following is a summary of what I've learned about the 24
gram bunker/Olympic trap (and skeet) load since 1991: Other
have realized different results.
A lot of averaging is done in the shotgun game. . . A bit of trivia to
The 36 gram (1 1/4 oz) era ended
in 1973, 32 gram (1 1/8 oz) era ended in
gram (1 oz) era ended in 1990 with the current 24 Gram (7/8 oz) era
starting in 1991.
you are not an experienced
please, please, buy
the several excellent books
that are on the market
and become intimately familiar with the process and
the very necessary safety
procedures. Reading the MSDS statements available on the
various manufacturer's websites
information as well. Always follow exactly the loading recipes supplied
by the propellant manufacturers. Any questions may be asked on the
support lines. Reloading is not a place for short-cuts
cannot safely reload with best quality
are tired, in a hurry, or otherwise not able
your full and proper attention to the job.
shotgun reloading books come immediately to mind. The Lyman
edition Shotgun Reloading Manual is
one. Another is the
Reloading for Shotgunners, fourth edition
M.L. McPherson. They are available from www.amazon.com,
buy components or any good sporting goods store, online
or not. MEC
(RCBS: "The Handbook of Shotshell Reloading")
offer shotshell reloading instruction manuals at a
reasonable price. Better
the books, find someone who is a
well-experienced reloader to help you get
through the learning stages explaining
what the books may not make
clear to you and who can
answer the occasional question that
up from time to time. You will also find that Hornady's tech support is
second to none and will be of tremendous help. They're just plain good
better performing 24 gram bunker/ISkt component sets:
AAHS hull and primer, Red Dot/PROMO powder,
Claybuster CB 1100-12 (Claybuster 12SL equivalent. Wad gives the most
consistently perfect crimps of any when used with the bulkier powders,
Clays or Red Dot.) or
Winchester/Claybuster 12L. The latter delivers best crimps when Hi-Skor
700X or TiteWad is the preferred powder. The Claybuster 12L delivers
the softest recoil. AAHS hull is noticibly the easiest to
resize and crimp.
cases also work quite well, but are harder to
resize, introducing quality-killing fatigue in the those
I-gotta-load-500-shells for the weekend sessions. Of course, if you
on a hydraulic-powered
reloader, this won't matter. Remington cases work best with the
length wads or
equivalent and medium bulk powders. Crimping quality tends to be
consistent only if care is taken to insure only the same batch of hulls
is loaded. This is because of significant case length variations: in a
mixed batch of hulls, the Nitro 27
hulls tend to be longest, STS a bit less so and the Gun Club/field
hulls will be the shortest length. The length difference can be
significant: I've seen Gun Clubs at a short 65 mm length, with Nitro
measuring over 70 mm, a discrepancy on the order of 5 mm (7/32").
Cheddite hulls and primers, Red Dot/PROMO or Clays powders
the economical Downrange orange XXL (Downrange literature says this is
substitute), or Bascheri & Pellagri T2/Gualandi REX wads. Same
resizing effort issue as the Remington hulls without the varying
length issue. On the other hand, new, primed, cases are the easiest and
fastest to reload of all.
pattern run results are here: 24GramPatterns
data is available from Accurate, Alliant, Hodgdon,
Ballistic Products and Precision Reloading as appropriate.
tapered plastic case, using the CB078 wad seems to
recoiling. Alliant E³, Clay
Dot and SOLO 1000 are the softest, smoothest, shooting
For some, this may be a softer recoiling load than a load
a paper case as the recoil is more quickish.
selection for first and second barrels:
In the 36,
32 and even 28 gram eras, many shooters would mix loads,
putting 8's in the first barrel, with 7 1/2's in the second.
Remington-Peters made it
especially easy with color ID'd blue-hulled Peters 8's and green-hulled
7 1/2s (or
visa-versa). The smaller 8-sized shot has plenty of energy to break the
first-barrel target for all but the slowest shooters and the
pellet count sweetened the fringe to break a target when the shot
placement was less than perfect. A further refinement is to use a first
barrel shell with a
bit less velocity to better keep you in the gun for the second
shot, if needed.
Today, handloaders can use the Winchester red and gray cases to the
same advantage to keep the loads separated. Using Remington cases gives
you four colors to choose from. In the 24 gram present, it seems that
7 1/2's exclusively, likely because 8's are more difficult to obtain in
factory loadings as
the American factories—except Fiocchi and
loadings. Most shooters use their first barrel at targets at
less than 35 yards,
a distance at which the patterns are—or at least, can be
adequate with the 24 gram load. High antimony 8's and even 8
1/2's, to sweeten the fringe
(and "get a
hit"), will work quite well.
skeet shooters have it easy as there is no
problem getting a desired pattern percentage. It's mostly about getting
the most uniform, most reliable patterns for them. They too, can use
the different colored cases should they feel it worthwhile to have a
slightly tighter, higher quality, perhaps slightly higher velocity
shell for the longer second shots in
station 4 doubles and the new media round reverse doubles on stations 3
second bunker barrel that presents the
problem using only 24 grams of 7 1/2 sized shot. The tough
use high antimony or "other hardener" shot; the former with higher
pellet count, the latter with higher retained energy for greater
Either way, with careful shell and choke selection,
the pattern can usually be relied upon to break a centered target out
yards. Past that distance, Lady Luck plays a too-large role. Generally,
patterns from all but the very best loads fall off at a
rate of 12% per 5 yards, making the
best 40 yard 24" pattern about 72% and the 45 yard pattern a truly
usually best to match the primer brand to the case brand as they are
mechanically designed to work together. However, there are times, as
when tuning for best quality patterns when changing
recipe allows—is worthwhile (changing
primers can be dangerous: see Armbrust
tests). See below for
Any of the
faster powders work very well for 24
gram loads: Red Dot/PROMO, Clays, Clay Dot, E3,
HS-700X, Nitro 100, TiteWad, and American
Select. Seems like E3 has a bit of muzzle blast at the >1300'/s
Probably Alliant's American Select is the slowest powder that should be
considered for top performing 24 gram loads.
powder choice may well come down to which powder do you have the
bushings for or what ever is cheapest at
the time of
purchase and/or what is reliably stocked. All of the faster burning
propellants will do
the job very nicely and the patterns will at least be on the the better
side. That said and all things considered: after working with the 24
load since 1991,when considering cost,
virtually always availability, housekeeping issues and
patterning quality, it
that Alliant's Red Dot/PROMO are the most practical powders to
you can expect similar results using Clays,
Hi-Skor 700X, Red Dot and other faster burning powders vs. SOLO 1000
American Select, the slightly slower burn rate powders (Note that you
should consider selecting the manufacturer's recipes using hotter
primers for best pattern
performance with the latter two powders). Even slower
burning powders as Green Dot, PB and International Clays will provide a
longer push and the real possibility of poorer patterns when
cool primers are used in the recipe.
list of 24
dimensions and weight. All the
wads listed perform well, but careful matching of wad to
primer/case/powder type is a must for top performance. In
have seen results varying
between 73 to 85% in patterning efficiencies at 35 yards with a full
on how well the components turn out to be matched. I have found the
only way to
be really sure if the load is good is by actually patterning it. Very
loads that just looked
great in the recipe booklets, turned out not so great on the patterning
board or on the reloading bench with poor quality, inconsistent
crimping. For those who
prefer not to pattern, consistently chunky target
breaks is a sign of a less than ideal pattern. The better loads will
break targets into many, many small pieces, both first and second
barrels, although second barrel patterns with 24 grams of shot will
always produce chunkier breaks due to the lower pellet counts (If you
need 2nd barrel rolling balls of smoke, go back to the old 1
ounce, 36 gram load!).
wads make any difference to the pattern?
is that wads make a minor—not major—difference.
pretty much are within a small percentage of each
other (powder and primer choice has a greater effect), some will be
slightly more uniform, others will be slightly tighter and
some will have softer
recoil—to you—than others.
Some are more
efficient, needing less powder for the desired velocity.
to start out with in tapered cases would
WW12L, Claybuster 078-12L, the Claybuster CB1100-12 (the latter works
well in the AAHS hull
with medium to high-bulk powders). The Federal or Claybuster
12S0 wad works
well in the Remington cases.
straight-wall hulls, as Fiocchi or Cheddite, consider the economical
Downrange orange XXL (A word
about the XXL. In loading it
may be noticed that the top half of the wad cocks occasionally. This
does not seem to be a problem as shown by careful pattern
testing.), Gualandi REX, and the
B&P T2 wad. Ballistic Products
latter: "078Lightning" and Precision Reloading calls it by its
B&P number: TUWT2.
Reloading data is available from Ballistic Products and Precision
Reloading in addition
to Hodgdon's web site: www.hodgdon.com.
Yes, the wads designed for tapered cases can be used in straight-walled
cases, but the small
diameter overpowder cups (0.695 - 0.706". See wadlist
for more) abetted by static issues can allow powder migration during
handling into the
cushioning section contributing to more inconsistent load velocities.
the biggest concern is sizing and mis-labeling. For
tournaments, it is advisable
to do a quick sample check with a
micrometer to insure the shot is acceptable to you in terms of sizing
Bagged shot sized 7 1/2's (nominally 0.95) seem to have a tolerance
range of 0.93 to 0.96
and 8's (nominally 0.90) seem to range 0.87 to 0.91 with the shot much
likely to be on the smaller size. Unless the bag was mis-labeled. It
happens. For second barrel work, it's better to use top quality brand
name shot of the larger size (0.095 - 0.096) to retain target
especially if targets are typically broken much past 40 yards.
recipe selection for the most consistent 24 gram bunker loads:
rule, the 366 in normal operation seems to drop pretty
much on the nose.
A few drops will be off and
finding a +/- 0.3 grain
tolerance over a several-hundred shell loading session is pretty
velocity change significantly affects patterns and recoil as well as
seems logical to choose a recipe that shows good linearity. Looking
at the Alliant and Hodgdon loading manuals, many recipes show a
full grain difference for 50'/s change in velocity. That suggests
each tenth of a grain roughly
5'/s change in velocity, all
being equal; pretty linear. Considering the drop tolerance, that
translates to +/- 15 '/s from the nominal velocity, again all else
equal. However, there are some recipes that only a half grain
difference for a 50'/s velocity change, suggesting each
tenth of a grain now roughly
equals 10'/s. The
+/- 0.3 grain drop tolerance
becomes a +/-
from the norm, again, all things being equal, double the deviation: the
1300'/s shell now on paper is a 1330'/s - 1270'/s shell that run over a
chronograph, will virtually certainly be much worse: not likely a good
recipe choice! A few recipes show more than a grain needed for that
50'/s velocity difference and it may be those are the best to start
with. And it's always better to choose basic recipes that
component options, all at a safe, lower pressure value.
It is also
advisable to run 10 shells over a chronograph to insure the load
develops the desired velocity with consistency and
has a low standard deviation. Some
recipes that look and load very well will show drop outs: wherein the
velocity will be considerably below the average on one or more shells,
perhaps on the order
of 40 - 50'/s. If
your chosen load does this, the only solution is to choose another
recipe. Unfortunately, the loading manuals do not indicate the
when the data is for 7/8 ounce—as is normal in American
guides, excepting IMR's—and you only load 24 grams, the
will be around 20 feet per second faster.
equal or best factory shell performance? With well-matched components
quality shot, absolutely!
examples with factory runs to compare to:
runs were done at 35 yards with a fixed, full choke (42.5
Perazzi barrel. You should note that a slightly more open choke will
produce better quality, same percentage patterns. See tite-choke tests.
15 patterns were averaged for the results
Reload with components as listed above.
CB1200-12 high antimony West Coast 7 1/2's.
the reference, here are some factory comparison runs:
the pattern density price paid with the Euro load
velocities. This series of tests also demonstrate the advantage lower
velocity cartridges offer to hold
longer range patterns. If you're shooting targets at 50 yards, this is
may want to keep in mind.
On initial pellet counts: True, well-graded, 7 1/2's (0.095"/2.41mm)
with high antimony will run about 294 pellets in a 24 gram load. The
Win AA is
only loaded to 23.5 grams,
hence the lower pellet
count. Lead with "other hardeners" (as, perhaps,
tin and nickel) will run about
pellets in a 24 gram
load. The latter has the advantage of
greater downrange pellet energy due to the heavier pellet. A very nice
counting block can be found at: www.100straight.com.
On "90 mm holes": Oberfell and Thompson used a 5" disc to
evaluate pattern uniformity. This size was too large: many patterns had
no 5" diameter
holes (as predicted by
O-T), but yet still had
significant gaps in coverage. The solution was to use a 90 mm ("midi"
target size). The
works out well and gives a more useable way to compare the uniformity
set of patterns to another. However, early on it was realized
that probably at least 25 patterns need to be evaluated for this to
become a truly reliable measurement for comparison—unlike the
numbers wherein the average changes very little after averaging 10
Since counting 15 patterns is a very time-consuming process, it was
decided to accept
would only serve as a guide to that load's uniformity.
Why is this
important? Because this will allow taking a few pellets out of
a too-hot core and moving them to the mid-taurus. This effort is
worthwhile for the first barrel; 24 gram second barrel patterns are
never tight enough.
the recipe you are
using will safely
primers can be dangerous: see Armbrust
primer sub tests. This article
also discusses how changing primers effects patterns), you can move
pellets out (or visa-versa) of the 10" core into
the 10" to 20" outer taurus (widening the reliable effective pattern)
by choosing a
"hotter" primer. If possible, changing the choke tube can also be very
helpful as different tubes, though throwing substantially the same
pattern percentage, will distribute shot differently. You can see
examples of this in here.
The H2 figure shows the hole count/uniformity of the 10 to 20" taurus.
The lower the figure, the better the pattern, the wider the reliable
patterns is slow,
tedious work. The digital
camera/computer evaluation method
demonstrates one) will speed things up. Usually, the
first barrel is
adjusted for best uniformity and maximum reliable width (the
gram load only
an effective reliable target-breaking width of 20"—at best.
is to find
a choke and load that consistently fills out that circle with virtually
Very, very, very, few loads do; most loads only have a totally reliable
well, as getting
desired percentage at the shorter yardage presents little difficulty.
The second barrel is then tweaked for
best tightness and
uniformity; very high quality, very well graded magnum-hard black lead
A final comment:
The UIT, now
mandated the 24
gram load in 1991. Since then, I've reloading bench tested and
something like 250
component combinations, observing a wide variation in pattern
72 to 85 percent—at 35 yards with the classic Perazzi full,
the best patterns have come from using
the Winchester AAHS and Remington target cases. Comparison tests
with Euro components, as cases and wads, showed that the more
economical CB 12L and CB 1100-12 wads produced equal or better patterns
the American target cases.
The 20 years of component evaluations
have come down
to one preferred load: Winchester HS red hull,
Winchester 209 primer, a medium bulk powder (needing Hornady bushings
444 through 456 for the proper drop for the desired velocity), as
Dot/PROMO, Claybuster 1100-12 wad and
24 grams of
premium shot. Reloading data is available at alliantpowder.com
and the recipes are all safely well within SAMMI limits.
reason Remington target cases weren't in the final running is that they
require—especially the Gun Club field
effort to resize and crimp. If you use a hydraulic-powered loader or
don't mind the extra manual effort, then it's a wash. Longer wads such
as 12S0, XXL Pink and 12L type wads are a better
choice with the Remingtons because of higher case capacity, although
the CB1100-12 will work well with bulky powders.)
This preferred combination stood out after the extensive testing
because the component
combination satisfies all the criteria: it chronographs and patterns
very well—among the best tested—and passes all the
reloading bench tests including the least
effort to load
on the Hornady 366 allowing for those occasional 500 shells per session
without quality-wrecking fatigue (the AAHS hull resizes and crimps with
least effort) and delivers the most
consistent, flat crimps. The fact that Winchester turns out to
be a USA
Shooting sponsor (whom USA Olympic shooters ideally support) is just
examples of realized AAHS consistent
crimps. Note that they are all pretty much flat with very little
concavity or convexity. And they stay that way. No pook-outs when you
open the box at the range.
Winchester 12L style wad in the AAHS case is certainly
the dense powders for
which it was designed for, such as
Accurate's Nitro 100, Hodgdon's Titewad and IMR's HiSkor-700X, but I
found less crimp consistency with this component combination. The
crimps tended toward convexity.
like to load shells with velocities in the neighborhood of 1350'/s or
you may have a crimp convexity problem with Red Dot because of the
bulk of Red Dot needed to achieve those velocities. PROMO, because it
has less bulk, is helpful here. Alternatively, perhaps a wad change to
the shorter Winchester 12SL or an equivalent would solve that problem.
one for using two shells, one for first barrel (8's, perhaps and/or
velocity) and the
second for second barrel (7 1/2's), then using the Gray AAHS case will
keep the loads quickly identifiable using the same components and
eliminating the need for major reloader adjustments. However,
curiously, I found the crimps somewhat less consistent.
To illustrate how
well the load works, see the following table for typical patterns. For
the record, I've added runs with a denser premium powder and a
reclaimed shot to demonstrate the negative quality effect of poor
shot on patterns.
|At 30 yards:
PROMO with 8's
HS 700X with 8's
at 35 yards:
HS 700X with 8's
1/2's at 35 yds:
More detailed load
data is at the bottom of the page.
Actual pattern runs are here. (PDF)
As you can see from the above table, the
basic load combination patterned very well in my barrels. I hope it
patterns as well in yours—at least a quick plate test would
Things do happen!
frames and Plates: uses
for and how to build.
On the 366 reloader:
to Part I: Introduction
to Part II: General problem solutions
to Part III: On poor crimps, 410 reloading
to Part IV: Changing gauges
Part V: Annual maintenance
Part VI: On buying a used 366
back to the home page
Reloading manufacturers Links
arrow points to the
10" core. Right top Arrow points to the
and the right
points to the 20" - 24" taurus.
Load data used for the patterns in Table 3:
Load 1 – AAHS Red case, W209, CB1100-12, PROMO 365 grains
Remington 8 shot, 0.025 Seminole choke at 30 yards.
Load 2 – AAHS Red case, W209, CB 12L, PROMO 365 grains
Reclaimed shot, 0.025 Seminole choke at 30 yards.
Load 3 – AAHS Red case, W209, CB 12L, HS-700X 365
grains Remington 8 shot, 0.025 Seminole choke at 30 yards.
Load 4 – AAHS Red case, W209, CB1100-12, HS-700X, 365 grains
shot, 0.025 Seminole choke at 35 yards. Results listed are from 19
Load 5 – AAHS GRAY case, W209, CB12L, HS-700X 365 grains West
Coast 7 1/2's Perazzi Fixed full choke.
Load 6 – AAHS GRAY case, W209, CB1100-12, PROMO 365 grains
West Coast 7 1/2's Perazzi Fixed full choke.
Actual pattern runs are here.
non-listing of actual powder charges used is intentional because
component lot tolerances, vendor component
storage conditions and reloading machine (principally crimp depth)
settings vary so much. It is suggested that you take the
powder manufacturer's recipe recommendations as a starting point,
carefully assemble test loads and use a known-accurate chronograph to
determine the velocity; then adjust the powder charge as
needed for the desired velocity.
If you find that the powder charge needs adjusting more than a few
tenths of a grain, contact the powder manufacturer for their advice on
proceeding. NEVER EXCEED THE MAXIMUM POWDER MANUFACTURER'S RECIPE
RECOMMENDATION FOR YOUR OWN—AND OTHERS—PERSONAL