What do you do with old shotguns with lead-only barrels? I intend to use one for killing deer with 1 ounce slugs and killing grouse with 1 ounce loads of shot. The latter is easy. There’s lots of data around. Slugs are a different matter. One can use the Lee 1 ounce slug in place of shot and do pretty well (~1250 ft/s for 1500ft-lb of energy), but with heavier charges of slower powders, one can do a lot better (~1600 ft/s for 2400 ft-lb of energy), 50% better. These slugs have a ballistic coefficient ~0.06 so they are devastating to about 50 yards and useful to ~100. Lee gives a bunch of loads:
How about that Blue Dot stuff? That’s a very stiff load. See it on YouTube:
I don’t have Blue Dot powder (tm Alliant) but I do have some old HS-7 which is the same as WW571 (Winchester) which has very similar data for heavy shot loads as Blue Dot in identical cases (WAA) with identical wads.
The Alliant data is for 1150 and 1200 ft/s going left to right. Likely the 1250 ft/s charge would not fit in the case because Blue Dot is more bulky than HS-7. The CB wad is a substitute for WAA12R. Lyman data for a 525 gr slug (1.2 ounce):
|Federal Gold Medal||Blue Dot||46.5||Win 209||WAA12R||1544||9,900|
|Federal Gold Medal||571||42.0||Fed 209A||Fed 12S4||1429||10,700|
|Federal Plastic Hunting||Blue Dot||44.0||Win 209||WAA12R||1408||7,300|
|Federal Plastic Hunting||571||42.0||Fed 209A||Fed 12S4||1405||9,900|
|Winchester AA||Blue Dot||44.0||Win 209||WAA12R||1474||9,200|
The Lee one ounce slug is about 0.64″ long and 0.68″ in diameter so it will pass through a full choke in a plastic wad. Unfortunately, the HS-7 is much more dense than Blue Dot, so I have to improvise. I could just add a bit of wadding to take up the 0.32″ missing from the 1.5 ounce of lead shot but the pressure would likely be far too low. HS-7 and Blue Dot like higher pressures to burn reliably or they leave a lot in the barrel. For a semi-auto that’s very bad because it will rapidly gum up the breach or gas-system. So, I need to increase the charge above 36.5 grains by at least 10%. I have tried as low as 34 grains in a 1 ounce wad but get rather loopy trajectories and the occasional squib. With more than 34 grains of HS-7, I begin to have trouble crimping the cases. One guy solved the space problem by shortening the hulls… He found 42 grains HS-7 worked very well with WAA12R in Remington hulls. I don’t have any of those hulls but 42 grains should be good in my hulls using some corrugated cardboard wadding. More space, less pressure… With such a slow-burning powder this space should not affect the ultimate pressure versus distance relation but it may reduce the peak pressure.
In my digging on the web, I found an article about loading the Lee 1 ounce slug in a WAA12R wad with a 1/8″ nitro card over the powder with a mysterious “powder X” that occupied 3cc. No mention of the charge. Only that 3cc of powder made a good crimp in “Winchester AAHS 12 ga hulls”, two-piece hulls… I find plenty of those at the range. Folks recommend against using those because the base-wad may separate and cause an obstruction of the barrel. Oops! 3cc charges are not listed in Lee’s table, above, but it’s in the range of 44 grains of 571 powder (44 X 0.068 = 2.99) or 42grains of HS-6 (42 X 0.0712 = 2.99). He got decent accuracy. Something the size of Federal 12s3 wads might do. I have to experiment.
I conclude that the only wad I have that is usable with HS-7 for a heavy hunting load is WAA12R which is too short so I will have to add wadding. For safety, I will try crushable corrugated cardboard wads which give the powder more room to expand promptly. I tried to make a 20 gauge cutter by heating the head of a defective 20 gauge hull to soften the plastic for removal. Two or three discs cut from cardboard boxes should take up the slack until firing. That worked well but the tool was too fragile for punching with a hammer. Others have made similar cutters for turning in a drill-press. A brass head failed on the third wad. A copper head lasted about a dozen wads. I’ll have to buy a better wad-cutter ( less than $10 ) or buy some 20 gauge fibre wads. They are less than 1₵ per card. While I am at it, I could also buy some Blue Dot and WAA12 wads. Blue Dot is only $40/pound, here, and ~$20 in other places, which comes to about 12-23₵ per shot. The end result will save more than $0.50 per round compared to retail slug rounds.
Another possibility is to buy some Federal 12S4 wads (shorter wad and slug more powder than the Lyman 525) according to the data, but there does not seem to be a local source…
Some results: We went to the bush and checked out several loads with a Remington 1100 full-choke lead shot barrel. The “old” load we used of 34 grains HS-7 under Versatec wads broke clays at 40 yards. We then switched to heftier loads with WAA12F1 and 36 grains. Worked pretty well. We then used 40, 43 and 46 grains of HS-7 under WAA12R wads with hand-cut corrugated cardboard wads under the slug. Point of impact rose a few inches with the increasing charges. With 34 grains, we were aiming at the top of the clay, but with 40+ grains we had to aim for the bottom of the clay. Recoil improved significantly (sore shoulder + headache)… but only 1 petal fell off and most wads fell about halfway to the target close to the line of sight. Hulls were ejected firmly to about 10 ft from the standing shooter, showing that the Remington 1100 was comfortable. The hulls and recovered wads were in pretty good shape. We did serious damage to a bunch of clay targets resting in the snow so the group-size is <5 inches, good enough for deer at that range. Will break out the chronograph and a proper target next time. I will also try to use the proper wad-cutter instead of scissors…