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Discussion Starter #1
Been shooting and reloading AAs since I started shooting in 2005. Have been happy with the results, but this past summer I reloaded some Federal GMs that I had laying around with some Claybuster 12S3 clones and Green Dot. Was VERY impressed with the breaks I've gotten with that load. Recently picked up 1000 once fired GMs from a local shooter, and plan on doing some more work with that hull, Fed 209As, e3 for singles, Green Dot for Handicap, with either the Fed 12S3 or the Claybuster clone. Price compared the two wads online, and it looks like the Federal wad will cost nearly double the Claybuster wad. Any advantage in the Federal over the Claybuster?

Also, any thoughts on PB powder with these components for a 1200 to 1250 fps handicap load? I know PB isn't cheap, but how cosistent is it, and how well does it meter?

Thanks,

~Michael
 

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I hope you are using a reloading manual for powder selection and primer selection. The Gold Medal hull is a straight walled hull and usually takes about a grain more powder. Fred
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info on PB. IIRC, it's recieved some high praise here, but if Green Dot will do a better job, I'll stick with it.

Fred, I'm using reload data right from Alliant's site, and I'm aware of the differences between tapered and straight walled cases.

I'm sure the Downrange will load easier than the normal snap crakle and pop that Claybusters make, but I've been pretty impressed with how hard the Claybusters have broken birds. When it comes to performance, is there any difference between the Federal, Claybuster, or Downrange? Any problems in colder weather?

Thanks,

~Michael
 

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Slick13:

I've shot clones, primarily Claybusters, ever since they first became available. If your criteria is performance, any quality clone (Claybuster, Downrange, and Duster to name a few) will perform as well as OEM wads. This is true for Federal's 12S3 but equally true for clones of Remington and Winchester wads.

Discussing propellants (PB and others) is rather like discussing which brand of pickup is best. Some guys like Fords. Some like Chevys. Others prefer Dodge or Toyota's. So it is with powders. Some guys like Green Dot for low recoil handicap loads. Others prefer International Clays, so on and so forth.

PB is a very good powder but IMO unreasonably expensive. There isn't anything about PB's performance, consistency, or metering characteristics to justify spending the extra money.

sissy
 

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I sell, load, and shoot the Dowrnage 12S3 replacement wad. Their version is called the DRF3. I load it in Federal Top Guns, and Federal Gold Medals. It loads super slick, and with ALOT less plastic buildup. I ship by bag, case, or pallet. If you would like to try some, or discuss options...please conatct me.

Matt - Woodson Enterprises
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (270) 804-5454
 

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I tried the sample Downrange 12S3 clones with my tried and true load that used Claybusters, changing only the wad, and got some very soft sounding shells.

I have had the best luck with Claybuster wads.

Easy loading means nothing if they don't perform.
 

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I have loaded Gold Metal/PB/12S3 for 25 years. I have been loading for shotgun trap loads for 45 years. I have not found a better terget breaker than this combo. It also has the lowest recoil. Great patterns in all guns I have tried. Very consistant chrono results. I have tried a multitude of powders. PB for serious work. I DON'T CARE about the cost. If you can afford to blow off,into the air,$7-10 worth of money in 15 minutes,why are you crying & whining about saving 25-50 cents. Stay with the Fed 209A primer & start with 19.0-19.3 grains of PB. Go up .5 grain at a time until YOU get what YOU want for performance/recoil. The Fed. S series are one of the best wad types made. I do not use clone wads because I have never really worked with them on the pattern board or the range. I can only say that people that sell lots of componants tell me that CERTAIN BRANDS of clones are not as good. Poor patterns/lots of plastic,etc. Do buy,beg/borrow a # of PB & try that 19 grain load. Yes,that is very low compared to the book. Try it & watch your breaks. Call me prejudiced if you want,but after quite a few 10's of thousands of this load,I am prejudiced. Tom Lobonc
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Actually, I haven't seen much plastic fouling with the Claybuster 12S3. That wasn't the case though with their Winchester clones!

Best thing to do is probably pick up a bag of each wad and a 14 oz can of PB (I've already got a 4 lb jug of Green Dot), and do some experimenting over the next couple months before I need to place an order for a large amount of components.

~Michael
 

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Michael - The Claybuster clones will work very well. The powders you selected (Green Dot for handicap and e3 for singles) are excellent choices. Some other powders might work as well, but none will work better.

The impressive target breaks you achieved with Green Dot and the GM hull were a result of a good load and your good shooting. I would give the load about 2% credit and your shooting 98% credit for the way the target broke. Shooting a very poor load well is always superior to shooting a very good load poorly.

Pat Ireland
 

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I'd prefer the Downrange DRF3 to the Claybuster clone, but would use the original Federal wad if money were not an issue. I would also continue using the Green Dot powder. It's a great performer at much less cost than the PB these days. I've never had an off sounding load with any of the 12S3 wads or clones. I'm particular and test my loads over a chronograph at cold temperatures to be sure. That said, I have seen no real appreciable difference in performance/pattern between any of the components mentioned. One factor that does make a difference in cold weather is the primer. Winchester, Rio, CCI 209M, or Federal 209A primers seem to work well at the colder temps. Cheddites are a close second. The Rios seem to be a little less consistent. The Fiocchi 616 primers have been a great disappointment for some loads in colder weather.
 

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Quack Shot- Testing loads at low temperatures with a chronograph is a pretty good way to measure the effectiveness of a wad. Inconsistencies in gas sealing by the wad may be hidden at warm temperatures but they should show up when things are cold.

Pat Ireland
 

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Pat,

You'd be surprised at how poorly some wads perform when cold. I usually eliminate the primer as a source for trouble and then look at the wads. I usually freeze some wads separately alongside and see how they feel when cold. I've had some that were so poor, you could fracture them with your fingers if you have a decent grip. Sort of like the old Turkish Taffy that you could smack and crack when cold. Some powder and primer combinations will give a lot of trouble as well. It will definitely tell you if the loads might be a good candidate for cold weather shooting. When they perform poorly, it's time to look at what you put together. Sometimes a change in wad or primers will be the fix. Some powders are an issue. I usually stay away from single base powders for cold weather. They are generally harder to ignite. That's one reason why Rio shells sometimes perform poorly in colder weather. They used a single base powder with a hot primer in order to try and make it work. The last ones I shot in cold weather were exactly that. The last ones! When I saw the Rio, and other UEE manufactured shells, base wads migrating up in the hulls, that was a deal killer. I shoot a gaspipe and won't risk it. I will shoot the new AA hulls, since I have never seen a basewad come loose in one. I might reconsider that practice if/when I encounter one.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Fed 12S3s and Downrange clones of them came in the mail today. The Fed, Downrange, and Claybusters that I weighed were all within a couple grains of each other. The Federals load the same as the Claybuster, crack, snap, pop, as they go into the hull. The Downrange wad went in nice and slick, as expected. Before loading any shells I compared the over powder cups of the wads, and the Fed and Claybuster were the same (.720). The Downrange was .020 smaller at .700. Loaded up 150 shells, 50 with each wad, with the same recipe. Fed GM hull, Fed 209A, 19.7 gr Green Dot (plan on using closer to 21 gr. for long yardage), 1 1/8 oz of 7 1/2. If old man winter cooperates, I may get to try them out this weekend.

~Michael
 

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Instead of paying a fortune for PB, look at Alliant's Unique. It is very soft shooting, low pressure, and one can load 1 1/8 oz to the ATA velocity limit, if desired, or load to 1200 fps.
 

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I think I've tried most powders at one time or another for 27 yard handicap, and GD patterns the best of all with one exception. PB patterns just as well with a slight reduction in recoil, as far as I can tell. That's without changing any other componet. I do think PB is the premere powder on the market, bar none.
 

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biff:

In a Gold Medal hull 22.5 grains of Unique with Fed209A primer and a 12S3 wad is the standard 1200 fps load. Alliant has a 1250 or 1255 fps load but I don't remember how much more Unique it takes.

Unique is good but it takes 10 to 12% more of it to get the same results as with Green Dot. I don't mind paying a premium if I get something in return but I can't tell a difference in recoil between the two.

sissy
 
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