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Thread: what powder is used in cheap shotgun shells?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Oklahoma Rebel's Avatar
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    what powder is used in cheap shotgun shells?

    they are Winchester universal target and game heavy lead load. I have a bunch of them that I stole the shot out of them to harden an alloy, since I hardly ever shoot my shotgun, and they were only 5.97 per box. so I would like to know what kind of powder is in them, so I can use it for "mousefart loads" lol. thanks a lot-Travis
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  2. #2
    Probably no powder that we can buy. Even nowadays smokeless powder tends to vary quite a bit in manufacture, and much more, sometimes disastrously, in its early days. What the powdermakers do is determine the speed of a very large batch across a differing range of pressures (for pressure alters the burning rate much more than with black powder), and decide whether it can be sold as the cannister powder they were aiming at, or as something new, or must be returned to process for another try.

    Cartridge companies or departments take a large batch of powder which is approximately right, and do the testing required tgo adjust the load to safe pressure and acceptable performance. Naturally they get the stuff a lot cheaper than we buy by the pound, and sometimes do things with that will get us into trouble if it isn't the same as the reloading manual people had.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I'm normally very conservative when 'flying blind' with powders, but I wouldn't hesitate burning that stuff up with 'mouse fart' loads like you're thinking.
    I'd wager that it would perform very similarly to Promo/Red Dot, or maybe Green Dot at the slowest - all good candidates IMO.

  4. #4
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    Most 12 ga target loads run with fast powders in the Red Dot/700x range as far as speed range. I would feel pretty safe treating pull down powders from factory 12 ga shotshells as Bullseye powder for light target pistol loads or subsonic rifle loads.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    How many is "a bunch" and did you unfold to open the crimp or cut them open?
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    The grandson thought for a minute and asked,"Which wolf will win?"
    The old Cherokee replied, "The one you feed."

  6. #6
    Boolit Master vzerone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ballistics in Scotland View Post
    Probably no powder that we can buy. Even nowadays smokeless powder tends to vary quite a bit in manufacture, and much more, sometimes disastrously, in its early days. What the powdermakers do is determine the speed of a very large batch across a differing range of pressures (for pressure alters the burning rate much more than with black powder), and decide whether it can be sold as the cannister powder they were aiming at, or as something new, or must be returned to process for another try.

    Cartridge companies or departments take a large batch of powder which is approximately right, and do the testing required tgo adjust the load to safe pressure and acceptable performance. Naturally they get the stuff a lot cheaper than we buy by the pound, and sometimes do things with that will get us into trouble if it isn't the same as the reloading manual people had.
    I heard that they sometimes blend not quite right powders with other powder to get something they can canister and sell.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Oklahoma Rebel's Avatar
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    I unfolded them just enough to make a spout to pour out the #7 shot , the wads are still in place sealing the powder somewhat, kept inside in ac/ heat. I opened up a box of 25. I am using 3.2ish grs of bullseye right now, and it works well. I doubt if I used the same dipper I would get into much trouble. I say 3.2ish because I made the dipper a long while ago, but I am98% sure that's what it is.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    I doubt if I used the same dipper I would get into much trouble.
    Bullseye is a pretty dense powder. Some shotgun powders are pretty bulky. I don't THINK you'd get into trouble with the dipper but I would weigh what it throws. Due to bulk you may just end up sticking a bullet in the barrel.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    you probably softened your alloy with their junk shot.
    it's for sure less than 2% antimony and I would be surprised if it was very much over 1%.

    one way to sort of kind of determine the powder speed is by how much they used.
    if the load is marked 2-3/4 dram or 1150 fps and it has around 17-17.5 grs it is probably close to XXX speed, if it is 19 grs then it is closer to XXX's burn rate.
    However.
    you'd have to be pretty familiar with shot shell loading to determine other characteristics of the powders burn rate.
    the wad, hull type, and primer would also be indicators since they can also change the determination of the powders burn speed.
    the USA/universal hulls are not a tapered type hull so a larger volume of powder would be needed to match the above weights-velocity's and pressures. [as well as influence the stack height of the load]
    the type of wad [cup depth/diameter/skirt shape] will also influence the pressure and can raise or lower the powder necessary to reach those velocity's.

    having never tore one of the shells down.
    I would make a prediction you find a silver/dark grey colored powder weighing around 20grs.
    and either a yellow or white colored wad with 4 legs [2 inner and 2 larger outer ones]
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by vzerone View Post
    I heard that they sometimes blend not quite right powders with other powder to get something they can canister and sell.
    They might do that occasionally, but I think the powders would have to be very similar in weight and grain shape, to avoid separating out under the vibration of transporting it around the country.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I got into a "discussion" a while back with a few fellows over the suggestion another member on here made about using pulled down shotshells to make 9mm loads. The take away when I actually tried it, was that the shot in the cheap shotshells I used was quite soft, my boolits going all the way from 150 grains to 155 grains, and the powder used was the most awful looking greenish/gray irregular flake stuff I have ever seen, and was quite fast burning, definitely faster than the Green Dot I normally loaded in 9mm.

    I wouldn't have any issues using it in low power loads, just consider it "fast burning" during your load development.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Oklahoma Rebel's Avatar
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    sounds good , if I don't just try to make cherry bombs out of it instead, just kidding! and I don't think the shot I added would be enough to soften my alloy if it was only 1-2%, I did figure on it being 4 though, oh well
    Norinco SKS
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  13. #13
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    The previous posters are right about the low antimony content of the big box universal shotshells. I would not go to the trouble of harvesting the shot and I would probably just spread the powder around on the grass rather than try and salvage it. Even if you did have half a pound of it to use it would not be worth the savings if it things went bad and you blew up a barrel or gun. If I did use it I would treat it like Red Dot and then use it in a low pressure recipe only.
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    2.7 grains of the junk I scavenged pushed a 150 grain cast 9mm to 900+ fps. from a 3.7" barrel, so it's fast burning stuff.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master rsrocket1's Avatar
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    Treat it like the fastest powder around and stay in the slow to medium muzzle speed range and you'll be OK. So 2.5-3 grains in 9/38/40/45 or 10g in .308 would work.

    That lead will certainly not harden any alloy but shotshell lead works fine for range fodder pistol lead. It's all I use nowadays because I can get reclaimed shot at $1/#. The only hassle is scooping out the graphite but after powder coating, the bullets shoot great


  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I would treat it like B-E. But thats only my opinion. Suitability of use is determined solely by the end user.

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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