MEC Marksman Reloading Press Review
By Jared Bauder
While single stage reloading presses provide the same basic function, the accessories and ergonomics of the configuration can always be improved. The MEC Marksman single stage press brings a solid set of features to its market price point.
Figure 1: MEC Marksman Single Stage Press with Press Base mount
Entry level presses use a circular frame to save on weight. More expensive presses have a different style of frame that allows front access, and some provide a floating die system. The MEC Marksman single stage press provides some of the higher end features for a reasonable price.
Figure 2: MEC Marksman on Press Base mount.
MEC Marksman features:
- Open front access to the shell holder and ram
- A triangular three bolt attachment layout for sturdier mounting
- De-priming system that allows the primers to fall below the working surface
- A Press Base accessory which elevates the workbench press, and provides a wider base
- A floating shell holder for better base to die alignment
- All mounting hardware is included for both the press and Press Base
Some basic features of the Marksman press can easily go unnoticed. The open front provides better access for both right and left handed users. A triangular shaped three bolt attachment layout provides sturdier attachment over a two bolt system. The Marksman in conjunction with the MEC Press Base provides other added benefits. The primer catching tray is positioned below the ram and designed for typical work table thickness. This is an issue for my thick 2x4 and plywood workbench surface. The Press Base avoids this issue by raising the entire press above the working surface. I also built my workbench several inches higher to allow for better visibility and leverage. The Press Base will accomplish this when used on a typical height table. Overall, MEC’s Press Base provides added height from a normal table, better access to the primer catching tray, wider base, and several places to hold dies.
Figure 3: De-capping (left), primer tray (note primers on table)(right)
I tested the press’s axial alignment by de-priming brass with a multi-caliber de-capping die. This die has a wider opening to accommodate various case sizes. It does not support the case during the process. When I use a multi-caliber de-capping die, the de-capping pin can jam on smaller case mouths. Therefore, I ran one hundred .20 caliber cases through the Marksman. Out of the one hundred cases, only two required adjustments to avoid contact with the de-capping rod. My current press required much more attention to guide the cases than the Marksman. Spent primers exited through the body of the ram to the catch tray beneath. This prevented primer debris from getting on the ram. However, the shallow tray allowed some primers to bounce out. The floating shell holder did not show any movement during the de-priming process as the body of the case did not contact the sides of the die.
The theory behind a floating system is that it can minimize case and cartridge run out. Run out is a measure of how straight something is while rotating about a line of axis. In other words, run out is how straight your ammunition is. A few reloading presses incorporate a floating die system. This “floats” the die in relation to the axis of the shell holder and ram. The better the alignment, the less run out will be observed. The Marksman’s press provides a shell holder that floats relative to the die. This is accomplished by a detent ring that allows the shell holder to move on a horizontal plane.
Figure 4: Floating shell holder
For run out control, I compared results from an RCBS Rockchucker Supreme to the Marksman. I loaded a 10 round set of .243 Winchester, as well as a 6.5 SAUM with RCBS full size and Redding type-S dies. As the cases were pushed up into the die, the floating shell holder moved into alignment with the dies. Case neck run out was the same between presses, and held around 0.001 inches. Loaded ammunition showed a greater difference between the two presses. The Marksman showed 0.001 to 0.002 better run out than the RCBS press. It also appeared to be slightly more consistent as well. One method I use to control run out is by seating one third of the bullet at a time along with a one third rotation. The Marksman still required this technique to achieve minimal run out. While shooting the test rounds, I confirmed my shooting proficiency is not adequate to notice a 0.002 inch difference in run out.
Figure 5: Sizing brass
In summary, the MEC Marksman brings a solid set of features to its market price point. An open fronted working area, de-priming system designed to keep the press cleaner, and a floating shell holder to limit run out. While the Press Base is offered at an additional cost, it is a useful tool. Using it provides improved ergonomics by elevating the working surface, a solid base and also a few die holding slots. While its operation is the same as other presses, it adds a few features that are worth checking out next time you run across one.
About the Author
Jared Bauder has been a lifelong hunter with technical interests in guns and archery. He enjoys using his engineering background and hands-on work mentality to be a jack-of-all-trades in the field or around the house. He is always looking for his next DIY project.