Thanks to Adam Scepaniak for sharing this.

One of my employee’s (the same one with the Tacti-COOL belt-fed 9mm AR) solicited the Hornady Reloading Custom Shop to make him a 12 Gauge Brass Shotshell Die and just received it.
Hornady had never made one of these ever before and had to prototype it; request a live round; spent round; and an empty, but primed round from us to assist in developing this die.
It cost him $650.00 for this literally one-of-a-kind die set, and it took Hornady about 4 months to produce which I thought was pretty fast to go from theory to production.
My employee’s name is Carl E. He’s a veteran, and you saw from his last gun that he loves “The Pew Life.”
He’s looking to make some very potent home defense buckshot for obviously home defense and all-around tom-foolery.
I am very curious to see what rounds he makes with these and am curious why brass 12ga is better than your run of the mill plastic shells for reloading?


  • iksnilol

    Brass shells oughta work better for high pressures and box mags.

    • Norman Kowalczyk

      Not to mention that even at “high” pressures for a 12 gauge brass shells should last forever. High initial cost, but lower cost over time.

      • JustAHologram

        Even if you were to really pack in the powder for 3.5″ slugs it should last a good long while

        • AC97

          But your shoulder wouldn’t.

          • JustAHologram

            At that point you’re honestly just trying to make a safari gun

  • TechnoTriticale

    Picks up jaw to ask…

    So how did people reload these prior to this novel development?

    • Anonymoose

      They used to use brass shells for a while before we had ye olde paper shells, although I think the concept of reloading metallic cartridges at home came later.

      • marathag

        I’m sure I had seen some brass hull reloading stuff back in the ’70s, though. can’t recall much, but used Herters shell holders, IIRC for the brass Alcan Hulls. Don’t recall the die maker

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      RCBS makes a set of metallic 12ga dies. $64.99 on midway.

      What I want to know is why on earth someone would pay literally 10X as much for custom dies when they’re already readily available.

      • Dan

        It seems you are being ignored. I wondered that very thing myself. I have seen equipment to reload the old paper hulls too. The only person i know that use old paper hulls and brass cases use blackpowder.

      • Nick

        Reading the reviews on midway make it look like it’s not quite effective at its intended purpose. Perhaps that was the issue.

        Also, it talks about it for “cowboy” action reloading, implying it’s not for use with the longer modern cases.

        • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

          There are no “longer, modern” cases. The only brass cases out there are the magtech ones.

          I mean, I guess you could be reloading some old old old vintage cases, but those are probably worth more as collectibles.

  • Steven

    I love when companies go the extra mile. Everyone knows this took more than $650 bucks worth of time. In this kinds of community, that dedication will win a lot of good will.

  • jestertoo

    Google up 12ga from hell

  • Gunslinger Hobbs

    I work at Hornady, and if I get my way, it won’t be “one of a kind” for much longer 😉

    As for why full brass…my guess is he’s using it in a box magazine like a Saiga or something. Leaving plastic hulls under the spring tension in a box mag causes them to flatten a little bit, creating drag on the sides of the magazine body and improper feeding. Full brass shells would solve that…yet another thing I’m trying to convince the powers that be at work we need to make. My question is where this guy is getting his, because the only full brass shells I’ve found are 2.25″ shells for blackpowder cowboy action loads, and the machined brass slug loads from OATH Ammo, which only come pre-loaded with their crazy expensive solid copper slugs.

    • Sledgecrowbar

      Sourcing parent cases for this was my first thought. If it turned out that, say, .50BMG brass cut down and shaved thinner was the ticket, then I could see this becoming big fast. Specifically for box magazines where it would solve a major issue. I know in my old Mossberg 20-gauge bolt action with a TWO round mag, I have to push the lower shell brass down with something like a flat screwdriver so the rim of the top shell will slide fully back over the upper edge of the brass of the bottom shell. Rimmed ammunition may feed if you stack it carefully, but two-component hulls like those of shotshells will not load without a fight.

    • Data Venia

      During WWI and WWII the paper shells issued with the shotguns were found to have problems. Damp + magazine pressure = bad day. And so Brass Shotshells were produced loaded with 00 Buck. How many? I don’t know it might have been in the book I read on shotguns in the military and I forgot. Who produced them? I’m not sure. The real question, in my mind, is what recipe did they use? What were the interior dimensions? And I haven’t found jack about that. Your question about sourcing brass is probably in the same pile of answers I’ve been looking for (off and on) over the last few years.

    • CeleryFarmer

      “I put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks, not my style at all, but that was what I was aiming for: If they think you’re crude, go technical; if they think you’re technical, go crude. I’m a very technical boy. So I decided to get as crude as possible. These days, thought, you have to be pretty technical before you can even aspire to crudeness. I’d had to turn both those twelve-gauge shells from brass stock, on the lathe, and then load then myself; I’d had to dig up an old microfiche with instructions for hand- loading cartidges; I’d had to build a lever-action press to seat the primers -all very tricky. But I knew they’d work.” — William Gibson, “Johnny Mnemonic”

    • Bierstadt54

      I’ve been wanting to see this tested with box mags for years.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      What makes these different from the RCBS ones currently on the market for 10 times less the cost?

      • Miguel Raton

        These dies go to 11!

    • Stan Darsh

      I would love for Hornady to make a production run of these, even if it was a limited edition. As for brass, Magtech makes brass shotshells for loading and Sportsman’s Guide currently has the best deal at $19.61-$21.79 per box of 25.

      • jonp

        they do indeed and use large pistol primers not 209 shotshell primers. Another great thing cowboy action shooting has brought back to life

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Doesn’t RCBS or Lyman already make one of these? A lot less than $650 too!

    • Nicholas C

      For all brass 12ga shells? I don’t think so.

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        Yes, they do. RCBS. $65 for the die set on Midway. Literally 10X less.

        • Reece Talley

          I went down this road a while back. The brass hulls were made through WWII and the early 60s by Winchester and then Alcan. They are all 2.5″ and use large pistol primers. Custom shells can be had from the RMCC or by turning down and reforming .50 cal BMG rounds. With slugs, you can launch a .733 hard lead slug down a fully rifled barrel using 2.5, 3.0 or 3.5 inch brass, paper or plastic hulls. The accuracy in most guns will be the same. 28 grains of Universal, 21 grains of Unique or 33 grains of Blue Dot and a 750 grain slug all work well with sub 2″ groups at 50 yards. The best hulls for reloading the all brass hulls are made by CHD. For standard slug and shot they are about $300 for a full set of sizer, seater and expander. For custom 12 bore rifle hulls add about $100 and 8 weeks time. The all brass hulls are a bear cat to resize. You will need lots of lube, a cheater bar and a very strong Rock Chucker type O press that is well mounted.

  • iksnilol

    How did people reload shotshells before?

    • Porty1119

      With plastic hulls and a $55 Lee Load-All, I suspect.

  • Tassiebush

    My projection of fantasy is that this guy is developing a flat shooting round ball 12 gauge load at around 2000fps with a very slow twist barrel.

  • Brass is significantly better than plastic for any semi-automatic shotgun where the molten plastic can get into the gas system (i.e. Saigas and the like).

  • Miguel Raton

    OK, 1st off: WTH did he order this from Hornady instead of Lee? It probably could have saved himself $400, had it quicker and since shotguns don’t require high precision, you can’t claim that having it made by Hornady is in any way going to make the completed rounds more “accurate” on target!

    2nd, the U.S. armed forces figured out more than 50 years ago that if you want a semi-auto shotgun to feed reliably in combat, you need metal shells. That’s why the military is still using pump guns, since they’re more reliable than semis given the exigencies of using plastic rounds [which are themselves an order of magnitude more reliable than the old paper hulls!]