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Thread: Working up a new load from scratch (safely)---Trying to get around supply shortage

  1. #1
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    Working up a new load from scratch (safely)---Trying to get around supply shortage

    I looked all over for some 20ga reloading supplied. I finally came up with some primed hulls, and a handful of components from BPI.

    I'm wondering if you are trying to design a load from scratch, how to figure out a safe starting point. The real question is, how much does it change the pressure if you change wads, etc.

    I am trying to work out a low recoil buckshot load just to try my hand at some cowboy shooting (It's a cut down side by side).

    I found a published recipe for 3/4ounce that used a 14.5gr Unique charge. It claimed 9500psi and around 1100fps.

    If I were to replace the plastic cushion wad with a gas seal, felt disc, maybe some cork to adjust the height, what effect would that potentially have? Is it possible it could crank the pressure high enough to be unsafe?

    Under ordinary circumstances I have always followed the data to the letter. But these are not ordinary times!

    As I mentioned, I'm looking for lower power close range load. Nothing that needs to rattle your fillings loose. I just want to make sure if I try something, I wouldn't inadvertently blow my barrel. I have a chrono, and would be able to test the speed. I thought if I could find a safe starting place, then from the speed I could dial it up or down a little bit to bring it to maybe 1200fps.

    Thanks for any info. I've made some buck loads for 12ga because BPI claimed you could swap out shot for buck ounce for ounce. That the pressure is pretty constant. I'm just not sure of subbing out other components like wads
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Sig's Avatar
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    Everything I've ever read about shotgun reloading stated not to do what you intend. There are no pressure signs to look for like in metallic reloading. If you proceed (and I suggest you don't), send off your rounds to get pressure tested BEFORE you fire any. One of the names I hear for testing is Tom Armbrust. I would contact him before loading anything.

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    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    I am reading up on pressure testing right now. I agree--never before have I attempted to work anything up from scratch. It's always been published data to the letter. And the low end of the range. I'm just paranoid about it. Certainly not experienced enough to try and hotrod anything.

    Do you think my strategy is ok, pending pressure testing? Use the plastic wad data as a starting point for the fiber wad, then send it off?

    From what I read, the pressure vs. powder charge curve is fairly linear. So ideally I could do 2 loads. One really at the low end (I don't know, 8500psi) and one at the upper end (12000psi). And from there dial it in. I'm not sure how much the testing costs, and then when you factor in at least 5 shots of each.

    It's annoying--a project I don't really want to undertake, but simply cannot find the components.
    Still--thank you for the reminder about the lack of pressure signs in shotgun shells. I read some articles on the dangers of using velocity data for testing. That some powders would generate a huge pressure to achieve the same velocity. It's obviously not something I want to play around with.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Blood Trail's Avatar
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    That can easily be done. Lots of variables come in to play, pressure wise, with one of the most important being crimp type. Roll crimps donít generally produce more pressure than fold crimps, all other things being equal.

    Now granted, most of the times, you will see a change of pressure when removing the crush section of a wad to fiber wads, etc. even how you build your slug or buckshot column (hard launch versus soft launch) will increase or decrease pressure.


    From your example, even if you were to remove the wad and build up a different, stiffer payload column, itís not going to generate pressures where your gun would explode.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Here's my approach; I've done it many times (in 12 gauge) and I believe it is entirely safe, but by all means have the pressure testing done if there's any doubt.
    1. Start with a heavier load that's published for shot (so, 7/8 oz in this case, to end up with a 3/4 oz buckshot load.)
    2. See if your 3/4 oz of buckshot will fit into the listed 7/8 oz wad, assuming you have it (this will affect your choice of load, naturally.)
    3. If it fits, you're good to go. If there isn't enough room, you can cut the petals off, which will give you lots more room with little effect on pressure, as it's the same bottom half of the wad.
    4. Your 3/4 oz buckshot load is guaranteed to have lower pressure than the original 7/8 oz load.
    5. If you're trying to use a load that starts with a gas seal and fiber wads, you can always thin out the stack enough to fit 3/4 oz of buckshot into a 7/8 oz recipe, and any increase in pressure from the small decrease in cushion height will be less than the drop in pressure from the lighter payload. Cushion height has an effect, but it's relatively minor. Payload weight has a much greater effect.
    6. If I want to stick with a plastic wad, and I don't want to trim petals because it's time-consuming, or because of leading, I often sub in the next larger size of that same wad type (for example, in 12g, change from a Fed 12S3 to a 12S4. This swap will raise pressure a bit on it's own, but nowhere near the drop in pressure caused by the decrease in shot weight, so these changes offset. It usually gives plenty of extra room for buckshot vs. birdshot.
    7. I'll always start with a load that has plenty of margin for error, pressure-wise, so I'm assured of a low pressure load in the end. The main risk here is that pressure will be too low, so I try to stick with relatively fast burning powders where I can count on good combustion. Unique would seem to fit the bill for 20 gauge, and most target loads will use faster burning powders anyway.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Just want to emphasize that this method really only works if you're looking for a light buckshot (or slug) load. It's not really practical for high-power hunting loads. You need a recipe for those. The key is to leave plenty of margin for error by starting with a load that is a bit light and med-low pressure, then making it lighter and even lower pressure. But it's often just what I'm looking for, and it sounds as though that's what the OP is looking for.
    Also, refer to the epic posts of Turbo1889 on this topic; he did plenty of pressure testing to back all of this up.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Ditto on Turbo 1889! One thing I learned from his posts: A charge of Alliant Steel may be substituted for equivalent charge of Blue Dot with less pressure and more velocity. This has helped me build buckshot and slug loads that are great performers.
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
    Leonard Ravenhill

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master
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    It has been a while, but IIRC buckshot was not allowed for Cowboy Action Shooting due to ricochets.

    Plastic wads are not expensive. Powder Valley and Ballistic Products both have them in stock.

    A low end load safe for shot will be safe for buckshot. If the wad cup is too large to get a good crimp with the payload you want, adding a packing peanut, or similar, should do the trick.
    Don Verna


  9. #9
    Boolit Master John in WI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FullTang View Post
    Just want to emphasize that this method really only works if you're looking for a light buckshot (or slug) load. It's not really practical for high-power hunting loads. You need a recipe for those. The key is to leave plenty of margin for error by starting with a load that is a bit light and med-low pressure, then making it lighter and even lower pressure. But it's often just what I'm looking for, and it sounds as though that's what the OP is looking for.
    Also, refer to the epic posts of Turbo1889 on this topic; he did plenty of pressure testing to back all of this up.

    Thank for those insights. Just to be paranoid, I think I would pressure test the loads. I did some scoping, and it looks like you can get 2 lots of 5 rounds done for about $50. That's cheap insurance and peace of mind.

    That said, I like your approach. 7/8oz loads are much more common and data is available everywhere. I did some tinkering, and if I mix my .30 and my .22 balls, I can come out to an even payload at exactly 3/4oz. I am interested in some light, low recoil loads. Mostly for shooting paper and doing some cowboy shooting with my side by side. I mean, I want a respectable speed, but anything over 1000fps would be plenty for the distances I'm going to be shooting. Thanks again for the info. I'll do some more digging tonight. I think my BPI manual is buried in storage, but there are published recipes all over the web.
    Too much of a good thing is an awesome thing!

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy Sig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dverna View Post
    It has been a while, but IIRC buckshot was not allowed for Cowboy Action Shooting due to ricochets.
    I believe many clubs don't allow anything larger than 7-1/2 shot

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogtamer View Post
    Ditto on Turbo 1889! One thing I learned from his posts: A charge of Alliant Steel may be substituted for equivalent charge of Blue Dot with less pressure and more velocity. This has helped me build buckshot and slug loads that are great performers.
    Hogtamer, ... very interesting .... you wouldn't remember in what post/thread Turbo1889 covered that powder substitution? Would love to read that thread ....

  12. #12
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    W.R.Buchanan's Avatar
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    For Cowboy Shooting you just run regular Birdshot loads. If you want Low Power Buckshot,,, just substitute the Buckshot for the Birdshot. I have been doing this for years in my 12 ga. Trap Loads subbing in Lee Slugs or Buckshot for the birdshot. I end up with light recoiling loads that will do anything I need from them and the shells can't tell the difference between birdshot, buckshot or slugs because they all weigh the same.. A 1 oz. Slug at 1200 fps is a pretty formidable projectile.

    I don 't really worry about pressures spiking because these loads are so far down on pressure that a spike won't even get up into Medium Load Ranges. If I was loading Butt Kicker Loads then changing stuff matters. The key is to not hand load butt kicker loads. You probably don't need them and will realize that after you shoot something with a low recoil slug. If you look at how many of those type of loads you would have a use for in any given time period, You might find that a box of high base Slugs or Buckshot would do what you need and be perfectly safe Factory Loaded Ammo that you don't have to worry about blowing yourself up with..

    If you are going to be hunting things that bite, I would be looking at some Brenneke Slugs and probably never shoot a full box of 5 slugs while actually using them for the intended purpose. IE: hunting?

    For everything else Birdshot level loads will do what you need. Also Buckshot bouncing off a Steel target that is only 5-10 yards away will come back at you,,, Hard!!!. Never shoot a steel target with slugs or buckshot any closer than 35 yards and 50 is even safer. Birdshot only on close steel!

    Hope this helps relieve some of the tension.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Good post Randy.

    I pray people listen.
    Don Verna


  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Don’t hunt ‘em nearly as much as I used too (but going a couple of days next week) but I use big loads hog hunting. Those things are tough for the most part. As noted above I use Steel powder replacing Blue Dot for greater velocity and lower pressure. Had some tested. But you are right generally and at 69 recoil is a factor.��
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
    Leonard Ravenhill

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Cowboy action shooting seems pretty lame if you aren't shooting black powder. You can't mess up black powder, it's the safest there is, no load data needed.

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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