Making shells for short chambers - a bit of a tutorial

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:13 pm
Several folks have asked about the shells that we load for our Crass and Lewis model so that we could shoot them before we had them opened up to take a 2 3/4" shell.
Thought that I would post a few pictures about how we did it. I do most of the reloading on a Hornady Apex press, but we picked up an old Redding press that I adjusted to final crimp with.

First, start with a fired shell and deprime it as you normally would.

Empty.JPG
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Then take and cut the shell down to 2 3/8". I made a fixture from an old V-block that I had laying around, and I cut the shells on a band saw, but they can be cut with a utility knife. It you saw them, they can be de-burred with your thumbnail. Any fuzz will burn off when you shoot it.

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Length.JPG
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:23 pm
Prime as you normally would. We use CCI 209 primers for our loads.

Priming.JPG
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Now, it's time for the powder.
On this load, we are using smokeless powder, but creating a load that is light enough to use in Damascus barrels. But don't worry about it being too underpowered. It'll break any bird on the skeet range as long as I do my part.
The measure will give us 21 grains of PB powder. PB seems to give a softer blow, while still giving the shot enough OOMPH to do the job.

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Finally, start a 1/8" nitro card wad. Both the nitro cards, cushion wads, and overshot cards are available from Mike's Quality Wads.

Nitro.JPG
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:34 pm
Now we're getting to the wads.
For this smokless powder load, we are going to use 1 & 1/2 of the standard 12 ga. cushion wads.
If this was a black powder load, we would only use 1 cushion wad

Cushions.JPG
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Put it in your press, and give it approximately 50 lbs of wad pressure.
I have found that it is much easier to start the wads with the standard wad fingers on the press.

Seating.JPG
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Finally, it is time to add the shot. This is a trap load for my wife, so we are using 1 oz. of #8 shot. I like to use 7/8oz. of #9's for my skeet load. Simply pour in 1 measure full.

Shot.JPG
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:47 pm
Almost done.
Now we are to the part that is different from a normal shell. We must add an overshot card to hold the shot in. Overshots are just thin cardboard. I like to write the load on the overshot card, to help me remember what it is. If this was a black powder load, I would also have the drams listed, as well.

Overshot.JPG
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Now we are ready to crimp.
Ignore tour press's crimp starter. It won't even touch the shell.
I run the shell up in my Hornady press crimp die. It will roll over the top of the shell just like it is a normal shell. I could get it to finish the shell, but I would have to run the die down, and I don't like changing it. (Because I have a hard time getting it reset for regular shells)
Sorry that this picture is a bit out of focus
First Crimp.JPG
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Them I do my final crimping in the old Redding press. This one is set a little lower, but really not all that much.

Final crimp.JPG
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:54 pm
So there you have it.
A finished shell that you can use in your Damascus-barrelled Ithaca SxS's with shorter chambers.

Finished.JPG
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I've shown it here next to a factory Remington shell.

With Factory.JPG
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Needless to say, before you go out and shoot your gun, make sure that you have it checked by a competant gunsmith. But if they are in good shape, don't let such a classy lady hang on the wall. Take her out and let her dance!
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:02 pm
Wow, Skeeter, that was great, thanks! Very informative!
--Jim

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:08 pm
BP, thank you so much for posting that.

I've read some about PB powder but I've never met anyone who used it. Do you only use it for these low pressure loads, or do you use it for you modern shotshell loads too? I've heard that it gives great patterns.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:42 am
We also use PB in 20 ga.
This load chronys about 1050 fps. We also had one with 23.5 grains that chrony'd about 1150, but we felt that it was just a little too stout for the damascus barrells.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:00 am
That was extremely interesting, Skeeter, thanks again. where did you get your crimping die?
Have you ever used an antique roll crimper?
--Jim

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:26 pm
Those are simply the dies that normally come with the press. By cutting them to 2 3/8", that is the same roll that you would put on a modern shell, where the crimp would be recessed .055.
I have never used an antique roll crimper. Cost is a bit prohibitive, and this does good enough for what I want.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 11:39 pm
BP do you also reload for modern shotguns as well? How does the PB perform in them? I'm just starting to put together my reloading supplies to roll my own. I haven't reloaded since I was a kid with my dad. I read that PB is more expensive than the others but that some of the older guys claim they get the best patterns with PB. What do you think?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:51 am
Colonel,
I do reload modern shotshells, as well. I prefer Clays in our regular shells, because we want to run them closer to 1200 fps. PB in 12 ga isn't recommended for that load in the books.
I do load 20 ga. with PB. We don't shoot that much 20, so I'm not going to invest in a special powder like 20/28 or something like that.
As far as being more expensive, I just bought another can on Tue., and I paid $20 for it. I think that I pais about $19.50 for my last can of Clays, so that's about even.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:40 am
thanks for the info, Skeeter. I'm absolutely fascinated. have you ever tried using something bullseye in your BP loads? Just curious.

Col, I reload 20 and 28 exclusively (that is about all I shoot now) and use 20/28 just because I have one powder for two sizes. most of my shooting buddies use red dot and clays.
--Jim

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:03 am
Thanks gentlemen. BP thanks for letting me hijack your thread. I'm trying to learn all I can before jumping in. again, that wad some awesome information BP. Thanks for sharing.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:53 pm
Col, I feel the same way, This incredibly interesting. I may have to find an old hammer gun.
And thank you again skeeter, you've opened my eyes to a whole new world.
--Jim

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:55 am
Just bringing this to the top for our new folks :lol:
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 8:27 am
I have an acquaintance with an old double barreled hammer gun with Damascus barrels. He solely shoots black powder in it. I found him some paper 16ga shells recently as paper is easier to shoot BP in he says.

He also trims them down and reloads in pretty much the same scenerio, just using BP. His usage is primarily for hunting birds with his shotgun.

Black powder is pretty mild and is actually easy to learn how to load for and how to clean your guns.

The reason I brought this up is to let folks know that there are multiple options for bringing the old ones back into service .............. safely and without damage to the gun.

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