A Grand Day Out

Looking back on recent posts on this blog, it’s clear that, only a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t having the best time of it. Happily, regression to the mean is one of the few “rules” in life that one can rely on and I’m pleased to report another good outing today, to go with the positive trip I had last weekend.

I traveled today to see an old friend and was pleased to find him looking well (particularly given a recent illness). We instigated another meeting of the Cardboard Perforation Society (CPS) on some of his ground and pattern tested the Fiocchi #7½ 9mm Flobert cartridge which has been sitting on the shelf for some time. This was a rather amusing exercise which saw us shooting patterns at 5, 10, 15 and 20 yards and in the foremost case prompted many amusing jibes on the subject of accuracy: the muzzle of the gun was practically touching the pattern plate.

To give a conclusion in a sentence: whilst concerns about the penetrative ability of small shot at low velocity remain, the Fiocchi shells do appear to offer some utility in short-range vermin control. In fact, the #7½ cartridge may be the best of the 9mm shells we’ve tested – proper results will follow later.

We performed these tests using some packing boxes I found at work, left over from a recent office move. These were stacked, awaiting disposal, so my employer was only too happy to let me cut them up and take them away. They produced fifteen or so plates of various sizes which will keep me going whilst I await the delivery – tomorrow apparently – of the next roll of patterning paper, with which I’ll do the pattern testing for the increasingly large pile of .410 cartridges sitting on my “man shelf”.

In fact managed to return home with another box to add to the .410 mountain, in the form of the Gamebore “Traditional Game” 9g / #7 (2″)  cartridge (the link displays the re-branded version) of which I have until now – in spite of having visited the Gamebore website reasonably regularly for some years – been entirely unaware.

A Wander

It was probably selfish of me to observe to my friend after we’d finished patterning, that taking leave from work and not going shooting (as opposed to patterning) always feels a bit of a waste of a day off. Selfish, in the sense that one shouldn’t invite oneself to others’ domains and simply expect to be allowed to shoot – one must be invited to do so, of course.

Nonetheless, I think my friend understood the point I was trying to make (i.e. that free time should be used for the things that give most enjoyment) and kindly agreed that we should go for a wander around the woods not far from where we’d done the patterning. The sun blazed and the sky was clear in a manner entirely uncharacteristic of any 27th October I can remember and we both enjoyed the walk very much.

In the end, one juvenile wood pigeon fell to a 15-20 yard shot from my Baikal 12-gauge, with another easy attempt prevented by the safety catch earlier on. (I forget, every time I take that gun out, that it has an automatic safety – I may have to “fix” that at some point.) The stock extension appeared to improve the fit of the gun and if anything, I felt as if I’d shot marginally over the top of the bird, rather than underneath, which suggests a slight over-correction. I’ll take it out again a few more times in the next few weeks to be sure.

The only other shot I took was at a bird further out, which I think I hit, albeit perhaps only with a single stray pellet. It continued on for at least another 200-300 yards before dropping to the ground, but whether it was landing normally or falling because it had expired, I couldn’t tell. The foxes will have had it by now if it was the latter.

Nonetheless: one in the bag – in spite of my confidence in the 34g/#5 reload being somewhat dented by some rather poor patterns shot only minutes earlier. I’m going to have to rethink that cartridge – it’s not consistent, or obviously performant enough for me to be happy with it, or have confidence in it, whether or not it’s printing 140 at 40 yards. (Again, results to follow.)

After we’d packed the guns away, we drove out towards one of the local RFD’s and stopped at the pub, where I was grateful to be treated to a very nice lunch.

What do you mean, #7?

I promise readers that I’m not going to be any less cynical on the subject of shot sizes in the small bores and when we visited the local firearms dealer just after lunch, it was certainly the case that, for .410, all the cartridges on the shelf, except for the aforementioned Gamebore loading, contained #6 shot or larger.

I was tempted to buy more of the Hull “High Pheasant” 19g/#6 loading and a box of the RWS 9mm shells containing 7g/#10, but I can obtain the former locally and the latter were phenomenally expensive for a cartridge for which I have no use and which I’ve previously tested – no matter how appropriate the tiny shot size might be to the tiny Flobert case. I was also tempted to buy a box of the Gamebore buckshot load (which I’ve known about for as long as I can remember, but never seen for sale), simply for interest, but decided against it, not only because I’d have no use for them, but also because they would probably blow to bits the pattern plate and render rolls of expensive paper useless should stray pellet travel through the box.

In the end, however, I was pleased to come away with something new to test and, although the Gamebore shell is probably a 20-yard cartridge at best, it might yet turn out to be a good 20-yard cartridge, with all of the usual accommodations one has to make for a 2″ cartridge assumed. I suspect that my inherent curiosity regarding such extreme loadings may see it jump a few places up the queue and feature in my next set of testing.

The Gamebore “Traditional Hunting” 9g / #7 cartridge.

After that and another pleasant drive through the country, I dropped my friend back at his house and we parted ways. A slow journey back and the responsibilities of fatherhood kept me busy for a few hours after I got back, but I’m now “in the zone” and will get on with counting some patterns as soon as I’ve hit the button to publish this post.

More to follow.