My MEC experiences - Graybeard Outdoors
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-27-2003, 06:17 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 33
Default My MEC experiences

After reading several 'what do you think about....' posts on different reloading forums lately, I offer to you my impressions on shotshell presses....

First a little terminology,

'single-stage' means you have to move the shell through several 'stations' to get a completely reloaded shell.

A 'station' is where one (or more) steps of the reloading process occur (deprime, resize, prime, powder, wad/shot, start crimp, final crimp) - each step requires a single pull of the reloader handle.

'Progressive' presses allow for several functions to occur with a single pull of the handle. Typically , the shell is advanced through the stages automatically.

I currently have no fewer than 6 shotshell reloaders! And yes, I do shoot a lot of shotshells. And yes I am a packrat!! With that clear, I'll begin!

First off, I have a Lee 'Load - All,' but have used it very little. It is kinda flimsy and is made mostly of plastic. But the price was right at the time (free). At ~$35 from your favorite supply house, it will suffice if you want to load a few shells. I personally think that you are better off saving a few more pennies and purchasing a more-sturdy, used press, but then again that's my opinion - your mileage may vary!

My first loader was a Lyman shotshell loader (no longer made). My Dad and Uncle went in together and bought it in the early 60's. I still occasionally use it for oddball loads (buckshot, etc) because I have the dies to set it up for 20, 16 and 12 guage. At my best undisturbed pace, I could load up to four boxes per hour on it (with a few 'bloopers'). This press is discontinued and if you need additional bushings or parts for it - forget it (unless you have access to a machine shop). Still if you find one used for cheap, I would recommend it. IF all the parts are there.

About 6 years ago, I stumbled on an old roll - crimping, Pacific progressive 12 guage loader for $35 at a gunshop. The old gent was tickled to death that I even showed any interest in it. I set it up and after figuring out how to adjust it, started cranking out 1 1/8 oz 12 guage with Red Dot powder loads at a pretty good pace. I really like the positive ejection of the shell on the resizing station. It is a little faster, but still kinda labor intensive for a loader (no auto prime feature). But it is more dependable than my old Lyman single stage (fewer bloopers - problem shells). The roll-crimping dies worked OK with the star- crimped plastic hulls, but it is another discontinued reloader with hard to replace parts. Like most older presses, it is heavy and well made. For an inexpensive PROGRESSIVE press (used), you can make it work if you are a little more mechanically inclined. Still, I doubt you will find one for sale.

About 5 years ago, my wife and family decided I needed an upgrade. They gave me a MEC 650 progressive. MAN what a cadillac! With my hulls resized and deprimed, this thing will put out a case of PERFECT reloads in an hour. This was very important when I shot a lot of Skeet and sporting clays. I shoot less now, but still use this reloader as my primary. It will totally replace my old Pacific machine when I find someone who needs it more than me!! The resize station on this thing comes up lacking however, when compared to the old Pacific. It is positive on the resized case ejection, but you have to remove the primer tray and screw on the resizer, then add a special bushing to set the hull on. And it's less sturdy that the old HEAVY Pacific - which is important with work-hardened shotshell hull brass. The Sizemaster overcomes this deficiency, by utilizing a collet arrangement to resize, but the sizemaster in only singlestage, not progressive. At ~$230 it's more expensive, but a very good, fast reloader. You could buy MEC's stand alone collet-type resizer to use with this (~$80) and then have a better system.

Since my wife shoots a 20 guage, I needed a better reloader to load her shells than the old Lyman. So, about 2 years ago, I purchased a used MEC Sizemaster. It was pratically new, but the gent I bought it from was tired of reloading and sold the press (2 actually - a 20 and a 12), all his hulls and components as well as his very heavy reloading bench for $100!!
I got one of the best deals ever with this. I promptly sold the 12 guage loader and ended up with a free MEC sizemaster in 20 guage! The only thing missing is the auto primer. This will speed things up when I get around to purchasing it. Still, though a good reloader, it is a little slower and took me awhile to get used to moving the shells through the stations again. My take on this is ... it is a Very Good reloader with a very good resizing/depriming station as it uses a collet-type mechanism. New they go for ~$130.

Finally a few weeks ago I purchased a used MEC 600 jr in 20 that was missing parts for $20. It was rusty and lacking both the bottles (~$4.5 each from Midway) and the priming cup (~$7.10 from MEC), but it was cheap! Though it was an older version, MEC had the parts for it in stock. After using 2 discontinued shotshell reloaders, being able to purchase replacement parts is a BIG plus! I cleaned it up and installed the missing parts this past week. After finding a recipe for my components, I loaded up a few boxes. This thing loaded WinAA, Federal Paper base-wad and Rem-Peters unibody hulls, perfectly - everytime. I am very impressed with this reloader's ability to load virtually any shell I could find a recipe for. In fact, I enjoy using this press a little more than it's newer relative on my bench, the Sizemaster! This is easily the best Single stage press you can buy for the money! Used they go for ~$40 to $50 normally in my part of the US.

In closing (sorry for the long sermon!!), If you plan to load a few boxes now and then - a MEC 600 jr is perfect. With resized and primed hulls I can load about 4 or 5 boxes per hour. If you want to speed up the process a little with a priming attachment and a slightly better resizing stage, you can;t go wrong with a Sizemaster. If however, you plan to shoot copious quantities of shells and want to load a lot in less time, then go with a MEC 650 progressive. Out of all the reloaders I have used, MEC is the best! And no, MEC does not pay my bills - work for a power company!

As an aside - do not ever try to reload the cheap Winchester 'game' hulls on ANY reloader unless you want a nice frustrating, crushed-shell experience. The better hulls are ribbed Remington and Federal hulls. The best are the Remington 'Nitro' / 'Premier,' or Winchester AA hulls. I have reloaded some Fiocchi hulls, but they are a little difficult to resize on push-in, push-out 'bushing-type' resizers.

Once again, I apologize for my long-windedness. But I hope this information is helpful to all the newby's out there. You can reload shotshells cheaper than you can buy them at you favorite 'mart.' Plus, it's fun!!


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-27-2003, 10:32 AM
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Location: King George, VA
Posts: 381
Default My MEC experiences

I made a similiar, though shorter, trip through increasingly better shotgun presses. My first was a used MEC 650 in 12 ga. (Not a bad start!) At the time I was shooting rifle and pistol competitively, not shotgun, so a single yearly session with the 650 would load all I needed. The only draw back was I had to relearn how to use it year to year.

Soon the Grabber models came out with the collet resizing. I had been using a bunch of military 00B high brass six point crimp hulls that are the same compression formed hull as the AA, and had run into some shells not feeding well in my Remington 1100. I thought the collet sizing would be the answer so I loaded a bunch of shells, sold the 650, and saved up for the Grabber. The collet sizer did the trick for those high brass hulls.

An older friend was getting out of Trap and Skeet, so I ended up with a bunch of machines and components from him at reasonable cost. One machine was a Ponsness/Warren, another was a Hydra-MEC 650, and the last machine was a Pacific 366. The P/W was in 28 and .410, and since I was not shooting Skeet, I sold it off through eBay. The 12 ga Hydra-MEC intrigued me, but, since it was based on the 650 machine and did not size the shellhead, it too was sold. The Pacific 366 was in 20 ga, and since Hornady bought out Pacific, it was identical to the Hornady 366. I bought the Hornady caliber conversion for 12 ga and used the machine some. The MEC Grabber was still my machine of choice.

Once the eyes and knees started to go, and my pistol groups started to look like shotgun patterns, the light came on. I started shooting more Skeet and Trap, and started longing for the MEC 9000G, or even better, the 9000H. A friend who starting more into Trap and Skeet about the time I did expressed an interest in my Grabber, and that was the opportunity to move up to the 9000H. I was able to get it through my gun club FFL dealer at dealer price and haven't looked back.

All the MEC machines I've had through the years have had the MultiCharge adjustable bar. That allows much finer control of powder charges since powder density can vary some lot-to-lot, and the same for shot, where chilled shot weighs more than magnum for the same volume.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-28-2003, 10:58 AM
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Default My MEC experiences

I got the SizeMaster, which is a single stage. It's just right for what I'm doing: loading perhaps 100 to 200 rounds per week. I load 150 per hour without rushing. The collet sizer and the primer feed help a lot, I'm sure. The extra large shot bottle probably helps too. I'm very satisfied with this simple and well made press.

Another reason I like it is that I don't want to clutter up the top of my bench with another press. MEC says it's OK to mount it to a 12" by 18" sheet of 3/4" plywood. I did this. It works great. When the press is not in use, I cover it with a pillow case and set it on the floor under the bench. I have read that this technique is not good because it distracts effort away from pulling the lever, but it is no distraction at all.

MEC makes a good product at a good price.

Safety first
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-04-2003, 06:47 PM
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Default My MEC experiences

I went from an old MEC 650 to a Posness Warren LS 1000. The P/W cost me ten times more and does the same great job!!
seriously the P/W is a great machine and I would do it all over again. Both companies have great support
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-10-2005, 07:35 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 77
Default My MEC experiences

I have two MEC 600Jr's & a Mec 9000G.

All I can say is these machines have been first rate. MEC make good stuff.


Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we must not interrupt him too soon.
~Horatio Nelson
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