28 Gauge Reloading

Dear Technoid,

I recently purchased a ruger red label in 28 gauge to shoot skeet and sporting clays, I want to reload winchester AA’s, what shot cup and powder do you recommend? My reloader is a MEC 600jr.



Dear Jerry,

28 is my favorite gauge. In the AA hull, you have picked the “gold” standard. Even though the new Remington STS hull is better in 12 gauge, the old red AA is still the longest lived hull in 28. I’ve gotten as many as 10 reloads from one 28 gauge AA hull, though not always.

In the Win AA 28 gauge hull I recommend that you stick with Winchester Primers and Winchester wads. I’ve always used Winchester primers in everything and have found no reason to change. There’s lots of reloading data on them. I’m sure that Federal and Remington primers are just fine, but since the AA primers work so well for me, I just use those.

Wads: You NEVER go wrong using the same brand wad as hull. Winchester AA factory wads work perfectly. I have also had good luck in the 28 with Remington wads and also with Clay Buster wads (a cheaper clone of the Winchester wad). The only problem I have personally had with the AA and Claybuster wads has been when I have used them in Remington hulls. Sometimes they collapse the case. Remington wads seem to work in anything. I know other reloaders who have no trouble using AA wads in Remington hulls, so it might be the way that I have my machine adjusted. Sometimes it is easier to change components than it is to start pulling an otherwise functional machine apart. Just as long as you use only AA hulls, then the AA wads will be perfect.

Powders: I recommend Alliant’s Unique and Hodgdon’s Universal. Most of my experience is with Unique. I have found Unique to be absolutely perfect for the 28. It doesn’t burn as hot as some of the Winchester powders, like the now discontinued 540, used to so hull life is excellent. A couple of my knowledgeable friends are using Hodgdon’s Universal in the 28 and report excellent performance and case life. I have a few pounds of Universal that Hodgdon sent me to test, but I have been so pleased with Unique (and had so much of it in inventory) that I just haven’t gotten around to using it. Unique runs at about 14% lower pressure than Universal does, another thing that makes me lean towards Unique.

Reloading for the 28 and 410 are big money savers. I buy my components in bulk, sharing a purchase with other members of my gun club so that we have co-op buying power. Currently, it costs me $1.97 to load a box of 28s with magnum shot. Over the counter, factory AA 28s are over $6/box. Reloading is goodness, that’s for sure.

The MEC jr is a fine machine and will turn out a perfect shell, but it is slow. Expect to load about 100 shells per hour with a Junior if you pay attention. You will run about 4x as fast with a turret machine like the 650, Grabber, or 9000G. Of course, they cost more. You can check prices and models at http://www.cabelas.com/

One thing to remember about a reloader, MECs are so popular that there is always a good used market for one. You’ll be able to sell your reloader used for about 1/2 to 2/3 the price of a new one. If you really get into it, you might consider eventually getting a faster machine. Up to you. I reloaded 410s on a single stage PW 375 Duomatic for a lot of years and was perfectly happy.

You can get all the reloading data you need off of the Hodgdon and Alliant web sites. Stick with the recipes exactly. The 28 is a little cooker and you’ll get best performance if you follow the rules. Do NOT trust the printed drop weights of the powder and shot bushings. They are seldom correct, especially in the MEC line. Get your hands on a scale and a Dremel tool so that you can grind your bushings out to throw exactly what is called for. The shot bushing will be close, especially with #9 shot, but I’ll bet that the powder bushing will be off a fair amount. Grind it to make it perfect. You only have to do it once and then you are set as long as you don’t switch powders.

I don’t know why I am so attracted to the 28 gauge for target shooting, but I am. It has just enough recoil to feel like a “real” gun, but not so much as to cause any misery. It can break sporting clays targets at surprising distances until reality sets in. Unlike the 20, the 28 is surprisingly choke insensitive. It almost doesn’t seem to matter what you screw in, the breaks seem the same when things get out to 30 or 35 yards. It isn’t magic, but it is a Mighty Mouse. The 28 also makes a great quail and wood cock gun in the right hands. In Ruger’s shotgun line, I think that their little 28 is the best shotgun they make. You did good. Enjoy.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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