A shotgun is the choice of weapon for many hunters out there. It can shoot a lot of different ammunition and is quite deadly for the game animals allowing you to get a kill shot easily from a distance. But if you are a regular hunter, it is not very economical to keep buying ammunition every time you go on a hunt.
With the best shotshell reloader, you can make your own slugs from the spent casings with minimal hassle. Besides, you can be specific about the amount of gunpowder you use, giving you better control over your shots. But finding the best unit for your budget is essential for a good performance.
In this article, we will give you a quick rundown of some of the best machines you can find on the market to prepare your slugs with the least bit of hassle.
LEE PRECISION II Reloading Press 12 GA
5 out of 5
Lee Precision Reloading Press 20 GA
5 out of 5
MEC 600 Jr Mark V 410
4.5 out of 5
MEC Sizemaster 20 Gauge Press
4 out of 5
Top 4 Best Shotshell Reloader Reviews
More and more people are getting into reloading their own ammunition these days. While that may be a good thing, it is also attracting many low tier products to hit the market. That is why it is important for you to know which products are worth your money and time.
Here we have listed four of the best shotshell reloader that you could buy without any regrets.
1. LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA
Starting up our list of reviews, we will be looking at the excellent reloader by the brand Lee Precision. This unit is perfect for those who shoot upwards of a hundred shots a week. Featuring a strong and durable construction, this unit is perfect for beginners and professionals alike.
It is quite a versatile unit that allows you to work with 12, 16, and 20 gauge shells. As you might know, these sizes are the most common shell sizes that people generally use either for hunting or other purposes. The unit is also quite fast and can prepare five or more shell boxes under an hour when you get the hang of it.
Speaking of usability, there is a slight learning curve with this tool. However, once you learn the ropes, you will see how well the components work with each other. One weird thing you might notice is that it works better with spent casings, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.
The primer punch and the seater in the unit work perfectly with each other while the sliding system gives you a consistent performance. Combining that with the strong blend of plastic and aluminum construction ensures you get a lasting experience out of the product. Overall, it is an excellent investment for just about anyone.
2. Lee Precision Shotshell Reloading Press 20 GA
If you are on a tighter budget but do not want to miss out on the goodness that comes from using a Lee Precision reloading press, the 20 GA unit might be something that you would want. It is a slightly cheaper alternative but offers many of the excellent features that you saw in our previous product.
The biggest compromise you will be making with this unit is on the gauges you can work with. This unit is excellent for 20 gauge shells, but that is about it. However, it can still work with 2¾ to 3-inch shells like the previous unit. And as an added bonus, you can reload around 200 shells an hour easily.
With your purchase, you get 24 shot and powder bushings which can help you get things running without spending anything extra. You also have a hopper integrated with the unit that can hold five pounds of shots, at least. Thanks to the prime catcher that comes with the unit, you can keep your workspace clean while maintaining your reloading efficiency.
Despite the lower price tag, the manufacturers made no compromises on the build quality. The material selection is the same as more expensive units of the brand, and you can expect a similar level of longevity. If you are someone starting out with reloading, this is one of the best purchases that you can make.
3. MEC 600 Jr Mark V 410
For the next product on our list, we are looking at the MEC 600 Junior by the brand Mayville Engineering. Do not let the “junior” tag fool you; it is one of the most powerful shotshell reloading press that you can find, and it also costs a good few bucks. However, its features do justify the steep price to some level.
It is essentially a single stage reloading press. The press can work with shell lengths of up to 3 inches without any issues and works extremely well for .410 gauge shells. However, if you prefer, you can find Sizemaster products for other gauge sizes as well without too much trouble.
Not only is it extremely versatile, but it also offers efficient performance for the user. If you do everything correctly, you can load as much as eight boxes of shots an hour, which is a lot, even for a large volume shooter. The Cam-action crimp die and the Spandex Crimp Starter that comes with the unit ensures your shell is in the best condition when you are done with your task.
Another excellent feature of the unit is its amazing build quality. It features a strong and sturdy frame that can take a lot of abuse and will serve you for quite a while. This unit is a great investment for beginners and can account for anything you might need to have an efficient reloading experience.
4. MEC Sizemaster 20 Gauge Press
Wrapping up our list of reviews, we will be looking at another offering by the brand Mayville Engineering. This brand is one of the most well-known competitors in the industry. And if our previous product review was not enough to convince you of that, maybe the Sizemaster 20 will.
As the name suggests, the unit is aimed towards 20 gauge shotgun shells. By default, it is set for 2¾ inch shells, but you can easily adjust it to accommodate up to 3-inch shells without any hassle. If you want to go for different gauges, however, you should look at other Sizemaster models.
The unit also comes with a collect resizer to restore the bases of the shells. With your purchases, you get interchangeable powder bushings, an automatic prime feeder, and a charge bar. It can churn through up to 8 boxes an hour, making it a highly efficient tool at the hand of someone who knows what they are doing.
Construction-wise, it features a robust, sturdy frame that speaks a lot for its durability. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you will be able to get long-term usage out of this device. It is quite easy to operate and priced reasonably well, making it accessible for people of all skill levels.
Things to Consider when Buying the Best Shotshell Reloader
With the list of products out of the way, we can head into some of the critical aspects of a shotshell reloader. Before you go spending money on a product, you need to be aware of certain factors about this machine. Without understanding these factors, you cannot be sure that you will make the right buying decision.
So without further ado, here are a few things that you should consider when investing in the best shotshell reloader.
Types of Shotshell Reloader
First off, you must decide on the type of reloader you want to buy. Shotshell reloader can come in two variants, single-stage and progressive. In our reviews, we covered only the single-stage reloaders. These are not only more affordable but also easier to use, which makes them perfect for a beginner.
However, progressive reloaders give you a lot of benefits, such as higher speed and a lot of versatility. Regardless of which one you choose, you need to consider the advantages and setbacks of both units. You also need to think about your budget and skill level to understand which reloader would better serve your purpose.
Compatibility is a major contributor to deciding which reloader you will buy. Most reloaders will let you use 2¾ to 3-inch shells. Thankfully that is what you will need in most cases. If you need longer shells, however, you need to be a bit more careful about where you are putting your money.
Furthermore, you need to check the gauge compatibility of the reloading press too. Some models allow you to work with multiple shell gauges, whereas others will only work with a single gauge. If you want versatility, consider buying one that allows you to switch the gauges easily.
Speed is also an essential factor that you need to consider before you invest in a particular product. As a beginner, you might not require a high volume of shells from so the speed will not matter much to you. However, once you understand how it works, you will want a unit that offers faster performance.
With higher speed, you can get through large batches faster, making it more efficient to create large volumes of ammunition. Regardless of your skill level, we would recommend investing in a device that offers decent speed so that you do not outgrow it when you gather more skill in reloading.
Accuracy of your finished shell is something most people forget to address when buying their shotshell reloader. If the finished accuracy is not up to the mark, you essentially wasted your money on a mediocre machine. You want to make sure the final results can live up to your expectation.
Naturally, as your skill progresses, the quality of your finished batches will improve. As long as you invest in a machine that will give you high-quality shells when you know what you are doing, you should be okay. It is also a good idea to avoid cheap, knock-off brands as they rarely give you a decent performance.
Ease of Use
Nobody likes to deal with extra hassles for no reason, right? Whether you are a beginner or a professional-level reloader, you should make sure you buy a unit that is easy for you to use. There is no reason to buy a unit that makes things unnecessarily hard on your part.
And if you are just starting out, a complex shotshell reloader will only discourage you from learning this skill. Find something that comes with a simple loading mechanism and requires minimal supervision on your part. That way, you can take things easy while the reloading press efficiently performs its task.
Each shotshell reloader comes with its own unique station. The design of the station varies wildly from one manufacturer to another. So make sure you go with a machine that comes with a user-friendly station. Even if you are an expert, a friendly station will make it easier for you to go through your batches.
Additionally, check for any spillage as that is the sign of poor station design. The components for reloading are quite expensive, so the last thing you want is to waste it. With poor design, after every batch, you will have a lot of wastage that ultimately goes out of your pocket.
When you are investing in a reloading press, you need to make sure that it will last you a good while. A shotshell reloader is not exactly a cheap investment. If it breaks down on you after a couple of uses, there is no point buying it. Remember, a reloading press is supposed to save you money.
If it is not durable, you will end up having to spend more on fixing it or, in the worst-case scenario replacing it altogether. That is why spend some time assessing the overall structural quality of the unit before committing to it. Also, check the condition of the moving parts in the machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a shotshell reloader and any other reloader?
A shotshell reloader is nothing special. It is similar to other reloading presses, except it is used specifically for shotgun shells. The basic principle across all reloading presses, whether it is for rifle cartridges or pistol, is essentially the same. A shotshell reloader can work with different shotgun shell gauges like 12 or 20 gauge slugs.
Do I need the best shotshell reloader?
If you are a hunter or a shooter who extensively uses a shotgun, then yes, you probably do. For any frequent shooter, reloading your own ammo is the best way to keep the ammunition expense at a minimum. Buying ammunition on a regular basis is not very practical if you are a serious hunter.
With a shotshell reloader, you can make your own ammo with minimal hassle. You can simply use your spent cartridges and fashion them into new ones while adding your own unique touches. It offers you a level of control over the shells that you cannot get with factory-made bullets.
Besides, reloading is a fun skill in general for people who like tinkering and experimenting. It offers you a greater insight into how bullets work and the impact of gunpowder or casings on the overall accuracy and trajectory of your shot. Most professional level shooters make their own ammunition for this specific reason.
Which gauge should I use with a shotshell reloader press?
The gauge you use with your reloader press depends on the capability of the machine. If your unit allows you to use different gauges, then you should go with the one that is most comfortable for you. However, some models work with a single gauge of shells, which means that it is the one you are stuck with.
A shotshell reloader is a must-have tool if you are a hunter who likes to reload his own ammunition. It not only provides you with an economical way to keep your inventory filled with ammo, but you also get to learn a fun new skill. After all, shooting your handmade ammunition is a reward all on its own.
We hope you found our extensive article on the best shotshell reloader to be helpful. You can confidently pick out any of our recommended products to have a good and efficient reloading experience.
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