A Better Way to Reload Buckshot: Counting and filling

A Better Way to Reload Buckshot: Counting and filling 3


This is the first chapter in the buckshot reloading series, and you can read the introduction here:  An introduction to Reloading Buckshot

In that introduction, we identified that one of the primary reasons people generally don’t reload buckshot is as follows>


The problem:

It takes a lot of time to accurately count out buckshot and place them into the shell. It costs a lot of fingers to inaccurately count and place them.

A Better Way to Reload Buckshot: Counting and filling 5


The solution:

  • An adjustable tube to count the pellets.
  • A flask to quickly fill the tube.
  • A guide to keep the two aligned repeatably.
  • The cost <$10


  • A filler:
    • An airsoft bottle for about $4. You may need to ream the opening with a drill bit for your size of shot. It isn’t perfect, as sometimes the pellets clump in the funneled portion.   https://www.walmart.com/ip/Gameface-Airsoft-12gr-Ammo-6mm-2000ct-U-SAP2000/16940150
    • A bit of fuel hose and tape to slit to make a guide. This guide has a little play in it, so you can use different pellet counters, but you could perhaps make a rigid guide if you were only going to use one pellet counter style, and gain a bit more repeatability. I was going to, but honestly you get a feel for it, and I haven’t been motivated to change it up. I used 3/8″ fuel hose from motorcycle stuff.


  • A pellet counter:
    • Tube, preferably clear. This seems like it would be simple, but I actually had to try a lot of different tube types and diameters before I found one which gave the same count every time, but didn’t logjam with the occasional combination of slight irregularities in pellets.
      • The bigger and fewer the pellets, the less particular the hose type is. Conversely, if you have a lot of small pellets, i.e. 27 or 34 #4 buck, the odds of a little staggering and a little variation in diameter being enough to allow an extra pellet to fit in go up.
      • I tried steel DOM tube, with witness holes, a Bic pen tube, which worked fairly well, and about a half dozen clear vinyl or PVC tubes. None of them were actually the diameter they are claimed to be by their manufacturers. The one I found that worked, was: clear vinyl, marked as follows:
      • Bottom line, expect to do a bit of trial and error. You want to know that your system always gets the same count. Try to make it fail and do at least 20 sample pours with your brand of shot, counting or weighing out the result. Brands do vary. If you switch up, you gotta check again.
  • A pusher dowel. I like an aluminum paint pen, but this ain’t tricky. Find something handy. You will only need this occasionally. It’s nice to have a flat end, and a pointy end.
  • Bonus. A powder measure for buffer, Something like the Lee Perfect powder measure filled with malt o meal, or your buffer of choice, located near your bench will give you accurate fills quickly and the for under $26. Scoops are for suckers.

The Technique:

Force yourself to do these things very consistently, if you want to get fast.

  • Deprime, size, reprime, drop powder and seat your wad as normal.  ( If you need a guide for figuring out seating depth, watch my video on getting good crimps. https://bit.ly/2zziwb2 )
  • Have your filler and your pellet counter laid out in front of your press, such that you can grab the counter in your left hand, and the filler flask in your right hand.
  • Smoothly pour so that your pellet counter tube is full, set your flask back in the same location, and grab your shell from the press with your right hand. Keep the counter in your left hand.
  • Holding your counter with your left hand, and the prepped shell in your right hand, invert the shell and place it over the counter. Now tilt it to about a 45* angle, and gradually retract the filler from the base of the wad, while twisting the shell with your right hand. Once you get the technique down, you will be able to pour the pellets into perfect stacks in a smooth quick motion.
  • With some configurations, the top layer of stack may be disturbed. Use your pusher dowel to shove the stack into a neat nest. Or sometimes, it is easier to use the pointy end to flick a stray top pellet into place with the pointy end. Fingers are not flat enough or pointy enough to be as good as a tool for this task. If you find that you need to do this more than about 1 in 10 shells, you probably can improve your pour technique, or maybe want a different wad/pellet combination.

Other solutions attempted and rejected:

  • Fancy dispenser with a shuttle, kinda like a very tall single stack charge bar. Could be done, but it would take up a lot of space, and wouldn’t save much time over the method shown here. Also making it work reliably and adjust to variations in shot proved to be prohibitively difficult. I spent a silly amount of time on this before settling on the above.
  • Tricks from YouTube, etc. I would attribute sources if I could remember them. Thanks to all who came before.
    • Modifying the plastic tray that primers come in to have only the desired number of pockets, and scooping from a bowl filled with shot. White tray is better for contrast, and a brush may help to quickly knock off excess pellets. Works, but not as well as my solution. Definitely an improvement over individually counting pellets.
    • Taring a scale to your weight and pouring  a scoop of pellets in, then dribbling in one or two pellets to hit the final count. Again, faster and more trustworthy than manually counting individual pellets, but still not satisfying. I think someone’s video on this is where I got the flask from.
    • Scoops hoping to get a consistent volume. Unreliable, to much chance of having missing or extra pellets. This one is just unacceptable for people who like having fingers.


More articles and videos on shotgun stuff to follow, at my usual sporadic pace.


Questions and improving suggestions are greatly appreciated. We all learn together.


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