Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

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REMI870
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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by REMI870 » Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:07 pm

Synchronizor wrote:Cutting the petals shorter is a possibility, but I'm hoping to come up with a slug that will not require each wad to be hand-modified. This is for consistency as well as convenience. It also seems logical to leave the wads intact for the first round of tests.
I agree 100%. The fewer things I have to think about, the better.
Synchronizor wrote:I was concerned that I might have to have a custom ball mold made; but some forums indicated that Sharp Shooter made 5-cavity round ball molds - including a .680" size - using the same general design of their buckshot molds. I just got a confirmation email from them about it, and I'm looking into ordering one now. I haven't gotten entirely set up with casting equipment yet (much of what I need is on Christmas wish lists, so I'll see how that goes), but I figure I can use a ladle and a torch for small test batches once I have the mold.
Yeah, you don't need much equipment to get started. You could even use a hotplate and some cheap dollar store utensils and a small cast iron pan. Lee actually has a cheap pouring ladle for around $5 or $6.
REMI870 wrote:The problem I found when doing this with my slugs (which were pure lead), is that the metal rammer tube on my Mec messed up the nose of the slug. I've thought about making a custom slug-seating rammer tube with a cushoned end for seating wads & slugs together. Should be easy to do, but not worth the effort for this small test batch. I wanted to have consistent wad seating pressure, so I rammed the wads on their own and added the cards & slugs in by hand afterward.
I'm no expert, but I don't think it's necessary to ram the cup in. You only need a firm amount of pressure. Putting too much pressure will distort the wad, which will definitely affect accuracy. The smokeless powders aren't like black powder. They don't need heavy ramming. I would say if you are damaging the lead slugs, then you are more than likely distorting the plastic wads.
REMI870 wrote:I have thousands of 5/8" (about 19 gauge) cardboard disks that I've punched from cereal boxes and similar cardstock. I came up with these for use as crimp-support cards, but they also allow for pretty fine adjustment of the height of a slug or shot column in a cup-style wad. They seem to fit better than 20ga-diameter cards, with very little side-to-side play in the shotcup; and they're pretty darn cheap, considering that one $5 punch can produce several thousand before wearing out.
Yeah, it's definitely a smart idea cutting your own nitro cards. Certainly beats paying for them.
REMI870 wrote:These are several times thinner than 1/8" nitros; thin enough that I can precisely adjust the slug height to compensate for different powder charges. In my drive key slug load, I found 10 of these cards under the slug produced the best crimp. while 8 below and one above worked well for the round balls.
Have you tried pushing the round ball and wad combination through your barrel with a stick? Have you had wad petals tear off when shooting that load? I found that the lee slugs are approx .670" at the very base and approx .682" a little further up. So when I cut the petals off and add the nitro card, the .670" part of the slug gives me the perfect fitment in my barrel. So I was thinking that a .670" round ball would give the best clearance without having to trim the wads. Or maybe because the widest part of the ball has so little surface area due to it being round, a .680" wouldn't give me the same problems as the slug that has more surface area.

I read somewhere about someone making a special press out of a pipe that he would use to trim his lee slugs for better fitment by shaving off a few thousandths. This is another idea that might be worth exploring. It will also guarantee consistency from one slug to another.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by Synchronizor » Sat Dec 19, 2015 3:52 am

Range report. I shot four groups each of drive key slugs and round balls. Both were loaded using the same data for 1 1/8-ounces of shot at 1200 FPS (30" test barrel, so probably 50 - 80 FPS less in a short barrel). Range was 25 yards, and shots were from a bench & simple rest. The smaller holes in the drive key slug targets are from the first-timer who was shooting next to me with his friend's AK & bump-fire .300 BLK AR-15. The group on the fourth target from each set was shot using the "goober" shells that I made while working out the ideal number & arrangement of the spacer cards.
RB Targets.JPG
Round Balls
RB Targets.JPG (114.11 KiB) Viewed 5146 times
DKS Targets.JPG
Drive Key Slugs
DKS Targets.JPG (104.76 KiB) Viewed 5146 times
I got them (mostly) on paper, but this isn't all that impressive for 25 yards. Easily minute-of-bear/zombie/terrorist, but I've shot groups about half that size using commercial Foster slugs and my Rem-Choke rifle-sight barrel.

Unfortunately, I could not find my gott-danged cylinder choke tube before I left for the range, so I shot these groups with my 18.5" HD barrel, which has a fixed cylinder choke, but only a front bead sight. Even more unfortunately, while I meant to take a box of factory slugs along to shoot a couple base-line groups, I grabbed a box of my 3/4-ounce reloads (which were kept in a reused slug box) instead. I tried to keep my point of aim as consistent as I could, but I really have no way of knowing how much of the group size to attribute to the slugs themselves, and how much to attribute to the imprecise sights (I'm not going to brag about my trigger pulls, either).


Both projectiles were loaded in Federal Gold Medal hulls with Federal 12S3 wads. Both were very tight fits in the bore (basically impossible for me to push them through by hand), but they seemed to make it through the barrel just fine. No extraction problems, primers look fine, and recoil was very consistent.

I recovered as many wads as I could. We had a fresh snowfall last night, so I found quite a few. I had the foresight to draw an "X" in the bottom of the shotcups of the wads used for round balls, so they were easy to tell apart. The wads I found were all in the same general area around the target board. The little cards I stacked up inside the wads (about 9 or 10 per shell) were spread out like confetti on the snow; some made it as far as the target board, but the bulk of them were right in front of the shooting bench, which seems to indicate the slugs & wads separated right after they exited the barrel.

The round ball wads seemed to do pretty well. A lot of the petals had wrinkles down at the bottom, which I think was a result of the tight fit in the bore, but none of them were cut through or torn up. Overall, they seemed to be very consistent in how they were compressed & worn, which I take as a good sign.
RB Wads far.JPG
Round Ball Wads
RB Wads far.JPG (52.62 KiB) Viewed 5146 times
RB Wads close.JPG
Round Ball Wads
RB Wads close.JPG (42.63 KiB) Viewed 5146 times
The drive key wads weren't as consistent. Some looked pretty good, others were turned inside-out, and still others had cut or torn petals. When petals were cut, the opposite petals were in very good shape, which makes me think some of the drive key slugs got tilted or off-set in the barrel.
DKS Wads far.JPG
Drive Key Slug Wads
DKS Wads far.JPG (59.51 KiB) Viewed 5146 times
DKS Wads close.JPG
Drive Key Slug Wads
DKS Wads close.JPG (33.31 KiB) Viewed 5146 times
Overall, slightly better grouping with the drive key slugs (though the differences may well have been a random result of my shooting and the bead sight), but more consistency in recovered wads with the round balls. Still planning to give a .680 ball a go, but I don't think I'll give up on the drive key slugs just yet.

REMI870 wrote:I'm no expert, but I don't think it's necessary to ram the cup in. You only need a firm amount of pressure. Putting too much pressure will distort the wad, which will definitely affect accuracy. The smokeless powders aren't like black powder. They don't need heavy ramming. I would say if you are damaging the lead slugs, then you are more than likely distorting the plastic wads.
MEC calls it a rammer tube, but it's not like it pounds the wad in there, it just pushes the wad through the crimp and seats it on the powder. I wasn't using that much force, I adjusted the rammer tube until I only got the slightest movement from the force gauge on my press at the end of travel. I wasn't trying to pre-compress the wad at all, I just wanted to get a consistent seat on the powder charge. There really wasn't all that much damage to the slug when I tried using the rammer to seat it, but it did leave a circular impression in the soft slug's nose, and I didn't like it.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by REMI870 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:05 am

Synchronizor wrote:Range report. I shot four groups each of drive key slugs and round balls. Both were loaded using the same data for 1 1/8-ounces of shot at 1200 FPS (30" test barrel, so probably 50 - 80 FPS less in a short barrel). Range was 25 yards, and shots were from a bench & simple rest. The smaller holes in the drive key slug targets are from the first-timer who was shooting next to me with his friend's AK & bump-fire .300 BLK AR-15. The group on the fourth target from each set was shot using the "goober" shells that I made while working out the ideal number & arrangement of the spacer cards.
RB Targets.JPG
DKS Targets.JPG
I got them (mostly) on paper, but this isn't all that impressive for 25 yards. Easily minute-of-bear/zombie/terrorist, but I've shot groups about half that size using commercial Foster slugs and my Rem-Choke rifle-sight barrel.

Unfortunately, I could not find my gott-danged cylinder choke tube before I left for the range, so I shot these groups with my 18.5" HD barrel, which has a fixed cylinder choke, but only a front bead sight. Even more unfortunately, while I meant to take a box of factory slugs along to shoot a couple base-line groups, I grabbed a box of my 3/4-ounce reloads (which were kept in a reused slug box) instead. I tried to keep my point of aim as consistent as I could, but I really have no way of knowing how much of the group size to attribute to the slugs themselves, and how much to attribute to the imprecise sights (I'm not going to brag about my trigger pulls, either).


Both projectiles were loaded in Federal Gold Medal hulls with Federal 12S3 wads. Both were very tight fits in the bore (basically impossible for me to push them through by hand), but they seemed to make it through the barrel just fine. No extraction problems, primers look fine, and recoil was very consistent.

I recovered as many wads as I could. We had a fresh snowfall last night, so I found quite a few. I had the foresight to draw an "X" in the bottom of the shotcups of the wads used for round balls, so they were easy to tell apart. The wads I found were all in the same general area around the target board. The little cards I stacked up inside the wads (about 9 or 10 per shell) were spread out like confetti on the snow; some made it as far as the target board, but the bulk of them were right in front of the shooting bench, which seems to indicate the slugs & wads separated right after they exited the barrel.

The round ball wads seemed to do pretty well. A lot of the petals had wrinkles down at the bottom, which I think was a result of the tight fit in the bore, but none of them were cut through or torn up. Overall, they seemed to be very consistent in how they were compressed & worn, which I take as a good sign.
RB Wads far.JPG
RB Wads close.JPG
The drive key wads weren't as consistent. Some looked pretty good, others were turned inside-out, and still others had cut or torn petals. When petals were cut, the opposite petals were in very good shape, which makes me think some of the drive key slugs got tilted or off-set in the barrel.
DKS Wads far.JPG
DKS Wads close.JPG
Overall, slightly better grouping with the drive key slugs (though the differences may well have been a random result of my shooting and the bead sight), but more consistency in recovered wads with the round balls. Still planning to give a .680 ball a go, but I don't think I'll give up on the drive key slugs just yet.

REMI870 wrote:I'm no expert, but I don't think it's necessary to ram the cup in. You only need a firm amount of pressure. Putting too much pressure will distort the wad, which will definitely affect accuracy. The smokeless powders aren't like black powder. They don't need heavy ramming. I would say if you are damaging the lead slugs, then you are more than likely distorting the plastic wads.
MEC calls it a rammer tube, but it's not like it pounds the wad in there, it just pushes the wad through the crimp and seats it on the powder. I wasn't using that much force, I adjusted the rammer tube until I only got the slightest movement from the force gauge on my press at the end of travel. I wasn't trying to pre-compress the wad at all, I just wanted to get a consistent seat on the powder charge. There really wasn't all that much damage to the slug when I tried using the rammer to seat it, but it did leave a circular impression in the soft slug's nose, and I didn't like it.

Those wads certainly give me more confidence. I was just worried about turning my gun into a grenade, but now I'm no longer worried. I'll probably try without cutting the petals and see what happens to the wads. I take it you're using the 7/8 oz slugs, rather than the 1 oz? I heard the 7/8 oz slugs are more accurate due to being more nose heavy. There are some YouTube videos of the 1 oz slugs being fired in high speed video capture and they seem to fly every which way. This is why I got the 7/8 oz mold in the first place.

The wads I only push down with soft finger pressure. There is nothing to compress because the plastic wad will just spring back. Any compression you get will come when you crimp. I never had any issues with my loads as far as powders go.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by Synchronizor » Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:13 am

REMI870 wrote:Those wads certainly give me more confidence. I was just worried about turning my gun into a grenade, but now I'm no longer worried.
From what I've heard, 870 barrels have been shown to take pressure spikes of over 50,000 PSI before actually bursting. Not to encourage over-pressure loading, as there are plenty of less spectacular ways to FUBAR an 870 if its design limits are pushed, but when it comes to shooting slugs in plastic wads, I wasn't too concerned. Especially not with a small test lot.
REMI870 wrote:I take it you're using the 7/8 oz slugs, rather than the 1 oz? I heard the 7/8 oz slugs are more accurate due to being more nose heavy. There are some YouTube videos of the 1 oz slugs being fired in high speed video capture and they seem to fly every which way. This is why I got the 7/8 oz mold in the first place.
They were actually 1 1/8-ounce slugs, made by a local outfit who casts & sells slugs & buckshot in area stores & gun shows - same people who made the round balls I was using. I assume they modified a 1-ounce slug mold to get the extra mass, perhaps by shortening the core pin or broadening the nose. I intend to talk to them about it next time I see them at a gun show. They're cool guys, I've had interesting conversations with them before about minimum shell lengths for reliable cycling in repeaters, and the merits of different lead-tin-antimony alloys. Anyway, I was wondering if the extra mass might throw off the stability of these slugs, but saw no signs of keyholing at the range. Still, I think I might stick with round balls for the heavier loads, and see if I can work out some good loads with 7/8-ounce drive key slugs for low-recoil plinking, and possibly hunting applications where I don't want a ton of penetration. I picked up some 7/8-ounce drive key slugs along with the 1 1/8-ounce slugs & round balls, but couldn't find any 12S0 wads locally, so I haven't loaded them yet.
REMI870 wrote:The wads I only push down with soft finger pressure. There is nothing to compress because the plastic wad will just spring back. Any compression you get will come when you crimp. I never had any issues with my loads as far as powders go.
Like I said, the idea was to get each wad seated on the powder the exact same way, with just enough force to fill the wad's obturating cup with powder. I wanted to keep these loads as consistent as possible for obvious reasons; I also hand-weighed each powder charge. Inserting wads by hand makes it hard to keep things consistent. Plus, using the press makes it a lot easier to get the wads cleanly past the hull's mouth (I was using previously-fired hulls).

But beyond all that, seating the wads this way also helps me catch hulls that have been over- or under-charged. If the press registers no force or excessive force when seating, I know something's wrong. I actually ended up with a double-charge in one hull while loading these slugs, thanks to my sister's boyfriend asking questions. When I tried to seat a wad in that hull, the force gauge on my press immediately notified me that there was more powder under the wad than there should be.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by REMI870 » Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:46 pm

Synchronizor wrote:From what I've heard, 870 barrels have been shown to take pressure spikes of over 50,000 PSI before actually bursting. Not to encourage over-pressure loading, as there are plenty of less spectacular ways to FUBAR an 870 if its design limits are pushed, but when it comes to shooting slugs in plastic wads, I wasn't too concerned. Especially not with a small test lot.
That's good info to know. Those 870's are great guns!
Synchronizor wrote:They were actually 1 1/8-ounce slugs, made by a local outfit who casts & sells slugs & buckshot in area stores & gun shows - same people who made the round balls I was using. I assume they modified a 1-ounce slug mold to get the extra mass, perhaps by shortening the core pin or broadening the nose. I intend to talk to them about it next time I see them at a gun show. They're cool guys, I've had interesting conversations with them before about minimum shell lengths for reliable cycling in repeaters, and the merits of different lead-tin-antimony alloys. Anyway, I was wondering if the extra mass might throw off the stability of these slugs, but saw no signs of keyholing at the range. Still, I think I might stick with round balls for the heavier loads, and see if I can work out some good loads with 7/8-ounce drive key slugs for low-recoil plinking, and possibly hunting applications where I don't want a ton of penetration. I picked up some 7/8-ounce drive key slugs along with the 1 1/8-ounce slugs & round balls, but couldn't find any 12S0 wads locally, so I haven't loaded them yet.
I've made up the 7/8 oz slugs with two different alloys. One was a soft lead and the other quite hard. The soft lead yielded .63 oz and the hard lead .78. The soft lead slugs came out much better as the lead stays liquid for nearly a minute after being poured, whereas the hard lead hardens almost instantaneously. Lee recommends using soft lead to make the slugs. The hardened slug, while they don't always look perfect are much closer to the 7/8 oz they're supposed to be, so I'm probably better off sticking to those. The slugs you are using could simply be the type of alloy that is giving the extra weight.

Synchronizor wrote:Like I said, the idea was to get each wad seated on the powder the exact same way, with just enough force to fill the wad's obturating cup with powder. I wanted to keep these loads as consistent as possible for obvious reasons; I also hand-weighed each powder charge. Inserting wads by hand makes it hard to keep things consistent. Plus, using the press makes it a lot easier to get the wads cleanly past the hull's mouth (I was using previously-fired hulls).

But beyond all that, seating the wads this way also helps me catch hulls that have been over- or under-charged. If the press registers no force or excessive force when seating, I know something's wrong. I actually ended up with a double-charge in one hull while loading these slugs, thanks to my sister's boyfriend asking questions. When I tried to seat a wad in that hull, the force gauge on my press immediately notified me that there was more powder under the wad than there should be.
If that works for you, don't mind me. However, the wad cup fills up with powder with just the push of my finger. You're just pushing the air out from under the wad. I usually use a 5/8" wooden dowel to open up the hull before putting in the wad; I never have any problems seating a wad and I do it with the slug intact. Of course I don't have expensive equipment. I have a Lee loader (very simple portable aluminum/plastic fixture) that I bought some 25 years ago and is finally getting some use. I've seen a video by fortunecookie45lc on YouTube. He found that he was crushing his wads causing inconsistent velocities. After feeling differences in recoil, he cut a few of his reloads open to discover it he was distorting and fracturing the wads due to compressing the wads too much.

As far as double charging a hull, you're going to know if you do because there will be too much column height when using a known set of components and you won't be able to crimp it closed without bulging and buckling.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by Synchronizor » Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:39 pm

REMI870 wrote:I've made up the 7/8 oz slugs with two different alloys. One was a soft lead and the other quite hard. The soft lead yielded .63 oz and the hard lead .78. The soft lead slugs came out much better as the lead stays liquid for nearly a minute after being poured, whereas the hard lead hardens almost instantaneously. Lee recommends using soft lead to make the slugs. The hardened slug, while they don't always look perfect are much closer to the 7/8 oz they're supposed to be, so I'm probably better off sticking to those. The slugs you are using could simply be the type of alloy that is giving the extra weight.
That's odd, what alloy were you using for the harder slugs? Usually, hardening lead by adding things like tin or antimony lowers the density of the final alloy. Pure lead is normally the way to go to maximize the mass of slugs or buckshot pellets, unless you have the coin to experiment with something like a lead-gold alloy.
Image
In any case, the slugs I was using were pure lead, nothing weird.
REMI870 wrote:If that works for you, don't mind me. However, the wad cup fills up with powder with just the push of my finger. You're just pushing the air out from under the wad. I usually use a 5/8" wooden dowel to open up the hull before putting in the wad; I never have any problems seating a wad and I do it with the slug intact. Of course I don't have expensive equipment. I have a Lee loader (very simple portable aluminum/plastic fixture) that I bought some 25 years ago and is finally getting some use. I've seen a video by fortunecookie45lc on YouTube. He found that he was crushing his wads causing inconsistent velocities. After feeling differences in recoil, he cut a few of his reloads open to discover it he was distorting and fracturing the wads due to compressing the wads too much.
My MEC has an adjustable rammer tube with a spring-loaded force gauge on the front. You'd have to be pretty clueless or oblivious to actually crush a wad with my press. As I've already explained, I adjusted the rammer tube to get minimal seating force; just enough to know the wad is on the powder, and the powder is pushed up into the little base cup (this isn't just pushing out air, by the way, the powder itself is moving around). The MEC also has a wad guide with a bunch of little fingers that open up the end of the hull as the wad is pushed in. I could use a dowel or something to open the hull and then seat the wad by hand, but using the press is a lot faster, easier, and more consistent; and there's less chance of messing up the wad or hull mouth.
REMI870 wrote:As far as double charging a hull, you're going to know if you do because there will be too much column height when using a known set of components and you won't be able to crimp it closed without bulging and buckling.
True enough, but at that point, I've ruined the hull. If I catch the double-charge before crimping, I can just pour out the powder and re-charge the hull.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by REMI870 » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:11 pm

Synchronizor wrote:That's odd, what alloy were you using for the harder slugs? Usually, hardening lead by adding things like tin or antimony lowers the density of the final alloy. Pure lead is normally the way to go to maximize the mass of slugs or buckshot pellets, unless you have the coin to experiment with something like a lead-gold alloy.
Not sure what they are because this is remelted range scrap bought on ebay. The seller doesn't know. The strange thing is the softer lead I have is lighter. The softer lead I have is a standard alloy for electronics and I paid a premium for it so I'm not going to be casting bullets using it. I just used it for test purposes.
Synchronizor wrote:My MEC has an adjustable rammer tube with a spring-loaded force gauge on the front. You'd have to be pretty clueless or oblivious to actually crush a wad with my press. As I've already explained, I adjusted the rammer tube to get minimal seating force; just enough to know the wad is on the powder, and the powder is pushed up into the little base cup (this isn't just pushing out air, by the way, the powder itself is moving around). The MEC also has a wad guide with a bunch of little fingers that open up the end of the hull as the wad is pushed in. I could use a dowel or something to open the hull and then seat the wad by hand, but using the press is a lot faster, easier, and more consistent; and there's less chance of messing up the wad or hull mouth.
Like I said, there is no argument here. You have better equipment than I do and probably have more experience as well. I just thought I'd point out that there doesn't need to be much pressure at all. You actually are just pushing out the air. It's kind of like getting the air out of a syringe. When push it down, the part under the power piston releases air which allows the powder to take its place and when released, the power piston creates a vacuum preventing air from getting back in (provided you have the right wad). With black powder, you need to do more than get the air out. You need to have the powder tightly compressed; totally unnecessary with smokeless powders.
Synchronizor wrote:True enough, but at that point, I've ruined the hull. If I catch the double-charge before crimping, I can just pour out the powder and re-charge the hull.
My point is I would already know when I insert the wad and other components that there is no way I'm going to be able to crimp it. The column height needs to be just at the bottom of where the last crimp was. If you double charge, it's going to be blatantly obvious so you're not even going to try to attempt it.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by Synchronizor » Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:28 am

REMI870 wrote:Not sure what they are because this is remelted range scrap bought on ebay. The seller doesn't know. The strange thing is the softer lead I have is lighter. The softer lead I have is a standard alloy for electronics and I paid a premium for it so I'm not going to be casting bullets using it. I just used it for test purposes.
Different alloying elements affect hardness & density each in different ways and to different degrees. With the right combinations, you can very well end up with a hard alloy that's denser than a soft alloy. If that electronics alloy you mentioned is a really high-tin alloy with no antimony or arsenic, it probably would be both lighter and softer than a range scrap alloy that's mostly lead with just a little bit of both tin and antimony. But pure lead will still beat pretty much any other common casting alloy (lead, tin, antimony, and/or arsenic for most, though sulfur, copper, & silver also make their way into some pots) for density.

Also, if you're having trouble casting with your hard alloy, try getting the temperature of your melt up a little higher. Just like hardness & density, alloying elements affect the alloy's melting point, and the manner in which it solidifies.
REMI870 wrote:My point is I would already know when I insert the wad and other components that there is no way I'm going to be able to crimp it. The column height needs to be just at the bottom of where the last crimp was. If you double charge, it's going to be blatantly obvious so you're not even going to try to attempt it.
I would probably notice too, but if I'm distracted enough that I hand-measure & dump in a 2nd charge of powder, I could also conceivably miss a slug or shot column that's a little higher than normal - especially since many of my handloads are light loads without much powder. The more opportunities I have to catch a double-charge before I ruin a hull & lose a primer, the better.

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Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by Synchronizor » Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:16 am

New range report. I finally found a store in the area that carries Federal 12S0 wads (I was actually on the crew that installed the upstairs office flooring in that place while it was being built last year), so I loaded up some 7/8-ounce drive key slugs last night and took them out today. The load was just a normal 24-gram (the slugs were closer to 24 grams than 7/8 ounces) target load using a 12S0 wad on a charge of 700-X in a Federal Gold Medal hull. Muzzle velocity should be around 1250-1300 FPS with the barrel I was using. I got good crimps with 7 or 8 of my 5/8" cereal box cards under each slug (some were a hair shorter than others; I think the people casting these slugs used a couple different molds), and didn't try to modify the wads.

Results were much better than with the 1 1/8-ounce drive key slugs. I think the reduced "meat" in the 7/8-ouncers helps maintain the nose-heavy mass distribution that Foster slugs need to fly straight. For the record though, I did finally find my cylinder choke tube, so these groups were shot with my 20" rifle-sight barrel instead of my bead-sight barrel. The first group I shot using the cylinder choke was with the "goobers" that I produced while figuring out the wad column for these loads, so those shells were less consistent. The two groups with the good shells (targets 02 & 03) made me very happy.
Cylinder Groups.JPG
cylinder choke groups; 5 shots per target, 25 yards, target 01 shot with goobers
Cylinder Groups.JPG (364.77 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
Since I had 25 of these slugs to play with, and I was using a Rem-Choke barrel, I decided to take ten slugs and shoot a couple groups with my rifled choke tube to see if there would be any benefit. The results didn't exactly blow my skirt up. Group sizes were fine, but they weren't any better than what I got with the cylinder choke, and the slugs printed high for some reason.
Rifled Groups.JPG
rifled choke groups; 5 shots per target, 25 yards
Rifled Groups.JPG (360.81 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
I also grabbed the correct shell box this time, and shot two groups with the Herter's slugs that are - or rather, were - my go-to for cheap plinking slugs. Not bad, but my own slug loads were definitely better.
Control Groups.JPG
Herter's slugs through cylinder choke; 5 shots per target, 25 yards, pun accidental
Control Groups.JPG (394.79 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
Once again, I wandered around and collected as many fired wads as I could find (luckily the range wasn't very busy). These wads looked really good. No over-compression of the leg sections, no sheared or bent petals; I feel like I could load these back into some hulls and fire them again if I wanted.
Smoothbore Wads Far.JPG
Smoothbore Wads Far.JPG (88.92 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
Smoothbore Wads Near.JPG
Smoothbore Wads Near.JPG (128.56 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
The wads that had been through the rifled choke tube had clear engraving marks on the shotcup, but the marks were pretty short & shallow. I'm not sure there was enough for the rifling to really grab on to.
Rifled Wads Far.JPG
Rifled Wads Far.JPG (115.8 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
Rifled Wads Close.JPG
Rifled Wads Close.JPG (140.84 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
One thing that did interest me was that the rims of the over-powder cups on the wads that went through the cylinder choke tube were chewed up somewhat. The over-powder cups on the wads that went through the rifled choke tube look fine.
Smoothbore Wad Damage Far.JPG
Smoothbore Wad Damage Far.JPG (81.77 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
Smoothbore Wad Damage Near.JPG
Smoothbore Wad Damage Near.JPG (95.5 KiB) Viewed 5115 times
The cylinder tube I was using was one of those tacti-cool breacher chokes that Remington installs on their Express Tacticals, and I think the wads were scraping along the vent holes as they left the barrel. Not sure how much this hurt accuracy, but I am sure it didn't help. I'm keeping an eye out for a new cylinder tube that won't interfere with wads.

Overall, a good day at the range for slugs. I actually did better with these slugs than I did with either of the two rifles I shot afterward. I'm really encouraged by how well these 7/8-ounce slugs seem to do in the Federal 12S0 wads; I think I'm pretty close to getting this load where I want it. It should be a great plinking, home defense, & light game slug for use in smoothbore barrels. I picked up two more packs of slugs on my way home from the range. I think I'm going to try tweaking things with a different primer that should make the load a little more efficient (in terms of powder charge for a given velocity), and then I'll see how these do at longer ranges.

REMI870
New Shotgunner
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:50 am

Re: Lee Drive Slug Barrel Fitment

Post by REMI870 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:01 pm

Synchronizor wrote:New range report. I finally found a store in the area that carries Federal 12S0 wads (I was actually on the crew that installed the upstairs office flooring in that place while it was being built last year), so I loaded up some 7/8-ounce drive key slugs last night and took them out today. The load was just a normal 24-gram (the slugs were closer to 24 grams than 7/8 ounces) target load using a 12S0 wad on a charge of 700-X in a Federal Gold Medal hull. Muzzle velocity should be around 1250-1300 FPS with the barrel I was using. I got good crimps with 7 or 8 of my 5/8" cereal box cards under each slug (some were a hair shorter than others; I think the people casting these slugs used a couple different molds), and didn't try to modify the wads.

Results were much better than with the 1 1/8-ounce drive key slugs. I think the reduced "meat" in the 7/8-ouncers helps maintain the nose-heavy mass distribution that Foster slugs need to fly straight. For the record though, I did finally find my cylinder choke tube, so these groups were shot with my 20" rifle-sight barrel instead of my bead-sight barrel. The first group I shot using the cylinder choke was with the "goobers" that I produced while figuring out the wad column for these loads, so those shells were less consistent. The two groups with the good shells (targets 02 & 03) made me very happy.
Cylinder Groups.JPG
Since I had 25 of these slugs to play with, and I was using a Rem-Choke barrel, I decided to take ten slugs and shoot a couple groups with my rifled choke tube to see if there would be any benefit. The results didn't exactly blow my skirt up. Group sizes were fine, but they weren't any better than what I got with the cylinder choke, and the slugs printed high for some reason.
Rifled Groups.JPG
I also grabbed the correct shell box this time, and shot two groups with the Herter's slugs that are - or rather, were - my go-to for cheap plinking slugs. Not bad, but my own slug loads were definitely better.
Control Groups.JPG
Once again, I wandered around and collected as many fired wads as I could find (luckily the range wasn't very busy). These wads looked really good. No over-compression of the leg sections, no sheared or bent petals; I feel like I could load these back into some hulls and fire them again if I wanted.
Smoothbore Wads Far.JPG
Smoothbore Wads Near.JPG
The wads that had been through the rifled choke tube had clear engraving marks on the shotcup, but the marks were pretty short & shallow. I'm not sure there was enough for the rifling to really grab on to.
Rifled Wads Far.JPG
Rifled Wads Close.JPG
One thing that did interest me was that the rims of the over-powder cups on the wads that went through the cylinder choke tube were chewed up somewhat. The over-powder cups on the wads that went through the rifled choke tube look fine.
Smoothbore Wad Damage Far.JPG
Smoothbore Wad Damage Near.JPG
The cylinder tube I was using was one of those tacti-cool breacher chokes that Remington installs on their Express Tacticals, and I think the wads were scraping along the vent holes as they left the barrel. Not sure how much this hurt accuracy, but I am sure it didn't help. I'm keeping an eye out for a new cylinder tube that won't interfere with wads.

Overall, a good day at the range for slugs. I actually did better with these slugs than I did with either of the two rifles I shot afterward. I'm really encouraged by how well these 7/8-ounce slugs seem to do in the Federal 12S0 wads; I think I'm pretty close to getting this load where I want it. It should be a great plinking, home defense, & light game slug for use in smoothbore barrels. I picked up two more packs of slugs on my way home from the range. I think I'm going to try tweaking things with a different primer that should make the load a little more efficient (in terms of powder charge for a given velocity), and then I'll see how these do at longer ranges.

Haven't been on for a while; it's too cold to hit the range where I'm at on the east coast. Excellent information, seems like you're getting it all together. Good information, thanks for sharing.

There was lots of testing done on the key drive slugs on YouTube. The 7/8 oz slugs are more nose-heavy than the 1 oz slugs and have been proven to exceed their accuracy. This was my reasoning for purchasing the 7/8 oz mold. It's also been said that the 12S0 wads are a good combination for these slugs.

I have one of those Tactical Breach tubes on my gun. I don't think the wads brushing the holes on the breach tube will effect accuracy though, once the projectile exits the end of the barrel, that little bit of plastic isn't going to have any effect on it; at least that's what I think. Remington makes a rifled choke for the 870, I was thinking of getting it but from what you said earlier, it seems it won't make a difference with these slugs. All in all, those groups don't look too bad for 25 yards.

I'm hoping we start to have some good weather over here so I can make my way to the range. Today we had some snow.

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