by Shari LeGate
When I started reloading, there was a huge learning curve. I had no one to learn from, so the instructions and the load data were very important. Good news is, I had no major accidents, just a couple of shot shells that were without powder or shot.
There are many elements to reloading, but one of the most important is proper components. Use incorrect or substandard components and you’ll have a substandard load. We all know the hull is the most important component, but the wad plays a much bigger role than most folks realize.
Using the correct wad brings the shot shell together and makes everything work in sync. The wrong wad can cause inconsistent shot patterns, variance in velocities and a malformed shot shell. All can result in a missed shot.
I’ve used a lot of different wads over the course of my reloading career, and for me, aside from protecting the barrel from the shot, the most important thing from a wad is controlling the build-up of plastic residue in the barrel.
We all know the old joke of how your Skeet barrel became a Trap barrel because of the plastic residue buildup. And when you shoot a lot of shells, which in my case was 500 – 600 a day when training, my barrel would get pretty mucky.
Using a high-grade wad like the MEC wads solved a lot of issues for me. MEC wads use a slicker plastic that doesn’t adhere to the barrel as it travels down the bore. The result: better patterns and less cleaning. And less time spent cleaning the barrel means more time shooting.
When I’m getting ready to shoot a match, I’ll load thousands of shells for practice. The MEC wads have a one-piece column for easier loading, but the coolest thing is the color-coding system. Changing the shot charge weight means making sure you have the right wad for that particular load. MEC had the brilliant idea of color-coding the wads for the different shot weight. White is 1 1/8, Red is 1 oz. and Silver is 7/8 oz., which is my favorite load.
The other cool thing is they have a biodegradable wad for tapered cases in 1 1/8 and 1 oz., in the ecological color of Green. MEC is ecologically conscious going that extra mile to help clubs keep their grounds clean.
Some folks might say a wad is just a wad, the cheaper the better. That’s like having a top of the line car and putting the very lowest grade gasoline in the engine. The end result won’t be pretty. The same applies to a wad. Consistent shot pattern and fixed velocity will improve your shooting and in the long run, help pick up a few extra targets.