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Extra-light 'plinker' reloads for beginners.

Extra-light 'Plinker' Reloads for Beginners

How often do fathers come into your shop and buy guns for their kids? Or maybe for milady? Quite often, I'll bet. And what do you do and say when they wonder about recoil? Suggest a smaller gauge? Recommend light field or target loads?

But how many of you dealers ever use this as a way to introduce handloading? If you were truly alert to what's going on in reloading, you'd know that there's lab-proven data for all sorts of 12- and 20-gauge reloads in the extra-light category. These "recipes" aren't going to kick anybody. In fact, there are some 12-gauge reloads that are pure pussycats. They're fun for the beginners, and inexpensive, too. And for the short-range shooting involved with most beginners, the ultra-light concepts will provide ample pattern and velocity.

The ideas I'm talking about are 7/8- ounce 12-gauge loads, a weight normally equated with the light 20-gauge. But thanks to some test shooting by Hercules, we've got some pretty good recipes for 12-bore 7/8- ouncers. Not only do they come in handy for inexpensive coaching, but I've also used them in skeet shooting through over-unders that normally kick like the devil.

One reloading problem with just 7/8-ounce of shot is making the load fit without having to add a card wad to the shotcup. Luckily, there are some assemblies which do provide adequate bulk to permit a good crimp without including the extra wad. These are the ones I'll emphasize herein to make handloading easy.

As one can imagine, a light "plinking" load of just 7/8-ounce in the 12 gauge will generate relatively low chamber pressures. In general, this is true. And from my point of view, I'd prefer some reloads that run up at least 7,000 psi so that chamber pressures are adequate for uniform combustion. This is not to say that lower chamber pressures will automatically be troublesome, but from what I have seen and heard, the lower chamber pressures aren't as efficient as the higher ones and are more inclined to burn dirty.

Essentially, the wads to employ with these 7/8-ounce 12-gauge reloads are 1-ounce wads or certain others that fill plenty of space. Wads like the Federal 12SO, Remington PT-12, and Winchester WAA12F1 will do nicely, thank you.

The best powders, of course, are the fast-rate fuels that release their energies in short order. What might suprise casual shotgunners and reloaders is that Hercules includes Bullseye in this list. Many readers will know Bullseye only as a fast-rate pistol powder, and seeing it in a shotshell may make them spooky. However, Hercules ran everything through the pressure gun and found it perfectly safe when loaded as they direct in their 1988 Reloaders' Guide for Hercules Smokeless Powders, which is free at practically all dealers handling Hercules propellants for handloading. The maximum recommended average working chamber pressure for the 12 gauge is 11,500 psi, and, as one quickly see, the pressures for 7/8-ounce 12-gauge fodder doesn't approach that level even with Bulleye.

One of the snappiest 12-gauge 7/8-ouncers I've used to date is assembled like this:

Winchester AA hull

Winchester 209 primer

18.0/Red Dot

Federal 12SO wad

7/8-ounce of lead shot

Published pressure: 8,000 psi

Published velocity: 1,2000 fps

The long Federal 12SO wad takes up substantial space to negate the need for any card wad fillers, and the unit crimps well and shoots crisply. It is easy to reload and recoil is negligible.

If one wishes to try Bulleye in 7/8-ounce reloads, one similar to the above recipe can be rolled thus:

Winchester AA hull

Winchester 209 primer

16.5/Bullseye

Federal 12SO wad

7/8-ounce of lead shot

Published pressure: 7,400 psi

Published velocity: 1,200 fps

It, too, has a mild recoil and a very light muzzle report. I've heard much louder fire crackers!

The Federal Gold Medal hull is, in my findings, the one that gives the longest reloading life; and with 7/8-ouncers, it'll give up to twenty reloads with this light number:

Federal Gold Medal hull

Federal 209 primer

18.0/Red Dot

Federal 12SO wad

7/8-ounce of lead shot

Published pressure: 6,200 psi

Published velocity: 1,200 fps

Although this reload doesn't top 7,000 psi, it has worked very well for me. The important thing is getting a tight crimp to hold against ignition so that chamber heat will rise and give the best combustion possible.

Because the Federal Gold Medal hull is so spacious, there is no reload for Bullseye that doesn't require a filler card wad in the shotcup.

In the Peters blue target hull, there is a very good and efficient reload for Bullseye:

Peters blue target hull

Remington 209 primer

16.5/Bullseye

Federal 12SO wad

7/8-ounce of lead shot

Published pressure: 7,900 psi

Published velocity: 1,200 fps

This sample fills out the hull nicely and delivers good patterns plus all the speed a beginner needs (or a skeet shooter, for that matter).

If you're working with a very sensitive beginner and want a very low chamber pressure for very low recoil, the Federal paper hull can be a good one. It performs best in once-fired condition so that the crimp is firm to hold against early ignition and combustion, but its chamber pressure even then is so low that the ejecta fairly squirts out of the gun without recoil:

Federal paper target hull

Federal 209 primer

17.5/Red Dot

Federal 12So wad

7/8-ounce of lead shot

Published pressure: 5,700 psi

Published velocity: 1,200 fps

The 20 gauge is a great beginner's gun, and the younger kids can handle it in the so-called "youth style" models. But even the 7/8-ounce skeet loads can be upsetting to some youngsters, and for them a reduced 3/4-ounce reload is much better. Your customers can reload them like this:

Winchester AA hull

Wichester 209 primer 14.0/Green Dot

Winchester WAA20 wad

(Rolled wad of paper in shotcup to soak up space)

3/4-ounce of lead shot

Pressure: 10,800 psi

Velocity: 1,200 fps

And from Winchester's guide:

Winchester AA hull

Winchester 209 primer

16.0/473AA Ball Powder

Remington RXP-20 wad

(Rolled wad of paper in shotcup

to soak up space

3/4-ounce of lead shot

Pressre: 8,699 lup (lead units of

pressure)

Velocity: 1,145 fps

(Note:..135" .410-bore nitro card

wad can be used in shotcup if avail

able: above ballistics taken with .410

card.)

Which pellets to select? For this kind of shooting, always recommend No. 9s. They've got plenty of energy for the close-range shooting involved, and they'll fill up patterns better than the larger sizes.

Don't expect these reloads to function the actions of autoloaders reliably, if at all. There generally isn't enough gas, especially in the 20-gauge stuff. But with beginners, the routine is normally a single-shot affair.
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Title Annotation:handload ammunition
Author:Zutz, Don
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 1, 1989
Words:1163
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