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Thread: BP Shotguns

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Feb 2018

    BP Shotguns

    A long time ago I bought an old 12 ga shotgun. Iím sure it was originally made for BP. I was told to only use low brass target loads in it, which I did and never had any problems.

    I just bought an old 16ga that is in really good condition from the same era. I bought it to mainly live over my fireplace, but would like to be able to shoot it from time to time. I wouldnít mind reloading it with BP, but I donít have any shotgun reloading equipment.

    Since this is a really nice gun, I donít want to damage it. Am I safe shooting low brass target loads in it once or twice a year?


  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Outside Rolla, Missouri
    You would probably be ok. I expect it's been done since the advent of smokeless powder but check your chambers. I expect they're 2 1/2 rather than 2 3/4. However, I'd shoot BP in it. I do all my non-nitro proofed shotguns.

    You don't need shotgun loading equipment to load brass shotshells. I don't use any. Get a box of Mag-Tech, 16 bore, 2 1/2 in. hulls. I think mine were about $25 for a box of 25. Maybe kinda high but I ain't gonna live long enough to wear them out. You can prime them by using a rod or dowel that closely fits the case mouth, a hammer and a hard surface. Just tap in the primer like the old Lee "whack-a-mole" loaders. A good load for the 16 is 2 1/2 drams of BP and an ounce of shot. The old standard wad column of hard over powder card, lubed fiber wad for BP, then the shot and the over shot card still works just as good as it always did. Use the same dowel or rod used to prime to push the wads in the case. I use waterglass to hold the overshot card in place. Others use different kinds of glues but I never could make them work. If a shell was left in a barrel for a shot or two it would eventually pull the over shot card and I would next hear loose shot rolling down the bore. Never had that happen with waterglass.

    You can cut back plastic 16 bore hulls for 2 1/2 length chambers and load them the same, almost. Only difference is you'll need shot cups, over shot cards to fit plastic cases, (an arch punch makes short work of that), and a means to roll crimp the case mouth. I use a Ballistics Products roll crimper and it works great. With BP the plastic cases are usually only good for one load and your bore can become plastic coated from the BP burning the shot cup. I choose not to use plastic for BP loads when the brass is more correct and works better in my old guns.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master MOA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Mobile, Alabama, formally from Arizona Territory.
    I have to agree with sharps4590 too. Either paper or brass hulls for my BP shotshell loads.
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  4. #4
    I'll second sharps4590 as well. Never going back to plastic shotgun shells in this lifetime. At least not for black powder.
    Never really studied the pressure curves of shotgun shells to know how similar smokeless is to BP but in the old ones it's not worth the trouble. Performance is pretty close and a cartridge shotgun is so easy to clean.

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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