Light Loads


Why is so little written about the other option…staying with 1-1/8 oz. shot and reducing the powder charge,a la Big Green STS light target and undoubtedly others?

If lead versus velocity is academic..and the shot have sufficient energy to break any claybird ( other than assinine Annie Oakley pot shoots from 60-70 yards), isn’t this a better option than reducing shot charge weight? I’m assuming that with proper modification of the gas ports, you can get your beloved gas guns to function with a 2 1/2 dram load.


Dear F.,

The following applies to lead shot, not steel. I have often said that I load everything that I shoot to 1200 fps. It is partly a fib. I often load to 1150 fps. Unless you are shooting marginal loads at long distances, like the ISU shooters, the tiny bit of extra energy from high velocity does nothing. You would be far, far better served by increasing pellet size. High velocity loads just degrade pattern due to setback. They contribute very little to energy. At 40 yards the difference between a lead #7-1/2 starting at 1135 fps and one at 1330 is 1.2 ft/lb vs 1.4 ft/lb. At 60 yards the difference falls to .8 vs .9. A #7-1/2 at 1135fps has the same energy as a #8 at 1330.

Recoil from a 1-1/8 oz load starting at 1150 fps equals slightly over 16 ft/lb, the same as the recoil from a 1 oz load starting at 1275 fps or a 7/8 oz load at 1430 fps. Pick your poison. To me the choice is clear. When shooting lead, I would, and do, pick the slower load with more shot every time. I simply don’t understand otherwise intelligent people who lower their payloads to cut recoil, but then speed things up to “get even”.

I don’t go much lower than 1150 fps because I often travel and have to buy shells. Factory target loads under 1150 are not always available and I want to always practice with what I will shoot in the matches. I don’t think that there is anything ballistically wrong with loads at 1100 fps, but I don’t use them for that reason. My Beretta and Remington gas guns will all shoot 1100 fps 1-1/8 oz loads just fine if I slobber them up with BreakFree CLP in the winter. My guns will not shoot the 950 fps 26 gram Winchester low noise featherweight loads.

If I had to pick one load for every clay target game, it would be hard to beat a 2-3/4 dram 1150 fps 1-1/8 oz load of #7-1/2s.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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3 Responses to Light Loads

  1. Wilco says:

    After using ‘warm’ loads of 1oz shot @ 1300 fps (we are limited to 1 oz in Field and Game Sporting here in Australia) for a number of years I have finally found my thrill in using a light load.
    Thanks to the Technoids missives, I have finally learned (got it through my rather thick skull) that 1 oz @ 1180 fps is all I need to crunch those pesky clays. Looking at time of flight/velocity data there isn’t a lot of difference in time of flight to around 30-40 yards, and only minimal sacrifice in energy on the target.
    To counter this I have gone from using 8’s and 9’s on nearly every target depending on presentation, to using 7.5’s for all targets and be done with it.

    A further benefit as Bill E. states is that recoil reduction is a big plus, and I find my recovery faster for the second shot – the gun just hangs there for the second target.

    Works for me – first time out with the light load on our type of Sporting Clays (similar to FITASC) put a 22/25 and a 24/25 on my card….


  2. Jay says:

    NSCA, ATA, & NSSA should all go to a 24 gm or 7/8 oz. (24.8 gm) standard. There is no downside except maybe a few handicap trap targets from 22 – 27 yards and those guys don’t hit many 100s based on the Grand American Handicap Championship results. In 2016 there was no 100 posted in the GAHC, six scores of 99 topped the score sheet. At that point who cares if the top scores are 97s, 98s, or 99s.


  3. Bill E. says:

    Over the 55 years of my shotgun shooting experience, accumulated recoil has made me very sensitive to recoil and has induced bouts of that dread (some say incurable) affliction, Flinchitis. So for many years I have looked for the shotshell that recoils no more than a lightly loaded BB gun! So far, I have not found that combination. I have not yet resorted to a gas auto because one of my favorite target games is International Trap that makes the use of anything other than break open guns a bit of a chore due to moving between stations with two shots possible. However, I have for over a year found that the Low Recoil Herters Select Target shells sold by Cabelas to be exceedingly soft shooting. These are 1 ounce loads at 1,060 fps and hence the extreme reduction in recoil. I have shot this shell for at least a year now and can say that in 7.5 size shot, they will break any clay target properly lead. I have even shot these in informal FITASC practice and have no trouble breaking any target I point correctly. Obviously, these are not legal for sanctioned Olympic Trap but I don’t shoot those events anymore, primarily due to the fact I can’t effectively compete against the much younger and more talented shooters. The other reason is like Sir Technoid said, the 24 gram authorized loads for ISSF trap are all pushed to at least 1,360 fps and recoil is very sharp and too much for someone like myself. I can also corroborate Technoid (not that he needs any help) that leads are not noticibly different even when using the Low Recoil shells even though they are a full 300 fps slower than the official ISSF stuff. Target breaks if anything, are more decisive with these lower recoiling shells probably due to the extra 1/8 ounce of shot and maybe more even patterns. I have tried these in a couple of gas autos and they would not function the action if the gun was one that would shoot up to 3 inch shells. However, the target dedicated 2 3/4 inch chambered guns like the FABARMS XLR 5 had no issues with them whatsoever. Try them and at $5.50/box you too may find a near perfect shell where 1 ounce is called for.


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