Best Shotgun Shell Reloader - 2020 Buyer's Guide

If you plan to become a shotgun enthusiast, you will discover the benefits of reloading your shotgun shells. A top-notch shotshell reloading press can help you do this safely and efficiently. To narrow your search, take a look at the four best shotshell reloaders on the market today. 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Easy to operate
  • Heavy Duty Frame
  • Produces high volumes of reloaded shells in a very short time-span
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  • Delivers consistent loads
  • Easy to change gauges
  • Reliable performance and quality outputs
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  • Best value for the money
  • Works well of various surfaces
  • Harder to crimp new shells
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  • Best Progressive Shotshell Reloader
  • Straightforward set up process
  • Comes with ten operating systems
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When Would I Use a Shotshell Reloader

Here are three good reasons you would use a shotgun loader instead of relying on factory loaded shells or a standard gun reloading machine. 

Right Tool for the Right Job

Although it is possible to reload shotgun shells in a standard single stage-press, owning a dedicated shotgun shell press is a better option. Shotgun shells differ from other gun ammo in two ways: (1) The shotgun round is much larger than a bullet. (2) The shotshell content is more than just powder, charge, and shot. 

You can adjust the standard bullet press to accommodate the larger shotgun shell, but it favors smaller rounds. Also, a shotshell contains a component that separates the powder and charge. It’s called a wad. So, a quality shotgun reloader press provides better integration of these three components.

Quality Control

Believe it or not, factory shotshells have a failure rate that may surpass your tolerance level. By reloading shotshells yourself, you are in charge of quality control.  Handloading ensures quality and consistency by allowing you to construct each round individually.

Customization

From time to time, a manufacturer may stop producing your favorite load, or you may desire a specialty round that no factory offers. Handloading allows you to overcome these limitations. It enables you to make loads according to your specifications. 

What to Look for When Buying a Shotshell Reloader

When shopping for a shotshell reloader,  there are some essential variables to consider. Here are five key considerations to keep in mind. 

Durability

Going shooting is usually a gun owner’s delight. Not being able to bring along your homemade shells can put a damper on the occasion. So, a faulty shotshell reloader is not worth having around. Most reloaders have aluminum and steel construction, but some reliable machines have durable plastic parts. To check for toughness, read the product specs and customer reviews. 

Ease of Use

Some shotshell reloaders are more user-friendly than others.  If possible, try out a presser before you buy it. At the very least, watch a video demonstration of someone using it. A great shotshell reloader will stand out if it exhibits the most power and capability without being too complicated. Plus, it should accommodate all skill levels.

Versatility

Even if you’re using only one shotgun shell size now, your shotshell reloader purchase will be for the long haul. It is best to buy a reloader that can adjust to your changing needs. As such, it should be able to adapt to multiple shell casing types and reloading methods. Besides, it is easier to resell a versatile machine.

Workstation Design

Shotshell reloaders come with different station designs. Besides your specific requirements, the best reloader should have a workstation design that prevents waste from spillage. 

Review of the Best Shotshell Reloader

There are two types of shotshell loaders: the single-stage and progressive stage. The single-stage reloader typically appeals to the casual or beginner gun enthusiast. On the other hand, competitive or high volume shooters favor progressive reloaders. This best shotshell reloader list has representatives from both types.

 
 

PROS

CONS

 

What Recent Buyers Report

The consensus from buyer reviews confirms that the MEC 9000GN is popular because of its ability to produce high volumes of reloaded shells in a very short time-span. Most customers seem to be just as impressed with its ease of use and its sturdy body.

Why it Stands Out to Us

After watching the MEC 9000GN in action, we could appreciate the engineering that makes this shotshell reloader number one. It kicked out hundreds of reloads without making any annoying noise or smashing any fingers. There were no detectable rocking movements, damaged shells, irregular edges, or spillage.

Usually, a press with this much speed and capabilities is too complicated for a beginner, but this progressive MEC reloader is straightforward in makeup and function. The learning curve is minor. If you are a beginner, you should be expertly reloading shotshells in a short while.

Bottom Line

With the MEC 9000GN shotshell reloader, you can understand why it is a leader in performance, functionality, and design. It is the number one press because it’s the perfect answer to efficiently and safely making shotshell reloads in a hurry.

 
 

PROS

CONS

 

What Recent Buyers Report

Above all else, most Hornady 366 owners praise its consistency in producing professional-looking, reloaded shells. This reloader is a favorite among competitive shooters and hunters, who cherish its reliable performance and quality outputs. Due to its no-fuss design, even novice shotshell reloaders write about the ease of creating top-notch ammunition at a fast pace.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Every component of this press reflects the manufacturer’s intention to make shotshell reloading more convenient. For example, the configuration of the die head makes it easy to change gauges. In only a few minutes, you can set up to reload for 12, 20, or 28 gauge.

As a bonus, Hornady has an excellent reputation for providing full customer support for its reloaders.

Bottom Line

Hornaday 366 ranks a close second to MEC 9,000 because it satisfies the buyers’ needs in almost every category. This machine ranks high in simplicity, high yield production, and dependability. Nearly any user can take it right out of the box and start reloading shotshell on the same day.

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers rate this reloader high because it helps simplify the reloading process without sacrificing steady performance. They like the low cost of the Lee Precision compared to others in its class. Plus, this reloader ranks high in design and durability. It is undoubtedly a favorite of bargain hunters.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

We particularly like the design of this reloader. It easily mounts to a workbench and works well on various surfaces. Since it has low torque on the lever, users of all strength levels can enjoy creating shells with it. 

Lee Precision’s set-up is very logical, and it allows you to develop a rhythm in your work. However, the loads can end up weighing a few grains light, but you can tinker around with the bushing to get it to the desired weight. If speed is not a priority, this press will satisfy most shooters. 

Bottom Line

The Lee Precision shotshell reloader is a low-cost, safe, and efficient solution to creating quality shells. It is mainly a value-added purchase for frequent shooters. Most gun owners would appreciate having this secure and straightforward tool around.

 
 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report 

Owners of the Mec Mayville reloader are unanimously impressed with the production capability of this presser. Even though it cost more than similar presses, high volume shooters significantly benefit from this well-built and durable machine. 

There is a steeper learning curve, but most beginning shooters report that they catch on after making a few boxes of reloads. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Like its .410 bore mate, this reloader compliments its high-speed and high volume capacity with a design that stresses durability, simplicity, and safety. By all indications, this is the type of tool that can last through generations of shooters. 

Along with operating quietly and fluidly, this reloader leaves a small footprint, and the auto ejecting system is clean and consistent.  Also, we noticed that this reloader does an excellent job of crimping the shells, adding a professional touch to each round. 

The Mec Mayville Progressive is an excellent investment for beginners because it will accommodate them as they become more experienced reloaders. Additionally, the instruction manual is easy to follow, and the setup is very adaptable.

Bottom Line

For a little more money, the Mec Mayville Progressive Shotshell Reloader will add speed, volume, and simplicity to your reloading process. Although it primarily attracts high volume and competitive shooters, this reloader is a useful tool for forward-thinking beginners.

Advantages of Investing in a Quality Shotshell Reloader

 So, what is the benefit for gun enthusiasts who invest good money to buy a top-notch reloader like the MEC 9000, Lee Precision, or Hornady 366? Here are three good reasons.

  • It’s Fun. Many gun owners reload their shotshells for the fun of it. Shotshell reloading allows you to gain insight into the shooting process. There is a lot to learn about the craft itself. On internet forums, you can interact with gun enthusiasts who share tips, skills, and methods. 

  • Increase Your Accuracy. Makers of factory shotgun shells must obey government safety standards. The focus is on making the ammo work properly in most shotguns, not on peak performance. By reloading your shotshells, you can increase your accuracy by loading the shells to a higher velocity. 

  • You may shoot more. Sometimes, you may skip a trip to the range because you are out of ammo. Always having a bucket of shells on hand makes it easier to go out and get your shooting time. 

How to Use Shotshell Reloader

The shotshell reloaders in this article are very easy to use. Except for the Lee Precision machine, each of these reloaders creates a shell with one pull of the level. We’ll show how easy it is by giving you a step-by-step guide to operating these presses. Also, please refer to the YouTube video below.

  1. Load the machine with the appropriate amount of powder, shot, and primer.

  2. To resize the hull and metalhead, place it in the slot under the die. When you pull down the lever, the die and the decapping spindle will restore the hull and medal head to their original shapes. The decapping spindle also pushes the used primer from the hull and puts it in a new one. Now, you’re ready for step three.

  3. At this point, recharge the hull with the propellant. If you have a single action machine, you must transfer the shell to the next station by hand. The progressive machine automatically moves the rounds to the next station until it ejects them in the hopper.

  4. Place a new wad into the hull and pull the lever at that station.  Make sure you are using the right size wad for the shot weight that you intend to load.

  5. At the next station, pull the lever to release the shot charge into the wad.

  6. Finally, crimp the shell case by aligning it properly and pulling the lever.

For your safety, wear goggles to protect your eyes and make sure your work area is clear of clutter. 

Final Thoughts

Reloading your shotshells can be an asset to your shooting activities. The MEC 9000GN, Hornady 366, and the Mec Mayville progressive presser offer the best in high volume production and ease of use.  If you are on a budget,  Lee Precision performs exceptionally well with the same efficiency level.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.