American Select Powder
& Claybuster's Lightning Wad

by: Tom Armbrust
Posted: 05/26/2006

In this article I would like to cover a couple of fairly new products available to the clay target shooter.   One is Alliant Powder's new American Select and Claybuster's Lightning wad.

It seems a keen interest has been sparked since the great price reduction announcement regarding the Remington 90-T single barrel trap shotgun.   Many trap shooters have purchased these shotguns, as rumors say this shotgun is out of production.   Doug Braker, of Kolar, told me they have ceased production after approximately 3600 shotguns at Remington's request.   Dave Ennis, owner of Darien Sporting Goods, N2669 Hwy 14, Darien, WI 53114, phone 262-724-3433, was kind enough to loan me a Remington 90-T shotgun for load development work, and pattern evaluation in regards to the American Select powder and Lightning wad.   Darien Sporting Goods has a fine selection of new and used shot guns for the clay target shooter and hunter, plus rifles and handguns.   They also carry an extensive line of reloading components and clothing for the shooter.   Dave Ennis is also an avid trap shooter with many trap shooting awards to his credit.   He and his wife, Mary, put many hours of hard work into their club which is right on the grounds at Darien Sporting Goods, utilizing four traps for singles, doubles, and handicap events.   This is a very active establishment with league shoots and registered events, throwing over 700,000 targets for 1997.   In 2000 and 2001 this very active trap club has thrown just over one million clay targets.   Plus the top number of registered targets over 400,000 for six years in a row!   Not bad for a small town trap club.   If you are traveling through south eastern Wisconsin, drop in and shoot a few rounds of trap at their club.   I think you will enjoy the friendly and laid back atmosphere as much as I do!   The Remington 90-T single barrel trap gun I used for pattern testing weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces with its 34 inch barrel.   Its weight is kind of a blessing, as felt recoil with heavy 3 dram target loads pushing 1-1/8 oz of shot is almost nil.   This is a big plus for the recoil sensitive target shooter.   Inside barrel bore dimensions ran .746, so the barrel is definitely backbored over the old .729 standard.   A long well polished forcing cone, bore, and choke with .030 constriction, translates into a light full choke terminology.   The chokes overall length ran 1.650 with a parallel section length of .550. This shotgun had a Monte Carlo stock with a drop of 1-5/16" at the comb.   This stock and forend wood was pleasing to the eye with its rich fiddle back grain structure and satin finish.

Pattern placement with this test gun at 35 and 40 yards resulted in the shot charge point of impact running almost a full pattern high or 90/10 above the aiming dot and about 3" right for this shooter.   A handicap trap shooter with quick shooting reflexes on fast climbing clay targets should do well with this type of high 90/10 pattern placement.   I realize the average trap shooter may not have the time nor the patience to pattern test his or her shotgun, counting hundreds of pellets contained in a thirty inch circle.   Then determine what velocity level, shot size, wad type, or brand of ammo seem to pattern best in their gun's choke.   Yet just as important, is your shotgun's point of impact or in other words, determine if your shotgun is shooting where you are looking.   How do we do this, you may ask?   I made an adjustable standing bench rest that I can lay my shotgun barrel onto standing fully erect, taking careful aim and superimposing my shotgun's beads into a Figure 8.   Holding perfectly steady on an orange one inch rifle dot pasted onto a forty-eight square of white paper at 40 yards distance.

In this way all human error is taken out..   When shooting a pattern offhand, no more waving or pulling the gun barrel off your point of aim just as you squeeze the trigger.   Then and only then can a shooter determine if the shotgun is shooting high, low, left, or right of your center hold.   Shoot a number of rounds at 32 to 40 yards and then circle the densest portion of the shot charge within the thirty inch circle.   You will now know where your shotgun is shooting.   If the point of impact is not what is desired, you may want your gun stock to be altered in height or cast, or both by a competent gunsmith.   An adjustable gun stock makes a lot of sense just for this reason to fine tune your shotcharge point of impact to fit the individual shooters special needs.   Shooters remember a very important point.   If your shotgun is not shooting where you are looking, it will cost you targets!   Contact Larry Wehinger for Custom Stock Work and Adjustable Stocks at, W 4259 Theiler Road, Monroe, WI 53566, phone 608-328-4339.

I would also like to thank Doug Braker of Kolar Arms (1925 Roosevelt Avenue, Racine, WI 53406, phone 262-554-0800) for taking the time from his busy work schedule to personally drop down the comb height on my 90-T Remington shotgun.   After each 1/32" of wood removal, Doug and I would go test fire the shotgun checking its point of impact reduction, from a 90/10 impact to a more flat shooting 70/30 impact.   This resulted in the removal of about 3/32" of wood off the comb.   A perfect fit for my style of shooting target acquisition, and timing for a perfectly centered target.   The all important custom fitting of my stock paid off great dividends towards my scores.   Now my targets were mostly balls of smoke from the 16 yard line, instead of the chippy hits before the proper stock fitting to place.   My handicap scores really improved.   First time out I broke a 49 x 50 from the 25 yard line.   Kolar Arms performs many other services for shotgunners, such as custom stock work, adjustable stocks, stock bending for proper cast, barrel backboring, forcing cones lengthened, choke work, blueing, porting, release triggers, wood refinishing, and custom engraving.

Doug saved the best for last, unveiling their Kolar competition 0/U shotgun, available in skeet, sporting clays, and trap models.   These shotguns are designed for the most discriminating competitive shooters.   All Kolar guns may be ordered with a full range of options, including porting, release triggers, custom dimension and upgraded stocks.   All skeet and sporting guns are available with Kolarlite AAA tube sets, to optimize competition in 20 GA, 28 GA, and 410 bore sub-gauge events.   I think what impressed me the most with the Kolar people was the great pride they take in their work; really making the clay target shooter, their customer, feel special, a rare treat in this world today!   The blending of old world craftsmanship together with state of the art ultra modern equipment, making a most elegant Kolar competition shotgun.   Also the custom engraving and inlay work, plus beautiful French walnut stocks with exquisite wood grain, checkering and durable, pleasing to the eye stock finishing was a treat for me to say the least.

The folks at C & D Special Products, 309 Sequoya Drive, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, phone 800-922-6287, were kind enough to send me samples of their new Claybuster 12 GA Lightning wad, Model CB 4100-12.   Capacity of this wad is designed for 7/8 oz and 1 oz target loads.   Looking through the extensive loading data provided with these wads, Winchester, Federal, and Remington hulls are covered, plus their respective primers.   Velocity levels with 7/8 oz shotcharges run from 1200 FPS to 1325 FPS, 1 oz velocities run from 1150 FPS to 1290 FPS.   A brief description of the wad and some of its dimensions are in order.   A ten round sample of these wads were put on my Denver instruments electronic scale for an average weight of 36.1 GR, with an extreme variation of 0.4 GR, very good consistency in my book.   Overall length on my calipers measured 1.765. The outside diameter of the gas seal cup measured .705. Total collapsible cushion section length ran .795.   The shotcup, instead of having the normal four slit configuration, has eight slits with a leaf thickness of .020, and a shotcup height of .780.

No problems were encountered regarding this wad during cold weather shooting with temperatures down into the twenties.   No off sounding or squib reports due to improper gas seal in the Remington 90T backbored barrel, with an interior bore size of .746.   Sixteen yard clay targets and mid range handicap targets were broke with authority with the following reload:

Hull: 12 GA 2-3/4" Winchester AA
Primer: Win - 209
Powder: 19 GR Alliant American Select
Wad: Claybuster CB 4100-12
Shot: 1 oz 8 lead Mag (410 pellets)
Volocity: 1,200 FPS
Pressure: 8,500 PSI

A second reload that performed very well was-see pattern data results in text.

Hull: 12 GA 2-3/4" Winchester AA
Primer: Win - 209
Powder: 18 GR Alliant American Select
Wad: Blueduster GT 9118-12
Shot: 1-1/8 oz 7-1/2 lead Mag (372 pellets)
Volocity: 1,145 FPS
Pressure: 9,400 PSI

This above reload patterned 80.3 percent at 35 yards averaging 329.6 pellet hits in the thirty inch circle.   The twenty inch core caught 215.6 hits for a 52.5 percent average.   The annular five inch ring contained 114 pellet hits for a 27.8 percent average.   Even under the adverse cold weather shooting conditions the single base American Select powder in conjunction with this Claybuster Lightning wad performed very well indeed Pattern results would have averaged at least 5 percent higher at a more normal temperature of seventy degrees.   All things considered the Remington 90-T trap gun teamed with Alliant American Select powder, and the Claybuster Lightning wad all performed very well together.

Alliant states it very well in their following news release:

With New American Select Powder, It's Tougher for a Clay Pigeon to get Through Your Pattern.

"How can your powder affect your pattern?   Alliant Powder's ballistics research has demonstrated if it has a fast burn rate and quick pressure rise, it can compress the shot and give you flattened and deformed pellets..   And any shooter knows out-of-round, irregular pellets mean irregular patterns.   New American Select is formulated to yield a slower pressure rise and clean burn..   There is a controlled, instead of sudden, compression of the wad, so you get less shot deformation, tighter patterns and more broken birds.

There's another side benefit of American Select's burn rate, too-less felt recoil.   It's more like a push than a punch, so at the end of a long day, you'll be ready for those late shoot-offs.

The chemical composition, density, shape and size of American Select are all engineered to produce the "right" burn rate and pressure rise for better patterns and better scores.   American Select has been thoroughly tested in combination with a variety of wads, primers and hulls.

American Select is the cleanest-burning powder we've ever made.   And it may be the biggest news in smokeless powder since Red Dot was introduced in 1932.   When chemists and ballistic researchers get excited about a new powder, it tends to get our attention.

We know there is often resistance to the new and different when it comes to powders and loads, because target shooting is a game of absolute, constant predictability.   With some other powder brands we've tested, especially imports, we've found that performance varies from lot to lot and month to month.

With American Select you can count on the same consistency - the same repeatable performance you've come to expect from Alliant's other powders.   Properly stored lots of Red Dot powder manufactured in the 1930's will still perform to the same standards they did the day they were produced.   And we constantly test the performance of our powders so we can live up to the reputation for consistency we've had for nearly a century.

The powder in your shotshells is not a commodity, it's one of the most important components in target shooting.   Better patterns and better scores start with today's powder, new American Select."

Putting a Mec #30 bushing into my Mec chargebar and inserting it into my Mec 12 GA Sizemaster press, I checked the charge weight drops of American Select powder as follows:   for a ten round sample average of 18.8 GR, with an extreme variation of just 0.3 GR, very close to the Mec bushing chart listing 19 GR. Always check your powder charges and shotcharges on an accurate scale before reloading.   Contact Dave Kern, Mayville Engineering Co., Inc., 715 South Street, Mayville, WI 53050, phone 920-387-4500 ext 6449 for an updated bushing chart listing American Select Powder.

Mr. Quesenberry told me Red Dot and Green Dot powders will have a cleaner burning characteristic and their lot to lot production will be held to very exacting tolerances.   Alliant has also announced a new powder designed for reloading heavy loads of steel shot at high velocity called Steel.   This is really the first real steel shot powder designed for the serious reloader and wildfowl hunter in mind.

Pete Jackson, director of sales and marketing for Alliant, said, "The new powder called Steel, will offer waterfowl hunters a reloading propellant that is especially efficient, provides high performance and is clean burning in their steel shot shell reloads.   In addition to its clean burning feature, Steel is designed to produce extra energy with a controlled time pressure rise allowing for greater velocities in steel shot reloads.   Published reloading data by Alliant shows 12 GA 2-3/4", 1 oz steel loads at a velocity of 1619 FPS; 12 GA 3", 1-1/8 oz Steel data at 1578 FPS; and 1-1/4 oz steel loads at 1455 FPS.   These ultra high velocity levels are impossible to achieve with any other canister powder on the market at this time, at least at a safe pressure level.   I will cover this pwoder in detail with reloading data in an upcoming article in Trap & Field.

Dick Quesenberry of Alliant told me he is a wildcat precision rifle shooter from way back.   He also very much enjoys busting clays at trap, skeet, and sporting events.   To help educate his fellow shooters with the sometimes complicated and vast array of reloading component selections, Dick puts on reloading seminars throughout the country at various gun clubs.   A better understanding of the mechanics and ballistics of reloading will help shooters develop high performance target and hunting shotshell reloads, to better and safely enjoy their past time.   Dick takes a genuine keen interest in the shooters using Alliant powders.

The latest technology and some of the best of today's powders will have a new home address-contact Mr. Dick Quesenberry, Alliant Powder (New River Energetics, Route 114, PO Box 6, Radford, VA 24141-0096, USA, phone 540-639-5803).   Good luck with these new shotshell components!

Copyight @ Tom Armbrust, USA 2006
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