Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tomatoes and more shotshell reloading drivel

I went to pick a tomato, a Yellow Brandywine. This is the first ripe one and I was looking forward to tasting it. It is reputed to be a gourmet tomato and a shy bearer.

I decided to not molest the security guard. I can eat it tomorrow.
The conversion kit for the Lee-Loadall-2 showed up today. Say whatever you want about MidwayUSA, they know how to ship.

Now I am looking around for a piece of plank to mount it too for ease of clamping to my work table.

Regarding load data seen listed by bloggers (even mine): Don't use it. Consult the manufacture's data or buy a book like Lyman's Shotshell Reloading Handbook.

For the sake of establishing a reference point, The Lyman's Handbook lists maximum loads of 22.0gr, 21.0gr, 20.0gr, 21.0gr and 19.5gr of Unique propellant for one ounce of lead shot in a variety of hulls and wads. Velocities are in the mid-1200fps range.

18.5gr of Unique is driving well below the speed limit. Belladonna's single shot is a light-weight gun that is a joy to carry. 18.5gr produces a satisfying yet not-punishing kick and the load patterns well. I don't think the squirrels and rabbits will notice if it is 100fps below max.

A dilemma
I had two 12 gauge reloading set-ups, one light and one stout. The stout load cut the game to pieces: 1-1/8 oz of #6 and 25gr of Unique. The light load was less impressive on game: one oz of your favorite shot and 17gr-to-19gr of one of the faster burning shotgun powders.

The fact that the light load was very pleasant to shoot was negated by the fact that it did not always cycle semi-automatic shotguns.

The right answer is probably to split the difference and run 22gr-23gr of Unique behind the standard 1-1/8 oz of shot. Not the most economical of answers but one that will satisfy the largest number of shooters.

A note on shotgun components
Shotgun reloading is very messy. Unlike reloading metallic cartridges (rifle, pistol) peak pressure is strongly influenced by more than weight of the shot, type of powder and weight of the powder charge.

Peak pressures are also strongly influenced by the hull construction (more volume = lower pressure), wad (leaky wads - lower pressure) and choice of primer ("softer" primers = lower pressure).

In general, a combination of a high capacity hull and a well sealed wad and a soft primer will result in the best balance of repeatability, low pressure and high velocity. It will come at the expense of slightly higher powder consumption.

Federal and Estate hulls tend to have high capacity.

Most wads that are not Winchester or Winchester clones tend to have good sealing. The reason that Winchester wads are leaky is that they are designed for injection molded hulls with tapered walls. The walls are thicker at the bottom than at the top, which incidentally reduces the internal volume of the hull. A wad that is designed for an extruded walls does not have to accommodate the draft of the walls.

Opinions vary, but Remington and CCI shotgun primers are often considered "soft" while Federal shotgun primers and assorted "M" or magnum primers are often considered the most brisant (hard). Winchester is somewhere in the middle. This is confusing for most metallic reloader because Federal's primers for rifles and pistols are generally considered soft and easy to ignite. Go figure.

Another consideration for primers is that they vary in diameter. European primers, Fiocchi and Cheddite are slightly smaller diameter and so are their primer pockets in their hulls (nearly always clones of Federals in construction).

Unlike trap and skeet shooters, my goal is not number of reloads out of a hull. My goal is to put meat-in-the-pot and varmints out of the chicken coop with maximum reliability.

If I ran the universe, I would cheerfully be reloading Federal (type) hulls with any one of ten non-Winchester type wads and either CCI, Remington or Winchester primers.

A reloading tip
Sometimes there is not enough volume to ensure that the folds of the wad are perfectly lined up, especially when using high volume hulls like Federal. The folds go past-center, the top of the shell is concave and a hole allows shot to dribble out of the reload.

The tip is to put a single Cheerio (breakfast cereal) in the bottom of the shot cup of the wad before dumping the shot. The pressure of the reloader ram when it crushes the crimp will crush the Cheerio to exactly the right volume to make a perfect crimp. It is almost as if General Millss designed the Cheerio to be the perfect shotshell reloading component.

It goes without saying that reloaders should use Froot Loops when reloading for tropical birds like Toucans and Apple Jacks when reloading for piglets and ground hogs.


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