12 gauge bird shot to slug conversion shells

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  • Last Post 10 July 2020
zhughes posted this 06 July 2020

Hi all,

I'm an experienced metallic loader, looking to load 12 gauge slugs for the first time.

My goal for slugs is to load them inexpensively in an auto loader. I don't have the interest in loading shot shells like I do metallic cartridges, I'm just tired of spending $1.10 per shell for the occasional times I do shoot slugs.
At most I expect to go through 50-100 slugs a year.

So I concocted an idea in my head, thought I'd see what ya'll thought:

  • Buy bird shot that has 1oz loads, I can buy a box of Remington shells for like $5.50
  • Open them up and dump the shot out (save it, and melt it into slugs later)
  • Buy a Lee 1oz mold and cast the slugs
  • Drop the slug into the shell I removed the shot from (keeping the original powder and wad in place)
  • Buy a roll crimp drill adapter (you can get them for $20 shipped on amazon)
  • Roll crimp the load
  • Done

Once the tooling pays for itself I would be loading slugs for around 22 - 25 cents a round.
At that price I wouldn't reload the shells, just once and done.

Seems like a super cost and time effective way of rolling out slugs easily.

Anyone ever tried something like that?

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Ed Harris posted this 06 July 2020

That will work.  Use soft, pure lead and lightly lubricate the slugs with Lee Liquid Alox. Not sure if they will be as accurate as factory slugs, but you won't know until you try.  Maybe somebody else has tried it more recently and has additional pointers.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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shootcast posted this 06 July 2020

I have loaded the Lee slug for 12 ga. I do recommend it. However I start with empty shell cases. Lee supplies basic loads with the mold. You do not roll crimp with the data. The slug is inserted into a shot cup and then fold crimped as a normal shot shell. The Lee press is In expensive or I believe RCBS makes 7/8x14 die sets. They shoot pretty much the same as store bought but at lower cost. How expensive you get is up to you. 

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billwnr posted this 06 July 2020

you may need a spacer or two as a 1 ounce slug takes up less space then 1 ounce of shot.

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argie1891 posted this 07 July 2020

I have loaded lee slugs using trap and skeet loads of 18 or so gr. of red dot powder. I was shooting them in an H&R 12 ga single shot with rifled barrel.  It only took a few rounds to make me decide the recoil was not for me. slugs and a light weight shotgun just dont mix well. i do think dumping out the shot and inserting a slug would be safe but i would buy light trap or dove loads. I dont know enough about loading shotguns to even begin to know what maximum loads are. good luck

if you think you have it figured out then you just dont understand

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shjoe posted this 07 July 2020

i have used your bird shot to slug conversion method with good results and a cost savings. I use the 7/8 oz lee slug mold as I think the 7/8 oz cast slug is more stable and nose heavy than their 1oz version. lube as mr harris suggests. I have been able to cut down and repurpose the wad and/or add a fiber wad to maintain load stack height. the role crimp method you describe works well and I have also used a cardboard wad glued in place over the slug. my favorite "kitchen door" single shot 12ga load is 7/8 oz cast slug, card wad, over 3 00 buck pellets. old time buck n ball load for game or protection. best regards, john

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Ed Harris posted this 07 July 2020

A standard 16-ga. (.678") cast round ball is a good fit inside a 12-ga. plastic shot cup and will go safely through a 12-ga. full choke.

Stack three 00 buck under the ball, and then do a standard fold crimp for your home-made buck & ball loads.  A neighbor drops in "a dozen or so" No.2 goose shot over the layer of 00 buck, and adds some more over the ball to fill the shot cup if needed to produce a flat, even crimp. "ready for any varmints two-legged or four-legged" he says.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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shjoe posted this 07 July 2020

sounds like a versatile load, ed. for man or beast. as i get old(er) i find myself reaching for a trusty 12ga more often than a precision rifle. combination of old eyes and old shoulders. so i often will down load bird and buckshot loads a bit. anything inside of 50yds would be in jeopardy. best regards, john

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GP Idaho posted this 08 July 2020

As mentioned, the height of the payload is important for a good tight crimp. Hard cards in the wad work well for height adjustment and keep the wad from being jammed up into the slug. This isn't as much of a problem with the Lee slugs as the Lyman Fosters. Depending on the powder charge and wad used in the factory shell you may be able to remove the factory fold crimp and the roll crimp the hull down against the nose of the slug or overshot card. It's all in the height adjustment and keeping the weight of the slug close to the weight of the shot. Gp

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Coydog posted this 08 July 2020

Reading your post GP remind me when I first play with load 1/2 oz of shot in a 12 ga and use a number of cards I made from cracker boxes usen a gasket hole punch to make them and  add as many as needed to get a good crimp. and tested them and came out good and then I played with it more and now I use it in short shells now and found some wads to work for what I wanted. 

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zhughes posted this 08 July 2020

Height is the key as you've said based on what I've noticed reading other posts too. Midway has nitro cards you can use but I did some exploring last night to create the cards.

I took a spent 20 gauge shell and cut the hull off. Then I removed the primer with a screwdriver and hammer. Next I put it in a vice and attached a step bit to a cordless drill. I reamed out the primer pocket, flipped it over and reamed out the plastic cup so I was left with only the head. I took the head to use as a punch, so I punched out a few disks from a cardboard box. They fit perfectly into the 12 gauge wad so that was cool. I compared the wad with WAA wads online and they are the exact same.

Side note, interestingly, the powder used looks identical to Unique. If you go to the Alliant website they list all kinds of 1/8oz loads so my suspicion is that they're in cahoots with Alliant.

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zhughes posted this 08 July 2020

"they" being Winchester. The shells in question are the Winchester Universals from Walmart.

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Bud Hyett posted this 08 July 2020

Side note, interestingly, the powder used looks identical to Unique. If you go to the Alliant website they list all kinds of 1/8oz loads so my suspicion is that they're in cahoots with Alliant.

Do not use appearance as a guide to the powder brand or type. Powder sold to a reloader is "canister grade" that means carefully tested to be within specified energy content and burning rate.

Powder that does not make the specification is sold to the ammunition companies with their test data. They adjust the loading to the cartridge and sell the cartridge with the tailored adjustment to the public.

As an example back in the days of Super Vel, a clerk in Freeland's told a customer he had torn down a cartridge to get an idea of the loading and the loading was .4 grains of Bullseye more than the maximum load. "Go ahead, the factories do it all the time."

The customer loaded the extra .4 grains in a .32 ACP and came back because the slide on his Walther PPK was stuck on the receiver. 

Did not see that clerk behind the counter ever again.

Country boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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zhughes posted this 08 July 2020

Yea, I'm not planning to reload these shells at all, just convert to slugs with the original factory powder/load. I just found it interesting to see that.

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GP Idaho posted this 08 July 2020

Z: Sounds like your on the right track. 3" at fifty yards should be attainable using your plan. Mileage may vary. This has been discussed at length in the Casting for Shotguns threads at Boolits if you would like some more reading on the subject. Gp

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shootcast posted this 10 July 2020

Ask Ed for advice first. Dumping the shot out and replacing with the slug sounds OK. Roll crimp does add some increased pressure. With the Lee I have adjusted the crimp to fold the case past the top of the slug. Down and over the top rounded nose. The wad will clasp some and spring back. This holds the slug without additional spacers. This also I would imagine increases pressure. It worked for me but isn’t the normal way.

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