The following has been reprinted with the
permission of ExpertReloader. We invite
everyone to visit them and view their informative tips on reloading shotshells or better
yet get a copy of Mr. Rozek's "MEC Shotshell Reloading
By: Jonathan Rozek
(Shotgunworld Note: Please visit this section often for future articles from
to set up your reloader for any combination of hull, wad, shot, powder, and primer:
- Decide which hull type you will reload, as discussed elsewhere.
- Get hold of reloading data from several manufacturers. You
can either get these thin pamphlets from the place you buy powder, or by going to the manufacturers' websites.
- Look up the hull type you have, in the gauge you are shooting. For
instance, manufacturers may refer to Remington Premier STS as "Remington
premier." Determine the most widely used powders from the recipes shown. Write
them down. Notice that some powders are best suited for 12 gauge, and others are made for
- Buy one of the powders from your list. Your supplier doesn't
have what you want? Watch out! Don't just buy what's around. You've got to buy one that
was listed for the hull type you're reloading. They are not interchangeable. When you're
messing with 5-7 tons per square inch of pressure, six inches from your eyeballs when the
gun goes off, you want to know that someone else has used that recipe successfully before.
- Buy the wads and primers listed for the hull and powder you
have selected. You will have a bit of selection, depending on what weight of shot and what
muzzle velocity you pick. Go first with a shot weight that has the most recipes. A good
standard velocity is 1,200 feet per second or thereabout for 12 gauge. The most
popular shot weight and velocity is generally the one with the most recipes. You can shoot
heavier or lighter loads later, when you're used to the mainstream combinations.
- Determine from the powder manufacturer's reloading manual (usually
available free where you bought the powder) how many grains of powder you should
use for your combination of gauge, hull, powder, wad, shot and desired muzzle velocity.
- Look up which bushing you should use from MEC chart. You need
to know the right bushing is only an approximation! More on that in a minute.
- Put only powder in the reloader. It makes the repetitive
process of measuring and adjusting the powder drop a little easier--you don't have to
worry about catching shot.
- Get or borrow a scale. A good, relatively inexpensive one is
the RCBS Model 10.10 Reloading Scale, readily available.
- Set up your scale and zero it, according to the scale
- Set scale to desired powder charge, so when you pour the
powder into its tray, the scale will read zero. This is much easier than trying to
remember "was that 16.8 grains, or 18.6 grains?"
- Unhook the primer drop spring so you don't have to worry
about primers dropping as you calibrate the reloader.
- Put empty shells under the reprime/powder station and the
wad/shot station. Do not insert a wad.
- Drop powder into the spent shell. Take the shot that dropped
into a shell and pour it back into the shot container.
- Pour powder into the scale pan and see if you are in the
ballpark for the number of grains you should be using.
- If you are light or heavy, then swap out a new powder bushing. (See
the MEC manual for that.) You can file out a bushing to make it a bit larger, or use nail
polish to make the chamber smaller. When you have the right weight, the scale should zero
out, because you had earlier set it to read zero at this weight.
- Retest the new setting on at least two more shells. I say at
least two, because the first powder drop will be inaccurate after you've just changed the
powder bushing. You've jiggled it, and probably compacted it. Maybe not, but be sure by
getting two or three readings before deciding you're done.
- This stuff is a pain. But once it's set, that is a real incentive to
leave the recipe alone unless you're having problems with it.
really have to weigh your own powder? Why not just follow the MEC manual for
correct bushing size?
There are too many variables involved in powder metering for a given bushing or handbook
setting to be precise enough. For instance:
- How densely packed the powder is (this will vary depending on how
much it is shaken, and whether the bottle is full or almost empty)
- Manufacturing variations
- How much you jiggle the reloader when using it, etc.
If you're just out to have a good time and not shoot a personal
best, then you may be able to use the bushing chart. But if you are serious about hitting
what you shoot at, you need to know what exactly you're shooting. So spend a few minutes
doing the weighing, and you can then leave it alone until you change shell types, or
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