By way of comparison, competition Skeet loads are limited
to 1200 FPS and designed for maximum performance at 21
yards, usually with No. 9 shot. Here's another instance
where the technology that goes into sporting clays
shooting directly benefits the bird hunter. Winchester
acknowledges this debt by making the bottom flap of their
ammunition box into a membership application form for
NSCA -- the National Sporting Clays Association.
Winchester packages their 28
gauge ammunition in a new, high strength HS Hull with
special new HS wads and a new HS powder that assures a
higher performance level -- and far better reloadability
-- than their old AA hull.
Grist for our mill --
Target loads are where ammunition makers put their best
foot forward. And nowhere is this more important than in
the 28 gauge where, because of its relatively small 3/4
ounce load, each pellet is precious. Target shooters are
big-volume users of 28 gauge ammunition, so ammunition
makers really go all out to persuade them of the merits
of their products. This is grist for our mill. What's
good for target shooters is great for bird
Remington and Federal, for
example use the back panels of their ammunition boxes to
make their case for product excellence showing cutaway
diagrams of their 28 gauge shells. Extra hard shot (high
antimony content) graded for roundness, wads that cushion
and protect the shot and present optimum patterns, plus
powders that provide consistent performance, are the same
properties hunters want. The extra hard shot used in
target ammunition insures that the maximum number of
pellets will get to the target area -- and be less likely
to be deflected from their course by leaves and twigs on
early season grouse and woodcock. Federal's Premium®
Hi-Brass loads are copper plated (which reduces
feather-draw) hard shot and go out the door at 1295 FPS
and is available in Nos. 6, 7-1/2 and 8 size shot. Their
Gold Medal® target has a velocity of 1230 FPS and is
available in Nos. 8-1/2 and 9 shot. Remington has
Premier® STS® Nos. 8 and 9 target loads with 1200
FPS and an Express® 1295 FPS "Extra Long Range" 3/4
ounce load of Nos. 6 and 7-1/2 shot.
Baschieri & Pellagri often
runs an advertisement with a testimonial from Michael
MacIntosh commenting upon B&P's low pressure 28 gauge
load. The big benefit of low pressures is that it is less
likely to deform shot at the instant of ignition, hence
present better, fuller patterns in the target area.
B&P's standard load has a chamber pressure of only
8750 PSI (11,000 to 12,000 PSI are the industry norm).
B&P combines low pressure with 5% antimony (very
hard) shot that is polished smooth by tumbling in a
media, then dry lubricated. It's said to rival nickel
plated shot for performance and is available in No. 7-1/2
and No. 8 shot sizes. B&P has a high velocity load
(1300 FPS) also with a low pressure of 9250 PSI which
uses the same ingredients as their standard load and is
available in Nos. 6, 7 (boy, do these do a number on barn
pigeons!) and 7-1/2.
With more and more public and
private upland hunting land coming under nontoxic shot
requirements, it's important to note that Bismuth
Cartridge Company offers a 28 gauge 3/4 ounce @ 1250 FPS
load in Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7-1/2 bismuth shot, which is as
close as you can get to lead-like performance. Dan
Flaherty of the Bismuth shop says his favorite load for
quail is their No. 7-1/2 size shot.
The 28 gauge and the one ounce
load -- there are two companies that offer one ounce
28 gauge loads. So when talk turns to wild bird shooting
among 28 gauge shooters, the one ounce loads offered by
Winchester and Sellier & Bellot enter the discussion.
Winchester's SUPER X High Brass Game Loads come in Nos.
6, 7-1/2 and 8 shot sizes that push the target envelope
out to 40 yards -- ideal for loading in your second
barrel or third in battery in your pump or semi-auto for
follow-up shots and/or doubles. For western quail --
which seem to need a 30-yard runway before they get
airborne -- and late-season birds that flush well ahead
of the dog -- one ounce loads can help cut down on your
involuntary contributions to conservation.
Ed Grasso, the Main Man at
Sellier & Bellot, USA in Shawnee Mission Kansas tells
a curious story about one ounce loads that bears
repeating. As you might suspect, anybody in the
ammunition business who lives in Kansas is likely to have
taken a pheasant or two -- so when he was invited to the
factory (in the Czech Republic) and driven bird shooting
was one of the scheduled activities, this figured to be
entertainment, not education.
Typically, European driven bird
shoots have you positioned at the bottom of a hill, with
the birds flying toward you from over the tops of the
trees from the top of the hill. Low hills where you have
maybe 40 or 50 yards to track the incoming birds, are the
easy ones. Steep hills mean high, fast birds and short,
overhead shooting opportunities before the bird is behind
you. Ed drew a steep hill. Ed also drew a 28 gauge
shotgun and a supply of one-ounce ammunition loaded with
No. 9 shot! "What in the world are these people thinking
-- issuing me a load we don't even import for the U.S.
Think this one through. Incoming
pheasants present 100% certain dead-in-the-air head and
neck shot opportunities -- except they are 25 yards
straight up. No. 9's are just as lethal as No. 6's in
this situation and there are more than twice as many of
them in the air! Yep, there are 585 No. 9 pellets to the
ounce, vs. only 225 No. 6's.
Another case history of how a
poor but honest lad who through diligence and hard work
found new respect for the 28 gauge and small shot.
Sellier & Bellot, USA, b y the way, now imports that
28 gauge one ounce load of No. 9's (now improved with
higher FPS numbers) -- in addition to their other target
and field loadings -- so that you can enjoy the same
learning experience that Ed Grasso enjoyed without going
to the bottom of a wooded hill in the Czech
In the final analysis --
the reason why the 28 gauge is so effective is that it
has a shorter shot string -- shorter than either the 12
or 20 gauge. Building on the great 28 gauge hull design
(invented by Charles Parker in 1916), then utilizing
today's technology to give you hard pellets of equal size
and weight (the result of precision manufacture and
grading), then guarding them (with special protective,
cushioning wads) from being deformed in the ignition
process and out the barrel -- ammunition makers have
minimized the distance from the first pellet to the last
pellet, thus providing a very short, compact shot string.
In practical hunting terms, most experienced bird hunters
have found that high quality 28 gauge ammunition will
outperform 12 or 20 gauge "promotional loads" every time.
Plus, you can carry a lighter 28 gauge gun and a pocket
full of ammunition all day, without strain or pain. No
wonder 28 gauge hunters are always smiling when they
unload their hunting vests.
Today's 28 gauge ammunition is
shooting excellence in a small package. This is "rocket
science" as applied to upland hunting. You're going to
fall in love all over again.
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