Reload Preferences

Dear Technoid,

Hi –

I have not shot shotguns in about 30 years and am starting in with Trap Shooting. I have a Browning Gold Sporting Clays in 12 gauge and would like to know your recommendations for powder, wads and hulls that would be best suited to Trap. Is there a good powder that would not clog the gas port and delay the accumulation of gunk on the piston? Also, if I transition to Skeet or Sporting Clays, what would you suggest for powder and wads.

Thanks a lot for your time. ….


Dear Ted,

Hodgdon “Clays” is a very clean burning 12 gauge target powder and is quite popular for that reason. I shoot gas guns a great deal and frankly have not had the slightest problem with other “dirtier” (but slightly more economical) powders like Alliant “Red Dot”, Alliant “Promo” and Hodgdon “Titewad”.

As to components, much will depend on what you have access to. There are many recipes. simply pick one from the powder manufacturer’s web site:,

The easiest way to start out selecting a recipe is to begin with the hull you want to reload. In 12 gauge, the longest lasting hull is currently the Remington STS. Winchester AA used to be the best, but their hull quality has varied greatly recently. Federal Gold Medal is decent. I like the Remington best. If you have a cheap source of another brand of hull, it would pay to look into recipes for that brand.

It’s never a mistake to use the factory wad that matches the hull you pick. Claybuster makes imitations of the factory wads that cost a little less and I’ve had very good luck with them over the years. Still, in 12 gauge, the factory wads don’t cost very much more at all if you buy in bulk (5,000) so that’s what I use.

Ditto primers. Factory primers mated to the load are never wrong. That said, I’ve always used Winchester AA 209 primers for all my reloading and have not been disappointed.

The key to component selection is to use a recipe that is published by the powder manufacturer. Then you know it has been tested and is safe and efficient. They do the work for you. If a particular combination of components isn’t listed, don’t make up your own recipes. It may or may not be dangerous, but there is also a good chance that your particular recipe was tested and found ballistically lacking in someway. Stick to what’s published. There is plenty to pick from.

A bit more advice on reloading: buy in bulk. Once you decide on the components you want to use, get the industrial strength size. Powder by the pound is very expensive. The same powder in an 8# keg is much less so. You’ll get about 400 reloads from each pound of powder, so it doesn’t take long to go through 8#. The same with wads. They are cheaper in a case of 5000 than in a single bag of 250. Primers are cheaper in sleeves of 5000 too. Shot prices are always a local thing as shipping plays such a big part.

Very often you can share in a big purchase at your local gun club. Someone usually has an FFL (not really needed for reloading components) or can place a big order with a wholesaler. The guys in the club all get together and pool their order to get bulk prices. This can really work when you buy lead by the ton and then divvy it up.

As to particular loads, I really can’t make a recommendation as I bounce around from one to another so often. I probably shouldn’t, but I’m always getting a new powder or wads or something that I have to test. As a general rule, I try to reload ALL my shotgun shells to 1200 fps. That is the one thing I attempt to keep consistent. I’m not a believer in mega-super-astro velocity loads. If I need more pellet energy, I use a bigger pellet.

Also, since you are using a soft shooting gas gun, there is no need to ever use a target shell of less than the full 1-1/8 oz. In the world of shotgunning, less is less. All things being equal, a one ounce shell has a pattern that is more than 10% less efficient. The pattern is either 10% smaller or less dense. Take your pick. People shoot the lighter loads to reduce recoil. Since you don’t need reduced recoil due to your soft gas gun, there’s no need for you to give up pattern. I use a lot of one ounce loads in my O/Us because full loads kick me enough to be tiring after a long day. That does not mean that the one ounce load is superior to the 1-1/8 oz load. It isn’t. It’s inferior. I just do it to have less recoil.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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