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rodwha

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I’ve read a bit on constructing the “proper” shot load, as well as various other ways such as the Skychief load, which may conflict with these. And this brings up questions.

It seems a cushion wad of some fashion is desirable to keep the shock of ignition from deforming the pellets. But then we see many claim that by using 2F they’ve been getting good patterns suggesting fairly uniform pellets. 2F and courser seems the norm and traditional likely anyway. I always figured I’d try a lubed felt wad, OP card, shot, etc. first.

I don’t understand how a thick/heavy wad behind the shot can overcome/blow a hole in a lead pellet pattern. The wad doesn’t have the mass and has too large of a frontal surface to not be immediately caught by the air.

For those foregoing a lubed wad of some sort, how do you go about small game hunting where a dozen shots may be fired?

I have to admit I think my first comparison will end up being a square load bare vs a Stumpkiller paper shot cup, with and without a lubed felt wad.
 

Loyalist Dave

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Well I learned that shot patterns like a bit of a quick powder. I tried 1Fg in my 20 gauge, and got crappy results. So 2Fg is now the minimum for me, using 80 grains. Britsmoothy is quite the avid shotgunner with black powder, and he clued me in on the slow powder problem.

The "square" load, I think may have been after choked barrels were introduced. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that was the case. So when guys use cylinder bore barrels and muzzle load, they may be correct in upping the shot quantity. 2X the shot vs. the powder, though, I'm not sure about that but some do use such.

I don’t understand how a thick/heavy wad behind the shot can overcome/blow a hole in a lead pellet pattern. The wad doesn’t have the mass and has too large of a frontal surface to not be immediately caught by the air.
You are correct, the wad sheds speed sooooo fast, due to lack of mass PLUS massive surface area, that it simply cannot go "through" a shot column as the column exits the barrel.

"Thick" wad is a general term. What blows a pattern is torque. IF the shot column rotates along the axis created by travelling down the barrel, when it exits, the pattern will open, leaving less pellets in the center. Add more powder and this amplifies the problem, and you get the "donut" pattern. This is why rifles don't work well at all when using shot, as the twist of the rifling gives rotation to the shot column, and it's also why some modern, screw-in turkey chokes have straight grooves..., to stop any possible shot column rotation.

I think the reason why folks have poorer results with thick wads is because if the shooter doesn't load that thick wad exactly even with the walls of the barrel, you get an angle on the wad, and that causes uneven patterns. You read how instead of a 1/2" wad, folks are using two 1/4" wads or even two 1/8" wads, and getting good results I suspect, because it's easier for the tip of the shotgun or smoothbore ramrod to evenly seat those wads.

I wonder about the Skychief load, and think that perhaps the soaked, thick wad is countering any torque, plus the hard, nitro card may be doing a good job of reducing any unevenness in the load..., maybe it's because of the large amount of lube, that does the final trick? The fact that Skychief is adamant about it being a fully soaked wad, appears to indicate to me that he tried it without the wad, and with a dry wad, a partially lubed wad, and a wad with maximum lube. The wad itself my interfere with a few pellets, but the better patterning is making that loss insignificant.

LD
 

Britsmoothy

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Stuff the wad. Using the term "cushion" is a sales gimmick.

It's the huge volume of gas that causes the issue with patterns.
The wad is not propelled through the shot. It just gives the shot a "nudge".
That and folk using course powder🤦‍♂️ in the mistaken belief " its traditional"!
Regarding shooting many shots afield and only using thin cards (stuff the so called nitro cards too, junk) as I do. Just add a blob of lube between them now and then to keep the fouling soft.
 

Spence10

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The "square" load, I think may have been after choked barrels were introduced. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that was the case.
From T. Page, 1767, long before chokes:
"To avoid the extremes, I use the best powder, and put in equal measures of that and shot, which in weight is nearly as one to seven, but usually prime out of that quantity. To a barrel of a middle-sized bore, whose diameter is about five-eighths of an inch (which I look upon to be the best size for shooting flying) [.625", essentially a modern 20 ga.] I put in two ounces of shot, No. 4, [equivalent to #5 1/2 modern American shot] which are about 200 in an ounce, and an equal measure of powder. [4 1/2 dram/123 gr.] This is the charge I use in the field."

" What blows a pattern is torque. IF the shot column rotates along the axis created by travelling down the barrel, when it exits, the pattern will open, leaving less pellets in the center.
Big IF. What's the source of the torque in a smooth bore?
Spence
 

Britsmoothy

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From T. Page, 1767, long before chokes:
"To avoid the extremes, I use the best powder, and put in equal measures of that and shot, which in weight is nearly as one to seven, but usually prime out of that quantity. To a barrel of a middle-sized bore, whose diameter is about five-eighths of an inch (which I look upon to be the best size for shooting flying) [.625", essentially a modern 20 ga.] I put in two ounces of shot, No. 4, [equivalent to #5 1/2 modern American shot] which are about 200 in an ounce, and an equal measure of powder. [4 1/2 dram/123 gr.] This is the charge I use in the field."


Big IF. What's the source of the torque in a smooth bore?
Spence
Thank you Spence. Priceless 😁
 

Sidney Smith

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I use crumpled phone book paper for over powder and over shot wadding, and use a course paper tube made from Trader Joe market bags to hold premeasured shot charges. Might not be the best pattern on earth but it works well enough.
 

rodwha

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Ok, a few more in-depth questions:

My understanding that the reason people use courser granulations than 3F was due to the initial shock of ignition deforming the shot. No? The same thing goes for this cushion wad.

Another thing concerning powder granulations that seem to show themselves in rifles is that the longer barrels seem to just do better. I have often seen how the same volume of 2F and 3F can achieve the same velocity, meaning the 3F likely started petering out before it exited the barrel or some such thing, and this is with 24” barrels.

Once I obtain a smoothbore I figured the first things I would try is loading the equal volume powder/shot using my 3F Olde E as I much prefer the idea of stocking and carrying one powder if I can, though I’d have no issue using 2F or something else if it performed that much better. Also figured I’d try a punched felt wad soaked in Gatofeo’s lube and using punched cardboard cards. I also like Stumpkiller’s paper shot cups and will try that as well.
 

steg49

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Paper shot cups work well to keep the shot from rubbing on the side of the barrel which help with reducing deformities in the shot. I have used waxed milk cartons cut to 2 inch by 1/2 inch (Length depends on amount of shot) laid in a X (crossed pattern) on the barrel, then short started , shot added then pushed down to the over powder wad with an over the shot card on top. Gave me good patterns on ducks at 20 to 30 yds. out. steg49
 

Britsmoothy

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Ok, a few more in-depth questions:

My understanding that the reason people use courser granulations than 3F was due to the initial shock of ignition deforming the shot. No? The same thing goes for this cushion wad.

Another thing concerning powder granulations that seem to show themselves in rifles is that the longer barrels seem to just do better. I have often seen how the same volume of 2F and 3F can achieve the same velocity, meaning the 3F likely started petering out before it exited the barrel or some such thing, and this is with 24” barrels.

Once I obtain a smoothbore I figured the first things I would try is loading the equal volume powder/shot using my 3F Olde E as I much prefer the idea of stocking and carrying one powder if I can, though I’d have no issue using 2F or something else if it performed that much better. Also figured I’d try a punched felt wad soaked in Gatofeo’s lube and using punched cardboard cards. I also like Stumpkiller’s paper shot cups and will try that as well.
Your first paragraph is a myth based on nothing than overthinking by the masses on the web.
My hunt today and two weeks ago used no so called cushion wad or shot cup.
 

rodwha

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Your first paragraph is a myth based on nothing than overthinking by the masses on the web.
My hunt today and two weeks ago used no so called cushion wad or shot cup.
I’ve seen the evidence here, such as with yourself, that this isn’t necessarily the case, yet why would this way be so common if it did nothing? People didn’t just stuff things down the bore just because, it served a purpose. It makes me wonder if there’s special circumstances. For instance the powders used all vary. Someone’s 3F load might not be any more sharp in ignition or any faster than someone else’s 1.5F powder, maybe something to protect the pellets isn’t necessary in that instance, but could be if the person using that higher energy powder decided to try 3F since it seems to work so well for so many others. It’s speculation of course, and I’m a bit ignorant when it comes to shotguns modern or traditional. I understand just enough to get into trouble

:doh:
 

Carbon 6

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Paper shot cups work well to keep the shot from rubbing on the side of the barrel which help with reducing deformities in the shot. I have used waxed milk cartons cut to 2 inch by 1/2 inch (Length depends on amount of shot) laid in a X (crossed pattern) on the barrel, then short started , shot added then pushed down to the over powder wad with an over the shot card on top. Gave me good patterns on ducks at 20 to 30 yds. out. steg49
Try cutting the carton in a H pattern.
1603569650207.png

The center should be bore diameter. Fold and roll the upright legs and the whole thing forms a shot cup. the center becomes the bottom, The uprights will be wider than illustrated. I made a template to the desired shot load, works well.
 

Spence10

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Shooters have been trying to figure out the best wads to use for a very long time. You'd think we would have solved that problem by now.

The Thomas Page I mentioned before did a lot of experimenting with a many different barrels in both length and gauge, many types and combinations of wads, and different distances, checking both number of pellets in the target and penetration. One of his conclusions has always surprised me.

"It appears from various other trials besides these, which I have made, that the shot fly as regularly, or more so, and with as much force without any wad betwixt the powder and shot, as it does with wad only. ‘Tis difficult to keep the shot from mixing with the powder; and when it does, that will affect it: but it proves this much at least, that it does not signify how thin your wad is betwixt the powder and shot, so it does but keep them from mixing."

Describing shooting grouse in upper Canada in wicked cold, late 18th century, David Thompson possibly seems to say shooting without overpowder wads was used in the field.

"The weather now allowing us to load our guns; for in the intense cold, the shot is no sooner fired than our hands are in our large mittens; we walk and pick up the bird, then get the powder in, and walk again, at length [put in] the shot, and the gun is loaded; it is needless to say, exposed to such bitter cold, with no shelter, we cannot fire many shots in a short day."

Spence
 

Loyalist Dave

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Big IF. What's the source of the torque in a smooth bore?
Spence
the load isn't level with the breech is what I was taught. Others have told me that because the shot is round some of it against the barrel walls "roll", and do not necessarily track in a perfect line parallel to the bore..., but then why would shot do the same thing before they developed methods to make shot that was very close to being round? On the other hand..., with the skychief load, the shot that contacts the barrel walls is encountering a lubed surface, so does that roll if that shot ever rolls ???

Thanks for the reference too. :thumb:

LD
 

Eterry

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Thirty years ago I went to my first muzzle loader trap shoot. About 20 guys shot all day, and almost everyone used the thick fiber wad between powder and shot. WHY? Someone had told them they needed them, maybe they had cut open an old shotgun shell and saw a fiber wad, from before plastic wads became universal in modern shells. Who knows, the point is everyone used them.

I went again to a 3 day match last year. I didn't see ANYONE use fiber wads. There was almost 40 shooters, I saw some fabulous shooting, (not by me). I asked my mentor who has been black powder shotgunning for over 50 years why they don't use the fiber wads anymore? Simple, he said, it doesn't offer any advantage over just using cards, and it takes longer to load.
 

Carbon 6

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Shooters have been trying to figure out the best wads to use for a very long time. You'd think we would have solved that problem by now.

The Thomas Page I mentioned before did a lot of experimenting with a many different barrels in both length and gauge, many types and combinations of wads, and different distances, checking both number of pellets in the target and penetration. One of his conclusions has always surprised me.

"It appears from various other trials besides these, which I have made, that the shot fly as regularly, or more so, and with as much force without any wad betwixt the powder and shot, as it does with wad only. ‘Tis difficult to keep the shot from mixing with the powder; and when it does, that will affect it: but it proves this much at least, that it does not signify how thin your wad is betwixt the powder and shot, so it does but keep them from mixing."

Describing shooting grouse in upper Canada in wicked cold, late 18th century, David Thompson possibly seems to say shooting without overpowder wads was used in the field.

"The weather now allowing us to load our guns; for in the intense cold, the shot is no sooner fired than our hands are in our large mittens; we walk and pick up the bird, then get the powder in, and walk again, at length [put in] the shot, and the gun is loaded; it is needless to say, exposed to such bitter cold, with no shelter, we cannot fire many shots in a short day."

Spence
Reminds me Of all the things I killed with nothing more than toilet paper for wadding when I was young. Rabbit, squirrel, grouse, the neighbor's cat, etc. :)
 

Britsmoothy

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the load isn't level with the breech is what I was taught. Others have told me that because the shot is round some of it against the barrel walls "roll", and do not necessarily track in a perfect line parallel to the bore..., but then why would shot do the same thing before they developed methods to make shot that was very close to being round? On the other hand..., with the skychief load, the shot that contacts the barrel walls is encountering a lubed surface, so does that roll if that shot ever rolls ???

Thanks for the reference too. :thumb:

LD
In your defence there has been straight rifled chokes for shotguns to stop any so called torquing of the ejecta.
However, it is not reasonable to assume that any rotational force is significant enough to really render a shot pattern as useless.

I have not seen the straight rifled chokes on offer for decades now also!! Probably because there was no real advantage gained so slight the perceived issue really is.
 

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There is a big difference in a shot pattern that looks ok on a pattern plate for a sitting shot to a flying shot .It is a poor shot that blames the shot pattern or the gun if he misses it all comes down to experience and practice .
Feltwad
 

ZUG

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All this is making my head spin -- it must be "black magic" that takes game or clays with a shotgun :dunno: . I've been a ATA trap shooter since the mid 60's and have done very well in those years. Not once have I heard of shot rotating creating torque from any of the other competitors in all my years of shooting a shotgun. Sometimes you can see the shot column fly towards the target and it flies straight and does not do any twisting or rotating and don't try to say that a muzzle loading shotgun shot flies different than modern shot from a modern shot shell when discharged from a smoothbore barrel:rolleyes:. Hard shot performs way better than soft shot and that's a fact most blown patterns are cased by deformed soft shot. I like shooting my muzzle loading shotguns but I don't expect them to perform like my modern trap guns. I would compare my hunting field modern shotguns with my muzzleloaders and when both are loaded for the same game correctly they both perform equally well at reasonable distances.:thumb:
 

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