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Skeet and Muzzle Loading Shot Cartridges

posted Dec 15, 2010, 8:36 AM by Peter Lucas   [ updated Jul 28, 2011, 8:51 AM ]

   
With Pheasant season drawing to a close, it is time to start getting ready for the NMLRA Western National Shooting in early March of 2011.  The Western National Shoot is about two months away and I have not shot a round of Skeet with my new shotgun.  During the 2010 Western Nationals, I met Tom Hart of Canyon City, Colorado.  Tom builds unique "Side Hammer" Over and Under Muzzle Loaders. After shooting one of Tom's guns, I decided to order a side hammer for myself.  After some discussion, I convinced Tom to make the receiver of my gun from "Aluminum Bronze" and I also provided Tom with some English walnut blanks for the stock.  Tom completed my Over/Under in time for the CSMLA Meridional Day Shoot and I am thrilled with the way the gun came out. 


Hart Side Hammer --  the gun is ambidextrous in that the hammers can be place on either the right or left side.  Since I am an left handed shooter, the hammers are currently on the left side of the gun.  
    In order to shoot a few rounds Skeet in with the new gun, I decided to load up some muzzle-loading shot cartridges and shoot with the smokeless shooters.  I shoot skeet (with a modern gun) with a group shooters on a semi-regular basis at the local range.  I figured that the guys at the range would not mind me shooting a couple of rounds with my smoke pole, assuming that I did not slow things down too much.
 
   
I have used my new Hart Over/Under to shoot many rounds of trap; both at the semi-regular Colorado muzzle loading trap shoots and on my own.   With today's voice activated trap systems, it is fairly easy to shoot a round of trap on your own with a muzzle-loader.  However, shooting Skeet on your own is much more difficult since my range does not have a voice activated release system for the skeet ranges.  Skeet also presents more of a logistics problem as compared to trap,  since the shooting stations are spread over a wider area.     
    In order to shoot a few rounds Skeet in with the new gun, I decided to load up some muzzle-loading shot cartridges and shoot with the smokeless shooters.  I shoot skeet (with a modern gun) with a group shooters on a semi-regular basis at the local range.  I figured that the guys at the range would not mind me shooting a couple of rounds with my smoke pole, assuming that I did not slow things down too much.

    Prior to shooting a round of skeet, I decided to pattern the new gun to make sure that my muzzle loading cartridges would produce acceptable patterns. The batch of shot cartridges which I made up are loosely based on the Eley Universal Cartridge discussed in a prior Article.  This batch of cartridges contained 1 oz of 9 shot and were propelled with 2 3/4 drams (75 grains) of FFFg.  This load should produce velocities of approximately 1150 feet per second.  For comparison, I also patterned my current modern 28 gauge skeet load (Remington STS hull with 5/8 oz of 9 shot, a claybuster wad and 13.5 grains of Hodgdon Universal powder).   The 5/8 ounce 28 Gauge load is pretty light, but it will break birds fine when I do my part.  I wanted to make sure that the muzzle loading would produce patterns at least equal to my modern 28 Gauge loads.  Here are the patterning results:


 M/L Shot Cartridge   
1 oz of 9 shot    
 Pellets          28 Gauge "modern cartridge"
5/8 oz of 9 shot
 Pellets
 
10"     82
20"    192
30"    141 Total 415

10"     85
20"    125
30"     53  Total  263
 
10"     90
20"    190
30"    187  Total  467
 
10"      89
20"     123
30"      55 Total  267
 
10"    109
20"    172
30"    157
Total  438
 
10"     85
20"    115
30"     68  Total  268
 
10"    91
20"    198
30"    165  Total  454
 
10"     69
20"    113
30"     80 Total  263
 
10"    79
20"   197  
30"   195   Total  471
   
 
10"     78
20"    182
30"    188 Total  448
   
 Averages     10"     88
20"    188
30"     172 Total  448
  10"     82
20"    119
30"     64 Total  265

    All patterning was done at 20 yards. As a point of reference, the one ounce load should contain 585 pellets of number nine shot.  A five eighths load should contain 365 pellets.   As can be seen from the patterns, the muzzle loading shot cartridges produced nice even patterns which easily surpasses the patterns of the 28 gauge loads which I am currently using for practice in my modern gun. (Having looked at the 28 gauge patterns, I am a little surprised that I am hitting any birds at all)   Any loss in pattern density in the muzzle-loader was more than offset by the increased number of pellets in the 1 oz load which I was shooting. .  
Muzzle Loading Shot Cartridges. 

A prior Article discussed my method for making muzzleloading shot cartridges.   Since that Article was posted, I have started using "Japaneses Tissue Paper" for the the outer wrappings.  Japanese Tissue Paper is commonly used for making model airplanes.  It has good strength and will shrink as it drys. The  Japanese Tissue Paper produces a cartridge which is less likely to break when it is handled prior to use.

Here are some pictures of the process of making shot cartridges using Japanese Tissue Paper for the exterior wrapping.



Shot cup made from heavy paper.  Slits are cut in shot cup and entire shot cup is wrapped with yellow Japanese Tissue Paper.


Shot cup filled with shot and over shot wad held in place


Over shot cup "pasted" in place with more Japanese Tissue Paper


Finished cartridge.  Notice felt wad at bottom of cartridge.
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