View Full Version : Lee Loader for Shotguns

11-02-2015, 06:48 AM
I have never used a Lee Loader and was wondering what experiences y'all have had with them, particularly the models for shotguns.

Is it difficult to produce consistent rounds (e.g. a consistent crimp)?

Are they a pain to use if loading more than just a few rounds (i.e. would you NOT use one to load 20-25 shells at a time)?

Should I spend just a little more and get a Lee Load All instead?

Right now, I don't want to spend the money necessary to purchase even a used MEC shotgun reloading press (though that is the eventual goal, IF I find that I load enough rounds for shotguns to justify the cost). I thought the Lee Loader might be a viable solution for the short term.


11-02-2015, 06:16 PM
I used to sheet skeet years ago and had one. It was adequate for my needs. The Mepps crimps the shells better but the Lee worked OK.I only loaded boxes at a time. But I shot them boxes at a time, too.

11-02-2015, 07:13 PM
I used those when I was a kid (8-9yrs old) for my dads loads, and yes I was responsible enough back then. I remember it was labor intensive back then, but it produced pretty good results, enough for that trip to Basken Robbins after the hunting trip.

Now I use the MEC loaders, boy what a blessing those are. I use them for every type of shot shell load you can think of, bird, rabbit, and even slugs. You can sure get more than a few loaded compared to the old way..

11-03-2015, 07:15 AM
For price, Lee Load All hard to beat, but GRUMPA right, MEC is much easier and faster.

11-03-2015, 06:26 PM
NOTHING Lee is worth much.

By that I mean their presses. They make a good selection of metallic center fire type tooling, for both pistol and rifle. But their presses by and large are JUNK. Even their much touted Lee Pro 1000 is not worth the effort in my book.

Their shot shell presses are even worse than that.

Get a MEC 600 or better (the MEC 9000 press is the best!!), and you'll be much happier than anything Lee. Shot shell reloading is not at all anything like metallic cartridge reloading. Shot shell reloading requires a specific wad with a specific hull, and the amount of shot is the determiner for the wad/shot shell combination. And, the powder selection will give you a few options. HOWEVER............ the amount of that powder is VERY SPECIFIC!! There is NO "working up a load" when it comes to shot shell reloading.

The brass cupped end of a shot shell often needs to get resized, and none of the Lee presses do that well, if at all. The MEC 9000 has one of it's stations that is dedicated specifically to doing that. Otherwise, even with a MEC 600, you might have to buy an accessory tool to crimp the brass.

Also, the re-crimping of the shot shell plastic is something that you'll only get one or two uses from a hull. The plastic gets too messed up at that end of the plastic, and without a tight crimp, the reload will fail, pellets will fall out, making the reload possibly dangerous. So, get used to the notion that you'll go through lots of hulls! If you can get to know some people who shoot trap, you might be able to get access to once fired hulls. Avoid the AA trap hulls however. They are not made well, and you'd likely only get one reload from those.

The green hulls or GOLD hulls will get you more reloads (maybe 3-4 max). High brass vs low brass means nothing. Toss any steel and use only brass hulls (the metallic portion of the plastic hulls, that is). Check with a magnet, some companies are brass plating steel.

Get a shot shell reload data book or use the online data sources like Hodgdon.com. They cover the shot shell reload data quite well.

Some people think that shot shell reloading is easier and simpler than metallic cartridge reloading. It isn't! In many ways it's more complicated. Having to use a specific wad for a given shot weight, and for a specific hull makes it a complicated set of defined must-do steps. If you're going to go through all that trouble, why fuss endlessly with it on a $25 Lee piece of crap press.

Most of us who have a hobby spend a reasonable amount of $$$ for quality. I sure would not buy a crappy press for reloading pistol and rifle cartridges. I sure wouldn't spend cheap money on a reloading press for shot shells. You'll make crappy ammo, and struggle to do even that.

Been there, done that, and three t shirts and at least one coffee mug! (old saying)

I really like the MEC product line, and have owed three Model 600 varients, and a MEC 9000 (full auto progressive version).

I got out of reloading shot shells because the cost of the bags of lead shot went through the roof! It is now MUCH cheaper to buy factory ammo on sale (there is an abundance of shot shells for sale in the stores, unlike the meager offerings of metallic cartridges). Unless you can buy pallet loads of the shot t one time, $50 a bag for the lead shot takes reloading of shot shells out of the realm of economical.

So, before you invest in ANY equipment, do some double checking on the costs that you will be incurring BEFORE starting down that path. $50 for a bag of shot (25 pounds) will be a lot when you do the math, knowing that a standard shot load is approx 1 1/8 OUNCES of shot. You'll get 355 loads from the one 25 pound bag, plus the powder, plus the primers, plus the wads, plus the hulls. When I have done the math recently, it's cheaper to buy 25 round boxes of shot shells on sale.

Just my 2 cents worth.

11-04-2015, 05:24 AM
Aww Duke, I have been running the Lee Challenger press for almost 40 years now. It's still pumping them out. Just don't get their pot metal C type press.

But I WAS advising him to get the MEC sorta.....

11-05-2015, 04:29 AM
Yea ive been using a Challenger since day one. (30 yrs) it works, but Ill yield, ive bought RCBS when i moved up to heavier rounds and case forming. but on topic, MEC is simply the best loader for shotshells, and ill have to side with Duke, it isnt worth it unless your loading 410 or 28 gauge because of the lead prices.

11-08-2015, 09:02 PM
The reason I am looking into reloading shotgun shells is that I am having trouble finding 16 gauge ammo in my area. The one place that consistently has some wants $15 - $20 for a box of 25.

11-09-2015, 05:38 AM
Yep, but the going rate for a 25 pound bag of lead shot is about $35+. Depending on the load used your shot charge would be 7/8 to 1 ounce of shot.16 ounces to a pound would mean one bag would make around 400 rounds. Then you need the 209 primers, about $35/1000 and then the shot wads. 500 wads is another $14-$15.

You do the rest of the math.

11-11-2015, 08:07 PM
I did the math and it comes out to about $0.30 - $0.35 per cartridge, which is a whole lot better than the per round price I am finding locally. I might be able to match or better that price if I buy online, depending on the cost of shipping. Of course, I didn't factor in the cost of the press itself nor the time I would have to dedicate to the reloading process (which would be way more than the time spent sourcing ammo online, unless I was looking for a particular load that proved to be hard to find online).

From the advice I have received, I think I will focus my search on a MEC, probably the 600 Jr. However, I think I will keep searching until I can find a complete press cheap, not at the current ebay prices of $100+. I am in no hurry to find one so, in the meantime, I think I'll order a bunch of 16-gauge shells online.

11-12-2015, 05:59 AM
Too bad you don't have a 12 gauge. All kinds of MEC 600's on sale on armslist for like $50, but none were 16 gauge.