What's the point of brass shotgun shells?


December 4, 2006, 11:56 PM
I don't reload for shotguns so forgive me if this is a stupid question. I've seen several listing for new brass shotgun shells. Why? Is there some reason to use brass shells over the current plastic ones instead? Is there a downside to using them?

I was just wondering if there was some advantage over regular shells.

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December 5, 2006, 01:26 AM
To compete in SASS shooting games requires the use of original or a copy of a original firearm mfg. during the 1860-1899 time period. Some competors use the type of ammo availble during the 1860-1899 time period and some of the matches require the use of black powder ammo. i.e. brass shotshells

Mark Whiteman
December 5, 2006, 01:28 AM
I was just going to leave it at "it's historic"

December 5, 2006, 01:47 AM
seems I read that the paper shells would disintegrate in the tropics,so brass shells came inot play for reliability.

I knew they were sometimes used in cas but didn't realize they wuz 'period correct.'

December 5, 2006, 02:49 PM
The invention of brass shotshells predated paper shotshells which were invented in the early 1870's by seveal years.
Due to brass shotshells being able to withstand rougher handling along with being able to be reloaded many more times than paper shotshells they were quite popular till the early 1900's.

December 5, 2006, 03:12 PM
They're shiny!:evil:

December 8, 2006, 07:53 AM
So, can I use them in my modern shotguns like pumps and autoloaders or should they only be used in SxS and O/U shotguns?

Jim Watson
December 8, 2006, 09:49 AM
The U.S. Army ordered a supply of brass shotshells when they saw how paper shells swelled in the trenches of WW I. They did not get them in time for WW I but still had some on hand for WW II; so at least those were meant to run in a repeater.

But I expect they got beat up and at the price of new made brass hulls these days, that would be expensive fun. I'd limit them to break opens, myself.

December 8, 2006, 01:37 PM
Should work in any shotgun.

One thing I've been told the cowboy-action shooters do is instead of crimping the case mouth, they put in the overshot wad and run a bead of hot glue around the mouth to hold it. That way the cases last a long time without worry about cracks from prepeated crimping.

December 8, 2006, 03:35 PM
Here's the brass shells available from Midway. Magtech also makes most popular brass for handguns.



These I used candle wax to hold the overshot wad in, then I used the crimp starter to put the indents to help hold the wax.


These I used some elmers wood glue to hold the top wad, it didn't hold well at all. Since then I have found a latex sealer that works quite well.


You HAVE to use 10 guage wads to load these shells. They also have a massive powder capacity, meaning the absence of a base wad means a lot of powder space. Also they use a large pistol primer, you can't use a standard de-priming punch to de-prime them. I used a pin punch over a hole in my bench. Then re-priming can be done with the priming station in the mec 600JR.

walking arsenal
December 17, 2006, 09:21 PM
Where does one find load data for modern powders and brass hulls?

Can you load slugs into them?


December 18, 2006, 12:56 AM
WA, As far as I know, there is no data. I simply used a fast shotgun powder,(AA nitro 100), then guessed at an appropriate charge. I figured with the size of the combustion chamber I could go with around 20.0 grains behind 1 1/8 ounce of shot. That would be a stout field load in an AA shell. It was so mild it wouldn't function the action in my beretta 390. It barely moved the bolt! It was very slow as well and the pattern was lousy.

The inside diameter of the case is MUCH bigger than that of a plastic shell. For that reason you cannot use a standard 12 guage wad,(one piece or plastic gas seal). I'm using 10 guage over powder card wads,(paper). They fit nice and tight. Also the lack of a base wad means you have a LOT of room to take up. I use 12 guage fiber wads to create a wad column, then a 10 guage nitro card wad for an under shot wad. Topped with a 10 guage thin over shot wad, then sealed with a latex sealer.

Because of the large ID of the brass shells, I doubt they would be good for slugs. The 12 guage slug would have a lot of room around it's OD, it would rattle around in the case. Then being fired off-center wouldn't do much good for it's accuracy.

Same goes for the buckshot. It would be loose in the shell, then have to be squeezed into the 12 guage barrel. Not good for a pressure spike right at the mouth of the chamber.

So why do I have them? Good question, 'cause they look neat? 'Cause I like to be different? I've been loading just about everything I could get my hands on for over 40 years. I get bored.:uhoh: Something new to work on, a new project!

I WILL make them work! I'm aiming for a target load using smokeless powder, 7.5 or 8's, at 1200 fps, with a pattern that will break some clays. Not sure if I'll stick with my O/U or try to get them to work in my 390.

December 18, 2006, 01:51 AM
I wonder were they intended as bp shells? i think that is what the cowboy shooters load in them anyway.

Mark Whiteman
December 18, 2006, 02:47 AM
Likely. Smaller gages would be interesting. Anyone ever try a roll crimp on brass?

walking arsenal
December 18, 2006, 05:37 PM
Thanks snuffy.

I was going to use them for buckshot but i guess thats a bad idea from what you say.

Too bad.

December 18, 2006, 07:55 PM
Great. How many 9mm cases will get stuck in these huge things when they get tumbled together?:cuss:

Mark Whiteman
December 18, 2006, 08:32 PM
Can't be as bad as when I mixed 9s with 45s. Almost every 45 had a 9 stuck in it. What a PITA.

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