Powder Choice for 20Ga ShotShell


October 4, 2013, 10:34 PM
It has been well over 25 yrs since I stopped reloading. At the time my son, his friends and a few of mine made it a smart choice to reload. Time went by and it was no longer feasible to reload for what little I was shooting. At the time I was reloading primarily handled rifle and a few pistol rounds. I did buy what I concerned a cheap but effective Lee Loader that was setup for only one gauge and to change you had to buy one in that gauge. Now I am looking at loading shot shells again and will only be loading 20ga shells, not for hunting but just making noise and teaching wife how to handle her shotgun. Question I have is about powder choices, Without a data book in hand or anyone that I know of that loads shot shells thought I'd ask here to get an idea as to best preforming powder. Most likely will go back to the Lee Loader since now I see you can buy an adapter to change gauge's and largest shot will most likely be #3 or #4. Thanks for any help

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Pete D.
October 4, 2013, 11:08 PM

October 4, 2013, 11:11 PM
There are so many good powders for all shotshells it's very hard to suggest something that's not a good choice. What's going to happen here is everyone is going to tell you what they use because it's what their mentor used but that doesn't mean it's the best.

For light loads meant for teaching (low recoil) and range fun you might take a look at Winchester Super Field (WSF). Green Dot is a well established 20gr powder and it's not expensive. Of course there's Unique which many forget is a shotgun powder and it's good for 12ga, 16ga and 20ga shotshells. Unique won't feel as light as WSF or Green Dot.

I've heard Alliant 20/28 and Hodgdon Clays International are also very good for the 20ga but that's hearsay.

You should be able to find one or more of those 5 powders and there are probably more...

October 4, 2013, 11:11 PM
When I was shooting competitive skeet in the 1990s, I was loading 20 ga with Unique (28 ga as well).

I liked the way it shot, but I also was using Unique for handgun.

October 4, 2013, 11:11 PM
Check out the online powder manufacturers reloading manuals. Lots of good info.

October 4, 2013, 11:13 PM
Isn't 800x used for heavy loads? The OP is looking for lighter loads to teach the wife without beating her up.

October 5, 2013, 01:04 AM
If it were me, I would spring for and inexpensive shot shell manual. In fact, some are free online, and you can order a hard copy for free online. "One cartridge, One book " also has a large amount of shot shell data and they're only like $8.

Do approach shot shell with respect though. I say this because some seem to think of shot shell loading as some how being more forgiving than metallic because of the low pressures shot shells operate at. Recipe's are specific to components, all must be matched according to published recipes, so please don't decide to slap together some loads using what ever you have sitting in front of you. And there are a large number of low recoil loads these days, which will be identified in the recipes as well.


Pete D.
October 5, 2013, 07:16 AM
Isn't 800x used for heavy
Yeah. You're correct. My bad.
An oft cited powder for general use is PB.
And.....I had forgotten to look at my own 20 gauge press which, though I cited 800X, is loaded with IMR's SR7625 (also use that in low pressure 12 gauge loads for some vintage doubles and for .45 ACP)


October 5, 2013, 07:20 AM
Universal Clays, International Clays, Unique, 20/28, Titegroup all work well in my experience. I have been told 800X and RedDot are hard kickers.

October 5, 2013, 10:53 AM
Unique works well for me.

October 5, 2013, 11:35 AM
For 7/8 oz loads Unique works very well same as 25 years ago. Best loads for 1 oz. hunting loads I've loaded has been with Winchester 540 which is the same powder as Hodgdon HS6.

October 5, 2013, 01:43 PM
I have used 20/28 and Unique in my 20ga, and I couldn't see any difference, but to be fair, I have not patterned either.
I use Unique in different pistol calibers besides, because it is so versatile.


October 5, 2013, 08:45 PM
have used Green Dot, Unique and Herco as well as SR-7625 and SR-4756. Above all DO NOT USE HS-800X it meters very poorly.
Your best bet is to check out the Alliant and Hodgdon websites for specific recipes. There are dozens from which to choose.

October 5, 2013, 11:47 PM
+Unique because: (1) it's a great shotgun powder for your stated application, (2) it's usaually fairly easy to find, and (3) it can be used in both rifle and pistol should you ever get back into metalic.

October 6, 2013, 12:41 AM
I like Alliant 20/28 for 7/8 oz target loads, Universal Clays is very similar. I've never used Unique but it is quite popular as well. I used to shoot mostly universal but it got hard to find a while back so I moved to 20/28 which tends to be a little cheaper and usually easier to find.

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