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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 5:03pm | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Seriously looking at the Lee 7/8 oz 12ga shotgun slug
mould. Stated that it is loaded into a conventional
wadding in a standard trap grade case with standard star
crimping. Sounds just what the old man needs to make the
new Maverick 88 rock & roll!

Looking also at the Lee shotgun loading rig to load buck
& ball, regular buck shot, and slugs. Loaded 12ga back in
the late 70s and early 80s with a MEC system, but that
rig was sold to another Sgt in my department that was
getting into trap shooting.

So, anyone ever use the Lee cast slugs?
If not, ok too. I'll forge ahead and make it happen I
guess huh? But it would be good to know how well they
act.

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 7:52pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

I have the 1 0z. Lee Drive Key mold and using soft lead worked up a fairly accurate, yet warm load using HS-7 and Win. AA hulls or Rem. STS hulls cut down. I used slightly cut down Win. AA Red wads to shorten the fingers a bit to fit the hull with 20 ga. card disc between the wad and slug to prevent the plastic wad from being embedded into the rear of the slug.

I roll crimp the shortened hull for an OAL of around 1 3/4" which still feeds through my 1300 Win. just fine. I got a consistent 3" group at 50 yards out of a smooth bore and skeet or IC choke. Velocity was over 1,500 fps. so recoil was a good bit unpleasant. This slug was really clipping down the saplings beyond the target that were in front of my hillside backstop.

Not the best accuracy for longer ranges and certainly not something pleasant to shoot more that a few times, but I was not really planning on shooting them except in a life or death situation and out of a smooth bore I thought the grouping was actually decent enough for my uses. The shorter length was to allow them to be used in my extended magazines for extra defensive rounds in the tube.

Plenty say that they prefer the Lyman slugs, but others find the Lee Drive Key to work just fine even in smooth bores with the right combinations. Many report good luck with just cutting the folded crimp off of live shot shells and dumping the shot to replace with the slug and then roll crimping.

Others prefer to use folded crimping with certain wads and report good results. Some wads work better with straight walled hulls and others will tolerate a more tapered hull.

Most reports that I read about said that the slower powders worked best such as Longshot or similar burning speed shotgun powders and that the drive Key slugs usually seemed to prefer the warmer loads.

I really wanted to get back to that slug and experiment a bit with a more moderate velocity and see what I could come up with that would be more pleasant to shoot, but just have not done it.

There is plenty of reading on the net about loading for this slug so a search for the Lee Drive Key loads turns up a lot. I certainly like the reports of the 7/8 oz. slug as it might be a bit more stable as it is more nose heavy.

      7/8Oz. Drive Key Discussion

7/8 oz or 1 oz - smooth bore or rifled

Edited by Ham Gunner on February 08 2018 at 9:14pm


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richhodg66
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 9:10pm | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

Another option is a round ball. I have loaded a .690 round ball over a trap wad with the petals cut off at the point where the ends of them are on the "equator" of the ball, added a little cornmeal on top to fill out the crimp and then crimped on top. They shoot well enough that I know I could take deer with them in my usual spots.

I have three of the Lee Load Alls. Guys who've used more expensive MECs and such kind of sneer at them, but they work fine for me, I think I have about $20 each in two of them and a little more in the 16 gauge one.

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: February 08 2018 at 9:17pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

It really does not take much to load up a few shells, so even the old Lee Loaders would be just fine. I have a MEC Sizemaster, but that is really not needed as I roll crimp. But I might try some regular length hulls and fold crimp next time just for testing.

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richhodg66
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 4:42am | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

I've only used my load alls for loading those round ball loads so far in 20 and 12, therefore, I don't use the shot and powder bushings, just the old Lyman 55.

I will say this; for the performance you will likely get, and the cost savings or really lack thereof, the ordinary Foster slugs Wal Mart has all the time will probably do what you need. I like to mess around and load my own stuff and if you do too, then have at it. Shotguns are fun.

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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 6:10am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

The 12ga is an amazing weapon from it's devastating blast
of shot to hard hitting slugs and other mixed loads in
between. I carried one nearly all of my police career.
Made use of one once with positive results. But I
practiced weekly too. I intend to practice weekly again.

Today, with the Maverick 88 and it's clean classic setup,
I am of the opinion that with slightly failing eyesight
and the close proximity of adversarial critters it's just
what I needed. So I was seriously looking to reloading
the 12ga with a variety of loads. I made loads in the
past with 45 cal round ball filled in with 25 cal RB.
Also 36 cal [.375 RB] with filler. Unbelievable downrange
damage. But slugs I bought and never loaded.

I have no qualms about the Lee Load All rig. I must admit
a genuine prejudice against the Lee Loader thought. But
the bench mounted in-line rig looks much like the old MEC
unit I used so not too much of a learning curve I hope.

Rich and Rick, thanks for the input. Good information.


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RT58
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 7:27am | IP Logged Quote RT58

I used to load a lot of slugs and buckshot for shotguns. A local caster sold roundballs in a wide variety of sizes as well as the Lyman slugs that used a star crimp and they also made the "slugmaster" slug. A friend of mine had an old Lyman mould for a Foster style slug and needed to be roll crimped. I never loaded the Lee's key slug, but don't see how it would be too difficult.
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Ham Gunner
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 8:59am | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

A decent video of the 7/8 oz Lee drive key mold.

The new 7/8 oz Lee Drive Key Mold

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richhodg66
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 4:11pm | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

I have not looked into it much, but it seems a lot if guys are doing a Tri Ball load with three .60 calber round balls in a 2 3/4 inch 12 gauge. Seems like for big critters, this might be better than slugs.

I shoot .60 caliber round balls in 20 gauges from time to time. I plan to deer hunt with them in my little Savage 24 camp gun.

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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 4:45pm | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Yes sir, the slug thing's still not 100% set in stone.
But I am glad you and Rick came to my aid. My shotgun
reloading days were long ago. Chances are that what I
remember might be 180 out today!
I did some bizarre loads back then, but many wads and
stuff are no longer around too. I gotta relearn shotgun
reloading for sure.

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RT58
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 5:09pm | IP Logged Quote RT58

Wade, make sure you check out Ballisticproducts.com
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richhodg66
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 5:10pm | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

Guys will tell you that any substitutions when loading shotshells is dangerous, but an ounce of shot is an ounce of shot. I have two manuals, the latest Lyman and a mid 1970s Lyman. Some of those old wads are still available, though a lot of the powders are not.

I have one of the Lyman molds for the inside the shot cup slugs, but haven't cast with it. Another in the long list of projects I'll get around to someday.


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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 09 2018 at 6:12pm | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

RT58 wrote:
Wade, make sure you check out
Ballisticproducts.com


WOW! That's a heck of a site! Loads of stuff.... Mucho
impressed!

Thanks for the heads up.

Edited by Old Ranger on February 10 2018 at 6:42pm


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Kosh75287
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 7:45am | IP Logged Quote Kosh75287

The only things I'm really clear on about shotshell reloading (in addition to knowing that I know very little) is that the reloader seems to have FAR narrower latitudes with respect to component substitution. The use of different shot/slug wads apparently warrants a change of propellant type or charge or both.

Changes in slugs, even ones as similar as the Lee Key Slug & the classic Foster slug may also require a different wad or propellant charge. It's something about which I wish I knew more, but haven't had the opportunity to explore.
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richhodg66
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 8:10am | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

The Lee key slugs and also the Lyman slugs that look like a big, waisted air gun pellet, are designed to be loaded into conventional wads and star crimped. What this means is any skeet, trap or field load from published data for the equivalent weight of shot will work for the slugs.

I'm relatively inexperienced with it too, but have been casually reading through the two manuals I have which have the pressures listed for each and it does seem true, a switch from wad type to a different one seems to be significant in some loads. Best to stick to established load, but a one ounce payload is a one ounce payload, whether it's #9s or a slug.

I kind of wonder still if it's as true as it might have been. I bought a Mossberg 835 real cheap for coyotes. It will handle the 3 1/2" magnum shells they're making now (I don't even want to think about it) and I really have to wonder, seems like you could get away with quite a bit of lee way in a gun that strong loading normal kinds of loads in a 2 3/4" hulls. That said, I'll stick to established data. Not much interest in bird or small game loads, but specialty things like slugs and buckshot loads intrigue me.

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Old Ranger
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 8:25am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Yup, as far as powder is concerned I'm going with Unique
as I've a good amount of it on hand and there is enough
documentation on the loading of 12-gauge shotshells with
this powder. And also, I am very much aware of component
changes In the shot shell loading business. that is one
of the main reasons why I have inquired so much about
this because I am concerned of making a mistake with
shotshell loading. Working with Solid projectiles and
normal metallic cartridges, I have no worries. But it has
been a very long time since I've built a 12 gauge
cartridge And I need to relearn and rethink what I'm
doing. So I will go slow, and study very very hard. The
information and advise that all of you have provided has
been invaluable in my quest. I really appreciate you
y'alls help!

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 6:18pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

All this discussion about slugs got me excited enough that I decided to cast up another batch for myself. I think I ended up with just a little over 100 so that should fill at least four boxes. I checked my inventory and I only have some WAA12 wads so I will just crank out 2 3/4" length rounds this time and fold crimp. Will be using up what Universal Clays I have left and then maybe use either Unique or perhaps HS-6/Win 340.

That Lee Drive Key mold worked just slick as could be at around 600-650 degree alloy temp.

Edited by Ham Gunner on February 10 2018 at 11:18pm


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richhodg66
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 7:02pm | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

I don't know this but having read a lot it seems to be a problem. On hollow base slugs like this, there's a tendency for the wad to push itself into the hollow base. That being the case, seems a lot of guys will fill that cavity with hot glue or wax and/or put some kind of hard card under it inside the wad to keep this from happening. The Lee may be superior to the Lyman in this regard.

Alloy seems to make a difference too, I would not have guessed it since it is inside a sabot if you will, but apparently you want soft lead, pure is best.

The one time I tried some of the Lymans which someone else cast (he said from wheel weights) and loaded a "normal" kind of trap load using Unique and shooting them through a Marlin 512 I had then, results were poor. In fact, my smoothbore Ithaca 16 gauge Deer Slayer would out group the rifled gun with ordinary Foster slugs pretty easily.

I guess I'm saying that I don't think it's as simple as loading these with trap load data and you instantly have rifle like accuracy. I'm gonna keep playing around with round ball loads, and eventually get this Lyman into play. I also have a few .58 caliber muzzle loader bullets to try inside the shot cup wads in a rifled 20 gauge. These will all be long term, low priority for me. It's legal almost every where in Kansas to hunt with a rifle, so no real need other than curiosity. For guys who live in places like Iowa and Indiana where they are the only real option, it would be more important.

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: February 10 2018 at 11:15pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

I noticed that I said "alloy" when mentioning my slug metal, but I used pure soft lead, or at least as pure as I could scrounge up as scrap. It tests at under 6 BHN. I agree that soft lead is easier to squeeze itself down through the forcing cone and on out the barrel with less difficulty and therefore accuracy is better. Most likely this will help keep the pressures more uniform with the softer lead than somewhat harder alloys.

I have sufficient room in the Rem. Gun Club hull to place a 1/8" 20 gauge card under the slug to allow it to sit nicely in the WAA12 wad. It not only gives it the proper position in the case for crimping, it also should help prevent the plastic wad from being pushed up into the slug under pressure. The Lee slug is not as bad to get stuck to wads as other true hollow base slugs, but under pressure the soft plastic wads can still get driven up into the base without at least a fiber or cardboard card.

I loaded one box tonight with a load that should give about 1,350-1,400 fps. Hopefully I can get out tomorrow and fire a few to see how they shoot. We got a good icing down this evening. Roads are toast and it is not likely going to get above freezing tomorrow, but I plan on checking the load out soon before cranking anymore out.

Edited by Ham Gunner on February 10 2018 at 11:17pm


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Posted: February 11 2018 at 6:51am | IP Logged Quote richhodg66

Mentioning the forcing cone got me to thinking about something I've wondered about. Nearly all shotguns nowadays are chambered for 3" shells. When shooting standard shells, does that 1/4" "Freebore" make any difference? Seems like having a shoulder there would make a difference, but I've never looked into it.

I went to Wal Mart last night to get some stuff and because the waterfowl season here doesn't end for a couple of weeks and also we have a Spring snowgoose season I'm strongly considering giving a try, I got some waterfowl ammo. I wanted big shot and unfortunately, it looked like #4s were all they had in anything except the 3 1/2" magnums. OK, read a little closer, they are loaded with a 1 1/4 ounce payload and I thought "hell, a 2 3/4" shell will do that. Advertised velocity is 1625 which is pretty fast for a shotgun, but I'm thinking these won't recoil as hard as I'd have guessed. I'm still gonna figure out how to add some weight to that Mossberg.

When I get some empty 3 1/2" hulls, I'm going to experiment with some #4 and #1 buck shot for coyote loads. I have molds for both plus 00, but I think 00 won't throw dense enough patterns out at long range.

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