General Shotgun Loads Question


Gadzooks Mike
October 25, 2009, 10:54 PM
I don't actually do any shotgun reloading, or haven't yet, at least, but this has me curious. It seems that unlike rifle and pistol loading, you can't load light for shotguns. If the recipe calls for x grains of something, you cannot load it with x-1 grains. Why? And please keep it simple, if you can. I'll try to keep up, but no promises. Thanks!

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October 26, 2009, 12:21 AM
If that info is from a manual, you need a different manual. I have 3 specifically on loading shotgun shells and they list mins and max for all loads. Shotgun reloading is very different from everything else, component recipe must be followed exactly, x shell, x wad, and x type shot. Just simply using the wrong wad can turn a safe load into a dangerous one.

October 26, 2009, 02:31 AM
Do not alter shotshell recipes in the manuals. However in manuals such as Lymans Shotshell manual they do include recipes for Target and Field loads using the same hulls, powder, shot charge weight, primer, and wads. Some of the field loads call for more of a same powder than the target loads using the same components. Just don't go experimenting without published data. Also, the powder and shot bars on shotshell presses are not exact. Shot dropped may not exactly weigh 1 1/8 oz. but will be close depending on shot size used plus the powder bushings in the bars may not drop the exact weight but can vary a few tenths of a grain, so it's not exact but like has been mentioned, the most important thing is not to switch hulls, primer, or wads from the recipe "listed" in the manual as dangerous pressures can result.

October 26, 2009, 06:27 AM
Gadzooks Mike

There would be no problem, physically, if you lower a load x gr by x-1 gr, as long as x-1/x < 10 - 20% of X. There is no problem with an S.E.E. or detonation. Your biggest problem would be sticking the wad in the barrel if it does not develop enough pressure to make the necessary gas seal with the wad.

I think you could even lower it further with no detrimental effect to the weapon. However, reducing the load more would probably be detrimental to the pattern in both spread and center point of impact.

It may also be embarrassing to have the weapon go floomph as the tight shot column visibly arcs out to almost 50 ' WHILE STICKING THE WAD. Don't ask me how I know that.

I would recommend you stick to the recipes.

Gadzooks Mike
October 26, 2009, 12:36 PM
Ok, now sticking the wad would be one reason, for sure. And I guess I phrased that question badly, too, but basically what I've read says something like, "Don't go over the max or under the min". It was the under the min part that raised the question.

Thanks, that makes much more sense now!

October 26, 2009, 12:42 PM
And the chances are good to have a blown up barrel if you fire another round with the wad stuck in the barrel.

October 26, 2009, 02:25 PM
Mike, first you have to realize the max pressure for a 12 ga. 2- or 3" shells is 11,000 LUP. It's important to follow load data from manuals to the letter, as already mentioned.

Powder bushings most always throw light, the same as bushings in handgun/rifle do. This is a built in safety factor, those loads with as much as 1.0 grains light still work well. The shot simply doesn't have quite the listed velocity that the manual says it has. Use of a scale tells you to use one number higher powder bushing to get to the listed powder charge.

Hornady shotshell loaders have shot bushings that are marked for specific shot sizes, they will throw exact weights of say #8 shot, 1-1/8 ounce of chilled lead shot. However, if you use magnum shot, which is harder, thus lighter, it will throw a few grains lighter shot charge.

Another factor is the type of loader used. Progressive loaders throw lighter powder charges from the same bushing, than the single stage loaders do. The reason is the progressive throws a powder charge for each handle stroke. The single stage, like a MEC 600 JR., throws a charge after the handle has made 4 complete strokes. That shakes and compacts the powder in the hopper/bottle to pack the powder into the bushing.

Lyman's bible/shotshell handbook will have lighter loads in it for all gauges. Load those specific loads to do what you want, but simply reducing the powder a little might result in a punky, funny sounding report, and extremely slow velocities.

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