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Posted By: dogon OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 12:22 AM
I'm in the market for a new 20ga progressive reloading press. I've looked them all over on line and have boiled it down to two presses. I would appriciate some input of the pro's & cons of the ones I'm thinking of purchasing.

The two that's caught my eye are the Ponsness Warren 800 & the RCBS grand. I'm leaning toward the grand simply because I like the feature that it doesn't drop shot or powder unless there is a case at that station. Does the PW have this feature also?

Please give me your take on these presses.

Posted By: Tom28ga Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 01:26 AM
I have a P/W 800 Plus and an older P/W 2000. Both are wonderful machines and convertible. However, the 800 is much easier to change gauges with since you are putting a fully preset tooling head on the machine and hit the ground running.
I have used both machines for loading 20 gauge shells and get factory looking shells from either one.
I would go so far as to recommend the 800 over the Patriot. The Patriot only drops shot and powder with a shell underneath. In spite of the fact that the Patriot has some interesting new features, just emptying the shot and powder and the increased difficulty in doing so would rule this out as a first selection. It is $400 more expensive and that is substantial.
If you want the best machine on the market, it would be the P/W 800 Plus...perfect 20 gauge shells every time.
Posted By: Wonko the Sane Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 02:38 PM
And on the other hand ............

I've had two PW's and will never have another. They and I just do not hear the same music. And error recovery, your's or the machine's, is a nightmare. You should actually try one before you commit - honest.

A gent I shoot with all the time had a RCBS (lives where they're made) for about ever and finally decided he'd had enough of it and got an electric MEC. Just sayin' ........

I use a 366 and have for near 20yrs. There are still aspects of it that I don't like and never will. BUT - - it cranks out a primo load and error recovery is as easy as it gets.

And if you can't remember to turn off the powder or shot drops you might reconsider loading your own.

just a thot

Posted By: KY Jon Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 07:31 PM
If cost is not an issue then get a Spolar Gold. Best machine I have ever owned or used and the makers are easy to work with. If you are looking for a good machine for the money get the MEC 9000. They work great in the 20, 28 and 12 versions. Little bit less so in the .410. I have both the Spolar in 12 and the Mec 9000H in 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410 with hydraulic setups. MEC machines work well and are easy to keep in adjustments and repair parts are fast and cheap. MEC will load about 400 an hour without any problem. If that rate is too slow then spend the extra money move up to PW or Spolar and look at a shell system to load the empties. To me unless you are loading for a bunch of kids 400 and hour is enough. I would just load a little longer and save the money.

When you get right down to it every make of machine will work well if you follow a few simple rules. Set it up where you have room to work. No distractions while loading. Keep the loads the same so the machine does not need to be adjusted every time you load. Use good empties and good wads. Pay attention to what you are doing when loading. Do not watch TV and load or drink a six pack. You would be surprised what people do and what it causes.
Posted By: builder Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 08:26 PM
I have an RCBS Grand. I bought it because it has the best wad loader in the business. It is a brilliant machine that never quite works right. Great free parts but there is always something wrong. When it is working right it is fast and smooth.

Fixing mistakes in the ponsness I had was a nightmare.

I now only use MEC. They work and make perfect shells. They are not as smooth or sophisticated as the other machines but keep on working. They are easy to figure out what is wrong and easy and cheap to fix.
Posted By: KY Jon Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 09:08 PM
To put it into perspective lets compare reloaders to cars.

Spolar is a Mercedes
P/W is a Itilian sports car not a Cadillac like some claim.
MEC is a Dodge with a 225 six cylinder.

Spolar cost a lot, runs forever if taken care of and service is great.

P/W runs great when they are in tune but God help you if you have problems and are not mechanically inclined and understand how they work and how to get them back into perfect harmony. Just like an Italian sports car.

MEC are just going to last a long time no matter what you do to them. They are cheap to repair and just work on and on and on. Not sexy just like a Dodge six cylinder was not. But when you were giving your buddy a ride to town, so your buddy could get parts to fix his sexy car you had to laugh inside.

Most P/W problems are owner created or perhaps owners cause them to get worse. A few, a very few, are just bad machines that even the factory can not get right. I had the bad luck to own one of them. Bought as a "factory reconditioned" machine it never worked for more than a case at a time. The other P/W I had at the same time loaded without a problem for four years. Sold that one to a buddy and threw the bad one off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge into the channel. I figured out later it had been a bad machine from day one and the factory got so tired of repairing it they gave the buyer a new one and "reconditioned" the machine I got. If you can have a lemon car you can have a lemon loader. As I say 99.9% are great so if your works for you great. Do not get hot and bothered like some do it you mention you have or had a problem with one. It happens.

Other reloaders will fall into line above or below the P/W to MEC gap and opinions will vary. If you hate a brand you hate it for life and with almost a not that one even if it is free type of feeling.

And nothing beats a MEC 600 JR when you are starting out. Or even for small runs of hunting loads. I still have one and use it to load Bismuth a special loads for hunting. A few boxes and hour is OK when you might need two or three for a entire hunting season.
Posted By: Rookhawk Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 09:20 PM
Sorry to add a tangent here but I'm interested too. The thing that wasn't addressed in his requirements above is:

I want a press that is easy to swap from 12, 16, 20 and 28 and I want all of them loaded for 2.5" shells.

So what are my options?
Posted By: PA24 Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 09:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Rookhawk
Sorry to add a tangent here but I'm interested too. The thing that wasn't addressed in his requirements above is:

I want a press that is easy to swap from 12, 16, 20 and 28 and I want all of them loaded for 2.5" shells.

So what are my options?

Buy four MEC models of your choice, one in each gauge....never change anything and load to your hearts content without all the problems inherit in the other machines.

Use the large dollars you save for a nice hunt somewhere or a vacation for you and the little lady.

All of mine have the factory short kits installed, 12, 16, 20 gauge. I also installed the steel tools for each station, even on the newer machines (available used on ebay).....and the brass 6 star starter crimp. I don't like plastic anything, except wad fingers. I use a MEC Super Sizer as pictured for all my sizing in each gauge, easy gauge change on the Super Sizer.

I've used MEC'S since the late 60's and cannot praise them enough, and one machine pictured below, that I bought new, is that old and has had thousands and thousands of rounds through it. All three machines have been used heavily by young boys growing up without any problems.

Keep them covered up when not in use and lubed regularly and they last forever with very few problems. I use EEZOX to lube them and as you can see, even the base plates do not scratch, super slick stuff.

Posted By: KY Jon Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 10:51 PM
Doug that is a perfect set up for reloading. As nice as any I have seen.


The easiest machine to convert from one ga. to another is Spolar. MEC machines are not convertible between ga. P/W can be but I found that doing so never ended up with the machine being in adjustment like it was before with the same die setup. Also if you are looking to load different type loads within a ga. you need a machine that is easy to adjust. That is a MEC or Spolar. 2 1/2" is the deal breaker I suspect. Going back and forth to 2 1//2" and 2 3/4" is going to be a lot of adjusting.

Now another thing to look at is what total volume are you looking to load? Ten boxes a year or even a month are easily handled by MEC 600 with short kits added. Hundreds of boxes a year are not. High volume could be done with a Spolar if you had the set it up for 2 1/2" shells.

I had a MEC 650 12 that I altered to load 2 1/2" shells when I was loading those in volume. It is on semi permanent loan to a friend. I deprimed and resized shell before loading them because the 650 does not resize them. The quick explanation of what I did was to reduce the main shaft height and trim down the crimp and finish dies. All the rest was done by simple adjustments. I had a old 650 on hand so I altered that but I suspect you could alter a 9000 as well. But alterations make it a dedicated 2 1/2" machine.
Posted By: gjw Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 11:06 PM
Doug has a reloading room to die for!! Like a professional set up IMO!

BTW, When I got back into reloading, his advise was invaluable, as was Larry Brown's. Two great guys IMO.

Many thanks Doug and Col!


Posted By: Mike Bonner Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/17/13 11:13 PM
Not quite right, I bought a MEC 600 in 12 ga and obtained all the parts to convert it 28 ga. I can also buy the kit to convert it to 16 ga.
Posted By: dogon Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/18/13 12:34 AM
All great stuff here guy's.

I guess I should have included a little more information about myself & where I'm at on reloading.

I've been reloading since the mid 1960's. I started loading paper cases on a MEC 200 "if I remeber the model correctly". I still have that press buried somewhere in the basement. I've owned several other MEC presses since 600, 650jr, grabber, & I presently load 28ga on a 9000. All of them have been good presses & I can't or wont say a bad word about MEC products.

I'm presently loading 20ga on a Hornady APEX with the auto index feature. It's been a good press which throws out great looking loads. The one feature I really like about it is the no-case under the powder or shot station there is no droppping the component. This feature really saves a lot of clean up when there is a fowl-up & I know all loaders have fowl-ups at times. The only reason I'm looking to upgrade is this press is getting old, it's discontinued & parts are going to be a problem in the future. Beside that I just want to get a new progressive press.

I'm a mechanic/machinist by trade so machinery doesn't scare me. I'm a gear head through & through and I really like what I see in the P/W, the grand & the spolar. Since I first posted this thread I've pretty much have eliminated the RCBS Grand for a couple of reasons. 1. Searching the net, I can't find one availble for sale. All of the on-line dealers are out of stock on them. "I'm starting to wonder if RCBS still makes them" 2.After doing more on-line research I've found more negative things said about them than positive.

So it looks like my choices are down to the P/W 800, the spolar, or the MEC 9000. At this point I'm probably leaning toward the P/W at this point. I may make some phone calls next week & I'll let you know what I find out.
Posted By: KY Jon Re: OT Reloading Presses - 08/18/13 12:50 AM
If you can shake the coins loose you should buy the Spolar. Do the web search and look at their videos and machines. Hands down it is the best machine I have loaded on. Not everyone can afford and are willing to spend that much money for one. If you want real people endorsement go to and ask them for their feedback. When one pops up for sale on there it goes in no time and those with them endorse it whole heartedly.

The PW hyd. is a knock of of the Spolar from my viewpoint. The Spolar ga. changes are a snap. The machine is clean and easy to use. If I was going to be shooting for another 30 years or another few hundreds rounds before I quit I would invest in another one if I did not have one. The only reason I have not sold the MECs and converted to all the ga.s is that my shooting is in rapid decline and my sons are just about grown. Demand is down as they say.
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