More Shotgun Shell stuff

Here are a few of my favorite shot shells.



The Rem-UMC Ball is the only ball load I have ever found with an OS card. Does anyone know anything about the old ball loads? I would love to find a window shell ball load.

Theres also a very early Remington 8ga loaded with #3 shot and Dupont powder kind of unique I think. The over shot card is sometimes the most interesting part of old shot shells. Notice one of them has a cork.
OS card.

Not a military round but maybe you will enjoy looking anyway.

Doug D

The Marvel and the Nitro Club 20 are most interesting. Couldn’t make out all the headstamps. I’d like to have more Nitro Club than I do. I do have a WRA with Ballistite for powder.

I have never seen a ball round but have heard that they were either a single round ball or the same shape as so-called pumpkin balls but shorter and lighter. May be what your 5/8 load is. Most of my 12ga slug loads are 1 oz. I have some made for Sears in their (bright yellow) boxes and headstamped so too. Have not dated them yet but they are paper and in 5rd boxes.


Nice items. I have a 12ga. Remington ball load that has an OS card marked “1oz BALL”. It’s a little scuffed but that’s what it says. I don’t recall the head stamp but it may be of the same vintage as your 20ga. I could dig it out and post a pic if you are interested. Found it in a batch of old paper high base hulls on a trap range…Lucky for the neighbors it didn’t fire!

Also have a Remingotn 32ga. ball load without an OS card. I think it might have had a card when it was born just by the looks of it and possibly someone of the curious sort may have removed it to have a look.

From what I understand, ball loads were used previous to the introduction of the Foster style ribbed hollow base slugs in the 1930’s. Likely were loaded along with the Foster type for a while as new things take some time to settle in with the deer hunter types.


Actually i have several 12ga ball loads but they do not have OS cards, this made me courious as to wether or not all of them came out with a OS card or just the smal bores for some reason. If yours is a REm-UMC then that would likely confirm they all had OS Cards at one time anyway.


Pure speculation of course, but…Perhaps it was a practice to remove the OS card on round ball loads to aid in identification? I thought about the dud I found among a bunch of old shot loaded paper hulls and with a card on top the round ball looks just the same (text aside). The card does little I would think in this application and removing it would make it easy to ID like a modern Foster type slug. Just a thought.


Good possibility you are correct. i also have learned through the years that the Rem-UMC primers died long before winchestr/western ones. I still shoot a few of the common shells when I get a large supply built up, the remington’s will seldom fire. I disected several old paper shells a few years back as my niece was showing an interst in antique ammo and her mother did not want her to have live rounds. The different colors of the different powders is really cool.


I can only speak about U.M.C. and Rem-UMC, but here is some information concerning the “Single Ball” loads for those companies.

The first listing I can find is 1905 for U.M.C. They listed 10ga-1 1/8oz., 12ga-1oz., 16ga-7/8oz., & 20ga.-5/8oz. They were available in “Nitro Club” and “Arrow”. The following powders could be ordered: DuPont, Dead Shot, Empire, Hazard Blue Ribbon, Mullerite, New E.C. Improved and New Schultze.

After the merge with Remington they continued to load the “Single Ball” until 1942.

Rem-UMC first listed the .410-12mm in 2 inch and 2 1/2 inch in 1917. with 85gr. (1/5oz.) Ball loads. The “Nitro Express” 2 1/2 inch was released in 1930. The 3 inch was introduced in 1933.

The “Rifled Slug” was first listed by Rem-UMC in 1937. They listed both “Single Ball” and “Rifled Slug” through 1942. After the war, only the “Rifled Slug” was listed.

Why are shotgun gauges measured in Troy ounces and pounds???


[quote=“Ray Meketa”]Why are shotgun gauges measured in Troy ounces and pounds???


Shotgun gauges in England were measured in Troyes pound because it was the standard weight measure in England in the old time.

in the other countries they were measured in other units

  1. Marc pound in France (before 1795)
    Metric pound after 1795
    Kilogramme after (after 1810)
    metric pound again after the end of Napoleonian empire
  2. Toscan, Roman or Genovian pound in Italy
  3. Austrian pound (Pfund) before 1875,
  4. Prussian pound before 1875

and so on

Therefore the dimensions of the shotshells cases and barrel chambers and bores were different

Germany switched to the British dimensions in 1904

In 1910-1914 the dimensions were internationnaly standardised (on the paper !) after Bruxelles and Liege conferences
The Internationnal standard is close to the 1904 British standard based on the Troyes pound (it is more complicated in fact because the Brits followed the internationnal dimensions only in 1980)

Some countries used the internationnal standard at once (like Germany) but other countries waited the 1968 Internationnal conference to apply it officially

In France and Italy for exemple both standards were in use till this date

The USA followed the Brits at the beginning and after switched to the internationnal standard in 1920.
USA is still not at the CIP (internationnal) standard even now
(Not very far but they are still some small differences implying different manufacturing from the same shotshells manufacturer depending if the customer is european or american)



Wow! I wonder how many shot-shell collectors are familiar with that history?




If my math (which should never be used for high finance or medication dosage calculations) works right, the U.S. is using the Avoirdupois pound for shotgun bore dimensions. If we plug in the numbers using Troy pounds, the dia. of a 12 Ga. comes out to about .683". Plug in the Avoirdupois pound numbers and a 12 Ga. dia. come in at about .729" which is around what is used in the U.S. as an accepted nominal. The downside of this for me is that “Troy” is easier to say…

It would be interesting to see a chart (perhaps already been generated?) with the history JP shared that shows [country], [timeframe], [gauge] and [bore diameter]. What a nightmare for ammunition and gun makers!



The reason I asked the question was Ron’s post about single ball loads. He shows a 12 ga ball weighing 1 oz which would translate to Troy (12 per pound) rather than Avoirdupois which is 16 per pound.

Is the modern method in the US different than it was for the 1905 U.M.C. shells?



Troy is for sissies

‘cause I had some school learnin’ on it.

Jer mapell, Rick


Sorry I didn’t catch your question’s intent! I may assume wrong, but I figured that the “perfect” ball diameter used for the gauge system would be trimmed down a little to make a run through a choked barrel a pleasant event. Or, perhaps chokes weren’t a concern back then?

On the other hand, I’ve never taken apart or seen the insides of a ball load to say if the ball is in direct contact with the bore/inside of the shell or if there is some sort of sleeve around it? I never heard any tales of great accuracy from these things either.

Added: Also, any alloying of the lead would modify its weight!


Thanks for the phonics lesson. I tend to read more than I speak which helps keep me out of trouble, (sometimes)…



one small mistake due to rushing !

  1. In england it was the Imperial pound (which is of course the Avoirdu poids pound, and not the Troy pound which is used for jewelly)
    Its value is 453.59237 grams

a) In France it was the Marc pound.
Its value is 489.50585 grams

b) Then in 1795 France switched to metric system
The metric pound is 500 grams
But the people carried on to use the Marc pound till 1810

In these three cases, the gauge (bore) was the number of spherical bullets with a diameter equal to the barrel’s one we can make with one pound (British or French) of lead

c) Then in 1810 Naopleon decided to apply the metric system for the calculation of the gauges. He changed the definition
The gauge (bore) was the number of spherical bullets with a diameter equal to the barrel’s one we can make with one kilogram of lead

d) At the end of Napoleonian empire , people went to the metric pound.

  1. from all the calculations we have for example for the theoretical diameter of the bore :
    British 12 gauge : 18.55 mm (~0.730)
    Old French 12 gauge (based on Marc pound) : 19.00 mm (~0.748)
    Metric French 12 gauge : 19.15 mm (~0.754)

  2. But in fact it is more complicated.
    a) In England the theoretical value for 12 gauge is 0.7297 (18.55 mm).
    Instead of rounding to 0.730, they dropped ((gun barrel proof act of 1855 and after) the last decimal and it gave 0.729 (18.50)
    All the gauge are coming from the same calculation and with the same rounding with two exeptions : 4 gauge (see below), and 32 gauge which was copied on the french dimensions.

b) In France there were some laws prohibiting civil guns with a diameter too close from the one of the military rifle.
therefore values changed and what we call 12 gauge is in fact a 14 gauge
(same story for 4 gauge in England and france .4 gauge is in fact 6 gauge)



Fantastic mass of information! Thank you very much for the detailed story of “gauge” for shotguns. This one is a keeper for the files…



Fantastic mass of information! Thank you very much for the detailed story of “gauge” for shotguns. This one is a keeper for the files…


This is a very very short resume.
In fact story of the shotshells and gauges dimensions is volume 1

Volume 2 and 3 describe Center Fire shotshells
Volume 4 describes Pin Fire shotshells
Volume 5 describes Rim Fire shotshells
Volume 6 describes special shotshells

I am obliged to cut the book in many small volumes because of printing

JP–Are your books currently available or are they still in preparation?

Still in preparation.
Taking more time than I thought.