Australian Hunter

Shotgun shells explained a case study

The shotgun shell as we know it today has evolved since its invention around the 1860s into a sophisticated and effective cartridge that covers a whole world of uses at relatively short range. Originally they looked much like a brass rifle or pistol case with straight walls and various methods of holding the overshot wad in place to keep the lead pellets securely in the cartridge.

Somewhere around 1880 paper hulls started to replace full brass shotgun shells mainly because of economy, and this method of construction with a brass head to accommodate the primer was popular right up until the late 1960s worldwide.

In the early days felt wads were used to separate the powder in the base of the shell from the lead shot payload. The shell was finished off with a cardboard over shot wad and the shell roll crimped to keep the shot in place. As time progressed these paper shells were elongated and the forward section beyond the payload crimped and roll finished to replace the older methods of sealing the shell.

In the late 1970s there was a short-lived trend in shotshell construction with a move to all plastic cases with a small brass ring moulded in the primer area to provide support for the primer. Today almost all cartridges are plastic constructed but with low or higher brass bases. Putting it simply, low brass suggests lower pressure loads

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