Best Shotshell Reloaders
Trap and skeet shooting is competitive and fun, but buying ammo gets costly. However, purchasing a shotshell reloader will help your wallet in the long run and you’ll be able to shoot to your heart’s content.
Buying a shotshell reloader might seem like an unnecessary expense, but if you do the math, you’ll see how cheap it can be over the long term.
A newcomer to trapshooting needs to fire at least 20 rounds a month to work towards becoming proficient. That’s equal to 1000 or more shotshells monthly.
That is for beginners only, and if you’re into serious competition, you’ll double or triple that amount. That’s why I said the cost spikes up quickly. This is where you’ll see the value in a shotshell reloader. The money you spend here pays for itself many times over.
Our Top Picks
In a hurry? Check out the table below to see a helpful overview of each of our favorite products. Keep scrolling down to see a more in-depth review of each item.
Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press 12 GA
The Lee Precision II Shotshell Reloading Press is great for beginner and experienced reloaders alike. It comes with handy features that other presses tend to lack such as crimp starters and molded brushing, and the company tends to have great customer service overall.
Shotgun shell reloader reviewers have been favorable to the Precision II and it’s easy to see why. While it’s often used by beginners, it’s sophisticated enough for advanced users too.
Easy to use and made from durable parts, the Precision II is for those who shoot several hundred rounds weekly.
The Precision II is designed to work with different calibers so compatibility won’t be a problem, and the press is built from plastic and aluminum, so it should last for years to come. It’s compatible with 2 3/4 and 3-inch shells, so you’ll be able to use the press efficiently. Even as a first-time user you’ll figure it out quickly and churn out 5 boxes of shells or more hourly.
The Lee Precision II lets you create 12, 16 and 20 gauges as well as slugs. The sizer works fine and the other components run smoothly too.
This reloader has a light learning curve and easy enough you can use it without mounting. The seater and primer punch operate well together. The handle makes usage easy and operation is straightforward.
The Precision II uses a sliding system for the powder and it throws charges consistently. The rest of the components are well integrated too.
- Works for 12, 16 and 20 gauges
- Compatible with different calibers
- Good for 5 and more shell boxes an hour
- Excellent crimps
- Built for advanced and new trap shooters
- Made of durable materials
- Not the fastest press
MEC 9000GN 12 Gauge Press
The Mayville Engineering 0813987 makes my list of the best shotshell reloading press as it combines features with ease of use.
Compared to other shotshell reloaders, the 0813987 doesn’t have a lot of fancy features, but it reloads shells very well, and that’s what matters most.
This progressive press reloader is a 10 operation system, but don’t let that intimidate you as the configuration process is straightforward. The intuitive interface makes it easy to reload shells.
You can reload up to half a dozen shotgun shells. The stroke runs perfectly and the shells have excellent crimp.
With other press reloaders, you have to manually remove the shell from the holder but here it’s not necessary. When a shell has been reloaded, the press ejects it automatically.
The 0813987 lets you work with 12, 28, 410 and 20 gauge shells. Once you get used to how it works, you’ll be churning out hundreds of shells in no time.
The press comes with a 1 1/8 oz charge bar and other accessories necessary to reload shells. If you have never used a device like the 0813987 before you’ll need to read the manual. Fortunately, the instructions are well written and easy to follow. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the operation you’ll be creating shotgun shells rapidly.
- For 12, 20, 28 and 410 gauges
- Built from heavy-duty components
- Allows you to work on multiple shells
- Well designed ejection system
- Improves production
- Can take a bit of time to get used to
The design is simple enough for new shotshell reloaders but also accommodates long term reloaders who expect quality results. The press’s distinct design allows for maximum efficiency without sacrificing performance.
The Sizemaster is equipped with a collet resizer that restores bases to the default regardless of whether it’s steel or brass. The press reloader is set to 2 3/4 inch shells but you can adjust this for 3-inch shells if needed.
The Sizemaster is also available in 10, 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauge models. As a single stage press, the Sizemaster holds its own against others.
The steel frame makes it more durable than a regular press reloader. With its cam-action crimp die you get better results, and the Spindex Crimp Starter ensures proper crease positioning.
All Sizemaster versions except the 410 have the EZ automatic prime feeder. You also get interchangeable powder bushings and a 7/8 ounce charge bar. The load rate is 6 to 8 boxes per hour which is good for about 200 rounds.
- Easy to operate
- Made of steel components
- E-Z Prime Automatic Primer Feeder works great
- Comes with 20, 22 and 24 bushings
- Very efficient for 20 gauge shells
- Can be adjusted for 3-inch shells
- 6-8 box load rate
- Mounting wing nuts could be of better quality
This press reloader includes two dozen shot and powder bushings, a real money saver as these are costly when purchased separately. These bushings aren’t just throwaways as they’re accurate and tailor-made for Lee.
The Lee Precision is a fast worker, able to reload up to 200 shells per hour. With this feature, you’ll be able to crank up production.
The Lee Precision has a built-in hopper that holds more than five pounds of shot. Fill this up and you’ve got enough here to reload 125 lbs worth of shells.
Reloading bullets can be messy so it’s good to see the Lee Precision primer catcher makes emptying easy. If you need some help with the gauge that won’t be a problem as it has a conversion mechanism.
Like any good press reloader, the Lee Precision works primarily with 2 3/4 shells but can also accommodate the 3-inch variant.
Setting up may take some getting used to if you’re new to this, but it’s an efficient method and you’ll get more out of reloading in the process.
- 16 and 12 gauge variants available
- Can be adjusted for 3-inch shells
- Prime catcher is built-in
- Produces consistent results
- Powder bushings included
- Built for long term use
- Crimp can be a bit fiddly
What is a Shotshell Reloader?
A shotshell reloader is a type of reloading press built for reloading shotgun shells. These devices use the same basic principles that pistol and rifle reloader presses do, only this time it is for shotgun shells.
Some of these reloaders are for specific gauges like the 20, 410 or 16. Others are all-rounders and can handle multiple gauges.
These presses use different mechanisms, and that determines the load rate. The faster the load rate the more shells and rounds it can crank out in an hour. The four presses here are good examples of that.
Which Gauges Should You Reload?
The answer to that question is to reload all the gauges that you’ll be using. So if you’ve got a 20 gauge then that’s what you reload, same if you have a 16, 28 or 410 gauge.
The gauges you can reload also depend on the press’s capabilities. If you’ve got a 12 gauge reloading press and it can’t handle other gauges, then that’s what you’ll end up changing.
If you work with only one type of gauge then it’s all right to buy a gauge specific press. If you work with different gauges, get a press that can handle all of them.
Savings are most evident if you shoot 410, 28 or 16 gauges. Compared to buying new ammo you’ll save up to 40 percent in shell expenses. The savings aren’t as much if you shoot with 12 or 20 gauge shells but the savings are still good. More importantly, you’ll be using quality shells designed for your gun.
Not only do you get monetary savings, but they also improve the bullet’s performance especially when you shoot in groups. The bottom line is you’re going to be better off reloading shotshells yourself.
Different Types of Shotshell Presses
Shotshell presses may look like regular reloading presses, but the difference is they’re built for specific gauges. However, there are conversion kits now available that allow these presses to reload different gauges.
Single Stage Press
A single stage press is an affordable reloading solution. These presses come with stations – the number varies – and you place the shell in one of those stations.
You work with one shell at a time, and once you get used to it you can create up to 5 boxes worth of shells in an hour. The single stage press is more suitable for casual shooters as the pace may be too slow for volume shooters.
Progressive shotshell reloades are for the volume shooter. These are more advanced than a single stage press and come with more features.
A progressive reloader uses a mechanical arm that makes a new shell with each pull. Progressive reloaders are six times faster than single stage reloaders.
Because progressive reloaders are more advanced, they’re also more expensive. Only you can determine if the faster production rate is worth the cost. If you don’t shoot a lot of rounds then you’ll do fine with a single stage. It’s also suitable for beginners who are learning the basics of reloading.
If you’re an advanced shooter who shoots and reloads a lot, you’ll probably want to invest in a progressive reloading press. It is going to cost initially, but you’re going to benefit from it the more you shoot.
How to Choose the Best Shotshell Presses
There are several factors that you need to look at when choosing a shotshell press.
Types of Shotshell Press
Decide if you want a single stage or progressive stage press. We have covered the essentials earlier so we’re not going to repeat them here. A few things need to be said, however.
- If you’re going to engage in competitive shooting, a progressive press is the better option.
- If you’re more of a casual shooter or just learning the ropes, a single stage press will do fine.
- If you have any plans of upgrading or increasing shot volume in the near future, get a progressive press.
- If you have no plans of joining a competition and reload often, a single stage press is more practical.
If you want the best 410 shotshell reloader you should buy from the best brand. There are lots of good companies, but the ones I reviewed here are the best.
Never settle for an unknown brand or worse a knockoff. You will end up spending more once the press breaks down or churns out poor quality rounds.
Ease of Use
Even the most powerful press is worthless if you’re unable to make heads or tails of it. The trademark of a good shotshell press is that it is easy to use while still retaining a lot of power and functionality.
A well-made shotshell reloader is made from steel, aluminum or other durable metals to prolong its lifespan. Shotshell presses also have plastic parts but they are also built for durability and can withstand heavy use.
What is the feedback from users who have tried it? Does it really work? Get as much information as you can to get an idea of how it works.
Things to Consider When Buying a Shotshell Press
To get the best shotshell reloader for the money, you must consider all aspects of the reloading press. Budget aside you’ll need to look at specific features.
A good shotshell press lets you use 2 3/4 inch shells, 3 inch shells and maybe even a few more.
Other shotshell reloading presses work on only one gauge while others can convert different several gauges. The choice will depend on what type of caliber you’re reloading.
This refers to the manner by which the reloader finishes shells. This will depend on your skill level, experience and the press’ shotshell mechanism.
Look for a reloading press that is built with accuracy. The more accurate the press is, the higher the quality of the finished shell.
These presses come with different stations, and you’ll need to find one that satisfies your requirements. No matter what you choose, make certain the design won’t be prone to spillage.
Keep in mind that these presses are built for specific user skills so you should look for one that it won’t be difficult to handle. You can always upgrade later if your reloading needs increase.
Who Makes the Best Shotshell Presses?
When it comes to overall quality, I have to give it to MEC. The company has been making high-quality shotshell presses for a while now. It’s an outstanding company, known not just for their shotshell press but for other reloading products too.
And of course, there is Lee Precision, one of the most respected names in the industry. Their reloading products are known for their reliability, and that applies to their shotshell presses. The name itself is synonymous with quality, so their products are definitely worth a try.
The four shotshell presses we reviewed are exceptional, but the clear winner nevertheless is the Mayville Engineering 0813987. It is robustly built, feature packed and does excellent reloading with shotgun shells, 3 inch or otherwise. The design is also good and reminiscent of high end presses.
The Mayville Engineering 0813987 is also easier to use than other presses and yet has features that advanced users will like. Add the light learning curve and spillage protection and you’ve got a complete product. As good as the other products are, I have to give the best shotshell reloader distinction to the 0813987.