Beretta Blog

Shotgun Shells: The Ins and Outs of Selection (Part 1)

Posted by matteo recanatini on Jun 12, 2012 3:56:00 AM

By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor

How I love my hand loads!
In a previous entry by fellow blogger Adam Brassfield titled “Shell Selection for Waterfowl”, Adam talks about what size shot he would typically use for different types of waterfowl.  What he based everything off of was the size of  bird he would be chasing that certain day.  Adam laid down some great groundwork for new and old hunters that sometimes get mislead on what size shot they should be using.  This is the first thing everyone should take into consideration when choosing shot.  I would recommend reading that post as he has some great information in it.
For the next few segments we will take it a step further now that you understand that using 3.5” BB during early teal season is akin to bringing a SCUD missile to a boxing match.
I could honestly go on for hours and probably lose your attention with everything I am about to throw at you so for the sake of time and attention I will break this up into 3 different segments.  Factory VS hand loads, patterning, and what you can do to manipulate variables to achieve the outcome you are looking for.
After the jump I will talk briefly about factory ammo as well as hand loads….
So the first thing that you need to understand is that sometimes factory ammo can be more of a gimmick than a tried and true performer.  I personally jumped on the Black Cloud bandwagon when it first came out like many others and for good reason.  The ammo was marketed based on the wad design that would not allow the shot to leave the cup (wad) until about 10 yards from the end of the barrel.  This improved long range shots due to the tight patterning and left people in amazement at the shots they were able to take.  What people didn’t understand is that the shot loaded into the shell was no different than any other conventional steel shot.  The misconception lead to folks using the BC on decoying birds, and a lot of misses came as a result.
Then came Hevi Steel by Environmetal.  This stuff is what I like to run if for some reason I run out of my home loads and don’t have time to crank out a few boxes before the next hunt.  When you really look at the physics of this load you begin to understand that this type of load makes more sense because of its actual knock down power or terminal momentum.  This load uses a mix of hevi shot and conventional steel to achieve its effectiveness.
The ultimate way to get the best ballistics out of your gun is hand loading.  I started hand loading last year and haven’t looked back.  I can load heavy, light, fast, slow, or any combination of these to achieve my desired results.  My most recent load is running at 1750 fps with #4 conventional steel in a 1oz 2.75” load.  This has enough terminal momentum to drop ducks out to 45+ yards.  With this kind of performance, all my buddies are asking me to start loading boxes up for them!  I am now a firm believer in hand loading all of my ammunition.

In the next segment of this topic we will be talking about how to find out what works best out of your gun.  Patterning different shells is the key to success!  That Black Cloud just might be the best option for you out of your current configuration.

Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog.  He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.

Make sure you follow Beretta on FacebookTwitterYouTube.

This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.

Topics: Reloading, Hunting, Clay Shooting