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loaded shell deformation in HD shotgun ammo

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Chris17404, Oct 2, 2006.

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  1. Chris17404

    Chris17404 Member

    Nov 30, 2005
    York, PA
    Hi all,

    I just brought my 870P down to be cleaned after being in it's HD storage place for about 6-8 months to install a new 2-shot mag extension. I had 3 shells loaded in the magazine (4 shot mag). I was curious to see if any deformation occurred in the shells, so I CAREFULLY and SAFELY put each of the three shells into the chamber by hand.

    I noticed that the brass on the last one loaded (the first to be loaded into the chamber when put into service) just barely fit into the chamber. I had to push pretty hard to get it in. The middle one went in pretty easily with some resistence, and the last one went is very easily with no resistence, as if it had not been sitting under pressure at all.

    It worries me that the the first shell had such a hard time going completely into the chamber, especially since I keep my shotgun in "cruiser ready" mode, i.e. full mag -1, no shell in chamber, safety on, action closed.

    I am currently using Remington Managed Recoil 00 Buck. Has anyone else seen this? If so, is it my mag spring tension, or just bad quality ammo? Any ammo recommendations that won't deform so much?

    Or is it that I just haven't been rotating my ammo out as often as I should be?


  2. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Is it possible that the shotshells in question were discrepant months ago prior to loading them into the magazine?

    870's ride in cruiser ready condition all over the country in, well, police cruisers. If there was a general problem such as this, it would've manifested itself by now, given all the shock and vibration they endure.

    You might consider performing a fit check prior to loading shotshells into your magazine and after a few weeks repeat the fit check to gauge any changes, if any.

  3. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    The is a known problem with plastic shot shells.
    The shells actually collapse under spring tension and develop bulges between the metal case head and the shot column.

    This first appeared with plastic shot shells in police guns that were left loaded for long periods, especially in extended magazines in hot patrol cars, and in upright gun racks.
    The combination of the strong extension spring, heat, bouncing of cars with bad shocks, and the weight of the shells caused the cases to bulge.

    The same problem began to turn up in home defense guns fitted with standard length magazines, so it's not limited to extensions or police guns.

    This can happen within one month, or perversely, may not happen at all.
    The best "fix" is to inspect/change the ammo regularly, and if bulged shells are found, use them for practice.

    Once a shell starts to bulge, it will continue to do so. Removing the shell from the gun will stop the bulging, but as soon as it's reloaded, the bulging picks up where it left off.
    The problem can be reduced by using premium-grade American made shells, which seem to be made of a thicker or better plastic.
  4. Piper106

    Piper106 Member

    Nov 8, 2010
    Grosse Ile MI
    I know this thread is a moldy oldie but;

    Seems like a shell distorting to the point of not wanting to chamber would be a bad thing if you discover it while facing a BG.

    Any comments on how often ammo should be inspected and rotated to prevent this?? If it is a problem of being to too hot while in storage, what would be a 'safe' temperature? All metal hulls would seem to be a solution, but who manufactures / sells metal cased shells loaded with buckshot??

  5. icebones

    icebones Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    You ain't from around here, KY
    Closest thing I saw was Magtec hulls on midway usa. I would only use factory loaded ammo for HD though
  6. rbernie
    • Contributing Member

    rbernie Member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Norra Texas
    Most folk just recommend shooting the ammo regularly during range training as a way to keep this from being an issue.

    Loading the gun up and setting it aside for significant amounts of time does not do you, the shooter, much good. So don't. :)
  7. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Mar 26, 2004
    AL, NC
    Shotgun shells with plastic hulls, loaded with collapsible plastic wads, seem to be the biggest culprits as far as 'swelling' goes. Of course, in the olden days, it was paper hulls that got wet which swelled so much they wouldn't chamber. And that was why the US military went to all brass hulls for buckshot loads (see pictures at http://www.auctionarms.com/search/displayitem.cfm?itemnum=6925958.0 ) for a long time. Interestingly, it was the military that pushed plastic shotgun shells into wider acceptance during the war in southeast Asia as well- it was exposure to water that was more of a problem for GIs toting shotguns in Vietnam.

    In general, swelling in the magazine shouldn't really be an issue for the average shooter. It never hurts to inspect ammunition intended for 'serious' use, of course. Your best gauge for ammunition reliability is your shotgun's chamber- just pull the barrel off (or open the action, if your barrel is threaded into the receiver) and slip each round designated for serious use into the chamber to be sure it fits easily. Look for obvious defects in each round at the same time. I do not advise running live ammunition through the action of a shotgun unnecessarily- learn how to download your magazine by manipulating the shell latches.

    Rotate ammo by shooting it up- that's why I argue against the idea of using $5 per round SooperDooperFelonScooper ammo in a house gun. Pick something you can afford to practice with, pattern and get used to, shoot it every few months and replace it with fresh ammo.


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