Affordable competition cartridges: 8 of the best
PUBLISHED: 13:11 08 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:47 10 November 2015
Competition-worthy cartridges that won’t break the bank
Clay shooters come in many guises from Olympians for whom shooting, at least for a few years, is their life, to the recreational shooter who only has the time in his otherwise busy life to shoot at his local club. The latter may even enjoy his shooting more as it represents an escape from the pressure of work, while for the Olympic shooter it is work and pressure.
Nevertheless, the weekend shot may still like to compete against his fellow clubmen which is all part of the fun and may well decide who buys the drinks in the pub afterwards. With this in mind, this month’s cartridge selection features shotgun ammunition at modest prices, but I can assure you all the manufacturers make sure they represent great value for money.
1. Hull Superfast
As its branding suggests, this high performance cartridge at a low price is a 27g load that gets to the target faster than you can blink, but the price won’t make your eyes water. In a 70mm case with plastic or fibre wad it’s a shoot-anywhere cartridge and a favourite of the weekend winner. Available in plastic and fibre 7.5, £166-£180 per 1,000.
2. Hull Sporting 100
A brand new clay target load from this renowned northern manufacturer. Delivering a 1oz shot load in 7 ½ and 8 shot sizes at 400fps, its makers have developed a cartridge that is competitive at any level. On the plate, with both shot sizes, it delivered dense and well-distributed patterns that translate into spectacular kills downrange. A new cartridge with a big future. Available in plastic wad 7.5 and 8, £199 per 1,000.
3. Eley First Select
The Eley First cartridge punches well above its price level and the new Select version is even better. In a versatile 67mm case, with either a plastic or the environmentally-friendly fibre wad, it is the natural choice for the clubman. I patterned this load through my Browning Sporter and Brummie boxlock, and with Eley’s Maxum powder and six-star crimp, this cartridge in a white case with gold lettering is as good as it looks. Another great value for money load from GB’s oldest established manufacturer. Available in plastic and fibre, 7, 7.5, 8 and 9, and 21, 24 and 28g. Price to be confirmed, but will be entry level.
4. Eley Hush Power
How many small gun clubs have been closed down because the neighbours complain about the noise? It’s hard to shoot a shotgun quietly, but Eley Hush Power subsonic cartridge helps. The great British cartridge company claims that with a very fast burning powder and the Kleena Evo III fibre wad system they are gaining a reputation for the quietest cartridge around. To test the validity of this claim required the assistance of a staff member of the Oxfordshire Shooting School. While a helpful volunteer prepared to shoot some samples of this cartridge, I retreated to what I considered a suitable distance to listen to some muffled reports. Not very scientific I grant you, but, yes, at about 250 yards they were quieter, though by how much I could not measure. I also shot some Hush Power myself and I must say that although there is less bang for your buck, they broke targets convincingly at some considerable distance. Available in fibre and plastic 7.5, £220 per 1,000.
5. Fiocchi TT One
A local club I visit regularly to carry out gun tests has suddenly become very ‘a la Italiano’ cartridge wise. The Azzurri are there in force in the form of Fiocchi TT One target loads – “Our customers love them,” the ground proprietor enthused. I put one or two through a Perazzi I was reviewing and was also suitably impressed. The ounce load was particularly effective on some high tower birds, and while I wouldn’t expect recoil through an 8½lb gun, they were equally comfortable through another over-and-under a 1½lb lighter. Available in plastic wad 7.5, £156 per 1,000.
6. Fiocchi FBlu
The double-based powder used in the F series cartridges is exceptionally fast and clean burning. For the potential weekend winner who is looking for more performance the F Blu fits the bill. As impressive on the shooting range as on the pattern plate, these competition-bred loads from the manufacturer who supplies most of the ammunition for the Italian Olympic Team could turn you into the top tiratore at your club, too. Available in plastic and fibre 7.5, £169-£175 per 1,000.
7. Gamebore Evo Competition
The makers bill this cartridge as suitable for the serious competition but affordable enough for club shooting. This is just what the potential weekend winner wants to hear. It does not get more serious than Olympic Trap, with its fast targets and difficult angles, and as a friend was competing in a competition that weekend I asked him to try a couple of boxes of Evo on the practise day. This chap is pretty handy but he still needs a good cartridge; he shot two 24 ex 25 with these Gamebore loads and he asked if I could let him have some more. I declined but pointed him in the direction of his local stockist. Available in plastic and fibre, 7.5, 8 and 9, and 21, 24 and 28g, £161-£193 per 1,000.
8. Top Secret
Unfortunately, the second load from Gamebore scheduled for this month missed my copy date, but I understand it will be available for our next issue. Gamebore’s backroom boffins, meanwhile, have been beavering away to produce the ultimate clubman load. Faster, smoother and at a competitive price is all Gamebore are prepared to say right now, but all will be revealed soon.