Whether you’re an avid hunter, clay shooter, skeet shooting enthusiast, or just interested in home defense, you need the right shotgun ammo to get the job done. Reloaders know that hand-loading is the best way to save money on highly accurate and dependable ammunition. At Powder Valley, shotgun powder is a big part of our business, and we often get asked about which brand and formula is best. Of course, there’s no one definitive answer; a lot depends on the type of load you’re shooting. That being said, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the best shotgun powders on the market.

What Makes a Great Shotgun Powder?

First and foremost, shotgun powder needs to be quick-burning, similar to pistol powder. Rifle powder burns slowly to build up optimum pressure while accelerating the bullet down the barrel. Shotguns use a quick explosion to propel a load or projectile toward its target. This means shotguns are less accurate than rifles at distance, but they’re perfect for hunting fast moving prey at relatively short distances because of the spread of the shot.

In addition to being fast-burning, shotgun powder needs to have all of the other properties of premium smokeless powder. It should be clean-burning, temperature insensitive, dependable, and easy to measure. Here are some of our choices for best all-around shotgun powder:

Hodgdon Universal Clays

Hodgdon Universal Clays, or “Universal” for short, has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most adaptable powders on the market. Designed for 28-gauge shotguns, it’s also a solid choice for 20, 16, and even 12-gauge shooters. Universal is praised for its shot-to-shot consistency and is fairly easy to measure.

Alliant Unique

Along with Universal, Alliant Unique powder deserves a mention near the top of the list. It’s great for 28- through 12-gauge shotguns, though it really shines with heavier loads. Like Universal, it’s ideal for the most common pistol calibers, so if you’re looking to reload multiple shotgun gauges and produce some handgun ammo as well, Unique will be up to the task.

An upgraded formula makes Unique a very clean-burning powder too, which will save you time and effort when it’s time to clean your shotgun.

Alliant Red Dot & Green Dot

Alliant Red Dot and Green Dot powders also make excellent shotgun reloading powder. Red Dot burns quicker and has a little bit more recoil than Green Dot. Most shooters prefer Red Dot for lighter loads, and Green Dot for heavier loads.

Since Red Dot has a faster burn rate, you’ll need less of it to build up pressure, which means you’ll get more rounds per pound.

IMR Hi-Skor 700X

Great for 12- and 16-gauge shotguns, Hi-Skor 700X from IMR is also very popular with pistol reloaders. If you’re first a pistol shooter, and second a shotgun shooter, this might be the powder you want to stock up on.

Find the Right Powder Online

If you’re looking for the biggest selection of reloading shotgun powder, shop online at Powder Valley. Resupply with your favorite powder, or try something new. We carry many of the industry’s most trusted brands, and offer shipping at the lowest possible prices.

When you’re considering where to buy reloading supplies, you need to take into account three main variables:

  • Speed of delivery
  • Price
  • Selection

If you need your gear and components today, your best bet will probably be a local gun or sporting goods store. If you’re willing to wait a few days or more for your supplies to be delivered, you can save money and have access to a larger selection by shopping online. Companies like Powder Valley have large selections of the highest quality cases, bullets, powder, and primers from all the leading manufacturers and ship promptly across the United States.

Experienced reloaders usually choose to buy their supplies in bulk and online.

Get Started with the Right Gear

From cleaning brass to seating bullets, you’ll need the right reloading gear and supplies to get started. Brick and mortar stores may not carry a large range of reloading tools and components, so it makes sense to turn to the internet for your die sets, collets, bushings, and more.

The More Choices, The Better

Once you have the right gear to produce your own ammunition, you’ll need to stock up on components. Cleaning used brass is a great way to save on money, but many competitive match shooters prefer to use new brass. Every major online retailer is going to have reloading brass for sale; it’s just a matter of finding the type you want at the right price.

Whether you’re mass-producing plinking ammo or loading up for a competition, you’ll find a wide variety of bullets online. Don’t forget about primers either. Fast, consistent ignition is a key part of the firing process and can make all the difference when it comes to hitting your target. Buying primers online will also save you a lot of money in the long run, too. Shop primers for sale from leading brands, and make sure every trigger pull counts.

Finally, your propellant is extremely important. Most reloaders have already settled on a favorite brand, but if you’re looking for something new, you’ll have plenty of options when you shop for powder online. Browse powder from top brands like Hodgdon, Alliant, IMR, VihtaVuori, and more, and find the perfect powder for your ammo.

Low Prices Make a Difference

There are two main reasons people get into reloading. One, they want maximum control over every detail of their ammunition. Two, they want high-performance ammo at an affordable price. When you buy your gear and components online at Powder Valley, you can be sure you’re getting premium products at the lowest prices. Browse our massive selection today.


*The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Powder Valley, as this article was written in collaboration with an external research partner.

Powder Valley is pleased to announce that the Hornady 6mm ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) is being released for commercial sale. Originally developed for the Department of Defense for the AR-15 platform, 6mm ARC ammunition and reloading components promise the highest level of performance in the field or at the range. Whether you’re a match shooter, a varmint hunter, or concerned with personal protection, you’ll find these cartridges offer the perfect combination of consistency, shootability, and power. Known for accuracy and low recoil, the 6mm ARC is a versatile match not only for the AR-15 but also short or micro action bolt guns.

Here’s a breakdown of the commercially-available ARC 6mm line from Hornady.

6mm ARC Ammunition

Hornady offers three product lines for 6mm ARC ammunition. Though they’re all excellent all-around cartridges, each is designed with a specific use in mind:

  • 6mm ARC 108gr ELD® Match™ Ammunition: Premium match shooting rounds. Extremely Low Drag Match ammo is engineered for accuracy, they feature a patented HeatShield tip, and are manufactured with stringent quality control to ensure consistency with every trigger pull.
  • 6mm ARC 105gr BTHP Match™ Black™ Ammunition: These 105 grain boat tail hollow point rounds are optimized for personal defense. Proudly made in the USA, they offer low recoil and impressive stopping power.
  • 6mm ARC 103 gr ELD-X® Precision Hunter® Ammunition: Available in the fall of 2020, these Extremely Low Drag match-accurate hunting bullets provide devastating terminal performance at conventional and extended (400+ yard) ranges. Heat Shield® tip technology provides advanced aerodynamic efficiency.

6mm ARC Brass

Reloaders know how important high-quality brass is to the overall performance of your ammunition. If you’re looking for AR-15 reloading supplies, Hornady 6mm ARC Unprimed Brass Cases should be high on the list of must-have components. Hornady 6mm ARC brass are produced in small lots to meet strict quality standards. High concentricity and uniform wall thickness mean consistent pressures, velocity, and accuracy.

6mm ARC Bullets

Bullets from the above ammunition selection are also sold as individual components. This lets you customize the performance of the Hornady advanced rifle cartridge by using a different type of powder or primers. It’s also a great way to save money if you like the performance of Hornady ammunition. Here’s a breakdown of the bullet selection.

Die Sets

The gear you use to assemble your ammunition is almost as important as the reloading components you choose. The Hornady Series III Two-Die 6mm ARC Die Set (.243) is designed to make spindle adjustments a breeze, and won’t wear out, even with a lifetime of normal use. Produce your own ammo that meets your exact needs with die sets from Hornady. Powder Valley is your destination for Hornady 6mm ARC cartridge reloading components, and ready to fire ammunition. Shop the full Hornady line at the lowest possible prices today.


*The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Powder Valley, as this article was written in collaboration with an external research partner.