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Old February 17, 2013, 07:30 PM   #1
Super Sneaky Steve
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Shotshell reloading basics question

Hey guys. I've been realoading metallic cases for a while now, but I've never giving shot shells much thought till now.

I'm looking to buy a Lee Load All 2 to get started, but I have some questions about how to load these things.

First, how do I know what kind of shell I have?

I bought some Winchester White Box 2 3/4" shells, Looking on Hodgdon's site they have data for Winchester Compression Formed AA & HS Type Plastic Shells and Winchester Polyformed Plastic Game Shells.

Which is which?

And from what I'm getting from youtube, the exact weight isn't important and the machine will throw the right amount? Seems weird to me.
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Old February 17, 2013, 07:51 PM   #2
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Ok here we go, and I am sure you have seen thins a thousand time, get yourself a manual. Not being condescending as I sound, the specific manual you want is the Lyman Shotshell handbook. It has detailed reciies as well as cross sectioned pics of most every hull you ill come across and some you won't. It is about he best you can have.

Also this is one area of reloading that you follow the list of ingredients to the T, use what is put there and DO NOT DEVIATE from it. Shot shells can go form mild to wild in a nano second if your using he wrong stuff in the wrong type case. It sounds horrendous but the Lyman book spells it all ut for you in GREAT detail.

As for the powder and shot dispensing, say your using a Pacific XXX press, your loading a Win AA 1 1/4oz Heavy Field load. It will have that at the top of the page for the Win AA Compression formed hull. Below that it will list loads ranging in fps or CUP depending on how you want to go about it. It reads like a recipe book with line after line of loads. You pick the one you want, then you use a shot and powder bushing in a charge bar which will drop the appropriate amount of each for the specific load you choose. It will also list on that line the wad, or shot cup and what ever else is needed to assemble the shell, along with the crimp pressure and all.

Sounds like a lot to take in, but I was loading my own 12ga ammo when I was 12yrs old and using it for hunting, trap and skeet. IT is more reading than anything and then deciding on what you have the most of and what you want to load it to or with. You will also find out that the brass height isn't really a decider in how the shell is loaded. You can load 7/8oz trap loads and 1 1/2oz heavy field loads in the same type cases but you have to use the appropriate recipe.

Pick you up that Lyman Manual and you will be in good shape in no time. Also don't get caught up in having to have the latest greatest press to use either. I used a Pacific 105 I think, and still have it. I just can't read the label on it anymore. LOL It has loaded a double buttload of shells from mild to wild and I haven't had any issues what so ever that I didn't induce. Just watch the necks on the shot bottles for stress. IF you see it turning white anywhere in that area swap it out with a new one. Trust me when I say, you ain't cleaned up anything til you clean up 3-4 pounds of #9 shot spilled out across a nice hardwood floor. You don't even want to get out of the chair. LOL

Good luck, and be safe. IT is a hoot to load and shoot them as well.
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Old February 17, 2013, 08:21 PM   #3
Super Sneaky Steve
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Thanks Mike, good stuff. So from your post I guess I have to cut a shell in half and compare it to the chart to know what I have?

Would it also be true that 1 1/8oz of shot would be treated the same regardless of size?
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Old February 18, 2013, 08:30 AM   #4
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Mike's not kidding about spilled shot being a SOB to clean up.

Back when I loaded shotshells on a MEC I had just filled the shot reservoir. To fill it you tilt both shot and powder bottles back so they are neck up, unscrew the bottle, fill it and replace, then stand them back up.

Upon standing them back up the shot bottle snapped at the neck and gravity did what it does best. When the full shot bottle hit the concrete floor, it broke open in a spectacular manner and spread the shot in a fairly even pattern covering almost the entire floor.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:19 AM   #5
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My personal experience has been that most of the bargain type shells (winchester white box, federal game loads) are more difficult to reload than the premium hulls. If you are are going to reload a lot, it would be better to start with Remington STS hulls or Winchester AA hulls. These both have brass heads instead of the cheaper steel ones. One exception is the Remington Gun club hull. It loads exactly like the STS, although it can be more difficult to prime depending on the primer you use.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:23 AM   #6
Mike / Tx
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Quote:
Thanks Mike, good stuff. So from your post I guess I have to cut a shell in half and compare it to the chart to know what I have?Nope you don't have to cut anything down. It will have a representation of each brand and each of the most popular hulls of that brand so all you need to do is compare say a Fed Upland Game shell to the one in the book. They will either be paper based, compression formed or there is one other one that I can't think of. For the most part stick with the compression formed hulls for longer use.

Would it also be true that 1 1/8oz of shot would be treated the same regardless of size? Yes, the shot bushings will only alloy a cetain amount of shot to fall into them. If your using #4 or #9 the same bushing will apply.
Which powder charge and shot weights will be listed in a chart produced by the press manufacturer. You simply look on the chart for the powder type and the weight of shot, and use the properly listed ones for that particular load.

What I did was pick out two loads one light and one heavy and then cross referenced the most powders listed for the fewest bushings which would allow me to load either with a couple of different powders.

Once you get your hands on a shot shell manual, you will see what I am talking about, and it will be MUCH easier to understand.
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Old February 18, 2013, 10:42 AM   #7
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Yes 1 1/8 of shot is just weight no matter the shot size.

Cutting open a factory shell will give you some information on the wad used and shot weight. But that is about it. Powder in factory shells is a blend that is not sold to the public. It may look like something we load with like Green Dot, or WST but it is mixed by the batch (think bulk railroad car) and weighed out by burn rate. So anything you find as far as powder in a factory shell will not apply to anything you can buy.

If you are starting out and want some light 12ga 1145fps loads for clay shooting the Remington STS hulls are easy loading and can be used several times. The WWB you have are not optimal to reload as they definitely have a steel head and likely have a paper base wad.

You will find Hodgdon Clays (not Universal Clays, or International Clays) is very versatile and works with a variety of primer, wad, and shot weight combinations. Again get the Lyman manual, and a powder scale. I would also look for a local reloader buddy to help you get started.

This is one of my favorite 12 ga. Remington STS Clays loads:

Lead Shot 1 1/8 oz. Clays Powder Win. 209 Primer WAA12 Wad 17.3 Powder Charge Wt. 9,700 PSI 1145 FPS
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Old February 18, 2013, 12:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Would it also be true that 1 1/8oz of shot would be treated the same regardless of size?
Yes. BUT the bigger the shot, the lighter the load will be. WHY? Because the bigger shot has more empty space around the shot.

Hornady shot bushings are regulated by shot size. If you're loading skeet, or trap loads, and are using 7-½ shot, you want to actually have 1-1/8 ounce. Less than that means fewer pellets per load. Most loaders, Mec included have a standard size shot chamber built into the bar that measures shot and powder. It's a compromise size, if it's a 1-1/8 bar, it should dump #8 shot right at 1-1/8 ounces.

BEFORE you buy components, ANY components, get the Lyman handbook. Then, decide on what you want to do with the reloaded shells. If you simply want target shells, then look for a load in the handbook for the empty hulls you have. Look in the front of the Lyman book to identify the hull.

Now go to the gunshop, buy the exact stuff listed in the recipe. Powder, primer, wad, and shot. A word about shot. The cheap stuff, called "chilled" shot is quite soft. The better stuff is called "magnum" shot, it has a percentage of antimony in it that makes it harder. Harder shopt patterns better, and deforms less on game or when hitting clays. Magnum shot is wahts in the premium shells like the STS, federal gold medal, and AA factory loads.

Buy a case of Remington STS shells, you get to shoot some of the best shotgun ammo ever made, THEN you get to reload those excellent empty hulls for a very long time!

I will second Mike's very good advice, and amplify it. Shotshell loading is NOT at all like loading metallic. You do NOT "work up a load". You load exactly whats in the book. Pressures inside a 12 gauge shell,(2-¾") are maxed out a 10,500 LUP,(lead units of pressure). Change ONE thing, the pressure can go WAY up, enough to destroy your shotty, and hurt you. On the other hand, the load can also go PHFFT called a squib by some.
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Old February 18, 2013, 08:20 PM   #9
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Universals are some of the worst hulls to reload. In 12 gauge, Win AA, or ANY of the Remingtons - from the black to the STS will all take the same recipes.

Skip the lee and find a used MEC 600 on Craigs list for about the same price - a MUCH better machine and it has the ability to be adjusted - something the Lee does not.

Both Alliant and Hodgdon have recipes. Depending on your usage, you might want to look at loading 1 oz or even 7/8 to save on the cost of shot. You will need a scale because while the bushings and charts give a close enough idea, they are usually NOT accurate. Certain components can be subbed for one another - such as the clone wads from DownRange, ClayBuster, etc. for the Remington, Federal or Winchester. Certain primers can also be subbed, but seeing as you are new, follow the published ones for that.

There are no working up of loads or looking for signs of pressure - if you have too much pressure with your loads, you will know by the loss of fingers or eyes..................
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Old February 18, 2013, 11:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Yes. BUT the bigger the shot, the lighter the load will be. WHY? Because the bigger shot has more empty space around the shot.
SORRY But I disagree!
1 1/8 oz is 1 1/8 oz. Kinda like what weighs more a lb of flour or a lb of feathers.
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Old February 19, 2013, 06:40 PM   #11
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On every reloading press I have ever seen shot is measured by volume not weight, and a larger shot size will weigh less than a smaller size in a given space.
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Old February 19, 2013, 06:56 PM   #12
Nathan
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Some great basics here.

The Lyman #5 manual has lots of loads, good data about what you are putting together and why, and a good shell comparison section.

The basics to shell comparison are: what is the brand? What, if any basewad? Is the hull possibly some promo oddball?

The Lee Load All is fine. Mine is pretty trouble free. With 2.75", it is pretty forgiving, but 3" takes way more feel. To make the best shells you can, the lee crumpet needs some dry lube and you need to really develop the feel for it.

I'm not sure if MEC has a better crimp aligner as I only use the Lee.

As an aside....cost savings will mostly be achieved through hunting, buckshot and slug loads. Walmart has Win or Fed target for $25/100. Hard to beat by much.

Last, it might be worth buying 1000 STS or AA's to get off on the right foot.

Also, pick up any 25 rnd cardboard boxes you see!
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Old February 19, 2013, 07:03 PM   #13
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Old February 20, 2013, 03:56 PM   #14
BigD_in_FL
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Quote:
As an aside....cost savings will mostly be achieved through hunting, buckshot and slug loads. Walmart has Win or Fed target for $25/100. Hard to beat by much.
Target loads can be loaded for as low as $3.50 per box, compared to almost $7 (with tax) at Walmart - shooting a few boxes a week pays for a MEC in no time

Quote:
On every reloading press I have ever seen shot is measured by volume not weight, and a larger shot size will weigh less than a smaller size in a given space.
That would depend - it becomes true when you get to truly large shot - as in the buck shot size. However, going from #9 for skeet to 7.5 for sporting to 6 for chukar or 4 for pheasant, the differences, if any, are negligible. Shot drops are never exact anyway, and it only takes a few pellets to change the loading - one reason i like to use a Universal Charge Bar, as I can dial it in exactly to powder and shot drop quantities.

Quote:
The Lee Load All is fine. Mine is pretty trouble free. With 2.75", it is pretty forgiving, but 3" takes way more feel. To make the best shells you can, the lee crumpet needs some dry lube and you need to really develop the feel for it.

I'm not sure if MEC has a better crimp aligner as I only use the Lee.
Much better precrimp starter as it rotates to align with the skives in the petals. Nathan, you should really try even a MEC Jr. - Once you see how much better the machine is made and the quality of the product it turns out, you'll understand why they are the number one reloader for shotshells in a price range everyone can afford
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