Some Thoughts

I’ve talked about the general business of life before. I’m sure any of my readers who have a full-time job, a spouse, children, other hobbies than shooting – or all of the above – will quite understand when I say that there is often no time to focus on shooting and that even when one does have the time for it, there is always the choice of what should be done. Do I go hunting this week? Should I pattern more cartridges? Should I focus my efforts on writing this blog, or another of the projects-related-to-shooting in my “portfolio”?

If the answer to the questions above doesn’t involve the .410, pattern testing or hunting with it, or blogging about having done those things, I find there isn’t much to say here. The blog progresses, but in fits and starts, where a few days of rapid updates are followed by weeks of very little new content being produced. This is a shame as, although I can’t speak for whether my writing is well received, I have enjoyed doing the investigative work and indeed, the writing itself.

On a couple of previous occasions, I’ve mentioned things which are not directly related to the Yildiz, though that has remained (and will remain) the primary focus of my writing. Since those deviations have attracted no complaint from my readers, nor from the site’s owner, I’ve decided to expand the scope of the blog slightly and use it to note down – not least for my own reference – occasional shooting-related thoughts as they occur to me, in the hope that they might be of interest to others and perhaps provoke comment. This should allow me to make smaller, more regular updates and to keep things a little more “fresh”.

To wit…

New Cartridge

My local RFD had almost sold out of .410 cartridges before Easter. I returned yesterday on the way home from work and found that they’d had a delivery of Eley shells. Unfortunately, this didn’t include any of the “Trap” cartridges, but I was able to get hold of a box of the “Fourlong” brand containing 12½g of #7 shot in a 2½” case. I’ll be doing a “first impressions” post on these shortly and will take them out for testing when I’ve replenished my stock of patterning paper.

Plastic vs Paper?

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’d acquired a cheap Baikal 12 gauge side-by-side recently and that I’d been feeding it paper-cased Eley Grand Prix, purely for novelty value. I was having a conversation on Tuesday with the friend who’s helped me do some of the pattern testing for this website and indeed, helped me to obtain some of the cartridges to test from his local dealers. We were trying to predict whether or not a paper case could or would have any effect on performance compared with a plastic one, but although some interesting questions were raised and he had more definite ideas on the subject than I did, neither of use could come to a firm theoretical conclusion.

Of course, as dead-end (thought) experiments go, this one is an absolute classic – the data will be of no use to anyone not buying one or two very specific, very expensive brands of cartridges. That said, I remain curious and I’m going to shoot a few patterns when I have some more paper to put into the mobile pattern plate. Initially, I thought comparing the Grand Prix with any old 30g/#6 cartridge would do, but I’ve just had a look on the Eley website and it is possible to get that loading, under the same brand, in both paper and plastic cases, which will make for as good a controlled experiment as I think it’s possible to achieve. As soon as I can arrange another mortgage so as to be able to afford to buy a box, I’ll get out to the fields and publish the results here when I’m done.

Direction of Travel

The aforementioned friend has kindly offered to keep his eye peeled for more cartridges that might be worthy of testing and asked me to send him a list of what sort of things would be of interest. It occurred to me that it might be worth publishing that list here, to give an indication of what might be “next” as far as the little Yildiz goes. It is reasonable to ask why one would spend time patterning and analyzing more cartridges when the primary requirement of “a 40-yard cartridge” has been so quickly satisfied?

The answer is a combination of factors. My own interest in the behaviour of shotguns – and particularly the .410 – remains and I have no objection to doing further testing and through it, contributing to this site. If we do not manage to test every commercially available cartridge in the country, it will most likely be because we cannot find them to buy them, but it is certainly the SmallBoreShotguns teams’ objective to document them all here.

Furthermore, there are legitimate avenues of research which investigations to date have not adequately explained. Why, for example, do many users of 3″-chambered .410s report that their best patterns are obtained with 2½” cartridges? Will the Gamebore “Hunting” cartridge, already identified as being theoretically as near to “ideal” in .410, turn out to be so? These and other questions can usefully be answered by further testing.

The list I gave to my friend, with associated commentary, was as follows:

  • Gamebore “.410 Hunting” 16g / #7 [3″] (or any / all shot sizes available)
  • Eley “Trap” 14g / #7½ [2½″]
  • Gamebore “.410 Target” (a.k.a. “Skeet”) 14g / #9 [2½″] (useless for hunting, but I have a point to prove / refute)
  • Eley “Fourlong” 12½g / #7 [2½”] (or #6 if nothing else available).
  • Any 3″ cartridge not mentioned above containing #7 or #7½ shot.
  • Any other 3″ cartridge.
  • Any 2″ cartridge (for novelty value – again – there’s a point to prove here and we’ll start by measuring the ranges in centimeters!)
  • Any of the Lyalvale 14g [2½″] loads (including the #9).
  • Any other 2½″ cartridge.
  • Anything else.

So that’s where we’re headed. If anyone has any information about where to obtain the aforementioned cartridges in East Anglia, we’d be pleased to hear from you.