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I like the idea of keeping info on your hunt... I do the same...
I don't change shells often, so I don't keep info on that... But I think you should... When I try a new shell in the past and this is just me, it usually takes around 100 rounds for me to know if I like a shell or not... Hunting in new surroundings affects your shooting, hunting with a group affects your shooting... If you're going to be fair to your shell these will all figure into the equation... I have good days shooting and bad days shooting...with the same shell...
You also mentioned documenting which shells shot better throughout the day... If you're shooting (new) different shells throughout the day, that would get mind-boggling for me....
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
Thanks Jim.
I use to participate in the US F&W bird harvest surveys, but the last time I was involved , the pandemic closed the offices and they were not accepting mail. I still have some of those mailers.
I would keep a journal of the birds taken each day as well as where and who was on the trip with me, but never counted shot to bird ratios. I can tell you by the amount of spent hulls I have been working on , it wasn't good.
A good friend and I use to take our old Marlin Goose guns (GDL55) out each year for one day and actually shot pretty well with the old 36" fixed full choke barrel. Yes I shot steel shot thru it and best I can tell, it had no issues.
Have a good evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
You said you had thick skin so here we go...
If you're missing or wounding ducks less than 30 yards... It's not the shotgun shell... It was a poor shot...
Yes sir, one event we had this past year, a group of teal flew in; made a loop and swung right in front of us, 6 shots later, no bird was harmed. They were roughly 12 feet from us at one point and we waited until they made it back out to our decoys and absolutely missed.
However the next time they paid us a visit, we were better prepared.
Thanks for your comment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 ·
Not sure if I posted here or not, but I had loaded up a 3" 20 gauge bismuth recipe and it called for 1 1/8 oz. shot, no buffer. Next morning, Big ole' fat green head came in hovered over my set at about 20 yards. I pulled up, fired where I was looking right? Bird paused, flew off. didn't even seem spooked. I went home, modified the load by removing 1/8 oz. shot and added some buffer. Next day. birds in the bag. Maybe their too close for the old fixed choke auto 5's and the pattern isn't developing or I just plain missed altogether. It was a different gun than i had been using. Sounds like excuses doesn't it. When I patterned it, it looked fine.
 

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Who can say? Each shotgun shell firing is a unique event. We talk in averages but seem to forget that there's always the chance of a freakish abnormality.
Hull, primer, powder, wad, shot, spacers all have some variation before the shell is even assembled. Then there is some variation in your loading process (for example, do you always throw EXACTLY 34.0 grains of powder? or do you except +/- 0.2 grains?)
Add to that the angle, and speed of the bird, wind, light, footing, clothing, etc. etc.... it a wonder we even TRY to explain a missed shot.
If all the variables line up in the right combination, you could have a wildly different outcome from "normal".
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
A quick story.
Several seasons ago, I picked up some really nice federal premium hulls from one of our morning hunts.
Took em' home , washed em' down good and decided to go ahead and reload those for the next mornings hunt. Deprimed, resized and measured powder and shot, then finished em' off with an almost perfect crimp and stuck those bad boy's in my game bag.
Next morning, same group of hunters from the previous day and it just so happened to be a Gadwall bonanza type of morning.
First group was a total rain out. It was great , high fives all around; who-has and the such.
Next group, Gadwall and Mallards mixed. wait.......wait........wait.....Kill em' right there boy's.. and as I pulled down on one of those big ol' green heads and squeezed off the shot......"Poof", looked like I had a flintlock! Smoke and unburned gun powder spewing from the bolt of my old browning gold 12 and my shot just kinda drizzled out the end of the barrel.
Had to find a stick to dislodge the wad.
Once the smoke literally cleared the air from in front of me, one of the guy's ask what happened as i just kind of stood there in disbelief. ( not that I had been braggin' about my reloads and how much better they were all morning)
Chalked it up to a bad primer; right. Oh no, happened a few days later and it seemed like the powder charge wasn't igniting. I thought maybe when the jet sled carrying our gear was pulled thru the marsh, maybe it turned over and the rounds got wet. Nope, the sled wasn't the issue.
So I go back home, take one of the shells apart and low and behold what did I find?

For future conversation, I'm going to ask you what you feel might have caused this before i tell you all what the conclusion was.
But just to stay in the good graces of the topic header, this is the actual load data that i used:
3" Federal hull fitted with a W209 primer
34 Grains /Alliant steel powder ( +/- 1 grain) Used a balanced scale on this round.
3" Sam one wad
1 1/4 oz. plated steel shot #3 , no buffer
6 fold crimp (Almost perfect by my standards) oh wait, you guy's saw my 20 ga. roll crimps.
Have a good evening and let me know what you think caused the failure based on what you just read.
 

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If you are wiffing, it isnt the shell. If you are hitting birds and cripplingly, then its probably the shell. And by shell i really mean "pattern", could be wrong choke, gun doesn't like those shells, range was too far for that combo etc.

In the "sweet spot" of your shell/choke combo you should be shooting a 12" core that will mincemeat a duck and an overall 24-30" killing pattern depending on shot weight and pattern density. If you don't pattern, think of it as a medium pizza worth of core and two larges worth of killing pattern. If you cant hit em with two large pizzas then adding some buffer isn't going to help.


Ive dropped down to 20ga and have been practicing more at the range before the seasons start. Ive told myself to take my time and take good shots, as well as patterned every load/choke combo to find my best performer. This is obviously more economical when shooting bizzy or tungsten, but it has helped me with clean kills also. One cripple last season, i shot over the back of a honker and caught the tip of the wing on the back side (could see it clearly on video).

Theres no "need" for 1 3/8 of bizzy, but if that is what brings confidence and patterns well then that is what you should be shooting. I shot mostly 3/4oz steel and 7/8oz bizzy last year, with a little 1 1/8 HW 7s factory shells.
I have already started loading this seasons shells and its mostly 3/4 steel 4s for normal duck hunting, 3/4 and 7/8 bizzy 6s for late season ducks, and 7/8 bizzy 4s for honkers.
I havent yet decided on my field hunting loads, thinking 7/8oz HW 7s but may try 3/4 also. The 1 1/8 were extreme overkill, one bird i counted i think 37 holes in its breasts alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
First and foremost, Thank you all for commenting and for the info. I don't have a bismuth recipe book for that light of load and i would agree that 1 1/8 is a bit much, and unfortunately I loaded about 200 12 gauge rounds with 1.5 [email protected] because that was all the available data I had access to at the time.But now I have you guy's and this site to research load data and get ideals so keep em' coming please.

So now let's get back to the flint lock round:
I will say this, I would assume Mr. Jim has been there also because that was exactly what happened.
Yes sir, wet paper base wad because as I mentioned last night, I couldn't wait to get home and clean those nice hulls up so I could shoot em' the next morning never even imagining that the base wad would be paper.
I mean, come on, who puts paper in the base of a shot shell? Well, Federal does for sure and to make matters worse, I didn't just load up a few rounds; It was more like a box and a half!!
So I started breaking those rounds down only to find the steel powder in quite a few of the shells to be so wet that a lot of it came out in clumps. it was real bad and of course now i'm hesitant to pick up any federal hulls, but I still do.
Learned that if you store them in a hot dry area such as the loft in my work shop for an entire year, they are mostly dried out by the time teal season rolls around.
And in closing this, Precision reloading currently has Cheddite primers back in stock.
Have a great evening guys and thanks again.
 

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My mec 400 owner's manual has a whole section on drying paper hulls in the oven.
But it seems federal is moving away from the paper basewad in 12 ga. So over time it'll be less of an issue. Which means it could be a worse problem when it happens since guys will assume all hulls have plastic baswads and, unbeknownst to them, someone is using up old stock.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
If you are wiffing, it isnt the shell. If you are hitting birds and cripplingly, then its probably the shell. And by shell i really mean "pattern", could be wrong choke, gun doesn't like those shells, range was too far for that combo etc.

In the "sweet spot" of your shell/choke combo you should be shooting a 12" core that will mincemeat a duck and an overall 24-30" killing pattern depending on shot weight and pattern density. If you don't pattern, think of it as a medium pizza worth of core and two larges worth of killing pattern. If you cant hit em with two large pizzas then adding some buffer isn't going to help.


Ive dropped down to 20ga and have been practicing more at the range before the seasons start. Ive told myself to take my time and take good shots, as well as patterned every load/choke combo to find my best performer. This is obviously more economical when shooting bizzy or tungsten, but it has helped me with clean kills also. One cripple last season, i shot over the back of a honker and caught the tip of the wing on the back side (could see it clearly on video).

Theres no "need" for 1 3/8 of bizzy, but if that is what brings confidence and patterns well then that is what you should be shooting. I shot mostly 3/4oz steel and 7/8oz bizzy last year, with a little 1 1/8 HW 7s factory shells.
I have already started loading this seasons shells and its mostly 3/4 steel 4s for normal duck hunting, 3/4 and 7/8 bizzy 6s for late season ducks, and 7/8 bizzy 4s for honkers.
I havent yet decided on my field hunting loads, thinking 7/8oz HW 7s but may try 3/4 also. The 1 1/8 were extreme overkill, one bird i counted i think 37 holes in its breasts alone.
BBK, Thanks for the info. I picked up a very nice to me 1967 auto 5 magnum 20 gauge w/ full choke right before regular duck season last year. It had a stock that was shorter than usual and I didn't take the time to fit it to me. It's about an inch too short by my measurement. Pretty sure that had a lot to do with my poor shooting performance on that first day, plus I'm left handed and most of my modern shotguns were actually set up for right handed shooters.I just changed out the shims in my A400 and what a job that was. I suppose You-Tube can be your friend at times.
I load the bismuth for the old A5 guns I shoot as all guns in my opinion were made to use. I'm going to look up some of those lighter loads and possibly try some this next season, but right now certain powder and wads those recipes in lyman call for are almost impossible to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
My mec 400 owner's manual has a whole section on drying paper hulls in the oven.
But it seems federal is moving away from the paper basewad in 12 ga. So over time it'll be less of an issue. Which means it could be a worse problem when it happens since guys will assume all hulls have plastic baswads and, unbeknownst to them, someone is using up old stock.
yes sir, I have about 400 of those things and they actually loaded up well with the sam1 wads.
So while your here, how many times would you reload a hull? I've been led to believe that the magic number is thee including the original firing. I will say I reloaded some older hevi-shot 3.5 hulls upwards of 5 times and they still looked fair. well all except the one that blew the breach open and sent shrapnel thru my face mask and into my forehead, but that's a story for another day.
 

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I load a hull till it's used up. How many times that is depends on the quality of the hull and the load itself. Hevi brand cheddite hulls dont last as long as Kent's for duck loads. Seems Remingtons get crispy and split sooner than federals. Etc.
Generally, I lose the hull before I can load it a 4th time...
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
I load a hull till it's used up. How many times that is depends on the quality of the hull and the load itself. Hevi brand cheddite hulls dont last as long as Kent's for duck loads. Seems Remingtons get crispy and split sooner than federals. Etc.
Generally, I lose the hull before I can load it a 4th time...
Thanks and fyi Brownells has blue dot powder in stock, limit 2. Now maybe I can load up some of those Lyman recipes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
Good morning,
Rio bismuth? AIM surplus has it starting at 9.99 for 10 rds. in 12 ga. #6. Should be a good teal round. Less freight/tax, that's $1.00 per round.
Have a great day all.
Picked up a nice 60's era sweet 16 this week. Been researching the 16 gauge loads in bismuth on the site. I'm going to need another roll crimp tool for this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
Been hesitant about asking this one but here goes.
3" Federal plastic base wad (original steel shot shell) loaded with win 209 primer,blue dot powder and a LCB 43. Problem I had was the wad didn't meet the old crimp line so I added a bpgs spacer. Crimp was good after the BPGS, but I couldn't find where anyone had actually put this together. I saw a similar load using a ranger plus wad but not with a LBC wad.
I loaded about 5 of these rounds, but was curious if anyone had any "pointers" before I dismantled the load.
Oh yes, 1 1/8 oz.steel shot # 3
 

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Wad doesn't need to meet the old crimp. In fact, it's important to make sure the wad doesn't get caught in the crimp since that can cause the hull to fail.
 
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