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TPP 128: Shotgun Cartridges and Shells


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Learn all about the components of shotgun cartridges, common sizes of Shotgun Shells, length and different gauges, two basic projectile types as well as the 9 main slug types.

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TPP 128: Shotgun Cartridges and Shells

  1. 1. TPP 128: Shotgun Cartridges and Shells By Ken Jensen
  2. 2. Shotgun Cartridge Components Shotgun cartridges have similar components to that of a rifle cartridge. The components of a shotgun cartridge are: • The Projectile • The Case • The Wad • Propellant • The Head • The Rim • The Primer
  3. 3. Primer • The explosive center of the shell. • Firing pin hits primer. • Powder in primer ignites. • Ignites the propellant in the shell.
  4. 4. Propellant • Fast burning material that creates a gas expansion in the shell. • This propels the shot down and out the barrel. Case • The Shell Case is what houses everything. The common sizes of Shotgun Shells are • 10 Ga • 12 Ga • 20 Ga • .410
  5. 5. The Head • The head is the brass around the base of the cartridge. The Rim The rim is the small brass ring on the bottom of the shell. • Allows ejection of the shell by the action of the shotgun. • Keeps the shell chambered correctly.
  6. 6. The Wad Column Made up of 3 components The Gas Seal • This is designed to keep the expanding gas from moving behind it. • This keeps all expansion and momentum going forward. The Cushion • This is the shock absorber The Shot Cup • The cup houses the shot and keeps it together as it travels down the barrel.
  7. 7. The Projectile There are two basic projectile types. • Shot, or pellets • Slugs Shotgun Slugs • Shotguns were designed to shoot the ball type shot from the old muskets. These are called “Pumpkin Ball” slugs. Some of the benefits of slugs today: • These new designs allow us to bring some “rifle” qualities to shotguns. • All the force is focused to one spot. • This allows for greater impact or penetration on large game.
  8. 8. 9 main slug types Pumpkin Ball Slug • One of the first slug shots. • Round lead ball, just smaller than the bore. • Not too accurate • Limited range of about 25-50 yards
  9. 9. Brenneke Slugs • Designed in late 1800s • Had a rifling of the slug • The rifling was not at all for spin and added none • It reduced surface area on the barrel, reducing friction, and raising exit velocity. • It had stabilization problems due to being a solid slug.
  10. 10. Foster Slugs • Designed during the great depression. • Hollowed out rear putting mass at the tip for stable air flow • Meant to be used in a smooth barrel with a choke. Saboted Slugs • The big item here is the wad cup. Wad Slug • The wad slug is also called a key slug. It isn’t anything fancy about it.
  11. 11. Plumbata Slug There are two designs of the plumbata. • One type has wadding designed to fit in the tail end. • Another design wraps around the base of the slug Steel Slugs • It is expensive • It can be outperformed by a specific rifles where it matters: – Dense brush – Disabling vehicles
  12. 12. Wax Slugs • Wax slugs were used during the great depression. • Typical range of a Wax Slug is about 50 yards. Cut Shell Slugs • Cut shell slugs were also used during the great depression. • Usually made “in the field” when larger game showed up.
  13. 13. Shotgun Shot There are 2 different basic types of shot. Buckshot • Meant for larger animals. • Normal sizes range from 4 to 1, then 0 to 000, then Tri-ball 12 and Tri-ball 20 Birdshot • Useful for fowl and smaller game. • Birdshot runs from 9 down to 1, then B to BBB, then T, TT, F, FF
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