Updated: August 05, 2020

While many gun enthusiasts enjoy using rifles or pistols, there are still a large number who enjoy the shotgun. This is become their preferred weapon, or at least one of their preferred weapons, as they enjoy hunting or competitions with this particular type of firearm.

While enjoying the shotgun, most also prefer to reload their own shotgun shells. This is done quite differently than you would with a standard pistol or rifle, often requiring different equipment to be able to accomplish the task. Having the best shotshell reloading press is essential if you are going to be able to create rounds for yourself while also saving yourself the cost of purchasing the shells from a store.

With the right equipment, you can have everything you want in terms of creating shells, and it starts with getting a quality shotgun shell reloader.

How to Make the Right Choice?

Like any kind of product you would purchase, it is important to understand what are the key factors that help you to choose one product over another. Not every shotgun shell reloader is the same, and so knowing which ones work best with the kind of shotgun you have, as well as which ones reload easiest and more efficiently are important kinds of things for you to know. Here are some of the key factors.

  • Type. There are two primary types of shotgun shell reloaders, progressive and single-stage. The single-stage is the most basic type of press because it performs only one function. If you want the press to perform more than one function, then you actually have to change the die before the next task. The reloading process with a single-stage press is slower but the quality is usually much higher.

    The progressive shotgun press is preferred by many because it makes the reloading process a lot faster. You are able to do numerous tasks with the same pole of the handle. There are two different kinds of progressive presses out there, the auto index in the manual. The auto index moves to shell automatically while you must rotate the shell plate manually in the other option.

  • Capacity. The capacity is related to how many shells you are able to reload in one hour’s period of time. Some reloaders are specifically designed to speed up the reloading process so the capacity becomes greater. Obviously, the progressive type of press is more likely to produce an increased capacity.
  • Ease of Use. The ease-of-use is important as well. Clearly, some presses are far more easy to use and others. Not only in the way that the shell is loaded, but also how much force you have to apply with the press and with the set up.
  • Versatility. If you are a person who uses different sizes of shotgun shells, then getting a more versatile press that is able to handle different types of reloading is really to your advantage. It is really dependent upon what kinds of shells you need to reload and if you need one that is able to handle different kinds of show cases.
  • Durability. Consider that this is going to be a product you were going to use on a continual basis, maybe even for years. If you are a person who loves to go out marksmanship competitions, that you want to make sure that you are buying a press that is going to last for a while. Get something that does the job, does it accurately, can handle large numbers of reloading loads, and will last you for several years.
  • Cost. Cost is always an important factor when deciding upon any product you are going to purchase, and this is included with this one as well. While I will tell you that is a good idea to stay within your budget, I will also tell you that if you were able to increase your budget by $50 you are likely to get a product that is a much better value.

Top 7 Shotshell Reloading Presses on the Market

I have reviewed each of the different shotgun shell reloaders out there, have also read several reviews and spent some time getting to know each of these products. After doing so, I came up with a list of what I believe are the seven best you will find on the market. These are broken down in the three different categories to assist you with your choice.

#1 MEC 9000GN 12 Gauge Shotshell Reloading Press

MEC 9000GN 12 Gauge Press Review If you are looking for the top progressive shotshell reloader, this is the top choice. While specifically designed for the 12gauge, it actually can work with several different higher grade gauges, including 16, 20, and 28, as well as a .410 more.

Out of the box, this press is set to reload 2-3/4 inch shells but can be converted to reload shells up to 3 inches. This will help to make you more efficient should you have different shotshell’s that you need to reload.

This is a press that is made for high-volume reloading and a higher-speed, and the truth is that most people don’t use the 3 inch shells, so the impact here is irrelevant for the most part. You get an automatic indexing which ensures that you get quicker reloads and the shells are automatically ejected once the reloading process is completed.

What I truly loved about this product is that they took the older model which was a fine product and made some great improvements on it. It is much lighter than the previous model, works more efficiently, and is ideal for a person of any level of expertise.

For the experienced user, this is one you are going to absolutely find to be everything that you could desire. They have added additional accessories to make reloading easier, including an adjustable charge bar. This is truly a winner and one you will love.

#2 RCBS The Grand 12 Gauge Shotshell Reloading Press

RCBS The Grand 12 Gauge Review If you are looking to reload your own ammunition with incredible precision and great accuracy, this is the choice for you. If you have your own 12gauge shotgun shells that you are about ready to go.

There are four stations included with this progressive press, with each performing a specific task to make you much more efficient and able to handle high-volume reloads. This also allows you to be much more efficient in your operation, as you can continuously move on to the next shell while four are being processed at one time, with each having a specific task implemented.

You will find that you can completely reload an entire shell, including all four stages, in the matter of a few seconds, giving you the ability to create rounds at a high-volume.

Plus, this is an extremely durable and efficient looking product. It has an easy to pull handle, and is billed for you to be able to easily install into your workbench. It is high capacity in the storage of materials in preparation for the reloading, yet it does not take up a lot of space. This was built to be a minimizing machine on your workbench.

If you are a person who wants to reload a number of shells in quick order, this is a great choice. Plus you can be sure that they’re going, with the same accurate precision each and every time.

#3 MEC Sizemaster 20 Gauge Shotshell Reloader

Redding Reloading Model No. 5 Powder Trickler #05000 Review Here is another great single-stage press by MEC. While built specifically for 2-3/4 inch shells, it is easily adjustable for up to 3 inches. There is a power ring collet resize or that returns the base to the specific specifications provided by the manufacturer straight out-of-the-box.

Included is a resizing station which handles both brass and steelheads, and is able to do it for both the high and low base. I also loved that the primer feeder is a standard part of the press, ensuring that you get a great feature with your purchase.

This is an extremely well-designed product, that is easy to use and is quite durable. In fact, several of my grandsons, a couple of which are in their teenage years, were able to easily use this, under supervision of course. It can handle most gauge of shotshells, and is easy to be able to set up and operate.

I love the fact that I actually have one of the earlier versions of this particular model and it is still running strong 21 years later. This is an incredibly well-designed product that is specifically built to give you great accuracy and longevity. You can be sure that if you purchase this today you could easily be using it for decades afterward. For what it costs, you simply can’t beat that.

#4 LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 16 GA Load All (Multi)

LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 16 GA Review This Lee press is a fantastic single-stage shotshell press. It comes out of the box specifically said for 16 gauge, but there are 24 different shot and powder bushings that are included and it gives you the ability to reload both of the standard length shells on the market. You don’t need any special adapter to be able to accomplish this. It is just ready to go.

For those who are looking to reload rounds for a double gauge shotgun, this is truly the best option you are going to find. That’s not a job at it at all, as this press provides an accurate and efficient round each and every time you reload. This makes it a great value for sure.

You are clearly not going get the kind of speed you would with progressive press, but it is easy to get into a rhythm with this reloader. Plus, each and every round that you create you can be sure will have the same kind of consistency and it will give you great rounds each and every time.

It is built with a heavy-duty construction, using quality materials. You can use 12 gauge rounds in here with a special kind of diet insert that you need to purchase. A great option for those who are looking for a single-stage press that is perfect for higher gauge rounds.

#5 LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA Load All (Multi)

LEE PRECISION II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA Review If you are looking for a single stage shotshell reloading press, I also found this one to be a spectacular choice. This is built for those who are trying to stay a little closer to the budget they have and is ideal for beginners.

You are not going to find as full range in terms of the number of calibers that you can use this press with, but you are able to use most of the standard gauge options, including 12, 16, and 20. The press comes out of the box as a 12 gauge option, and you can reload both of the standard sizes for shells.

Lee explains in the pamphlet that you are able to easily reload up to 200 shells in a single hour, which is about eight boxes. However, I was not able to reach that mark myself as it took me about 20 minutes longer.

While it is not as fast as you may want, you can be sure that you’re going get an accurate shotshell each and every time. The hopper holds up to 5 pounds of shot which allows you about 30 minutes of use before you need to refill.

What really stood out to me about this product was the fact that it came with 16 powder bushings and eight different shot bushings. That was a large number of accessories to say the least, and it includes several other accessories as well, including both a six and an eight point crimp starter. You simply can’t beat all that you are given for the price of this product.

Comparison Chart

Shotshell ReloaderProsCons
#1 MEC 9000GN 12 Gauge Shotshell Reloading Press
  • Perfect for those who need high-volume and high-speed reloading
  • Includes both automatic indexing and automatic shell ejection
  • Can handle most high-grade gauges
  • Firm base provides great stability
  • A great improvement over the older model
  • An adapter is required for you to purchase to reload 3 inch shotshells
  • Is good for beginners, but has a steep learning curve
#2 RCBS The Grand 12 Gauge Shotshell Reloading Press
  • Extremely efficient and made for high-volume
  • Durable and well constructed using quality materials
  • Extremely elegant in its design
  • Can handle large capacity reloading jobs
  • The primer tray needs a lot of improvement still as it can easily flip out
  • It is true this is a heavy duty machine, but also weighs 50 pounds
  • One of the more expensive options
#3 MEC 650N 12 Gauge Press Shotshell Reloader
  • Extremely durable and billed to give you decades of use
  • Provides great accuracy and is still easy to use
  • Provides great stability and is built to easily attach to your work station
  • The chain may break if you set it to tight
  • The Wingnuts they provide were substandard
#4 MEC 600 Jr Mark V 12 Gauge Shotshell Reloader
  • Includes a large number of shot and powder bushings
  • Very durable construction and easy to use
  • Perfect for those needing higher caliber gauge rounds
  • Parts of the press are flimsy
  • The higher the gauge, the more difficult to use
#5 MEC Sizemaster 20 Gauge Shotshell Reloader
  • Built to be budget friendly and perfect for beginners
  • Comes with a variety of powder and shot bushings
  • Comes with a number of accessories as part of the standard kit
  • Great accuracy
  • Only three calibers can be used with the press
  • Not billed for high-speed reloading

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Before closing out this review, I wanted to spend a little time answering some of the more common questions I receive related to shotgun reloaders. Hopefully this will answer questions you have and be useful for you.

What is a Shotshell Reloader?

A shotshell reloader is what you would use to reload the shells used in a shotgun. This is a press specifically designed to hold the larger caliber rounds that shotguns need, which are often far too big for a standard pistol or rifle press.

Why Reload Shotgun Ammo?

You can purchase ammunition that is ready to use in your shotgun, but you are likely to find that you will get more accurate and better ammunition if you created it yourself. This is why you need a reloading press.

How Much I Can Save Reloading My Own Ammo?

It really depends on the kind of ammunition you are reloading, the kind of press you purchase, and other materials, such as gunpowder, that you use. However, what you are likely to find is that you will save somewhere between 25% and 50% by creating your own rounds.

Which Gauges Should You Reload?

The two most commonly reloaded through use of a shotgun shell press are the 12 gauge and the 16 gauge. However, you are able to use smaller or larger sized depending on if it provides you with the right dies and fittings.

What Do You Need to Reload Shotgun Ammo?

You will need the same standard equipment you would use for the reloading of any round. This includes powder, primer, and showcases, but you will also need shot itself. The size and weight of the shot depends upon the kind of weapon you are using, the shell case, and your personal preference.

Who Makes the Best Shotshell Reloader?

As you can see, there are many great brands out there that produce quality presses, but the one that I personally found to be the best is MEC. There are great options regardless of whether you need a single-stage or a progressive press, and they provide fantastic options for beginners and experienced reloaders. Don’t get caught up necessarily on manufacturer. RCBS did not have a huge list included in this review, but they build outstanding reloading products for every stage of reloading, and you can count on their stuff to be top-notch. Lee is another such example. They make outstanding reloading products, and two of these wound up in this review.

Michel Pedneault

Michel Pedneault

Michel Pedneault has been blogging for more than three decades. He is one of the former lead writer of Tribunnews.com. He wrote thousand of reviews on various tools & gears. He is fond of travelling, adventures and discovering new things. You can reach him at twitter @pedneault

Leave a Reply