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Seemingly Dangerous - Swapping in slugs or 00 for birdshot

Discussion in 'Reloading Ammunition' started by James Fischer, Feb 14, 2022.

  1. James Fischer

    James Fischer .22LR

    I've been reading the various reloading guides to learn about reloading for 12 gauge, something I've ever bothered with before. The fits and starts in ammo supply is bothersome, so even if it ends up costing more, reloading seems a good way to at least keep shells on hand for regular range and skeet practice.

    But - the Youtube videos seem to be hazards to navigation. For example:

    If I take a brand-new 2 1/2" long 12 gauge shell with 1 1/8" oz of birdshot, and remove the birdshot, replacing it with a 1oz slug, or even with 12 (1.09 oz) or 13 (1.18 oz) pellets of #1 buckshot, I now have the wrong amount of powder, as the payload is now different. I could understand putting in different size pellets if I could keep the weight the same, but I'd want to keep it very close to the same (1.125 oz) pellet weight.

    But how much room for error is there, here? Is 1.18 oz "close enough" to 1.125 oz for the thick-barreled Mossberg shotguns? 5% may not seem like much, but when I see so many very specific "recipes", I tend to think that there is more than the simple mass of the pellets to consider here.

    It is true that shells with birdshot are more readily available than the larger sizes, but I hesitate to think that this kind of "reloading" to do things like "cut down 2.5-inch shells to 1.75-inch 'minishells' with different payloads would be advisable, and it would be better to only reload spent shells, using a recipe requiring powder that one may simply have to wait months to get.
  2. nitesite

    nitesite Average Guy Moderator "Philanthropist"

    Please do not over-think it. It isn't that hard.
  3. Scoop

    Scoop .30-06

    I think your changes are on the SAFE side. Going down in weight probably will not cause problems with over pressure.
    If your projectile weight gets significantly HIGHER, then you might have a problem with increased pressure and longer dwell times.

    My knowledge in this field is more centered on External Ballistics rather than the Internal Ballistics which you are addresssing.

    So you are doing the right thing by asking experts.

    My dad was a reloader and he was a religious record-keeper. All his batches were logged and new combos were tested and documented.
    Find someone who has the same dedication to the art and science.
  4. CaddmannQ

    CaddmannQ .50 BMG Supporter

    I am not that experienced or dedicated, but I have shot all kinds of my own experimental loads out of my Mossberg 500, and I can tell you that it’s gonna be pretty hard to kill that gun if you’re just doodling around with plus or minus 1/8 of an ounce and you’re not changing powder charges.

    Of course performance of the various combinations can be all over the map if you’re doing what I do, but if you use common sense you’re not gonna damage the gun.
    nitesite likes this.
  5. old mossy

    old mossy Global Moderator Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

  6. John A.

    John A. Unconstitutional laws are not laws. Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator

    If you're referring to the topic above that old mossy linked to, if you noticed, I didn't go over the starting weight of the payload to begin with. The shells were loaded with 1-1/8 oz of birdshot. And I used a 1 ounce slug. So, I actually decreased the pressures that the shell was loaded for to begin with because the 1 oz slug was lighter.

    In that case, the pressure actually DROPS below what it would be for the original factory shell. And velocity would actually increase (ever so slightly) due to not having to push as much weight out of the barrel.

    It's when you increase the payload weight where pressures increase and velocity decreases if nothing else changes (wads, etc).

    In terms of pressure, the powder or the shell or the barrel doesn't know the difference between birdshot or slugs or buckshot. All it knows is the weight and the pressure it takes to push it down the bore.

    General rule of thumb, if you are going to start swapping payloads in the method detailed above, swap with something a little lighter than what you started with.

    Now, if you're talking about legitimately reloading your own shells, powder, wads, shot cards, the whole 9 yards, there are various recipes that you will need to stick pretty closely too. And swapping out components and powders, or even primer brands, can change the pressures enough to be dangerous.

    There are generally starting and max loads as a reference.

    I could write a small book about reloading shells using load data so I'm not going to get into all of that at the moment until I can find out what you're wanting to do. But most powder manufacturers will have some load data on their websites that go into what shells and powders and primers and wads and stuff you can use for their recommendations.

    You are correct that when a commercial/manufacturer has a specific recipe, they will warn you to not deviate or change anything they have written down. Because even one small change that you may think is insignificant could cause a pressure spike and become dangerous and slightly ovepressure enough to cause problems.

    Changing from one brand wad to another. Changing which brand hull you are using even due to how the insides of the various hulls are made will change the pressures.

    If you're legitimately reloading, I recommend buying, or searching online for load manuals. And don't do anything until you know the material and understand more about what you're doing.

    If you're just swapping out the material in the wad, that isn't exactly reloading shotshells.

    And I also added the caveat in the other topic that I will add here as well:

    nitesite, Scoop and CaddmannQ like this.
  7. nitesite

    nitesite Average Guy Moderator "Philanthropist"

  8. James Fischer

    James Fischer .22LR

    Thanks for all the thoughtful comments!

    I clearly AM being too picky, but it is nice to learn that I had the whole "overpressure" concept backwards. The problem I face is that there seems to be no recipes from people who make or sell powder and primers for a cut-down minishell. I'm not sure I will actually save any money by reloading 12 gauge, but I will certainly be assured that I will not run into "out of stock" issues, and that has a value in itself.

    So, who wants to sell some reloading gear for 12 gauge? ;)
  9. John A.

    John A. Unconstitutional laws are not laws. Staff Member Administrator Global Moderator

    The cheaper shell loader is the Lee Load-all 2.

    The better quality steel is the MEC brand.

    Either works well. There are people already commenting in the thread that I know owns both styles. I have the cheaper Lee. It loads shells just fine.

    You can find reloading recipes at Hogdons website. https://shop.hodgdon.com/reloading-data-center

    It covers a lot of different powders and loads. The main powders that I personally use are Longshot, clays, titegroup. Depending on whether I want mild/handicap/low brass shells or the longshot is slower burning and can build more pressure and make higher fps for hunting slugs.

    Some of the easier loads mimick factory shells. If you have Remington shells (my favorite), use a remington figure 8 wad. Basically if you're using remington, use remington style wads. If you are using federal, use federal style wads. If you are using winchester (yuck) use winchester style wads.

    It's easier finding loads that mimick factory loads than trying to get cute and make custom loads using hornady wads and remington hulls for instance. Though it can be done, but I'm trying to make things easier for you starting out.

    The hard part is going to be getting 209 shotgun primers and powders.

    Ballistics products is one of the go to places for finding shotgun related reloading components.

    Oh, while I'm thinking about it. You can load your own minishells, but you'll have to get creative to do it. There are no "off the shelf" components for them.

    But you can cut down wads and stuff. But you'll mostly be wildcatting where the pressures are concerned. You may be able to find some data to make your own. Maybe not.

    There's plenty of 2-3/4 to 3 1/2" data for regular shells though.

    There are a few 2" Remington hull recipes on hogdons load data page that I linked earlier. While not specifically a "mini shell" that's as close as I know for starters. It uses Universal Clays powder and Ballistics Products BP Ultra Short Euro wad.
    nitesite likes this.
  10. nitesite

    nitesite Average Guy Moderator "Philanthropist"

    I just did an inventory in my head and I still have a MEC Sizemaster press, a MEC 650 press, a MEC 600 Jr 20-ga press, a couple/three thousand 209s, lots of Remington STS hulls, four bags of shot and a ton of wads and powder out the wazoo. And right now they are all collecting dust. Isn't that a shame?
  11. meanstreak

    meanstreak .30-06 Supporter "Philanthropist"

    Yes it is. You need to get on that and put them to good use. Just sayin.
  12. Bobster

    Bobster .30-06 Supporter

    Yes, there is a starving Florida man that would put them to good use... ;)
    John A. likes this.

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