View Full Version : Theoretical question re: brass shotshells

June 20, 2010, 01:41 AM
The following problem hasn't happened to me yet , and may never happen, but I'd like to know what to do if it ever does:

I've recently started handloading lathed brass shotshells with Triple 7 powder, which is a black powder substitute. I'm using Winchester 209 primers which seem to be perfectly reliable, but nothing is perfect. If I ever drop the hammer on one of those primers and it indents, but doesn't fire, or does fire but for whatever reason doesn't ignite the powder in the shotshell, whats the procedure I should follow from there?

A paper shell or plastic shell with smokeless powder, wouldn't be a problem. I'd just throw the thing into a ditch or something. But I'm not tossing away a $6.50 brass shotshell, and I can't cut into the brass hull to remove the components. And oh yes, did I mention I'm talking about black powder here? -(Actually its Triple 7, a slightly more powerful blackpowder substitute.)

I'm sure I could get the overshot card out ok and pour the shot out, but the prelubed fiber wads are tamped in and packed so tightly that they would be difficult to remove. I could probably get them out with a corkscrew or some sort of hook. Getting the nitro card and powder out might be more difficult.

I'm not sure that it would be safe to do any of this stuff. Is there any danger of a primer that didn't go off initially later firing in some sort of delayed reaction?

James K
June 20, 2010, 02:25 PM
There is an old saying, "Don't jump before you're bit." You seem to be worrying a lot about something that seems to me unlikely to happen.

Still, there is such a thing as a ball screw, used by the front stuffer folks to remove a ball from a muzzle loader. It attaches to a ram-rod or cleaning rod and sounds like what you would need. Or you can just buy a long lag bolt or 4" screw at the hardware store. Either way, you screw it into the over-powder wad and pull.

I don't see any great danger in using either, but if it is of that much concern, why not buy empty paper/plastic shells and load them so the cost per shell is not as great.


June 20, 2010, 04:08 PM
Hi Jim. Thanks for the reply. The 4" screw would indeed seem to be a good way to extract the nitro card. That would effectively end this theoretical problem because then the powder could be poured out, and whatever residue from the powder and lube was left could be washed out, and then the primer could be punched out.

Don't much like your old saying. It flies in the face of the motto I learned way back when I was a Boy Scout: BE PREPARED.

The average cost per shell isn't an issue. I've already plunked down my $65 for 10 of them. The idea when I bought them was to have a little bit of relatively cheap fun. They've certainly been all that. Fun to shoot, fun to handload, fun to talk about. Since I only have 10 of them, there's been no need for a lot of mechanized equipment. After experimenting enough to learn how much fiber wadding I should use, I got it down to a science, and have found I can load all 10 shells entirely by hand inside 30 minutes, without rushing.

Again, thanks for your help Jim. I respect your advice. DG

James K
June 20, 2010, 08:11 PM
Different philosophy. I prepare for reasonably expected problems, but don't lie awake nights thinking of every possible contingency. ;)


June 25, 2010, 07:25 PM
We will never know who said "don't jump before you're bit." cause the rattler got them. lol That has to be one of the dumbest sayings I have ever heard. No offence intended since the poster is only repeating it.

June 26, 2010, 12:15 AM
I reload brass shells with 00 for my war2 trench guns. I use smokeless and okay, okay, they are more like trap loads in recoil than the real deal.

Anyone who has not heard the 'CHING!' that a brass hull makes when you eject it out of a pump is missing out on something. It is labor intensive to load them, but the cool factor is worth it.

I have had to pull some down. I just dig out the components. I have never heard of a struck primer going off much later. Just wear eye protection when you deprime.


June 27, 2010, 11:09 PM
Thanks to all who've replied. Yeah, I too prefer the "be prepared" motto to that one.

I'll bet shooting that trench pump gun with your brass shells is a hoot. I don't have a pump gun myself unfortunately. I used to have a Winchester Ranger "combo" pump gun (with two barrels) but gave it to my oldest son about 23-25 years ago when he left for grad school out west. I think he's still got it but he lives a long way away now and I don't get to see him much.

Besides my old single barrel 12 ga. "fun gun", the only shotgun I've got left is an old reliable Remington Model 11 12 Gauge autoloader. I take especially good care of it, and really don't plan to shoot my brass shells in it, (because I've heard there's danger of knocking the shell components loose, and getting them into the magazine and chamber). Anyone who's got a Model 11 knows they kick like a mule, and that if anything will loosen those components up, it will. But, if I ever did load it up with brass shells, I'll bet they'd make a heck of a racket being ejected from the gun and landing on the concrete floor of the outdoor range where I sometime shoot. I may have to try it sometime.

James K
June 28, 2010, 07:24 PM
People who won't do anything until they have prepared for every possible contingency never do anything.


June 28, 2010, 09:49 PM
Jim I agree that you can't forsee every eventuality and you can't live life - or can't live it very well - if you're tied up in knots trying to anticipate everything in the world that may happen.

But with all due respect, I don't believe that anticipating an eventual misfire and learning how to deal with it comes under that heading. Using expensive brass shotshells does complicate dealing with a misfire, because you can't cut into the hulls and they're too expensive to just toss, so I'm glad I asked the question about it and got some answers on it, including yours which was very helpful, and for that, thanks again.

I'd been shooting off a few of these things daily before I asked the question, and I've continued to do so after I got the answers, so it wasn't like I was incapacitated into inaction over this. Obviously I could have just waited until the event happened - and of course, it may never happen - but if it did, then I could have just tossed my expensive $6.50 brass shell in the river somewhere, then I could have gone on the forum and asked my question without anyone saying I was jumping before I was bit. But why lose $6.50 when somebody could probably tell me how to avoid it? What's the forum for if its not to learn the answer to legitimate questions so you don't have to learn those answers through expensive experience?