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Looking for good smokeless 20 gauge loads

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Hello the Fire:

I acquired a 12 gauge hammer gun made in 1873 by W.H. James, a stocker for Purdy.  The checkering is nice, & it has a horn butt plate with no horn worms in it.  The seller browned it as the finish was worn and the collector value diminished due having to cut the barrels.  It was stored barrel down in an old barn and the rust was bad on the first 4", so now it is a 20" coach gun.

The seller had put about 1000 rounds through  it, mostly BP.  He had Briley put 20 gauge liners in and certify the barrel safe. The liners have removable choke and come with one each.  

I want to load some 20 gauge smokeless loads for it, but I don't want to mess around finding a good load.
Would one of you 20 gauge shooters share a good load, that always takes the targets down please.

I don't plan on shooting it alot, but I think it'll be fun to shoot.


Also, does anybody know if aluminum liners are safe with real black powder.  Briley sez "no", but I don't have much confidence in the opinion of the young lady I spoke with -- She didn't seem to know anything about black powder.


Thanks in advance




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Not a recipe for a reload, but the bestest 20Ga load I have found are Fiocchi Trainers in 20Ga.  Probably have to have your LGS order them for you.


I am absolutely NO help with Aluminum and Black Powder.  However, if an Al-u-minimum sleeve is determined "safe" for smokeless, BP shouldn't bother it at all.  My only concern would be corrosive effects if not properly cleaned right away.  

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Not a good mix for having Sulfur and Aluminum.

It will likely create  hydrogen sulfide (H2S) which won't smell good and I think would degrade the liner.


"Aluminium sulfide is readily prepared by ignition of the elements

    2 Al + 3 S → Al2S3

This reaction is extremely exothermic" - not something you want in a gun barrel.


20 Gauge loads require a slightly slower powder than 12 gauge loads, so Unique (or similar speed powders) is a good choice.


3/4 oz lead with 14.5 grain Unique is a good place to start with a lighter load.

7/8 with 15 gr Unique




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On 6/10/2023 at 1:44 PM, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:


I found these to be great loads and used them for years, however I believe Winchester quit making the at the onset of Covid.

I have some but have not been able to purchase any for about 4 years, and they still make the 12 ga ones.

I might part with a box or so if you can not find anything to use in your shotgun.


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STS or AA hulls, WAA20 wads (Claybuster equivalent), Unique powder with a MEC #20 bushing.


Michigan Slim has a daughter that uses 20 ga, this is the info he sent me on light loads for 20ga.


I have a bunch of one fired 20 ga hulls, All AA. I had been sending him my once fired hulls. 

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I use 12.0 grains Unique, 7/8 oz shot, blue Windjammer wad, AA or STS hull, and usually a Winchester 209, cuz I've got a lot of them.

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I loaded two boxes to try out this weekend. As above, my normal load is 12 grains Unique, 7/8 oz shot, so I dropped down to the next smaller RCBS Little Dandy rotor, which drops 10.4 grains Unique, with the same 7/8 oz shot. It took down the knockdowns and powdered two aerials on a couple stages.  I didn't notice it felt any different than the 12 grain load, but I didn't compare them side by side either, so who knows. 

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