Making Homemade Pistol Shotshells (Beginners Guide)

Making Home Made Pistol Shotshells
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Last Updated on October 16, 2021 by Jawad Khan

Introduction

It’s super hard. Pulling some extra mile performance with regular shotshells is really difficult.

That’s not all-

Things get even more difficult when it comes to pistol shotshells. Because of this experts get into using customized shotshells to increase the shooting efficiency and effectiveness. 

But there’s a catch-

It’s really tough to find the best road to homemade pistol shotshells. So, how to make these shotshells? 

Well, start by collecting all the tools for your DIY shotshells. Craft your own shells and prime them so it’s easy for you to fit in the rim. Then go ahead and charge your shells with gunpowder and load it with lead shots. Finish by crimping the shell’s mouth and cleaning it.

These were just the basics. To get an actual grasp on the process, read through our article. We’ve designed a stepwise process for making homemade shotshells for beginners.

Homemade Pistol Shotshells (7 Effortless Steps)

Making your own shotshells may sound difficult but why not give it a try? These 7 detailed steps will answer all your queries regarding making your own pistol shotshells. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get into the details.

Tools Required

Before you dive right into the steps, here are some tools that you’d need to make your own pistol shotshells. So, make sure to carry an adequate amount of these.

Name Recommended ProductPrice
Pistol Shells or CartridgesFederal Premium Personal Defense Pistol CartridgesBuy from Cablea's
GunpowderHodgdon Shotgun and Pistol PowdersBuy from Cablea's
ShotsEagle 25-Lb. Bag Magnum Lead ShotBuy from Cablea's
SolventHoppe's Bench Rest 9 Copper SolventBuy from Cablea's
Thick Cork SheetCleverbrand Cork SheetBuy from Amazon

Step 1 of 7: Crafting The Shells

Making your own shells can be troublesome and expensive. Because the brass case is one of the most expensive tools in the ammunition process. Hence, reusing your old shells could be an ideal option for you. So, if you were wondering what to do with empty shotgun shells, now you know. 

However, if you want new shells for your pistol, you can also use DIY methods. To make your own shells, you can use brass tubing readily available in most craft shops. Cut these shells into 19.15(.754) with the help of tube cutters. For a 9mm caliber handgun, it is 9.02mm, so you can keep your tube of that diameter. At this point, your shells are almost ready for use.  

There is also a cheaper version of making these shells in case you’re running low on cash. Make your shells using hard paper tubes. Use thick paper plugs to attach to the bottom of those tubes. And finally use a circular disc made of hardened paper to make the rim. Voila! Your cheap shells are ready.

But there’s a catch- these paper shells are very weak and vulnerable to moisture. Thus, they swell up and stick to the chamber. And if they get too soggy, the gun may fail to fire. So you might have to use very hard paper to handle this situation.

Step 2 of 7: Priming The Shell

Now that your shells are ready, whether it’s the paper shells or the brass ones, it’s time to prime them. 

Firstly, clean the entire shell. If you’re reusing your old ones, make sure to remove the old primers and leftover powder. The correct measurement of gunpowder is also very important. Hence cleaning the remaining one is a must.

Now to put your primer back into the shell, you can use an adapter with your press or use a priming tool. 

So, what to do if you don’t have a tool? Can you reuse bullet casings for this?  Definitely. You can use a blank cartridge and two brass tubes. Coat the outer surface of the cartridge using a high strength retainer. Press it into the tube. Use the retainer again to press the tube containing the cartridge into the larger tube. Let it harden.

Now that the tubes are ready, apply retainer (bearing adhesive) to the outer surface of the priming assembly and press it into the shell. Make sure the primer is level with the end of the shell. 

By the way, here are our top choices of primer for shotshells

NameImageWhat's Good?Price
Winchester #209 Primers For ShotshellsWinchester #209 Primers For ShotshellsQuantity: 100
Good sensitivity
More positive firing
Buy from BassPro
CCI Standard PrimersCCI Standard PrimersQuantity: 100
Non-corrosive
Clean-burning for more accurate shots
Easy to apply

Buy from Cabela's

Step 3 of 7: Fitting The Rim

Now, it’s time to fit the cir-clip to the base of the shell. 

Here’s the thing-

If you’re using a 9mm cartridge then the rim of the shell should be 9.98. 

The 9mm clip is secured at the end of the tube using retainer or solder (either conventional or solder paint). At this point, the clip can be trimmed in order to fit the shell to ensure securing it correctly. 

Step 4 of 7: Charging The Shell

Now that you’re done fitting the rim, it’s time to get into charging the shell.

To charge your shells, you’ll need to make powder wads. To do that you can cut out discs of the size of your tube from a thick cork sheet. Once you’ve taken out the wads, insert them into the charge.

But wait! Before you insert the wads, you must charge the shell with powder. You can use black or smokeless powder. You can also make your own black powder using the recipe below.

Black Powder Recipe

Use 20% charcoal and 80% potassium nitrate to make your black powder. The charcoal acts as a fuel and the potassium nitrate acts as the oxidizer.

To make the charcoal, you can simply burn some wood in a reduced oxygen environment. Careful! Don’t burn yourself down in the process. 

Don’t try to make your own potassium nitrate because it’s not going to help you save money. So buy enough potassium nitrate for the mixture.

Mix the two ingredients and sieve/sift it through to make the powder even and uniform.

Caution: Make sure to use the right amount of powder for your shell. You don’t want to blow your hands off. You might need to know how many grains of gunpowder there is in a pound to measure the right amount. For 9mm ammo, the ideal range is within 6.3-6.8 grains of powder per round. Which is about 53 gains in total.

Once you’ve charged the shells with powder, insert the two wads and tamp them firmly over the powder.

Step 5 of 7: Loading The Shell

It’s time to load up your shell with shots. Probably the most exciting part of the ammunition process. 

Charge your shell with lead shots or steel shots. But make sure that the top of the charge is right below the shellmouth. 

In case you’re wondering “How to make your own shots?” We’ve got you covered. 

Here’s how- At first, melt down lead and put it into a buckshot mold to make your perfect shots. 

But even if you can’t get your hands on the mold, you can simply drip the molten lead into water to make little balls of lead. They may even turn out perfect if you’re open to a little experimentation. That’s not all-

Let me tell you something, making lead shots is pretty easy. But the challenge here is finding the lead itself. Now buying lead at a large-scale is definitely an option. But if you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, you may have to search around junkyards and auto shops. These places always have spare scraps of lead. This makes the whole process quite cheaper.

A rifle bullet with gun powder isolated
Source: Thetruthaboutgun.com

Step 6 of 7: Crimping The Shell Mouth

Now that the hard part’s done. All you are left with is crimping the shell mouth. For that, use a hot glue gun to seal the shell. 

Fill the end of the shell mouth with glue and score the inner wall using a sharp object to provide a foundation for the glue to stick. The glue will seal and crimp the shell altogether. 

Step 7 of 7: Cleaning The Shotshell

At this point, your homemade shotshells are ready. You just want to wipe away all the black powder and debris to make it look shiny.

Use a solvent and lubricating oil to keep your weapon clean. Most gun cleaners contain these two.

If you’re camping out and you run out of gun cleaner. What to do? 

You can use gasoline, kerosene or even soap and water as an alternative to clean powder and lead fouling. For lubrication, you can go for red grease, motor oil or even vegetable oil if you have it.

And there you go. You can put on your Tilley hat, carry your pistol and start out for camping. Because making your own ammo is totally worth it as it’s going to protect you from animals like snakes and other rodents. 

Bullet Shells
Source: okshooters.com

Homemade Ammo Storage

Now that you’ve made your own ammo, you’ll also have to take good care of these. 

We’re pretty sure you’ve made enough shotshells to cover the rest of the season. Hence, storing these buddies properly is vital. Something we often overlook. So here are some tips for homemade ammo storage

Tip 1 of 3: Keep It Dry

Storing the ammo carefully and in the right environment is very important. Keep your ammo in a place where it’s completely dry and lacks humidity. 

Moisture inside the box causes the primer to hold water affecting the cartridges and shells. This results in the shells to corrode and become inoperable. There is also risk of the box catching fire in case the walls of the homemade bullet cartridges become weak.

Tip 2 of 3: Keep It Cool

Many people aren’t aware of this particular tip. And that’s why they make this mistake I’m about to tell you.

People often keep their bullets or ammo inside the attic, the trunk of their car, or even inside the car out in broad daylight. Which is very harmful to the shotshells as these places could be pretty hot.

High heat usually above 150-160 degrees can damage the potency of gunpowder in your ammo. Literally making your bullets useless. So always keep your ammo cool enough but not necessarily cold. 

Tip 3 of 3:  Keep It In Dark

Keeping your ammo in the dark is an essential part of storing. High and long term exposure to UV light can damage the inside of the ammo. It also deteriorates the exterior.

Hence, keeping ammo in the ammo box or its original packaging is the ideal way to store them. So make sure when you’re carrying them in a rucksack or an assault pack they are stored in the right compartment.

FAQs

Question: Do homemade pistol shotshells work?

Answer: Homemade pistol shotshells work just fine. These shots penetrate pop cans completely and are even handy for small birds, snakes, and rodents.

Question: Does 9mm make snake shots?

Answer: The 9mm snake shot contains 12 shots. This is much smaller than the shot used in a shotgun shell. Each pellet is equal to 0.25 grains. 

Question: Why is a revolver better than a pistol?

Answer: Revolvers are better because they can fire larger calibers and are heavy so these are good at absorbing powerful cartridge’s recoil.

Question: What to do with old shotgun shells?

Answer: You can dispose old and used shotguns in the following 3 ways. You can hand them over to the police for their disposal program. Give them to any shooting ranges or shoot the old shells.

Conclusion

That’s all we had to offer. By now, we hope you’ve had a good idea on making homemade pistol shotshells

Making your own shotshells and handling them isn’t easy. But we’ve provided you with the easiest and most convenient method. So follow through our steps and enjoy making yourself some pistol shotshells. 

Let us know how well this method worked for you by leaving a comment down below.

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