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Old November 18, 2011, 10:59 AM   #1
Andy Griffith
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Loading Brass Shotshells (a pictorial)- blackpowder loads

Since no one has actually put together a pictorial of how to load them, and the Mrs. got me a new camera- I thought I would. Please note this is NOT the only way to do it, but this works for me. There are many variations of loads out there- so my loads may differ significantly from other shooters out there. If you have suggestions- let me know! I'm willing to learn and take criticism.

Starting with brass shells, and there are a plethora of them out there if you just start looking, and in all gauges from 8 all the way to .410.
I've got some of the commonly available ones found pictured below.



Some types I should mention but do not have pictured are the Alcan Zinc shells, Russian steel shells and the high quality, heavy, lathe-turned Rocky Mountain Cartridge shells. I'm going to get into those in number two or three when I show some smokeless loads.

All of the shells I'm going to show here are extruded and thin walled like pistol cases-not to say they aren't strong- they will last a lifetime with marginal care and cleaning after shooting with blackpowder. The Winchester hulls that I have pictured were last made far prior to WWII, and they are still going strong. I will state that not all antique brass hulls can be salvaged- many were used and never cleaned and therefore the brass could have been weakened by mercuric priming mixtures. Only a through inspection after a good cleaning can their ability to be reload be judged. If there are pits or black spots all the way through the case wall- do not use it. I have only found four or five in my scrounging that are unusable because of corrosion or complete wall splits that a simple trimming could not take care of.

Hulls themselves:


The Magtech, Winchester, Remington and the Alcan/Fiocchi hulls are the extruded hulls most commonly found by shooters.
Magtech hulls come in 12,16,20,24,28,32 and .410 bore and are currently manufactured. Use caution, as there is a caveat when ordering or purchasing these hulls!!! Read Below.
Until about five or so years ago, all the Magtech hulls were Berdan Primed.


If you purchase them online or at a show somewhere, just make certain of what you are getting. The berdan primers are very soft, and most shotguns will pierce the Berdan primers about half the time. Magtech no longer sells or stocks the Berdan primers anyway- so if you can't get them, your only choices are, unloading them onto another unsuspecting su.....I mean selling them to someone else, or drilling them out to take 209 primers. I can't remember which bit is the correct size, but I'll insert it here later. The new Magtech hulls all take a pistol primer- but this still creates a small inconvenience because for some reason they don't taper or smooth the channel into the primer pocket very well:


Primers seat very hard and won't look good on new Magtech brass


Once the brass has been fired at least once, is winds up priming just fine from then on. Go figure.

The Alcan/Fiocchi hulls are the next most frequently encountered hulls- which were made into the late 1960's. They are very good hulls, but typically they are found with collector pricing on them! The Alcan hulls take *57 or 157 primers which are smaller than their 209 cousins, but are larger than the *69 primers Remington used in their .410 loads for many years. The simple thing to do if you find the Alcans and don't have a stock of the correct primers, is to simply drill them out. Fortunately, I have a very large supply of 157 primers, so no worries for me. This is also a case of a simple drilling to open it up to take the larger 209 primers.

Finally, the Winchester and Remington hulls take pistol primers. I've never had any problems with them save one Remington 12ga hull that was neither a large nor a small pistol primer- it was in between. smiley: sick

On to the loading! I'm showing how to load 12ga extruded hulls (such as the Magtech) here, machined hulls will be slightly different.
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Old November 18, 2011, 11:00 AM   #2
Andy Griffith
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Wads:

For wads on extruded hulls, the next larger gauge wad must be used. For instance, for loading 12ga hulls, 11ga nitro/hard card and cushion wads must be used- except for the overshot cards- go up two gauges for it- use 10ga overshot cards. Also, go ahead and purchase the pre-lubed cushion wads. I was going to be smart one day and use dry cushion wads and save some money- each time I shot I thought it was new years because of all the confetti that those wads flew into once leaving the barrel.

Another note on wads- I’ve read of a many shooters not using a cushion wad because it cost more money and didn’t improve the pattern. A fellow in one of the first edition Lyman Blackpowder Annuals does state this and I’ve verified that he’s absolutely correct! There is no need for a cushion wad, except for your shoulder! The cushion wad is there for your comfort- not to cushion the shot from shock. I highly recommend them!

First, I start off priming the hull on the press:



A press and shellholder isn’t necessary, but the first time priming the Magtech hulls would be very troublesome, as it is extremely useful in this case.

I then throw a powder charge, in this case, 80 grains of FFg





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Old November 18, 2011, 11:02 AM   #3
Andy Griffith
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The next step is something I’ve started doing to help seal the blackpowder gases under the wad- putting a wax “cookie” directly on top of the powder. This aids in helping to seal the gases behind the wads. Upon firing, some of the wax- if not all of it- turns liquid, and the hot gases try to push it out around the wad, thereby creating a better seal than would be made by the cushion wad alone. The mixture I use is a beeswax/lanolin/grapeseed oil mixture that is very stiff and I make it into sheets. If I was going to use this in very hot conditions, I'd just use straight paraffin wax instead of my standard mixture. Since it isn't being used as a lube, and only as a gas seal- paraffin would just fine. I use an extra case to make the “cookie” from the sheet:







I’ll just tilt the “cookie” inside the empty case and then pull it out. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even too consistent in thickness- about a 1/8” to ¼ “will be just fine. However, if they are any thicker, there is a chance there may not be enough space left in the case for all the shot load. Here is a picture of them with a quarter for scale:

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Old November 18, 2011, 11:03 AM   #4
Andy Griffith
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I’ll then take and put them into the hull directly on top of the powder, and push it down with a tight fitting non-sparking instrument, so as not to tilt it.







I then place the pre-lubed cushion wad on top of the lube “cookie”



Usually, the lubed cushion wad will trap air under it, so be patient in pushing it down and allow the air to escape- make certain that there is no air trapped under it!!! This is a very important step. If it feels kind of springy, there is still air under it. The tighter these wads fit though- is a good thing!

Now, seat the hard card “nitro” wad. This is the wad that goes under the shot. If the shot does not have a hard surface directly under it, the pattern will be blown. Why this is, I don’t know- but I’ve tried it without a hard surface under the shot and each time results were lackluster.

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Old November 18, 2011, 11:04 AM   #5
Andy Griffith
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Once the hard card is in, I will take the half completed shell to the shotshell press and make certain the wad column is seated well, and I apply about 80lbs of pressure. It is not necessary, but I do it.





Now, here’s the secret to having a tighter patterning load with these blackpowder shells than most high priced factory premium loads- something I call a “shot collar.” It’s just a piece of curled, stiff, slick backed paper card stock put into the top of the shell before the shot goes in. Not only does it keep the pattern tight, leading is non-existent making cleaning much easier. There is no need to do anything else. I like milk cartons, but cereal boxes or Little Debbie boxes work well too!







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Old November 18, 2011, 11:05 AM   #6
Andy Griffith
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I then drop the shot, in this case, 7/8 oz. I know, it seems light, but it patterns very, very tightly and does exactly what I want it to do- low recoil, high speed and very tight pattern! This is what it looks like:



All that is needed now, is the overshot card, which as I said earlier, is a 10ga card. The trick is to seat it squarely. Get as tight fitting dowel as practical to seat it. I actually use a 16ga brass hull- it works beautifully for this purpose!





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Old November 18, 2011, 11:06 AM   #7
Andy Griffith
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The very last thing to do is to seal the overshot card in place so it doesn’t move during recoil or from just being carried. Some of my wife fingernail polish she no longer likes is the best stuff I’ve found.





Now, you are ready to hit the woods with your vintage shotgun!!



The only thing that I do differently for using in my 1893/1897 Winchester and 1898 Marlin is put a light roll crimp on the end of the brass to aid in feeding from the magazine. This is not necessary nor desired on rounds for single or double guns because it simply makes the brass wear out faster. Also, the crimp is not shot out when the shell is fired. The only way to get the crimp back out is to take something tapered, such as a ratchet that is tapered to the right size and use it to swage the crimp back out. If you do have the crimp them- anneal them first as it will make them last much longer.
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Old November 18, 2011, 09:53 PM   #8
Model-P
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Excellent! Well done!
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Old November 19, 2011, 01:52 AM   #9
briandg
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Fascinating. Thanks.

I'm curious. i've seen overshot wads sealed with sodium silicate solution, AKA waterglass a several times. Have you ever heard of that?
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Old November 19, 2011, 06:41 AM   #10
darkgael
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waterglass

Quote:
I'm curious. i've seen overshot wads sealed with sodium silicate solution, AKA waterglass a several times. Have you ever heard of that?
Yes, I used to use waterglass. I have since gone to Duco cement. The problem with waterglass is storage. If you use the shells in fairly short order, there is no issue. If you store them - from one season to another, let's say, the waterglass turns to powder and does not seal.
Duco is the best that I have found.
Also, it is possible to change the pistol primered CBC hulls to 209 primers by drilling out the primer pocket with a "B" drill (IIRC) or 15/64ths. This is best done with a small lathe as it is necessary to cut a recess for the rim of the 209s.
Or.....you can buy lathe turned hulls from Rocky Mt. Cartridge Co. and use standard one piece plastic 12 gauge wads and 209 size primers, BP or smokeless. You still have to seal with an OS card and nail polish of Duco.

Pete
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Old November 19, 2011, 07:34 AM   #11
Andy Griffith
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I like the nail polish- it's free.
Well, it really isn't- considering what the wife costs me...it's the most expensive shooting material available.

Am I the only guy that has used a "shot collar" as a way to cut down on leading and improve patterns? I know most people that use brass hulls typically are "cowboy shooters" and want loads that spread quickly- this is NOT the load for that use- it will shoot like a rifle at ranges less than 20 yards!
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Old November 19, 2011, 09:50 AM   #12
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Excellent post Andy. First time I have read about using grapeseed oil in the cookie recipe. How many grape seeds to I need to squeeze? Were do you find it?
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Old November 19, 2011, 10:08 AM   #13
Andy Griffith
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Grapeseed oil is found in grocery stores (not walmart) next to the olive oil. It is a higher temperature oil than olive oil and doesn't gum up. I stumbled upon it for cooking- it is far better than olive oil for high temperature cooking.
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Old November 19, 2011, 04:41 PM   #14
briandg
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No, I've never heard of anyone using a shot collar. Brilliant, IMO.

Your grease wads? I used to see that done a lot, but nobody ever punched, removed from the punch, and then added to the shell. They always just brought the sheet of lube to the charged case, and pushed it down directly on the charged case. It was always on revolver rounds, of course, so the bullet was put in and forced it down, and it remained on the bullet base. You would have to push it down with your basewad.
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Old November 19, 2011, 04:47 PM   #15
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I cut down plastic hulls and relaod them with bp. I roll crimp and use Elmer's white glue to seal. Works pretty good.
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Old November 21, 2011, 04:07 PM   #16
jolasa
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I make shotshells for my 1858 Remington with a Kirst conversion cylinder - 45 Long Colt.

size the brass
pistol magnum primers
25 grain Swiss FFFg
0.030" cardboard wad over powder
(no lube used at all)
compress powder about 3/16"
150 grains # 7 shot (0.095" pellets) - this is about 120 of the little pellets
0.030" cardboard wad over the shot
compress top wad down about 1/16"
apply Elmer's white glue (or Titebond wood glue) on top of top wad to hold the wad in the cartridge, let dry 24 hours

Fun to shoot!

Pattern of the 120 pellets at 15 yards is about a 30" diameter circle!

I only fire maybe 2-3 per outing to the range, since there is no lube in these and fouling would build up quickly.
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Old March 11, 2014, 07:18 PM   #17
AlaskanGuy
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Teflon sheets

I wonder how the teflon sheets from bpi would work for these???? For the shot collar....

AG
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Old March 13, 2014, 12:57 AM   #18
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Regarding Rocky Mountain Cartridge brass shells (that take normal size wads instead of oversize): I ordered some 20 gauge and they were shipped the next day. Their website speaks of weeks long delay, apparently that is only for special unusual sizes (they do most any caliber you can request).

They also sell handloaders (like the old Lee Loaders) of their own design, they have 2 models for each gauge, each model fits either RMC or Magtech brand brass, but not both).
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Old March 13, 2014, 05:20 AM   #19
darkgael
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good stuff

I had forgotten about this thread and the excellent tutorial photographed and posted by AG. He provides a clear explanation of a subject often found mystifying by shooters.
There are two ideas that I have yet to try: placing a grease cookie atop the powder charge and using the cardboard shot collar. Maybe this weekend since I am reminded by these recent posts
Pete.
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Old March 15, 2014, 08:35 AM   #20
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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There just something about brass verses plastic that just pleases the eye.

Nicely done tutorial Sir. BTW Just a suggestion. Product not often seen these days. Shot column (x) inserts. You may like what the X insert intended purpose does to your shot pattern at closer ranges.
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Old March 15, 2014, 11:36 AM   #21
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Great post! Thanks for sharing! This ought to be made a "sticky".
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Old March 15, 2014, 02:35 PM   #22
Hawg
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Quote:
There just something about brass verses plastic that just pleases the eye.
That's true but plastic only lasts for a couple of reloads with bp before its melted too much to use. I only use them once.
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