Performance Packed into a 2½” Case

I visited three farms today and mooched around for several hours over lunchtime, shooting a mediocre two-for-six with the 28 gauge I was carrying.

I encountered one of my acquaintance at the last farm, who was having a particularly poor day and tried to encourage him to make the best of it and the glorious weather. He showed me a handful of the new(-ish) Gamebore “Pigeon Extreme” cartridges containing 34g / #5 and complained that he couldn’t use them because they had plastic wads in them – our landowner specifies “fibre only”. I held my tongue when he further complained that the alternative – Hull “High Pheasant”, of which loading I’m not sure – were “useless” and that he couldn’t hit anything with them, but he did demonstrate five or six times as I passed the time of day with him in his hide, that that was indeed the case.

Given the symptoms he described – new gun (to him), old-school semi-automatic, pattern under the bead – I suggested, with quite a degree of vagueness (because I wasn’t sure myself), that the gun might have a comb that was too low for him and to consider a cheek pad, which he said he’d investigate. I decided to leave him to it, when, having missed another decoying bird with all three shots, I then downed it cleanly with a single round of ¾oz / #7 at longer range and made myself somewhat unpopular.

Anecdotes aside, I did manage to locate and prepare a cardboard box for pattern testing last night, so along with the 28 gauge, I put the .410 in the car this morning with the new box of Eley “Fourlong” that I picked up this week.

I only had enough cardboard for two, indicative patterns, but as a result of those, I am extremely impressed with the Eley 2½” cartridge.

20-yard patterns, as I’ve said previously, tell one relatively little, although this was as expected, putting 144 (97%) of the 148 pellets in the cartridge into the standard circle.

The 30-yard pattern however, was significantly better than I expected, placing 106 pellets into the standard circle. I’ve also said in the First Impressions page for the cartridge, this matches the best performance demonstrated by the (3″) Lyalvale 16g cartridge (though admittedly that cartridge is loaded with #6) and is in the same ballpark as the performance demonstrated by the 19g Fiocchi cartridge loaded with the same shot size (#7½ Italian = #7 English). The latter contains 50% more shot, but produces essentially no better performance at 30 yards – would you believe it!?

Perhaps there is something in this idea that 2½” .410 cartridges can match the performance of the 3″ shells with their long, long shot columns and various other ballistic disadvantages… We shall see.

Put it this way: I’m even more keen now than I was, in light of today’s results, to obtain some of the 2½” version of the Eley “Trap” cartridge, containing 14g / #7½.

Everything in time.