Improvised shotgun loads: enjoy the vids, but please don’t try it at home

Posted May 6, 2014 by muzzlevelocity in Ammunition

An interesting, somewhat recent, trend within the YouTube gun community involves perhaps terminally curious firearms enthusiasts packing random substances and materials (ranging from wax and silly putty to chunks of rebar) into primed and charged 12-gauge shotshell hulls and recording the results. While the resulting footage is undeniably interesting (and we’re going to link to some of the more notable vids shortly) it cannot be overemphasized that these backyard science experiments are a really, really bad idea.

It is common knowledge among handloaders of shotshells that one of the worst things to do is substitute components. In other words, when following a load recipe, it is unsafe to use a Remington STS hull when the data calls for a Winchester AA, or to use a Federal primer when the data calls for a Cheddite. The reason component substitution is forbidden is due to the pressure spikes that can occur when randomly mixing and matching primers, hulls, and wads. For example, according to this site, primer substitution can cause chamber pressures to vary by thousands of PSI. In shotguns (which are often only rated to between 10,000 and 14,000 PSI) a thousand PSI spike in chamber pressure could mean a damaged gun and missing eyes and fingers.

If something as seemingly banal as changing the brand of primer can be dangerous, it stands to reason that replacing the payload of a shotshell with a wad of silly putty or chunk of rebar is playing with fire. There is currently such a wide variety of exotic shotshell ammunition on the market (everything from dragon’s breath loads to bolo rounds) that home-brewing one’s own seems like a superfluous risk.

Still, it can’t be argued that the results of improvised shotshell projects makes for some interesting viewing.






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