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Trap with a .410 - and Steel ammo!

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by scott calhoun, Jul 20, 2007.

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  1. scott calhoun

    scott calhoun Well-Known Member

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    For those that don't know, we are required to shoot steel shotshells at my "home" club in Naperville.

    Another ts.com'er and fellow Naperville member, Spitter, loaded up about 15 .410 shells with #7 steel shot. He used standard .410 loading data and just substituted steel for the lead. Each shell contained around 140 pieces of shot, or about 1/3 of an ounce. ** DISCLAIMER - don't try this at home, this is not a tested receipe and might not be safe **. However, our prior ballistic testing with 12 gauge showed that safe pressures can be maintained with steel with low shot-weights.

    Jay has a Browning .410 O/U and was looking for a victim to try out his loads, so I agreed to be the test pilot for this one. I broke 5 of 9 from the 16 yard line, and surprisingly the breaks were pretty good - much better than I expected. A couple of other guys tried out the remainder of the shells - although I had the highest hit percentage :)

    We frequently get people who come to the range that want to introduce their kids to the sport, but steel shotshell target loads in .410 are not available so in many cases they can't shoot because the kids can't yet handle a 20 gauge (the smallest we have shells for). And while it's not likely that these people will run out and get reloading components so they can create their own loads, it might be worth developing this type of load for use during special events (such as our club open house that draws many families to the range).

    Plus, we were even tossing around the idea of a special event for club members shooting .410 steel. It was pretty fun trying to break those targets with 1/3 oz of shot!

    Scott
     
  2. scott calhoun

    scott calhoun Well-Known Member

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    Greg -

    For our 12 gauge loads we have ballistic data that was developed using a couple different wads designed for steel (one from Italy, the other from Sweden). These was provide the proper protection of the barrel.

    We have also done ballistic testing on 12 gauge steel loads using wads designed for lead (i.e. AA wads). We know they can be used (with the appropriate recipe) without causing pressure issues, but the steel shot will perforate these wads. At that point it's user-choice about using lead wads since the load is safe. What it does to your barrels is your issue to deal with.

    The same would be true for the .410 loads. We literally shot 16 shells last night, that was all Jay loaded, and we didn't even make an attempt to track down the wads to see what they looked like.

    Scott
     
  3. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Out of curiosity, will that steel .410 load cycle an 1100?
     
  4. scott calhoun

    scott calhoun Well-Known Member

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    Greg -

    We always pay for ballistic testing on any load that we plan to use long-term. That said, we have enough experience with reloading steel (coming up on 6 years) that we are able to extrapolate to a certain degree with pretty good accuracy (as an example, when we switched from the Italian wad to the Swedish wad all of the loads we sent for testing were safe, and we put them together based on what we had previously tested with the Italian wad). Extrapolation is no substitute for testing, and there's no we would go down this road any further without testing.

    The steel perforating the wads and scratching the barrel is an issue - but the question is how big of an issue. Some say it will take many thousands of rounds before it makes any difference, and so what if I've got a few scratches in my barrel. Others don't want to take any chances with scratches in their barrel. As I mentioned earlier, it is more personal preference than anything else, and isn't a safety issue.

    We've also found, the result of 10's of thousands of rounds, that #7 steel doesn't appear to cause any harm to barrels, either with tubes or fixed chokes. The real issue with steel and chokes seems to be when you get into larger shot sizes and there is more chance for bridging as the shot goes thru the choke. In fact, one high-end firearm manufacturer told us - off the record - that they did not have any concerns with shooting steel thru their barrels that are marked "factory lead only". I also don't believe pressure would have any effect on the choke tubes - or if it does I'm unable to see the connection.

    I don't want anyone to get the idea that we are just making up loads as we go along. We all recognize the proper approach to developing loads for which there is no published data.

    Scott
     
  5. skeezix

    skeezix Member

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    Scott, do you have any experience with the Indie Cast steel shot that RSI has on their website? It's a cast steel product and it is not annealed. I have no idea if the stuff is round or if looks like slag.

    john
     
  6. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    Gregg,

    The point of the .410 exercise was to determine whether 1/3 oz of shot was ballistically capable of soundly breaking birds and the answer is yes.

    I might argue a bit on semantics with Scott on making up our own loads. I took a detour using my methodology, basing it upon a deliberate strategy. Scott and others built an inventory of loads, based upon the few existing loads previously published. They've all been tested to be safe.

    Of the thousands of steel rounds I've put through my 12 gauges using a WT12 AA-type wad, one would be hard pressed to say I'm damaging the barrel of my BT or 425.

    That said, from an economic perspective, the money I continue to save on wads and shot can more than replace the barrels if and when they wear out in a few decades.

    When you're trying to get ahead of the curve, its always lonely. Like the steel we shoot, the methodology behind it is evolving, but with the industry committed to lead, we've got to make our own findings.

    Jay Spitz
     
  7. scott calhoun

    scott calhoun Well-Known Member

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    Greg -

    I didn't realize I was going to have to pass some kind of test in order to share our findings. I understand that if you take things literally it would seem like it was just a bunch of knuckleheads trying stuff out - and if that's what you want to think then that's fine.

    The reality is that we've probably got more experience with the ballistics of steel than anyone outside of an ammo company, so there is some credence to our claim that we know what we are doing - we have a perfect track record when it comes to steel reloading.

    If someone wants to run steel down their barrel and suffer the consequences of scratches, that's their business. That's the only point I was trying to make in that regard. Believe me, we've chased down lots of wads in an effort to find out what happens when you shoot steel. And as Jay mentioned, it was a test of 16 rounds just to see if targets would break with that little of a payload. No point in doing a bunch of testing (and paying the money for it) to develop a safe but ineffective load.

    If pops and fizzles were the hallmark of flying by the seat of your pants, half the guys on the line wouldn't get a second chance. Even tested recipes will pop and fizzle if you don't load them right.

    Scott
     
  8. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    "Playing around" would indicate a complete disregard for safety. By systematically taking a published lead load and substituting an equal volume of lighter steel for lead is not "flying by the seat of my pants".

    It is a probable conclusion that wad perforation occured - I don't have to see it to know it. But my point is... even if wad perforation is occuring, the few striations on a barrel's bore will not dissuade me from continuing my quest to shoot .410 with steel.

    Irrespective of what you may think about the "damage" to the barrel bore", that is a deliberate strategy to develop a load.

    For clarification, the reloading was not perfect because of equipment issues. #7 steel is difficult to drop in an unmodified MEC 12 gauge, let alone in a .410 tool. That is an issue we'll have to keep working on because hand dipping is not practical! (LOL)

    Jay
     
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