1/8 oz steel is a lot larger volume than same weight in lead shot so the steel bar needs a lot larger shot cavity. Again, the best way to deal with varying shot and powder types/loads is to pick up an adjustable bar and check the charges with a scale. Adjustable bars aren't cheap ... but you only have to buy one ... ever.

                  Recently picked up two five hundred cartons of Winchester primers (another estate sale) and very disappointed in them! A couple of cards had undersized primers that wouldn't stick in any hulls except Winchester. Makes a hell of a mess when primer falls out during loading ... or worse when my auto is cycling! Since using them I have also noticed a lot of unburned powder in the gun. French made Chedite primers seat flawlessly in any hull and reloads seem to burn a heck of lot cleaner. I think I have had two failed Chedite primers in three thousand rounds which isn't bad.

                  I use Claybuster wads and have had very good luck. The pink wads are good for both 1 oz and 1 1/8 oz 12 gauge loads (the 1 oz loads don't crimp as pretty but they seal up fine). I have had very bad luck trying to reload Federal "blue box" trap shells. The hulls are not consistent (Federal is notorious for crappy quality control). Winchester AA hulls seem to be preferred by all the hotshots. I have had good luck reloading cheap Canadian made Score shells and RIO. Be advised though, that it's not a good idea to reload cheap hulls more than once or twice. Fortunately, there's usually an ample supply of fresh ones at the range. I will usually use a Sharpie to mark those reloads with an X on the side so I don't pick them up again. Winchester AA or Remington can be reloaded till the crimps give out. Or so I'm told.
                  Honk: once you use a cheddite primer in a hull you can't use a different type. As well if the shell had a cheddite primer when new that would be the only primer you could use to reload that hull with.
                  If you are buying components off an estate sale you better be checking them closer......
                  I am thinking on the Ballistic Products web site they have reloading data specific to Rio hulls, pretty sure they are getting more than two reloads out of them.
                  You are not getting a pretty crimp on your 1 oz loads because you need to adjust the reloader for that load.
                  MEC has excellent videos to walk folks through anything you need to do to make their stuff work properly.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by springerman3 View Post

                    Honk: once you use a cheddite primer in a hull you can't use a different type. As well if the shell had a cheddite primer when new that would be the only primer you could use to reload that hull with.
                    If you are buying components off an estate sale you better be checking them closer......
                    I am thinking on the Ballistic Products web site they have reloading data specific to Rio hulls, pretty sure they are getting more than two reloads out of them.
                    You are not getting a pretty crimp on your 1 oz loads because you need to adjust the reloader for that load.
                    MEC has excellent videos to walk folks through anything you need to do to make their stuff work properly.
                    I am not getting a pretty crimp because the Claybuster pink wads are designed for both 1 and 1 1/8 oz loads. The shot load at 1 oz is a bit low. Yes, I can readjust for a "pretty" crimp but then I have to readjust for the heavier loads. Anyway, the "pretty" crimps with the nice roll at the top shorten the lifespan of the hulls. Crimps will start cracking earlier. If I can get the shell to seal without the fancy albeit destructive roll (when the 1 oz shot load is lower), I'm actually better off. I started reloading shotshells with MEC single stage back in 1960s so I'm not a novice.

                    I don't know who told you that business about Cheddite primers ruining hulls for other primers. #209 size primers are the same size no matter who makes them. Or they are supposed to be. I have loaded with Federal, Winchester, Remington, and Cheddite primers without any problems. The defective cards of Winchester primers from the estate sale were falling out of newly fired hulls, not ones I had reloaded before with Cheddite. The other carton of Winchester primers were fine. It was obviously a quality control issue with Winchester for a certain run. I am not sure how one can check the primers "closer." Take along a micrometer to the shop/auction and pull primers out and check each one? This is the first time I have encountered this and I suspect it will be the last time. The curious thing was the defective primers would seat (but just barely) in Winchester AA hulls reloaded by someone else several times before. Presumably those hulls had been reloaded with Cheddite primers because that's all the club's supplier carries.

                    All the manufacturers now sell cheap shells that are meant to be thrown out after firing ... and they also make more expensive shells intended for repeat reloading. Most of the cheap shells can be reloaded a couple of times for light range loads (Federal "blue box" being the exception - they won't reload for crap even once). Since everyone is throwing out their cheap shells at the range after one firing, I always have a ready supply of hulls. I have reloaded Score cheap hulls three times without issue but I see no point in pushing the envelope when there is such an abundance of first fired hulls in the garbage to salvage. One thing that does interest me about RIO is their cheap trap shells have high base. And still very cheap price. However I don't think the metal base makes much difference for reloading longevity. It's what's inside the shell, the type of plastic in the sides of hull, and the style of crimp. The old Remington green field loads would reload forever I think. Those are tough hulls! Federal "blue box" hulls blow off the crimp after one or two reloads and there is no consistency in hull construction so wad seating and crimping is not consistent. Consequently the powder does not burn consistently either (poomp, BOOM, bang ...). Federal's Gold Medal hulls reload well I'm told. But you pay for them too!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Remington, Winchester, Federal & CCI 209 primers are made to SAMMI specs, the 209 primers from European companies are not. They have an equivalent organization but their specs are different.
                      While using those primers may not expand the primer socket all the time there is enough evidence that it can and does happen. Based on that it is not advisable to switch to US made primers after using European primers consistently if you are reloading the same hulls.
                      This info was the perspective of two powder companies I contacted as well the opinion of at least 6 old timers that shoot 15,000 rounds a year, mostly reloads.
                      I won't repeat what their reply was when I told them about you reaming out shot bars or using 16 gauge wads inside 12 gauge wads.....

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by springerman3 View Post
                        Remington, Winchester, Federal & CCI 209 primers are made to SAMMI specs, the 209 primers from European companies are not. They have an equivalent organization but their specs are different.
                        While using those primers may not expand the primer socket all the time there is enough evidence that it can and does happen. Based on that it is not advisable to switch to US made primers after using European primers consistently if you are reloading the same hulls.
                        This info was the perspective of two powder companies I contacted as well the opinion of at least 6 old timers that shoot 15,000 rounds a year, mostly reloads.
                        I won't repeat what their reply was when I told them about you reaming out shot bars or using 16 gauge wads inside 12 gauge wads.....
                        Here's an interesting discussion on the myth or reality of Cheddite primers being defective: https://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=269646

                        You will note that I said the Winchester primers fell out of first fired Score shells. Had not reloaded them before with Cheddite primers. I dissected one of the factory Score shells and the primers are not red topped (i.e. Cheddite). Might even have been Winchester primers. I suspect Score picks up primers from whomever gives them the best deal. You will also note that I said when I switched to the other five-hundred carton of Winchester primers, they stopped falling out of the hulls. The above url thread seems to indicate quality control issues for both hulls and primers may be at the heart of this problem.

                        Plastic wads are very forgiving (it's why we no longer have to pressure load them like the old fibre wads). Certainly if I'm dropping a fibre filler inside the shot cup all I'm doing is shortening the shot cup to accommodate lighter shot loads than the wads were designed for. I can't see how that could possibly cause any safety issues. Hardly pushing the envelope. Exactly the opposite in fact. The base of plastic wads designed for the lighter loads is essentially the same as same company's wads for heavier loads (specialty shells excluded). They seal up burning gases exactly the same. The difference is in the length of the shock absorber part between shot cup and wad base. And sometimes the thickness of the base itself. It's about taking up space inside the shell so it will crimp closed and not leak out shot.

                        I do note that Cheddite primers fire hotter than the Winchester primers. The latter leave a lot of unburned powder in my gun. Cheddite fire much cleaner using the same powder (Titewad). The business about Cheddite causing broken firing pins was of interest. I have had two firing pins break in my A-5 Magnum Twelve but I know for certain I was not reloading when the first one broke. I might have been reloading a bit when the second one gave way but I doubt it. Although I am reloading a lot right now with Cheddite primers, I see no issues whatsoever with my guns' firing pins. In fact, I had to completely dismantle the Magnum 12 last night because I fell into a creek with it earlier in the afternoon. Firing pin looked like new.

                        Reaming out shot bars is no different than changing the charge on a rifle/pistol powder measure. You get the cylinder adjusted to throw the charge that is right ... WHEN CHECKED ON A SCALE. Then you're good to go. I did the same thing to my MEC bar. I opened up the cylinder till it threw exactly the shot weight I needed. Unlike powder, shot volume/unit of weight doesn't change from brand to brand or, it seems, even between various sizes of shot. MEC sells adjustable shot bars which can change the cylinder for different weights of shot. I am doing the same thing, albeit in a more tedious way. And of course I can only change the weight by increasing it. The change is permanent. You're six "old timers" probably don't have enough ingenuity to change a bike tire without professional advice. Sounds like the big shot retired engineer at sporting clays. He never cleaned his Beretta auto because he was afraid to take the gun apart. When it finally quite working he took it to a gunsmith for cleaning. Being old doesn't necessarily mean wise. If your "old timer" friends are loading per MEC's powder bushing chart, then they are selling themselves short ... very short. Like two bushing sizes short. Check it on a powder scale if you don't believe me.

                        Comment

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