The Mystery of the Inconsistent
I was shooting with skeet World Champion Wayne Mayes a while back (rest his soul). He recommended Hodgdon HS-6 powder for 28 gauge loads. It was kinda hard to find, but I bought a bunch, and reloded a few boxes.
The loads were inconsistent. Some felt fine, then others would come out with a force that made the .410 seem powerful. What’s going on here? Had I misread the recipe? I doublechecked it, and found nothing. Somebody suggested that maybe cold weather decreased the power, and the small 28 gauge made it all the more obvious. But then why would one shell be fine and the next be almost a dud? Besides, I live in Massachusetts, not at the North Pole. I took out and examined the Universal Charge Bar–was something obstructing it? Nope.
This isn’t supposed to happen to me, the author of MEC Shotshell Reloading Secrets.
Then it occurred to me. The powder baffle! It must be the baffle. What happens when you increase reloading speed? You get smoother. Your movements get more efficient and fluid. Less vibration. The baffle is intended to make powder drops more consistent by forcing the powder to sprinkle down lightly as it snakes through the baffle. It relies on some vibration to keep the powder flowing through.
I reloaded a few boxes without the baffle. I left everything else the same–primer, powder, powder charge, hull, wad, all as before. I figuratively crossed my fingers as I called “pull.”
What a difference! It felt like I doubled the powder charge. Nice, solid, consistent loads. Much cleaner bore, too (While using the baffle, there was a lot of unburnt powder in there, for some reason.) Maybe it was the shape of the HS-6 powder grains that just didn’t flow as well through the baffle.
But what about the consistency that the powder baffle is supposed to provide? Look, I’ll keep the bottle consistently filled to the same place, rather than have an issue with powder not getting through the baffle.
If you are experiencing inconsistent loads, you might try removing the powder baffle and see if it doesn’t solve the problem.