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Shotshells for your Handgun


Anyone who hates snakes as much as I do will tell you that those CCI shot loads for pistols are useful items. The only real problem with them is that they cost about a buck a round. The good news is that Speer sells the little plastic shot capsules for do-it-yourselfers like us. With some #12 shot and Accurate #2 powder you can kill snakes and other vermin for less than half price.


The capsules, if you haven’t seen them, are translucent blue plastic with a white lid that snaps into place on the bottom that keeps the powder and shot from mixing liberally in the bottom of your case. Filled with #12 shot, the .38 caliber capsule we tested weighed in at 110 grains.


filling72There isn’t any real trick to filling the capsules with shot. My Lee Perfect Power measure at home is set to throw #12 shot for some oddball .45 Colt loads that are quite a bit more complex to make, but that is because the throw has to be a bit more precise. With the capsules it is easiest to just dip them into a small box filled with shot. For this story, it was a cut down Berger Bullets box. Just scoop up the shot and leave enough room for the end cap to snap into place. A couple of pellets and a grain or two difference in the payload weight doesn’t make any difference in this type of low pressure load.


Accurate #2 with its low positional sensitivity and easy ignition is an ideal powder for shot capsules. We used 3.2 grains for our testing, with 3.5 grains considered to be a maximum load. Higher velocities opened up groups prematurely and reduced the overall effectiveness of the load.


shotcapsule72Make sure to bell the case mouth enough to allow the capsule to seat squarely. The capsule isn’t strong enough to withstand a lot of downward force, which is also one of the reasons it is undersized compared to a standard bullet. Once aligned in the belled case, seating pressure is pretty minimal.


We seated all of our loads to a Cartridge Overall Length of 1.500″ and then roll crimped the cases as a separate step. Crimping too tightly will fracture the shot capsule but it must be tight enough to keep it in place under recoil.shooting72


At 7 feet, the four-inch barreled Ruger GP 100 patterned about eleven inches, making it ideal snake medicine.  A word of caution is warranted here when it comes to patterning these low powered loads against a wooden backer board. Not all of the pellets imbed in board – some bounce back, so be careful when you are testing your new rounds. A cardboard box makes a better backstop in this case. It also keeps you from dancing around and swearing, which is considered both bad form and hilarious by the guys in the lab.pattern72