Loading Shot Gun Shells The old way


September 5, 2008, 06:55 PM
Ok lets get one thing straight im not posting this to say this is the way you should reload shells. However for those who have ever reloaded shotgun shells using an old lee loader you will understand the concept behind this. There was an article posted in Guns of the Old West a year ago. A fantastic article where the author showed how to make 12 guage shotgun shells using black powder. The authors tools were a wooden 5/8 dowl a long 3 1/2 inch penny nail, a socket, small hammer and a xacto knife.

Ok lets look at some lee loaders. These are some Very rare lee loaders. From top to bottom 12Guage Deluxe lee loader, .410 deluxe lee loader, (brand new never used .410 lee loader)
However i will be using for this DEMONSTRATION
a hammer, shot gun cleaning rod, socket 3 1/2 inch penny nail. Supplies new primer, wad and over the shot card

First step cut off the crimp use an exacto knife try to cut straight. In this picture i just cut it fast to show you For demonstration purpose
Next place the shell over the socket use the penny nail insert it in the primer and tap out
Now place a new primer on a flat surface place the shell over the primer. put your cleaning rod in the hull and tap down until flush.
now charge your case with your favorite load and powder. After you do this. Take your matching Wad. Start inserting it by hand then use the cleaning rod and tap it until it firmly meets the powder.
now pour in your desired measure of shot
Now insert your over the shot card.

there you go your done. One tip i learned a long time ago. A dab of elmers glue around the over the shot card. Now this method of loading shells actually works and people do use this method. Though a press is a lot better. It is possible to load shot gun shells by hand. A lee loader is very similar to doing this differences is that the lee loader has a tube that is used to make sure the shell is not swelled. by inserting the shell the theroy was the shell should go down to size. This however was originally designed to use with paper shells where you could steam them to get them straight. The lee loaders i have also use the tube to hold the shell in place then use a dowel type rod to push in the crimp. There are a few circular hand held starter crimps that make it possible to get a good factory style crimp using a lee loader. I usualy only cut the tops on shells that have been used several times or shells that i intend on using black powder. As black powder burns a lot hotter and usually melts the plastic a little. Im sure there are others than can give you some advice if you are interested in loading for shells. One thing i did not show or mention is the wads used, shot used and powder used. You need to consult to a load data chart to get that information as it is very important to use the proper load for shot gun shells. Again this was just to give you a demonstration on how shells used to be loaded in the old days.

If you enjoyed reading about "Loading Shot Gun Shells The old way" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
September 5, 2008, 06:58 PM
ok looking over this one thing i did not do correctly when tapping the wad in place you should have the shell over the socket so the primer does not come in contact with anything. Another thing when shooting black powder loads. Disgard the hulls they are done. the heat usually melts a good spot on the shells. So thats why i use over the shot shells so i do not get them mixed up with my regular rounds.. The same process can be used for Brass shell casings as well

September 5, 2008, 08:06 PM
parts. if you want to go felt, fiber wads then one shop stop.

circle fly wads you can get over the powder and over the shot wads.

September 5, 2008, 08:58 PM
Thanks for sharing that, scrat!


September 5, 2008, 09:07 PM

an old pic of some. alarcon wads are what i am currently using on the fiber. i have thousands of them

September 5, 2008, 09:47 PM
When Brass wasn't steel and paper wasn't plastic, I reloaded five hundred felt loads a week. I shot all five hundred EVERY weekend. When plastic became King, I stopped reloading shotshells. Ya, a few years back. Today I load .223, 243, .45 ACP, and .454 Casull only! I don't even have a shotgun anymore. Steel Shot ended my desire. cliffy

September 5, 2008, 09:49 PM
i probably have about 10 boxes full of alarcon felt wads. Blue side down. wow they sure do work good. But then they have always

September 6, 2008, 12:37 PM
bump for saturday
who else had made shot gun shells this way

September 19, 2009, 01:25 PM
I lucked out and got a couple Lee Loader kits when I first started driving 25 years ago or so, one for 12 gauge and the other for 20. If I knew they were that scarce, I would have picked up a couple for some real oddball gauges, too. One of them isn't a Lee, it's a MRI, but it's identical to the Lee kit. I loaded several 12 and 20 shells with the Lee Loader. It's even able to load brass shells and has the loading data for black powder.
The other day I was goofing around with my brass shotgun shells from Magtech. They use a large pistol primer. I was able to seat a primer into the shell by using a dowel rod and a block of wood, just like your instructions.

More about old time reloading. I read an article years ago about a guy using a nail with .30-06 shells and reloading them on the bench to work up a handload for his rifle. He said the old timers did it that way. He said he sometimes gets better accuracy by using a nail as a primer punch because the casing is resized for that bore when it's shot. Most primer punches are also resizers to bring the casing down to a one-size-fits-all-but-might-not-fit-yours-right. I can't remember what he used to seat the bullet and crimp it, I think he used a Lee Handi-Loader (I picked up one of those not long ago, they're really neat.) He used a pencil as a dowel rod and the wooden bench to seat a fresh primer.

September 19, 2009, 03:31 PM
Nice post. I load both ways, have a MEC and a bunch of Magtech brass shells. I have a 12 ga. side by side that belonged to my great great great grandfather. I load it with BP, 7/8 oz of shot and it is a hoot. Usually keep the loads light but it still takes its share of rabbits and squirrel.

September 20, 2009, 05:37 AM
Looks like fun, must try it for novelty some day.

September 20, 2009, 06:11 AM
I used to use some hot candle wax to seal the wad end.

ole farmerbuck
September 20, 2009, 06:59 AM
I found my old Lee hand loader the other day. I got it when i was about 13 or 14. It is 410. Wow, that thinks is old now that i think about it! :)

September 20, 2009, 07:47 AM
Nicely done tutorial.

Here's a couple of items I use from Ballistic Products when loading slugs. A hull vise, trimmer, and roll crimp.





September 20, 2009, 12:05 PM
That was interesting scrat
Brought back some old times of evenings after school loading shells for the weekend. I think the 12 an 20 gauge Lee Loaders are still on the back shelf with the Acme 20 ga. press.

September 20, 2009, 03:38 PM
Cool stuff.

Thanks Scrat and thanks wittzo for digging it back up.


PA Freedom
September 20, 2009, 03:54 PM
There was an article in Backwoodsman magazine a couple years ago (IIRC) that was very similar to what the OP is describing. It even had drawings and instructions on how to make your own "reloading station".

Uncle Chan
September 20, 2009, 05:51 PM
This intrigues me. I collect Lee Loaders and have not used the 12 and 20 ga loaders I've bought. I'd like to try it this way first.

However, I'm curious about the thickness of the wads or overshot cards used.

Recommendations? I'm thinking for both 12 and 20 and for CAS shooting.

September 20, 2009, 06:47 PM
Wow, a thread over a year old!

Where are ya SCRAT? Haven't seen him around here for quite a while.

As for the over powder, and shot wads, here's where to go;


Oops, I see Rembrant already has their website linked, but they also have just about anything you'd want for loading shotgun shells.

As for loading roll crimped shells with just the lee loader, can't be done. You need at the very least a drill motor and roll crimper. And the shell must be new, or a 3" shell cut back to 2 . Here's my set-up for roll crimping shotshells;



Also, for using the lee whackamole loader for modern plastic shells with a star crimp. It's very hard to close the crimp on a plastic shell. Those lee loaders were actually made for star crimped PAPER shells. For that they work well.

If you enjoyed reading about "Loading Shot Gun Shells The old way" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!