WHAT'S IN A NAME?
"I was wondering what the difference is between 'Classic' and 'Premium' steel shotgun shells. Assuming that they are all 3-inch shells, No. 2 shot and 11/4 ounces of shot, what's the big difference? Also, are brass- or copper-coated pellets really necessary?" - Jay Lang Brainerd, Minnesota
"Classic" and "Premium" refer to two of Federal's lines of shotshell ammo. The "Classic" is less expensive because of less expensive components. The "Premium" line utilizes more effective wads and rounder, more consistent shot sizes, as well as copper-plated shot. If individual shot pellets are not perfectly round they tend to quickly fly out of the pattern. Consequently, you will obtain slightly tighter long-range patterns with the more expensive, rounder shot.
You also asked about brass- and copper-coated shot. No shot is brass-coated. The primary use of copper coating on steel shot is to help prevent the shot from rusting. On more malleable lead shot, however, the coating helps improve ballistic affects, such as penetration. Shotshells with higher muzzle velocities tend to have more down-range velocity, and, thus, more killing power, all else being equal. Admittedly, the variety of shotshells that we have—steel, lead and otherwise—can be a bit confusing, but the many choices are also a good thing.—Nick Sisley
CONVERSION IS RISKY BUSINESS
"I am planning to convert my Italian-made .44 Rem. Mag. revolver 1858 made by FLLI Pietta to shoot metallic cartridges in .45 Long Colt. I have tried to locate .45 Long Colt blackpowder reloading data, but have been unsuccessful. Can you help me find information for reloading this caliber?" - Emmett Smith, Wahiawa, Hawaii
What you are considering doing to your gun is very dangerous. Your revolver was not built to shoot the cartridges that you are talking about, and trying to convert it could have disastrous results. If you want a .45 Colt chambered revolver, there are several offered.
A few for you to consider are manufactured by Cimarron Arms in Fredericksburg, Texas ((877) SIX-GUN1). This company offers replicas manufactured in almost any style that you might consider, and at fair prices.—Hal Swiggett
THE HARD WAY TO SMOOTH STOCKS
"Some years ago, I recall the GIs laboring over their gunstocks with linseed oil and rubbing them with rib bones to preserve the wood. It was a long and tedious process, but effective. What can you tell me about this method?" - Larry MacMillan Jr., Tucson, Arizona
The process that you witnessed is called "boning." It pre-dates World War II by 100 years or so. Its purpose was to gently compress the wood. The process smoothes the wood's surface so that it looks and feels smoother. Modern processing and plastic finishes have pretty much done away with the traditional "boning" method.—Bill Hanus
SOLUTIONS FOR ERRATIC SHOOTING
"I have a .54 caliber Knight in-line muzzleloader equipped with a Pro-Point red-dot sight. When I attempted to sight it in this past season, I found that the shots were erratic. What can I do to prevent this frustrating problem? I use sabots made by Hornady with Pyrodex RS powder and haven't had a problem before." - Robert Martin, Greenville, Mississippi
The first thing that I would look at is the possibility that you might have started flinching. A .54 caliber muzzleloader generates some pretty stiff recoil, and anybody can develop a flinch at any time as a result. Have other experienced shooters try the gun to see if it shoots the same way for them. After that, check for loose screws holding the Pro-Point and its base mount in place.
Also, check for loose screws holding the stock to the rifle. If nothing is found, try replacing the Pro-Point to see if something has become loose inside.
If the problem persists, try switching to a different sabot and bullet. For best accuracy with sabot bullets, you should clean between shots.—Bryce Towsley