Shotgun Reloading: So You Want To Learn How?

Gaining knowledge of the basic equipment and steps used in shotgun reloading is the first essential step in the process of starting to reload. This article will review the basic equipment and steps needed for reloading.

If you have been considering shotgun reloading, there is some basic information you should know about the equipment needed before making an investment into the equipment and time to start reloading. It is also important to have a good understanding of the basic steps involved in the process.

The basics of shotshell reloading is fairly straightforward.

The majority of presses used in reloading consist of stations performing 8 basic steps including:

  • Depriming
  • Resizing
  • Priming
  • Powder drop
  • Wad insertion
  • Shot drop
  • Pre-crimp
  • Final crimp

Reloaders usually come with all equipment needed to reload specific types of shells. You will also need to obtain the required materials including shell casings or spend casings, powder, shots, and wading.

Reloading Press

A reloading press is the piece of equipment that permits shotgun owners to produce their own ammunition. The reloader takes the round through a series of stations during assembly. A single lever operates each of the various stations. A precise amount of powder is metered through a charge bar with powder bushing. The reloader uses various charge bars and bushings to produce a variety of loads.

Reloading Scale

A chart or scale is used to determine which bushing to use for a particular load. This table or scale is provided with each reloading press and can also be obtained online. Each powder has a different density and each bushing can throw different amounts depending upon the type of powder used. Have the exact amount of powder grains for a load is critical. The scale provides for accurate reloading.

The seasoned reloader will recheck powder drops to assure they are exact for the load they desire. The bushing may need to be smaller or larger to get the exact amount of powder.


The first station of the shotgun reloading process is known as Depriming. During this stage a punch pushes out of the hull base pocket the spent primer.


Resizing occurs at the same time as depriming as the plastic body of the hull is reshaped by sliding between the outer cylinder and mandrel. A resizing ring goes over the brass base at the end of the stroke which restores it to the dimensions set at the factory.


A new primer is placed in the hull during the second station. A spring loaded up is filled with a primer by the reloader at this station. This station has a hollow rammer tube upon where the hull is placed. Upon pulling the lever the hull is guided onto the primer by the rammer. The primer is seated in the empty pocket as the cup’s spring allows.


Three different operations occur at station three. As the lever is activated a drop tube is inserted into the hull. The charge bar is pushed to the left by the reloader. This moves the bushing from below the powder container to drop down into the hull through the tube its load. The charge bar is positioned below the shot bottle and the shot receptacle is filled.

A wad is placed over the tube bottom as the lever is lifted. As the lever is then depressed the wad is seated atop the powder.

The lever is lifted just a little and then the charge bar is pushed over to the right dropping the shot in the shot cup of the wad. The powder, wad and shot have all been placed in the shell during the charging stage.


The crimping is started at this station. The plastic hull has the proper folds set but the end is left open just a little.

Final Crimp

The last station provides for the final crimp. This station provides for slight tapering of the shell which allows for the shell to enter the chamber of the shotgun easily. This final crimp provides full closure and leaves a slight recess on top of the shell.

Using this basic equipment information and understanding the basic steps in reloading is the first step you need to take before starting to reload shells. There are a variety of reloaders available on the market. Determine what your needs are and how quickly you may need to complete the reloading process to determine which type of reloader you need initially.

Some types of reloaders can produce reloaded shell with just one pull of the level. These types of reloaders can greatly increases production for shotgun reloading. After you have selected your equipment and obtained the necessary materials you can enjoy the satisfaction and cost savings of reloading your own shells.