Making shot at home by the Bliemeister method.
A few years back I was in the only gun shop in my home town of Dunedin that is actually worth a visit now. Elio’s is as close to the old fashioned hunting and fishing store as you can get in NZ these days and still carries second hand goods and items ‘for sale on behalf’. Laurence, the owner, took over from his late father, Elio, and carries on a fine family tradtion. While mooching around the store I discovered a shotmaker for sale for the princely sum, if I recall correctly, of $40.00. I’m not a great shotgun shooter and had no great use for it at the time but the deal was good and I bought the device on the pretext of “that might be handy one day” a concept wasted on and completely foreign to my long suffering wife. Go figure. The shotmaker came home and kept my casting gear company for a few years unused.
Fast foward to the last two to three years. My stock of No. 7 shot had run out. Prices locally, if you can find shot, range from $140.00 to $210.00 for 10kg. I don’t shoot an awful lot of 12 gauge and my primary reason for loading was black powder competition loads though in recent times I find myself loading a lot of smokeless 12 gauge also. The time had come to fire up the Gameking.
The shotmaker has only one dripper nipple and this throws No.8 shot. That’s fine. I don’t use the shotgun for hunting….yet. A very simple design whereby clean ingots of lead alloy are placed on the top of the smelting ramp where they melt and fill the reservoir. To maintain a good flow I like to keep a head of lead within 1/4 inch of the top fo the smelter. Immediately below the dripper nipple is a deflector ramp off of which the droplets of lead alloy bounce out into the coolant. The deflector is coated with chalk to prevent the molten metal from adhering to it. Once up to temperature the maker will start dripping by itself or may require a tap on the side or a wipe of the dripper to getting it running.
The instructions recommended diesel fuel as coolant but I didn’t want a flammable, smokey cooling medium stinking out my garage so after some research found glycol antifreeze coolant to be prefect. I have a pair of pet food cans with handles afixed that sit, one at the time, just below the deflector lip allowing the newly formed shot to dropped the recommended 1/4 inch into the coolant. When running at full speed the stream of droplets of alloy looks almost solid. (In the photo above three droplets can be made out, one exiting the dripper, one on the deflector and the last just about the hit the coolant) The collection cans have a small scallop out of the rim at the top to allow displaced coolant to run away as the lead level increases. As the coolant temperature increases to a level that is getting uncomfortable for my finger (very scientific!) the cans are changed out.
The shot is drained off in a seive (see above) and the coolant reused. Remaining coolant is then washed off the shot with water (another reason not to use diesel), dried then tumbled with graphite. The final product is near perfect and patterns very well.
Irregular shot is easily picked out and shows up well as the shot is rolled and swirled around the cat litter tray I use.
A few weeks ago I set up the maker on a Saturday and ran it for 4-5 hours straight. The joy of the device is you drop an ingot on the back, set it running, go away for 15 minutes and do something else, come back and change out the coolant and repeat. In that time I made 17kg of No.8 shot. Pretty easy going.
Unfortunately the Gameking is no longer made. Last year I wrote to Lee Precision and offered to mail my device to them to evaluate with the hope they may put something into production. Lee replied that they considered such a device would be troublesome for the end users and were not interested. Now THAT is a shame. I personally believe that they have missed the boat and a real demand does exist. Such is life.
Keep your powder dry. Jeff.