Now when picking out your first initial shotgun press you need to keep it as simple, and basic as possible until you truly get the hang of things. A single stage press is going to be your best bet as you manually move the shell from station to station, and have total control of what is going on, and can see what is done every step of the way. The two main single stage presses that are great for beginners and old timers still use them are the Lee Load All II, and the MEC 600 Jr. Mark V. Now the Lee Load All is inexpensive and comes with a lot of bushings for loading, but it is truly an entry level unit. It will work perfectly for you if you don't swap out what loads you do very often or you only do say trap loads. Otherwise it can be a pain changing all the bushings, powder, and shot around. The MEC is going to run a bit more $65 for the Lee at this moment and $199 for the MEC which it only comes with one bushing and charge bar.

MEC 600 Jr. Mark V

MEC 600 JR Mark V

Lee Load All II

Lee Load All II

There is a lot going on when reloading, and that is why it is so important to know what is going on in every stage of the process, and the exact reason I recommend that you learn on a single stage. I started on a Lee Load All years ago, and just last year moved from one to a MEC 600 JR. My son is now the owner of my old Lee Load All II

There are a couple key things that you should keep in mind if you cannot decide which would suit you better. Now mind you, even if you outgrow the Lee Load All II it is a great backup, and will last for years.

Are you going to do just a casual once in awhile reloading, and shooting of your shotgun? If yes then the Load All is a great start for you. If no then lets continue.

Are you going to be loading just one or two basic loads that are sporting loads? If yes then the Lee Load can work well for you.

Are you planning on doing various loads with different powders, and shot sizes, and will you be changing what your loading often to accommodate those loads? If yes then you need to start with the MEC. I have 15 different loads I use for just one of my shotguns which it is not a fast, and easy process to change everything around on a Load All especially that often so a MEC will win this one hands down.

Now using both of these I have got to 75 to 100 rounds an hour with the LEE Load ALL, and 100 to 150 with the MEC, BUT you can get an auto primer feed for the MEC which will speed things up drastically which I have yet to do. MEC also offers you the option of larger shot, and powder jars, universal charging dies, steel load conversions, and a lot of other extras. The one down side to the MEC vs. the Lee Load All is that the MEC you have to buy different bushings, and charge bars as where the Lee comes with a bunch, but you also will not have as many options from the Lee in bushings and charge bars than you would with the MEC.

A prime example is I have spent 2 years developing, and perfecting my high velocity lead small game hunting load. In Missouri when hunting squirrel, crow, and such especially on public lands you are taking long shots, and sometimes through a lot of foliage. I developed a load with 1 1/4 ounce buffered #4 magnum shot moving at right around 1,440fps out of a 2 3/4" shell. Now none of the Lee powder bushings would accommodate the powder charges so before I switched to a MEC I would have to use a powder dispenser set up next to the press, and actually have to remove the shell off the press to charge it. Which drastically adds time to the load because it already has to be removed from the press after having shot placed in it to add buffer (which I will go over the use of shotgun buffer in a later blog). With the MEC the only time I take the shell away from the press is to add the buffer after the shot is placed in the wad, and before the start of crimping. When doing these loads like this on the Lee I was lucky to get maybe 35 an hour done. With the MEC I can pop out close to 100 an hour.

I have a main load I use for Handicap trap, and sporting clays, and 2 backups. Which I always have backup loads for all my guns, and I cannot recommend having backup loads enough. I will post another blog on the importance of having back up loads, and multiple loads for each of your guns. Not just shotgun.

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