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The Myth of the Ribbed Shotgun Hull


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I hear all the time people shying away from ribbed shotgun hulls because they don't shuck reliably in SXS shotguns or that you cannot shoot steel based hulls because they don't reliably shuck. These myths need to be examined more closely.

 

The issue is not the fact that the hull is ribbed; it has to do with how well the shell is constructed.

 

I weighed 6 different kinds of shotgun hulls. All had been fired and still had the expended primer seated in the hull. This is what I found.

 

Winchester AA new 2 piece smooth hull = 129 grains

 

Remington STS smooth hull = 126.5

 

Remington Gun Club Ribbed Hull = 123 grains

 

Federal Top Gun with the silver base and ribbed Hull = 120 grains

 

Federal Top Gun with brass colored base and ribbed Hull = 100 grains

 

Cheap generic hull with silver base and ribbed Hull = 106 grains

 

Now lets look at which hulls have a reputation for shucking well from SXS shotguns. Not surprisingly they are the heaviest hulls. The lightest hulls are also the cheapest.

 

Want to take a guess as to why the smooth hulls have the best reputation for shucking well. All you have to do is take a close look at how we shuck hulls from a SXS. Most shooters use a quick rearwards motion with an abrupt change in direction. This uses the inertia of the hull to keep it moving to the rear and out of the chamber. The heavier the hull the easier it is to shuck because it's inertia is greater. The lighter the hull or the poorer our technique the greater the likelihood of the hull hanging up in the chamber.

 

Another factor is the thickness of the material used in the base of the hull. really cheap hulls use VERY thin metal to form the base. Better made hulls use a slightly thicker material. The thinner the material the less likely it is to spring back after firing.

I compared the thickness of the metal used in the head of a Federal Top Gun hull with the silver head to a cheap generic hull.

 

Federal Top Gun hull with the silver head = 0.016

 

Cheap generic hull = 0.011

 

5 thousandths doesn’t sound like much but it is a difference of almost 50%.

 

Another factor is the plastic used to construct the hull. While I have no way to analyze the composition, I can infer a few things by observation. Current production AA hulls will not reload as many times as an STS hull.  The same is true of Gun Club hulls or Federal Top Guns with the silver base. I get more reloadings out of them than I will a cheap generic hull. The cheap hulls become brittle and crack at the base of the crimp area making the expended hull have little points in the fold area vice maintaining their round shape. The same is true of AA hulls. They crack at the base of the fold and create little sharp points.

 

Here is a list of brands that I have seen other shooters use with good results.

Remington STS

Remington Nitro

Remington Gun Club

Winchester AA (quality control on AA hulls is not very good. I have seen a lot of factory shells that fail a case gauge.)

Fiochi

Blue Remington Peters (These were old stock that a shooter has been reloading)

Rio

Federal Top Gun with the silver head. (Current production have brass colored heads and may have issues)

Herters Estate

 

Brands I have seen shooters have issues with

Winchester AA

Herters Estate

Winchester White Box

Federal Top Gun ( Ran across several cases with poorly formed heads. Can be corrected with a MEC Super Sizer.)

 

One last thing to point out is that ribbed hulls are ever so slightly smaller in outside diameter than AA or STS hulls.

 

 

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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Thanks, this is really useful information. 

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Ribbed hulls have always been blamed for hulls sticking. I have not had any problems with that over the 28+ years I've played this game. Actually, a ribbed hull has less contact with the chamber, so should have less drag.... but the FACT is this.... the vast majority of sticking hulls comes from the blown open crimp. That crimp blows open and grabs hold of the side of the chamber right around the forcing cone, and that is the point that causes most hulls to stick. Using a heavier hull will indeed increase the amount of inertia when you are shucking the hull, which will help it to come clear... but NOTHING works better than honing down that forcing cone. There has never been a hull that shucks better than the old all plastic hulls made by ACTIV. They are one of the lightest weight hulls around, but..... after they are fired, the crimp pulls back in away from the side of the barrel/forcing cone/chamber... and they simply do NOT stick.... the will drop out every time. Hull sticking comes from the expanded crimp most of the time, NOT from the base or the hull wall. Hone the hell out of the Forcing cone, and you will have very few hulls stick. 

 

Snakebite. 

Edited by Snakebite
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23 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

I hear all the time people shying away from ribbed shotgun hulls because they don't shuck reliably in SXS shotguns or that you cannot shoot steel based hulls because they don't reliably shuck. These myths need to be examined more closely.

 

The issue is not the fact that the hull is ribbed; it has to do with how well the shell is constructed.

 

I weighed 6 different kinds of shotgun hulls. All had been fired and still had the expended primer seated in the hull. This is what I found.

 

Winchester AA new 2 piece smooth hull = 129 grains

 

Remington STS smooth hull = 126.5

 

Remington Gun Club Ribbed Hull = 123 grains

 

Federal Top Gun with the silver base and ribbed Hull = 120 grains

 

Federal Top Gun with brass colored base and ribbed Hull = 100 grains

 

Cheap generic hull with silver base and ribbed Hull = 106 grains

 

Now lets look at which hulls have a reputation for shucking well from SXS shotguns. Not surprisingly they are the heaviest hulls. The lightest hulls are also the cheapest.

 

Want to take a guess as to why the smooth hulls have the best reputation for shucking well. All you have to do is take a close look at how we shuck hulls from a SXS. Most shooters use a quick rearwards motion with an abrupt change in direction. This uses the inertia of the hull to keep it moving to the rear and out of the chamber. The heavier the hull the easier it is to shuck because it's inertia is greater. The lighter the hull or the poorer our technique the greater the likelihood of the hull hanging up in the chamber.

 

Another factor is the thickness of the material used in the base of the hull. really cheap hulls use VERY thin metal to form the base. Better made hulls use a slightly thicker material. The thinner the material the less likely it is to spring back after firing.

I compared the thickness of the metal used in the head of a Federal Top Gun hull with the silver head to a cheap generic hull.

 

Federal Top Gun hull with the silver head = 0.016

 

Cheap generic hull = 0.011

 

5 thousandths doesn’t sound like much but it is a difference of almost 50%.

 

Another factor is the plastic used to construct the hull. While I have no way to analyze the composition, I can infer a few things by observation. Current production AA hulls will not reload as many times as an STS hull.  The same is true of Gun Club hulls or Federal Top Guns with the silver base. I get more reloadings out of them than I will a cheap generic hull. The cheap hulls become brittle and crack at the base of the crimp area making the expended hull have little points in the fold area vice maintaining their round shape. The same is true of AA hulls. They crack at the base of the fold and create little sharp points.

 

Here is a list of brands that I have seen other shooters use with good results.

Remington STS

Remington Nitro

Remington Gun Club

Winchester AA (quality control on AA hulls is not very good. I have seen a lot of factory shells that fail a case gauge.)

Fiochi

Blue Remington Peters (These were old stock that a shooter has been reloading)

Rio

Federal Top Gun with the silver head. (Current production have brass colored heads and may have issues)

Herters Estate

 

Brands I have seen shooters have issues with

Winchester AA

Herters Estate

Winchester White Box

Federal Top Gun ( Ran across several cases with poorly formed heads. Can be corrected with a MEC Super Sizer.)

 

One last thing to point out is that ribbed hulls are ever so slightly smaller in outside diameter than AA or STS hulls.

 

 

Thanks for taking the time SD, interesting! SCJ

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In figured all brass hulls would shuck better due to the weight, but not so much. 
 

my favorite hulls are STS. I do have a few AAs in my box, and no real problem with them, but I prefer the STS hulls. I Mark the head of the Hull every loading, I gave some that I have loaded 10 times. I typically get 6-7 or so. 

Edited by Hoss
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One thing I forgot to include is how Chamber pressure impacts blowby.

 

When shooting BP and subs, if you don't put enough power and shot in the load the chamber pressure is too low and fouling will make its way between the hull and the chamber walls causing the hull to stick.  Smokeless loads can also suffer from this but it isn't as obvious.

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The only one's that gave me trouble in my Stoeger were Winchester white box steel based. The gun wouldn't even open until they cool a smidge. Never an issue with brass based.

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I never considered the base to be a problem with shucking the shells. The extractor retracts them enough that there is almost no contact. The unrolled crimp is where I find the problem. I test fit all my fired cases in my shotgun barrel. If they don't fall out I chuck them in the trash. Keeps problems to a minimum. 

 

I had problems with some red, heavily ribbed shells a while back. I think they may have been Federal. Stayed away from them since.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Eyesa Horg said:

The only one's that gave me trouble in my Stoeger were Winchester white box steel based. The gun wouldn't even open until they cool a smidge. Never an issue with brass based.

Aside, I've got a Rem270 pump gun that will eat anything EXCEPT those cheap-o Winchester white box shells.  Similar issue, when the gun heats up, it takes 2 hands on the slide and the butt braced on hip to eject the spent shell, unless one wants to wait until the gun cools and it doesn't matter how clean or dirty the gun is, it hates those Winchester white box shells.

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Sawmill Mary only shoots Fiocchi Lite that are ribbed.  She doesn't shuck but tips barrels up of her box stock Stoeger Uplander and the hulls just fall out. 

 

 

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My favorite is the STS hull. I have had good results with AA and before that Remington Game Loads. I bought 35 cases of the game loads when we started @ less than $2.70/box and have lots of hulls. Momma shoots a 97 and I shoot either an 87 or a double. I do pick up nice looking hulls at matches, but only casually.

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On 4/1/2021 at 5:22 AM, Snakebite said:

> snip <

the vast majority of sticking hulls comes from the blown open crimp. That crimp blows open and grabs hold of the side of the chamber

> snip <

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If you think about it a little more, ribbed hulls should come out easier than smooth hulls (all other things being equal) because less surface area of the hull is in contact with the chamber wall.  The little troughs between the ribs are not touching the chamber and therefore cannot contribute to friction when shucking.

 

You have convinced me that overall weight and crimp characteristics are the key factors in getting a hull to shuck out easily.

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Great work, SD!  Well thought out and laid out in an excellent presentation.

 

:D

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Very Interesting SD.  And I thought when I switched to brass hulls I was getting better at shucking, now I know it’s the hull and not me.  :ph34r:

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6 segment crimp vs 8 segment was biggest difference for me and my Stoeger. I like Rio ammo in three gun because they have loads in all sorts of increments. I think it was their ammo that had a six segments crimp and it flared out more than then AA hulls and they grabbed the double barrel too well. 

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There has never been a hull that shucks better than the old all plastic hulls made by ACTIV. They are one of the lightest weight hulls around, but..... after they are fired, the crimp pulls back in away from the side of the barrel/forcing cone/chamber... and they simply do NOT stick.... the will drop out every time.

Snakebite .... line a 100 Cowboys up and say the word ACTIV and 99 will shout ... Say What?

The "one" will be me .... have about 5 hundred hulls, 20 and 12ga plus the last wads available for sale ... red, yellow and white and the loading data for each.

They are the only hull I use for waterfowling ... no rusted bases

Was a sad day when Fiocci bought them out and discontinued making them

Edited by John Boy
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The key to easy shucking of USED spent shot shells, irregardless of rib or smooth hulls is ...  the MEC Size Master ... The sizing station accommodates both high or low brass heads, and the highly accurate "Power-Ring" collet sizer returns every base to factory specifications. An eight-fingered collet squeezes the base back to original dimensions, then opens up quickly to release the shell.

MEC Sizemaster

Edited by John Boy
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11 hours ago, John Boy said:

The key to easy shucking of USED spent shot shells, irregardless of rib or smooth hulls is ...  the MEC Size Master ... The sizing station accommodates both high or low brass heads, and the highly accurate "Power-Ring" collet sizer returns every base to factory specifications. An eight-fingered collet squeezes the base back to original dimensions, then opens up quickly to release the shell.

MEC Sizemaster

 

I picked up one of those at a charity auction back about 15 years ago.  Figured it was an upgrade from my Lee Load-All.  Of course, a hammer and nail might have been an upgrade from that!  (I kid, I kid, the Lee was actually quite functional, but slow and cumbersome).

 

The MEC Size Master is an awesome press and we have loaded thousands and thousands of BP rounds with it.  The only upgrade I did was to add the adjustable charge-bar too it so that we could get the correct amount of powder and shot to drop for our loads.  Now that we have somewhat perfected our recipe, I would consider switching back to the fixed bar with bushings (drilled out appropriately) as it is easier to keep clean.  The adjustable works fine, but does require a bit of scrubbing after a multi-day loading session or if I get in a hurry and fail to clean it after use.

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I’ve found the Size Master is a versatile machine.  Other than de-priming I can even load brass hulls on it.

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Don't over think it. The #1 factor in how well they shuck is how stiff the plastic is. The softer plastic hulls, be they ribbed or smooth, expand (obturate) to the chamber as does the stiff plastic. But, the difference is the softer huls don't contract like the stiffer plastic hulls do. This also effects the crimps. The stiff plastic hulls don't flare as bad. 

    I've been at this game for almost 30 years mainly shooting in the BP catagories. earlier on I tried the all brass hulls. I even made a full length sizer for them. But if you sized them down too much or honed the chambers too much the extractors tend to jump the rims.

 

Snakebite is on. The Activ hulls are the best. But, even those will eventually soften the crimps. After about 3 or 4 loading with BP they tend to get soft. My solution is to just cut the crimp off and glue on an overshot card. These have been reloaded a gazzillion times.

BTW  for those hard KD's just add a drop or two of glue to the shot before you card it :P

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For BP shells I have a 600 jr that is close to over 40 years old that is still going strong. Use a MEC Super Sizer to return the bases to spec.

 

For the wife's smokeless shells I have a MEC 76 series Grabber. It was the predecessor to the Size Master. 

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Thanks for info SD, interesting to say the least.;)

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I pickup every gun club hull I can, I own 4 skbs and they shuck well in all of them.      Anything else gets loaded and fed to the 97

Edited by mean gun mark
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If I am feeling a bit industrious I like to roll crimp my BP shells. For the most part I use AA hulls but will use the STS once they get a bit a bit worn and they get roll crimped.  They all get run through a super sizer before loading on a MEC jr. For my wifes smokeless  she gets STS hulls which is her preference and loaded in a MEC 9000. This year I have been using a 87 which has only been fussy with my paper hulls.

 

Hochbauer

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I've been tinkering with the latest Federal Top Gun hulls (brass washed steel base covers) because so many of those hulls are shot on clay target ranges right now and discarded right to the trash cans.   But it is VERY easy to snag the base cover in loading press dies if you don't get the hull to center up exactly before you run the sizer die (collet sizers may be an exception to this).

 

Here's a major reason why it is hard to get much life out of the new style of Federal Top Gun hulls, with the burgundy ribbed hull walls and the brass plated base shell (the metal on the base and rim).

 

Above, SD talked a little about the thickness of the  base covers on shotgun hulls:

 

Quote

Another factor is the thickness of the material used in the base of the hull. Really cheap hulls use VERY thin metal to form the base. Better made hulls use a slightly thicker material. The thinner the material the less likely it is to spring back after firing.

I compared the thickness of the metal used in the head of a Federal Top Gun hull with the silver head to a cheap generic hull.

 

Federal Top Gun hull with the silver head = 0.016

 

Cheap generic hull = 0.011

 

 

I pulled one of the new Top Guns apart and measured the brass base cover - it is only 0.006" thick!

 

(A wise guy on another shotgun loading forum called them "prophylacticly thin")

 

These shells sometimes tear up their base cover just by chambering in a shotgun barrel.   The base covers are so likely to expand and not spring back that if you look at fired hulls, you will sometimes see extractor and ejector imprint marks raised up on the surface of the base cover even when the hull has been from a factory load.

 

My favorite hull to reload is the Remington STS, like many other shooters.  It's base cover is 0.006" thick also. 

 

BUT, the Remington STS and Nitro hull metal is brass all the way through.  Brass is well known to be very springy and to shrink back to original size well after being loaded with internal pressure.  Of course, you can't exceed the yield point even with  brass or the expansion will take a set and not spring back.

 

So, steel base covers need to be thicker than ones made of brass, and some hulls now being made are really hard to get much reloading life out of because the manufacturers have purposely tried to shave as much unneeded material out of them as possible.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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