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Ammo thoughts and observations....

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Dec 24, 2002.

  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Back around the time Mastodon went on the endangered list, I started shotgunning with a single barrel 16 gauge H&R,using field loads of 8s on dove and the old 1 1/8 oz Western goose loads with #2 or 3 shot for geese. While I sometimes got nosebleeds from touching off a load in that light, little scattergun of less than 6 lbs weight, logistics were simple.

    Alas, no more. A brief inventory down in what the family calls "Daddy's Store" has the variety going from 3/4 oz to 1 5/8 oz just in 12 gauge. There's steel BBBs, two kinds of slugs, ditto for 00 buck, some #1 buck, and hunting loads from lead 2s to 7 1/2s. Add in my trap loads, it gets really complex, kind of like Sicilian politics.

    Some of this is due to longevity, some due to the fact that I do a wide variety of activities involving shotguns.

    Since shotgun usage also forms part of my life insurance, there's need for "Serious" ammo. Thus the buck, and my deer slugs and guns do double duty as possible crisis management tools. I see little need for slugs for HD, but life's uncertain.

    Like I said, complex.

    At this point a tyro's head may hurt,and he or she wanders away searching for a good anti-inflammatory. No need, this should be a one step at a time evolution.

    Let's posit a tyro has been reading up on shotguns and has gone out and purchased same. Maybe it's one of the pumpgun combos with a short, rifle sighted bbl and a vent ribbed, tube choked 28" barrel that give so much value for the money.
    Maybe that rookie's showing uncommon good sense and has taken a lesson or two, to get his/her form off to a good start.The stock fits well enough, the sights work with his/her eyes, and the trigger's under 5 lbs and clean.

    All that's positive, but.....

    Neither the shooter nor the shotgun hit the target. The load does. All the shotgun and shooter do is to direct that load to hit where the shooter wants it to.And the effect will be a combination of velocity and mass.

    The beady eyed engineer types tell us that a pellet or more hitting every 2 square inches in a target, of a size and speed suitable for taking that game or busting that clay is what we need.
    ANY load capable of doing this will work if we put it in the right place.

    So, our rookie has paid attention and has raised a hand.

    "What ammo should I start off with?"...

    What turns promising new shotgunners into non gunners is often kick, or Felt Recoil. Heavy loads combined with poor form and so so fit are the factors involved.For best results,improve the fit and form, but this takes time. Dropping a light load into the chamber takes but an instant.

    Here's some numbers, and if they're a little off, forgive me.Memory fades after 50.

    A 3/4 oz, 1100 FPS load has about 8 ft-lbs of free recoil.A 1 1/2 oz, 1300 FPS load has about 40. IOW, the extra mass and speed means there's 5 times as much free recoil, which often translates into 5 times or more the felt recoil.Hard to objectively quantify pain.

    The lesson here is obvious.Keeping the kick as low as possible is most likely to keep the tyro shooting. So,use light, slow loads like that 3/4 oz job I worked up for Son.

    For most folks, the generic "Field loads" are a good choice, if they're containing an oz or less of shot, and 2 3/4 dram eq. Once a tyro is well grooved into good form, heavier loads(One step at a time) can be introduced. Keep the number of shots with the heavy stuff down at first. Recoil is accumulative.

    The Light and Super Light loads are good for this, but scarce at times and not as cheap as some others. A reloader here has much advantage, a load tailored to the mission AND shooter is not hard to build.

    And, a few trips to the patterning board or sheet can aave untold aggravation. Make sure the load is hitting where it's supposed to, and that's there's no thin spots at the distance you'll be using the ammo. For example, I'd pattern a quail load at 20-25 yards, a duck load at 40.

  2. sm

    sm member

    Well sir, another excellent posting!

    'twas how I was learnt
    percieved recoil seems less with good ear protection too.

  3. HS/LD

    HS/LD Well-Known Member

    Right I am off to buy some more ammo.

    Thanks Dave.


  4. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    You're welcome, guys.

    Thanks, 1973, for filling that in. Blast is part of the felt recoil, being a subjective reaction to a force. Ear protection is mandatory, unless you like hearing whistles, buzzes, and crickets that do not exist outside your auditory canals.

    Lots of ammo, Howard!
  5. ralphtt

    ralphtt Well-Known Member

    Dave, was your 16 gauge H&R a "Topper"?

    If so, it was probably identical to the first shotgun I ever owned. Bought it from a friend for $10 back in '49. Had a knot in the barrel 'cause he shot it with the barrel plugged with snow. The old gun still works; and sent many a rabbit and a respectable number of doves & quail to the kitchen. :D

    Remember duck hunting in the northwest Tennessee river bottoms on a day when my hands were so cold I couldn't cock the old single-barrel when we finally jumped some ducks. 'Course, back then our cold weather clothing meant put your jeans on over your pj's; and the only gloves we owned were the cheap brown cotton gloves from the same hardware store when we bought shells for ten cents each.

    Ah . . . the good ole' days. :rolleyes:
  6. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Ralph,that H&R wasn't marked Topper. It had been given to Pop when he was 9 by HIS grandfather, along with the usual box of shells and orders to keep critters out of the garden. Pop fed the
    family during the Depression with that thing.

    Copy on those gloves, though Pop was an early fan of Bean, and Duofolds were standard on me from October to April. I recall sitting in a goose blind in feety jammies, bet I wasn't more than 5.

    That old 16 accounted for lots of meat in my hands, too. If it hadn't been misused and neglected by a relative(Still PO'd after 20 years) it would have been the kids' first, tho I'd have gotten or made some light loads.
  7. Andrew Wyatt

    Andrew Wyatt Well-Known Member

    My first shotgun was an H&R topper in 20 gauge, and my ammo was supplied by a friend of my fathers who was responsible for disposing of all the ammo the local PD seized. I guess he figured that shooting it all up was the best way to do that.;)

    I;ve graduated to a mossberg 500 now, but my 20 gauge is still my "surface to air" shotgun.
  8. blades67

    blades67 Well-Known Member

    My first shotgun was my Winchester 1300 Defender. I haven't tried to hunt with it, but it is fun shooting clay birds with it at the range.

    Your advice to use light loads with new shooters is spot on. Also easy to do with a pumpgun, some self-loaders don't like the really light loads.
  9. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Thanks, guys....

    A pump gun and a MEC Jr are a great way to learn shooting. Researching a super light load that can be souped up after some expertise is earned makes the process of learning nigh painless.
  10. blades67

    blades67 Well-Known Member

    Also makes for a great excuse to buy an SL900.:D

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