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Many of you will remember lead being removed from petrol back in 1986 in the UK, if you are too young to remember then you’re a lucky swine. Anyway, lead was removed due to evidence suggesting that lead poisoning had a link to reduced cognitive performance in humans amongst other things. Why was lead (actually tetraethyl lead) added to petrol in the first place? In the form used in petrol, tetraethyl lead acted as a lubricant to stop the valves welding themselves to the engine block/head at very hot temperatures. Many argued that lead in petrol was completely fine and didn’t need banning, however the inventor of tetraethyl lead (Thomas Midgley) spent 7 months recovering from lead poisoning in 1920’s. You draw your own conclusion to that.
So, what does this have to do with guns or as the title of this post suggests, wads in a shotgun cartridge? Well anyone on a hot peg will know your barrels get so hot that you cannot touch them. Gun barrels were always designed for use with paper cartridges, fibre wads and a malleable projectile – LEAD. So, however hot your barrels get, they continue to work as they were meant to. Yes, plastic wads have been around for donkeys years and work well (especially with lead), however in recent years the need for a biodegradable wad to meet the increased legislative requirements is needed. That is where the problem begins, it is no longer a cylindrical piece of plastic that pushes a malleable projectile. The projectiles have changed to materials that are very hard and not at all malleable (Steel, Tungsten etc), therefore the wads now have to be cupped in attempt to protect your barrels from the projectile. Not only that, the pressure with some cartridges are much greater to push an inferior (to lead) projectile at the velocities required to achieve lead like results.
The problem is how some wads behave when your barrels get hot, the wads themselves start to melt and deposits build up in the barrel. This creates an obstruction in the barrel or at the very least increased friction. Friction equates to increased heat, so the problem increases the more you shoot. This is simple physics but if you introduce any obstruction in a barrel, it can and sometimes does fail, it will bulge, rivel, dent and/or split. The risk of that is exacerbated with the increased pressures generated in some cartridges as mentioned above.
We’ve seen a lot of evidence first hand ourselves, even in modern guns made with high chrome steel barrels. Don’t take our word for it? Well there is plenty on the internet forums that you can google for yourself. I was chatting to a client from Denmark on Monday at Holts Auctioneers, he has 50 guns that have all been damaged beyond repair due to the reasons I explain above, melting wads with hard projectiles. Now while I’m happy to accept the work to sleeve 50 guns, I’m pretty sure the customers who own those guns would rather the problem not have occurred in the first place. Another client witnessed his guns being cleaned with boiling water to remove the deposits, how on earth is that in anyway right?
This is exactly why, we at Horton & Sons invented Hortonium, It has the same characteristics as lead which means you can load the shot like any lead cartridge on the market today (paper case, fibre wad etc). You as the shooter can shoot it through any choke you wish and it can be pushed at speeds identical to high velocity lead and it won’t break up unlike some current alternatives. No need to boil your barrels, no more barrel damage caused by daft wads housing hard projectiles and you definitely don’t need a gun that is steel proofed. We’re in the process of getting all the international patents lined up and samples are going to all the major cartridge manufacturers in January. Manufacturing for the shot will be ready by end of March 2024 in the UK, manufacturing for shot, wire and billet will be ready in the US in September 2024. It gives you the shooter more choice and is clearly safer for your gun.
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