View Full Version : Shotgun shell question

January 23, 2001, 08:36 PM
What were shotgun shells made of way back when before they invented plastic?

January 23, 2001, 09:13 PM
What were they made of, why paper of course.

Federal still makes paper shells for diehard Trapshooters who believe they give better patterns. they smell nice too!

BTW the paper shells did not have plastic shotcups, the shot was forced to go down the barrel without protection. The wads were felt and paper, like the wads in the cheap Winchester promo loads sold in discount stores.

Ah the good old days:) with an 870 with ribless barrel with fixed choke and paper shells.

Geoff Ross

January 23, 2001, 10:14 PM
Let us not forget the brass cases. super easy to reload with the kit in your pocket. Reload in the evening what you shot during the day.

Happiness is a day full of ducks, a model 21 and a couple pockets full of brass.

Sam....I am NOT old, just vintage.

Al Thompson
January 23, 2001, 10:28 PM
I still remember the paper hulls, brass was before my time. I had not thought of the smell of paper shells in many years. Many a Saturday was spent with my Dad shooting doves.



January 23, 2001, 11:10 PM
You do look a little funny smelling those hulls but it's worth it.

Mike Irwin
January 24, 2001, 12:41 AM
Well, lots of things have been tried, and used...

Brass was EXTREMELY common. Alcan still made brass shells up until a few years ago, and you can still get brass (and reloading gear) from a couple of sources, including Old Western Scrounger and Dixie.

Brass could be found in a couple of different compositions, both solid brass (as in a cartridge) or in a combination of a brass foil/paper sandwich that was wrapped and with the head riveted on to either an iron or a brass base. The primer cup actually served as the rivet.

Another early material was drawn copper.

Probably the most common material used up until post WW II was waxed paper. I've still got several boxes that my father bought years and years ago.

Aluminum was tried just after WW II, but wasn't very successful, and was never really introduced commercially. The US Air Force used aluminum-hulled .410s for their survival guns.

There were also a number of experiments with celluoids, bakelite (an early plastic), phenolic resins, rubber, and even collidon, but these were less than successful.

January 24, 2001, 09:17 AM
That's what I love about TFL. No matter what question you have, SOMEbody usually has an answer!

Mike Irwin
January 24, 2001, 11:44 AM

I forgot one metal that was used in a limited fashion for at least a time....

Mild steel. It was tried, found to be unsatisfactory, and dumped.