Shotgun Shells are self-contained cartridges loaded with shot or slugs designed to be fired from a shotgun. Most shotgun shells are designed to be fired from a smoothbore shotgun barrel, however rifled shotgun barrels are gaining popularity and to that means many saboted shotgun shells have been designed for their use in rifled shotgun barrels.
Modern shotgun shells typically consist of a plastic case (when empty usually refered to as the hull), with the base covered in a thin brass covering. Often the more powerful shotgun loads will use "high brass" hulls, with the brass extended up further along the sides of the shell, while light loads will use "low brass" hulls. The brass does not actually provide a significant amount of strength, but the difference in appearance provides shooters with a way to quickly differentiate between high and low shot weight ammunition. High brass usually references the ounces of shot contained in the shotshell.
Shotshells have five and or six main parts:
Whether you are target shooting, skeet shooting, trap shooting, hunting for deer, turkey, doves, ducks, pheasants, bears, elk or quail there is a shotgun shell designed for those uses and many more. The most common shotgun shell sizes today are for 10 Gauge Shotguns,
Common shotshell nomenclature looks like this; example:
2 3/4 dram equivalent refers to the amount of power the modern shotshell powder will generate as to its old counter-part gunpowder or black powder that shotshells use to be loaded with.
Note: Currently shotshell manufacturers are listing the actual velocity of the shot which is more accurate than dram eqivalent designation.
1 1/8 oz. refers to the total weight in ounces of all the shot pellets that are loaded in the shotshell.
# 7 1/2 shot refers to the shot pellet size that is loaded in the shotshell.
Birdshot shotgun shells, the shot sizes are numbered similar to the shotgun gauges, the smaller the number, the larger the shot, see table below, lead shot.
Buckshot shotgun shells are used primarily for hunting larger game, such as deer, however it is also used in riot shotguns and combat shotguns for defensive, police, and military use. Buckshot is categorized by number, with smaller numbers being larger diameter shot.
Lead Shot Sizes:
All shotgun shells that contain shot, may have a different types of metal shot in them, lead, steel, bismuth, iron, nickel plated and copper plated, they will pattern differently from each other so no matter what shotgun shells you use, the shotgun needs pattern tested accordingly.
Lead free shotgun shells are loaded with steel, bismuth, or tungsten composite pellets instead of more traditional lead-based pellets. Due to environmental regulations, the use of lead shot is banned in Canada and the United States when hunting migratory game birds, such as ducks and geese, forcing the use of non-toxic shot for upland waterfowl hunting.
Steel Shot Sizes:
Steel shot does not deform from the time ignition starts in a shotshell until all the shot has come to rest in a piece of game, therefore steel shot (as a whole in percentage) penetrates deeper than lead shot. Penetration factor is based on the remaining round pellets that are left which will penetrate deeper than dented or deformed lead pellets.
Slug shotgun shells use a heavy lead projectile, usually with pre-cut rifling, intended for use in a smoothbore shotgun barrel and often used for hunting large game. The slug itself is rifled causing the projectile to spin and which increases accuracy of the slug.
Much later shotguns were produced with rifled barrels, and slugs were designed to be fired from them with spin stabilization. Saboted slug shotgun shells usually use a lead-cored, full copper-jacketed projectile supported by a plastic sabot, which is designed to engage the rifling in a rifled shotgun barrel and impart a spin onto the projectile. See Image Below:
Some shotgun slugs are now designed to work effectively in smooth-bore shotguns as well as rifled shotgun barrels such as Winchesters Hollow Point Full Bore Rifled Slug which features WinGlideŽ Wad Stabilizer. Designed for use in smooth bore shotguns, rifled choke tube shotguns or fully rifled barrels. See Image Below:
Pure Lead Rifled Slug Diameters:
Introduction To Shotguns:
Stocks Don't Fit
How To Reload
Choke Tube Types
Patterning For Turkey
Clay Pattern Target
Dove Pattern Target
Turkey Pattern Target