black powder shotgun shells


July 5, 2013, 09:45 AM
I made a bunch of black powder shotgun shells. First ones I made were Fiocchi/cheddite clear hulls already primed (from BP). I loaded 82 grains of FFG (the real stuff), a over powder card, lubed 1/2 inch fiber wad (bore butter), an overshot card, 11/8 oz #6 shot, another overshot card and crimped. They shoot very well out of my NEF and Baikal single shots. Next I tried the same load but loaded 12 #1 buckshot that I made with a sharpshooter mold. They to shoot well. Next I plan to cook up a 9 pellet 0-buck load. I am having a blast with this black powder stuff! Clean up aint bad at all. I pop the barrels off and toss them in the tub for a few minutes. wipe out, dry and lube. easy. I find these new hulls crimp better for me with an 8 crimp rather than a 6.

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July 5, 2013, 11:22 AM
Kalbo, sounds like you are learning the art of blasting multiple projectiles and making big smoke.

Off topic question.Do you mind telling me where you came up with the username ?

July 5, 2013, 01:06 PM
wife is from the Philippines. It means bald.

July 5, 2013, 04:36 PM
Since you are using a shotshell, not muzzleloading, why do you use a lubricated wad sandwiched in there between the cards? This is NOT a criticism as I know next to nothing about black powder shotguns. In smokeless shotshells there is no lubrication. Is it to make the fouling from the black powder easier to remove?

July 5, 2013, 04:53 PM
You hit the nail on the "kalbo" head there Bob..... :D

The shot doesn't really care but it'll make cleaning the bore that much easier later on.

One thing with black powder is that it burns somewhat hotter than smokeless. Or it hangs around longer so the barrels get hotter. Doesn't really matter which. Either way I've hear that the hot bore tends to melt the usual plastic shot wads. Which makes using cards, felt and other paper product wads the way to go with the black powder shot loads.

July 5, 2013, 06:43 PM
Cool post US some pictures of your shells.

July 5, 2013, 11:34 PM
Most of our friends call me "Kuya Kalbo." My wife is from the islands also.

Have you ever made the shotgun shells using the brass hulls ?

July 6, 2013, 12:39 AM
As long as your ammo patterns well you are doing fine. One word of caution is the oil in the bore buttery wads could migrate out into the powder especially if your rounds get hot.
I'd recommend they be stored in a cool spot and not count on them being fresh after a year or two.

You don't need the overshot card on top of the shot if you get a decent crimp. It could occasionally cause a blown pattern.
I am surprised you can get all that powder & shot into your hulls without using a roll crimp. You said you liked the 8 fold crimp. My 1 1/8oz load with 80grs uses a plastic steel shot cup for the wad since my guns don't have chokes. The thicker walls of the steel shot cup (slit twice) give me modified patterns out of a cylinder bore. There is very little space for a wad with all that powder in most hulls. The Activ hulls seem to have the most room. I use mostly compression formed hulls like the STS, Gun Club, & black or blue hulls by Remington. The cheddites must have an extremely low inner base wad for you to get all those wads into the hull and still crimp it. I'm assuming you are talking 12 guage here.

July 6, 2013, 03:03 AM
For a fun and period correct way of loading black powder shotshells, you may want to try an antique roll crimper. Here's mine:


July 6, 2013, 09:55 AM
PC? Why isn't your hull solid brass?

July 6, 2013, 03:24 PM
Oyvind, nice video! I've been reloading the 2.5" brass shells with blackpowder for my 1897 (it has the old, shorter chamber) but it's great to see an old machine in use making the roll crimps. Hal det bra!

July 6, 2013, 05:27 PM
Kalbo, I never had any luck with those clear Fiocci hulls using smokeless powder. However for blackpowder I like my Federal Gold Medal paper hulls. :) The paper hulls just look so cool, and when I'm done shooting they make my truck smell like blackpowder! :D

Another fun load is slugs with BP. I cast and load Lee 7/8th ounce foster slugs in smokeless and BP. 3 drams is a mighty load, they'll even cycle in my recoil operated Ithica 12 gauge without getting any fouling in the action.

IME, the best way to get the BP fouling out is to shoot a handful of smokeless shells through the gun. I'm not sure how safe it is, but I've been following my BP shells with some smokeless ones for a long time. It just makes life easier for me, YMMV.

July 9, 2013, 06:15 PM
these are some i loaded with 82 grains of FFg and 1 1/8 ounce #6 shot with a 6 fold crimp. the 8 fold seemed to work better. it is not shown here but i followed it up with a small amount of alex plus in the folds (wipe off excess) and toped off with hot pink fingernail polish. just a little weather proofing.

July 9, 2013, 06:47 PM
Oyvind, nice video! I've been reloading the 2.5" brass shells with blackpowder for my 1897 (it has the old, shorter chamber) but it's great to see an old machine in use making the roll crimps. Hal det bra!

AA, I've been thinking about using those brass shells for my early-production 97.

Can you share any details? Do you crimp the shells? Any problem with cycling/feeding?

July 9, 2013, 11:12 PM
As long as the load patterns well you are good to go. Take a cardboard box, a roll of butcher paper, magic marker and a staple gun. Staple a sheet of paper to the box, mark an aiming point, pace off your distance (10 or 15 yards is enough to show a problem) and blast it. You will be able to see if your pattern is donut shaped or dense. Wide or tight. Take some factory smokeless rounds to compare. Sometimes there is a surprise showing the gun shoots off the point of aim.

July 10, 2013, 12:25 PM
Can you share any details? Do you crimp the shells? Any problem with cycling/feeding?

I've thought about putting a crimp on them, but I don't have the tool for it, so I don't bother. I've just been using an overshot card which I coat in a thin layer of Duco cement (it's a clear hobby glue). That seems to hold very well (I've yet to have a cartridge disassemble) and is very easy to clean out. I'm inclined to keep doing that even if I found a crimping machine because I imagine that will save some stress on the brass that a crimp might inflict. My 1897 is from 1898-1899 so it's also an early one and it has no problems feeding/cycling. When I first got the brass shells, I tried cycling them through empty and I one or two rough feeds (there must have been a burr on the edge or something) but since then, they've been totally hassle free.

Driftwood Johnson
July 11, 2013, 08:13 PM

A couple of things. There is an old rule of thumb called the Square Load. Basically, a Square Load is one where the Volume of powder equals the Volume of the shot. Nothing to do with weight. If one tries to put in more powder than shot by volume, one risks over powering the pattern with too much powder, and the result can be blown patterns. But if less powder than shot, by volume, is put into the shell, there is no risk of blown patterns. Just lower velocity.

My standard load is Winchester (or any other brand) #209 primer, a 4.3 CC Lee dipper of FFg (whatever brand I have on hand) followed by a Circle Fly 1/8" over powder card, Circle Fly 1/2" fiber cushion wad, 1 1/8 ounces of # 7 1/2 or # 8 shot, and finally a Circle Fly over shot card, all stuffed into either a Winchester AA hull or a Remington STS hull.

The reason I like those hulls is because they are smooth and slippery and eject the best from a SASS legal SXS shotgun without ejectors.

Regarding the powder charge, it is simply the biggest dipper in the Lee set. It weighs out to around 60 grains, depending on the brand of powder. This is only about 2 1/8 drams. Plenty of powder to get the shot out of the barrel and smack down any knock down target I encounter. This is well shy of a Square Load, but it is shy in the powder department, so there is no problem with blown patterns. In my not so humble opinion, more powder than this is a waste of powder. I only get four boxes of shells to a pound of powder, and powder ain't cheap when you are loading a lot of it.

I do not use a lubed wad, all my wads are dry.

Soft bullet lube is for rifled barrels. Without soft lube, fouling can build up in the rifling grooves and ruin accuracy. But a shotgun barrel is just a pipe. There are no rifling grooves to fill up. Basically what happens is the wads will scrape out most of the fouling left behind by the previous shot. The small amount of fouling in the bore does not affect the pattern. Getting the fouling out is easy with either hot water or Murphy's Mix.

However if one chooses to use a lubed cushion wad, a dry over powder card on top of the powder will prevent lube from getting into the powder.

As to why I add the over shot card at the top, my load does not completely fill up the hull. Without an over shot card, my crimps are a bit concave and shot can escape. So I add the over shot card to keep all the shot in the hull. No, a 1/32" thick over shot card does not affect the pattern. Yes, I could add more powder to fill up the hull a bit more, but I have already mentioned my opinion about that. Over shot cards are cheaper than powder.

Most BP shooters in the CAS world do not go to the added trouble of separate wads as I do. The standard plastic wad for 12 gauge Black Powder loads is the old Winchester Red Wad. Just the right size for plenty of shot, and the increased powder volume you get with Black Powder. Winchester stopped making this wad a few years ago, but Claybuster makes a good substitute for it. Yes, plastic hulls do leave melted plastic behind, but it is not very difficult to remove with hot water and a little bit of scrubbing. I can tell you that very few Cowboy Shooters go the separate wad route, most use plastic hulls for the convenience.

One other thing about plastic vs separate wads. Modern shotguns have longer forcing cones than 19th Century shotguns had. A plastic wad is longer and will bridge that longer cone better than separate wads will. Separate wads have a tendency to tilt in a long forcing cone, which can also affect the pattern.

Regarding brass hulls, paper hulls, and other 'period correct' (gawd I hate that phrase) hulls, in CAS we go through a lot of shotgun shells. Probably close to two boxes at every match. I am much too busy loading up all my metallic BP ammo to be concerned about loading up more historically accurate hulls. Loading brass hulls takes a lot of time, and they are very expensive. Same with paper hulls, the hulls need to be trimmed and then roll crimped. I just use my old MEC Jr and crank out about four boxes of BP hulls an hour. Loading more historically accurate shells would take much longer.

Here is a photo of my lovely old Stevens hammer gun that I usually shoot in CAS.

And here is a photo of me blasting targets with it. Yes, the glove is because the barrels get very hot on a summer day and the tiny splinter forend does not protect my finger tips from getting burned.

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