How To: Loading Your Own Shotgun Slugs

June 8, 2010
By Jason Wimbiscus

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with slugs and slug guns.  In addition to these pumpkin throwers being a logical choice of weapon in the thick northeastern woods, I can’t help but be drawn to guns that throw such massive chunks of lead and poke such gaping holes in targets.  Traditionally, the biggest negative factor concerning shotgun slugs has been the cost.  Some premium sabot slugs currently cost $20 for a box of five.  Considering how often I miss, I simply can’t afford to spend $4 with every pull of the trigger.  Just as handloading metallic cartridges will reduce cost to the shooter, handloading slugs will yield a similar result.  Here’s how to get started.


Required tools

1.        Power drill (a drill press is preferable)

2.        Roll crimping tool for every gauge you wish to load

3.        Hull vice

4.        Powder scale

5.        Loading press (if you need to resize/reprime your shotshell hulls)


A Roll crimper (left) and a Hull Vice (right)




Materials

Hulls, primers, powder, and slugs (the exact types of each will depend on what data you are following)

Here are some of the slugs available to the handloader.
From left to right; 12 ga 7/8 oz Blue Force, 12 ga 1-1/8 oz
Dangerous Game Slug,1 oz Lee home cast, BPI 12 ga sabot
with 350 grain .50 cal bullet, 20 ga 1 oz Dangerous Game Slug.

Loading procedure

While there are slight variationsaccording to what slug you are loading, the overall process is essentially same.  The following example is of a Blue Force sabot being loaded into a 3 inch multi-hull.



1.        Weigh each charge carefully.  Slug loading has more in common with metallic cartridge reloading than loading birdshot.  To ensure consistency, weigh out each charge using a good powder scale. It helps to Have your hulls primed and ready to go.  Most data suggests using fresh, unfired hulls.  I have not yet tried recycled hulls with slug data, so I cannot attest to what, if any difference, this variation would make.



2. Charge the hull.



3.  Insert the slug and sabot into the hull.  Apply pressure until it is pressed firmly against the powder.



4.        Lock the hull into your hull vice and roll crimp.  Be careful not to over crimp and buckle the hull (a possibility especially if you’re using a drill press to crimp).


5.        The slug load is complete.




Variations

If you are loading BPI sabots, it is recommended that a FS12 gas seal be inserted into the hull prior to loading the sabot.

Slugs cast from the lee mold are intended to be placed in a Winchester AA wad and AA hull, and then fold crimped like a standard trap load.

Cost Reduction

I did some math to determine if I was saving any money by loading slugs at home.  The costs assume new primed hulls were purchased and I did not factor in the cost of the loading tools.  All prices are approximate.

12 ga Dangerous Game Slug = 79 cents/round

12 ga blue force = $1.09/round

Lee 1 oz home cast = Cost can vary greatly depending on how much scavenging for lead and hulls you can do.  In any case, they are cheap enough to plink with.

BPI Sabots = 70 cents per round

They’re clearly less expensive than most factory slugs






3 Responses to “ How To: Loading Your Own Shotgun Slugs ”

  1. nate on July 17, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    hey, how much powder would you use for the 20ga 7/8 ounce dangerous game slug? and would basicly any hull work for slugs?

  2. Jason Wimbiscus on July 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I actually have a chart of load data for 20 ga slugs I can email you if you want.

    In my initial tests with 20 ga DGS slugs, I got exceptional 50 yard accuracy from a rifled barrel 870 using Herco and Fiocci hulls.

    I plan on doing an article on 20 ga slugs as soon as I am able.

  3. Doug on September 19, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Jason;

    I’m looking to load my own slugs. Could you e-mail me the load data you mentioned in your july 18 2010 posting?

    thanks

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