Steel/Lead Target Load Comparison


Bruce:
Our club has switched to “non-toxic”, i.e. steel. Club selling only 6’s and
7’s. What do you recommend for 16-yard trap and for skeet? Either of these
sizes or something else?

Your help appreciated as always.

Dave

Dear Dave,

The normal rule of thumb in the lead to steel transition is to increase the size of the pellet by two sizes for waterfowl loads. I’m not as sure that it holds true in target sized shot quite as much.

I’ll list lead target loads at a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps, while the steel target loads are normally made with a muzzle velocity of 1300 fps. I’ll use 32 yards as the distance as that is a pretty average breaking point for 16 yard ATA-style trap.

  • Lead #7-12 1200, energy at 32 yards 1.33 ft/lb, one ounce pellet count 350
  • Lead #8 1200 fps, energy at 32 yards 1.08 ft/lb, one ounce pellet count 410
  • Lead #8-1/2 1200 fps, energy at 32 yards, 0.86 ft/lb, one ounce pellet count 497
  • Steel #6 1300 fps, energy at 32 yards 1.33 ft/lb, one ounce pellet count 314
  • Steel #7 1300 fps, energy at 32 yards 0.90 ft/lb, one ounce pellet count 399

A one ounce load of #7 steel started at 1300 fps is equivalent to a 13/16 oz 1200 ft/lb load of lead #8-1/2s in pellet count and individual pellet energy. A one ounce 1300 fps load of steel #6s equals a 7/8 ounce 1200 fps load of lead #7-1/2s in both pellet count and pellet energy.

#7-1/2 lead is more than you need for 16 yard ATA trap or skeet, so I’d probably go with the one ounce steel #7s which are the 13/16 oz #8-1/2 lead equivalent. #8-1/2 lead has been proven to work fine on 16 yard ATA trap and certainly is OK for skeet. You’ll be down on pellet count, but you can’t have everything when you shoot steel.

Also, don’t forget to do some patterning and be prepared to open your chokes a but when going from lead to steel.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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Ports And Taper Backboring


Technoid:

I have a Beretta 682 Gold Sporting that I’m thinking of dumping a whole lot more money into, but would value an opinion first. My particular model is not ported nor is it backbored, and I’m thinking of sending it out for both. Seminole Gunworks can do a tapered backbore that starts at a hefty .741.

My question is, what can I expect for the money? Hopefully I can expect less muzzle jump and better second target acquisition. Hopefully I can expect a little less recoil. Hopefully I can expect a slightly lighter barrel. Is this wishful thinking? Can I get similar results from lengthened forcing cones at lesser expense?

David

Dear David,

Welllll, since you asked I will abandon my usual reticence and dole out a steaming dose of my usual priceless advice. “Skip the modifications and spend the money on something else.”

About 1/3 of the people that I talk to THINK that their porting does something. About 2/3s of those I talk to don’t think that it does a darn thing. I belong to the latter school and think that porting is a total waste of time and just another sales gimmick. In theory, it should help a bit. In fact, the gas pressures generated by the typical target load simply aren’t high enough to do much. If porting comes on the gun, I wouldn’t worry about it, but I would never pay for it. It will also make the gun harder to resell in some cases because many people find ports aesthetically repugnant on a good gun.

That porting comparison article in Sporting Clays was a bunch of hooey because it shows porting in a free recoil situation. In real life you use a lot of left hand on the gun and stock pitch also comes into play. I never said that porting didn’t work at all. I just said that it doesn’t work enough to matter with commonly used target loads. To be fair though, the pigeon shooters just love it, but then they are always taking two quick shots at the same target and are using Rhino Rollers.

Tapered backboring? I guess that it was bound to happen once the old standard backboring gimmick started to wear off. Taper boring is nothing new and has been around since the original New England Baker gun company back in the late 1800s. Taper boring was quite common on rifles. I had Stan Baker in Seattle backbore some Belgian Brownings for me back in the ’80s and never noticed any reduction in recoil. As a matter of fact, backboring actually increases recoil because it reduces gun weight.

The one thing that I DO recommend backboring for is to alter barrel weight. Many of the modern screw choke guns come with barrels that are far too log-like. The cheap way of installing modern screw chokes used by just about all the current makers adds a bunch of extra metal at the very front of the gun. This destroys the balance of the gun. This is why so many knowledgable shooters prefer the older solid choke O/Us with custom thin wall chokes from the aftermarket. The average new shooter doesn’t know the difference and accepts the poor balance of the current crop of guns. You can’t blame him. If a guy has come into the shotgun market in the past four or five years, he simply doesn’t know that was every anything properly balanced.

One of the problems with aftermarket backboring of a modern screw choke gun is that you can’t pull out too much metal without interfering with the screw choke threads and, of course, recalibrating all the chokes. “Taper” backboring sounds (though I have never measured out a Seminole taper backbored barrel) like a really smart way to sell the product (backboring) without getting caught up in redoing chokes. You just taper the bore down to the original diameter just in front of the chokes. This way you avoid the messy business of mucking about in the choke area and yet you can still advertise “backboring”. Good business for a machine shop.

Does taper backboring work? I don’t have the vaguest idea. I am not aware of any unbiased studies where regular backboring has been actually PROVEN to improve patterns or lower recoil, so I have my doubts as to whether tapering the backbore would do anything. I would just love to hear from some readers who can tell me why backboring can lower recoil. From the shop foreman’s point of view though it is a clever concept.

As to weight reduction: Because I don’t know the dimensions to which Seminole backbores, I will guestimate. If it starts at .741″, as you say, and tapers down to the usual Beretta I.D. of .723″, you will be removing an average of .009″ bore in 30″ barrels (I assume) less the chambers, cones and choke areas. According to the little formula I plugged into my Excel spread sheet, you ought to end up losing about 2.2 oz. This is normally enough to be noticeable, BUT most of that weight reduction will take place at the rear of the barrel and much less at the front. Remember, I am assuming that Seminole will be leaving the choke area alone. Bottom line is that it will not make much of a difference in the way that the gun feels. It may actually make the gun feel heavier up front than it already is. Anyway, that is my best guess.

I generally have found that elongated forcing cones do cut perceived (not measured) recoil by the tiniest percent, but it depends on how long the cones were to start with. They also improve pattern percentages by the tiniest percent in SOME guns when using larger sized shot. Check the cone length on your gun. Beretta Gold’s should already come with long cones. (Beretta believes in long cones, but not backboring. Browning Japan is just the opposite. Browning Belgium believes in neither. Krieghoff believes in both plus a ton of road hugging weight) I don’t think that lengthening the cones on the Gold will be worth it. Besides, you will have to cut through the chrome lining on the bores and that can cause more leading in the cone area.

Bottom line: I think that you would be best leaving your Beretta Gold alone. If you want to reduce recoil and barrel jump to a noticeable extent, take the money you saved by not making the modifications and buy a Beretta 391 or A400 30″ sporter.

There it is. More humble wisdom of the ages from your shy and retiring Guru of Gunning Gear.

Regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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How To Use A Turkey Slate Call


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28 Gauge Sporting Shot Size


Dear Technoid,

I am thinking of trying my 28 gauge at Sporties… My question is,,would 7 1/2`s even be useful? or should I just stick with 8`s and 9`s being the shot load is only 3/4 oz?

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Rich

Dear Rich,

I shoot a fair amount of sporting with my 32″ 28 gauge Perazzi and have never found the need to use anything other than #8 shot. Of course, I have fixed chokes and they are pretty tight. If you have screw chokes, you’d probably do well to maximize that little shot load by using #9s for skeet distance birds and then use #8s for regular stuff. With only 3/4 oz to play with, the pellet count of #7-1/2s would seem to be a disadvantage. I’ve broken some very long birds with #8s.

In the small gauges, pellet count really becomes important. Pellet count vs pellet energy is always a issue, but in the little guns I’d lean to pellet count.

Also, little guns have little bores. That means that they might have a definite preference for pellet size. Some small bores do not handle larger pellet sizes well. My Perazzi 28 handles #8 and #7- 1/2 quite well, but my wife’s Beretta 28 prefers #8s. A little patterning could really pay off in helping your decision.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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How To Call Turkeys


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The Technoid Opines-Briefly, on A400, BPS Trap


Your opinion on the Beretta A400 and the Browning BPS Trap? I have a synth. 3901 28 inch barrel for everything (doves, ducks, all clay target games, and turkey. My daughters required removal almost 2 inches off the stock of an old Browning Gold with a target gas piston that shoots ok but cleaning is required more than the 3901. I can shoot it with a slip Pach. recoil pad with a lot of cardboard inserts for length of stock.

Thanks- Ed

Dear Ed:

I’m not really sure what your question is. The A400 is a nice auto, but I don’t think that it’s any better than the 391 or the 390. Your 3901 (basically a 390) is an excellent gun. Reliable, versitile and ideal for what you are using it for. Unless you really want a new gun, the 3901 should be all you need.

As to the BPS trap, I’d definitely get an 870 trap before a BPS trap. I’m not a big fan of bottom ejection and I felt that the 870s were smoother than the BPS, at least the ones I’ve had of both showed this. Either one would be a buy as a used gun as these pumps never wear out.

As to the Browning Gold, what can I tell you. When you cut the stock for someone, you run into this sort of thing.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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