View Full Version : candle wax crimp seal?

November 30, 2011, 02:40 AM
My grandfather knew a gunsmith of sorts a while back who told him that a bad crimp on a shotshell could be "fixed up dandy with a little drop of melted candle wax".:confused: before I go modifying my ammunition I figure I better see what you fine people have to say about that. See, I recently bought some federal 3" 00 copper plated buckshot, and the freggin' things are leaking that white packing stuff out of what I would call the worst crimping job I have ever seen in my life! I figured that whole candle wax deal sounded like a nice solution... what do you guys think? I have heard things like "dramatically increased muzzle pressure" and "catastrophic failure" which can make a guy think twice!:eek: please let me know what you all think! any valid input is appreciated and thanks in advance:)

November 30, 2011, 03:19 AM
PS... Is that packing stuff inside the shell (small, white, grain of sand sized pieces of unknown material, possibly plastic) of any real critical importance? Because quite a bit of it came out of several shells, almost more than I thought would be possible to put in there in the first place... definately one of several reasons I will not purchase more, but is it another reason I should be weary of firing??? please respond and again, all valid inputs are greatly appreciated!

November 30, 2011, 03:23 AM
Can't help you with the candle wax business, sorry. But I do suggest taking pictures and contacting Federal. The shells shouldn't be leaking anything. They may send you a coupon for replacements.

November 30, 2011, 03:23 AM
Using candle wax to seal crimps dates back to the days of waxed paper shot shell hulls. Many reloaders have used wax from time to time, but you shouldn't have to use it with factory loads. If your factory shells are bleeding buffering, contact Federal -- you're due a replacement.

November 30, 2011, 05:03 AM
Federal copperplated buck with the flitecontrol is the best buckshot I've ever touched. I'd say send it back to federal. The plastic that is leaking is buffer material.

November 30, 2011, 08:58 AM
Federal copperplated buck with the flitecontrol is the best buckshot I've ever touched

He's right about that Federal buckshot with the flitecontrol wad. Excellent ammo. I also agree that nothing should be "leaking" from factory ammo. You're due a replacement.

But, I've been using candle wax on my reloads for years. Decades. I started doing that when I began reloading shot shells back in the mid '70s on the advice of a long time reloader. I don't know if it's common practice, but I know that I've been doing it as long as I've been stuffing shells.

November 30, 2011, 09:05 AM
As stated, no the buffering should not be leaking; using a drop or two to seal it isn't going to cause catastrophic failure - I have used it many times on 28 gauge hulls that didn't crimp quite perfect - and they run at higher pressures than 12 gauge - but I agree with the others - if this is new ammo, take pics and contact Federal

November 30, 2011, 09:23 AM
Anytime dad had old papershells show up at the house, he would "re-seal" the crimp with fresh wax. Anytime shells had a less than stellar crimp, he would dob a little wax on them too... And he didn't re-load at all...


November 30, 2011, 12:04 PM
I agree - a little dab of candle wax is "old school" ...and I'm not saying I didn't do it once in a while 40 yrs ago ....but not these days !!

I loaded 30 boxes of 12 ga shells last nite ( and I don't even box em up ) --I put them into quart sized zip lock bags ( 30 per bag - to give me a few extra) ...and then put 10 of the bags into a big rubbermaid plastic bin for storage and transport to the range ......( and I'm not about to start putting drops on candle wax on 900 shells.....when the hulls won't crimp / dump em !

If they come off the press ...and leak / mark them with a pen on the base ...and shoot them for practice ...and dump them.

( I've even used a couple of strips of scotch tape - to hold a crimp together / when I had to ...but never as a routine).

November 30, 2011, 12:11 PM
When you say "recently bought" .....are these new shells - manufactured in the last yr or less from a retailer....or is this a "gun show" find - where you bought a box from someone ...where the shells might be 40 yrs old ....??

I've never seen a factory shell crimp come apart ....even on a box of really old shells...

November 30, 2011, 01:42 PM
Big Jim, some of today's shells are heat welded at the center of the crimp to keep it closed. This small dot weld can easily fail. The last ones I saw were 6-segment crimps -- the loads I typically use aren't welded and have an 8-segment crimp -- I suspect yours are similar.

November 30, 2011, 01:56 PM
Yes, zippy you're right ...and I don't buy any new shells anymore to speak of ...so I don't know if the OP's issues are common or not ...on that type of shells ??

November 30, 2011, 02:49 PM
Hmm, scented candle wax. Can we make the modern plastic shells smell as good as the old paper ones?

And no more mistaking a 20 ga. shell for a 12. "That's not a 12 ga. shell, they're strawberry and that one is vanilla scented."

November 30, 2011, 03:40 PM
I use vanilla for 28 gauge and pineapple-mango for 20 - leaves a nice scent in the vest pocket!

November 30, 2011, 08:37 PM
Thank you all very much for the advice! I think I will call federal, and I will probably still mend these ones with wax assuming I get to keep them, and in answer to a question yes, they were brand new shells from walmart made very recently. and I am assuming there is no issue with a lack of the white buffering? If that is the case then why do they even put it in there in the first place???

November 30, 2011, 08:43 PM
The buffering fills the voids in the hull created by the large shot - it supposedly helps to keep a better pattern

November 30, 2011, 09:01 PM
I always wonder why I can never see the buffering after the shot, kinda like snow:D I assume it just evaporates.

David Wile
December 1, 2011, 10:39 PM
Hey folks,

Big Jim mentioned using wax on a crimp mouth is "old school" reloading. I agree with his statement if we are talking about reloading modern shells with plain shot. If we are talking about reloading modern shells that also use buffer material, then I would submit that "old school" wax sealing is still a practical idea.

Like Big Jim, I have no need to use sealing wax for the vast majority of my reloading which is simply #8 shot in 12, 16, and 20 Guages. With these shells, the crimps work just fine as they come off the press.

Every so often, however, I do load #1 buckshot in 12 and 16 Gauge. When loading buckshot, I use a MEC Sizemaster single stage press instead of my progressive, and I pretty much batch load them by operation like I would do with metallic shells on a single stage press. Once the batch of shells is sized, re-primed, charged, and stuffed with a wad, I then hand stack the buckshot in the case and load a weighed amount of buffering in each shell before closing the crimp and finishing the crimp in the sizer/crimp station.

The crimps on my regular shotshells work quite well and do not leak shot. When doing buckshot and using buffering, however, the crimps are not good enough to keep the buffering from leaking out of the shell. For these buffered shells, I find the "old school" use of melted wax to work real well.

After "finishing" a batch of buffered rounds, I light a candle and drip perhaps up to ten drops of wax on the case mouth crimps of three or four shells, put the candle down, and then place each of the three or four shells in the final crimping station again and seal them again. If you time this right, the wax will be soft enough to spread out over the whole crimp and yet not stick to the crimping plug.

The wax really seals the crimp and stops any buffer leak. It has no discernable effect on the performance of the load, and I do not see how it can have any significant effect on load pressure. Does it take a lot of time to load shells with buffered hand stacked buckshot sealed with wax? You better believe it. But then again, how many of these loads do you really need to make in a year?

So for my use in making buckshot loads, the "old school" use of wax sealing is still a good idea to me. Thankfully, the majority of my shooting does not require wax sealing, and for those loads it is "old school" for me, too.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Superhouse 15
December 4, 2011, 10:17 AM
Federal uses a clear liquid seal on their new loads, Winchester is the one that comes to mind that uses a heat weld to melt the crimp closed. I have seen one issue with the clear liquid, and I assume it would be possible with wax also. If some leaks into the payload, it can make a lump of sealer and buffer (some part of my muddled brain thinks its called "Grex"?). That lump of congealed buffer on the side makes the pellet very un-round and thus un-aerodynamic and the pattern will show it. The pellet or pellets with the tumor will leave the pattern in a wild direction.

Just about all of my shotgun ammo is Federal Flite Control now, or Tru Ball slugs. I have never had an issue with their customer service. I can think of two problems I had with Federal ammo, one with .22 shotshells and another with a box of .223 AE ammo and I always got more as a replacement for free.

David Wile
December 4, 2011, 02:04 PM
Hey Superhouse,

You do not have to worry about wax leaking into the shot and buffer load. At the temperature of the melted wax from a candle flame, it simply will not be hot enough to flow anywhere but on the top of the crimp which has already been closed. The wax quickly cools, and it must be re-punched with the final die while it is still soft. The end product is a neat shotshell with a thin layer of wax that hardens and keeps the buffer material in the shell. If that does not make sense to you, try it yourself and I am sure you will find what I have said it correct.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

December 4, 2011, 04:21 PM
I had the same leaking problem with some Federal buck loads. I tried the candle wax and found that it won't stick to the plastic hulls very well and then the wax starts breaking off and going into the action. I finally broke down and bought some Winchester shells that don't leak buffering particles. The crimp on the Winchester shells is much better. I have always been a fan of Federal ammo but not their shotshells anymore. I do think the wax would have worked on paper shells.

December 4, 2011, 09:46 PM

December 7, 2011, 03:48 PM
Well, that's great if you need some #8 loads. What if you need buck?

David Wile
December 7, 2011, 08:10 PM
Hey Drail,

If I missed something here, please forgive me, but I did not find anything that indicated whether you reloaded shotshells or not. It also seemed to me that you are mainly interested in buckshot loads.

If you do not reload shotshells, and you have problems with buffer leaking out of factory loads, I would think the manufacturer should be making buckshot that is sealed perfectly. I haven't bought any for nearly 40 years, but the last ones I bought (Remington 20 guage) are still factory sealed with the crimp petals melted together. They are still in like new condition, and I would not hesitate to use them. I never had any need to seal them.

If you are able to load your own shells, I can give you an idea of how I build mine. For 12 guage 2 3/4 shells, I use Remington STS hulls with 16 #1 buck balls. The #1 buck shot are not quite as big as 00 buck, but there is not that much difference. I use 34 grains of Blue Dot under an old Alcan wad stuffed with 100 pounds of wad pressure. The old Alcan wad has a plastic base to seal the powder, and a fiber pad on top that is about 1/4 inch thick - it has no petals. I then stack the 16 #1 buck two per layer, with each layer turned 90 degrees from the layer below. I find this loading brings the 16 buck shot right up to the top for an excellent crimp. I then put 17 grains of plastic buffering material in the hull. When adding the 17 grains of buffering, I let the hull vibrate a bit against an electric powder trickler as I pour the buffering in. When the shell is built in this manner, all 17 grains will flow in and around all the voids in the buck shot, and it will come all the way to the top of the balls. I then do the half crimp stage and then the final crimp stage. At this point, at least 95% of my buck shot shells are perfectly formed, and I then seal them with candle wax. I drip enough wax to cover the crimp a little over 1/16 inch thick (perhaps 10 to 12 drops, and I do this for perhaps a half dozen shells at a time. Then I take those six shells and run them up the final crimp stage a second time to form the soft wax tightly into the crimp folds. The wax does not stick to the crimp die, and it is a rare wax seal that cracks later - even after sitting for years at a time.

I have tested these loads at 25 yards with my Winchester shotgun rated at a full choke, and the spread in that gun is about 18 inches. When I tested the same load in my Mossberg 20 inch cylinder bore shotgun, the spread was closer to 28 inches.

That may not be what you wanted to know. If so, I again beg your pardon. If it is useful, it is my pleasure.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile