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Aug 5th, 2016
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Joined: Aug 2014
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Texsss Offline OP
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Over the weekend I participated in a tower pheasant shoot. The temperature during the shoot was around minus 5 degrees F. For the shoot I loaded up a bunch of 1 oz loads to shoot out of my Edwin Wilson SLE which was built around 1905. The load I was using was the following:

12 gauge, 1 oz.
20 grains green dot powder
Win 209 primer
Figure 8 Wad
1222 FPS, 9800 PSI

All of them went bang but I could tell they were very weak and they did not perform well. I have never had a problem like this before, but I also have never shot in minus 5 degree temps before. I want to keep my loads at a max of 1200 FPS and 1 1/8 oz. out of respect for my old shotguns stock. Does anybody have a go to load for cold weather? Also has anyone had this issue with factory ammo?

Thanks!

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I have a good amount of experience shooting in the cold, at least to the twenties below zero. When Kevin at Downrange was first starting out he had me test a few combination of loads that people were having problems with due to the cold. Since then he has a commercial freezer so can test them in his pressure gun there.

Most common issue seen was crimp depth was not deep enough. .055 is the standard crimp depth. Too much of a good thing can increase pressure, by a lot. Don't over do it.

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

To get an accurate measurement of crimp depth cut a notch in your calipers so that you slide it over the rim. Measure the OAL then over the lip and you have your crimp depth.

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

Those F616 were old style and had issues with cold and certain powders. They have since changed them. Some bump up to Federal 209A primers in the cold as they are hotter. However that will also increase your pressure.

Never used Green Dot in the 12 with 1 oz. loads only 1 1/8oz. I use Clays for 1 oz. in the 12 but not sure of the pressure would have to look it up. (Edit: I did at Hodgdon website but there are a lot of combinations. Yes you can get well below your pressure requirements with Clays) I have always good luck with Clays powder in the cold. With that said spent the weekend looking at 1 oz. loads for the 16 ga. using Green Dot. There are some out there but strongly suspect Universal which is much more commonly used would be a better choice. But I'm out of Universal and good luck trying to find some now so looking to use what I have.

Yes factory ammo especially Euro made can have problems with the cold if they get cold soaked and get bloopers. Getting too old for shooting in the cold but when I did would keep my shells in a cooler with a handwarmer pack. Don't store them in the back of the truck on the way to the shoot, sit outside until you need them, etc.

Have seen some wads have issues with the cold but been a long time. They would fracture causing bloopers.

[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

Last edited by Cold Iron; 02/15/21 09:45 AM.
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Texsss Offline OP
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Thank you for the reply. Great info. I have some clays powder on hand and will make the switch although I hope my times shooting in minus 5 will be limited!

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Yup, Green Dot is a little slow for 1 ounce loads at 1200 fps. A switch to Red Dot should solve your problem.

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What about International Clays? I have been shooting it here in Alaska with no apparent problems. I shoot until it is about 20 degrees, then take a break! Just have to dress up too much when temps are colder. Heavy dress interferes with my shooting as I shoot all clays from the low gun position...

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Had a bunch of Win. Mark 5's split cases during very cold weather. Can't remember if they were factories or my reloads. Likely the former as my reloads were much milder?

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I had some Activ’s split in the cold when I went for the slam.
They are pretty hot loads for otc. It surprised me.

It’s only -33 in Valentine today.
Prolly wouldn’t even go offtoday.

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I was going on a cold weather quail hunt several years ago and have used Green Dot as my primary powder for 12 gauge for decades. I'd never had a problem with them before, but it doesn't often get really cold where I live and I had read somewhere that GD could have issues with cold weather.

So I called Alliant and asked them. The guy I talked to said I should use Unique instead of GD in cold conditions. I did, and it worked fine. Unique may not be suitable for your needs, but at least I thought I could tell you that Alliant confirmed that GD has issues with cold weather. Good luck finding what you need.

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I used 700x, win 209 primer and clay buster wads, 1oz 1/8. 12 gauge AA hulls. Up to 29 below zero, when I shot for the AF. Never had a issue of weak load, just split cases. Maybe 3 out of 25 would split when shooting in 20 below temperatures.

Sorry I am not sure of the grains of powder, load data from IMR powder.


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