While I handload my own rounds for my rifles I have yet to it for shotgunning, but since buying steel rounds this duck season I am now interested in loading some of these.
I had one quick question--I have heard that you have to load hulls that are either designed for lead shot or ones specifically for steel shot. I was wondering about your opinions, does it matter if they were originally used for lead and then I put steel in them? I have been saving my hulls for sometime now and have a few hundred lead ones saved up but not very many steel ones. ( a little harder to pick those ones up in the heat of the moment!) I have a Mec loader and was also told to weigh out the steel shot on my scale instead of using the sliding bar on my loader since steel is less forgiving than lead shot and you need to be more precise on your measurement, what do you think?
If you have any more tips I would be glad to here them, thank you.
The hulls don't matter. The wad is what matters the most. Wads used for lead were designed to protect the shot load from the barrel. Wads used for steel are designed to protect the barrel from the shot. It's when you start loading other non-toxic shot like Hevi-Shot and Tungsten that you will get into the use of speciality wads, filler wads and tyvec. I haven't loaded shotshells for over 10 years but still have most of my equipment and manuals. I still try to keep up with the most modern techniques out there. Gets a little spendy shipping components out to Bethel for loading shotshells. I think I still have about 6500 20 gauge hulls and several hundred 10 and 12 gauge hulls. Might even have 10-15 pounds of #1 or #2 steel shot. I think I have 1,000 209 primers and about 6# of powder.
I weigh my shot charges, too. Mostly because I'm too broke to buy the bushings made for steel shot. The MEC lead shot bushings can be damaged by steel shot (or maybe it's the bar that can be damaged?), so I weigh rather than pay.
While it's true that lead's tendency to deform makes it more forgiving than steel, I would be equally careful with the charge of each. An excessive charge of shot could be bad news with either one.
The most glaring difference I noticed when starting out with shotgun was the loading FORMULAS, rather than listing starting loads, max loads, etc, like metalic cartridge loading. You have to have the right combo of components to fit within the crimped case, and there's little or no justification or allowance for substituting components.
In contrast to Allen, my experience has been that hulls do matter, at least when it comes to switching brands. Interior case capacity varies from one brand to the next, so all the components might not fit or be too loose, even if pressures didn't get out of whack.
Some cases also last longer than others, but that's not much different than metalic.
I'd get a good reloading manual before buying any components, then see which combos work best with your hull selection. You might have to use different charges in Federals than in Remington for example, but at least you could pick powder and wads that will work in both with some adjustment in charges.