Article 6 – 2014
Question: I want to follow up on a response you gave in an earlier article about what is the best shot shell load to use for breaking clays. I mainly shoot what you would loosely call “sporting clays”. I have a close friend who has a couple of throwing machines set up on a property and we vary the shooting distances from as close10 metres to around 60 metres. Sometimes with varying degrees of success. I like Winchester 24 gram loads, but my friend swears by 32-gram loads. We both agree 7 ½ shot size is best. Can you advise us?
Graham Parker, Sunbury VIC
Answer: Obviously with the great variance in distance you are shooting these clay targets at Graham there is not one perfect load for all of your shots. Or one shot size for that matter.
The article you where referring to was a question I was asked about “if you had one shot shell that you had to use to break a clay to save your life what would it be?”. This is vastly different to the question you are posing. At the time I think I answered a 36 gram 6 ½ shot as I have no doubt that the more shot you have in your loads the better chance you have of some of it hitting the target. I suggested large 6 ½ shot simply for killing power. An “edge on” target will break better with 6 ½ shot than it will with 7 ½ shot. 36-gram loads give you more pattern density than 24 gram loads which will again give you a greater chance of breaking the target no matter what the distance.
In saying all that I am not suggesting that you need a load such as the one I have mentioned above to break clays when you are standing beside a clay thrower in a paddock shooting them at 10 metres. Despite the massive overkill in shot size and expense it will be highly unpleasurable to use these loads for too long due to the massive amount of recoil they will punish you with. Your 24 gram 7 ½’s are more than adequate, but to be pedantic maybe 9 ½’s for this distance are better due to a slightly greater pattern spread and of course pattern density. Your 60 metre shots require something else though I am afraid. That range is at the outer limits of most standard target loads. It would require a full choke in your shotgun to gain the maximum performance from any target shot shell. Assuming you would not like to use any more than say a 28 gram load to save your shoulder a bit of wear and tear due to recoil I would suggest a 1300 feet per second 28 gram number 7 shot (or 6 ½ ‘s if you can get it) with 5% shot antimony to keep the shot pattern as tight as possible for as long as possible. This type of shot shell will come at a premium price I am afraid. The perfect all round load for what you are doing is a 28-gram, no greater than 1250 feet per second, 7 ½ shot with 3 % shot antimony. This type of shell is widely available and is relatively cheap.
I hope this helps. Enjoy your shooting.