Biodegradable wadding for shotguns... does it exist??


July 29, 2007, 11:25 PM
Hey guys,
I wasn't sure if this is the place to ask this question, however I figured I would give it a shot. I have been trying to find information on where I can buy 12 gauge ammo that uses Biodegradable wadding. I have been looking around and found out that they invented the stuff back in 2001, yet I haven't heard of anyone using it. I was wondering if any of you know more on the subject!

I shoot a lot on my own property and hate picking up all the waddings, however I do it because they aren't biodegradable.

On a side note: I am really enjoying this site and the plethora of knowledge found on it, as well as the level headed, friendly folks!


If you enjoyed reading about "Biodegradable wadding for shotguns... does it exist??" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
July 30, 2007, 03:40 AM
I have no idea where one could find loaded 12-gauge ammunition with "biodegradable wadding". Perhaps some of the el-cheapo European ammo MIGHT have such wads, but if so, I'm not aware of such loads. Plastic is probably cheaper to use.

However, such wads have been in use from the very dawn of shotgunning, hundreds of years, (not "since 2001") and it's only in the last fifty years or so that plastic wads have made their appearance. Even then, cardboard and felt wads were used extensively for a couple of decades, at least.

The easiest solution for you may be to buy an inexpensive shotshell press, such as an MEC 600Jr at about $125. Even the LEE Load-All (under $40) worked for me for my double guns, but I never used its production in pumps or autoloaders.

If you go this route, and reloading shotshells is not difficult, then there are several places to buy card over-powder wads and felt filler wads. One such place is Ballistic Products, which should be locateable with a web search. (I just looked in the Midway catalog, and they have enough variety in cork, felt, card, etc. wads to do anything you could wish.)

I certainly understand your desire for non-littering wads. The plastic ones (and the plastic shotshells which many/most shooters leave behind) create an unsightly permanent mess. Note that, although not designed specifically as "biodegradable", felt, card, cork, etc wads DO degrade over time out in the weather. Also, they're "natural" colored, and don't stand out like the brilliant plastic wads. Much better.

Sorry I can't point you to any loaded ammo with such wads, but there is a solution in loading your own...a new extension of the hobby, maybe???

July 30, 2007, 08:00 AM
Thanks a ton for the advice... I would like to get into loading shotgun shells, however I don't know if I can load my own for a cheap as I can buy them. I can get 250 12 gauge rounds for $40. Do you know how much it would cost to make 250 rounds?
Also my 2001 comment was referring to the use of a biodegradable plastic-like material they came up with. However I didn't even think about the use of cardboards or felt as a biodegradable, which they are. I will be looking into that today!

July 30, 2007, 08:43 AM
G'day, Russ.

You make a very telling point, when you query the cost of handloading shotshells versus buying them.

I have to admit that Walmart pricing for generic let's-go-shooting shotshells has drastically reduced my shotshell loading. It's mighty hard to beat $3 or $4 per box! I now load mostly specialty stuff, and particularly blackpowder shells for my old English Damascus guns.

You might save a bit, but it's not going to be anything like what we can save loading rifle and handgun ammo. Your main justification would be to get the non-plastic wads, and avoid the clutter on your property.

One thing is pretty near certain though....we will NOT find those shells loaded with BioD plastic wads at Walmart, and certainly not at the low-ball prices we see there. Specialized ammo is limited-production stuff, and I'd almost guarantee that they'd be up in the $10-plus range for a box of 25. I hadn't heard of this development, but it sure is long overdue.

By Midway's pricing, it'll cost about four cents per round for an over-powder card wad and a 1/2" fiber filler wad. Winchester plastic wads cost about half that much, because they make millions of them, I suppose. The biggest cost factor will be the shot, and for informal clay shooting the cheapest available would do fine. Midway wants $28 for 25 pounds of "Magnum" shot, but you might be able to beat that locally (no shipping charges). Call it about a dollar per pound, and less than two pounds per 25 rounds, and it looks like something over three dollars for 25 handloads with card/felt wads. That compares fairly well, but it doesn't take the effort involved into account. I reckon it's a case of "What's it worth to you?"

July 30, 2007, 10:53 AM
The lead won't biodegrate so I wouldn't worry about a small piece of plastic that will be over grown in the grass in a matter of weeks. As above, pick up your hulls and you are (sadly) doing more than most.

July 30, 2007, 02:21 PM
Lead isn't biodegradable because it's an element. When you shoot it you're just putting it back where it belongs. ;) :D

EDIT: I stand corrected, Lex. :D

Steve C
July 30, 2007, 03:33 PM
Old shells without the plastic cup used cardboard disc's and vegetable fiber wad columns. You can still load such ammo as the components are still available though your patterns would be larger than those with shot cups. The plastic shot cups essentially increase the choke of the gun by 1 to 1/2 choke rate. A modified choke shooting modern plastic wads with shot cups shoots as tight as a full choke firing those old style shells.

July 30, 2007, 04:33 PM
Assuming you find factory rounds with biodegradable wads, are you going to find them at the price you are paying now? +1 on handloading.

July 30, 2007, 04:48 PM
Lead is a element, not a mineral... :rolleyes:

July 30, 2007, 05:02 PM
Of course does it exist, here in good old europe:

In some area here in Europe, you have to use "bio-degradable" shotshell for hunting.

July 31, 2007, 10:16 AM
“Lead isn't biodegradable because it's an element. When you shoot it you're just putting it back where it belongs.”

Tell that to the group that bought a local sporting clays range (to develop) and have sat on it for over a year now, dealing with the EPA on lead abatement. If the land fails the first test they have to remove 4’ (yes that’s feet) of top soil, if they fail again it’s another 4’. Either it’s not a concern or they are keeping it hush-hush, but I haven’t heard any complaints about what they are going to do with the wads.

July 31, 2007, 10:15 PM
Thank you for your informative and well thought out response. I believe I will be getting into hand-loading for .223 and my next bolt rifle project (probably at 300 wssm) before I start reloading shotgun shells. Simply because of the cost effectiveness of it coupled with the benefits of accuracy.

On a side note, I thought that most shotgun shells use other metals rather than lead due to the environmental implications. I was told that current shells use steel or some sort of steel alloy?


August 1, 2007, 03:08 AM
Yo, Russ;

Steel is federally-required for WATERFOWL hunting, unless you use some other lead-replacement shot (as below). Some other jurisdictions likely have regulations in place requiring "non-toxic" shot for all hunting, but I can't give you any detail on that. Apart from steel, we now have bismuth shot (about $12 per POUND from Midway) as well as other types, such as Hevi-Shot etc...all designed for use as replacements for lead.... and all very expensive.

Lead shot is still widely used in upland hunting, as well as on the clay-target ranges. It should be around for a long time to come. Hmmm...maybe I'd just better buy a few more bags just in case.

Best wishes for your reloading endeavors. I'm such a devotee now, that I'd be reloading even if it cost MORE than buying factory ammo. And then, there's bullet casting, which can REALLY get a man into (enjoyable) quicksand.

August 6, 2007, 10:52 PM

Thanks a ton! I will keep you posted with my adventures!


If you enjoyed reading about "Biodegradable wadding for shotguns... does it exist??" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!