Which MEC Reloader Should You Buy?
The Conventional Wisdom is Wrong
It goes like this: When you start reloading, you’re likely to screw up a lot. So buy a single-stage machine that you can concentrate on reloading one shell at a time. After a few thousand shells, then move up to a MEC Grabber, which is the progressive reloader. Now you will be reloading six shells at a time. With every stroke of the handle, you are starting one shell and finishing one.
The usual advice then says that only after you’ve used a Grabber for a long time should you step up to the MEC 9000. It is a Grabber, but with an auto-advance feature that saves you the effort of hand-advancing the shell carrier and hand-removing the finished shell after each stroke. Finally, the conventional wisdom says, forget the hydraulic version of the 9000; it’s fast, automatic operation will mess up more shells than it properly reloads.
Make Your First Reloader Do Triple Duty
Here’s how to save time and frustration: Your first reloader should be a MEC 9000. Why? First, you can reload a single shell at a time with the machine, just as you would with a single-stage model. You simply don’t put more than one shell in the machine at any one time, and disengage the primer spring. You can practice one-shell-at-a-time until your arm falls off or you’re extremely good at it, whichever comes first. You can shorten the time you spend on single-stage reloading by learning all the concepts on this site.
Then, when you are ready, you can have a free and instant upgrade of your “single stage” reloader into a Grabber look-alike by filling up each station in the shell carrier, but by disconnecting the auto-advance feature until you’re comfortable with six things going on at once. Reload in the Grabber mode until your other arm falls off, if you want.
Only after you’re comfortable with the reloader as a single-stage and then as a progressive Grabber do you need to hook it all up and run the 9000 at full throttle, with auto advance.
Two Exceptions to My Advice
1. If Uncle Milty left you another model in his will, then the price is right and you should use it.
2. If you’re mainly a hunter, you may think that a good day is firing a couple of boxes and bagging 20 birds. Why bother with high volume. It’s when you shoot many thousands of clay targets year-round that you really need the 9000.
Should You Buy Hydraulic?
If your money makes third-degree burns in your wallet, then buy one up-front. But it’s a big price jump to go hydraulic. So don’t bother with the investment initially. When you decide to go for that 10,000 target-in-one-season award, you’ll probably find a buyer for your old MECs and can upgrade.