Plated Shot Pattern Tests


I don’t know if this qualifies for a JTOP3rd class but I do have a little pattern info on plated shot . All of the patterns I quote are 5 shots and are out of a 390 Beretta and the chokes are Briley extended. Percentage is in 30″ circle at range stated.
#1- 50 yds. Kent Super Sporting (1250 fps) 1 1/8-7.5
Mod. choke Nickle pltd.= 50%
Full ” ” ” = 53%

#2-50yds. Federal Intl (24grm) (1300 fps) 7/8-7.5
Full ” Copper ” = 61%

#3-50yds Remington STS 3 Dr (1200fps) 1 1/8-7.5
Mod ” unplated =53%
Full ” ” =61%

Just as an aside the 24 grm Federal load puts an avg of 187 pellets in the 30″ circle at 50 yds while the Kent load averages 207.

When I want to hit a target “way out there” I reach for the 3dr. STS load myself. Hope this sheds a little light on the subject.


Dear Nick,

Veeery interesting. Though only testing three different shells isn’t conclusive, your experiments have jibed with mine. The fact that the plated Kents were more open than the unplated STS shows that PLATING IS ONLY ONE of the factors that goes into the pattern quality of a particular shell. By itself, it doesn’t automagically do a great deal. You have to look at the total component package of shot hardness, wad design, powder burn rate, crimp strength and primer brissance.

That #2 Federal Olympic load has an extremely good reputation, but the fact that it patterns the same 61% as the much heavier payload of the STS (thus putting fewer actual pellets in the pattern- 187 Fed vs 240 Rem) just goes to show what can happen when you sacrifice payload. So many people think that these light loads are somehow magical and can actually put more pellets in the pattern than can heavier loads. When everything else is equal, they don’t.

Using published shot tables, here’s the pellet count of hits in the 30″ circle that Nick’s percentages indicate.

#3 Remington 1-1/8 oz STS unplated: 240 hits for a 61% pattern
#2 Kent 1-1/8 oz plated: 208 nominal hits for a 53% pattern
#1 Federal 24 gram (7/8 oz) plated: 181 nominal hits for a 61% pattern

The good performance of the 1-1/8 oz unplated STS shows that plating isn’t everything. It also shows that Might Makes Right and More Really Is Better. Even when you compare the less efficient 1-1/8 Kents against the 24 gram Federals, the pellet hit advantage is still 208 Kent to 181 Federal. That’s the advantage of brute force and overwhelming numbers.

One of the reasons that I shoot a gas gun when I am serious about clays is that I can happily use full 1-1/8 oz loads in it and not suffer from recoil as I do when I use the same loads in my O/U. I’ve never believed that one ounce or 7/8 oz loads were “just as good”. Less is less when everything else is equal (STS vs Fed). Less is usually less when things aren’t equal too (Kent vs Fed). I refuse to let the type of gun I shoot dictate the shell I use. It should be the other way around. You pick the shell that gives you the best chance to hit and then you select your gun based on using that shell. Far too many people decide on a particular type of gun and then have to compromise on the shell in order to withstand the recoil. Bad decision.

Oops! What a diatribe! Too much caffeine. I love my O/Us, pumps and SxS guns. I really do.

As an aside and for what it’s worth, I did a comparison test between the Remington 3 dram 1-1/8 oz STS and the el cheapo Remington Gun Club 3 dram 1-1/8 oz loads. The STS averaged 74% from my Extended Full Briley choke (.035″) at 40 yards. The Gun Clubs averaged 64%. I believe that the main cause of the pattern difference in this particular case was shot hardness.

As an aside, Nick later wrote me that he got 67% from the Remington Gun Club 2-3/4 dram 1-1/8 oz #8 when shot at 40 yards using a Briley Modified. I got 64% from the Gun Club 3 dram 1-1/8 oz #7-1/2 at 40 yards. Nick got a higher percentage with a more open choke. Obviously, every gun and choke combination is a little different and the test shells weren’t exactly the same, but it just goes to show that patterning shotguns is an APPROXIMATE exercise. You really shouldn’t get too caught up in the last few percentage points of pattern.

Bottom line: The basic rule of pattern evaluation is that “Pellets, not percentages, break targets”.

Nick, thanks for sharing your work.

Best regards,

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

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