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  1. #1
    Beginner DOTN_Will's Avatar
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    Cartridge Choice

    Hi all,

    I'm tying to find a cartridge to use for the small amount of game shooting I will be doing (bit of rough and driven), and I'm not sure what I should be going for. From my research already (shootinguk website) it seems I should go with 30gm/#6's or 32gm/#5's which seems simple enough however I am confused between the various types. My shotgun currently has 1/2 and 1/4 chokes which I wasn't planning on messing around with. There seems to be a lot of different cartridge models. What is the difference between Pigeon, Pheasant, High Pheasant (plus other manufacturers than Hull) etc. cartridges? Also, how do people know what to go for?

    Cheers,

    Will

  2. #2
    Veteran neutron619's Avatar
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    Most people buy either what's cheapest, or what's newest, or what's got the prettiest packaging. From that point of view, it doesn't appear to matter a great deal, since most folk come home reasonably satisfied that they've had a good day out. All modern cartridges - British, American, Italian - are basically good and you shouldn't have to worry that you're going to get any misfires, welded shot or the sorts of problems that plagued "cheap" cartridges 50 years ago.
    .
    Furthermore, the 12 gauge just isn't a marginal gun for game shooting. The "traditional" game load was either 1 1/16oz (30g) or 1 1/8oz (32g) and although #6 an #5 were considered generally appropriate for pheasant, people used #7 and #4 as well, and occasionally even smaller / larger, according to preference. All would have been broadly satisfactory, with particular "effects" at the extremes of that range of sizes.
    .
    If you don't go any further than you already have, you'll do fine. It would be best to identify a couple of candidate cartridges and pattern them, but as I said - most people don't bother. I don't have time to write up lots more at this point - I can add more later if you're interested - but broadly:
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    • For open chokes, #6 is probably a better bet than #5.
    • If you aren't sensitive to recoil, get something with 32g/#6 in it. If you are, 26g or even 24g patterning well will bring birds down all day.
    • Again, with reference to the recoil, don't be blindsided by copper-coated pellets, super fast velocities or any of the ******** that manufacturers use to sell cartridges. You'll do better (and feel a lot less sore) shooting heavy loads of good shot at moderate (i.e. 1250fps) velocity rather than getting beaten up shooting something a bit lighter at high velocity (i.e. 1500fps).
    • If you're looking at websites for options, avoid JustCartridges and go to the manufacturers' sites. Compare Eley VIP and Eley Hi Flyer for an example of the above. The Hi Flyer is the better, cheaper cartridge.
    • As for "pigeon"/"pheasant" - not much difference except the premium when it's not "pigeon"; after that, patterning is the only way to tell whether one is better than the other.

    .
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  3. #3
    Veteran ROBERT6500's Avatar
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    Personally I only use Hull Imperials these days, generally 30g 5+6s as they will kill any bird that I know for sure I can hit and hit hard. It's nothing to do with me being sponsored at all, they are just excellent with very low recoil for a game cartridge which is paramount for me personally. I get given boxes and even slabs (250) cartridges regularly to try out and over the last 3 years now I have notice that my kill ratio drops some what if I use anything else. I've been known to hit around 20 birds in a row without missing and then put two different cartridges in and miss the next two, but then put two more Hull Imperials in and hit the next two. I do try lots of different cartridges and some I like and some I really hate but if i'm serious about shooting I just won't use anything else at all frankly. Just ask anyone who has shot game with me.
    They are not that cheap though to be honest but if you are not shooting too much game then well worth the money.
    However if you are on a tight budget like so many are then don't bother with game cartridges at all, just buy some 30-32g 6s Pigeon cartridges as its actually as near as possible the same thing but far cheaper. And there are a few manufactures out there that make clay cartridges with 6 size shot in them mainly for difficult FITASC targets. Might be worth a box or two.
    Last edited by ROBERT6500; 08-Oct-2017 at 10:59 AM.
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  4. #4
    Veteran neutron619's Avatar
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    All I'd add on the above is that higher velocities tend to suit open chokes better and warn you again not to buy into any of the "hype" used to sell cartridges these days.
    .
    I've never used the Imperials, but if Rob says they're good, that's a recommendation worth having. They're advertised as being "fast" but Hull do tend to keep a lid on velocities more than the other makes (e.g. Gamebore) and they do tend to make a good cartridge. I've been testing their High Pheasant cartridge in .410 lately and they are impressively good, albeit, in the wrong shot size.
    .
    I liked Eley Hi Flyer as I've said. I have also used some of the new Gamebore "Regal Game" in a 20 gauge I picked up recently and they are intimidatingly good. Worth trying a box to see if the recoil is OK, certainly. There is an article here:
    .
    http://www.smallboreshotguns.com/discoveries-results/
    .
    with a picture of a 40-yard pattern of the Regals that exceeded what you'd usually expect from a half-choked barrel by about 20%, which is exceptional performance. (Clue: the shot is really, really hard.) I think I'd buy them again if I was going to use a 20 gauge regularly, or if I didn't reload for my 16, or... What I mean is I'll find and excuse to try some more at some point.
    .
    As far as "hype" goes, think always of Edward VII. If he could shoot 900 bird days with a pair/trio of Damascus-barrelled guns shooting 36g of #6, propelled by 3 drams of black powder, giving 1050fps at the muzzle and still turn in a good performance then, lets be honest - most of what's been done in the last 100 years is "polish" on what was already there. Anything your money will buy ought to be at least as good as what he used, without rotting your bores and giving you emphysema whilst you're at it.
    .
    Whilst we're on that subject, I learned (or confirmed for myself) this week that the "standard" pigeon load for most of the 20th century was - wait for it - 36g of #7. Fancy that. I'm going to make some.
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  5. #5
    Beginner DOTN_Will's Avatar
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    Yeah most of the ones I'd been looking at were around the same price. I was considering the Imperials and High Pheasant as they are close in price and seem to cover what I want. I was also mainly looking at Hull as I use the CompX on clays so thought it easiest to stick to the same make.
    I also considered Lyalvale Express Supreme Game as that is what my dad uses so I can just steal his ;-)
    But then the Hi-Flyer sounds good for all round shooting as well though...

    I will have a look at the others just out of interest at some point though.
    Last edited by DOTN_Will; 06-Oct-2017 at 08:51 PM.

  6. #6
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    In terms of wads, would it be sensible to buy fibre (e.g. the Hull Comp X you favour) on the basis that some grounds prefer it to plastic, or is that an assumption too far?

    Also, for squirrels, something like 30g No.6? Maybe neutron's Regal Game in 12g.

    Ta...

  7. #7
    Veteran neutron619's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by westernshooting View Post
    In terms of wads, would it be sensible to buy fibre (e.g. the Hull Comp X you favour) on the basis that some grounds prefer it to plastic, or is that an assumption too far?

    Also, for squirrels, something like 30g No.6? Maybe neutron's Regal Game in 12g.

    Ta...
    I won't shoot plastic wads unless it's absolutely unavoidable. I reload fibre and shoot fibre in every gauge except for .410, where, because the very best-performing cartridge (for my gun) happens to be plastic wadded, I put the importance of making a clean kill above the importance of not littering the countryside - but only in that one specific case, because I don't shoot a lot of .410 rounds. The .410, unlike the larger gauges is somewhat marginal at medium-to-long range, so you need every advantage you can get. (Even then, I have real trouble getting hold of those particular cartridges, so I tend to fall back to the Eley, fibre-wadded cartridge and the problem goes away.)
    .
    Even in the small bores, there's very little difference between plastic and fibre in terms of performance (in fact, fibre generally performs slightly better in .410 in my experience). Although you'll hear people saying plastic wads generally perform better, there is hardly anything in it, to the point that a significant minority give fibre the advantage across the board.
    .
    That's a long-winded way of saying that, if anyone should approach you on shoot day and sniff at your use of fibre, or the fact that you've followed the requirements of the shoot by using it, they won't have much of a leg to stand on, factually, if they argue the point. They'll also be being frightfully rude in using plastic when fibre is required and ought to be thrown off the shoot!
    .
    As far as squirrels goes, the theory says smaller shot (e.g. #7, #7, #8) and tight chokes since the vitals of a squirrel are so small. In practice, your normal 30g/#6 will do the job, though you might occasionally feel that you were "on" the tree rat and be a little disappointed when it runs off after the shot. You do need a dense pattern for such small game / vermin, but accurate shooting will compensate a lot for any deficiency.
    .
    As for Regal Game, it is the combination of less-than-maximum velocity and very hard shot that makes them good cartridges. As I said, I intend to try other versions. The thing to remember though, is that although that 20 gauge pattern I mentioned above was, in absolute terms, very impressive, in practical terms, it makes very little difference.
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    OK - I might not lose quite as many squirrels to low pattern density (though I'd never really know) but really, even if it had been the 60% pattern I'd expect from that barrel (rather than 80%), it would still have been a perfectly good 40-50 yard pattern for pheasant or pigeon. People make such a fuss about moving "up" from 30g to 32g for the end of the season and it makes no practical difference at all - 12 gauges and 20 gauges just are not marginal for any kind of ordinary shooting where lead shot is permitted.
    .
    Once you reach that conclusion, you're pretty much back to buying a) what's cheapest, or b) what's newest, or c) what's got the prettiest packaging.
    Freedom is having the right to offend and be offended; politeness is temporarily eschewing that right in respect of others; maturity is understanding the compromise and applying it.

  8. #8
    Beginner DOTN_Will's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neutron619 View Post
    c) what's got the prettiest packaging.
    Makes sense, I like pretty things ;-)

  9. #9
    Veteran ROBERT6500's Avatar
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    Personally I won't use plastic in the field unless they have been supplied by the ground owner, even then I always mention they are plastic to them.
    I would rather choke up tighter than chuck plastic everywhere.
    I use any old fibre wad clay cartridges hanging around (6/7/8s) for squirrels as they don't need much to kill them clean other than an accurate shot placement.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT6500 View Post
    Personally I won't use plastic in the field unless they have been supplied by the ground owner, even then I always mention they are plastic to them.
    I would rather choke up tighter than chuck plastic everywhere.
    I use any old fibre wad clay cartridges hanging around (6/7/8s) for squirrels as they don't need much to kill them clean other than an accurate shot placement.
    Thank you neutron and Robert for your responses - glad to see such support for fibre.

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