How To Load a Muzzle Loading Shotgun

Remove  oil, etc. by wiping out the bore(s) and snapping a few caps with the  muzzle pointing down to ensure that no oil remains. Be sure that the  nipples are tight or they may blow out. We strongly recommend hearing  and eye protection at all times, along with shooting gloves.

1.  Pour correct powder charge(s) into gun. We recommend powder charging  using a powder dipper and dipping out of a covered container when  possible. Allow a few moments between shots. There is always a risk that  an ember from the previous shot is present in the barrel and could set  off the new load at anytime during the initial loading sequence. If you  were using a flask and this happened, you could be holding a bomb. By  using a dipper and a covered container, only the amount in the dipper  can go off. Do not blow down the barrel after a shot. This could excite  any embers that may be present when you drop the next powder charge. In  the field, pre-measured “speed loaders” will work . Always use black powder or black powder substitutes only! Never use smokeless powder.

2.  Insert the 1/8” overpowder (nitro) card(s) of correct size and seat it  firmly against the powder. This wad is the gas seal that creates the  pressure needed for the correct load performance.

3.  Insert a fiber cushion wad(s) and ram it down firmly against the nitro  card. This wad acts as a shock absorber to prevent shot deformation.  This wad can be lubricated.

4.  Pour correct shot charge(s) into gun. Insert overshot card of correct  size and ram it firmly against shot charge. You are now loaded. Do not  cap or prime the gun until you are in the shooting station, or are in  the field hunting.

Two  more thoughts here. First, it is sometimes necessary to use one size  larger overshot cards (i.e., 11 ga. in a 12 ga. gun) so the recoil of  the first barrel does not cause the shot charge of the second barrel to  move forward. You can tell if this is happening if your second barrel  does not pattern well. We recommend this practice in all muzzle loading  double guns. Remember, ALL components must be seated firmly, or  you run the risk of creating a bore obstruction which could bulge or  blow up the gun. Second, take the time to pattern your gun. You can  sometimes tighten a pattern by cutting the fiber cushion wad in half  thickness. Some guns will shoot well with a full wad, some like half of  the wad. Also changing fiber wad material may change things... If you  see a hole in the middle of the pattern, cut the fiber wad in half, it  cuts down the tendency to blow the fiber wad up thru the shot charge,  and will sometimes close the hole.

 Loading through Choke Tubes:  This is a problem that never existed in the muzzle loading era. Choke  boring was not widely used until 1875, which was well into the breech  loading era, where you did have to worry about getting down past the  choke with the wads. After choke boring became available in  breechloaders, some live pigeon shooters who wanted to continue using  their muzzle loaders had their guns jug (or recess) choked. This  consisted of reaming a recess into the bore that was larger than the  bore diameter, about 6” long, starting back about an inch from the  muzzle. The shot hit this area, expanded, and then forced the shot back  down to original bore size, creating the same choking effect as our  modern constriction style chokes. Now, some new muzzle loading shotguns  have screw in chokes. This provides the choking effect, but loading down  thru them becomes a problem. The difference is, that the wads used in  the jug choke were matched for the bore size and going thru the recess  was no problem. A full choke 12 gauge gun has a constriction of .040”,  which makes the bore size at the muzzle a 14 gauge. Since the overpowder  (nitro) card seals the powder gases, it has to be 12 gauge or the gas  will blow by it and the load will not create sufficient pressure to  shoot well. There are two possible solutions to this. First, load your  gun before you screw in the choke tubes. This may work if you are  hunting and don’t expect to fire too many rounds, or, second, place the  nitro card on it’s edge and force it down thru the choke tube with a  ball starter, then tip it over flat once you have gotten past the choke  and seat it on the powder. This does the least amount of damage to the  wad, by only flattening it on 2 sides. The fiber wad can be undersized,  for instance, using a 14 gauge fiber in a 12 gauge full choke gun, as  the fiber would be destroyed ramming it thru the choke. A 11ga. or 12ga.  overshot card is thin and flexible enough to go thru a choke tube  without damage.