November 21, 2014 at 11:12 am #29878
One of the key features that makes a shotgun so useful is it’s ability to use a variety of projectile payloads. There are three primary type of payloads you can have in a shotgun shell: slugs, buckshot, and small game/bird shot.
To make slugs and buckshot you can simply use a mold and cast your own by pouring molten lead into the mold.
However, shot with a diameter smaller than about #F shot (0.22″ or 5.59 mm) starts to get problematic to cast due to the surface tension properties of lead and how a conventional mold works. Small game/bird shot tends to be much smaller than that. For example one of the most useful sizes of lead shot is #6 shot, which is 0.11″ (2.79 mm) and one of the sizes in loads most commonly sold at big retailers in the USA are bulk packs of shells loaded with #7-1/2 shot (0.095″ or 2.41 mm ) and #8 shot (0.09″ or 2.29 mm).
Commercial small diameter lead shot has traditionally been made in a shot tower, where molten lead is sprinkled or sprayed from a tall height, the drops each form a sphere on the way down, and they land in water. The collected shot is then sorted by size through screens.
On the American frontier settlers either attempted to make homemade ‘drop shot’, where they spooned molten lead into a grating or screen of some sort that was suspended over a bucket of water, or they did what the native tribes did and used carefully selected river gravel. Drop shot often tends to be somewhat tear drop shaped.
There is a third method for making small diameter lead shot and that is a ‘dribbler’. Lead is melted in a steel container that has a hole in the bottom at one end that is the diameter of the shot you want to make. Due to the nature of lead and it’s inherent surface tension, instead of pouring through the hole in a solid stream it will come through the hole in a stream of drops, each the diameter of the hole. The drops land on a ramp and they then roll down the ramp as little spheres into a container of water where the lead spheres instantly harden.
In the US they sell a commercially made machine that does this on a large scale called a ‘Littleton Shotmaker’. This machine costs hundreds of dollars. However, the modern day Russians seem to have perfected the art of making really good small diameter, homemade lead shot with equipment that is made from scavenged parts and materials.
Below is a link to one of the best videos I’ve seen on the subject. It’s all in Russian, but you don’t need to speak Russian to understand what is going on. What is interesting is that to lube the shot with graphite after they make it they will crush the cores of a couple of pencils and use the graphite from that. In a homemade shot dribbler it’s common to have a long metal pin of some sort plugging up the hole, which is then pulled out after the lead has completely melted.November 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm #29902
I can’t remember where i saw this or who told me about it, hope you don’t mind me adding it to your post.
Never be afraid to do the righteous thing, nothing righteous is ever easy.November 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm #29903
Vep, Thanks for posting this video, makes me wish I still had my progressive press for shotgun shells. I was impressed with his smelting processing and in paticular how hot his big torch was. His shot making rig was great, I love the simplicity.
I have to comment on the safety aspect, he had no PPE in any phase. While smelting In the manner he was operating, I would want a heavy leather apron a face shield, arm and hand protection like production welders use. Lead can act like it is exploding if moisture is present throwing globs. There are few things more painful then massive burns. Lead sticks to your skin and wont come off. It’s not like you can jerk away from the heat.
Gloves. No one should handle lead like that without gloves.November 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm #29904
KOS, That was interesting, have you shot any of them? They obviously will not feed reliability in a pump or semiautomatic shotgun.November 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm #29908
Cut shells are a good way to ruin a good or even cruddy shotgun.
A classic example of something one watches and realizes just how stupid and dangerous it is. The pressures involved, the steel involved, its much like driving across the country with bald tires that have wires sticking out. Sure people have gotten away with it, that doesn’t mean its smart.
As to shot making, taking two steel plates and rolling lead bits between them is easier and no heat involved.
One can make buckshot by taking spent .22 bulets and rolling them round with the plates.
birdshot can be made by cutting little cubes of lead out of a lead sheet and rolling them round again.
Of course one can always just use the “cubic shot” as is, and have a homemade copy of a cubic shot ‘spreader load”.
Shot towers use screens and a water bath after a long drop, the drop allows the shot to become round during the drop instead of the teardrop shape of the close quench.
Casting buckshot is time consuming, and a great deal of the effectiveness comes from what hardness lead you use and buffers/wadding. It does take a bit of experimentation. Still follow your shotshell reloading manuals as shotguns aren’t built to contain pressures that rifles are, nor are they tested the same way.November 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm #29913
ya I must say the shot column really has to squeeze down to fit through the barrel, as much as 3/32″. I’d be scared of a blowup.November 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm #29922
Between barrel failures (breaches/splits) and the accelerated wear that one puts on the gun, it’s just not worth it when one can get slugs cheaply.
One can also handload them cheaply if one feels the need.
Just keep in mind that stupidity with ammo is often self correcting.November 22, 2014 at 3:26 am #29969
So long as you don’t have an over-bored barrel and you are running a cylinder choke, a cut shell if done properly shouldn’t be too hazardous to the weapon. If you need a slug, though, all you have are rounds loaded with small diameter shot, and you have some advance knowledge of such a need, a wax slug is a far better option.
A wax slug, for those unfamiliar, is where you cut the very tip of the shell off and dump the shot into a pan, leaving the wad and powder in place. You then melt wax in the pan with the shot. It can be any kind of wax, even crayons. You then use a spoon and you scoop up the wax laden shot and pour it back into the shell. After all of the shot is back in the shell, you let it harden. Don’t simply try and pour wax into the cut open end of a shell over the shot. The results will be very poor if you do that.
What you have when you do that is something akin to a giant ‘Glaser’ safety slug, and similar to a modern day ‘breaching’ round. It’s minute of deer accurate out to about 50 yards.November 22, 2014 at 5:22 am #29983
good to know thanks all.
I haven’t tried it because I was worried about failure as well. Should have posted that sorry, glad you guys where there to catch it before someone tried it and got hurt.
Really burnt out, been on the road for a few days and that should have been an obvious safety warning.
Its in the bag of tricks non the less.
As is the wax slug now thank you Can’t imagine it would stop a bear tho.
Never be afraid to do the righteous thing, nothing righteous is ever easy.November 22, 2014 at 6:20 am #29985
The wax slug while still not the greatest idea, is a great deal safer than the cut shells as the diameter of the shot charge is within tolerances for the bore and throat areas.
You may still have an issue with tighter choke constrictions but using softer wax, it will allow some compression movement that you don’t get with the cut shells.
Cylinder bore is the best choice here.
If you feel the need to use a choke tube, use an external constricted turkey choke.
As I recall, there’s some interesting data on another website on slugs, will post it in am when I’m not on a tablet.November 22, 2014 at 6:54 am #29989
Never be afraid to do the righteous thing, nothing righteous is ever easy.November 22, 2014 at 11:29 am #30014
At any range close enough where you will be able to help someone getting mauled by a bear, a shotgun slug will more than suffice if that is what you currently have.November 22, 2014 at 11:32 am #30015
Ya know what he’s gonna say don’t ya?November 22, 2014 at 11:42 am #30017
A .22LR will kill a grizzly, and one was killed with a .410 load of birdshot up in Montana about 12 years ago (they found the wad in the sow grizzly’s nostril – it was close). A very desperate hunter killed one with a Buck 110 folding knife. However, those are all rare exceptions.
An enraged grizzly is a lot of adrenaline and muscle with claws and teeth that is moving around fast. There might be something that is a bit of a better choice than a 7.62x39mm to serve as your primary weapon of close range defense against one. I’m sure it could fatally injure one, but would it die before it shredded you or someone else? That is the question. If semi-auto is what you want, put a rifled slug barrel on a Mossberg 930.
For normal bear control, before it becomes a problem, they make specialty 12ga rounds, often called ‘bear bombs’, which are designed to try and scare bears off.November 22, 2014 at 11:46 am #30019
Vep has it on this one. I have read many Alaskan guides carry slug guns for protection.
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