Payload Weight


I’m a relatively new sporting clays shooter, but I’m not sure the best ammo to use. I shoot 3 Dram, 1 oz, 8 today and they seem ok. How should I choose ammo?

Thanks for your help.


Dear -e,

As to pellet size, I’ve gone over that a bunch of times. Check out the ShotgunReport archives. But as to payload weight, perhaps I should add a word or two more:

My standard rule of thumb is to shoot the largest pellet load that is COMFORTABLE to shoot in the particular gun I am using. On the other hand, I tend to use slightly slower loads. Recoil from a 1250 fps one ounce load is just about the same as it is from a 1-1/8 oz 1145 fps load. I’d pick the 12% more pellets and 12% larger pattern that a 1-1/8 oz load has rather than the one ounce load than the slight bit of extra speed. The speed difference may be 100 fps at the muzzle, but it’s only half that at 40 yards where it hits the target. I would never trade speed for pellet count.

The only time you will ever find me using one ounce loads is when I am using a gun that kicks me too much when I use heavier loads. For match shooting, I always use all the lead the law allows. If I feel that recoil will be an issue, then I use a gas gun. I don’t ever take a “pellet penalty” when the shot really counts.

Looking at it from the pattern size point of view, if your killing pattern is 20″ with a one ounce load, it will be 21.2″ with a properly choked 1-1/8 oz load. A 1.2″ larger circle diameter doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a lot of area. There is a very good chance it might get you one bird out of 100 or 200 birds. If you start shooting competition, you’ll find out pretty quickly that there is only a one bird difference between walking to the front of the room and standing back by the exit door politely applauding the winner.

Many shooters have convinced themselves that the one ounce load is somehow more “magical” than the standard 1-1/8 oz load. That’s hooey. Every 1-1/8 oz load has a one ounce load riding on the front end. That extra 1/8 oz of shot has to go somewhere. More is more when it comes to pellet count. People who defend the one ounce load as being somehow ballistically superior simply haven’t done their homework or are making up excuses for not being able to handle the recoil of the heavier shell.

And now for the reality check. The emphasis is on comfort. If you aren’t comfortable shooting the larger load, then you won’t shoot as well with it. In that case the lighter load would be the wiser decision. There are lots of people out there who shoot a particular O/U really, really well. They want to stay with that particular gun and know that one ounce is about all they can tolerate when using that gun. In that case, dropping down to one ounce rather than switching guns is smart. BUT, if you are shooting a gas gun or some sort of soft-shooting O/U, you gotta be loony to handicap yourself with a lower pellet count. Loony I said. Yeah, that’s it. Loony. You gotta go now. Visiting hours are over and they want me back in my room.

Best regards,

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

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