help with shotshell reloading
I just picked up a mec 650 to reload for my 12 ga. I bought it at arctic ammo and reloading and they sold me the the lyman shotshell reloading handbook #4. It looks like a good book and I have learned alot from reading it so far. Now this is my problem when I got home and tryed to find the data for the spent shotshells I have been setting aside I could not find them listed anywere in the book. Is there other books out there? Is there stuff avalible online? There also is stuff that looks to be exactly the same but just another brand listed in the lyman book can I use that data.
It's not unusual for cases to not be listed, but you will find that they do match other cases dimensionally. I'm pretty sure your book will mention that somewhere. The thing to do is to use a hack saw and split one of your hulls from top to bottom so you can view the plastic thicknesses in cross-section. Then look in your manual and find which shell that they DO list is the closest. Either use loads listed for that particular hull or do the extra careful thing and go buy a box of shells made with the listed hull. When you get home, shoot one to empty it and then cut it in two with a hack saw, then do a very careful comparison to your unlisted hull to see if you were right ..that your unlisted hulls match it dimensionally.
That said, I find that loading shotshells is not as sensitive to these types of minor variations as loading brass is. As long as the interior volume and construction is similar, it's probably close enough. Over time, I've collected a broad variety of hulls, all cut in two and labeled, that I keep around for comparison purposes for exactly these same situations. It's also a good idea to pattern your gun with a new load to verify that it is performing as you expect with nothing funny going on in the pattern.
I have had trouble identifying some hulls too. After you cut your hull in half you could post it on a reloading forum that focuses more on shotshells to see what people have to say about it. One is at:
Some manufacturers use another brand of hull, so they could be the same hull as one in your data. Another issue is that some manufacturers change their hull dimensions more frequently making ID by brand very difficult. Here is a link to an article from one of the reloading suppliers:
thanks for the help so far and I have one more question
Sorry for all the questions just wanting to play it safe. What are the pressure and or danger signs with shotshells?
I don't think I've ever heard of an over-pressure problem in a shotshell, but using the wrong powder in a load could certainly do it. The normal failure mode is the appearance of cracks around the crimp folds or a missing chuck of plastic from the crimped end. For over-pressure, I supposed I'd check the primer to see if it has flattening out or not. I've never heard of anybody measuring the brass diameter or anything like that. In general, shot shell reloading is pretty forgiving...
Twenty years age when working as a gunsmith in Oregon some of the pressure signs I saw Were, bulged barrels, cracked barrels, blown up guns.
keep in mind that your shotgun is made to handle pressures of about 11000 psi max. This is about 1/4 the pressure My 308 will handle. the only flat primers I saw were in guns that had severe damage. You are a wise person to ask for help. The reloading manuals post warnings on changing components, because pressures can increase to higher than safe pressures with a small change. Listed below are to use for help. post the brand hull you are trying to find loads for if you can't find data by searching the brand name on the net. I had a problem like yours with some hulls a guy give me. found out they were federal hulls under another manufactures brand name. It's cheaper to find brand name hulls they list than replace your gun, or pay medical bills. Good Luck
Wish I had seen this thread earlier. I'm a skeet shooter and upland bird hunter. On average I load 3000 to 5000 shotgun shells per year. At last count I had eight reloaders all doing something different for me. ShotgunWorld.com is, I believe, the best resoruce on the internet for anything shotgun related. I am a regular there and have learned a great deal. The Lyman book that you guys mention is indeed one of the best printed manuals available. I have Lymans 4th and 5th editions. Also, have a look at the powder manufacturers web sites. They list shotshell loads just as they do centerfire loads.
Over pressure of shot shells for all intents and purposes cannot be determined by examining the spent shell. The plastic on these things fail without warning and sometimes for unknown reasons. A shot shell won't flatten primers as they will in a center fire cartridge. What it boils down to is I have to trust the data I get to prevent over pressure therefore I use data only from what I deem to be a reliable source. More often than not the first indication of over pressure is a damaged gun.
I cannot speak for imported primers as I only use domestic primers. The only two domestic primers that I know of that fit into the magnum class is the Federal 209A and the CCI209M (not to be confused with the CCI209 which is a standard primer). As with center fire cartridges I use magnum primers only where they are specifically called for in the load data. Standard domestic primers are Remington 209P, Winchester 209, and CCI 209 (again not to be confused with the CCI 209M magnum primer). When I choose a load the data will specify a particular primer. I use the primer specified and strongly recommend that you use the primer that is specified in the load data. After I gained more experience reloading shotshells I acquired the knowledge to know when it is acceptable to substitute primers. With centerfire cartridges I know quickly when I am near over pressure but since I can't tell with shotshells I stick with the specified primer. I once was looking for some Remington 209P primers and the store I was in was out of them. The guy there tried to sell me Federal 209A's, which I knew were magnum primers, claiming that all 209 primers are the same. Believe me they are not and there is even some differences among the three domestic standard primers. Also, I don't trust anything anyone says at that store anymore.
Hulls : This is a whole kettle of worms unto its own and I'll try to hit some of the highlights by the three domestic manufacturers.
Remington To my knowledge pretty much a Remington is a Remington is a Remington. If you look into any Remington hull you can see that it has a plastic tapered base. As I understand all of them are made the same and I load them the same. In most references they will specify the hull as Remington STS/Gun Club/Sport Load/Peters and then list load data. This means that the loads specified will work in all of these hulls.
Federal Look into a Federal hull and you will see they have a straight wall and some sort of paper or plastic base. Again I load almost any Federal hull the same regardless if the base is paper or plastic. I load Gold Medal, Top Gun, and Traget Federals the same but this should be approached with caution if the data you have does not specifiy the hull you are loading. When I load Federals with paper base wads I keep an eye out for base wad seperation in these hulls. There are reports that after several loadings the paper base wad will begin to seperate or blow out entirely. When shooting these I make it a habit to either look down the barrel or inside the hull after every shot. The last thing I need wedged in my barrel when I shoot the next round is a base wad. Estate shells are made by Federal. There is no load data for Estate hulls but I know it has been done. If you are loading any Estate hulls ask some questions before attempting this.
Winchester Whew, Winchester. Older Winchester hulls, designated as AA, were made the same as the Remingtons with the tapered base. That doesn't mean that I load the Winchesters and Remingtons the same as they each have their own data but more often than not they were pretty close. Newer production Winchesters, last five years or so, have the designation AA-HS. The HS stands for high strength. Looking at these shows it has a straight wall and plastic base in it. Again, this doesn't mean that it loads the same as the Federals. Winchester AA-HS hulls have their own load data. At first Winchester said that the new HS hulls loaded the same as the older compresion formed (tapered) AA's. Then all of a sudden the HS had its own load data and Winchester quickly stated to use only this new load data for the HS hull. To say there is a confusing learning curve for using Winchester hulls is an understatement. When I am loading any Winchester hull I look into the hull and see which base it has and then use the appropriate data for that hull. 28 ga Winchester AA-HS hulls have gone through several revisions. Ask some questions before you buy components for this hull to determine which revision you have before spending money on components that you can't use. I have seen several Winchester HS hulls that are not AA-HS. I do not have any experience with these and usually just avoid them altogether. Furthermore, I have seen no load data for these hulls. Perhaps they are a reloadable hull but I do not know. Should I attempt to reload one of these I would be asking a lot of questions before I did so.
Wads : Simply stated I use the wad specified in my load data. There are clone companies like Claybuster, Duster, and Downrange who make copies of the original OEM wad. According to the companies these are direct replacements for the OEM wad. I use them for the money savings and have generally good results however my load data specifies these clone wads. I will take this one step further and say that I do not load straight walled hulls (Federal) with wads that were designed for tapered base hulls (Remington and Winchester AA) The reason here is that the straight walled hull has a lot more interior room than the tapered hull. When the tapered wad is inserted into a straight walled hull the plastic base of the wad does not seal against the interior walls allowing powder to leak past the wad powder cup. I know the data in the Lymans books and at the powder manufacturer sites specify these loads but I have proven to myself that loading these components is just not something that I want to do. I tried loading these components in a hull that I could see through with a flashlight. As long as the shell sat on my bench and went through my reloadert it seemed fine. When I shook the finished shell around a bit as I would when they are in my pocket out hunting I could see powder migrating past the wad cup.
Wow, did I really type all of that!! In short the two things that I really wanted to say is :
1) it is practically impossible to tell much about chamber pressure by looking at a spent shotgun shell
2) please stick closely to the published load data from reliable sources for your shot shell loads.
This is just a quick overview of some of the things that go on with my shot shells. Please do not take it as all inclusive and as always your mileage may vary.
dsmith, If you would post the components you are trying to load I might could help you further with your particular load. I won't make any promises but I'll try.