At Last!

It is is some satisfaction that I am able to report that my new shotgun certificate arrived in the post today. Hunting will resume shortly – perhaps as soon as this weekend, time allowing.

New Cartridges

I’ve put the new certificate to good use already. Other than collecting my shotguns from the local RFD – who very generously waived fees in view of the short duration and my being a loyal customer – I also acquired four new boxes of cartridges. Two them, although unlikely to produce world-beating patterns, given the loadings of 11g/#6 and 12½g/#6 respectively, will be pattern tested in the SmallBoreShotguns .410 test gun in the next few weeks:

Two new, previously-untested loadings for pattern testing by the SmallBoreShotguns team: the Hull “Game & Clay” 11g/#6 loading on the left and the Eley “Fourlong” in 12½g/#6 flavour on the right.

I was also able to acquire the “other” box of cartridges for another of our forthcoming experiments. We intend to compare, as directly as we can, the effect upon patterns of a change in muzzle velocity of 500fps in the hope of demonstrating with evidence the value of what one might call “more moderate” velocities than English shotgunning seems to prefer.

On the left in the picture below is the subsonic Hull load I mentioned in a previous post and on the right is the loading most similar to it that I was able to acquire at my local shop, their top-of-the-range “Sovereign” brand.

Two boxes of Hull cartridges: a subsonic loading of 28g/#7½ on the left and a supersonic version of the same load on the right.

Admittedly, there are at least two important differences between the cartridges other than the muzzle velocity: firstly, the “fast” load has a fibre wad, not plastic and second, the shot contained within the cartridges is likely to be somewhat harder being a premium brand. Hull list 5% antimony for Sovereign, as opposed to 2% for most of their “budget” lines – we assume the subsonics fall into the latter category.

We’ll mention these factors again when we do the write-up. Of the two, I’d expect the hardness of the shot to make more of a difference, but neither to significantly affect the result. Nonetheless, we’ll try to account for these differences in analyzing the pattern data. Unfortunately, the shop had no plastic-wadded Sovereign cartridges in stock, so it was a question of buying what they had rather than what would have been ideal.

All of this came after requesting some of the plastic-cased Eley “Grand Prix” 30g/#6 and discovering that the shop hadn’t got a single box in stock to perform the “plastic versus paper” comparison I’d originally planned to do first. “I’m sorry – we only have the paper version,” was the reply. I found myself thinking that that seemed a rather pleasing response!

Snatched Opportunities

The final box of cartridges was the Hull 23g/#7 “High Pheasant” load for 28 gauge. I’m not really sure why I bought these, except that I remember using some in the past and – looking back on it – unfairly writing them off, when – like most things in shooting – the problem was undoubtedly operator error.

I like to keep a box of cartridges in the glove box of my car in case I’m ever in the position of needing to grab a gun and snatch an opportunity for a wander around the hedgerows under time-limited circumstances. This is quite often the way I end up going hunting, given that there are small people living in the house.

Since I’ve found that the fit of my 28 gauge is vastly improved with the addition of the leather stock extension I’ve borrowed from my friend, I’ll just have to remember to take that gun on these occasions and give the Hull cartridges a proper field test before I revert back to my long-term favorites, the Eleys. I’m sure they won’t disappoint.

I’ll curtail this here as there are a couple of Baikals locked in the cabinet that need also need trying for size with the stock extension attached. I suspect the results with those will be just as good as with the 28 gauge. I’ll let you know the outcome next time.