Four Ten Follies.
Recently my eldest daughter decided she would like to have a try at clay target shooting. On the second Sunday of the month the shotgun convenor at my club (www.nzha.co.nz) runs a coaching session. He borrowed a .410 single shot and Kiera had a try. Trap with a .410 is not easy but after about ten tries a clay fell to the hand of my little girl. Time to acquire a small bore shotgun I thought so I contacted a club member who I knew owned one and asked him if he would consider selling it. The answer was no he wouldn’t but we could borrow it and the MEC loading press for as long as we needed. He’s a good guy is Craig. On receipt of the gun and gear I promptly assembled 50 rounds using the prescribed load of 14.2gr of W296 under 1/2 oz of my home made No.8 shot. The load was patterned and it was OK but hardly startling. Come the next shoot Kiera struggled and the club coach, Ivan, kept grimacing as he knew she was on the clays but just wasn’t breaking them. Later that morning he got the rabbit trap out and at closer range I smacked the bouncing bunnie clays in good measure using the little Rossi. What particularly worried me was when we recovered some of the .410 Clayduster wads to find mushed pellets of shot in the base fo the cup (see below) – between 12 and 18 in number. That’s enough to miss a clay alright. I concluded the shot I was making was far too soft for the proportionally longer shot column of the little .410 load. Harder shot would be the key maybe.
That evening the Gameking was fired up and I ran about 3lb of linotype alloy through it. Now already I can hear the gasps of shock and horror at burning up perfectly good lino just to load shotgun shells but let me say in my defence that recently I was given two 10kg bars of lino and a bucket of loose also. I figure I can justify some of that for 1/2 oz loads for the wee girl; right? The shot turned out perfect just as usual and a couple of test loads were assembled and patterned in comparison to the air cooled clip on wheel weight alloy previously used. The improvement was immediate. No shot left in the wad cups and a tighter pattern with fewer holes.
Below are four recovered wads; 2 with ACWW alloy pellets lodged in place and 2 that launched lino.
Next is the 20m pattern using the ACWW alloy shot. The black circle is where my aiming mark was located. The clays represent holes in the pattern big enough for a clay to get through. Note where the wad hit the paper suggested it had unwanted mass eg: trapped shot.
The next photo is the linotype pattern. No wad strike. Fewer holes and a much tighter pattern. Note the SIX strikes on the aiming point. The ACWW pattern had but one.
Both patterns were shot on the same load. 14gr of H4227, 1/2 oz shot, Clayduster wad, Fiocchi primer in a Winchester AA hull.
So, the theory was correct. The shot was too soft for the .410 column but what this experiment does interestingly raise is the versatility of making your own shot.
It is widely recognised that soft shot deforms as it accelerates down the barrel of the gun and more so as it passes the passage of the choke. The faster the load the more interia the more deformation of the pellets. Is this all bad though? Not necessarily. Let’s take the example of a shotgun with fixed chokes like my Belgium made side by side. One barrel is about 1/2 choke, the other is full. If I want to shoot skeet the gun puts me at the disadvantage given its restricted chokes. How to open up the pattern? Spreader wads are one option but even better would be the softer shot from the example above. Soft shot for wider skeet patterns. Hard shot for tight trap patterns. Food for thought.
Keep your powder dry. Jeff.