Reloading 12 Gauge Shotgun Shells

This is a great instructable to learn how to refill once fire shotgun shells. This specific instructable is made using a 12 gauge rounds, however the same methods apply to other gauges in different proportions. The reloading press used in this one was a MEC 9000G. There are many other machines out there to do this process that will follow similar steps if you have one of these, and need advice please post a comment of your machine name. I'll try to help you.

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Step 1: Determine What Type of Load to Create

Reloading is a very fun hobby and cost effective, however there can be danger associated with it when done wrong. Be sure to always safety glasses and hearing protection when reloading.

Read and know what load to use for each round to safely reload. A great guide to look up recipes is the lyman reloaders manual pictured above. This will contain all of the information required to make a safe load. Never try to do a load that is not listed as it can be dangerous. Here is some information you need to know about recipes.

Powder type: Each powder burns at different temperatures and rates, always match the proper powder to the loaders manual recommendation, never substitute another powder that isn't in the receipt.

Weight: This is usually measured in Grns or grains; it refers to the weight of either powder or bullet weight to add.

Shot Size: Ranging from 9 to 00 this is the how large the diameter of the shot is on average. 7 1/2 to 9 is used for clay shooting, 6-4 is for small game and turkey, 0, 00 are used typically for larger game.

Powder bushing: This is a measurement cup that can be added to the charge bar to measure out and amount of powder. You should always verify the bushing is dispensing the proper weight of powder on the first load, and every 500th load after or on a bushing change.

Charge Bar: This is the device that controls the dispensing of shot and powder.

For this particular load i'll be using a Mec #32 bushing for powder and 7/8 oz of lead charge bar.

1 oz wads that are of the AA variationD.

Step 2: Check the Machine for Components

Check the priming station to verify there are enough primers to load the amount of rounds you want to load. If there is not enough add more to the try.

Check the powder and shot tanks to verify they are the proper size shot, proper powder, and have enough contents to reload the amount of rounds you wish to run. DD

Step 3: De-prime the Empty Round

Add an empty shell to the first station of the reloader and depress the handle. You should feel resistance as the machine presses out the spent primer. Allow the handle to left under the pressure of the spring. The shell should automatically index on this machine to the next station. Ensure the a fresh primer drops into the reprime station before the case indexes above it.

Step 4: Re-prime Your Round

If you want to continue to load rounds with the progressive press feature add a fresh empty round each time the handle is depressed. Otherwise you can run one round at a time by waiting for one to be complete.

Depress the handle until it is in the full down position. On the down stroke the machine will press in a new primer. On the upstroke the machine will drop a pre-measured powder charge into the round. Verify the charge bar has moved positions upon the completion of the upstroke. The case will index to the next station, and you will now have a round that has a new primer and powder in it.

Step 5: Add the Shot

Take a AA wad out of the bag and set it on the wad guide of the machine. Press the handle down all the way. The wad will be pushed into the round. On the upstroke the machine will drop a charge of shot into the wad. You should hear the shot drop, also verify the charge bar has now returned to its previous position. Upon the completion of the upstroke the shell will index to the next station. P

Step 6: Pre-Crimp

In this station the crime will be started. Push the handle all the way and then bring up. The shell top will be half way closed at this point. It will then index to the next round. FF

Step 7: Finish the Crimp and Discharge

Pushing down on the handle at this section will close the crimp the rest of the way. Upon the upstroke the shell will be ejected from the machine.

Step 8: Enjoy

The round is now complete and ready to fire. Always perform a visual inspection to verify no defects.



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    5 Discussions

    Les M

    2 years ago

    Thank you for the information! A couple of questions I cannot find an answer for. If I have once used 2 3/4" shells that were loaded with 1 1/8 oz. loads, can I use 1 oz. wads when I reload? I shoot 1 oz. due to injuries ( I need less recoil), all of my buddies shoot 1 1/8 oz, so I have a TON of hulls. Is there any major difference in the hulls from the cheap WalMart -Remington, Winchester and Suprema shells? Taking each apart, I see no major differences.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    thank you for the instructable and your replay i just may tri myself


    4 years ago

    how much does a machine like that cost? (without supplies) I've always thought it would be nice to reload myself but never actually have.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I have to say I was quite shocked when I just looked up the price $500 - $675. I think I bought mine for about 300 new 15 years ago. If you want to try it as a hobby and see if you like it for a lower budget a mec 160 jr is a great starter. Runs about $150 new or about $75 used. It isn't auto indexing but it has all the same steps pretty much.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Hmmmm, interesting. I might have to look into that. for the last couple years I've always saved my spent cartridges from all my firearms just in case I decided to reload, might have to give it a go.
    Thanks for the reply, by the way!