View Full Version : Patterning shotguns

01-12-2015, 11:02 PM
Before we start, I know the answer to my questions/discussion is to pattern the gun. So I guess the question, assuming before hand they will be different, is: Why are they different? With that said...

I've been playing around with some light 7/8 oz loads for sporting clays. The loads I had last year were hot loads with Red Dot, probably around 1300+ fps. I shot a couple of rounds of SC with them and did pretty well with a full choked gun and absolutely terrible with a skeet choke. I'm loading a really light load now for an over under and want them to kick as little as possible. I'm trying for around 1150 fps. Kids or my wife may end up shooting them and I want a pussycat... So what I'm wondering about the pattern is this, might the slower loads pattern better?

The most accurate 22 Rimfire rounds are standard velocity. If I push light pellets too fast out of an air rifle I get shot gun pattern groups. Too fast, like CCI Stingers, just scatter and light pellets are ridiculously frustrating to try and hit anything with when pushed to fast. So I'm wondering if those too fast light loads were scattering way too fast with the skeet choke and there was huge holes in the pattern. The full choke was working good but was tight enough to start but still made a big pattern to help me hit birds. Imagine trying to throw a handful of sand really hard. It's going to scatter quickly and just make dust. Now imagine throwing it slowly, underhanded and you'd be able to keep it somewhat together.

I have to believe you can only push 7.5 or 8 shot so fast before the pellets get buffeted so bad that they just scatter, you know, like a shotgun... :D

I know the truth is really in shooting a pattern target and I'll do that when I get some time and a decent day. Just wanted to discuss this as a reloading subject so I'd love to hear your thoughts.


01-14-2015, 12:18 AM
I guess it should also be noted that I'm using inexpensive (not hardened) shot which will deform more when fired at higher velocities. I really need to pattern these loads...


01-14-2015, 11:17 PM
No idea. I haven't reloaded shotgun stuff in 20 years. If it don't shoot good in a skeet choke you got a problem. I love the Rem 1100 skeet 20g for sporting clays.

01-15-2015, 01:34 AM
I hope to shoot some on Sunday when we have a five stand sporting clays shoot at our club. I'm going to put modified chokes in both barrels and see what happens.


01-15-2015, 03:51 PM
It's easy enough to pattern a shotgun. It helps to put a very clear aiming point on the middle of the cardboard, and a large drawing compass makes it even easier when it's time to count all the little holes. I have friends who hunt waterfowl and they are always trying whatever the latest ammo that comes out to see how well it will pattern in their hunting guns. That's full choke and they set the boards at 35 to 40 yards with that larger shot. I have learned a lot by drawing circles and counting little holes in the paper and seeing big holes (or not) in the shot patterns. With a target gun or an upland bird gun you would want to be a lot closer with your pattern board, 20-25yds, or even closer as your targeting range can vary in sporting clays and you'd need to know when the patterns opened too much with different chokes. That's a lot of little holes to count with #7.5 birdshot, and a lot more of them with the #9.5 shot you'd be using. I don't think I've ever bothered to pattern my 870, it hits the partridges and the clay birds when I pay attention.

I don't load them now, never did very many, just wanted to learn how it was done. I still have an ancient 20ga Lee Loader hand tool, wads and primers gathering dust somewhere. I seldom go through more than 100 shotshells a year at clay birds, I may actually fire my shotgun twice or three times during bird season (though next year I should be better able on my feet and may use up a box of 25 again as usual, the dog sure would appreciate it). It just hasn't seemed worth the cost of components when 12 & 20ga ammo has been so cheap for so long and I use so little of it.

01-17-2015, 04:00 AM
100 rounds a year!? Heck, that's a light practice session for the boy! :D

Smallest shot I load is #9 and I've only loaded that in 410. I'm thinking about using it in the 7/8 loads to get the pellet count up. Haven't tried it yet but I might. I've been loading 8 shot in 1oz and 7/8oz loads. I'll get to try some of them on Sunday. I've settled on a load for my son, 1oz of 8 and 700x powder. Now I'm messing around to figure out a lighter load for the o/u that my wife could shoot and enjoy.

I also have 6 bags of 7.5 shot. I may end up using that in 1 1/8 oz loads again to get the pellet count higher. I could still load them down for the double or pump and load them a little hotter for the automatic.

Whatever I do, it's been a lot of fun doing all the reloading I'm doing and I have plenty more to load.