Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

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Netpackrat
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Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by Netpackrat »

Some of you may remember this thread from a few years ago, where I was reloading buckshot and slugs with a Lee Load-All, primarily for my Saiga 12. I got the process down to where it worked OK but I was never happy with it. Since that time, I moved and built up a much nicer reloading bench in my new shop, that is set up with Inline Fabrication's Ultramount press risers, with their quick change top plate system and mounted to the bench with t-slot tracks.

Didn't want to buy a quick change top plate for a press I didn't like, so I hadn't done any shotgun reloading on the new bench. I finally decided to upgrade my shotgun loader and put a MEC Sizemaster on backorder at Brownells a couple of months ago. I chose it over their standard press for the collet resizer that gives it its name, and the automatic pr!mer* feed. I also considered the "Slugmaster" version since I load a lot of slugs, but it appears to be a one trick pony that ONLY does roll crimps. Since I am not using roll crimps even for my slug loads, it wouldn't have been a very good solution for me. The press finally showed up this weekend and I have some initial impressions to report.

Overall, it does work better than the Lee, but to be honest I don't know that it is $250+ better. "Medium Quality" seems to be a good description since it does do what it is supposed to, but the fit and function simply isn't at the level of what I am used to compared to equipment for reloading metallic cartridges, which is where the vast majority of my experience lies.

Got it mounted to the Inline top plate easily enough, and from there it was a lot of head scratching trying to figure out how and where to install the handful of pieces that didn't come pre-assembled. The included literature was nearly useless in this regard. It's too bad they didn't put even a fraction of the effort into the assembly instructions that they did into the rest of the literature which is mostly geared towards selling you more of their products. But by going back and forth between youtube and the manual, I was eventually able to get it up and running.

First, the good. The resizer is much easier to use than the stupid arrangement on the Lee press. The crimp function is likewise superior, and once the powder leaves the reservoir, it doesn't touch plastic until it enters the hull, so static isn't really a problem, although I never used the charging functions of the Lee (used a standard powder measure), so I really don't have a basis of comparison there beyond observing that the Lee mechanism is all plastic. Pr!mer* seating is positive and I can see if I were using the shot charging function (as opposed to stacking buckshot off the press) I can see that it would be easy to get a good, efficient loading rhythm going.

But there are some definite shortcomings also. First, the depriming ram is not very well aligned with the resizing collet. It doesn't seem to prevent it from working OK, but geez:

Image

There is some slop in the ram mounting hole, but of course it is all in the wrong direction, so if I want to correct this I would have to egg out the hole a bit. Not sure it is worth the effort but it's annoying.

Second, the auto priming mechanism is a shit show and it took some fiddling to adjust to where it works most of the time. I still have to keep an eye on it and jiggle it every few rounds to get it to drop the pr!mer*.

Third, the consistency of the powder charging leaves a lot to be desired... HS-6 isn't a particularly difficult powder to meter, but the MEC is doing well to hold plus or minus a half a grain. Probably good enough for shotgun, but again not what I am used to.

Fourth, the crimp starter only snaps into place on the press, and it comes off and stays on the shell most of the time unless I apply upward pressure on the return stroke.

Fifth, whoever thought it was a good idea to have a return spring on a reloading press handle needs to have his ass kicked. When I pull the handle down, I want it to stay down until I push it back up. Not snap back and nail me in the face while I am trying to get the $#%^&*$#&*( pr!mer* feed to drop the pr!mer* at the bottom of the stroke, sending every pr!mer* in the tray flying.

Anyway, it does work once you get used to it, but it left me wishing a little that I shot enough shotgun ammo to Justify buying Dillon's loader. But I don't, and the need to stack buckshot manually means that a progressive press is not going to work for me.

*Edit; seriously, some schmuck set the forum's word replacement to change pr!mer to "bang button"... :roll:
Last edited by Netpackrat on Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Precision
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by Precision »

like most gun related stuff. They guy who designed it had someone else jimmy it up before it made production or the bean counters got to the design and "improved" it?
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HTRN
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by HTRN »

Netpackrat wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:22 pm Anyway, it does work once you get used to it, but it left me wishing a little that I shot enough shotgun ammo to Justify buying Dillon's loader.
Have you considered the Hornady 366? Still not cheap at $850ish, but it still a bit cheaper than the SL900.
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Netpackrat
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by Netpackrat »

HTRN wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:59 am
Netpackrat wrote: Wed Oct 07, 2020 9:22 pm Anyway, it does work once you get used to it, but it left me wishing a little that I shot enough shotgun ammo to Justify buying Dillon's loader.
Have you considered the Hornady 366? Still not cheap at $850ish, but it still a bit cheaper than the SL900.
Nope, neither of those were even remotely in the budget.
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by Precision »

wish I knew you were in the market (although shipping would have sucked) but a friend died and left a shotgun reloader. Was offered to me, but I don't shoot enough shotgun to bother and I already have 5 or 6 presses.
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by blackeagle603 »

Yeah I have a MEC 650. Lee stuff is sort like working with a Hasbro easy bake.

MEC stuff reminds me of driving an old 3 on the tree column shift or shifting a non-syncro transmission. It's got a lot of natural slack in the system that makes it a bit of an artform to learn. You can get it down to pretty slick but will always get some shifts that you grind a bit or have to sense the need to not force it but back up the handle and find the notch.
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by Netpackrat »

Sent the above picture to my machinist/gunsmith friend and he reminded me that if I want to fix that, I have no need to egg out the hole. Since I have a metal lathe on order, I'll soon have the ability to make a pr!mer punch with an off center mounting stud and I need to alter my thought process to encompass the new tooling capability. 8^)
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by HTRN »

Netpackrat wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:22 am Nope, neither of those were even remotely in the budget.
So no Spolar Gold then? :mrgreen:

BTW, I've read more than a few complaints about the SL900 being less than consistent with reloads.
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by Netpackrat »

HTRN wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:15 pm
Netpackrat wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:22 am Nope, neither of those were even remotely in the budget.
So no Spolar Gold then? :mrgreen:

BTW, I've read more than a few complaints about the SL900 being less than consistent with reloads.
I was not previously aware of the Spolar Gold, but given that I would like to get another welder at some point, yeah that's not going to happen. I don't shoot nearly enough shotgun to come close to justifying that.
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Re: Review: MEC Sizemaster (12 Gauge)

Post by HTRN »

Net, I honestly think your best bet is to watch ebay, and try to pickup a used Hornady, or better yet, a Ponsness Warren 800b within you're budget. Both hAve been made forever, so buying an older machine means you can still get parts, but you'll pay less for it.
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