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Heavy Loads 101....

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Dave McCracken, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Once a new shotgunner becomes familiar with the shooting process and comfortable with using the light loads recommended universally by trainers, he or she may wish to move into activities requiring heavier ammo.

    These would include defense, deer,waterfowl and turkey hunting, and the "Practical" games.

    Deer hunting is done with slugs, or buckshot, which is where the term "Buckshot" comes from.

    Waterfowling is done with large shot, and since lead has been banned for decades due to its toxicity the loads are stuffed with pellets of Iron, Nickel, Tungsten, Bismuth, and compounds of these.

    One story coming through the grapevine has a new pellet of a heavy compound plated with a coating of polywhatever that ends up heavier than lead and Hevi Shot, non reactive with the environment,nontoxic and shoots efficiently with few flyers. As far as ammo goes, there are The Good Old Days.

    Turkey hunting is mostly done with lead, lots and lots of lead. 12 gauge turkey loads go up to 2 oz now. If my math is correct, one of these produces 5X the free recoil of my pet trap load.

    Defensive shooting and the games use buck loads to a great extent with some use of lighter shot and slugs.

    What all these loads do is generate lots of kick. Isaac Newton's Laws are inescapable and universal. The more energy is produced going out the front of your shotgun, the more said shotgun is driven back. Equal and Opposite Reaction....

    Nothing willl point out bad fit and form for a Shotgunner better than heavy loads. Pain is an excellent teacher. Here's a few ideas on how to avoid that teacher....

    First, pick your load wisely. A 1 oz slug works as well inside 50 yards on deer as the excellent but excruciatingly heavy 1 3/8 oz Super Brenekke. In much Eastern habitat,50 yards is a long shot. For many folks, the Reduced Recoil slugs and buck will do the job as well as the full bore Howitzers.

    Were I dealing with Grizzlies, the Super Brenekkes might be my loads of choice, but a MD Whitetail needs nothing like that to reduce it to possession.

    As for Maggie Numb slugs, all the 3" slugs will do that the 2 3/4" ones won't is go through your money and/or build a flinch faster. Few group as well either. Since a 1 oz KO Brenekke will usually exit on a broadside shoulder shot, how much more penetration is desired? None....

    Next, get fitted right. That fit includes with a good pad or even pads. One on the shotgun and one on you. The PAST pads and similar are good to great, and cost way less than orthopedic surgery. Browning makes a nifty shooting vest that takes a plastic insert. This spreads the energy over a larger area, softening the kick nicely. Pachmyer, KickEez, etc, make great pads for installing on Ol Betsy, making Shotgunning less painful and more productive.

    Good form is mandatory. If, despite all warnings, you insist on shooting a shotgun like a rifle, with the body more beside the weapon than behind it, all the energy is gettting dumped into a small area, instead of having the whole upper body moving as a unit with the spine as a spring, absorbing the recoil forces and spreading them over more area and taking longer to do it. Use both hands to really pull the butt into the cup,any slack here will make itself felt PDQ.

    Lean well into the shot, more than I'd recommend for clays. Your nose should be past the toes on your leading foot.

    Keep range sessions short with the big loads. Even 5 rounds for the first foray is not too few. Much as I like benchtesting slugs, I've a hunch the first few slugs should be fired offhand, seated shooting tends to accentuate feeling the kick. Take your time, and maybe an anti-inflammatory in advance.

    Ear and eye protection should be worn, of course. Besides the safety issue, noise raises how the kick is felt.Less noise, less kick.

    Use a shotgun suited to the load. A load of 1 1/2 oz of shot and/or greater velocity than most demands a shotgun near 8 lbs for comfort. 2 oz, nigh 10.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
  2. sm

    sm member

    Dave, Great Post!

    Practicing CORRECT mounting, stance and form will go a long way in getting that muscle memory ingrained, and more Reflexive and Natural under Stress and excitement saw when that Buck/ Tom of a lifetime comes to view. Hence the reason I suggest daily repetitions.

    Forcing Cones that are "short and sharp" increase felt recoil and affect patterns.

    After Gun fit to shooter, Correct form , patterning the gun, Having the Forcing Cone checked and properly lengthened / stepped - If need, will do more to improve quality and effectiveness of patterns/ groups - along with Less felt recoil than any other modification one can do .

    FWIW I test loads the way I am going to use 'em. Meaning - I don't test with a benchrest.

    For accuracy , I'm cross-legged, with a sling and using my knees. Then I stand up and see what I have. I end up with no sling and shooting standing up, and prefer moving targets ...old tire with a pc of plywood rolled out "not expected" gives me an idea on my form, my loads, my shooting performance in a more 'real settting". Granted some folks like to roll 3 tires out just to see you / or attempt to rattle your psych...

    Old boat trailer tires with a pie plate stapled to the plywood insert , make a great target for slugs or buckshot. Stationary, wind moving it while suspended, using a length of rope from a safe distance to swing it....or having it tossed out from safe area, gives good practice.

    Critters have a tendency to show up when you least expect it, get a bad mount , miss, end up with a bruise and whacked jaw.

    Do this with light target loads - work up to heavy stuff, for the deer and turkey hunters.
  3. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Well-Known Member

    Figures that I'm using the heavy stuff first and will be working down to lighter things... :rolleyes:
  4. Rupestris

    Rupestris Well-Known Member


    TR, If you havent tried shooting those slugs from a standing position, do so. I learned this the hard way too.
    ahh, but for some silly reason I still like testing slugs. :evil:
    I usually only shoot six/session. two 3-shot groups, unless I'm trying different brands.
  5. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Well-Known Member

    Ah-hah!! I was doing it right! I was shooting offhand, but I didn't expect my entire upper body to rock back like it did - I guess I did it right, and it could've been worse.

    My shoulder doesn't even hurt anymore, less than 24hrs later.
  6. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Thanks. A couple things....

    Steve, while I benchtest for accuracy, I PRACTICE from hunting positions, including kneeling and sitting. I use a hasty sling much of the time.

    I've rolled a few tires downhill myself. Used to potshoot these with my old hunting buds. Loser bought the beer.

    Eastern whitetails are sometimes jump shot like quail. My closest shot was 7-8 yards, and I've had several at less than 15.

    And, after all these years shooting, I still practice my mounts at home with a shotgun KNOWN TO BE EMPTY several times a week. Good for all shooting, not just the heavy stuff.

    Rupestris, some of my slug sessions run less than 15 shots.

    Rail,(sadly shaking old grey head) walk before running....
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2005
  7. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Well-Known Member


    Aww, another disappointed old person. I seem to do that a lot with firearms skills.... ;)
  8. sm

    sm member

    Hey, only bench I was aware of was "workbench", "picnic bench", or "bench-press"...I grew up with tough times and little money. Boy was I surprised to find later on they benches for folks to sit behind and shoot from. :p

    You can win that tire roll game if you replace the "00" with #8 shot...honest , I was just wanting to see if the fella had a flinch or not... ;) :D

    One thing I learned when about "so high", 10 ga single shot with a magnum load, sitting on a tailgate, chair pulled up (redneck benchrest) 1) that sucker hurts, 2) that fellow could really surpress a grin until after a kid shot. Then he laughed.

    We are on the same page - well those that are comfortable being on that page with me.

    Once accuracy is dialed in and figured, the actual types of shots being practiced are a HUGE benefit.

    That practicing with empty gun pays big benefits.

    To answer again what folks have asked- I'm 6' , always been lanky, I don't have that lean muscular body. When I competed heavy, I weighed 150 # starting out, years later I "finally" hit 165# . Currently this old fart settleing with age and out of shape at 175#.

    I really attribute not being that recoil sensitive - learning the correct stuff early, dry fire and mounting a LOT, and a LOT of BA/UU/R, I mean 25K rds a year in 12 ga alone. Us lanky types tend to " roll with the flow" better than some more stout and muscular - they don't " give" like the lanky ones do.

    One of my best "stunts" was shooting a full bore magnum 3 1/2" 12 ga loading from a 835 Ulti-Mag...sitting in wheel chair . I was supposed to be teaching how to use ashotgun with disabilites to folks with varying restrictions. Great bunch of folks, Safety was paramount, we had a lot of fun. Yep they got me, all in fun of course. I leaned more than they did, I gained even more respect and appreciation for them. Also learned about the durn brake on a wheel chair. :D
  9. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Well-Known Member

    I have been shooting shotguns for probably over 50 years now. I think that pain and discomfort taught me most of this by the time I was 14 or so. :)

    Good stuff here.
  10. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    Guess I ain't got that much more padding then Steve ... I am around 200# and same height.

    That poundage BTW - almost all muscle - really!! :p

    Don't mind the odd heavy load but sure as heck don't enjoy too many. 3" mag's are enough!
  11. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Steve, I'm far from lanky. AND I'm well nourished. Teaching folks with disabilities strikes me as quite worthy of merit.

    Mann, the idea is to not lose potential shotgunners. The stunt Steve describes with a 10 gauge is the sort of thing that has lost folks from Shotgunning since Day One.

    95, I shoot the mags when they're called for. Other than waterfowling and turkey, I do not need them.
  12. Guy B. Meredith

    Guy B. Meredith Well-Known Member

    My first firearm purchase was a Mossberg 195K bolt action at age 19. I bought it as an all around gun for a financially strapped kid. Problem is that the only thing I ever used it for was shooting slugs from the bench. Going through 25 of those in a sitting gave me a flinch that I am fighting 30 years later. :rolleyes:
  13. Gifted

    Gifted Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Perhaps next range session I should let someone experienced shoot mine. The MP-153 wants 1 1/4 oz loads or equivelant for the first hundred to break in the unique gas system. I haven't shot target loads through it. Don't plan to until it's broken in, so I don't have problems with the gas system.
  14. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Guy, bench work with slugs will do that. My flinch started at about 14, shooting big loads in a little single shot. It comes and goes.

    Gifted, using lighter loads will probably just mean it take a few more to smooth things up and ensure cycling.

    Having another shooter try one's equipment out does remove pilot error to an extent. But, we need to know who well WE do with the firearm and load. Work on your form and technique...
  15. sm

    sm member

    Wheelchair and Ulti- Mag

    I have worked with some folks much as Preacherman has with restrictions and Special situations, some may have temporary (surgeries) or permanent.

    Fellow was now permanently in a wheelchair, he wanted to turkey hunt again. Well , heck he had finally accepted he and the wheelchair were going to part of each other for the rest of life. Getting outdoors again was his goal. So yeah I said I'd help best can.

    He had bought the Ulti-Mag while whole , used little , before the incident. He and I tried this gun and others just one-on-one. After a "class" you might say someone boasted how the "biggest baddest" was the way to go. I disagreed.

    I demontrated, granted the folks and I had great relationship...meaning good ribbing back and forth.

    Funny - the "boaster" would not take a turn with the gun. The owner of the gun told him " I may be wheelchair bound - I am not stupid".

    Yep, I got thumped pretty good, and not just by the gun. Concerns for "well being" followed by more laughter, and good teasing...a very serious lesson was once again learned, demonstrated, and I know for a fact shared by these folks. Yep - I'd do it again if it helped as much as the first time proved to be.

    Yes a 1100 with 2 3/4 only chambers will take a Turkey from a wheelchair bound shooter. ;)

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