Light Loads


From time to time you get questions regarding 7/8 loads in a 12 gauge. Several popular writers such as Michael McIntosh and Les Grevy sing their praises from time to time. I shot them almost exclusively for about three years. I even shot them in tournaments. Then one day I looked back at my log book. My percentages had fallen from about 80% to below 65%. Prior to using the light loads I had shot 1 1/8 oz 2 3/4 dram loads and 1 oz 1180 ft/sec loads. I thought I was in a slump.

In particular, I could not hit long range going away targets reliably at all. Come the first of this year, I decided to change something. I went out and bought myself a couple of flats on Remmington Nitro 27 1 1/8 oz #8 shot loads. My scores improved dramatically. I am back at 80% on sporting. Same gun and same shooter.

Sure, the big shells kick more, but they also break a lot more targets. With the big shells, there are a few birds that I break with the fringe of the pattern. You can often read these breaks and compensate on the next shot. With the little shells and marginal technique you just miss and you have no idea where.

I now think that 7/8 oz loads in a 12 gauge are something for gun writers to write about but are a poor choice for the average shooter.


Dear Marshall,

Les and I have gone over this quite a number of times. We have often thought about doing a pro/con article on it, but just never got around to it. If you read back through my stuff  you’ll find out that I have always been a “Use all the lead the law allows” kind of guy. I have never advocated light loads unless a shooter simply couldn’t take the recoil of standard loads.

Many people do shoot light loads better. There’s no denying it. That doesn’t mean that the light load is better ballistically. It just means that the person can’t handle the recoil of a full load. Most of these people would be better off using a soft kicking gas gun and a full load than switching to a light load to make their hard kicking O/U more bearable. I shoot all sorts of guns because I have to do a gun review once a month. But when the chips are down, I cook with gas. And yes, I shoot 1-1/4 oz loads in FITASC. Every now and then it buys me a bird. My gas gun doesn’t mind and my otherwise tender body is no worse for wear. I wouldn’t want to shoot a case of those sweethearts in my FN O/Us.

The stuff about the light loads having some kind of magical pattern ability is pure hooey. Every 1-1/8 oz load has a 7/8 load riding on the front end. That quarter ounce of extra pellets have to go somewhere and that somewhere is generally sweetening the fringe. Look at it this way- if you were offered a million dollars to make one clays shot, would you stuff in a 7/8 oz load or use all the lead the law allows? Shoots are won by one bird, just like that million dollars. If your gun kicks you too much with 1-1/8 oz loads, don’t switch shells to something with a smaller effective pattern. Switch guns.

That’s the hammer and tong approach from your Blasting Barbarian and Trigger Troglodyte

Best regards,

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

This entry was posted in Shotgun related and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Light Loads

  1. Ted Cherry says:

    +1 on this reply! No doubt about it, and why the question keeps coming up is strange? The more pellets, the more chance of hits, especially at longer distances. End of story!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.