How To Roll Shotguns On Your Own?
Ever wondered how to handload a gun on your own? Well, if you didn’t, it can be really intimidating. But once you’ve got the hang of it, it can turn out to be your favorite hobby. Rolling your gun not only saves you a lot of time and money but also enables you to shoot more. Moreover, handloading is also a fabulous art to master.
Additionally, you can also cut your overall ammunition costs considerably. By helping you improve your gun’s accuracy, this article serves as an ultimate guide to handloading. From basic steps to teach you how to reload your home defense shotguns all by yourself, we’ve got you covered. Are you ready to be a pro? Let’s jump right in.
How To Reload Shotgun Shells?
To begin with, you’ll need a press, a scale, and a solid bench to bolt the press too. You will also require materials like hulls, primers, plastic wads, powder, and shot. Most often, shotshell presses come as single-stage or progressive models. These presses are not costly and will allow you to load a shell at a time. On the other hand, progressive models offer you the flexibility to load a number of shells at once.
When one shell is folded, the one right behind is also pre-crimped. Furthermore, as the lever is pulled, the one behind this shell will have the shot cup filled. Once the press is selected, you can choose other accessories like an automatic primer feed. This will save you from being clumsy with tiny individual primers.
If you follow the steps as they are, it’ll be easier for you to hand load your gun. Assemble all the components together to get the job started. The all-new primer has to be inserted into the base of the hull. It is then filled with propellant powder, a wad, and then the shot. The hull will be then crimped to maintain everything in its position.
1. The Hull And Base Wad
First off, you have to sort and identify your empty hulls diligently. Don’t judge a book by its cover; a number of cases may appear to be the same, but in reality, they can vary a lot. Also, the height of the base was on the interior of the case can significantly influence the case capacity. This, in turn, determines pressure.
The wad that forms the thick bottom of the case on its inside is known as the base wad. It serves as the protection to the bottom of the case from the pressure and gas as the shell is fired. Additionally, the base wad has nothing to do with the height of the brass base.
The brass height offers a visual identification for the factory load and its considered use. Regardless of the persistent myth, brass height is an unreliable indicator of what type of base wad is used in the case.
In order to make a visual check of the base was to positively identify the hull, you are currently loading, you can make use of a flashlight. Moreover, the reloading manuals will help you confirm whether the hull is rightly matched with the loading recipe.
Prime importance is to be given to the type of case used. For the purpose of reloading, compression formed, one-piece hulls are ideal. Both the base wad and plastic hull are formed from one plastic piece. This will prevent the base from deteriorating or slipping from its position inside the shell. Interestingly, such cases can be reloaded many times until the crimp gives out.
Another commonly used hull style is a plastic tube case with a separate base wad. It is sometimes referred to as Reifenhauser or Polyformed cases. Although they are apt for reloading, they should be inspected carefully. Moreover, before discarding, they should only be reloaded twice for about three firings. The same rule applies to old-school paper hulls; just two reloads would be enough and you can toss them away.
2. Shot And Powder Charge Weight
Ensure to double-check the charge weight of the powder as well as the shot charges. This is to be done after setting up the press and before reloading. Most frequently, shotshell loaders use preset shot charge bars and bushings to measure the volume of both the shot and powder.
The powder bushings can be adjusted to accommodate several powder options. For changing the bushings, you need to change the charge weights despite the fact that they are non-adjustable. These bushings are just approximate and the charge weights are likely to vary. Hence, it becomes crucial to weight-check your set-up before you start loading.
For this purpose, you’ll need a good handloading scale. You can use either an electronic beam or a balance beam. Both of these are fine, but make sure it has the capacity to weigh shot charges of at least 1-½ ounces. The majority of shotgun scales require a weight capacity of approximately 1000 grains to permit weighing shot charges.
After the completion of the initial set-up, find the charge bar and bushings that suit the method you are following. It’s now time to install them in the loader. Throw a number of charges to settle everything. You can either dump the powder or shoot it back into the fitting hopper. To verify if the bushings are correct, throw a charge and weigh it on the scale.
Shot charge bars rely on use with different shot sizes and the actual charge weights may vary with the pellet size. A larger shot’s charger will weigh less since the pellets will not be densely packed. As a result, there will be more air space. Also, humidity can affect the charge weight and may lead to variations.
To analyze the powder charge weight, cycle the shotshell loader. It should be done in the same way as loading ammo so that the ‘vibrations’ remain the same. This shows how the powder is packed and how the charge weights will result. After a number of cycles to settle the powder, weigh at least five charges. After this, you can average the weights.
If the powder charge weighs less than the maximum weight listed in the book and if it also comes within 5%, you are good to load. On the contrary, you will have to select another powder bushing and restart.
The Shotshell Loading Process
After the sorting, inspection, and verification of cases and charge weights are over, you’ll be ready to load. Remember to follow the instructions for the loading tool that you use to know how to carry out each step perfectly. In the case of a single-stage press, the shell will be removed from station to station manually.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice that the loading time will become remarkably short. But never go too fast, be cautious and careful.
1. Resize And Deprime
The first step is to resize and deprime the empty shotshell in your hand. This can be done in a single motion with the loading press. The sizing die or tool will squeeze the exterior of the case back into its right dimension. Furthermore, the depriming rod will push out the spent primer.
2. Addition Of Primer, Wad, And Powder Charge
A new primer is then fitted into the case. It will be seated under the pressure with your press to the ideal depth. As a next step, the powder charge is then dropped inside the case. Additionally, a wad is inserted and will be put under pressure.
You can be considered lucky enough as the modern wads are deemed to be less fussy. But in order to squeeze all of the air out of the powder charge, it should be seated well under pressure at a minimum of 20 lbs. With the addition of the correct amount of shot to the wad cup, you’ll be all ready for the next step. Let’s move on.
3. Crimp The Hull
The next prime step starts the crimp and will effectively shape it in preparation for the final crimp. The last stage forms the finished crimp. When you begin the crimp with your press it will naturally fold the edges of the hull where it needs to be folded. This will result in a star shape. Also, the final crimp will bring these folds together tightly and thus keeps the shot in the hull.
Did you know that the crimp is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the completed shell? Yes, you heard that right! It is required to offer enough resistance to permit the powder to ignite well. On the other hand, it should also be open cleanly to release the content of the shell.
Also, make sure you have the apt tools in your press for the right type of crimp on the hull you are loading. Most of the target loads utilize an eight-point crimp. While field loads use a six-point crimp. Always remember to match this with the crimp dies.
While you learn how to reload shotgun shells, you should know that the crimp is where a majority of shotshells fail. You’ll know the hull has reached its end when there is crimp failure. It’s time to throw it away.
When you go hunting or if you are shooting in the main match, it is always advisable to use fresh hulls. It is because fresh hulls wouldn’t be stressed with multiple loadings. Alternatively, you can keep the seasoned hulls for practice sessions.
Conclusion – Time To Roll Your Guns!
We are sure that all your doubts on how to reload shotgun shells are cleared. Even though they may sound a bit difficult, it is much simpler and easier than you think. When you have all the components in front of you, you are sure to ace the job.
In a nutshell, shotshell handloading makes you capable of shooting more. The truth is no great shotgun shooter has achieved their skill without burning a lot of powder. Congratulations, you now know how to reload shotgun shells by hand very well. Make us proud of your skills!
Michael Castaneda is a 45-year old war veteran from Michigan with a deep interest in guns. After the war, Michael took a pledge to never touch a gun except for the purpose of self-defense. He created Machine Gun Books to guide people on self-defense and providing information on guns and accessories.