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Shotgun for the homestead Empty Shotgun for the homestead

Post by 12acrehome on Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:21 pm

In a previous post I expressed my opinion on shotguns types (as well as handguns and calibers) with a bias toward defensive uses. I feel like I am neglecting something in the shotgun discussion, and hope to correct that here. Shotguns have served military duty, defended homes and been deployed as a hunter's tool since their invention. I have already expressed the reasons why I would recommend a person stick to either a 12 or 20 gauge, so we will not re-hash that, nor will we get into action types again. Here I want to focus on hunting with shotguns and look more at the ammo available, and the benefits and draw backs of making your own ammunition.

Our modern shotguns and the shells that they use have evolved into a complex and little understood system for taking small game and birds. We even have specialized barrels that are rifled and unchoked that are as accurate as any rifle produced. I want to focus on the smooth bored barrels, and shot payloads, because I have no personal experience with slugs or slug barreled guns. So anyone wanting to add their thoughts about slugs and slug-guns would be very welcome to do so as a way of rounding out this posting.

So lets first look at barrel length for hunting tasks, and the balance of the gun. An English double gun (double barreled side by side smooth bore) will generally have an overall weight between 6 and 8 pounds with the weight centered at the hinge pin, or very close to it. Barrel lengths tend to be 22 to 26 inches (with some as long as 32 inches). These guns feel "lively" and are quick pointing. They are easy to swing with moving targets, and at home in pursuit of of quail, dove, pheasant, and other upland birds. The gauges range from 28 to 16 with both .410 and 12 gauge examples well represented. All are dual choked. I mean the right barrel and the left barrel are choked differently, and in a few examples are actually stamped for different loads, though this is rare. What does all this mean?? Simply put these guns all feel about the same when in the field, and barrel length seems to have little to do with how fast one of these guns is to come to the shoulder, or to the target. Contrast this with our typical pump gun, and you will quickly see that longer barrels are slower to come to the target, compared to shorter barreled guns from the same maker. Longer barreled guns, being more muzzle or barrel heavy, while slower to the target track with the moving target better than our shorter barreled and lighter muzzled guns. So why would that be important to know? What are you doing with your shotgun? Water fowl with high passing shots? or close flushing grouse or quail? The Quail and Grouse need a fast handling gun, as will Teal and Dove. Being close in, a more open choke will make hits surer. Turkey and Waterfowl with high passing shots, or stationary shots (for turkey) benefit from tight chokes and heavier muzzle barreled guns for steady shot placement.

So the ammunition or shell selection must be as simple as picking a shot size for the game intended, and a payload of shot also for the intended game right? Well...yes, but no not really. It takes only 3 to 5 pounds feet of energy, delivered by a single pellet, to the head of a squirrel to kill the squirrel instantly. Likewise, a single pellet carrying a mere 12 pounds feet of energy will pass completely through a squirrel. This will also instantly kill the squirrel, if that pellet hits a vital area or organ. So why do we need so many pellets from a shotshell? Why do we need to worry about how big those pellets are? Well range and movement come to mind. Pellets are usually round, or roundish. They do not fly true to the point of aim like a rifle bullet will. Being small and lightweight they do not carry much energy, and do not penetrate as well as expected. Some will penetrate as desired, but others in the same shot string may not. A middle of the road load for 12, 16, and 20 gauge guns is 1 ounce of shot traveling at 1,200 feet per second. Generically called field and target loads this is the most used shotshell loading in the US. An ounce of #6 size pellets is a great load for targets within 30 yards, and serves very well for rabbits, quail, pheasant, and squirrel. There are enough pellets in the shot string to have an effective pattern at 30 yards, and enough pellets to have a good dense pellet count through out the pattern (no holes in the shot pattern for a bird to slip through) With the 30 yard shot being ideal for lets say a modified choke, a full choked gun should extend that range to 35 or maybe 40 yards. Now we are asking a lot from our light weight pellets as they may not have the energy to kill with a single pellet hit. This is where we get to the secret of the shotgun. With multiple hits from many pellets hitting the target, each with just enough energy to penetrate a little, but no single pellet hit would prove fatal. Yet the target dies instantly. How? Multiple hits that overwhelm the central nervous system, and the drop in blood pressure cause nearly instant death. Larger pellets carry more energy per pellet, but smaller pellets offer denser patterns. This is where heavier payloads combined with larger shot allow shots to be taken at greater distances. In some cases you will find that the same gun will give full choke patterns with one load, and nearly cylinder bore (or unchoked) patterns with another. This is actually normal, and to be expected. This is where we get to discussing choke and loading your own shells. An in-depth discussion about shell loading and choke tuning will follow. For now lets sign off by saying that the modern shotgun is not nearly so crude as it would seem at first glance, and the ammunition it fires is even more so.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Shotgun for the homestead Empty Re: Shotgun for the homestead

Post by 12acrehome on Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:48 am

So you have a shotgun, and you've bought and fired a few shells of the cheapest shells you can find, but you are not quite satisfied with the performance. Being of self sufficient mind-set you are thinking maybe you'll just load your own and save a few bucks in the process too. Well hold on there pardner. Lets look at how much you shoot before we get into reloading. The fewer shots you fire, monthly or annually, the less sense reloading makes. Finding a good load that your gun shoots and patterns well can take a few hundred rounds being fired. The method of developing a good load that your gun likes involves picking out the right powder, the right wad and shot cup, which must be matched to the empty hull, then you need the shot pellets, and primers. Add to all this, you will need a way of removing fired primers, installing a new one, measuring powder and getting the correct amount into the shell, pressing a wad and shot cup into the shell, then measuring out the correct amount of shot and filling the shot cup with the pellets to the correct level, and lastly there is the crimp that folds the end of the shell over the entire powder and wad column and hold it all securely in place. What shot size did you want to try?? Shot comes in 25 pound bags and is a single size and type per bag. Reloading is for the high volume shooter, or the person wanting to build their own ammo to achieve some goal not attainable with store bought shells. Sorry to dash any aspirations, but I have stopped reloading shotgun shells since I no longer shoot competitively. On the other hand my presses and supplies are still at hand so should I choose to load something for a special purpose I can try a few. With 5 or 10 round packs being offered by stores specialty shells can be tried by the non-reloader as well, and nearly as easily.

So tips and tricks for those wanting to try loading their own custom ammunition. Pattern control is often thought of as simply how much or little choke a barrel has. The truth of the matter is pattern control is achieved through managing the relationship between the barrel dimensions, the shot cup, and the number of shot in the load. A slow moving shotstring (1,100 fps) will normally pattern tighter than a faster moving shot string (1,300 fps). A load built with a shotcup that has four pedals will open slower, and hold the shot in a tighter pattern when compared to a load built using a shotcup with 8 pedals. Pellet condition and shape also play a role in pattern size. Shape?? Yes shape. Not all shot pellets are round, some are square, having been cut from sheets of lead rather than molten lead being dribbled from a shot tower to create round(ish) ball shaped "chilled shot". The more round or spherical shaped the pellet, the tighter the pattern will be. So what do you want to do with your shotgun? Jump shots at rabbits on a cold morning when they seem to hang in close to heavy cover and won't flush until you almost step on them? You keep missing and do not have time for a second shot. You need a "spreader" load that throws a wide pattern. This is where the addition of a single lead ball (size depending on gauge of the gun) or even a short cone shaped wood filler to the bottom of the shotcup to cause the smaller shot to be pushed outward from the main body of the shot string is employed. Spreader loads are not effective past 20 yards since the pellets are scattered wider quicker than standard loadings. Going for pheasant? keep a few spreader loads, but look into magnum shot (hard shot pellets, plated are best) sized at #5 or #6 and you will want a pattern of 20" at 20 to 30 yards. Some use what is called a duplex shot load. Say 1 oz load, with 1/2 oz of #8 shot and 1/2 oz #5's. This gives you a dense pattern with an extra kick if the range is a little further than planned. The larger and heavier #5's carrying the energy further than the lighter, but more plentiful, #8's. The greater number of the smaller #8 pellets make close in hits surer. Looking for a duck and goose load for ranges out to 70 yards? Load the heaviest and largest legal pellets you can (BB or TTT or similar) use only plated shot, with the heaviest shotcup you can find. Now add a buffer material to the shot. This is a fluffy plastic material that protects the shot pellets during the ignition of the powder, and acceleration down the bore. Buffer material acts like a shock absorber between the pellets and keeps them from becoming some shape other than round. This link shows one method of adding buffer to the shot/wad column. http://www.ballisticproducts.com/bpi/articleindex/articles/buffer/buffer_page1.htm

Want a load to cut some mistletoe from the high branches of a tree? Forget standard pellets, get some heavy (60 pound test or heavier) fishing line, and split shot sinkers. Depending on the gauge and length of shell you will need 12" to 20" of line, with the sinkers crimped on every inch or two. Coil this into the shotcup and crimp into place. This is a miniature version of chain shot used in old shipboard cannons to cut the masts and foul the sails of other ships, and does well cutting small brush.

With the smoothbore, the sky is the limit when it comes to the possible uses and loads for the old trusty scattergun.

Happy Hunting everyone.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
12acrehome
Admin

Posts : 4596
Join date : 2012-01-27
Age : 52
Location : Sebree, Ky (USA)

https://www.facebook.com/keith.skaggs.9

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