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Reloading 12 ga Shotshells – On the Cheap! (Part 2)

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As mentioned in part 1, we’re dealing with 12 gauge shotshells.  To get things started, I needed a way to decap the shells.  For the best fit, I needed a 7/8″ hole in the wooden block, to keep the shell from sliding around.  I couldn’t, for the life of me, find my 7/8″ wood boring bit. So, I had to step up to a 1″ bit.

 

I used the 1″ paddle bit to drill about 3/8″ deep in the hardwood block.

Then, I used a 3/8″ drill bit to bore the spent primer passage through the block.

 

The back side was relieved to allow multiple primers to be caught, before the space is cleaned out.

Then, the countersunk washer was placed in the hole, and whacked a few times with a framing hammer, to make sure it was solidly seated and a good fit in the block.

Then, the shell was decapped with a 3/16″ punch.  It may have worked with this particular hull, but hulls with recessed base wads (remember that photo in Part 1?) may require something to guide the punch.  Or, some wraps of painters tape can be used, to keep the punch centered on the primer.  If the punch isn’t on the primer, it can damage the base wad, and that’s a bad idea.

Next, a new primer was started in the primer pocket, and seated on a piece of plate steel.  For hulls with normal base wads, I can use the hardwood dowel to seat the primer.  For hulls with recessed base wads, I use a .300 Weatherby Magnum case.  The neck is large enough to fit over the primer and put pressure safely on the base wad, and the body is just long enough to clear the shotshell hulls.

Since it doesn’t take much pressure to seat shotshell primers, the weak walls of the .300 Mag case are not an issue.

The case was charged with powder.

A wad was seated in the hull.

The shot charge was added.

And, now for the crimp.  As I said in Part 1 of this article, the best crimp results are achieved if the process is completed quickly.  Not only should it be done quickly, but feeding reliability in most shotguns is greatly improved if the shell is held in a round form during crimping.  Failing to hold a round shape can lead to a shell that gets stuck in the magazines, actions, or chambers of some shotguns.  That almost always means for a bad day. Sometimes, failing to hold the round shape also means it is nearly impossible to get the crimp to hold. So…

In order to keep my shells round, I created a “special tool” from a water bottle.  The inner portion of the cap was carefully cut out.  This new opening measures approximately 0.775″.  Providing for some stretching of the plastic, that is just about perfect for the mouth of the 12 ga shell, that should measure 0.777-0.797″ after being crimped.

The threaded neck of the bottle is dropped over the hull, first.  Then, the cap is carefully started on the hull.

Once the cap is in position where the top of the shell will be after crimping, the threaded neck is screwed into the stationary cap.  This acts as a threaded collet, tightening down on the shell, and preventing the assembly from moving easily.

Now, the crimp can be started by hand.  It can be a tedious job, but I carefully press my thumb nail into the creases from the original crimp

Once I get everything started, and moving on the proper fold lines, I bring in my 1/2″ washer, and “mash it down” on the crimp folds.

Then, I quickly use the 1/2″ dowel and firm hand pressure to finish the crimp.  (My left hand is acting as a guide, while the right applies pressure.)

If everything looks good, the water bottle tool can be removed.

-As you can see in this photo, I must have accidentally pushed the water bottle tool slightly down the body of the shell.  Luckily, this crimp turned out within spec, but using the tool properly pretty much guarantees it will be within spec. The tool should be almost flush with the top of the shell.

 

 

I used the 1″ paddle bit to drill about 3/8″ deep in the hardwood block.

Then, I used a 3/8″ drill bit to bore the spent primer passage through the block.

The back side was relieved to allow multiple primers to be caught, before the space is cleaned out.

Then, the countersunk washer was placed in the hole, and whacked a few times with a framing hammer, to make sure it was solidly seated and a good fit in the block.

Then, the shell was decapped with a 3/16″ punch.  It may have worked with this particular hull, but hulls with recessed base wads (remember that photo in Part 1?) may require something to guide the punch.  Or, some wraps of painters tape can be used, to keep the punch centered on the primer.  If the punch isn’t on the primer, it can damage the base wad, and that’s a bad idea.

Next, a new primer was started in the primer pocket, and seated on a piece of plate steel.  For hulls with normal base wads, I can use the hardwood dowel to seat the primer.  For hulls with recessed base wads, I use a .300 Weatherby Magnum case.  The neck is large enough to fit over the primer and put pressure safely on the base wad, and the body is just long enough to clear the shotshell hulls.

Since it doesn’t take much pressure to seat shotshell primers, the weak walls of the .300 Mag case are not an issue.

The case was charged with powder.

A wad was seated in the hull.

The shot charge was added.

And, now for the crimp.  As I said in Part 1 of this article, the best crimp results are achieved if the process is completed quickly.  Not only should it be done quickly, but feeding reliability in most shotguns is greatly improved if the shell is held in a round form during crimping.  Failing to hold a round shape can lead to a shell that gets stuck in the magazines, actions, or chambers of some shotguns.  That almost always means for a bad day. Sometimes, failing to hold the round shape also means it is nearly impossible to get the crimp to hold. So

In order to keep my shells round, I created a “special tool” from a water bottle.  The inner portion of the cap was carefully cut out.  This new opening measures approximately 0.775″.  Providing for some stretching of the plastic, that is just about perfect for the mouth of the 12 ga shell, that should measure 0.777-0.797″ after being crimped.

The threaded neck of the bottle is dropped over the hull, first.  Then, the cap is carefully started on the hull.

Once the cap is in position where the top of the shell will be after crimping, the threaded neck is screwed into the stationary cap.  This acts as a threaded collet, tightening down on the shell, and preventing the assembly from moving easily.

Now, the crimp can be started by hand.  It can be a tedious job, but I carefully press my thumb nail into the creases from the original crimp.

Once I get everything started, and moving on the proper fold lines, I bring in my 1/2″ washer, and “mash it down” on the crimp folds.

Then, I quickly use the 1/2″ dowel and firm hand pressure to finish the crimp.  (My left hand is acting as a guide, while the right applies pressure.)

If everything looks good, the water bottle tool can be removed.

-As you can see in this photo, I must have accidentally pushed the water bottle tool slightly down the body of the shell.  Luckily, this crimp turned out within spec, but using the tool properly pretty much guarantees it will be within spec. The tool should be almost flush with the top of the shell.

And that, as they say, is that

It isn’t a “factory fresh” shell, but it will serve my purposes, just fine.  It’s good enough to trust while hunting.  Pretty much anything else is secondary.

 

 

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