Best Hull For Reloading

Dear Bruce,

Went shooting with my son at our local range. When we finished, I passed by the trash can and found about 200 Winchester AA 12 GA hulls that someone had thrown out. Since I reload, I’m always looking for once fired hulls, so I quickly grabbed them up.

Lately I’ve been reloading the AA’s mainly just because that’s what I had my loader set up for, but I’ve also have always liked the Winchester shells. When I got the home and inspected the hulls, I ended up throwing half of them away. Most of the hulls had vertical cracks in the plastic near the crimp. Most hulls had 3-4 cracks, some had as many as 6 and one really bad hull was split half way down the side. These were definitely once fired hulls as they still had the factory primer. I would expect these kind of cracks on hulls that had been reloaded several times.

I’ve noticed that the quality of Winchester AA shells has really dropped. It seems to me that the plastic is thinner not as durable and even the brass looks cheap. I understand Winchester trying to cut cost and make the price per box more competitive, but I think they are hurting themselves in the long run because these hulls are not good for reloading as they once were.

My question is: am I the only one who has noticed this? Also do you have any favorite hulls for reloading?

Beer open, boots on.

Morrison, CO
Dear Paul,

Aha, another dumpster diver for hulls. And here I thought that I was the only one.

Yup, I’ve seen AAs split on first firing, but not as badly as you describe. Back in the late ’70s Winchester made a hot International Skeet load. About half of them split first time around, but the split was never more than one long slice. I have not noticed abnormal splitting in the current AA hulls and loads, so I really can’t explain the batch you found.

I shoot a lot of reloads and often get a bag of everything that hits the ground from my local gun club. There are always a bunch of new AAs, but I haven’t noticed very many split ones. Still, a bad batch of hulls could sneak out. It happens with primers all the time. I do agree with you that the newer AA hulls seem thinner than I remember, but I just chalked that up to a bad memory.

My favorite reloading 12 ga hull is the new metallic green Remington STS or gold Nitro. These offer exceptional hull life, the best I have ever experienced. AA used to be the best, but the king is dead. Long live the king.

Best regards,

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

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