Make Your Own Lead Shot

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Author: Øyvind Flatnes
Category: Shotgun
Published: 11.24. 2007
Edited: Sunday 25 Nov. 2007, at 11:42 (GMT +1)
Views: 56268

Shotmaker Shotmaker

Shotmaker and shot.

The Norwegian prohibition against using lead shot is effective from 01.01.2005. However, the Norwegian Black Powder Union and Scandinavian Western Shooters have gotten an exemption from the ban due to the fact that these organisations are using shotguns that in many instances are old and cannot handle steel shot safely. The access to lead shot will most certainly decrease after January 2005 and the prices will rise. The solution for us black powder shooters can be to make our own lead or bismuth shot.

Find out more!
You can read more making shot, as well as loading black powder shotshells and muzzle-loading shotguns in the brand new book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge: A Practical History of Black Powder Firearms.

The Shotmaker

Traditionally lead shot have been made in high shot towers. The shotmakers melted the lead up in the tower and poured it through a sieve. The lead drops transformed into relatively round shot in the air because of the surface tension. On the ground they hit a container filled with water that cooled the shot and prevented it from deforming.

From the USA many have known the machine called the “Shotmaker”. The machine goes by the immodest name “Littleton's Incredible Shotmaker” and is named after the inventor Jerry Littleton from Oroville, California. Littleton has now sold the business to Alan and Michael Burgess from Moses Lake, Washington. Their company is named Burgess Bullets. Burgess Bullets have improved the shotmaker quite a lot and the machine has become more user friendly. The Shotmaker comes in two versions: The Model 65 with 7 drippers and the Model 135 with 14 drippers.

Shotmaker Shotmaker

Shotmaker.

The Shotmaker is constructed of powder-coated steel, both models feature cooling vents, high temperature connectors; Teflon insulated wires, and 15 amp safety fuses. Each model comes with seven drippers for each ladle, and additional size drippers are available for less than $50 per set of seven. The dippers are available in sizes from US #6 to #9. I recently bought a Model 65 shotmaker from Burgess Bullets. The price was $375. Production rate for the Model 65 is as much as 45 pounds per hour, and if you have the Model 135 it's possible to drip two different shot sizes at the same time, if desired.

When you operate the Shotmaker you simply turn on the machine and put some bars of cleaned wheel weight lead in the ladle. Clean lead is important because lead with dirt in it can clog up the dippers. It also important to remember that pure lead is too soft to make quality shot.

Shotmaker Shotmaker

The Shotmaker in action.

When the lead melts it drips though the dippers, then hit a small ramp and drops into your selected coolant fluid. I have used DOT 3 brake fluid as a coolant and that works perfect. If you use plain water as a coolant the shot will be out of round. You can also use a mix of water and water soluble oil, a mix of water and liquid soap or flame retardant hydraulic oil as a coolant. Afterwards the shot should be cleaned in soapy water to get rid of the coolant fluids. Not a big problem if you use liquid soap as a coolant though. Just rinse it with water a couple of times.

The Shotmaker produces very uniform and round shot and it should be more than good enough for most shooters. If you tumble them in graphite powder you probably wouldn’t be able to see the difference if you compared them to factory lead shot. I and a couple of my friends have tried the shot and it works really great. Nice patterns in both front and backstuffers. Who needs a 120 foot high shot tower when you can have a Shotmaker?

Visit the Burgess Bullets home page and learn more about the Shotmaker

Note: The author of this article has no connection whatsoever to the makers of the Shotmaker, nor does he sell them.



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