More On Spreaders

Howdy again –

Regarding Mr. Gauss and patterns: While it is true nearly all patterns with currently available wads are denser in the center, it seems to me a wad could be designed to provide a nearly even distribution. Back in the late 60’s Remington introduced their Power Piston Post Wad that had a post in the center and was supposed to open the pattern from a full choke trap barrel to provide a more desirable 16yd pattern (this was long before the modern screw in chokes).

I shot many of these wads with good success in my Ithaca 7e trap gun (actually a 4e with extensive engraving and gold and platinum inlays) and also used them for close in dove with the full choked 1100.

If you examine one of these wads closely (I still have over a thousand), the post in the middle is shorter than the height of the shot for the standard 1 1/8 trap load. As I remember the explanation at introduction, this was intentionally done to “fill in the center of the pattern” to insure no clay sized holes would be present in the center of the pattern.

A logical extension of this explanation is that by making the post higher, the center pattern density could be reduced. This possibility could be easily tested by loading less shot and checking the patterns produced (on my schedule for an unknown future date!).

Don Zutz shows a picture of a post wad pattern (with the Pattern Control version) on page 115 of the Lyman v4 manual. He doesn’t list the circle diameters used there, but it looks like 15 in. and 30 in. to me. The post wad gives a count of 131 in the center vs 240 in the outer ring. This compares to 207 center, 213 outer for a WAA12 standard type wad, also taken at 32 Yds. If the dias indeed are 15 and 30, the outer ring has 3 times the area of the inner and while 240 is not 3 times 131, but it’s a lot closer than the pattern of the standard wad.

While I realize that it may not work out this way, it seems reasonable that some combination of post diameter, height, and taper could produce patterns with much less dense centers than normally seen and possibly might even approach an even distribution. The post could even be made with a reverse taper (larger dia at the top than bottom). The effect of the pulling such a post thru the shot charge after it exited the muzzle (caused by the braking effect of the wad petals) should be dramatic at the pattern board! Not only would the pellets be forced to the sides, but the inner ones would be given some spin also. Can you say “donut” pattern?

However, it seems to me a more appropriate question is: Does anyone want a truly uniform pattern density? All feedback of where the shot was placed with respect to the target would be lost until the target was on the edge of the pattern. To me, that wouldn’t be good – I need all the feedback help I can get! And the current post wad may be about as close to uniform as is needed.

Have you tried these post wads and what are your experiences? Any pattern results to share?


Dear John,

Great comment about post or spreader wads and the Gauss distribution. My guess is that these wads still obey the law of the bell shaped curve, but the overall pattern is much larger. Instead of a bell shaped pattern with a narrow skirt and high crown, you will get a bell shaped pattern with a much broader skirt and a shorter crown. This would please your spreader load people and Mr. Gauss also.

The post wads worked best in guns with a good bit of choke. There are two theories on how it worked. One idea was that the heavy choke would push the pellets into the plastic post as they were going through the muzzle and then the post would spring back and push them out. Either that, or the post just took up room in the middle of the shot column and moved the other pellets out that way. Take your pick. I favor the latter.

By far the best new spreader gizmo I have seen is the Poly Wad Spread-R Insert Disk. It is a plastic disc about the size of a dime with a stalk sticking out of the middle. Sort of like a flat umbrella. During reloading the disk is placed on top of the shot in a normal plastic wad with the stalk going down into the shot. Then the shell is crimped over this. The results of my testing are that the patterns will be opened up about two degrees of choke. This is regardless of the amount of choke you start with, unlike the post wad. Poly Wad also makes a disk with four holes in it for those who don’t want to open up their pattern quite as much.

The Spread-R wad is truly effective and were surprisingly uniform when I “eyeballed” them on the pattern plate. I often use them for hunting with my tightly choked 20 gauge. Also, spreader loads are quite popular among sporting clays shooters who are using a single barrel gun and are facing a “long/short” pair. Spreader loads are not legal in FITASC, but they are in English sporting as shot in the US.

The Victory Cartridge “Dispenser” factory load is another interesting spreader concept. It uses a one piece wad (probably Gualandi, but maybe not) with a unique center structure. In addition to the usual plastic wad fingers (though the fingers are only about 2/3 normal length), the wad has a hollow center stalk, much like a soda straw. Everything is set up with break-away tabs. The hollow center stalk is filled with shot, just like the outer portion. My experiments show a consistent pattern with about a one choke designation spreader effect for these shells. The shells also use a bit of extra velocity to get the job done, just like most spreaders do.

in “the old days” I did all sorts of experimentation with “X” cardboard inserts, cardboard disk inserts and even a McDonald’s soda straw/Life Saver insert. The patterns from all of these were inconsistent. To date, the Poly-Wad Spread-R insert is the best that I have found.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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