My interest in guns is broad based. This year, I will be competing in 3-gun, action pistol, long range rifle, and across the course rifle. I’ll also shoot some smallbore rifle and some airgun. I practice pistol with .22 rimfire; I hunt with shotguns, rifles, and handguns. Almost all my shooting is done with very modern, sometimes state of the art, firearms, except clay target shooting and hunting. Almost all the clay shooting and hunting I do is with guns that approach, and many times exceed, 100 years old. I love old double shotguns.
Most of those guns are capable of firing modern cartridges but I rarely do so because even though the metal is strong enough to handle the pressure, 100-year-old wood can crack when subjected to heavy recoil forces. Besides, using the most powerful shotgun shell to improve your chances isn’t what shooting is about.
Most companies now make managed recoil ammunition to allow less experienced shooters to begin shooting without dealing with punishing recoil. These shells typically have velocities well below normal cartridges and get their light recoil characteristics by simply lowering velocity. These shells work fine in older guns but there is a better alternative.
RST has been custom-loading ammunition for years that specifically designed to be fired in vintage guns. Many of these loads have similar ballistics to contemporary loads, but they offer lower pressures and lighter recoil than most mainstream shells. RST loads different chamber lengths as well because many older guns had shorter chambers than current guns. Chambers as short as 2-3/8” were common in 20 gauge guns and pressures can rise as a result of shooting long shells in guns with short chambers. They also load spreader loads that allow guns with tight chokes to shoot more open patterns for closer shots.
RST is a very small factory, run by a handful of dedicated shotgunners, owned by guys who used the shells and bought the company when the previous owner decided to close it down. RST shells are not mainstream, but they are a great way to feed your classic shotgun.
Image by Dick Jones