This blog I am going over the how, and why of picking your first loads. This blog will relate to all shotgun calibers not just 12 gauge. Examples I use are either from Lyman Shotshell Reloading Manual or Hodgdon Website.

So you now have the information on the different types of lead shot, what they are used for, and what shot weights are used in the field, and in competition. Now you need to pull out your reloading manual, reloading recipe book, or my favorite spot the Hodgdon website (Do note that all powder manufacturers will provide data online for their products, and you can even contact them through e-mail typically and they will give you more information), and get a couple ideas for loads.

Let's say I am just wanting a standard 12 Gauge 2 3/4"  1 1/4oz Field Load which is right around 1,330FPS. Now lets say I want something on a lighter recoil side because it is for a smaller framed shooter or someone who is recoil sensitive. This means we also need to look at the pressure on a load. Now searching the data I find hundreds of loads for a 1 1/4oz field load. I want a load that I can easily get hulls for which drops me to loads with Winchester AA, Federal plastic Gold Medal, Remington Nitro 27, Remington STS, and Remington Gun Club. Now I want a load that isn't going to be costly on primers either so I don't use loads with Remington primers (They are great primers, but very pricey), and I don't want to have to go through the hassle of tracking down expensive OEM manufacturer wads so I am going to scratch any that require name brand (Winchester, Remington, and Federal) wads. Claybusters makes the exact same wads for less then half the price. 

Now here is where it gets more in depth, and this is one of two ways I select new loads

I examine all kinds of load data. I find that Federal, Winchester, and Remington hulls all have load data for Longshot powder, Winchester 209 primers, and Claybuster's WAA12F114 wads that meet the criteria I am looking for. At that point I would go to buy the supplies I need to develop those loads, and then develop test rounds with each hull to see how it patterns. (Don't worry I will go over hulls on the next blog, and even tell you ways to save money, and keep from buying them!)

Now the other way I do it

I examine all the data, and have decided to just stick with one hull the Winchester AA for my load. Now when researching I find that I can use several different powders that would meet my criteria. Now I look at the powders, and see if the powder can suit my needs for other things too, and if it can be used in any of my handguns (I won't pass up a powder if it doesn't have many different uses, but it is a selling point with me!). Now I review the powders more, and I see that Hodgdon Longshot, Winchester WSF, and Hodgdon HS-6 with Win 209 primers, and WAA12F114 wads. So I would go buy a pound of each powder, and the rest of the supplies then develop test loads to see which patterns the best.

Once you have a load that patterns well, and you enjoy shooting then you can branch out to doing more loads, and creating specialty loads.

NEVER, NEVER buy more then 1 pound of powder for test load development. If you buy an 8 pound keg of powder that you have never used before, and once you get home realize it patterns worse then a blind man quilting you are going to be stuck with all that powder that shoots poorly. If you buy a pound of powder, and it doesn't work out at least you only spent $25 on a pound compared to $170+. Once you have a load you know performs where you want it to then go buy in bulk.

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