Since I started patterning my new 34g/#5 reload, I’ve been slightly curious as to why the average pellet count for the cartridge is so low. Historically, #5 shot has tended to number 220 to the ounce, or approximately 7.76 pellets per gram of shot, which should put around 264 in the cartridge. Certainly that (or rather, 270) was what I was aiming at, which makes the 246 pellet average somewhat lower than expectations. Even allowing for some variation on the basis of size, antimony content, the quantity dropped by the bushings on the loader, etc., it was still difficult to explain the aforementioned discrepancy.
I was browsing the website of the Clay & Game company, from whom I bought my last supply of #5 shot, this afternoon. I was really looking at prices for a 20 gauge conversion kit for my Lee press (why buy cartridges when one can load one’s own!?), but I noticed whilst I was there that they advertise their #5 shot as being 2.85mm in diameter. The comments of an acquaintance elsewhere (coincidentally) prompted me to calculate that this represents a size – contrary to Clay & Game’s own shot size table – equivalent to 208 pellets per ounce – very slightly larger than a traditional English #5, or approximately equivalent to #4¾.
The difference between myself and my acquaintance is that he thinks that the kind of difference I’ve just described is significant. Nonetheless, it does answer the question: a 34g load of “number 4¾” should contain approximately 249 pellets – not far from the 246 average in shot drops I’ve counted.
Feeding The Garden Gun
I’ve been calling various local(-ish) RFDs in the last couple of days to try and find a source of sensible cartridges to feed the new garden gun.
The wisdom of the learnéd – as far as I can glean it from the internet – is that the RWS ammunition loaded in #9 and #10 shot sizes is a good place to start and that the #9 “double shot” cartridge – in spite of the arguments against the practice made by myself and others on this website – is suitable for small game out to 15-20 yards. I am yet to find a supplier.
Nonetheless, I have been offered boxes of Fiocchi cartridges containing (Italian) #6 shot. Of course, this doesn’t surprise me, since all small bore cartridges are loaded with #6 shot! The fact that this practice extends even to the tiny 9mm, into which you can fit a meagre four drams of lead, amused me somewhat. I’ll buy some at some point, in spite of the fact that this loading would comprise approximately 60 pellets and have an effective pattern area of around 8″ at a maximum of 10 yards, irrespective of choke. Well – I can always prove or disprove that theory, can’t I?
The best candidate shop is closed on Wednesdays, so I left a message. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them tomorrow.