Squirrel and Ducks are two different reloading setups, and for starters, you may just want to start with one.
Ducks require steel shot, special steel wads, and frequently different powders. Plus you really need to get 3" (or 3.5") hulls for waterfowl to get enough killing power, unless you use HeviShot. And HeviShot is almost another reloading proposition all by itself. I suggest you set up for loading lead shot before branching out to the more exotic stuff.
CostAll prices are Gun Club bulk purchase price from a distributer)
Once fired hulls, Winchester AA 2 3/4" - $40 per thousand.
Wads, Claybuster CB118-12 (less expensive copy of the WAA12) - $5.75 per 500
Red Dot Powder - $12.70 for 1#
Winchester 209 Primers - $99.50 per 5000
Shot - $13.95 for 25# (chilled), or $14.55 (extra hard Mangum shot)
Shotshell machine Bottom end: MEC 600 Jr - $84.85, Middle level, Sizemaster $127.87, Progressive MEC 650 $166.88
Reloading Scale - a must for safety - $25 - $95 for a mechanical one, $150 to $250 for the electronic ones.
I picked Red Dot powder as the cheapest one of many suitable powders, same reason for the Clayabuster wads. A typical load would be 1 1/8 oz of shot, the powder would be 17.5 to 18.5 grains (7000 grains in a pound). (Get your loads from a shotshell load book, not the above example.) From the data above you should work out a cost per round. Expect to lose some shot and powder to spillage, however.
If you buy your components at a gun show, expect to pay more. If your gun club buys in large quanties, you may find additional savings. If you buy your machine used, expect to pay about 1/3 less unless you find a really good deal.
I also suggest that you buy the MultiScale Adjustable charge bar to fit your machine. You have more control on powder and shot volumes, and you will find that different powder lots have different volumes, and chilled and magnum shot have different volumes. The reloading scale must be used to set your charge bar, and is still required if you go the multiple charge bar and powder bushing way.
As a starting approach I suggest you buy the Lyman #4 Shotshell manual and read it and understand the process before you buy anything else. Shotshell loading is different from metallic reloading in that you need to use the specific recipe in the load manuals for everything to turn out right. The loads in the manuals have been pressure tested, and also have enough volume of materials so the load stacks up right and a good crimp can be obtained. Changing a primer type, or a wad, and pressures can skyrocket.
Obviously you'll need to find a gun club that has Trap or Skeet in their programs to take advantage of their purchasing power. It's also a good place to practice, and get help from fellow shotgunners.
thanx sounds like alot of info to learn first. I went to a local pawn shop were i remembered seeing a reloader, come to find out it is a hornady apex 3.1 set up for 12 gauge. Since not knowing squat i'm posting here there asking $129. I did walk out with a rem 1100 12 ribbed barrell in decent shape for $125. got one deal from them at least. What do you think off the hornady, or should go with the one you described. thanx dan
Personaly I would start with a mec 60jr it is upgradable for steel shot it is easy to learn on and once set up right it makes good shells the only draw back is you have to buy another adaptor to load 3 1/2 inch shells.
I do not shoot alot of "shot" shells so i am using a set of RCBS 12 ga loading dies (they no longer make them)
you do need a good shotshell loading book get several if you can
I believe I'd go with the 600 Jr like rickyp suggests. I've got a 650 and it's a great press, but I remember when I was setting up the first one I bought - a lot of aggrivation. Maybe it was just me, but if I had been new to reloading shotshells, I would have quit out of frustration. I learned on a MEC Super 250, now out of production, and still use it for 'custom' loads like buckshot and slugs.
Sounds good thanx for everyones help I'll probably pick everything up by summer starting with a couple of books first. One more question though I've heard alot in the past about reloading in the home, how safe is it?
Ammunition reloading in the home is statistically one of the safest of hobby activities, bar none!
LOTS of common sense, use of eye protection, proper primer and powder storage, and attention to what you are doing are mandatory. Good reloading manuals and paying strict attention to them are also essential.
I've reloaded for more than 30 years, as have most of my hunting and shooting friends, and collectively, we have NEVER blown up a gun, or had an ammunition related accident.
It's far safer than doing woodworking with power tools, auto repair, carpentry, housepainting, landscaping, or flying, or boating.
It's not "safe" for careless people or idiots, but then, neither are the other hobbies.
Good point I've got an uncle thats been reloading for who actually knows how long, hes still with us so I guess its ok for me. I'd ask him for all this info but I've never known him to tell me the truth in 30 plus years. Thanx dan
You probably will not come out ahead loading steel unless you buy your supplies bulk and load a lot. I can usually find 3" 1 1/4 oz. steel shells discounted for $8-$9 after season, about the same cost to reload. As far as that goes you can probably buy game loads (promotional) nearly as cheap as you can load them. The cost saving really comes into play with heavy field loads. Often you can load these for pennies more than target loads while the retail price is a 3rd or even twice more than that of target loads.
The main reason I load 12 ga shot shells is not for the light fields loads or steel loads As was stated you can get them very cheep just have to keep an eye open for a good deal/
The reason I load is for special loads such as turkey loads, slugs or heavy loads and the biggest reason I do it is because I enjoy reloading.
Watch what you are doing and dont push the envelope much you will have many years of reloading fun
Thanx, sorry I'm running late on the reply just got a new son fri. I'm not looking at reloading for cost effectiveness but for personal hobby. I got 2 many now but always room for 1 more. Besides I get a lot of time to kill while the way I work. I bidded on a 600jr on ebay but they got ridiculas on the price. Just gonna get one from natchez. When I get set-up I'll be calling for more advice, but with my new son it might be a little while. Dan
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