I am finally, after literally years of keeping this on the back burner, getting this project underway. It is "just" a longer 3.5" design at 3.85". Why that length? The original wildcat design was a modified .50 BMG case with an added rim. So that's why. Boils down to .700 Nitro Express performance in a shotgun package, for a fraction of the price. I think I'll have < $700 into this total! Inspired by Ed Hubel:
So my plans are to build this on a H&R Ultra Slug Hunter. Since it is still a shotgun, I can hunt with it in Va. among other places.
Reamer. Ordered from Pacific Tool & Gauge. They have prints on file. Patiently waiting for the reamer, and will of course refinish the barrel once I'm done. I plan to add "express sights" since I just can't stand having a scope rail on a shotgun but that's my personal preference.
Slugs. Plans are to use a "big slug" in them, up to 1000 grains. I may need to add a seatbelt to the gun :)
I ordered the mold from accuratemolds.com. I ordered the largest one, .731" in the 985gr weight range. Yep. Ordered the "hollow base nose pour" so I can add my own base plug. One can also use sabots, of course, and "the" sabots that Ed had made up are meant to work with .58 cal Minie slugs. So I can go 500gr or lower with those... in fact I ordered a Lee 500gr .58 cal slug mold just for this project. :)
The mold just happens to fit the Lee handles. I built the base plug (see pic) so that it can be adjusted on the screw to change its height. This way, I can make different weights with the same mold by varying the plug, or making different base plugs. Just so happens the very first base plug I made drops 799gr slugs! Serendipity.
I plan to make some more base plugs. I also plan to make some for the .58 cal Minie slugs, so I should be able to go down to about 400-350gr .58 cal slugs for those sabots.
I slugged these 800gr beauties through the barrel and get good engagement of the rifling grooves, so this should be a very accurate slug. Quenched in water to enhance hardness.
Brass. The brass is made by Rocky Mountain Cartridge company. They are under new management, and I sent them the line drawing of the reamer from Pacific Tool & Gauge. Patiently waited and you can see how nice and shiny the finished product turned out... VERY much worth the wait! :) Not much to say here... I made some rims to convert .50 BMG brass, but this much "factory" brass will last me a lifetime... and it is stamped 12 Ga FH! :) I may crimp them to be fairly tight. That seems to be what others are doing based on Ed's remarks. Plans are to crimp with a "Lee style" crimp arrangement, and Ed said that some have used a collet in a milling machine to give it that final crimp. Which may be what I do.
Powder. Reloader 17 (aka RE17 or RL17) seems to be a good powder to start. Avoiding .50 BMG powder avoids the need for .50 BMG primers. I need to re-read Ed's long thread before I drop powder to make sure I have a good starting load. Standard 209 primers... don't think you need magnums but again need to re-read Ed's discussion since many facts are mentioned in passing. I'll update as I go along.
Wads. Plan to use circlefly.com wads to ensure the powder is properly packed against the primer. This avoids overpressure situations where the primer hits a "void", over-igniting the powder causing pressure spikes.
Dies. I have some vintage Herters 12 gauge reloading dies. I should be able to use these for most of the reloading operation. I can probably hand load these since there are so few rounds to load up... doubt I'll be shooting this much on any given day! :)
That's about it for now. Currently awaiting the reamer, and also the express sights.