Hot 24 Gram Olympic Shells

Dear Technoid,

For the first time, we shot Olympic skeet and bunker trap. Bunker is GREAT!!! (No, I didn’t use the 28 gauge for this mass mayhem.) The targets are very fast and come at some ridiculous angles. I think the best I managed was a 14/25. But let me tell you, I WILL do that again!

Now to my question. We shot with two and three other fellows who had obviously done this a great deal. 22+ seemed an average score for these shooters, with one exception. One fellow shot a 24! The entire lot was shooting 8’s or 8.5’s for the first shot and virtually everyone used 71/2’s for the second shot. They typically shot IC for the first shot and F or XF for the following shot. I see why. Everyone was of course shooting 7/8 oz. loads.

I sneaked a peak at the boxes they threw away in the trash can and noted that there were a lot of Olympia (?) and some other brand shells I wasn’t familiar with. The thing that blew me away was the listed velocities on the boxes. Most were 1350 fps and one (unless I need my glasses changed) listed a speed of 1400+! The 1400 or 1450 fps loads were on a box I’m not familiar with and one I’m not sure I could pronounce.

I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask any of them about the shells (source/cost) while they were there. I was too embarrassed to do much of anything while they were there – except stand around with my mouth open.

What do you know about such hyper velocity 12 ga. 7/8 oz. shells, and more importantly, who has loading data to reproduce these loads?

Thanks as always for your sage advice.


Dear George,

Welcome to the Olympic Trench, King of the clay sports! Few things in life (other than perhaps FITASC) are as addictive as a genuine 15 machine Olympic Bunker layout. When I was down coaching sporting clays in Colombia, I also worked with a brand new LaPorte trench that my student had installed just outside the walls of his steel factory so that he could shoot at lunch time. Trench is a great game and I love it dearly. I just wish that there were more trench sites in the US.

As to the 24 gram loads (a tiny bit less than 7/8 oz in metric measurement) you saw, in Colombia we shot Perazzi and Beretta 24 gram shells at the trench, but I have not seen them imported into the US. Federal also makes 24 gram Olympic trap load, but I do not know if it is generally available. I have one of Kim Rhode’s #8 1/2 Federal 24 gram double trap loads when she shot double trap.

I shot some Olympia shells from Poland back in the late ’70s. They were marked “Pawam Pionki”, were paper tubed, had genuine horse hair felt wads and came in wooden and fibre board cases. They were pretty bad, but at $33/500 what else is a young man to do? I have no idea if they are related to the Olympia shells you saw recently. The current production Olympias that I have seen appear to be perfectly nice and modern in every respect.

The tendency is definitely to drive the 24 gram loads at high speed. The theory is that any gain in pellet energy (however slight) is worth it considering the small pellet count. The 24 gram loads have short shot columns and so are inherently tight patterning. They can afford to give up a touch more shot deformation in return for a bit more energy on target. At least that is the theory.

Personally, I really have not experimented much with the 24 gram loads. Generally, I find that speeds above 1150-1200 fps don’t improve things in standard shells. In fact, they generally degrade patterns due to additional pellet deformation. On the other hand, I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that Federal (who provided our Olympic shotgunners with their ammo) looked into this. I don’t know what speed they picked, and I am not going to fire my one authentic Olympic souvenir to find out, but my guess is that it will be in the 1350 fps range like everyone else’s. There has to be a reason and it may well be the additional pellet energy and reduced time to target on those faster birds. The difference in 40 yard flight time between a #7 1/2 started out at 1200 fps and one started at 1330 fps is .01 second. It does not sound like much, but on a wide angle bird it might give you a tiny edge, especially when there is no recoil penalty due to the minuscule amount of shot.

Frankly, knowing International shooters as I do, I think that they went for the higher velocities because the 24 gram loads didn’t hurt enough at lower speeds. In a lot of circles, if it doesn’t kick, it isn’t good.

Don’t believe everything that you read about the velocities printed on the boxes. Chronographs often tell a very different story. Remember, the English and many others test their velocity at the muzzle, not three feet out the way Americans do. You can lose 100 feet per second in that first three feet. I have seen 24 gram loads in the 1350-1400 fps range, but not higher, in spite of what is printed on the box.

As to 24 gram reloads- you may have noticed that I do not give out specific reloading recipes in Shotgun Report. I have been reloading for over 25 years and have done just about every thing dumb and stupid that one can do with a reloader. I KNOW the mindset of the average experimental reloader and I don’t want to get blamed for anything that goes wrong when someone else makes the mistakes I made. That said, there is plenty of information out there on hot “7/8” oz loads so you can blow yourself up without my help. Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook, 4th edition, has some Remington hull recipes in the 1325 fps area and I have seen some in the recent powder manuals (which I can’t find because they are currently on a lower stratum of my horizontal filing system). Most of the 7/8 oz recipes around are for low recoil trainer loads, but there are a few above 1300 fps for the International shooters.

There it is. Everything I know and then some.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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