If you’re a novice or average clay shooter, don’t waste your money on expensive cartridges. Look out for the 24 and 28-gram economy loads that all major manufacturers do and use those, they’ll be fine. Try to get clean burning powder and well-formed cases with strongly attached rims, acceptable recoil and of course good patterns from your gun choke combinations. By good patterns, we mean even pattern without excessive gaps, clustering or balling. Good budget clay loads are:
- Express’s high velocity – quick but low recoiling, great for 2 ½ chambered guns
- Express Procomp – good all-rounder for 70mm guns
- Victory Sporter shell – well priced
- Hull's Chevron High Velocity
- Hull’s ‘Low Recoil’ Chevron - useful for beginners
- Eley's First,
- Gamebore’s popular Clear Winner
- Winchester Trap 100s
If you’re a decent shot, competing at a high level, maybe even internationally, you will benefit from more premium quality cartridges. In this case, look for a high powder shot with a higher content of antimony, which cuts down on deformed pellets and gives more even patterns. If you’re feeling flush, the most expensive pellets contain plated shot which increases pellet hardness and reduces central concentration.
The below are all excellent choices:
- Express Excel Olympian - as used by Olympic Gold Medallist, Richard Faulds
- Express Excel Supreme
- Gamebore White Gold, White Gold F2 and Black Gold Ultimate Performance Competition
- Hull Pro One – smooth and quick, used to train UK Olympic clay shooters
- Hull Sovereign
- Eley VIPs
- Eley Olympic blues – developed for the most testing shooting but affordable
Like the game itself, choosing cartridges for skeet is simple, as there is much less choice. It’s a game of fast crossing targets, so you need small shot to produce a dense pattern. Nearly all UK shots use 9 shot in a 24 or 28-gram load. There’s no need for much velocity, so comfort is the main criteria. Here are a few of the best to try, suitable for both expert and beginner:
- Clever Grand Italia – an enviable reputation at the highest levels. The choice of Olympic shooters.
- Clever competition – value for money
- Hull cartridge Pro One – excellent patterns at Skeet ranges
- Eley Select – excellent choice for the Clubman skeet shooter, good pellet distribution
- Gamebore Evo – a winner at any level
The best recommendation is 7 ½ shot in both barrels in a fast 24-gram load. Cartridge quality and velocity are more important for trap shooting than any other discipline. But obviously you don’t want to shell out on the wrong type. Try these suggestions for the best trap cartridges.
- Hull Comp X -comes in 21-gram and 28-gram, both plastic and fibre wad options, and in either 7.5 or 9 shot sizes. All suitable for use in shorter (2.5”) chambered shotguns.
- Eley Select - Entry-level Select is available in 21, 24 and 28-gram load variants to appeal to all sorts of club shooter
- Clever Mirage SuperTarget - A good all-round sporting cartridge that will double as a competition trap load
If you like to shoot all different disciplines, it makes sense to buy a cartridge that can cover all. If so try the below:
- NSI Multitarget – Perfect to use across multiple disciplines, trap, skeet and sporting.
So now you know what shotgun cartridges to use for what clays, happy shooting whatever discipline you’re practicing. Now you can’t blame the ammunition!