View Full Version : What does everything mean on a box of shotgun shells?

March 5, 2009, 05:50 PM
Pretty straightforward, I know what the shot size means and I think I know what everything else means. But just to be clear, can ya'll inform me thoroughly? haha. Thanks a bunch.

March 5, 2009, 05:53 PM
Gauge, shell legnth, weight of the shot, size of the shot.

Most of the time in that order.

March 5, 2009, 06:48 PM
doesn't it also list how many ounces of powder?

what does DRAM mean?

March 5, 2009, 06:57 PM
Dram is a measure of powder / a term held over from black powder - so you'll see a notation of something like "3 Dram Equivalent" - which you can interpret roughly to a velocity. A 3 Dram Equivalent is roughly 1200 fps.

Some boxes will also list the velocity of the loads in fps. Some will just say Light Target loads, etc - so you kind of have to use an average evaluation when you see terms like Light Target Load, Heavy Target Load, etc.

Don't mix up "Dram Equivalent" and the "length of the shell" - at first glance it's sometimes easy to do. You can shoot a 2 3/4" long shell or a 3" long shell in a gun chambered for 3" - but you cannot shoot a 3" shell in a gun chambered for 2 3/4" shells - and your barrel should be marked for the length of the chamber.

A box will not tell you the type or how many grains of powder are specifically in the shells.

March 5, 2009, 07:54 PM
Jim is correct there is no direct equalivilant from "grains" to "Drams". Dram is definately a hold-over from the days when shell were loaded with black powder.

The Box usually tells you:

Feet per second
Shot Size
Chilled or Magnum shot (chilled shot is softer than magnum shot, size is equal)
Shot charge (3/4, 7/8, 1, 1-1/4 ounce etc...)
Dram (worthless measurement in modern shells)
Shell length
Lot number

As a side not there are 7000 grains in one US pound. A typical "target" shell can range form 17 - 21 +/- grains depending on the powder, wad, and shot charge.

Reloading a black powder muzzly loader shotgun is done volumetrically. For example if you are loading a one ounce shot charge you need to know how much area that takes, and the same volume not weight of powder. Basically if one ounce of shot fill a shot glass level to the rim, you would also need one full shot glass of powder. Same volume, not the same weight.

March 5, 2009, 08:05 PM
+1 to ActivShootr, BigJimP & perazzimx14

The reason factory shell boxes don't list the amount of powder is because it's not constant. Unlike powder for the reloading market, each batch of commercial powder is different. The factory loader adjusts the amount of powder for each run to give the same 'power' (expressed in Dram Eq.) from batch to batch.
If you shoot a lot of the same load and brand of factory shells keep an eye on the depth of crimp. From time to time you'll notice that some shells have a deep crimp while others may be nearly flush. The size of the hull, shot volume and wad are unchanged. It's differences in powder volume that requires factory adjustments in the crimp depth.

March 6, 2009, 01:47 AM
Actually Dram Equialiviant is a conversion of whatever smokeless powder you are shooting to what it would be in black powder. If it is a 3 dram load then whatever powder in the shell is equal to 3 drams of blackpowder. It does not relate to the speed of the shot in that a 3 dram load in a two ounce load will be a lot slower than say in a 7/8 ounce load with a 3 dram load. If you have between 18 and 19 grains of Clays behind an ounce and an eighth of shot that should equal a 3 dram load. (Do not hold me to this because I am pulling this number off the top of my head but I believe it to be close.) So at this point you can say that 18.5 grains of Clays equals 3 drams of black powder. What makes this totally worthless is the fact that blackpowder varies so much that the Dram was a pretty much worthless standard to start with.

March 6, 2009, 01:53 AM
I know what the shot size means

Shot Size Table (http://www.hallowellco.com/shot_size_chart.htm)

March 6, 2009, 02:24 AM
1 ounce = 16 drams = 437.5 grains.
1 dram = 27.34375 grains = 1.772 grams.
1 gram = 15.432 grains = 0.564 drams.

.45 COLT
March 6, 2009, 08:43 AM
12 Gauge DE chart. A lot of these velocities will never be seen in the real world, they're just here to fill in space. :D

Sorry about the size, I never intended for this to be posted in a forum.



March 7, 2009, 09:51 PM
So far, we've all forgotten to mention one the most important bits of information on a box of shells -- these days it's more important than ever. Of course, I'm talking about that little sticker known as the price tag. :eek:

March 8, 2009, 01:53 AM
Several years ago I bought out an estate of about 3/4 of a 55 gallon barrel of 410 hulls. I have not bought any for quite sometime. Today I was in Cabelas and truly got sticker shot.