Don Tomás
Senior Levergunner


1238 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2006 :  12:53:02 AM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit Topic  Reply with Quote  View user's IP address  Delete Topic
Pictures added below...

Our serpent brethern are on the move up here in the Sierra Nevada and I've already had to send one to Snake Heaven (only about 6' long but had 10 buttons and was nice and fat). Used my son's lever action Marlin using .38sp shot shells. He inherited this rifle early from me when I got my Rossi Hartford. Anyway, thought I'd like to load up some shot shells for .45 LC handgun. Has anybody already done this and can suggest a place for components and/or Loads? I reload with Unique (7gn pushing a 250gn pill, usually) and it seems that there's a bunch of room in that big old case for a fist full of nails, or rocks, or a roll of dimes maybe? Seriously, its gotta hold more shot than .38sp. Thanks in advance,


ps I've got nothing against rattlers other than they're awful hard on the animals and grandkids.


Several folks had suggestions and gave leads to other information. Here's what I did with that information:

I decided to try some of the ideas suggested above after putting in a little research. Thanks again to everybody that helped out with suggestions. This is what I did using my guns and my materials. Your mileage will most certainly vary so proceed with caution (I did) should you attempt something similar.

I wanted to try using .45 Colt case, primer,powder, shot and wads to make my own shotshells. I also wanted to try using modified .410 shotgun shells.

Everything reviewed indicated a powder charge of about 6gns Unique would do the job without getting anywhere near any pressure problems, so that's what I used for all loads. Styrofoam was the material used for any wads needed because that was what was at hand (only problem noted was reloaded rounds tended to smell like Chinese Take-Away!).

An expanded case mouth was pushed into the styrofoam material to punch out a wad. Folks suggested sharpening or putting saw teeth on the case mouth, etc. I'm pretty lazy and might have done this if I was making 100's of wads, but like I said; I pushed an expanded case mouth into the styrofoam material to punch out a wad. Hey, it worked.

The shot size used was #7 1/2 because that's the smallest I had. This was obtained from some low base field loads I had laying around. Tests indicated that I could load approx. 125 pellets into a charged .45 Colt case -vs- approx. 80 pellets into a modified .410 shotgun shell. So, I tried the .45 Colt case first, figuring that more shot is always better (but changed my mind later, stay with me).

The above photo shows (L to R): .45 LC 250gn RNFP, completed .45 LC shotshells, and CCI .38sp shotshells.

What I did was take resized, primed cases (yes, I know they're ugly - they'll go into the tumbler next week, I promise) and charged them with 6 gns Unique. I then placed an oversized styrofoam wad on top of the powder and compressed a little. An unsharpened pencil was the tool of choice. Approx. 125 #7 1/2 size shot went in (almost to the top of the case) and then another styrofoam wad. I then gave the shells as heavy a crimp as my press would allow. Probably not necessary, but it made me feel better. A drop of Elmer's Glue was then spread on top. After letting the rounds dry overnight, It was out to the range.

First thing tried were the CCI factory loaded .38 Sp Shotshells as a kind of test control. Gun used was a Ruger New Vaquero , .357 Mag with a 5 1/2" barrel. Distance was about 6 feet, average snake distance for me. Here's a typical result for one round:

I wasn't real impressed. Any further away, and I think the snake might have been able to run between the rain drops. I've had good results with these rounds out of a long gun, but I usually don't have a rifle readily available to me while I'm cutting wood or weed wacking. I always have a sidearm.

Here's a typical one shot target using the home brewed .45LC shotshells. Same 6' distance, using a Ruger New Vaquero (in .45 Colt, or course) with a 5 1/2" barrel:

I liked the results better than the CCI .38 Sp shotshell (which I think is loaded with more shot, approx 140 #9 pellets). The size of the pattern from the .45LC seems to indicate that you would have a better chance of a hit on target even if you had to shoot from further away. Only fired 10 rounds total, too few to notice any leading problems, etc. Also, there were no problems with chambered rounds falling apart under recoil.

Fun, effective rounds to shoot, made with materials on hand.


I guess this is...

Part II:

This is what I did using my guns and my materials. Your mileage will most certainly vary so proceed with caution (I did) should you attempt something similar.

Even though I had what I consider to be good results with making .45 Colt shotshells out of brass casings (refer to post above), I still wanted to try the modified .410 shotshells suggested by some folks.

I had some Remington .410 2 1/2" shells laying around the bench which only served to remind me of a gun I had many moons ago and wished I hadn't gotten rid of. They were loaded with #6 shot which I thought was a bit too big for my purposes; snakes and maybe an insolent possum or two.

First step was to empty out the #6 shot, pull out the combination shotcup/powder wad, and empty out the powder. I was tempted to just reuse the powder charge that the factory had provided, but, hey! This was going into my gun! I had no idea what Remington put into these things. I might try this when you lend me your gun! Anyway, I left the 209 primers in place as they gave me no worries.

Here's a photo that shows the evolution of things:

(L to R): disassembled .410, everything cut to length, finished rounds compared to .45 Colt 250gn

Next thing I did was cut the .410 shell (scissors was the specialty tool used) to the same length as the 250gn round. I then cut the shot cup about 1/8" shorter than the mouth of the shell, when the shell is charged with 6gns of Unique.

Using your pencil, make sure that the wad/cup is snug over the powder charge. Fill with shot (approx 80 #7 1/2 pellets) to the top of the cup which should be sitting about 1/8" below the shell mouth. Insert one of the styrofoam wads and then do a star crimp to hold it all together. Not as hard as it seems; I started the crimp with my thumbnail and then used needle-nosed pliers to pinch close the "pleats" (don't know what they really called) of the crimp. A drop of Elmer's Glue in the middle of the crimp gives me the confidence that the rounds won't fall apart under recoil.

Exact measurements were intentionally not given. You'll find that it won't be difficult to figure out lengths that will work. When you do get it right and make a round that chambers correctly, save that cut shell and cut shotcup/wad as your template to cut all it's brothers! If you don't, it's cut & try all over again for you (don't ask me how I know!).

That's it! OK, off to the range.

The gun used for testing was the same Ruger New Vaquero with 5 1/2" barrel as used in the other testing.

Check this out...

Is that cool or what? Note the snake's eye area where the cup/wad probably passed through. This was fired at the same 6' distance as all the other test rounds. All the modified .410 rounds printed similarly. Tight pattern like this at 6', I bet backing up to 10' or more would still give you a good pattern, even with only 80 #7 1/2 pellets. Maybe the shotcup carrying the shot through the rifling has something to do with this?

OK. How much poop in these modified .410 rounds? A bit more than the brass case shotshells (probably need to improve on the over powder wadding in those brass cases - an investigation chore for another day). I found a metal can that once contained charcoal lighter fluid in the remains of an old campfire and plinked at it from the same 6' distance. Here's what one round did to the front of the burnt can:

This steel can had no other holes in it and was not dented before being shot. Here's the back of the can:

Note that a couple of pellets penetrated all the way through both sides. The remainder were rattling around inside the can. Also note that the can was sitting on the ground when shot by a standing shooter (me), as evidenced by holes through the front and out the bottom of the can. This would be a great round to take to the dump and shoot rats and one round should be plenty to put a snake out of commission. The shot didn't seem to bounce around much after striking the ground, so, while I would still be careful shooting around people or things I didn't wish to put a hole in, I would choose this round over a solid bullet if I was forced to fire around structures or people.

I should mention that while I was not worried about any catastrophic failures, given the known powder charges, I was concerned about gas blowback. I mean, here I am putting something .410 diameter into something with a diameter of .451 or so. See what I mean? Well, I'm happy to report that there were no problems at all; the shells sealed fine in all 10 rounds test fired. All 10 rounds were inspected and absolutely no soot or crud was found on the sides, and you know how dirty Unique is.

Fired shotshells

The Ruger firing pin worked fine and the struck primers did not show any indications of pressure problems and looked good, i.e., no signs of piercing, cratering, backing out, ect.

Close up of fired primer

I like the modified .410 shells; they're a real hoot! Loaded with the #7 1/2 shot tested, I think this round is more than sufficient to take care of any snake problem and probably take something up to rabbit size. Might put a couple in the tackle box? glove box? in the camping stuff? you know, like those old survival rounds we had in the Air Force.

I would like to try some of these loaded with #9 or #11 shot, if I can find shot in that size that doesn't require a minimum purchase of 150 pounds.

Thanks again to all the folks who took the time to give me suggestions on how to proceed on this project. What a great group this is!


Don Tomás de San Juan Bautista
SASS #69788
Living the High Life up the Sierra Nevada

Edited by - Don Tomás on 05/24/2006 10:06:23 PM



19228 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2006 :  06:55:30 AM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Visit Hobie's Homepage  Edit Reply  Click to see Hobie's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote  View user's IP address  Delete Reply
Get the Speer capsules. They come with recommended charges.



Levergunner 1.0


50 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2006 :  3:57:03 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit Reply  Reply with Quote  View user's IP address  Delete Reply
Don Tomas,

How much trouble do you want to go through to reload .45 Colt shot loads? My advice is to buy the factory stuff. It is a lot easier. But, if you are a glutton for punhishment try the following. Get a quantity of .444 Marlin empty cases and cut them off to fit in the cylinder of your revolver (this probably won't feed in a rifle, but I have never tried it). Chuck the cases in a lathe, open end first, and turn down the rim thickness to match the .45 Colt dimension (the .444 Marlin rim is thicker and may bind your revolver's cylinder). Order a set of dies from RCBS. They should be familiar with this exercise as they made a set for a friend of mine about 25 years ago. Seat a standard large pistol primer, drop 5 grains of Bullseye in the case. Get a supply of .410 Winchester A-A wads, cut off the ears, and seat the wad over the powder, dump in 215 grains of #11 shot, top off the shot with a .44 Magnum gas check, open side down, and run the round through the crimping die from the special die set you bought from RCBS for a princely sum. At five feet, this round throws a pattern about 15 inches in diameter from a Ruger Blackhawk with a 4 5/8 inch barrel.

From what I have read on the subject, the most effect shot load, other than a shotgun, is a .22 LR shot shell.
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Jeff Quinn


1521 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2006 :  4:15:01 PM  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit Reply  Reply with Quote  View user's IP address  Delete Reply
Don, You might find this article to be of help to you:

Jeff Quinn

Edited by - Jeff Quinn on 05/17/2006 4:16:03 PM