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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I am looking for some suggestions related to reloading 3" shotshells in .410 bore. I have read a number of posts on the internet related to this topic, but none of them provide all of the information I am looking for, and some are rather old, and I'd like to have more current information. Below I will lay out what my experience has been in trying to learn about reloading 3" .410 shells, followed by my questions.

I have purchased a Tristar Viper G2 semi-auto .410 that shoots both 2-1/2" and 3" shotshells. I am looking to use it to shoot clays. It's been a very long time since I shot .410, and then only at squirrels, and I know it will be a challenge to do anything but whiff when shooting a .410 at clays. After watching some internet videos that showed .410 shotshell patterns, it seems like the small amount of extra shot you get with a 3" shell would be helpful, so I decided I want to try it, but I have had difficulty finding much information on reloading 3" .410 shells.

All of the advice I have gotten from people for both 28 gauge and .410 bore shell reloading is to use Winchester AA HS hulls because they are stronger, reload more times, have fewer issues, and crimp better. As part of a process of evaluating the cost of buying .410 shells vs reloading them I asked Winchester which of their .410 shells use AA HS hulls. They told me that all of their 2-1/2" shells but none of their 3" shells use AA HS hulls. I also could not find a shell on the Remington web site for 3" .410 shells. But I see reloading recipes on the Alliant and Hodgdon reloading data web sites for 3" .410 bore reloads using Winchester AA HS and Remington STS hulls. Huh.

All of my shotshell recipes have come from the Alliant and Hodgdon reloading data web sites. Alliant 410 and Hodgdon H110 look like the best bets to me. I know there are books that contain shotshell reloading information, but I don't know whether or not they are more complete or better than the manufacturer web sites.

I have purchased a MEC Sizemaster reloader in .410 bore because it supports both 2-1/2" and 3" shells. The only reloaders I could find that support 3" .410 shells are the Sizemaster and MEC 600 Jr Mark V. I would rather use a MEC 9000GN, but it only support 2-1/2" .410 shells.

First question: In your experience, is the extra shot in a 3" .410 shell vs a 2-1/2" shell of much help in shooting clays? Is it worth the extra expense and effort?

Second question: What source do you use for reloading data?

Third question: What brand and model of 3" .410 hull do you use for reloading? What is your favorite reload recipe for that hull?

Fourth question: Do you know of a web site where I could buy 3" .410 bore Winchester AA HS or Remington STS hulls? I can't find ANY.

Fifth question: Have you ever reloaded Winchester Super-X 3" .410 hulls? What is your favorite reload recipe for that hull?

Sixth question: Have you ever reloaded NSI .410M 3" .410 hulls? What is your favorite reload recipe for that hull?

Seventh question: Do you have any tips and tricks that you would care to share about using the MEC Sizemaster for reloading .410 hulls?


Thank you in advance for your help.
 

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First let me preface by saying I do not reload 3"...for a reason. For skeet it is unnecessary and per NSSA rules 1/2 oz shot is the maximum. That being said, I don't know when you say "Clays" you mean skeet, Sporting Clays, 5 Stand, or some other game I am unaware of. Pretty sure not trap as that would be a waste of time. Even 5 Stand and Sporting Clays might get you discouraged if you are not a pretty good shooter. I'll answer your questions as you asked them.

1. There are a couple of schools of thought on this. Is the extra shot worth it. When I shot competitively, every extra BB was important. That being said, the 3" 410 shot column is very long and easier to distort. The only true test would be to pattern several different 3" loads vs 2 1/2 inch. I carried a little better than 94 average in .410 when I shot a lot. I'm down to about 88 now.

2. Lyman Shotshell Reloading Handbook is a MUST HAVE for your library. Data can come from various pamphlets supplied by the powder companies, or the Hodgdon site.

3. I would use the data from the Hodgdon site and only 296 or H110 powder...its what I know. Another consideration is most of the 3" loads bump pressures up at the 12,000-13,500 PSI range. That is above my comfort zone. I shoot some .410 in a tubed 12 gauge and that is higher than suggested. I wouldn't have a problem in my 870, but still...why test fate.

4. The 410 3" Super X is the same construction as the 2 1/2" HS hull as far as I know. The Hodgdon site lists the Super X as HS. When shooting 5 stand with .410, I just use 2 1/2" 8 shot at 1300+ fps.

5. Again...referring to Hodgdon site, many pressures with that hull in 3" are out of my comfort zone.

7. Love the Sizemaster. I have it in 12, 20, and 28. I still load .410 in my Original 600. Since the .410 is much smaller than the other gauges, there is a tiny learning curve. You will go through wad fingers quicker, and sometimes the shot is harder to drop because of the small bar and the larger you go, the worse it is. 8 1/2 and 9's not so much, but when you get to 7 1/2 and 6's, it can get sticky. I've even had those get stuck in the drop tube to unexpectedly let go when you pull the shell away from that station.

My standard Skeet load is 15 gr. Win 296, Win 209 primer, Win AA-410 HS Wad and 1/2 oz of shot. That is right around 1200 fps. With a pressure of less than 9000 PSI. I have used that same load for almost 40 years. That load also compensates for a change in primer to CCI (regular or magnum), Cheddite and even Federal Magnum if need be. You can also substitute the Claybuster Wad. I will eventually switch to that for price once my AA wads run out.

Good Luck.

Edited: Sus Scrofa should be along. I know he loads 3" 410 using cards and felt wads and may have a bunch of additional information.
 

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I use to reload for my .410-3" sized shell, with using a Lee Loader reloading set. It was great, and easy to use. I also recall being able to buy shot cups that held a full 3/4 oz of shot. While I don't shoot clays, I have and still do hunt Squirrels with my .410, but use only factory loads now, due to the absent of 3/4 plastic shot cups, which Remington advertised once as "Power-Pistons". Growing-up I used .410-3" ammunition (Super-X) paper hulls which I feel were more powerful than what is sold today, as they held a full 3/4 oz of shot. The .410 was a great for reloading with the Lee Loader with the plastic hulls, and money was saved as a result. I used 2400 and WW-296 powders and nickel plated #5 shot, with a shotgun primer.
 

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Yep, reading with interest.

I load 410s for birds, pheasant, partridge and occasional ducks(mallard mainly).

I have gone through various loads using plastic wads but found a supplier of felt wads who had done his homework and come up with a seriously good load. I use 19.7gs Vectan SP3 powder, Fiocchi primers, and 2mm over powder cards/ 12mm felt wads. In order to get a really nice even/tight crimp I have found that 18.7g fo #6 or #7 shot UK size!! is the optimum load. I have pattern tested quite a number of various loads and at 35yrds from a full choke barrel in my Yilditz o/u gives me a very good even 30 inch pattern with very few fliers. On average I shoot between 20 to 25 driven bird days a season and my average over the last two seasons using this load has been 2.8 shots to 1 bird. Anything under 3 to 1 is considered pretty good shooting.

Having now used a 410 exclusively for shooting game birds I have come to the conclusion that time spent patterning loads is well spent as I have a friend who also shoots 410 who shoots much more open chokes than me at similar birds ...20 to 40yrds... and his kill to shot ration is as good if not better than mine.
I have come to the onclusion that the 410 is a weird little gauge and slight differences in chokes, barrel length and internal dimenions of the barrel however slight can mean a different performance gun to gun.
You need to work up loads specifically for your gun and spend time checking those patterns with all of the chokings available.

I only reload 3 inch cases Fiocchi mainly.

I also weigh all my powder and shot individually and only use the loader for resizing, putting in the wads and crimp finishing. I put a final finish on the crimp with a GAEP spinner in the bench drill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
JWSmith1959, I will be shooting sporting clays, but if I find it to be fun and have some success I may try some trap or skeet.

Yesterday I purchased the "Lyman Shotshell Handbook, 5th Edition". It has some good reloads beyond what I found at manufacturers' web sites. However, I am a bit disappointed that it doesn't show some powders, like Alliant 20-28, which I use for 28 gauge, and some popular wads. Perhaps that's because the book was published in 2007 and isn't completely up to date.

I've decided to try both 2-1/2" and 3" shells, and see what works best in my gun and within my personal shooting limitations. I've ordered some Winchester shells with AA HS and Super-X hulls for reloading purposes. A comparison of purchasing once-fired hulls or purchasing new shells and reloading them shows that the cost is almost the same. Over a range of 200 boxes of 25 rounds, it is about $0.10 per box less expensive to use once-fired hulls for 28 gauge, and about $0.50 per box for .410 bore. If you can even find the hulls you want.

I had read elsewhere about difficulties like you mentioned with dropping larger shot, like #6, into .410 hulls. I plan to try 8 and 9 shot, so hopefully I won't run into much of that.

You mentioned Win 296 powder, which appears to be one of the most popular powders for .410 reloading. I read somewhere that Hodgdon H110 is the same powder. Do you think that is correct?

You also mention that some of the 3" .410 reload recipes have 12000 - 13500 PSI, and that is beyond your comfort range. Wouldn't the powder manufacturers take into account the capabilities of 3" .410 bore guns before publishing reload recipes? I have sent a request to Tristar to find out the safe PSI range for the gun I purchased. It will be interesting to see if liability issues prevent them from providing that information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Davers's, A Lee Loader! Holy cow, that takes me back to about 1985 when I was looking to begin reloading a pistol cartridge. Lee no longer manufactures a Loader in .410 bore, and a used one is $100, which is ridiculous. The Lee Load-All is about $60, although they don't make it for 28 gauge or .410 bore.

I don't know if modern hulls can hold 3/4 oz shot. All of the recipes for 5/8 and 11/16 oz I see are for hulls that are designed for 1/2 oz of shot. I guess the extra shot sits on the top of the shot cup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sus Scrofa, Sadly, my hunting days are long behind me. I find I don't desire to hunt any longer since my brother and father passed away, I guess hunting was something I came to think of as a family activity. My favorite hunting was for pheasants, rabbits, and squirrels, especially in the years when we had a couple of great dogs. With the dogs it almost didn't matter to me if I shot something, I just enjoyed how happy it made the dogs, like excited children.

To reload using felt wads do you use a reloading machine? If so, do you have to insert the wads manually? I would think that felt wads would want to turn sideways when inserted into a hull by the plunger-like system I've seen on reloading machines.

I guess I'm going to need to spend a bit of time determining how my gun patterns with different loads and chokes. I suppose that's part of the fun of it all, as is reloading in general.
 

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Win 296 and H110 are identical. I used not to think so, but the newest Hodgon load data shows exact loads and pressures. I also stay away from Little Gun in 410 for pressure reasons too.

SAAMI max pressure for the 3" 410 is 13,500.

I just don't like bumping up near the top all the time. Some people love living on the edge. :D
 

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Sus Scrofa, Sadly, my hunting days are long behind me. I find I don't desire to hunt any longer since my brother and father passed away, I guess hunting was something I came to think of as a family activity. My favorite hunting was for pheasants, rabbits, and squirrels, especially in the years when we had a couple of great dogs. With the dogs it almost didn't matter to me if I shot something, I just enjoyed how happy it made the dogs, like excited children.

To reload using felt wads do you use a reloading machine? If so, do you have to insert the wads manually? I would think that felt wads would want to turn sideways when inserted into a hull by the plunger-like system I've seen on reloading machines.

I guess I'm going to need to spend a bit of time determining how my gun patterns with different loads and chokes. I suppose that's part of the fun of it all, as is reloading in general.
I seem to be in a reverse situation because I did all of my clay competition shooting back in the 60s and 70s and now all of my shotgun shooting is at birds with feathers.

As I said I weigh all of my shot and powder because the SP3 powder is a very fine ball powder and gets through every nook and cranny and was escaping from the mec 600. I also had difficulty with UK 6s and 7s dropping the shot as it would hang up. Now regards the over powder card and felt wad, I place both in the fingers as level as I can and starting slowly push them home. Once they level off in the fingers they go in no problem, honestly say I have never had one turn on me. Many of our shooting areas now are sking for felt wads only but I found this superb combination which does the job and now stick with it. I have plenty of time being retired so on rainy days I load shells or rifle ammo and can take my time. I don't shoot huge numbers, probably a thousand to fifteen hundred rounds of 410 a year but at round 2.8 to 1 that equates to around 550, pheaant, partridge and woodpigeon with the occasional unlucky woodcock.
 

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I load lots of 410's using a Mec 9000G, some 3" on a Mec junior.
I have a love/hate relationship with the 9000G, it works great in bigger gauges but not in 410, a Grabber is a much better choice for the little 410.
I use winchester AA's, the HS wad and LiL-gun with 8.5 shot for skeet. Whatever loader you get try and get one with an adjustable shot bar.
I do like a 3" #8 for stations 1 and 2 high house targets.

Edit, my progressive press is a 9000G, the newer models may work better.
 

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Davers's, A Lee Loader! Holy cow, that takes me back to about 1985 when I was looking to begin reloading a pistol cartridge. Lee no longer manufactures a Loader in .410 bore, and a used one is $100, which is ridiculous. The Lee Load-All is about $60, although they don't make it for 28 gauge or .410 bore.

I don't know if modern hulls can hold 3/4 oz shot. All of the recipes for 5/8 and 11/16 oz I see are for hulls that are designed for 1/2 oz of shot. I guess the extra shot sits on the top of the shot cup.
I know Lee Loaders in .410-3" have been discontinued for several years. The one I owned was purchased back in 1974. As for older .410-3" hulls, which were cardboard hulls; they were a bit longer than the 3" shells of today. These older cardboard hulls were discontinued way back in the late 1960's and the plastic hulls were loaded with 3/4 oz. of shot and were fine, until they reduced the length and lighten the shot load.
 

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My Trap scores are much better when I use three inch shells. I buy primed three inch hulls from BPI and use winchester wads. I have a MEC 600. I load 11/16ths of #9 shot over 14 grains of Alliant 2400. (I have used Alliant 410, H110, IMR 4198, AA#9). I like 2400 best.
Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My Trap scores are much better when I use three inch shells. I buy primed three inch hulls from BPI and use winchester wads. I have a MEC 600. I load 11/16ths of #9 shot over 14 grains of Alliant 2400. (I have used Alliant 410, H110, IMR 4198, AA#9). I like 2400 best.
Pete
When you load 11/16ths of shot, does that go over the top of the shot cup? All of the wads are rated for 1/2 oz, so I've assumed that it is OK for the shot to go above the cup, but now I have someone I can ask!

Do you get cleaner breaks of the clays with 3" as compared to 2-1/2"?

Thank you.
 

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When you load 11/16ths of shot, does that go over the top of the shot cup? All of the wads are rated for 1/2 oz, so I've assumed that it is OK for the shot to go above the cup, but now I have someone I can ask!

Do you get cleaner breaks of the clays with 3" as compared to 2-1/2"?

Thank you.
Yes, the shot comes a bit higher than the cup.
Breaks.....I don't know about cleaner breaks.....I do know that I get a lot more breaks using three inch hulls.
 

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A few more projectiles is always welcome in a 3 inch case. Getting the pattern right is the most important thing with 410's a bit of experimentation with loads on the pttern plate is worth every penny spent on powder and shot.
My experience and that of colleagues who shoot 410s regularly on live game is that every gun is more individual with a 410 gauge than any others even 28 gauge. My shotgun throws best patterns at 35yrds with full chokes in both barrels my friends shotgun performs best with around 1/4 choke at the same distance. Different makes of gun and choking.
Even factory shells will perform differently I have found.
 

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Don't know if my supplier would ship. Check out Folkestone Engineering on the web and speak with John the owner, he is a very helpful, nice guy. If not maybe we could work something out. There is no doubt the 410 spinner just puts that nice rounded finish on very easily.
 

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It's been years since I loaded for a 410 but I always loaded 3" and used Win. 296/H110 and Winchester wads. I have a Hornady Apex progressive loader, if you weren't paying attention you'd make a mess with the shot. IIRC the shot drop tube is only 1/4" od and it was easy to overwhelm and bridge the opening. Then when the carrier rotated for the next station the vibration would break the shot loose and it would go everywhere.

I need to get my small bores out and shoot'em, it's been years since they've been out of the safe.
 
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