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  1. #1
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    Default 12 Gauge Ammunition Conversions

    12 Gauge Ammunition Conversions

    J D Lester - Suarez International Staff Instructor

    Warning: This is for information purposes only if you chose to use this information it can be dangerous and should only be attempted after understanding the capabilities and limitations of the techniques. If you choose to employ these techniques you will be melting lead which can be hazardous to your health in many ways. (Lead vapor, splash from molten lead and lead dust.) You will also be going against the Sacred Modern Techniques of Shotshell Reloading, having said that let’s get on with it.

    This topic first came up when I was working in Africa, while conducting a weekend grilling operation the talk around the table drifted from past escapades in other countries to hunting and guns: Typical Type A personalities relaxing over good eats and cold beer. The hunting stories brought up some observations about local hunters harvesting “Bush Meat” in a country where guns were confiscated from the local populous by UN forces after numerous civil wars. Finding expended shotgun shells in the bush and along the river was not uncommon. (Gun control doesn’t work even in the 3rd world.)
    Having a crocodile or bush cat offered up for sale with a nice 12 gauge sized “Spear” entry and exit wound was quite amusing. One of my mates brought up about exchanging the shot in the shotgun shell for a fléchette payload of equal or slightly less in weight. (A little internet research revealed weak penetration for this technique.) Ringing of the shotgun shells was also discussed, as was simply starting from scratch materials and loading your own.

    Fast forward about a year and a half later the payload substitution thoughts came to mind out of a need to find reduced recoil training loads for my wife and daughter vs re-equipping with 20 gauge shotguns.
    The commercial off the shelf year round availability of 20 gauge buck and slug loads made it an easy decision to stay with the on hand 12 gauges and reduce the loads for training.

    I want to re-emphasize that the intent is for training ammunition and not for social use in the home defense shotguns.

    So I began some research on the infamous conversion of 12 ga. trap / small game hunting ammunition into low cost slug and buck shot rounds. I decided to try one of the popular methods of cutting the end off just below the crimp, dumping the shot and melting it into a slug and replacing it in the shell.

    I purchased a lead dipper with pouring a spout and the lee 1 oz slug mold. I grabbed my propane torch and tried my first slug casting. I created some radical looking pieces of art at first...thus the learning began.

    Once I found out how hot everything needed to be I was casting great looking slugs, but not really doing it fast. I had several partial boxes of shells, so I made ten slugs in order to test which donor shells would work best. I found for this method that the Federal bulk pack # 7.5 shot 1 1/8 oz loads worked the best. The slugs fit nicely into the shot cup, which is how Lee designed them to be loaded.

    Grabbing a beater 1970’s era 870 Wingmaster with a Mossberg produced bead sight 18.5 bbl, I conducted my first test fire at 10 yards. Once I realized that I still had all my fingers and facial features and the gun was still 100% functional.... the big grin hit.
    I fired two more rounds at ten yards and moved back to 15 then 20 yards and repeated the 3 rounds.
    All rounds functioned as desired and grouped close to each other.
    I moved to the 25 yard line and fired my last slug which impacted near point of aim.
    The perceived recoil of the load was almost identical to the standard trap load.

    After a trip to my local range, to get more distance I soon decided that the lack of accuracy past 30 yards from this technique was not acceptable.

    I purchased a Lee shotgun press in order to get a good crimp on the shells. I also purchased the 10 lb melting pot to speed the process up and a .311 double cavity round ball mold to produce buck shot.
    I decided to use a color code system for the rounds to ID the payloads. After several tries I found the Remington #7.5 green and # 6 black shells hold the re-crimp for the buck shot better and the Federal #7.5 burgundy hulls and Winchester #7.5 red hulls were great for the slugs.
    Both are readily available in bulk at most chain stores that carry hunting supplies. Of course prices will vary by location and stores.

    The two at a time .311 round ball mold throws great shot that is about Ought and a half in size. It is very slow to accumulate a good amount of pellets when you have a 9: 1 ratio for completing each round. Even if the pellets aren’t perfect, at the intended ranges they are to be used it matters not, they still function as desired. I don’t plan on ever needing match grade buck shot.

    I will soon be purchasing a .311 and possibly a #4 buck mold that will allow throwing 20 balls at a time to increase the production rate.
    The Lee two cavity molds produces about three hundred pellets an hour, once you get the rhythm down.

    With Remington Low Recoil LE 00 Buck selling for about $ 17.00 a box of 25 locally, they remain the primary defense load.

    In hard times the training shells could be pressed into service as defense loads and to harvest deer and other game.

    Just another tool for consideration, reloading is a good skill set to have.

    v/r

    J D Lester
    Last edited by JD Lester; 06-24-2011 at 04:34 PM.

  2. #2
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    Yeap I also have shot many 1oz Lee Slugs and single ought buck (use them also for gallery loads in a 308) and both works pretty well. I also found it worth to get a roll crimper and either a 3/4 inch punch to make card boards or the clear overshot wad are nice since you can see in.

    I'm yet to play with buffering material on the buck load, might help patterns a little, but I don't know yet.

    There is a youtube vide somewhere of a guy who made his own mold for slug, as only bird shot was legal where he lived
    "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."
    -G. K. Chesterton

  3. #3
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    I've been loading the Lee 1oz slugs and 00 buck in 12 gauge for the last few months with pretty good results. I bought a mold for 00 (.33" round ball) from some guy on Ebay who makes them, and cast up a bunch of buckshot, but it's really time consuming and a pain in the neck, so lately I've just been buying the swaged buckshot that Hornady sells in 5 pound boxes. Lee has recently started making a better buckshot mold than what I am using, so if you are bound and determined to cast your own, that's probably the one to get. I don't really recommend it except as a gee-whiz exercise in self sufficiency, just to prove to yourself that you can. If you are going to cast shotgun projectiles, slugs are a far more efficient use of your time, and the Lee slugs are a lot faster to reload than buckshot, because you just put them in the wad, and shove them into the hull, skipping the time consuming "stacking" required for buck. I posted about my experiences in another forum and the thread garnered a lot of good responses:

    http://www.theguncounter.com/forum/v...p?f=40&t=14257

  4. #4
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    Cbrant,

    I haven’t used any buffer material and don’t plan to. I thought about the roll crimper but the accuracy I have now just by star crimping on the Lee press is acceptable.
    The color code of the shells and placement in the bag works to ID them. All my social shotguns are slug and buck capable so no worries on the guns.
    I haven’t done and of the gallery loads as of yet but should work in the AK, PSL and M44 so it does have some small game harvesting capabilities.
    The gent that makes his slugs from scratch with the improvised mold shows what can be done when necessary.
    NPR,
    I looked at 00 buck at first but went with the .311 instead. They stack well in the shot cup and no need for the buffer material, and as Cbrant stated they leave the option to load reduced small game loads for the 7.62 x 39 and 54r cartridges. I think I will be getting a .311 and a # 4 buck mold from the gent that makes them.
    As for the additional time it takes to load the buck it’s a little less than 2 : 1 load time. I do the whole process in stages and find it is a relaxing and productive way to pass some down time and think while still getting something done. The buck shot has far greater use than the slugs do in the defensive role and training however, I do store my bulk lead in slug form and melt it for buck as needed. I think a box of readymade slugs is better storage than a sack of shot or lead muffins.

    v/r

    JD

  5. #5
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    FWIW, I don't use any buffer for my 00 loads, either. As to the crimp for slugs, I don't believe you can reload a hull again, once it has been roll crimped. Some of the Remington hulls I am using for my slug loads have been reloaded several times using a star crimp. Plus the star crimp is much faster to perform, and I don't know that a roll crimp would work right with the Lee slugs anyway, which being designed to fit inside a shot cup, are slightly under bore size anyway. Not sure if the shot cup petals would interfere with making the roll crimp or not.

    And yeah, I don't let the slower rate of loading deter me from making buckshot loads, I just don't waste my time trying to cast it anymore. Casting slugs is well worth the time spent; buckshot not so much. I don't like paying $26/5lb. of 00, but I like it a lot more than casting, and it conserves my lead supply for handgun bullets and slugs.

  6. #6
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    INstead of skugs , check out Round Balls of like calibere, played with those years ago and their where dandy up to about 30 meters or so
    All animals except man know that the ultimate of life is to enjoy it.

    Samuel Butler


    FACIEM TUAM, DOMINC, REQUIRAM

  7. #7
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    I'm sure the round balls would work fine, but since the slugs have a hollow base, they use less lead than a round ball, and are therefore a more economical use of my lead stash.

  8. #8
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    Yep.
    Done this.

    Back in the Falklands, before the war.
    I had access to as many number 7 (IIRC?) shotshells.
    So just as mentioned here, I bought a Lee 1 oz slug mold, a .36/000 round ball mold and the Lee melter and a dipper.

    I opened the shells, poured the shot into the melter, and the rest........just as above.

    I pushed the slug or 7 (IIRC?) 000 cast lead balls back into the shell.

    Oh yes, I bought the cheapest Lee shotgun reloading press, to re-crimp the shells.

    These were standard 2 3/4 shells, and my Mossberg had a 3 inch magnum chamber, so I feared nothing, - with good reason.

    I lost the shotgun, molds, lead melter and press etc in the Argentine invasion, and never bothered to replace it all, buying factory buck and slug loads after that.

    Whilst I reload handgun and rifle ammo, I just couldn't/can't be bothered with shotgun ammo.
    But it was a great learning experience.

    Regards,
    Anthony.
    If you have to fight, do not fear death.
    We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely!
    And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly.
    Meet him as the proud warrior that you once were, and not as a sniveling coward.
    Nobody lives forever.

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