Confused Yet?

Oh Mighty Tecnoidalness!

If 1-1/8 oz loads are so much better as you say, why do I get better scores from my O/U with one ounce loads? Show me the path to true happiness. Lift the scales from my eyes. That sort of stuff.


Dear Mason,

Since you are a true believer, forged in the crucible of recoil and powder smoke, I’m gonna tell you straight.

Technoidal dictum #6-A: “More is always more until it’s too much.”

Ballistically 1-1/8 oz beats 1 oz beats 7/8 oz every time. There simply isn’t any magic load that meaningfully outperforms a larger load due to “square shot column” or “perfect burn rate” or extra pins in the voodoo doll. Remember, every 1-1/8 oz load has a one ounce and a 7/8 oz load riding on the front end. Those extra pellets have to go somewhere. Lighter loads may pattern very slightly higher percentages, but they are only slightly higher percentages of significantly lower pellets counts. Ballistically more is always better. Has to be. Got to be.

But ballistics aren’t the only thing that counts. Being able to hit what you aim at is what counts. Hitting with one ounce is vastly better than missing hard with two ounces. If you can’t hit with a shell, then it doesn’t matter how ballistically superior it is.

As a very general rule of thumb, for every 1% you change the speed or payload of a shell, you alter recoil 2%. So decreasing a payload from 1-1/8 oz to 1 oz (keeping velocity the same) will lower your recoil something over 20%. For many people that’s very noticeable. In an O/U, which does nothing to help with the recoil, that might be just enough recoil reduction to allow you to shoot more comfortably, to keep you head more into the stock and to generally shoot better. If that’s the case, then the one ounce load is the superior shell for you with that gun.

For many people who shoot O/Us instead of the lower recoiling gas guns, dropping from 1-1/8 oz down to 1 oz increases their scores because they can now handle the recoil. You’ll probably find with further experimentation that dropping even more down to 7/8 oz will not provide a similar benefit and may actually start to hurt your scores. The ISSF has certainly found this in Olympic shooting where the rule is a 24 gram load (a bit less than 7/8 oz). Even though Olympic athletes have gotten better each year, shotgun scores have not gotten better since going to the 24 gram load. It has kept scores down as it was intended to because it is ballistically so miserable.

And now the decision for the faithful! If you take my word for it that 1-1/8 oz is superior ballistically, and I take your word for it that you shoot 1 oz better in your O/U, what’s the path to ballistic Nirvana? For most sensible shooters, it’s stick with the one ounce load and the O/U.

But for the true Technoidal sick puppies, you should never let the gun you are shooting condemn you to a ballistically inferior load. You want the most at any cost. So the believers stick with the 1-1/8 oz loads and find a gun they can shoot it in comfortably. The shell decides the gun. Not the other way around. For many people (or all people sooner or later if you shoot enough), that means going to a soft kicking automagic or getting a trick hydro/pneumatic stock for the O/U. Tough love, but there it is in the real world.

There is even a movement afoot to limit the American sporting load to one ounce as the English have done. Clearly this is the work of woosie O/U shooters who have been pounded to death and have to go to one ounce to survive and yet don’t want to compete against gas gun shooters using 1-1/8 oz. It’s a “let’s bring everyone down to our level” kind of argument. In true Technoidal excessiveness, I’d go the other way. I’d remove all shell restrictions from clay shooting. Shoot anything you can stand. We’d pretty quickly find out where the curve of performance and pain cross. We’d also see a lot more gas guns and O/Us with recoil absorbing stocks.

And to show you that I put my money where my mouth is…. I shoot a lot of 28 gauge. Yup. Sometimes I opt out. Like you and many others, I find constant 1-1/8 oz loads in my O/Us uncomfortable after days, weeks, months, years, decades. Like you, I probably shoot the 1 oz loads better, certainly over a long day. But unlike you, I don’t listen to me! No one in their right mind would. I’m not out there getting whacked. You are.

It’s all really a balance. If you are a top class competitive shooter and want to win, you need every pellet allowed by law and you should shoot a gun that lets you take advantage of that. If you are a weekend warrior and want to do pretty well at the local club with your favorite O/U, then one ounce makes good sense. If you simply don’t give a damn and want to have the most fun allowed by law, try the 28.

Confused yet? Me too.

Best regards,

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

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