Why You May Want To Handload Your Shotgun Shells


Handloading shells, if you’re not familiar with the term, is the process of packing your own shotgun shells. While not a wildly common activity, a number of people do handload their shells.

If you’re wondering why they would want to do this, then we have a few answers for you.

For some people, they just love to do things by hand. Let’s face it, it can be immensely satisfying to make your own things, whether that is furniture, or your own food supply, or shotgun shells. For some folks, it’s just the sheer satisfaction of being able to say, “I did it,” and, with the right equipment, it’s not a hard task (even if it does get repetitive).


Another reason to handload your own shells is to create shells for specific purposes. How you choose to load your shells can affect the pattern of the spread of the shot. It can also allow you to create shot for specific purposes or to be used for specific guns. For example, I know a small manufacturer who supplies shells to law enforcement. They had him design a shell specifically for urban law enforcement use such as apartment buildings. The shell was designed so that, whoever caught the brunt of the shot would be hurting, but the shot would not tend to penetrate beyond the initial impact point so that, unlike using bullets, the buck would be less likely to go through walls to injure innocent people in the next room or apartment.

Or, maybe, you’re like Jason Wimbiscus, who gives these specific reasons for handloading his own reduced length shotgun shells:

  1. You own an old shotgun with a chamber length shorter than 2.75 inches and local retailers don’t carry what you need.
  2. You are extremely frugal and want to get as many firings as possible from your hulls. Often, shotshell hulls will first wear out at the crimp and trimming off the tattered end can breathe new life into an old shell.
  3. You want to increase the magazine capacity of a gun with a tube magazine without buying an additional extension.

So, whether you want to save money, design shells for specific weapons and/or situations, or you just want the satisfaction of doing it yourself, you may want to consider handloading your own shells.