Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


More In: Ammunition, Shotguns


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  • hojo

    Wow, that is badass. Any special cleanup procedures after running wax through your shotgun? I’d be curious to see what these do to ballistic gelatin.

    • http://iamtheanimal.com Sean

      On the second video, you’ll see that the barrel was clean…not dirty at all.

  • Mike

    Wax slugs? Those are breaching shells.

  • Arrkhal

    I’ve heard of those, and the “cut shell” technique. Just have to maybe disagree a little about effectiveness. Unless I just wasn’t paying enough attention, he wasn’t 100% clear on whether he considers these adequate for hunting, self-defense, or both.

    I’ll say up front, this guy obviously knows EXACTLY what he’s doing, how these things work, and precisely what they do on target. Impact, maybe 2-3″ penetration, then the “slug” breaks up, creating a fist-sized wound about 6-8″ deep. Definitely lethal.

    But I’m one of those weirdos who just has to insist on 12″ to 18″ penetration, ideally 13″ to 15″, for defensive ammo. A good slug or buckshot will make a hole ALMOST as wide, but twice as deep. A GREAT slug or buckshot load will make a WIDER hole than the wax slug, and still penetrate twice as deep.

    Yes, a wax slug will leave a guy trying to hold his guts in. WHICH guts he’s trying to hold in, determine how long he has to do so. Thus, deeper penetrating ammo is better. Humans are much less uniform than jello, buckets of water, watermelons, etc. Defensive ammo should be adequate for something like a “realistic worst-case” scenario. Let’s say a very large, strong, but also fat guy, who’s high on drugs. If he’s muscular and fat enough, a wax slug would inflict an extremely severe flesh wound, but might take several minutes to actually have much effect, depending on the drugs.

    Wax slugs and cut shells, I’d really hesitate to use on anything larger than a coyote, unless I could get close enough to put the shot exactly where I want. Of course, that’s a luxury you do have with hunting, but not in self defense.

    For defense, I’d go with the “drywall screw through a fishing sinker attaching it to a wad” slug, that he demonstrates in another video. Dirt cheap, perfectly adequate for short range. Just a little less accurate and lower velocity than a commercial slug, and you can only single-feed them. If I for some reason had no access to standard antipersonnel ammo, those would absolutely be my first choice for home defense or whatever.

    Anyway though, like I said, I missed if he was saying the wax slugs are good for hunting, or defense, or both. That’s what determines if I’m disagreeing, or just rambling.

    • cr

      Now what about one of these wax slugs with buckshot?

    • JC

      I wouldn’t take these over factory slugs, but they would be quite useful in a survival situation if you had only birdshot and needed a more effective way to hunt large game and/or for self defense.

  • Lance

    Looks like a budget way of making close range turkey hunting ammo. Its also bio degradable.

  • http://www.corvidsfall.com Ewan

    My father told me that British gamekeepers and country boys were recommended to make some birdshot held with wax rounds in case of a German invasion.

    It does seem like a simple emergency method to reach out there.

  • Matt

    I believe he has another video where he briefly discusses the cleanup issues.

  • Matt

    This is a cool project but what, if any, benefit do wax slugs have over a solid lead slug?

    • Mouse

      I believe that on impact, the slug would penetrate flesh, then disintegrate, casting off and scattering shot inside the target, increasing cavitation. (Needless to say that this would also be a nightmare for any medical personnel attempting to remove the shot…)

  • Komrad

    Someone should show Y-Man how to do this. Have you heard from Y-Man lately Steve?

    • fw226

      That’s what I was just thinking. Last blog post I remember was slug testing.

  • toadold

    Well the story goes that in ye olde days in Sicily, arguments were sometimes ended with a Lurpa, which was a double barrel shot gun with a cut down barrels and stock for purposes of concealment. For loads they would uncrimp a bird shot round and dribble candle wax into it then recrimp. It was for close range use and a gut shot would often be a through and through. The exit wound being rather large. Slugs weren’t that readily available and weren’t that necessary for the application.
    As stated this is a lost art video, it is about making do and improvements on thing people don’t do anymore. If you need slug round and don’t have the casting equipment, the reloading equipment, the money,or the access for a commercial round, with the repackaged wax slugs shown in this video I don’t think you have to worry about under penetration on large game. It would be interesting to see a ballistic channel through gun gelatin, but only that, interesting.

    • Jim

      Lupara, not a Lurpa. Italian is much too beautiful a language to produce a word like “lurpa”. Sounds like a disease.

  • Nick

    I imagine the wax lets you shoot these through a fully choked barrel fairly easily without tearing the slug (or the barrel) apart.

  • Flounder

    It looked to me that there was a coating of wax in the barrel. My 12 gauge barrels only look that nice with a fresh coating of gun oil in them. But I seriously doubt that a lil bit of wax on the inside of your smoothbore is going to be any problem at all. If anything it adds a lil corrosion resistance. But it most likely will come right off if you use a boresnake or really clean the barrel well.

    And I love this idea!!! It essentially is just a way to turn cheap target loads into slugs. Granted these wax slugs are crap compared to any real slugs. But on the other hand I’m thinking about doing this then using these just for practice loads or poping milk jugs on the range with friends. Essentially plinking with slugs! :D

  • the_right_reverend

    Bees wax works better…. as it flys it flattens a bit

    • Woodroez

      I would love to see slow-mo shots in flight and on impact of these things.

      • Joseph Menz

        Check out TEOFLEDERMAUS’s youtube channel. He has a whole play list of wax slug slow-mo stuff. He has another playlist of some pretty crazy stuff like silly putty and wood darts.

  • Zermoid

    Might be a ‘safer’ load for home defense, I’d think the birdshot ‘slug’ would be less likely to penetrate walls in case of a miss, and definitely would not over penetrate after a ‘hit’!

    • Zermoid

      Uhm, BTW, why not just reload an empty shell with this and use a standard crimp? Should feed like normal then.

  • Oswald Bastable

    Just don’t run them through a barrel with any choke.

  • Y-Man

    Y-man here! I’m alive and kicking… I saw this and it is impressive! Like Barry L said: exception 3 hits 6″ group at 100 yards: more realistic for same size group: 6″ at 40 to 50 yards. My groups have always been at a max 40 yards, but I once hit 10″ targets repeatedly at 70 yards.
    I also tried something similar with hot-glue dribbled into paper tubes filled with shot, then inserted into shotshell and re-crimped. Never fired any though. Maybe I should.
    I have been working on round ball slugs recently, and I think I’m getting there: just no chance to do any real testing: elections just ended here in Nigeria, there’s still so much security tension here, and recently, a gang of brigands in the north have claimed to be “Islamic terrorists”, mostly dismissed, but have carried out some suicide bombings (Google: UN building Abuja, Boko Haram bombing.)

    So no ammo available, too much tension to go shooting (Ranges closed) but I will have a video and guest post out soon.

    • fw226

      Glad to hear from you! Be good to see your next post. Stay safe… and good luck with the ammo work!

  • Steve Brooks

    My family has had a tradition of scoring 12 gauge birdshot shells about 3/4″ from the end so they fire as a slug. These wax slugs remind me a lot of that.

    • http://twitter.com/EricHuston Eric Huston

      Very similar in concept to a cut shell. Except that you’re not raising the pressure by forcing the hull down the barrel too. They both will behave like breaching load on impact.

  • Brad

    I am extremely doubtful the wax leaves behind any residue inside the barrel. Odds are any wax that is scraped off the projectile is instantly vaporized by the burning propellant gases and exhausted out the muzzle.

    If wax buildup truly was an issue the first place to look would be on the exterior of the muzzle. Vaporized wax might condense into a solid deposit on the muzzle surface. If you see any wax there, then you might begin to worry about wax on the bore surface.

  • Flashman

    Ewan:
    Agreed. My Old Man also told me about this modification to standard shotgun cartridges when Britain was alone in 1940-1. The purpose was to produce a short-range slug out of everyday birdshot cartridges.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/buildyourstuff/ Edgar Castelo

    Just gotta love these Videos! =D

  • Dean

    Interesting video.

    I wonder if you could use a cigar cutter for removing the ring and possibly a funnel for filling the shells.

  • http://castboolits ted

    are you raising pressure by the weight of wax?

    • tristan

      No you are not by adding wax you usually wind up replacing shot making the slug weigh less than an ounce usually actually reducing pressure.

  • Jack Kardic

    I made about 30 of these and I’ve been very impressed. My main shotgun is a Mossberg 835 with 28″ barrel and I was getting 6-8″ groups at 60m with a modified choke. As far as penetration, I haven’t done a gel or clay test, but did simulate a fairly sturdy wall. I had 5/8″ plywood and six inches behind that I placed 1″ particle board, and six inches past that was 5/8″ drywall. Quarter sized hole in the plywood with a lot of spalling, more than I’ve seen with most rifles. The particle board had a fairly even 6″ hole through it, and the drywall was thoroughly embedded with fragments of both other walls and birdshot. There was no noticeable wax buildup after 32 shells. The base shell was the cheap Federal multi-purpose loads from Wal-Mart.

  • Boom

    I made some of these this past weekend using 7 1/2shot 2 2/4″ heavy target loads and 1 1/4oz shot 3″ waterfowl loads. Trying a variety of mixes with the shot I found a mix of the large and small shot in the 2 3/4″ shell to work the best far as penetration and damage. We where shooting them at an old computer with a wooden 2X4 wall with a 1/8″steel plate on it behind it. the shots ripped through the computer and did massive damage to the steel plate and wall behind it.

  • http://www.youtube.com js

    watch more wax slug videos on youtube, they dont foul out your gun, no wax residue, the reason for them is to take a 5.00 box of light bird shot and make a devastating slug out of them for cheap, you can get crayons free at any restaurant when you have children, that is all you need, buy on youtube uses a lamp to melt the crayons, it is a very inexpensive way to make a devastating round.

  • andy

    Has anyone figured out a way of making these so that they can be cycled rather than just a single shot round? there has to be another method or something. i love this idea but i want to be able to fill the whole magazine. i cycle some that i made through my pardner 20 gauge and i didnt have a problem. a little bit of loose wax. how much of a risk am i running doing that?

    • http://www.ithappensinalabama.com/ Janet Kynard

      Absolutely. The ends must be smooth – No shot hanging out the top. When you refill, leave room for a solid wax top. Only put the shot mixture up to about 1/8 inch from the top and fill the remaing space with solid wax. This will prevent a shot from possibly seeting off the shell in front of it in a tube magazine.

  • Sam Suggs

    I made them they cycled in my semi auto

  • chris

    do i need a rifled barrel