U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- MEC has been producing quality shotgun reloading equipment, including their presses for many years. Since around 1970, I have used a 600 JR for all of my shotgun needs.
During that time, and before steel shot was mandated, many ducks and geese fell to loads made on the 600 JR. During that period, I also did a lot of small game hunting, including rabbits and squirrels, and all of my 12-gauge ammo was made on that press. Using an old Mossberg, 20-gauge, dove hunting was another of my uses, and a 600 JR took care of all of the 20-gauge ammo.
MEC reloaders always gave good service, and later on, I picked up a 410 and a 16 gauge. Though they were used less, they received some use and never gave me any issues. Besides the 600 JR, they have other models for those who need more ammo, such as a trap shooter. I don’t load as many shotgun shotshells as before, but I still have them for the occasional use. I have a Judge and Circuit Judge, so some 410-gauge rounds get loaded on the MEC.
The company started in a garage in 1945, and in 1955 started making shotshell loaders. For info, you can go here. There are a lot of accessories on their site, everything from calipers to tumblers, so it is a good idea to keep up on their site.
MEC contacted me, inquiring as to if I would be interested in trying out a rifle press. I was curious, thinking that it was a new shotgun design, so I requested one. I was really surprised, pleasantly I may add, when I discovered that it is a large, heavy-duty rifle press. Since I do a lot of rifle reloading, including case forming, a heavy-duty press is always welcome. In addition, I swage some jacketed bullets, so they will be on the menu.
The press can be put on the bench with the bottom piece, or if that is too high, it can be removed, and it will be the same height as a standard press. It is nice to have a couple of options as to height that will be suitable for all reloaders. Sizing some 45-70 and 358 brass shows it has good leverage, which is a desirable feature. The shell holder slips in, though it does spin, which is a minor annoyance. It is easy to remove by pushing down the retaining spring and it comes out easily.
A tray on the side enables the reloader to have a few dies in a handy spot. There is no setup for priming, and the company stated that was done on purpose, though they plan on making a hand primer sometime in the future as a separate unit. They feel, with some logic, that many people prefer that method. RCBS does make a top primer kit that would work on this press if desired. The only issue would be those who bell and prime their cases simultaneously, which would not be possible on this item. That could apply to someone making such rounds as the 45-70 and other similar straight rifle cases. Especially with cast bullets, belling is necessary.
Handgun cases can be reloaded on the Marksman, but it would be like swatting a fly with a hammer, though reloading large cases would be easier with this press. Large cases such as the 460 and 500 S & W may benefit from the leverage offered. By taking out the 1” insert, 1” dies can be used, which is a plus as some dies are that size, including Lee dies in the 577 Snider and 577/450.
Most dies use 7/8 by 14 threads. I took the base off, which lowered the press and made it easier to use. Depending on the bench height and other factors, the base would benefit some reloaders. I have used the press some in swaging some bullets and reloading, which has good leverage. The only issue is the movement of the shell holder or swaging base, requiring resetting it occasionally, which is a minor annoyance. Perhaps a different retaining spring with more tension would fix the problem.
After using this press for various chores, it has a permanent spot on my bench. It is useful for making jacketed bullets and blanks with the proper dies. With its leverage it is capable for bullet swaging as well, both cast and jacketed. Since I do all of these chores, this press fills my needs. Based on my experience I would recommend to anyone looking for a good, heavy-duty press to give this one a serious look.
I received the powder measure and trickler. Both units are sturdy and should last many years. I mention the sturdiness as that is important because I do a lot of reloading, and I don’t have time for poorly made products, which unfortunately exist. The measure has a very long container, which is bigger than necessary, except in narrow circumstances. I am going to replace it with a container from a MEC shotgun press. The provisions for large and small drums are easy to change. The trickler unit is a standard type.
The part where you place the case when charging it with powder, is OK for a 25 caliber or larger. Perhaps they should offer one with a smaller hole for the 17 and 22-caliber rounds. I do have a standard MEC powder jar, which is much handier, though I would like to see an easier way to empty the jar.
I tried the scales with IMR 4350, which is a large-grained powder and causes problems with many measures. I ran a few to coat it, and then threw 25 charges. The scale was set at 63 grains; no particular reason for that number, but with 4350, it is in the range of what amount you would use. Once it settled in, the variation was ½ grain, which is OK for most applications. If you want more consistency with 4350, their powder trickler will do it. Unless 63 is an absolute max, or you are looking for super consistency, then the measure works fine.
As time goes by, I will be using other powders and wouldn’t expect any problems. Unlike many measures, the powder drops on the return stroke, and the adjustment is on the backside. Neither is a problem; just noting it. You can set it up to have the adjustment on the front side, as is typical with most measures. I tried some 4064, loading some 30-06 cases, and the charges were within ½ grain, which is satisfactory since like 4350 – 4064 is large, grained. It does catch often, the same as the 4350. I have tried a variety of powders, and they are consistent regarding the amount of powder thrown. The handle does catch a lot, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.
The small drum has been received, so I started doing some small handgun rounds, and with the new flake powders, it was consistent. More powders have been tried, and the measure is consistent with all of them. The handle catches a lot, but perhaps that helps accuracy.
I picked up some new IMR powders, most of which are of the flake variety. The Red metered consistently even down to 3.5 grains, which I used in a 38 special with a 148-grain WC. The MEC powder measure was used a lot over a few months with both drums and is very consistent. I went down to 3 grains of Red, a new IMR powder brought out by Hodgdon. It is very consistent and with the large-grained powder such as 4350, it is very consistent.
Variation is never more than a quarter grain, which is very acceptable with large cases.
Recently I did some experimental ammo for a 6.5 Creedmore. For the sake of consistency, I used the trickler to get exact charges. The MEC powder measure using the Hodgdon Enduron powder, and some H-4350, both have large grains. I rarely use a trickler because it isn’t necessary. The measure kept it within ½ grain, which is good for virtually all applications, but I wanted just a little more consistency for this test. If it is needed, their trickler works fine.
There are several companies that manufacture reloading equipment, but there is always room for someone who is making quality equipment, and MEC meets that requirement. They are expanding their line, and at some point, they may offer reloading dies and other equipment so keep an eye on their site. More people are getting into reloading for various reasons. Since MEC has been making quality shotgun presses for many years, it makes sense to expand their line. With that, it is a win-win situation for us reloaders.
About Bob Shell
A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo. Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit: www.bobshellsblog.blogspot.com.