Matching Shells To Your Gun For Best Performance Means Work At Pattern Board To Check Balanced Handloads

Various powders will give good results but some will show superiorities in your guns in patterning tests.

Copper coated and nickeled shot (No. 4, second in line and No. 5, fourth) are hardest and give highest pattern density. They are excellent long range shot for ducks and geese. Regular shot, so-called chilled, is best for ordinary balancing of patterns to specific gunning needs such as close-in upland shooting, or clay targets. Sell matched load to his gun.

Author's emphasis on balanced shotgun loads is proved up by 82% pattern at 40 yards of No. 5 shot. Says Sell, "Gauge is unimportant." He got 17 and 12 hits on two geese.

proper shot sizes or proper weight shot charges may keep a handloader from realizing the full potential of his shotguns and handloads. He doesn't relate his handloads to his gun. nor to his field shooting.

Often, too, when he has just taken up handloading, he is plagued with the idea that the heavier the shot charge, and the higher the velocity, the greater the range and the better the field performance. Actually, more time and thought should be given to balanced loads. High velocity and heavy shot charges may not always be the answer to any gunning problem. The higher the velocity, the poorer the pattern. And that isn't all, either:

Start a number 6 shot out at a muzzle velocity of 1330 feet per second, and it reaches the 60 yard mark with 625 f.p.s. remaining velocity. Start another number 6 shot out at 1165 f.p.s., and it arrives at the 60 yard mark with a remaining velocity of 590 feet a second. At the muzzle there is 165 f.p.s. difference in velocity of the two loads. At 60 yards there is only 35 f.p.s. difference, scarcely a measurable field advantage. There is little to be gained by squeezing this extra initial velocity out of handloads. In practice, extra velocity may put pressure and recoil up beyond reasonable limits. Balanced loads are much more important. The old saw about finding the best shot size for your gun by careful pattern testing of factory shells is excellent gunning advice. But handloaders can have three, four, different loads, each carefully developed for a specific gun and specific gunning situations.

My handloads on this pass had been carefully evaluated for performance at 50-60 yards. (Continued on page 60)

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