Next, remove the charge bar from the press. Then, insert the 1X ounce shot bushing and the #.155 powder bushing in the charge bar, and replace it in the loading press. Then, place a sufficient quantity of powder and shot in the proper reservoirs. Don't allow the powder level to fall below about one-quarter full, as the powder doesn't settle into the bushing as well when the weight of powder over it becomes too light.

You can use shot until the reservoir is almost completely empty as the weight of the shot makes it flow well.

Use small cups or medicine bottles to catch the charges, one for shot, the other for powder, and move the charge bar back and forth several times catching the powder and shot in the cups. This will get the powder and shot flowing evenly. Move the bar to the left and catch the shot charge. Then, pour the powder and shot back into their respective reservoirs.

Now you're ready to reload. Place one of the Gold Medal Hulls in the first station and pull the handle all the way down. This will resize the hull and push out the spent primer. Next, move the shell to the second station, and if you don't have the automatic priming feature, place a primer in the priming seating punch and pull the handle all the way down. This will seat the primer.

Move the shell to the station under the wad fingers and powder drop tube. Lower the powder drop tube through the wad fingers and move the charge bar handle smartly to the right, allowing it to tap the end of its travel gently so as to jar all the powder from the charge bushing. Raise the handle enough for the powder drop tube to clear the wad guide, and insert the WWAA12F114 wad. Ensure that all the guide fingers are inside the hull. Sometimes it helps to rotate the hull slightly with the wad guide well inside. This will allow the guide to smooth out the rumpled edge of a hull, so it isn't protruding in such a manner as to catch the edge of the wad.

Now, seat the wad down firmly on the powder. This is where the single-stage loader has an advantage over the progressive press because it allows a feel for wad seating. Move the hull to the next (shot) station, and move the charge bar to the left to drop the shot.

Next, move the shell to the proper crimp starting station and pull the handle down until the crimp fully starts. You may not always want to pull the handle all the way down in this station. It should not crease the hulls too deeply. Use common sense. The eight-point crimp starter is in front and the six-point in the rear. If you were loading a shell which was already loaded with a six-point crimp, you would naturally use the rear station. You should use the front starter for the Federal Gold Medal, as it is an eight-point crimp.

In the next (final crimping) station, pull the handle down until the shell becomes fully crimped. Again, it's necessary to use a modicum of judgment in this station. You can tell from looking if the shell is properly crimped. You should now have a loaded shell with a nicely formed crimp—ready to fire.

The procedure would be quite similar for any comparable reloading press. There are some variations in the procedure, but if you follow the instructions that come with the press, you should have no trouble turning out serviceable reloads from a good reloader.

This sums up the procedure for reloading shotshells on a single-stage press. On a progressive press, the hulls will advance around the stations automatically, and there will be many things going on at the same time. This situation doesn't allow for the individual care and attention to each hull that you would exercise with the single-stage press.

Steel Shot

Loading steel shot requires extra care and a few extra steps to make a proper reload. The best source of both steel shot reloading components and loading information is Ballistic Products, Inc.

You may not be able to justify the high cost of reloading steel shot. Consider that the most active waterfowl hunter will fire, at most, only two boxes of shells at waterfowl in a year, and consider the high cost of steel shot reloading components. Also, look through the best and most complete reloading handbooks—such as the 12 Gauge Reloading Manual by Loadbooks—and most other sources. You'll read constant messages of warnings such as: Do not use steel shot in the shotshell loads listed in this guide. You'll also find this type of warning repeated in the Winchester, IMR, and Scot reloading manuals.

There are undoubtedly those who wish to try reloading steel shot. If you are among these rugged individuals, obtain a copy of the BPI catalog and order enough steel shot reloading components to meet your needs.

Two barrel-protection approaches help to contain steel shot. In the BPI steel shot kit, there are sections of thin brass sheet which you must cut to length with tin snips and roll up and insert inside the BPI shot cup. You'll find the instructions for this included in the kit. Then, load the steel shot into the cup and proceed with loading in the usual sequence.

It seems best to make up a quantity of shotcups with the brass inserts before you start loading. Then, you only have to follow the usual procedure in loading steel shot.

The other approach to barrel protection is the use of heavy walled shot cups to load steel shot. You might find you'll prefer the brass inserts, as they give more barrel protection.

Figure 78 shows the various sizes of steel shot. The size of shot, whether lead or steel, is based on American Standard shot sizes. Thus, a steel No. 4 pellet and a lead No. 4 pellet are both .13 inches in diameter.

FIGURE 78—Sizes of Steel Shot


Warning: Under no circumstances should any reloader use lead shot wads and powder charges to load steel shot. This practice will invariably damage the gun in which the loads are fired, and, quite possibly, the one who fires it. se only those loads and components specifically listed for use with steel shot in a reliable reloading manual or guide to load steel shot.

There's much misinformation regarding shotshell patterns. The standard patterning procedure is to fire at a pattern sheet at 40 yards. The specifications for various chokes require a given percentage of the shot to be within a 30 inch circle at a distance of 40 yards from the muzzle. It's necessary to have a standard of reference in shotshell patterns as in all other situations where shooters evaluate efficiency and performance. This doesn't mean that all pattern testing must be at 40 yards, as some think.

Shooters should perform patterning at ranges where he or she intends to shoot. In quail hunting over dogs, the shooter fires the first shot at about 15 yards. The shooter should develop a load that will give optimum shot pattern at 15 yards for use in the first barrel (Figure 79).

The shooter usually fires second shot at around 25-30 yards, so the load used in the second barrel should give optimum coverage with no bird-sized holes at this range. In a Franchi Custom Falconet O/U, the current quail load for the first barrel is a 1200-FPS, 11/8 ounce load that provides excellent shot distribution and a 60 percent pattern in a 30 inch circle at 10-20 yards. In the second barrel, is a 1350-FPS, 1 %6 ounce load that gives similar patterns at 25-30 yards. It would be of little use to give you the specifics of these loads, as each shotgun will perform best with loads worked out specifically for the individual barrel. The shooter should fire such loads in the gun they're intended for at the range at which they'll perform best. That is, you should pattern the first barrel at 15 yards and the second barrel at 25 yards. Only then will you get the optimum performance from your gun.

FIGURE 79—This photo illustrates the life-size turkey targets used to run pattern tests on various loads.

FIGURE 79—This photo illustrates the life-size turkey targets used to run pattern tests on various loads.

It's best not to fall into the method of patterning a gun on a large sheet of paper and then drawing a 30 inch circle around the center of the pattern. This doesn't give the true delivered pattern of your gun. You should use a 30 inch circle drawn on a sheet or one of the excellent 30 inch degradable foam targets with an aiming point in the center as shown in Figure 79. Sight Right Co. of Victor, New York 14564, sells the targets under the name "Visible Impact Targets."

The Visible Impact Targets are fine shotgun targets. Contrary to what you might expect, the cost isn't prohibitive for serious shooters. To test your pattern, hold dead on the aiming point. Count the number and note the location of the shot hits to determine the true, delivered performance of your loads.

The number of shot delivered in any spot other than those centered around the point of aim isn't relevant to the true performance of your gun and loads. Using quail-sized 2 l/2 inch circles to check for the number of places where a quail could pass safely within your pattern will give an entirely different perspective on gun performance.

One of the most important aspects of shotshell reloading is the ability to correctly read recommended loading data to find the loads you wish to produce. Then, you must be able to correctly read and implement a load bushing chart. It's also important to have a powder scale to check the loads being delivered by the bushings and to be absolutely sure you're using the correct powder. Never use powder from unknown sources, and be careful to return unused powders from the powder hoppers into the proper cans to avoid a deadly mix-up. Most importantly, use common sense in reloading.

Slug Loads

In recent years, rifled slug guns have become popular in the areas of Virginia and Ohio, as well as other places where regulations restrict deer hunting to shotgun use only. Slug guns with rifled barrels are capable of very high accuracy if fitted with good sights and given good ammunition.

Except for the Winchester Sabot Slug load—formerly supplied by BRI—and the Activ Servo Slug load, currently manufactured loads use slugs of a diameter that's too small to fill the rifling grooves properly.

Given all this, it's difficult to get a top-notch slug load using available components other than the Activ Slug. You can purchase the Activ Servo Slug from Activ Industries, 1000 Zigor Road, P.O. Box F, Kear-neysville, WV 25430.

Failure to expand and deliver energy into the body of the target animal is a common problem with shotgun slugs. The slugs seem to pass through the deer and carry most of their energy with them. The large hole they make will kill the animal within a hundred yards or so. However, in today's deer hunting situations on open hunting land, a load that stops the game on the spot is essential.

Most shotshell reloading manuals list a few slug loads. You load them by the same general procedure as other shotshell reloads, with one exception. Unless you're reloading hulls previously loaded with slugs, you'll have to shorten the hulls by trimming 1/8 inch off the front of the hull. After you insert the recommended wad column and place the slug atop it, you close the case by using a roll crimper in a drill press.

If you're using a Foster-type slug, be sure you don't run the roll-crimp down too tightly upon the slug. It will sometimes ride up over the crimp edge and raise the breech pressure to unsafe levels, degrading accuracy at the same time. The Activ and Brennecke slugs don't present this problem, but the Brennecke is of a diameter smaller than what's preferred for good accuracy. IMR's SR4756 powder is the best canister powder for reloading shotgun slugs.

Zero In! 5

1. Some reloading tools are much more sensitive to than others.

2. Under no circumstances should any reloader use and to load steel shot.

3. Overall, the quality of shot obtainable from different manufacturers varies (greatly, little).

4. Primers fall into two basic groups,_and_.

5. The rounder (more spherical) a shot is, the (better, worse) it will pattern.

6. Patterning should be done at the .

7. The advent of the has greatly simplified the selection of suitable wads for a given load.

8. _is a great help in building long-range loads with large diameter shot.

9. The most important things in shotshell reloading come down to (1) the ability to correctly read_and (2) being able to correctly read and implement a_chart.

10. Failure to expand and deliver energy into the body of the target animal is a common problem with slugs.

Check your answers with those on page 98.

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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