Patterning Officer’s Report: Part I

It’s just past 10pm as I start to write and, thus far, I’ve completed the pellet counts for the 40-yard and 20-yard patterns. Without the 30-yard data available for comparison, it would be premature to draw any firm conclusions, but thus far, everything seems to have turned out pretty much as expected.

Eley “Trap” 19g / #7½

The Eley “Trap” cartridge continues to perform consistently well. Pellet counts in the standard circle of 116 and 128 confirm once again that this is the cartridge to beat and that effective ranges of 37-40 yards are not out of the question. Here’s a sample pattern:

40-yard pattern shot through the ¾ choke of the Yildiz .410 using the Eley “Trap” 19g/#7½ shell.
Fiocchi “Magnum”

Both of the Fiocchi cartridges proved themselves again to be mediocre. Whilst I don’t have the 30-yard figures to estimate a usable range, these are not 40-yard cartridges by any stretch of the imagination. Pellet counts were – at best – an unusable 75 in the standard circle, with a range of numbers dropping as low as 37 in the circle with the half choke.

At this point, it appears that even the nearest equivalent and – in the author’s opinion – poorly constructed Eley “Extralong” cartridge loaded with 18g of #7 shot outperforms the Fiocchis by a small margin. This might come as something of a surprise to the “anything but Eley” crowd who are somewhat vocal in .410-world!

The one point of interest which seems to be emerging as I compare the Fiocchi cartridges’ patterns is that there is essentially no difference in end-performance between the #7½ (Italian) and the #6 (Italian) loadings. The smaller shot size seems to allow so much “extra” pellet deformation over the larger that any increase in absolute shot count is wiped out by pellets lost as fliers due to scrubbing: both cartridges are printing roughly the same patterns at 40 yards, irrespective.

20-Yard Patterns

In themselves, 20-yard patterns don’t tell anyone much, even in the .410. A quick calculation on the basis of today’s results shows that the minimum percentage pattern of any of the Eley “Extralong” Subsonic and Fiocchi “Magnum” cartridges was 95% when shot out of the “half-choke” (0.015″ constriction) barrel of the Yildiz. Effectively, the number of pellets one fires at the pattern plate at this distance is the number of pellets one gets in the pattern – with the tighter chokes, at least.

At 20 yards therefore, it’s probably more useful to talk about pattern size than pattern density. Here, poorer cartridge performance can be an advantage, particularly if the target is on the ground, moving quickly. Since any pattern at this range, from a cartridge with 130 or more pellets, ought to be sufficiently dense, the pattern with the largest area ought to be the easiest to shoot and therefore the most effective.

As might be expected, the Eley subsonic cartridge patterned most tightly, followed by the Fiocchi cartridge loaded with #6 (Italian, 2.7mm) shot. The “loosest” pattern was printed by the Fiocchi #7½ (Italian) cartridge, which covered the whole of the standard circle, suggesting an effective pattern area of about 30″ diameter. In contrast, the Eley cartridge had perhaps only a 20-22″ usable area – the rest of the circle was uncovered by pellet strikes. For short-range rabbits, therefore, the Fiocchi cartridge might be a better bet.

Here are the patterns:

20-yard pattern shot through the ½ choke of the Yildiz .410 using the Eley “Extralong” Subsonic 18g/#6 shell.
20-yard pattern shot through the ½ choke of the Yildiz .410 using the Fiocchi “Magnum” 18g/#6 shell.
20-yard pattern shot through the ½ choke of the Yildiz .410 using the Fiocchi “Magnum” 19g/#7½ (Italian) shell.
The 28 Gauge…

My 28 gauge produced a number of very usable 40-yard patterns in the end. Here is the most pleasing of them – a very evenly-spaced 168 in the standard circle from the Eley VIP 21g/#7 cartridge. If I can’t get what I want out of the little .410, this will certainly do as a backup gun – and what a confidence boost it is seeing an effective (with some margin) pattern from only ¾oz. of shot to start with…!

40-yard pattern shot through the ½ choke of a Yildiz 28 gauge using the Eley VIP 21g/#7 shell.

More will follow tomorrow when I have all of today’s data available for analysis.