Humble Pie?

I don’t know if what I’m about to say constitutes a significant climb down from a position I’ve held for a long time, or whether this is simply a restatement of my opinion which allows for one or two edge cases but doesn’t change the fundamentals. The fact that I’m not yet sure suggests that I need longer to ponder the question and see where I end up after analyzing the data I’ve gleaned from last Sunday’s patterning session.

The the issue at hand can be expressed as a simple question:

Can a cartridge containing nine grams of number six shot be of any practical value to anyone?

My long-standing answer to that question has always been “absolutely not” but I’m forced at least to reconsider the answer in light of the data I’ve generated for the Lyalvale “Supreme Game” cartridge of the aforementioned specification.

In defense of my previous experience, I should mention that one has to accept a number of potentially-controversial assumptions to get to any other answer than “no”.

Breaking The Mould

It is simply impossible to adopt the methodology we’ve used elsewhere on this site to analyze the performance of the Lyalvale cartridge. Comparing the performance of the 2″ shell against a 120- or 140-pellet minimum standard (in a 30″ circle) is facile when the loading averages 102 pellets on in the case. Even if it produced rifle-like performance, it could never achieve what was asked of it.

This means that, to give any kind of commentary on the performance of the cartridge, we have to change the parameters of the experiment. Allowing for a much more accurate shooter, we can show that a smaller number of pellets in a smaller effective pattern area give pattern density equivalent to our 120-pellets-in-a-30″ circle standard. (Detailed discussion and the mathematics behind this will be shown on the extended pattern test page for the cartridge when our analysis is complete.)

We can therefore show that, provided the shooter can achieve more than twice the degree of accuracy required for the use of cartridges deemed to produce minimally-sufficient 30″ patterns, the use of the 9g / #6 loading on small-to-medium game may be acceptable at ranges as great as 30 yards!

30-yard pattern shot through the ¾ choke of the Yildiz .410 using the Lyalvale Express “Supreme Game” 9g/#6 shell (20″ circle).

Of course, many mere mortals cannot achieve anything like this standard of shooting!

Two-Inch Edge Cases

This isn’t the appropriate place for a detailed analysis of the Lyalvale cartridge’s performance (see the link above). However, the headline figure of 53 pellets falling into a 20″ circle at 30 yards gives an equivalent pattern density within that area of 119 pellets in a 30″ circle. If we consider the latter a “killing” pattern, then, if the quarry is covered by the former pattern, it should also be killed.

For most of us, this approach will be inhumane. Inhumane because our shooting skill is not sufficiently great; inhumane because we will most often have more appropriate tools available than a 2″-chambered .410. It is extremely difficult to find circumstances in which one would have to rely on this cartridge to the exclusion of anything else.

That said, for “rifle-type” shooting at targets which are still and very close to the shooter, the “Supreme Game” loading may be an appropriate cartridge. Provided ranges really are short and the quarry stationary, this cartridge will “do the business” so to speak – though for most such situations (e.g. rats in the yard) the alternative loading of this brand, containing 9g of #9 shot may still be a better choice.

Is that a climb-down? I’d like to think not and although the mathematics doesn’t lie, I still maintain that as a loading, 9g /#6 is of almost no use to almost anyone.