The Eley cartridges contain an average of 148 pellets of #7 (2.4mm) shot. A few (<10) of the pellets in each cartridge opened were not spherical and did not roll freely. The cartridges are loaded with a short fibre wad which was noticeably deformed by the force of case closure. The case is a standard 2½” parallel tube plastic case, supplied in red with Eley branding printed in black and crimped with a 6-point star closure. The powder, as yet unidentified, is of notably large volume, suggesting a low-density, slow-burning powder.
Recoil was, as expected, extremely mild. The gun exhibited no appreciable muzzle flip. These cartridges could doubtless be adequately managed by a child.
The Eley website reports a marginally subsonic muzzle velocity for these cartridges of 1066fps. It was possible to hear the length of time between firing and the shot arriving at the 30-yard pattern target, which was noticeably slow. The advertised muzzle velocity is therefore likely correct (or possibly an exaggeration) – these are not “fast” shells.
To date, only two patterns are available for this cartridge, but performance – taking into account that this is an extremely light loading – appears to be excellent. The 30-yard pattern shot during initial testing showed 106 pellet impacts in the standard circle; the 20-yard pattern placed all but four pellets (144) inside the circle.
Admittedly, the 30-yard performance does not meet our bare minimum standard of 120 pellets in the circle (and full testing may show that to be an exceptional, rather than an average figure), but when one compares that number – a 72% pattern – with the number of pellet strikes achieved by some of the 3″ loadings previously tested by the SmallBoreShotguns team, the advantage of keeping muzzle velocities down can be clearly seen.
The 12½g Eley cartridge matched the performance of the best pattern achieved by the Lyalvale 16g (3″) loading and is in same ballpark, performance-wise, as the Fiocchi 19g cartridges loaded with the same size shot (#7½ Italian), even though the latter contain over 50% more shot. The Eleys may not, therefore, be 40-yard cartridges, or even close, but this kind of performance deserves recognition.