newbie shot questions


July 10, 2013, 09:59 PM
I want to teach my 9-year-old to hunt this summer (probably squirrel). I bought a single shot 20-ga, but it kicks way too hard for him. he can handle the 410, but he still flinches.

I have never reloaded shot shells before. I have done research on the wood-washer-nail-metal-dowel rod method of reloading and the Lane hand loader. I would like to try the former; if I don't like it I can buy the Lane. I don't want to spend as much as the MEC.

Enough context, here are my 2 questions.

#1 Before I spend $60 on a 800-rounds worth of shot, I'd like to load 4 or 5 to test the process. The only thing I have on hand that I can use as shot are .177-cal BB's. Will these work for 20 ga or 410? If so, what shot # are they closest too (are they equivalent/similar to? 2?, 00 buck, etc.?) I just want to test the reload process with this, I'm not making high-performance rounds.

#2. If I am comfortable with handloading, I'll buy 25 lbs of lead and start making kid-friendly rounds. Does anyone have recommendations for low recoil recipes (as felt by a 9-year-old) for 20 ga or 410. I have several powders at my disposal 700-x, blue/red dot, 2400, H110, clays, & unique.

I am willing to trade performance for recoil. An imperfect pattern, shorter range, etc are OK with me as long as they are safe. I'm willing to load more pellets or less pellets in the shell if that will help with recoil. Both the 20 ga and 410 are single shots.

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July 10, 2013, 10:06 PM
I am no expert on shot reloading but I do know that BB's are a lot smaller than buck shot. Maybe about #4 size???

I started out at 8 years old with a single shot 410. I bet if shooting at a squirrel or rabbet, he would not even notice the recoil. And maybe you could find a slip on recoil pad for him. Have you taken him skeet shooting? Vest with recoil pad?

Just some other options. Good on you man for introducing your son to the sport!


July 10, 2013, 10:09 PM
I have on hand that I can use as shot are .177-cal BB's.NO!

Most American BB's are steel with a copper wash.

They are steel because it is cheaper then lead, flies faster out of a BB gun, and it works on magnetic pick-up feeding devices used in some BB guns.

You DO NOT want to be shooting it in a good shotgun barrel using plastic wads designed for softer lead shot!!


July 10, 2013, 11:28 PM
The best thing that I can think of right off is to get a Lee Loadall and go from there they are pretty inexpensive and do a pretty good job. You can get a new one for around 50 dollars or a little less and they come with the bushings and all that you will need. I would get some lead shot of around 7 to 8 and borrow a loading manual to make a load like you wish to make. BBs are not a good thing unless the gun is made to shoot steel shot and then you need the proper wads and all for steel. Regardless, whether you get a recipe from a loading manual such as RCBS or Lyman or from a powder company's recipe that they have posted on their web sites, I would make the load from that information. Shotshell loads are recipes and have to be assembled with the exact amounts and types of materials called for or you will be getting into dangerous territory; follow the recipe given exactly and do not substitute anything that is not exactly called for!!! Hope this helps!
John P.

July 11, 2013, 01:35 AM
Take a few of your 410 or 20 gauge shells and open them up. Use the shot to load your test shot shells.

July 11, 2013, 04:05 AM
As for the BB's you have on hand, are they like BB gun type, like daisy BB gun BB's? If they are not lead or thin copper plated lead labeled as intended for shot shell loading, they would not be usable without specific data and components that match up to their density. Like steel shot, you can't use lead components or recipes for lead shot shell loads with steel shot, KB!

What I would do is find a used Mec 60 JR. for $40 or so and then go buy some components. I've owned a brand new the Lee Load All, and though they do technically function, they are terribly inefficient and have some quirks related to their flimsy design. And I don't know if they've made em any better since the mid 80's, but I snapped the handle off mine within the first few days cause I didn't expect to be fragil and weak. Once you've operated a Mec you'll quickly recognize how under built the Load All is, and how difficult they are to work with. I bought my Mec 600 almost 35 yrs. ago, and the only thing I've ever had to replace on it was the crimp and start crimp piece cause they kept falling off, that's like $4 or $5 bucks in almost 35 yrs. of hard use.

You could find a nice load in 20 ga. that would make your Son's shot gun experience a nice one. And even with 12 ga. there are some 3/4 oz and 1 oz. recipe's that aren't all that bad on the shoulder. .410 components are more expensive, other than the shot of course, and it's a bit tricky to load them compared t .20 ga. and 12 ga.. .410 components are also difficult to find at times, simply because not that many reload or shoot .410 compared to .20 and 12 ga..

You said you don't want to buy 25 lbs. of shot, but how do you plan to get just 4 or 5 primers, wads, and then match them to a published recipe? I've seen shot in smaller sacks before, and even if you end up buying a 25 lb. sack I don't think you would have much trouble selling it or splitting it with someone at your local trap and skeet club.

If your really wanting to learn shot shell loading and would like a nice favorable out come, then start with at least a Mec 600 JR., at least one good shot shell reloading book with lots of data, a sack of either #5, #6, #7-1/2, #8, #9 lead shot, wads, AA hulls, lb. of Red Dot, primers, all matched to a published specific recipe. And if after a while you decide you don't want to load shot shell, you won't have much trouble selling a Mec system, compared to a Load All.

Lastly, don't expect to save much if any money by reloading your own shot shells. It's really difficult to find a good enough deal on shot, to actually consider any economic advantage to shot shell loading. Better performing loads, yes. And another great advantage to loading your own is the fact that you can tailor the loads to what best suits yours', or you Son's expectations. That is a big plus in my opinion with a decent press and the right component match up. But one other thing I want to advise is, don't attempt to randomly assemble shot shells without following a specific published recipe, ever! I think between metallic and shot shell reloading, shot shell is probably the easiest or most likely to get under estimated as being more forgiving. I'm referring to the importance of following a specific component match. And even though .410 and .20 ga. are smaller shot shells, they typically produce higher pressures than 12 ga. and can easily get someone in trouble if taken too lightly.

Anyway, I apologize for the long response to your inquirer, but I have seen too many fellow shotgun reloaders get a bad taste in their mouth for shotgun loading, cause they got off on the wrong foot, and I didn't want that to happen to you.


July 11, 2013, 08:11 AM
Great advice, as always. Response.....

I will check the bb's with a mag net. If they are steel, I won't use them. I had no idea that BB's were the equivalent of ~#4 shot. Wow. Shot gets big in a hurry.

I have all the powders losted in op for Pistol reloading. Using a little for this doesn't bother me. Well, to be honest I do mind using h110 and 2400 for this because they are rare as hens teeth to replace. Oh the sacrifices we parents must make. Ha!

I use 209 primers in my muzzle loader and eventually will use all natural fiber wads. For this experiment Ithink I will disassemble a few factory rounds
and salvage the plastic wad and shot. That is a good idea I had not thought of.

July 11, 2013, 08:25 AM
You can buy shot in five pound bags in the larger sizes. BB's or air rifle shot measures .177 dia. and #4 lead shot measures 0.13 in diameter.

As far as loaders go, just as gamestalker has said get a MEC 600 jr. to start with, that way you can tailor your loads to your needs. You can drop the shot charge down to 3/4 oz. or 5/8 oz. and have a lighter recoiling gun.

Some trap shooters load 1 or 7/8 oz. for practice and some even shoot regular trap with the lighter loadings.

July 12, 2013, 04:43 PM
Easy. Get some Fiocchi ultra low recoil trainers. 3/4 oz at 1075 fps. Their product name is "20LITE". Problem solved.

First time you shoot one you'll think you had a squib. They're that lite. Worked great with my kid's and their tiny-little-lite-weight-rock-hard-recoil-pad-kick-like-a-mule Rossi 20 gage switch barrel.

The bad thing is everywhere I checked online they were out of stock.


Try a sub-caliber chamber adapter. 20 gauge to .410. Let's you shoot .410 in your 20 gauge Rossi. They work great in single shots. A number of companies make them. Should be able to find them in a Cabela's, Bass Pro, or Gander Mountain catalog. Also sold on eBay.

$24 Buy Now, free shipping.

July 12, 2013, 10:37 PM
Kernel, thanks for the tip. I placed a back order on midway. I will check a couple lgs to see if they have them in stock. The bore reducer is cool. It would be a great way to add a caliber without adding a caliber....but...I already have both have 20 ga and 410 at my disposal.

If I put the same, 410 remi sts 7.5 factory round in my 20 ga reduced to 410 and my 410, would felt recoil be the same or less?

I would think the 20ga would be less because the slow burning 410 powder would expand in the extra space of the larger barrel and push less violently back against the receiver.

July 12, 2013, 10:50 PM
I have read several threads where people make comments about shotshell reloading being harder to get right than pistol or rifle.

I'm just curious, what does "get right" mean? Are we talking about variance in muzzle velocity? 50-yd shot pattern? 5-yd shot pattern?

As a pistol reloader, it isn't that hard... Consistent powder measure, consistent oal, consistent crimp (if nec).

Speaking out of pure ignorance, because I've never hand loaded a shot seems easier than pistol. Powder, wad, shot. The shot will make a relatively random pattern, which may be more random for me that a champion skeet shooter. But does substituting fiber wads for plastic wads really make that big of a difference? If so, how big of a difference?

July 12, 2013, 11:56 PM
I would think the 20ga would be less...

Yes, I think your right for the reasons stated. If you could really feel the difference or not, that's another question.

substituting fiber wads for plastic wads...

No, no, no. In shotshell reloading never substitute anything. Follow the recipe EXACTLY, in every detail - primer, powder, wad, shell make & model, shot. There is no "working up" or experimentation. In that respect it is not like metallic.

david bachelder
July 13, 2013, 10:44 AM
I think it's great that you are including your son in the shooting hobby. My Dad gave me a 410 Shotgun when I was about twelve and I loved that gun. He had very strict rules and as long as I followed them there was no trouble. Stray from the rules and you lost the gun for a while.

Later he and I spent about 22 years hunting deer together. Great times I will never forget.

He's still around but 86 years has taken its toll. He can't get out as much as he used to. Not too long ago he gave me all of his guns.

Pretty good fellow.

August 10, 2013, 11:51 PM
You may be going to way too much trouble. You can buy extra light 20 ga. shells (3/4 oz.?), but I don't know if you can get them with shot larger than #8.

But you can also get a chamber insert that allows you to fire .410 shells in a 20 ga. Either way, the kid may well grow into standard loads in a year or two, and that's no more than a few boxes of shells fired at squirrels.

August 11, 2013, 12:26 AM
And maybe more better?

Back off, and get the kid a .22 to hunt squirrels with.

You are doing much more harm then good forcing him to use a shotgun that is making him dread to shoot every shot.

Flinching is something that can take years to get over once your brain thinks the next time you pull the trigger is going to hurt as bad as the last time.


August 11, 2013, 12:45 AM
Another option I've seen used is to just shorten the shells and make the load lighter.
They won't feed, but in a single shot it doesn't matter.

Jesse Heywood
August 11, 2013, 05:22 AM
I agree with RC on the 22.

I would also recommend a good pellet gun. They are quieter, an advantage in hunting squirrel. And you can set up and practice in the basement.

August 11, 2013, 11:42 AM
It is not so much that it is hard to get right, but rather there is no room to get it wrong. As many have already said, you load what is published, there is no subbing components for others.

I strongly suggest that if you really want to load shot gun that you get a manual and do some reading. After at very least you could destroy a gun at worst you kill some one.

Sent from my C771 using Tapatalk 2

August 12, 2013, 04:51 PM
He might not be ready for a shotgun, and as mentioned, forcing him will only turn him off forever.
If you still feel he is ready, the gun needs to FIT - if it does not fit him properly, then no load he shoots will be comfortable.

There are 3/4oz 20 gauge recipes out there and when run at 1200 fps produce decent patterns and reasonable recoil. BTW, You will want the MEC to do this properly. Find a used one on Craigs List or at your local shotgun club.

August 12, 2013, 07:16 PM
Ok. I took all of this to heart. With a few more shots from the 410 with #8 shot he and I are comfortable with him using it. He's comfortable with weight and recoil and I'm comfortable with his control. Now I am reloading for a more traditional reason....cost. ouch. With tax, #6's in 410 are pushing $20 a box. I ordered a hand loader and will be sticking to recipies that are well documented. Looking for win aa or sts hulls and win or rem wads. I already have 209's and 2400/h110 powder. I figure I can load for about $4/bx now so it won't take long to pay odf the lane. Football season is coming so I will have "wasted" time available. Thanks for all the help. I am excited about loading shot as the next adventure in shooting.

August 12, 2013, 07:59 PM
For 28 and 410 you want Winchester AA hulls, NOT Remington, (For 12 and 20 it is the reverse). Hopefully, the stock isn't too long - if he is leaning backwards to try and hold thr gun up, there are issues

August 12, 2013, 08:10 PM
The stock is longer than the 20 ga, but he makes a good karate front stance and keeps his posture and weight forward. I support the fore stock as it is a little heavy, but for sitting on a log waiting for tree rats I think it will do just fine.

August 12, 2013, 08:41 PM
Just remember what kernel said.

Shotshell loading is totally different from metallic.

You don't work up. You don't substitute anything. You load what the load data says, just the way it says it.

I bet the good Dave McCracken probably said a thing or two about reduced loads for shotguns in his posts someplace.

August 12, 2013, 09:22 PM
20 gauge can be easily reloaded down to 28 gauge levels by dropping 3/4oz of shot. The new ClayBuster wad works great for doing that in both 12 and 20 (which is what i reload). When I reloaded 28, Universal worked well, as does Unique and 20/28. For 410, the hulls can sometimes be problematic in the reloader just due to their small diameter, especially when reloading larger shot. Just go slowly and not rush things and you should be fine. Your 110/296 will do the job, as will, IIRC, Lil Gun and a host of others.
Alliant and Hodgdon have excellent data for reloading on their websites

ClayBuster and Downrange are two makers of clone wads - exact duplicates of the factory OEM wads at half the price. NobelSport and Fiocchi primers can safely be subbed for the more expensive (and hard to find) Winchester or Remington 209s

August 12, 2013, 10:39 PM
I'd use a .22 -- it doesn't kick and you want it to be a fun experience, not one that he'll remember because he's bruised.

August 13, 2013, 12:57 AM
He shoots 22 but isn't accurate enough to hunt with it.

The advice on slow is good advice. I still load my pistol rounds on a single stage for that very reason.

I just ordered win aa wads, and hulls. I have win209 primers that I use with my muzzleloader. Time to pick up some 6's and get ready for opening day.

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