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Thread: Black powder capacity of 12 gauge high brass shells?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Black powder capacity of 12 gauge high brass shells?

    This query concerns whether a rifled 12 gauge slug shotgun can be loaded with black powder, to function like Victorian-era "bore" sized rifles. How much Swiss [brand] FFg powder - in weight in grains - can be put into the base 1.45 inches of primed unloaded new or once-fired, 12 gauge 2.75-inch high-brass shotshells? I specify Swiss black powder because it is denser than other black powder brands generally available. Being more dense might mean that more volume, and perhaps more weight, can be measured into the cylindrical shape. I'm not asking about any additional capacity that might occur by compressing the powder or using a drop tube. I just want to "get in the neighborhood." Other than high brass rather than trap/skeet shotshells, I'm not fixed on any particular brand or other specifics.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Markopolo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Remote island in SE Alaska
    I would start with the old by-law... equal measure by volume of shot and powder. Weigh the slug, find out how much powder will equal by VOLUME. A trick I have used is weigh the slug first. Then use use an old dipper of some sort. I use one of these....
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    Fill the dipper with an equal weight of lead shot. Those type dippers are adjustable in height so when it is level full and the weight is equal to the slug weight, you will have your volume measure of BP.

    I use an electronic scale to pour the shot into to weigh the shot to find the equal weight/volume. I take my scale with a powder cup, weigh the slug on my electronic scale inside the powder cup, then remove the slug and start filling the shot till it is equal to weight in the powder cup on my scale. Once that is done, I adjust the dipper thingy out till all the shot in the Powder cup fits level full in my dipper. Wince the dipper is full with all the shot, I pour out the shot from the dipper, fill the dipper with BP and weigh it in grains and write it down... that is the starting amount of BP to use with any load. That is how most BP loads are figured and how our forefathers did it..

    I would also use all Brass shotshells. New ones can be had now made by CBE if memory serves. BP tends to burn holes in plastic shells. I do them like this...

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    Hope that helps,
    Last edited by Markopolo; 11-02-2018 at 10:13 AM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    St.Germain, WI
    I use the 1-1/8 shot bar hole on a MEC Junior to load the powder. Gives me about 60 grains. Then use WAA12R wad with Lee 1 oz. slug. I consider them to be for one shot only and then toss the hull. Have not chronoed them.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Castlegar, B.C., Canada
    Here are some guidelines for you:

    I loaded up modern plastic hulls with 4 drams of FFFg BP under 12 pellets of 00 buckshot with no ill effects and shot lots of 0.690" RB's and 1 1/8 oz. shot loads over the same charge. Since Tom Bullock shows a "heavy" load is 3 1/2 drams under 1 1/4 oz. shot I was into "heavy" territory but again, no ill effects. The 0.690" RB is only about 1 1/8 oz. though so a little lighter payload.

    I concur with Mr. Bullock's comments about BP being hard on plastic hulls.

    Also, I found that plastic wads either melted or scraped off on BP fouling (or maybe some of both) and left a mess of plastic in the bore so be warned that may happen. Lubed felt or fiber wads may eliminate or at least reduce both BP and plastic fouling.



  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    curator's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Fort Myers, Florida
    Modern rifled shotgun barrels have a relatively fast twist being designed to shoot saboted shotgun slugs. Finding full-bore size slugs is a real problem unless one gets a custom made bullet mould. I have both a 20 and 12 gauge rifled shotgun in which I shoot slugs and round ball using black and smokeless powder. I too have found that plastic hulls often burn through using black powder. Paper hulls do also, just not as fast. Plastic shot sleeves leave a lot of plastic fouling in my rifled bores. All brass shells are perfect for black powder loads but have a larger inside diameter than plastic or paper hulls. In order to shoot a .735 (595 grain) round ball in an all 12 gauge brass shell I have had to wrap it in a greased .016" pillow ticking patch to center it. I have fired these over anywhere from 2.5 drams (60 grains) to 4 drams (110 grains) of Olde Eynfsord 1& 1/2Fg black powder with good results despite the 1 in 30 inch rifling twist. No surprise that the lighter loads shoot more accurately and have less recoil. The recoil with the 4 dram load is not for the fain of heart!

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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