copperhead bb's in a 12 gauge?


August 9, 2007, 04:47 PM
Could I load .177 bb's (made for air pistols) into a shotcup?
Supposedly, these copperheads are copper plated steel, so load like steel shot is what I figure.

Also, does anyone know what a .177 caliber translates to in shot size? Looks like maybe a #4 to me.

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August 9, 2007, 04:53 PM
Also, does anyone know what a .177 caliber translates to in shot size? Looks like maybe a #4 to me.

I always thought that BB's were... well... size BB

I could be wrong, but I just always assumed, and we all know what happens when you assume...

August 9, 2007, 05:03 PM
dogbonz: that makes since.

August 9, 2007, 06:21 PM
I don't know the hardness of steel BB's that are intended for airguns. Steel shot is made from very mild steel.

It would also depend on the shotgun you intend to fire these rounds in, and the wads you're going to use. Steel shot is very hard on older shotguns that were made before steel shot was common. I've seen several barrels that have been split by shooting steel shot loads through them. It also takes special wads for shooting steel shot. The wall of the petals are thicker to protect the bore of the gun, and they're deeper, to accomodate the longer shot column needed to make the weight of the lighter steel the same as lead.

There are so many variables that it's much better to stick with the proper components intended for loading into shotshells. The days of loading up the old double barrel with nails, ball bearings, etc., for junkyard dog loads are pretty much gone. Besides, BB gun ammo would cost quite a bit more than steel shot.

Hope this helps.


August 9, 2007, 06:47 PM
I loaded some shot shells with BB's once. I think they were daisy though. This was a lot of years ago and I was much younger. Didn't know that I was supposed to think or what if it to death like here or I might not have done it. They worked and I don't remember any ill effects on the shotgun either.

August 9, 2007, 07:06 PM

'BB' is the actual shot size. 0.177

August 10, 2007, 12:51 PM
weight information from...
shows 5.1 grains per BB

if 6000 bbs is $10 then that's 4.37 pounds.
that's 10 lbs for $17.99 plus shipping (walmart sells the BB's)

so, the difference (not including shipping costs) is about 49 cents a pound....which is a total of about 49/16 1oz loads = 3 cents per 12 gauge shotshell.

I'll let you fellas know how it works.

August 10, 2007, 12:56 PM
I don't know the hardness of steel BB's that are intended for airguns.

I'm bored, so I volunteer for finding this out. If there's downtime next week, I'll report back with the hardness. Someone send me a PM reminder if it's not up by Thursday.

August 10, 2007, 01:10 PM
As per the posters above:

There IS a definite hardness difference between steel shot and air rifle ammunition, with air rifle BBs being VERY hard in comparison. I'd be interested in seeing fletcher's numbers.

Like ED21, I've loaded plated steel BBs in shotshells in the distant past as well. They're lighter than lead shot and we loaded them volume-for-volume. The shot cups of the day (WW-12) rubbed completely through and the BBs came into contact with the barrel. I would rather not do this in a decent shotgun, but since we were shooting Mossbergs and similar then, this was a non-issue.

Another factor to consider is that the BBs, as well as regular steel shot, can rebound from hard targets with considerable force. We shot some of ours at old junkyard cars and a few of the BBs went though the door metal, and a few came back and ripped through the trees around us. Luckily, no one was hit and we didn't put our eyes out, but we could have easily been injured all the same.

IMHO, I'd rather be sending a load of big lead shot than the relatively lightweight and ballistically inefficient BBs.

August 10, 2007, 01:14 PM
Be sure you have someone taking a video when you test these rounds. Then put it on you-tube. Seeing a shotgun barrel being split should make interesting viewing. :what::eek::rolleyes:

Air gun BB's are very hard. Much harder than the steel shot sold for reloading, or the stuff in factory waterfowl loads. Then add to that, you sound like you're going to load these in a common trap/target wad. NOT A GOOD PLAN!

If you want to load non-toxic shotshell loads, then go here to research the proper wads, shot, hull types, and get a loading manual from;
You can also buy some of the components from midway. Lyman's shotshell handbook has steel shotshell loads in it as well.

It is absolutely essential that you follow a known, tested recipe. Guessing, or dreaming up a load could be disastrous.

August 16, 2007, 09:38 AM
I'm mounting the BBs now - hardness will be available in an hour or two.

August 16, 2007, 11:16 AM
. . . hardness will be available in an hour or two.
Just like Viagra . . .:)

August 16, 2007, 11:23 AM
OK, the results are in. Hardness is approximately 92 HRB (Rockwell B Scale) as converted from Vickers testing. This is much harder than lead, of course, but not very hard when compared to steels.

Let's compare their tensile strengths to see the difference (it's about the only way to compare with such a large difference). Lead's ultimate tensile strength is around 12 MPa. Our BBs, at 92 HRB, have a tensile strength of ~649 MPa.

For metal people, the microstructure was primarily ferrite, with a small amount of pearlite (this confirms the relatively soft reading).
For those non-metal people, here's how the process went for this:

- Mount the BBs into plastic under heat and pressure. This makes them easy to work with.
- Grind and polish the surface with the BBs, revealing the core and creating a smooth surface.
- Use an acid to etch the surfaces. Etching reveals the structure of a metal, otherwise, it will usually appear to be one solid color.
- Using a tiny pyramid-shaped indenter (Vickers), indentations were made into the surface. I chose this instead of a larger machine since the samples are small. These indentations are measured, which produces a hardness value (HV, Vickers Hardness). This was converted to Rockwell B by the instrument.
- There's your hardness :)

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