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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As mentioned elsewhere, I'm looking at reloading shotgun shells, and I've been evaluating powders.

Many powders are still unavailable in the great powder dry spell, so I started to consider options further afield from the usual, and it seems I can get a large, affordable quantity of Hodgdon 777 - well, ok, not cheap, but affordable. Kind of.

Black powder shouldn't be a huge pressure deal for most firearms, and the same goes for black powder substitutes, but shotgun loads with black powder seem to be thin on the ground.

Anyone know any good resources?

Edit: I did call Hodgdon, but they only had one idea (1.125 oz shot, 70 grains by volume as I recall) so there wasn't a lot of scope given. I'm guessing there aren't that many CAS shooters reloading for 12 gauge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is a report back.

Yup, I took my life in my hands, believed what I read on the internet, and used some common sense. But I also learned something.

First, the basics:

Used Federal 12 gauge shotshell hulls, 2.75 inch length.
Remington Fig8S wads.
Hodgdon 777 FFg.
Ballistic Products Inc. #1 steel shot.
Lee Load-All II.

I was looking for a nice, polite 777 load for shotshells, as you all know.

Then I read that some people used Lee dippers to load their shotshells with 777, up to over 4cc. However, 3.1cc seemed to be reasonably well regarded as a load.

This didn't seem to make sense, because online I'd read that the Lee bushings for the Load-All II were calibrated in cc. And their numbers were numbers like 105 and 116 - numbers which didn't in any way match the clearly measurable (by eye) actual volume.

So I thought a bit more, and read more, and saw recommendations of 70 grains of black powder or equivalent by volume. What did I have that might approach a 70 grain load of black powder? My loading kit for .45-70 Government, of course. I cracked it open, and saw that the Lee dipper inside measured 3.1cc. Great!

I took the dipper and brought it back to the Load-All, for a comparison with the bushings. I noted that the 3.1cc measure just about perfectly matched the listed 198 bushing. Obviously, it wasn't 198cc - nor was it 1.98, or 0.198 cubic anything metric. So what could it be? I thought for a while, then I wandered over to Google and did some comparisons and conversions. It appears that Lee's bushings are measured in thousandths of cubic inches, or very nearly, not cubic centimetres!

Well, no matter. I loaded up a shell with it, loaded a wad, loaded 1.125 oz of shot, crimped it (it fit perfectly), then I took it outside, loaded up and fired. A nice, solid boom, a decent pattern. What's not to like?

Specifically, the pattern at about 30 yards from a 28 inch barrel with a modified choke is around 3 feet wide (don't hold me to these numbers - this is approximation). At 5 yards it blows a ragged hole in stuff. No sign of the 777 blowing a hole in the pattern. No signs of trouble at all.

Recoil is not at all bad. Granted, I have a bit of an iron shoulder. I shoot hot .45-70 Government loads, I think a regular 12 gauge is a reassuring slap, I'm maybe not the best judge of recoil. But with the stock recoil pad this load feels like a nudge from a buddy asking you if you want another beer.

The only downside is the cloud of smoke, and that's only if you think the cloud is a downside.
 

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Very interesting. Great work figuring that one out.

I read once that you calculate your black powder rifle charges by starting with about as much as a .38 shell will hold, which is what, about 20 grains? Lay a panel of white painted plywood over the bench, start loading, and when you find unburned powder dropped on the wood, you've reached maximum. Once you know your max load, start working backwards, shooting for scores, three round groups, and then you take the load that gives a good compromise in velocity and accuracy.

It's not like smokeless, it's pretty forgiving. Dixie Gun Works used to test barrels by sealing both ends with a plug, and setting off the charge through a nipple with a fuse. Must have been interesting to see/hear it as the powder blew out of the nipple.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've been tempted to try loading up a 777 .357 load but the fiddly process of cleaning a revolver properly after that dirty ignition has dissuaded me.

Now, if I had a break action .357 single shot carbine, that might have been different, but I don't.

Never enough of the guns I want.
 
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