Reloading for waterfowl

Skinnersblade

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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@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

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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.
 

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Absolutely correct. A 20 often has more recoil than a good 12ga. Weight being the primary factor.
 

Longwalker

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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

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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

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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

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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
 

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