Reloading for waterfowl

Skinnersblade

AH fanatic
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,610
Location
Nova Scotia canada
Media
52
Good afternoon gentlemen, I was wondering if anyone reloads for waterfowling, with the price for quality 20 gauge non toxic at 2.30 a round I’m planning on making my own any input would be greatly appreciated.
 

fourfive8

AH elite
Joined
Apr 27, 2017
Messages
1,808
Reaction score
3,104
Media
234
Hunted
USA, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana
Back in the day I did. Spent a lot of time researching and shooting patterning paper.
Steel shot shell reloading is much less forgiving than loading with lead. I retired from shot shell reloading before the flood of various other non-steel, non-toxic shot hit the market. Primary, I used MEC, NTC and Ballistic Products (BPI) materials and data. Loading an effective 20 ga steel shot shell (even a 3" shell) for waterfowl is a challenge because the pattern density, shot energy requirements for waterfowl having to be contained in the smaller payload volume of the 20 ga. hull. Of course that is less of an issue with non-toxic shot that is closer to or even exceeds lead in density. But my understanding is that some of the more dense types of shot also require special treatment in loading because they too are less malleable than lead and not unlike steel.

No matter the type of non-toxic shot, they all require very specific recipes that must be followed very closely.
 

CJW

AH enthusiast
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
475
Reaction score
653
I looked into it and like @fourfive8 said, it seems very finicky. I couldn't see it actually saving me any money by the time I have a load developed and who knows if it would actually be better than a factory load. My money is better spent on buying a variety of loads and testing.

You must be shooting hevi-shot or similar?
 

Skinnersblade

AH fanatic
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,610
Location
Nova Scotia canada
Media
52
I looked into it and like @fourfive8 said, it seems very finicky. I couldn't see it actually saving me any money by the time I have a load developed and who knows if it would actually be better than a factory load. My money is better spent on buying a variety of loads and testing.

You must be shooting hevi-shot or similar?
Yes hevi-metal or hevi-bismuth depending on availability. A case of hevi-metal is 595.99 here for 250 rounds
 

IvW

AH legend
Joined
Dec 20, 2016
Messages
3,647
Reaction score
7,225
Location
South Africa
Media
62
Articles
3
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
BASA, CHASA
Hunted
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia,Zambia
Depends on how many rounds you use...a lot becomes a shlep....
I reload 12ga for slugs and 12ga for shot...I use solid brass cases but it can be a tedius but satisfying exercise...you tend to shoot better though as you only take shots that will produce instead of just banging away with the attitude of as long as there is lead in the air there is hope....
 

Longwalker

AH fanatic
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
836
Reaction score
1,846
Location
Canada
Media
81
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
4
Member of
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Gun Dog Club
Hunted
Canada, USA, Germany, South Africa, Namibia
I load for the less popular 16 ga, because I can't always find the correct ammunition in 16 ga. for the shooting I have in mind. I can load bismuth waterfowl loads for quite a lot less $$ than factory loaded bismuth shells. Steel shot 16 ga. loads in factory or handload form are very marginal performers in my experience. So I don't shoot steel much in a 16 ga. I can load lead target loads for the 16 ga. that perform better than the cheap lead "game" loads that I might buy if I could find them with appropriate sized lead shot.
However, loading 20 ga. 3" steel shot shells does not seem like an attractive activity to me, since the factory loads are quite good, generally available and not so expensive. I personally wouldn't bother with heavy metal / tungsten loads in a 20 ga. If that much power and range is needed, I'd just choose to use a 12 ga. and pay half as much for shells.
Lately i've been loading a lot of old time fibre wad loads. I don't like leaving a bunch of plastic wad litter behind on the land and water every time I'm out shooting. The old style fibre wads degrade very quickly and perform Ok for many of the jobs that I use them for.
 

Skinnersblade

AH fanatic
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,610
Location
Nova Scotia canada
Media
52
@Longwalker i shot a 12 until I partially tore a trapezius at work and damaged the ligaments in the same shoulder. I can’t take the abuse on the shoulder at current. The hevi- loads are better performers on geese.
 

Longwalker

AH fanatic
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
836
Reaction score
1,846
Location
Canada
Media
81
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
4
Member of
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Gun Dog Club
Hunted
Canada, USA, Germany, South Africa, Namibia
Oh, I completely agree that heavy-shot loads work better on geese. And injured body parts are not fun and so modifying your equipment makes perfect sense. But I do wonder about choosing a heavily loaded 20 ga. 3" gun instead of a light loaded 2-3/4" 12. The 12 will both kick less and kill better, and will do it with cheaper shells. It's just the physics of shotgunning, not a personal criticism.
20 ga. guns generally weigh less. That makes them easier to carry and swing, but they kick harder with the same payload because they are lighter and slimmer. 3" small bore shells always pattern poorer than the same payload fired in a larger bore with a shorter shot column. 20 ga. Magnum 3" shells also always cost more than 2-3/4" 12 ga. I shoot anywhere from a few dozen to a couple hundred geese every fall, and generally do most of it with 2-3/4" 12 ga loads of 1-1/16 oz of steel, normally size #1 if I can get it, BB or 2's if not. 1500 or 1550 fps loads kill better than slower load of steel. But I like and use 16 and 20 ga. guns too, and haul out the 12 ga. 3" heavy shot or tungsten or bismuth loads when pass shooting Greater Canadas or cranes.
I think the best performing 20 ga. loads are likely to be the tungsten - iron ( heavy metal) alloy shot. The handloads I have made with that shot made my 16 ga. shoot like a 12 ga. magnum. Even shot as small as #6 killed geese very cleanly at ranges as far as 60 yards. But you must be very careful not to damage the bore of your gun with those loads.
Loading tungsten - iron shot requires special techniques. A teflon wrapper inside the shot cup, very dense, hard plastic shot cups specifically chosen for the job, and carefully calibrated powder charges because pressure of published Tungsten- Iron loads are nearly always at the maximum safe limit.
I don't recommend bismuth in 20 ga magnum loads. The relatively long shot column, and high pressure that go along with those 20 ga magnum loads means the quite brittle bismuth shot must be buffered so that pellets at the bottom end of the shot cup don't shatter from the impact of firing. Buffer is a pain in the butt to add to shotshells. But it does help.
 

shootist~

Silver supporter
AH enthusiast
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
499
Reaction score
563
Location
Albuquerque, NM
Media
11
Member of
NRA Life Member, USPSA Certified Range Officer (inactive), NRA Certified Instructor (inactive)
Hunted
USA, Mexico
Absolutely correct. A 20 often has more recoil than a good 12ga. Weight being the primary factor.
 

Longwalker

AH fanatic
Joined
Apr 2, 2015
Messages
836
Reaction score
1,846
Location
Canada
Media
81
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
4
Member of
Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Gun Dog Club
Hunted
Canada, USA, Germany, South Africa, Namibia
Skinnersblade, try Sporteque in Quebec for Ballistic Products reloading components, or Will Bilozir in Alberta. Stock is pretty scarce at both stores currently, but they can special order what you need, including data manuals.
 

Skinnersblade

AH fanatic
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,610
Location
Nova Scotia canada
Media
52
Thanks @Longwalker I’ll try my luck there, if I can’t soon source materials I’m just going to order a couple cases of hevi and postpone reloading them another year. With the way the supply chain is I figure to do any amount of water fouling this fall I want my shells sourced early.
 

Nevada Mike

AH enthusiast
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
318
Reaction score
373
Location
S.E. Arizona
Media
5
I shoot mainly 16 ga. and 20 ga. I do not like steel... most of my guns are classics and not suited to steel shot. Bismuth kills better in any case and is not TOO expensive to reload. I buy bismuth from Roto Metals.

Steel is fine within 30 yards in a suitable weapon, but becomes unreliable at longer distance in my experience.
 

Skinnersblade

AH fanatic
Joined
Dec 15, 2019
Messages
867
Reaction score
1,610
Location
Nova Scotia canada
Media
52
I shoot mainly 16 ga. and 20 ga. I do not like steel... most of my guns are classics and not suited to steel shot. Bismuth kills better in any case and is not TOO expensive to reload. I buy bismuth from Roto Metals.

Steel is fine within 30 yards in a suitable weapon, but becomes unreliable at longer distance in my experience.
If you don’t mind I’ll pm you some questions
 

Forum statistics

Threads
37,639
Messages
719,391
Members
67,307
Latest member
FredaB1288
 

 

 

Latest posts

Latest profile posts

RicardoT wrote on Jan007's profile.
Hallo , ek stel belang as die 375 steeds beskikbaar is 083 511 9921
Cervus elaphus wrote on Bob Nelson 35Whelen's profile.
Hi Bob, how's things going in Wyong?. Down your way a couple of years back but haven't been in NSW since Ebor for the fishing. just getting over some nasty storms up here in Qld, seeing the sun for the first time in a few days. I'm going to NZ in the spring and hope to clean up a few buns while there and perhaps shake the spiders out of my old .303LE (currently owned by my BIL). Cheers Brian
A couple pictures of the sable i chased for miles in Mozambique, Coutada 9!! We finally caught up to him and I had the trophy of a lifetime. Mokore Safaris, Doug Duckworth PH
sable Coutada 9.JPG
sable 2 - Coutada 9.JPG
Safari Dave wrote on egrmpty507's profile.
Did you purchase your hunt at a US SCI fundraiser?
uplander01 wrote on colorado's profile.
Heard you may have load data for the 500 Jeffery,.....any info would be appreciated. Was thinking 535gr, but already had a response that the 570gr would be a better way to go, not sure why.
 
Top