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Thread: Bird shot loads for revolvers

  1. #1
    Cast Hunter




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    Bird shot loads for revolvers

    As alwaysÖ..

    **Take great caution when working up hand loads. What is safe for my guns/equipment isnít necessarily safe with yours**

    Just thought I would sit down and tap out my method for putting together revolver birdshot loads. I started doing this almost 25 years ago, but Iím sure Iím not the first to figure this out. Iíve loaded these for .44 mag and .41 mag, but I would think it would work well for most any large caliber revolver.

    1. Prepare brass just as you would for loading boolits to include flaring the case mouth.

    2. Run gas checks though a sizer at bore diameter or slightly smaller (2 checks per cartridge). A Lee push through sizer works well for this.


    3. Powder selection: Many fast burning powders can work well. Look at published cast boolit data and choose a starting load for light bullets. Currently for my .41 mag I am using 8.0 gns of Salute (Russian Unique). The lead shot and 2 gas checks come to about 110 gns.

    4. After charging the primed case with powder, gently rest a dowel or fat punch on top of the powder and make a mark even with the case mouth. This will ensure you wonít be trying to compress the powder in the next step and will get consistent seating depth.

    5. Using the punch, press a pre-sized gas check (cup up) to rest on top of the powder. Stop when you reach the mark on the punch.



    6. Fill the case almost full with lead shot (I use #7 Ĺ).


    7. Place the 2nd pre-sized gas check cup down on the shot and apply a standard roll crimp.


    Sometimes the top gas check will buckle somewhat. This is ugly, but usually holds. When loading .44 mag shot loads you can use an UNSIZED .416 cal gas check on top as the outside diameter on Gator checks is about .423Ē and seats well without buckling.

    This year I have taken 5 spruce grouse, 4 ptarmigan and a snowshoe hare with my Ruger BH .41 mag. Ranges varied from 5 to 15 yds (Yes, the birds up here are dumb and let you get that close). At 15 yds the load has enough energy, but the shot pattern is getting rather thin and itís easy to miss at that distance. Under 10 yds itís pretty deadly.
    [/URL]
    Last edited by RugerFan; 07-30-2017 at 01:01 PM.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    When I started doing this years ago for a 41 magnum revolver I used foam from a grocery meat tray, seating the bottom one on top of the powder charge, adding shot (I used #7 1/2, too) and sealing the top wad with a thin film of silicone caulk.
    I had chamfered one case to use as a cutter and opened the base so that I could use a push dowel to get the wads out of the cutter.
    Gun control is not about guns.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I have done this for years but the gas check over the powder, I use with the cup down like the gas seal on a shotgun wad. Elmers glue can be used to seal the overshot gas check.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    i've done it with the 500 mag, but used to slow of a powder so it didn't work to good. i've since fire formed 7.62x25mm brass to my glock 17's chamber and use 5 gr of tightgroup for 70gr of #9 shot. it cycled the action properly, but i only tried it once. i have some loaded for tomorrow.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master BNE's Avatar
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    Thanks, I had not seen this method.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master ElDorado's Avatar
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    This is the same way I load 45 Colt shotshells for snakes. I also size my gas checks, but I seat the first one with a 44 mag seating die, and I fill a 1.6 cc Lee scoop with #9 shot. I use Unique, too. It's a great load.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



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    I was thinking about using 410 shot shell plastic shot cups cut to length in a 45 colt with 71/2 or @ # 8 shot,do any of you think this will work.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by w5pv View Post
    I was thinking about using 410 shot shell plastic shot cups cut to length in a 45 colt with 71/2 or @ # 8 shot,do any of you think this will work.
    Base of the shot cups eat up a lot of shot room and are smaller in diameter of the inside of the 45 Colt cases. I seat a GC pretty much as above and cut the flanges to length to fit along the sides of the case. A small funnel is inserted which holds the flanges along the sides of the case to fill with shot. I use #12 shot since I don't hunt birds with my "snake" loads. Kind of a pain to load but I don't use that many and 10 of them last more than a couple years. Most of them are shot demonstrating them to others than on snakes.

    Larry Gibson

  9. #9
    Boolit Master waco's Avatar
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    Very cool!
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Proverbs 1:7

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Rodfac's Avatar
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    Here's how I do it....Snake Loads for a Handgun

    I make up "snake" loads for my revolvers using #12 or #9 shot. In a .38 Spl or .357, they'll reliably kill snakes out to about 8-10 feet. In .45 LC or one of the .44's, they're even more effective. Here's my procedure.

    1. I size and recap the empty case as normal, then load the powder charge matched to the weight of shot I'm going to use. 3.5 gr's of Bullseye works well in .38 Spl. for instance.

    2. I place a piece of coffee can lid (the soft plastic type from a metal coffee can) over the mouth of the recharged case. Sitting the case upright on an absolutely flat metal surface (the anvil portion of my bench vise works well), I lightly tap the wooden block with a small hammer. The block allows the case to cut its own individual wad from the coffee can lid. No "sharpening" of the case is necessary beyond a chamfer as is normally used in reloading.

    3. This wad is pressed down on the powder charge using a wooden pencil's eraser end. If you make a pin hole in the wad, it'll allow the air to escape making seating easier. You want the 'over powder wad' right down on the powder. I use two over powder wads to ensure a good gas seal.

    4. I then dip the case in a tray of shot till it's filled to about 1/16" from the top, allowing for another coffee can wad to be cut and seated. I then lightly crimp the case and apply a sealant to the edge of the over-shot wad; made of Testor's model airplane paint or Crazy Glue. This helps keep the slick wad from working loose in pocket or shell loop.

    Using the primed and charged case to cut its own wad sounds risky till you try it out. It's fine in reality, just be sure to use a good solid, absolutely flat surface.

    These shot loads work well on snakes, or as non-lethal loads against canine attackers or in the barn where you don't want to put a hole in the roof shooting pigeons. The #12 shot is good for these purposes, but can be hard to obtain. I bought 5 lbs. 20 years ago and haven't made a dent my supply yet. My friends and I have put the final chapter to half a dozen rattlers and copperheads using the above assembled loads. Leading has not been a problem in the snubbies we've used to date.

    As to using cardboard for wads, I could never find an effective wad cutter. The sharpened case method didn't work at all...The soft plastic wads I use are thin enough, not to limit the amount of shot I could fit in the smaller cases and were effective as a gas seal. Be sure to weigh the shot in the first one you make up, to be sure of a safe powder charge. The pattern at 8 feet for a .38 Spl. using #12 shot is about a foot across, but does have some holes in it, presumably from the rifling. For that reason, if I'm fishing down in the Carolinas, I carry a M-36 Smith Chief's special with 3 shot cartridges and two hollow points. I shoot twice at the snakes, then check for damage. If they need finishing, I've got the last round and the two HP's.

    Best Regards, Rod

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I have also made shot loads for the 44 Mag. out of 30/40 Krag brass. Cut to cyl. length or about .010 shorter. Full length size in a 44 mag die, then run full length into a 44 seating die. I used to load with a charge of bullseye. I seated wads about the same as everyone here, and cut a rectangle out of a milk carton that would just wrap around the inside of the case once. Filled up the case with #11 shot, capped it with a wad and crimped the case. The 30/40 case lets you get quite a bit more shot in the case. You can also use 303 British cases the same way. I used to anneal the case mouth before loading so the crimping would be easy. I have shot birds out of the air with them! The plastic slides on the rifleing and doesn't throw the shot as much as a bare bore does.
    The toolman.

  12. #12
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    Nicely done post Rugerfan.

    I have a supply of plastic shot cups for the 38 Special/357 Magnum and that makes loading those calibres pretty easy.

    I make my own 41 Magnum shot shells out of 30/30 brass cut to the length of the cylinder and with the rims turned down to fit inside my S&W Model 58's star. When they fire form to the charge hole on first firing, they swell a bit at the web, but they seem to last forever and they seal the charge holes well.

    For the 45 ACP, I use 308 Winchester cases and a special form die set by RCBS to form the cases. There is an extensive thread on the 45 ACP shot loads elsewhere in the fora. Back when we still carried the 1911A1 in the service, I always took a few magazines of 'em with me and they provided meat for the canteen cup on several assignments.
    Last edited by Scharfschuetze; 11-21-2013 at 01:12 PM.
    Keep your powder dry,

    Scharf

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMtoolman View Post
    I have also made shot loads for the 44 Mag. out of 30/40 Krag brass. Cut to cyl. length or about .010 shorter. Full length size in a 44 mag die, then run full length into a 44 seating die. I used to load with a charge of bullseye. I seated wads about the same as everyone here, and cut a rectangle out of a milk carton that would just wrap around the inside of the case once. Filled up the case with #11 shot, capped it with a wad and crimped the case. The 30/40 case lets you get quite a bit more shot in the case. You can also use 303 British cases the same way. I used to anneal the case mouth before loading so the crimping would be easy. I have shot birds out of the air with them! The plastic slides on the rifleing and doesn't throw the shot as much as a bare bore does.
    The toolman.
    Another guy I know makes the cases out of .444 Marlin brass shortened down and resized. I'm going to have to try that. I like the idea of the shot wrapper. I find also that the .410 shot cups are too loose fitting and take up too much room. The wrapper is like the original Winchester Mark 5 loads for shotguns. I like it! Haven't used Bullseye in the .44 yet. What kind of charge are we talking if you don't mind?

  14. #14
    I made 6 of them from some 303 British brass that extended clear to the front of the cylinder.
    IIRC all I had to do was file the rim diameter down until it fit the cylinder, cut to length & fireform.
    Without a long wad column it can approach the short range effectiveness of a .410 shotgun.
    Cleaning the crud out of the rifling wasn't too bad.

    71

  15. #15
    Cast Hunter




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    First grouse of the year!

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  16. #16
    Boolit Master 5Shot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RugerFan View Post
    First grouse of the year!

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    Nice! Taking some out with me this weekend.
    If you live on the razor's edge and slip, you will die in two pieces

  17. #17
    Boolit Master dkf's Avatar
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    My test loads in .44mag with power pistol and #8 shot went well.(Ruger Redhawk 5.5") Groups were nice at 7 yards with a lot of shot in on the area of a paper plate and I could easily fit 150gr of #8 shot. Only problem I had with them is they hurt when you shoot them. Not the recoil, but the shot bouncing off the rubber backstop at the range, coming back and pelting me in the face. Good thing I was earing glasses.

    I was using the fiber and aluminum GC shotshell sets that Sage Outdoors sells.

  18. #18
    Cast Hunter




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    Quote Originally Posted by dkf View Post

    I was using the fiber and aluminum GC shotshell sets that Sage Outdoors sells.
    I was wondering how those worked. Let us know if you kill anything with those loads.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master Sur-shot's Avatar
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    I thought that is what meat trays and egg cartons were for, making shot shells. Also cut off an old case at the base with a cut off wheel and wrap it with about a half inch strip of duct tape so I can get fingers on it, to twist it. sharpen the edge, cuts right through and works with a wood block and a mallet if you want. Push wads out with a new pencil never sharpened. Powder; fast burning, Bullseye, shot, #9 or smaller, double wad the bottom, use pencil to compress like a ram rod, and wad the top with a dripped wax water proof sealer on top after a crimp is added to assist in loading. A 50 round box of these lasts about 10 years. Problem is, you forget where they are when in a hurry and just shoot the snake with a solid and be done with it.
    Ed
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMtoolman View Post
    I have also made shot loads for the 44 Mag. out of 30/40 Krag brass. Cut to cyl. length or about .010 shorter. Full length size in a 44 mag die, then run full length into a 44 seating die. I used to load with a charge of bullseye. I seated wads about the same as everyone here, and cut a rectangle out of a milk carton that would just wrap around the inside of the case once. Filled up the case with #11 shot, capped it with a wad and crimped the case. The 30/40 case lets you get quite a bit more shot in the case. You can also use 303 British cases the same way. I used to anneal the case mouth before loading so the crimping would be easy. I have shot birds out of the air with them! The plastic slides on the rifleing and doesn't throw the shot as much as a bare bore does.
    The toolman.
    Why use 30-40 or 303 for the 44 cal. I used 30-30 brass a lot cheaper and common to find. I would save the 303 to make 410 shot shell for your 410 shotgun.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check