8 cartridges perfect for pigeons

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

A selection of cartridges that are perfect for pigeon shooting...

cartridges action shot

cartridges action shot - Credit: Archant

There was a time when the ammunition manufacturers did not produce cartridges specifically for woodpigeon shooting, and it seemed anything would do for the Columba palumbus. In recent years however, with its rise in status as the UK’s major agricultural pest and a quarry species that offers some of the best and most challenging form of wing shooting available, they’ve made a serious study of the cartridge required to meet the pigeon shooter’s needs. In this area of shotgun ballistics, research and development has continued apace, and so this month’s column features the very latest pigeon loads from no less than four top manufacturers. All of them have established enviable reputations for their game loads over the years and are now equally dedicated to providing the same standard of excellence for those who pursue what is perhaps GB’s most sporting bird.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

1. Hull Cartridge Special Pigeon

Another specially formulated load from this great northern manufacturer. In a 70mm case with a 32g load, for the pigeon shooter going for big bags over crops, or roost shooting in the early months of the year, this cartridge is a great all-rounder. Easy on the pocket but tough on the quarry, this load represents huge value for money.

Available in fibre wad 6, £254.50 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

2. Hull Cartridge SuperFast

A high velocity 29g load with a plastic wad in a 70mm case, it’s a fast cartridge at 1,425fps, which meets the challenge that roost shooting presents. I found this cartridge combined impressive knock-down power at distance with low recoil. Definitely the pigeon load for the sportsman looking for both performance and a load that’s easy on the shoulder for when the grey hoards are streaming thick and fast all day.

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Available in fibre and plastic wad 6, £190-£195 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

3. Lyalvale Express Pigeon Power

Featuring a 70mm case length and 29g shot load with fibre or plastic wad, this cartridge is the ‘automatic’ choice for the pigeon shooter who uses an auto-loading shotgun. Consistent ballistics provide reliable cycling and, just as importantly, excellent patterns with either wad on the pattern plate. In the field, this pigeon load from Express really performs in every way, and in every kind of gun.

Available in plastic or fibre wad 6, £172-£185 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

4. Lyalvale express Pigeon Special

A long-time favourite of the pigeon shooter, the 65mm case length is suitable for older English game guns. But that doesn’t mean it’s in any way less effective than its longer rival. This cartridge patterns particularly well in my old ‘Brummie’ boxlock, and makes for a deadly combination, both in the pigeon hide and when roost shooting. This, combined with low recoil, makes it an all-day cartridge for shooting big bags.

Available in 30g fibre and plastic wad 6, £227-£229.75 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

5. Eley Pigeon Select

With a 70mm plastic case and 30g of six shot, this is another excellent choice for the shooter who uses an auto-loader or a heavier double-barrelled gun. With all the benefits of being an integrated manufacturer (which means they produce all their own components), Eley is able to ensure it achieves a perfect balance between primer, propellant and wad. Pigeon Select is yet another example of Eley’s carefully-made cartridges specially developed for the pigeon shooter.

Available in 30g fibre and plastic wad 6, £188-£195 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

6. Eley Pigeon

This cartridge has been the nemesis of countless woodpigeon over the years, and is the natural choice for many pigeon shooters. Its 67mm case is compatible with almost any shotgun, and a choice of 30g or 32g loads covers all kinds of pigeon-shooting conditions. On dark February evenings or sunlit stubbles in August, this British cartridge will be found doing a great job on pest control and crop protection.

Available in 30g and 32g fibre and plastic wad 6.5, £217.50-£221.25 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

7. Gamebore Pigeon Extreme

This load was developed in partnership with the renowned George Digweed, as famous for his prowess in the shooting field as he is on the clay pigeon layout. Targets at range, live or inanimate, are his speciality and Pigeon Extreme incorporates a lot of Digweed know-how. At the covert side in February, a 34g load can be just what you need, so always keep Pigeon Extreme in your cartridge bag for pigeons that are high and wide.

Available in 34g plastic wad 5, £278.50 per 1,000.

pigeon cartridges

pigeon cartridges - Credit: Archant

8. Gamebore Clear Pigeon

No longer in a clear plastic case, but the message is still obvious; this cartridge, in terms of price and performance, is great value for money. All the same high standards of manufacture go into this budget pigeon load and its performance speaks for itself.

Available in 30g and 32g fibre and plastic wad 6, £208.50-£218 per 1,000.

Eight examples of fine ammunition, and all from British manufacturers; how fortunate we are to have them, with their intimate understanding of our sport, the quarry, the guns we use and the conditions in which we use them. As another game-shooting season comes to a close, they all deserve our thanks and appreciation for their efforts on our behalf.