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November 04, 2008

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Bourjaily: Price of Lead and 3/ 4 Ounce Reloads

Here’s the bad news: the sky is falling.

Here’s the good news: so is the price of lead.

One of my local stores has lead shot at $37 a bag, down from $43 a month ago. Rumor has it the price will keep dropping. Like a lot of folks, I’ve been shooting lighter reloads to stretch my money, but even if lead gets to $15 a bag, I’m having so much fun shooting recoilless target loads that I won’t go back to the heavier stuff.

The Hodgdon website   http://www.hodgdon.com/  has the recipes I use. I’ve settled on 3/ 4 ounce of 8s at 1200 fps. I can hardly feel them go off in an 8 1/ 2 pound 12 gauge, but they crush skeet and sporting targets. It is true that there aren’t many pellets in the fringes of a 3/ 4 ounce pattern, but I’m willing to trade a little margin for error for a complete lack of recoil.

DEP has written that good shooting begins with the acceptance of pain and great shooting begins with the love of pain (do I have that right, Dave?), but I’m enjoying the absence of pain. Has anybody else out there lightened up and liked it?



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When I was learning to reload shotgun many years ago, I had loaded metallic for many years already and shotshell reloading was somethink akin to voodoo and I was not doing too well with it. An experienced friend told me that he kept the same charge wt. of shot and powder for everything, only changing shot size for the game at hand. I took his advice to heart and it worked well for me. I am happy to report that I have become somewhat proficient with my Mec press now. I don't go thru a lot of shotshells as shotgun opportunites are limited in my area, mostly calling crows, ruffed grouse with a buddy, and the informal skeet shoots in the back 40. I am throwing 1 1/4 oz. of shot ahead of 23 gr. (can't remember for sure without looking) of Unique at about 1220 fps per my old Lyman book. I use 5's or 6's for the crows and odd rabbit, 6's and 7 1/2's for the grouse, and 7 1/2's for skeet. The load shoots well in my old guns. Am I being a bit wasteful, even masochistic, for using what some would call a heavy load for everything? Looks to me like if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Hope the dropping lead prices wander over into metallic components as well. Best regards and good shooting.

Dave Petzal

Phil: Exactly right. I now shoot nothing less than 3-dram equiv. loads for anything, and on those days when I don't shoot, I whip myself with nettles just to keep my hand in.


I did the same thing Phil, except I went to a 7/8 oz 12 ga load...I went to my first registered skeet shoot with them and ran my first 25 straight in competition with them...I love them!


I really don't get the whole pain thing...I shoot 3 1/2's tungsten 2 oz loads all day long & don't feel a thing & I am a small guy.

Then again, it might be the gun & the comp choke & the 15 layers of waterfowl clothing, of course...Hehehehe


I settled on 7/8 oz 12-ga target loads for some spell. My skeet scores rose.

I found the standard trap 12-ga load with 7 1/2's tough to beat for anything in the uplands. For early grouse season and woodcock I prefer 8's.

I don't know if other waterfowlers have the same experience, but I don't believe steel shot in any size or amount of load is much good over 35-yards.

Tony C.

I'm shooting a 7mm-08 instead of a .300 Win Mag or a 30-06 and wondering why I didn't do this years ago.

I shot ducks last year with 2-3/4 inch shells instead of 3-inch and 3-1/2 and went to steel 4s instead of 2s. I don't plan to switch back this season.

I can take recoil, but it's nice to not get banged around so much.

I also switched from an 870 to a gas-operated autoloader. I didn't get rid of the beloved 870 as it is pure death on anything I point it at, but I'm going to shoot the auto a little more at ducks.


Absolutely. I've started loading nothing but 7/8 oz. loads for the trap and skeet fields and I can't tell that it's had an impact on my scores one way or the other. Definitely feels better on the shoulder and the wallet, though.


reload smeeload, phtttt. was inna xmart the udder day an some dumb young manager had marked pheasant loads 20 ga down to 3.69 a box. Their were none left onna shelf when I left the store..:-)

Dr. Ralph

Few people make me look words up... nettles? You're a sick man.

Joe Flyrod


A bunch of us are clayaholics back East (CT). We shoot lots of sporting targets all year long and have long ago settled on 7/8 ounce loads with 2 3/4 dram equiv of powder. Think about it. You don't feel undergunned shooting targets with a 20, and this is nothing more than a slightly quicker 20 gauge equivalent loading.

Recoil is nothing in an 8 lb O/U, and when we shoot we have to travel, so we will typically shoot 200 to 300 targets at a time. I bought some Remington Gun Club shells with 1 1/8 ounce of shot in them. After shooting 100 targets, I thought I had gone 10 rounds with Floyd Patterson. Never again.

By the way, if you ever get the chance to try them, the B & P 12 gauge 7/8 ounce loads are the softest shooting competitive shells you'll ever use. If someone dies and leaves you in his will, spring for a couple of cases. You'll never go back.


I guess everything is relative. In my opinion you select the load to match the job at hand. For example I am not interested in seeing if a 130 gr bullet will stop a 1200# charging brown bear if there is another option.

Chad Love

Hey Mark-1, saw your comment on the other blog and tried to PM you but I couldn't figure out how...


Well, Obama just won it. I sure as hell hope his four years are up before he can get a ban passed on all semi-autos. I sure as hell woud miss my Beretta Teknys Gold Trap. I've put to much time and money into that damn gun for Mr. Obama to take it away from me.



Congrats, on your "Love Country" I dig my head out of the musical trenches surfin' the web for news, and you're a celeb!!!! Read all your prose.

Again, Congrats!

I'll figure out how to PM you, guy! Your old email address I had is defunk.

O Nuts! The din from the tube was Obama hitting 284..as I write.


Id say the recoil issue goes out the door with the shotgun. It is too different a form of shooting and must be approached differently than the rifle.


I've been shooting 7/8 oz loads at even the longest sporting clay targets and they are just crushed. I too am enjoying the fact of no recoil and more loads from a bag of shot. Now, whn are the ammo companies going to LOWER the price of not just shot but loaded ammo? Take a look at metal prices in the Wall Street Journal adn you will see that not only has lead fallen by more than half its price, but so has copper.


I'll stick with my 7/8 oz loads for hunting, and near mag powder charge, I also carry a few 3 inch shells with 2 oz of #4 and a magnum load of powder for long shots, anything out to 50 yds falls with those. (note, do not fire straight up a tree at squirrels with those loads, tends to take out fairly large branches as well as said squirrel, this is not a good thing if you are directly below)


My eyes and reflexes aren't as good as they once were. Also down to one shotgun right now, with a 12 gauge fixed modified choke. One ounce spreader loads and 1-1/8 oz 3 dram 12 ga hunting loads for me.


Crud, read the post before and got 7/8 stuck in my head, should have been 1 1/8 oz loads. And #6 shot BTW.


I shoot a Savage model 57 pump gun with a bored "mod" choke, shoots tighter than my other shotgun with full choke tube in, no clue why but it's my turkey and squirrel gun because of it.


I have shot 7/8 oz. loads for years. They are great. I know some 27 yd shooters who use 7/8 oz #7 1/2 from the 27 yd line and crush targets. Europe went to 24 g loads and scores went up for Sporting. Lets see...less recoil, less cost, scores go up. What am I missing NSSA/NSCA?

Monkey Monkey Monkey

Who needs guns? Monkey fling poo!


Yes, I've been experimenting with the 3/4-ounce 12-gauge load listed on the Hodgdon website. It seems to break skeet just fine and I dearly LOVE the soft recoil. I need to pattern it on paper to see what the pattern actually looks like.

I also need to reorder components, have you tried the Claybuster equivalent to the Federal 12SO? (CB2100-12) Does it work as well as the Federal 12SO wad for this load?

BTW, next I want to try a 3/4-ounce load in the 20 gauge. No use tossing more of that expensive lead than necessary and the absence of recoil is a BIG plus.


16 years ago I was shooting light 7/8 oz. reloads at sporting clays. People who shot with me thought I was shooting much heavier (1 1/8) loads due to the targets being absolutely crunched.
Today I shoot Winchester's ultra light 24gram 980fps load which is even lighter but still CRUNCHES targets and doves. Try em.


16 years ago, I was shooting light 7/8 oz reloads in sporting clays competition. People who shot with me thought I was using much heavier loads due to the targets being absolutely crunched.
Today I shoot Winchester's ultra light 24 gram 980fps load which is even lighter but still CRUNCHES targets and doves.

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