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Trying a New Shot Shell Recipe for Sporting Clays

I decided to try a new reloading recipe for sporting clays.  I’ve been reloading for skeet for quite some time, but using retail Remmington gun club and STS loads for sporting clays.  I am starting to shoot enough sporting clays that the rounds were getting a little pricey.

Sure, I could have dropped to the promo bricks from Wal-Mart and I have used them on occasion, but I don’t like how they pattern in my gun and the hulls aren’t re-usable for my skeet reloading so it ends up with a higher actual cost.

A friend turned me on to a sale at a local sporting outlet where the Remmy gun clubs were going for $5.00 box.  That’s darn near my cost  for reloading components so I bought a few hundred.  I also have about 500 de-primed and re-sized Remington gun club and STS hulls ready to go.

I could have just used my 1oz recipe from skeet, but after running my costing spreadsheet, I noticed something.  My shells were starting to cost more than buying premium shells retail – even with the hull re-use.  Time to find a new recipe.

In order to keep costs low, I needed to find a powder that costs roughly the same or less than my current powder: Alliant’s Red Dot.  The recipe would then have to use less powder in each shotshell to obtain the 1200 fps shot velocity I prefer.  I won’t skimp on the primers, so it’s remmy STS premier caps all the way.  For a wad, I have patterned a ton of them and my gun and chokes still love the TGT12 replacement from Downrange.

Lead is, by far, the most expensive component in reloads.  I considered dropping to 7/8oz shot for my practice loads and may still do that in the future, but for now, I’m sticking with the 1 ounce of shot.

With all considerations made, it was off to hogdon’s and alliant’s sites to play with their online recipe tools.

Hogdon’s Reloading Data Center was the first stop.  It certainly would be nice if  Hogdon would let you pre-select the wad and primer as well, but I filtered through the results with my other givens.  Using my primer and wad, all the Hogdon’s data for 1180 fps was coming in near or over the amount of powder that I use in my current recipe.  When I priced the closest powder, Hogdon’s clays, it was also $5.00 more per 8lb container.

Next up was Alliant’s Reloading Guide.  Putting in all my considerations, I tripped across something that might work.  But it’s a recipe using a powder I hadn’t even heard of, Alliant’s E3.  The recipe calls for 16.9 grains of E3, that’s over 1 grain less than my current Red Dot load.  When I compared prices, E3 was only $2.05 per 8lb container more.  Considering there are 7,000 grains in a pound, and 8 pounds in each container, that’s 28,000 grains total.  With a 1.1 grain saving per shell, that’s an extra 200 shells per 8lb container.  That extra $2.05 was going to be paid back, and quick.

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Since I hadn’t heard of the powder before, I checked out Alliant’s description of the powder:

Alliant Powder’s new e3 represents the next generation of reloading powder technology, and offers the clay target shooter what he/she needs to maintain the winning edge. This 12 ga powder possesses a perfect balance of the qualities desired by competitive shooters. e3 features reduced charge weights, is the cleanest burning 12 ga. shotshell powder available, and has environmental stability and ultra premium quality to provide more consistent and reproducible performance all-year round. It is destined to become the shot shell powder by which all others are judged, and like all of Alliant’s flake powders, it is proudly made in the USA. Named after its core qualities of energy, efficiency and excellence, this exciting new powder offers 12-gauge target shooters a high-performance product that stands apart from the rest.

  • Clean burning
  • Low charge weight efficiency
  • Consistent performance

Sure sounds promising.  So I visited a favorite forum, ShotgunWorld to see what the locals had been saying about E3.  I couldn’t find any truly disparaging remarks and there were indeed many high praises for the stuff.

I checked my MEC bushing chart and saw that along with the powder, I was going to need a new bushing.  I always make sure I have one above and below the chart recommendation and use the one that my RCBS 5-0-5 scale says is really dropping the charge I need.  The chart recommended the #29 bushing, I already have #30-#32, so I ordered #29 and a #28 in case the 29 drops heavy.

I already had a few bags of wads and plenty of primers from a recent gun show so my order was complete.  Now I’ll load 50 or so of this formula and shoot with it to see how I like it.  If all goes well, another 450 shells will be more economically loaded right behind them.  If not, back to the reloading guides to find some other recipe.

Rich’s El Cheap-o 12ga, 1oz, Sporting Clays/skeet load (#8 hardened lead for Clays, #9 for skeet)

Hull: Remington 2 3/4″ Nitro/STS/Gun Club Hull

Primer: Remington 209 Premier STS primer (newer version of Remmy 209P)

Powder: Alliant’s E3 – 16.9gr

Wad: Downrange DRRT12 (after market replacement for remmy tgt12)

Lead: 1oz. of lead shot

About Rich

Rich Mitchell is the President and CEO of Anomalous Media and Editor-in-chief of Conservative Daily News. Rich is also a competitor in Skeet, sporting clays, 3-gun, Steel Challenge and USPSA.

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