Monday, January 4, 2010

Bitter Bitter Cold Shotgunning

This past weekend I went to my moms cabin in NW Wisconsin. Our plan was to snowmobile and exchange gifts but the cold would tell us differently. I did make it out on the sled for about 60 miles on Friday afternoon with temps around zero, but Saturday it was -26deg when I woke up! So instead I decided to pattern my shotgun. As in Jared's article, I did have a few cripples this year that I know I was right on. For me a cripple almost ruins a hunt. What I was about to find out in patterning would tell me why I was right!
I set out into the cold and snow determined to find a combo that would work in my gun and prove that certain shells I was using sucked. I have a Benelli M1 with a pattern master extended range choke. My shells I used for my test are Winchester Xpert BB, Hevi Shot heavy metal #2 and B, Federal speed shock #4 and Federal field load 2 3/4 shell with 7 1/2 shot.
I started with the Winchester because I used this for a couple of season and part of this season and always felt frustrated using it. I either missed birds that I should have hit or had cripples when the should have been clean kills. I first patterned at 30 yds and wow! The shot pattern dropped about 10 inches from center. I used a tripod stand to help with accuracy so I know I didn't drop the gun when I shot. Not only did the shot drop but it was not consistant at all from shot to shot with some shots having huge holes in the middle! 40yds was even worse with about a 12in-14in drop and just as bad with consistency.
Next I shot the Federal speed shock. I used it opening weekend with good success but at #4 shot that was about the extent. The pattern stayed nice and tight at 30 and 40yds. It had a little drop at center, about 6 inches, but very consistent in pattern.
I shot the field load to see how much of a difference there would be, and mostly to see my pattern so when I'm shooting clays I would know how it lined up. All and all really good. Tight grouping at 30 and 40yds with little to no drop at all.
Next up was the famed Hevi Shot. I switched to Hevi shot at the end of the season after missing one to many birds. I knew that if I could shoot 24 out of 25 on trap and skeet that it had to be more than me misssing the birds. When I made the switch I did have more one shot kills and my pattern would soon show why. I first shot the #2 at 30yds. Holy hell! I have never seen a pattern so tight and centered ever. I shot 3 more at 30yds and you could have laid the cardboard targets on top of each other and not known the difference. I had the same result at 40yds and couldn't have been more impressed. I then shot the Hevi shot B. I had a great pattern at 30yds but at 40yds I had about a 4 inch drop. Still a very consistent pattern, and I guess at 40yds with a heavy shot like B some drop is expected.
The shells I used in this test were shells I had in my locker here at the shop. None of these were given to me by any company and the test was based on my personal ammo choice, and what I had left over. To this point I would say test your shots of choice for yourself, but as for me, spending the money is worth more kills. You can shoot 3 times at a bird with shells that cost 50 cents a piece, or 1 time with a shell that costs 1 dollar. You do the math.

1 comment:

matt13 said...

I absolutely agree! Lucky for me I have found the best shell for me and my Berretta 390 is the el' cheap o Remington Sportsmen # 2 and #4.