Shotshell reloading for small game hunting

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by christcorp, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. christcorp

    christcorp Member

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    I've reloaded quite a few shotshells in my life. Mostly for targets. For hunting turkey, pheasants, geese, deer, etc. I usually buy commercial ammo.

    Because of cost and shortage, if I wanted to load some shells up as stash for hunting in the future if necessary; I am curious about the recipe.

    For instance; if I have a lot of target powder on hand; e.g. ramshot competition, clays, etc. is there any major negative using that powder for small game hunting? The gun and shotshell doesn't know the difference between 1 - 1 1/8 ounce of #7.5 and #4 or #2. An ounce is an ounce is an ounce.

    Same with a 1 ounce slug for deer hunting. Does it really matter the powder for basic hunting? I understand that when fast moving targets like duck and geese are involved, the load needs to be designed more around that purpose. And again; up until now, I've always used commercial 12 gauge ammo for hunting. But my thought is, reloading data doesn't need to be that complicated for basic hunting. Even deer out to 50 yards. Use whatever shot size you choose for the game; choose the weight; etc. I've never been into micro-loading where I care about the brand of primer; brand of hull; brand of wad; etc.

    But the biggest thing is; if I load 1 ounce of 7 1/2 shoot for clays; then why should it matter if I change out the 7 1/2 for #4 and shoot a turkey? Almost all the load data I've seen for a particular powder, if I look at all the combinations of hulls, wads, primers, and shot weight, the load doesn't change that much. Usually less than a half a grain either direction. I understand when it comes to steel/non-lead for geese and similar that some minor changes do make a big difference. But does it really matter if you shoot a 1 1/8 oz target load; 1200-1300 fps, or use the same type of powder with a 1 1/8 oz slug or #2 shot, etc.

    Thanks
    mike
     
  2. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    My biggest take is that different size shot or slugs are different volumes and going by weight alone can get you into trouble as they are all different volumes. That can cause crimp problems and therefore velocity differences. Assuredly someone has already used a sutable combination for what you want to load. You just have to find it. It boils down to the correct wad for the correct crimp.
     
  3. Barbaroja

    Barbaroja Member

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    I can’t speak to the same loads based on weight between shot and slugs but as far as different size shot I load 7.5s and #4s with the same data with clays pushing around 1200fps. The loads have killed piles of squirrels and rabbits.
     
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  4. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    Target loads are normally lighter than hunting load or SD loads. Normally all required is a different (higher) powder charge. Just changing shot size does not change the load as long the type are equal ( lead-lead, steel-steel). Changing payload type does change every thing,

    Winchester use to list what their factory loads were, powder, charge, wadding in the free data books. Some game are tough skinned and require a heavier load and smaller shot normally.
     
  5. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    Depends on what you're shooting. I hunt most light game, and close flushed pheasants with a "handicap" 1 1/8 oz load of #6 over Green Dot. I do like a touch more velocity, simply for the sake of making it all purpose, and a big rooster can be tough to bring down. You need the penetration to the vitals to fold them reliably without ending in a foot race. Its murder on grouse, squirrels, rabbits. I shoot a dedicated ultra light 3/4 oz 12 ga load of #8 1/2 specifically for woodcock, that also comes out for the occasional youth to do some informal clay shooting.

    When I used to have more private land options before the downfall of CRP in my area, I did hop up the speed and charge significantly to dedicated field loads of 1 1/4 oz of plated 5 or 4 for a dedicated pheasant load. I often hunted wild flushed, highly pressured birds over questionable dogs. You couldn't stone them dead enough for that scenario. When you get into the larger shot sizes, say #4 and above, component fit must be cared for. Most shot bushings are calibrated to #6 unless specified, and I believe most loads heavier than 1 1/8 12 Ga are figured for #6. Larger shot take up more volume per weight. Most loads still work, but some will not.

    Slugs and non-toxic are special cases. Steel shot behaves differently than lead moving down a barrel and through the forcing cone and choke, as do slugs. Data must be followed precisely for these. In the case of steel shot, velocity defineately kills, lack thereof wounds. I loaded steel shot when the velocities of factory offerings were unsatisfactory, now I seek out the highest speed shells. Speed doesn't hurt with slugs either unless you're looking for a specific low recoil option.
     
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  6. George P

    George P Member

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    Nope, go ahead; now slugs are a different animal but there are sources for that data
     
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  7. kalielkslayer
    • Contributing Member

    kalielkslayer Contributing Member

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    I loaded 1,000s of shotgun shells for ducks/geese before the non-toxic requirement.

    Remember it like it was yesterday, 1.5 oz charge bar, MEC #34 bushing, AA cases and the Winchester red was with Win 540 (now HS6) and #4 shot. I would load #5s with the #32 bushing for early season, or first shots. I bought 540 by the 8lb jug and went through a jug every 2 years.

    But I didn’t know much back then. I learned a lot when heavy shot hit the market. Protective wads, Teflon wraps, card board column covers, slower powders. I didn’t have much luck with the bigger shot, but with #6 hevi-shot, I dropped some ducks at distances that amazed my partners.

    For my Chukar loads the last 15 years I use Fiocchi hulls (larger internal capacity than my old, tapered AAs) a cushion wad with a seal wad underneath, and a card board cover. I think it’s called a “Pagoda load.” The double wad increases velocity as less gas escapes around the shot charge. They crimp really nice. Sometimes I use a 20 gauge felt wad inside the 12 gauge wad, either 1/8” or 1/4”, just to take up capacity. Theory is it cushions the shot at ignition.

    I’ve messed with both #4 buck and 00 buck. I have several boxes put away but the patterns were inconsistent. I’ll use factory buckshot 1st until it’s all gone.

    I strongly recommend Ballistic Products. I don’t know how their inventory is during this shortage but they offer a huge variety of wads for different applications and several manuals specific for shotgun loading.

    Their Hevi-shot book was only like 20 pages but it really opened my eyes to the difference between softer than your barrel material versus harder than your barrel materials.
     
  8. unwashed

    unwashed Member

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    I was thinking the same thing as the OP, since components are limited and I'm planning to do some pheasant hunting this fall I decided to test some rounds. I loaded 1 1/8 oz of #5 shot over clays powder. Loaded 5 rounds each with 16grs, 17grs and 18grs, most loading data only list 16 maybe 17gr for Clays powder. They performed fine and even got out to 50yds with the heavier loads. I had no problems with the ammo or my u/o 12ga. So far this is the recipe I'll use for my pheasant hunts. I choice clays oppose to green dot due to powder amounts, clays offer less powder for the same results over green dot, need to conserve.
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The Lee 7/8 & 1oz slugs are intended to be used with shot wads, and the data comes with the mold..

    https://leeprecision.com/files/instruct/SM 3529.pdf
     
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  10. christcorp

    christcorp Member

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    Excellent info; and thanks for all the replies. I feel comfortable in what I wanted to do. I understand the different burn rates and such; but generally, if I am loading say 1 or 1 1/8 oz of #7.5 at 1200-1300; then that same target powder should be able to push #4 at approximately the same speed with the same powder charge. Volume wize, an ounce of #7.5 takes up about the same amount of space as #4 or #2. And while at it, that same load with Target powder can probably suffice for a good home defense load too. Especially considering home defense is usually within 10 yards (30 feet).

    Thanks again for the insight
    Mike
     
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