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.
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.
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.