Wad Stoppers & Shot Cups

Shot gun shell crimping
Shell crimping before and after firing

Effects on shooting patterns

Shot cup protectors are used in the mechanical process of making the shells. If you take the length of the shell, 2-1/4 Inch, allow for the powder, the ounces of shot you end up with an empty space between the powder and the shot cup. Shell manufactures use different approaches here but the compression to load the shell can compress the shot cup protector as well. Does it affect the consistency of the gun? I don't know. If you do checks on all of this let us know targets.6x6@gmail.com. We want to give the best information out there about how wad stoppers and shot cup protectors effect your turkey shoot pattern. On average the #9 shells have about 660 pellets, a plastic wad shot cup, that makes up the difference in the 12 gauge 2-1/4 inch shell length and 2-3/4 grams of powder to push the shot load. The 2-2-10 ,s have 2 grams of powder, 2 ounces of #10 size shot and no shot protector, only a plastic or fiber wad to compensate for the shell length.

Shell variations and components

  • Federal Top Gun number #9 shells have the cap, powder, and a pedestal, that drops off after pushing the plastic shot protectors load to target.
  • Winchester AA's number #9 shells have the cap, powder, and a pedestal that stays attached to the cup while pushing the plastic shot protectors load target.
  • Wagner Skeet #9 shells have the cap, powder, and a fiber wad to push the plastic shot protector.
  • Wagner 2-2-10 shells have the cap, powder, and a fiber wad with NO shot protector cup.
Close up of 8 Shotgun shells cup petals blooming
Shotgun shell cup petals blooming after firing

Cup petals open differently

At turkey shoots I picked up the shells, shot cup protectors and took pictures showing how cup petals open differently. We don't really know what effect this has on the overall shell pattern or the pattern's movement on your turkey shoot targets. This is why you need to mark and save the wad, target and shell so you can see the effects. Examining and comparing the three together enables you to improve your guns target pattern. Always keep plastic baggies so you can keep the shell, the shot protector cup and target for comparison. You don't need to get mixed up as you get your winning program going.

I have seen the shot cup stuck in the turkey shoot targets center a couple of times. If you notice sometimes the spent shell might have a plastic ring on the outside. A turkey shoot gun that is chambered needs to be tight but not so tight you can't get the shell in the chamber. If its too tight the shell is prevented from opening properly.

After shooting if you look at the cup petals they will have the impression of the pellets. That indicates the wad stoppers are doing their job. They are slowing the load down and tightening the shot pattern.

Improving turkey shooting patterns

There are a few things you can do to improve your turkey shoot patterns with wad stoppers. First, make sure you are using the right size wad stoppers for your shotgun shells. If the wad stoppers are too small, they will not be effective in slowing down the shot. If the wad stoppers are too large, they will not fit in the shell and may cause the shell to malfunction.

Screw in extended choke tubes
Screw in choke tube showing wad stopper and barrel

The wad stoppers slow down the shot. Chokes, cut with specially designed reamers, slow the shot load down in steps of about 5 wad stoppers per choke. Cup protectors hold the pellets, and going through the wad stoppers tightens the shot load before reaching the end of the barrel. The heavy load of shot that the powder pushes out drops after 50 - 60 feet. This very important to remember. You may need to compensate by changing aim or re-patterning your gun depending on the distance to the turkey shoot targets.

A professional barrel builder will want to know your turkey shoot specifications. They will want to know shell shot size, target distance, barrel length and choke restrictions. When placing an order for a barrel or choke tube you really need to be able to provide all this information. Your professional barrel builder can then provide the best solution for your shoot.

Builders many times back bored the chamber where the shell inserts into the receiver. This was done before we went to low brass plastic shells. I think that this not a necessary expenditure if you don't get the same brand shell every time. You may want to have it checked to be sure it handles the plastic shells tight and with enough space to open properly. A ten gun with no wad stoppers will not handle 7 1/2, 8 or #9's in competitive turkey shoots.