Charlie Bull of Just Cartridges looks at four of his favourite new clayshooting cartridges

There are some fantastic new products on the market, in particular, a couple of stunning new high-performance competition loads which will be suitable for those longer targets and some more mainstream products for club shoots, practice or simulated days. So what have we got?

clayshooting cartridges

Gamebore Black Gold Dark Storm £££

Gamebore’s brand-new Black Gold Dark Storm clay range is a stunning new competition clay shell with blistering performance suitable for longer targets, in particular FITASC. This comes on the back of the company’s Dark Storm game range, introduced last year to complement the original Black Gold. The Dark Storm game range was introduced at the beginning of the game season last year and I have never seen such a response to a new product. It was the best-selling game shell of the season and by a good margin, coming in a variety of loads and offering superior performance.

We can assume that Gamebore will have got the clay load right: it is loaded in the same 70mm High Density Black Gold case, giving reduced recoil, which can only help with high performance loads. The packaging has a subtle black-on-black design which actually has the reverse (desired?) effect of being quite in your face! It is only available in a plastic wad ensuring consistent performance and in conjunction with the company’s Diamond Shot gives truly exemplary patterns. Performance is achieved with B & P’s F2 single base powder with Gamebore’s brand new FAF technology, a very closely guarded secret, also incorporated. And what performance it is, registering a blistering 1,550fps. This is a cartridge for the connoisseur competition shooter, but who knows? Maybe it will also help us lessermortals improve our scores? The new Dark Storm are not cheap at £243 per 1,000 but they do the business!

Dark Storm tech specs

Case Length:                   70mm

Muzzle Velocity:            1550fps

Powder:                           B & P F2

Antimony Content:         4% Diamond Shot

Load:                               28gm

Wad:                                Plastic

Shot Sizes:                       6½, 7½, 8

Price:                                £243 per 1,000


Fiocchi cartridges

Fiocchi FBlack ££

Fiocchi has a fantastic middle market product in the shape of its FBlack, introduced just over a year ago.

With a muzzle velocity of 1,450fps it represents truly great value for the performance. Introduced to complement its sister FBlu range, the FBlack have been flying off the shelves for one very good reason: soft recoil allied to high performance. There is also a new FBlack Sporting, which is available in a 8½ shot size only and in a fibre wad. Fiocchi are truly clay product specialists, so they know a thing or two about this field.

The FBlack is well worth a look for the club or competition shooter with an eye for a bargain.

FBlack tech specs

Case Length:                   70mm

Muzzle Velocity:            1450fps

Powder:                           Fiocchi

Antimony Content:         5%

Load:                               24gm or 28gm

Wad:                                Plastic (Fibre in FBlack Sporting)

Shot Sizes:                       7½, 8½

Price:                                From £173 to £201 per 1,000


Hull's Pro One cartridge

Hull Pro One ££

My mid-range choices are still entirely suitable for competition shooting, but could be aimed more at the club and occasional clayshooter looking for good quality products at reasonable cost.

Hull’s Pro One range has something for everyone. A variety of loads and shot sizes, plastic or fibre wad: this product has a formulation suitable for absolutely any discipline, making it very attractive to the mid-market shooter. The Pro One range has been around for some years, but Hull have just revamped it and with its sexy new packaging, it’s on the money. The DTL 300 version is hugely popular, not just for DTL but Sporting too, as it features a smooth recoil, reducing muzzle flip for rapid second barrel target aquisition. Sales of Pro One and Pro Fibre are ever increasing, so Hull is obviously getting something right!

Pro One tech specs

Case Length:                   70mm (65mm Pro Fibre 24gm)

Muzzle Velocity:            1,500fps plastic; 1,475fps 24gm fibre; 1,450fps 28gm fibre

Powder:                           Nobel Sport

Antimony Content:         5%

Load:                               24gm or 28gm

Wad:                                Plastic or fibre

Shot Sizes:                       7, 7½, 8, 9 (No 7 in fibre)

Price:                                From £207.75 per 1,000


RC Hyperfast cartridge

RC Hyperfast £££

RC’s new RC4 Hyperfast is also aimed at the serious competition shooter. I love RC products – they are of the highest quality with no expense spared. They also tend to be consistently good performers, with the use of slightly hotter primers giving a smooth, clean burn, and the Hyperfast is no exception. It’s a high-performance competition shell featuring bags of performance but with acceptable recoil using the Gualandi Vo plastic wad. It also features tempered shot, giving better patterns and harder shot for consistent breaks on those longer targets. RC is very secretive about the formulation, so the powder unfortunately remains a mystery, but it is single base and progressive. This cartridge is entirely suitable for Sporting or FITASC as well as DTL and the Olympic discipline in the 24gm formulation. Packaging is eye catching and with a grey case and 20mm nickel head, it is right on trend.

There is no denying they are expensive, but you get what you pay for, as they say.

Hyperfast tech specs

Case Length:                   70mm

Muzzle Velocity:            1550fps

Powder:                           A well-kept secret

Antimony Content:         5%

Load:                               24gm or 28gm

Wad:                                Plastic

Shot Size:                       7.5

Price:                                From £251 per 1,000

budget cartridges for clayshooting

And what of the budget end of the cartridge market? £

There are plenty of options here and all the manufacturers make such a thing. The budget end keeps prices keen predominantly by using generic packaging, cases with less money-wasting brass and single shot sizes to utilise economies of scale.

In my view, one of the best is Hull’s Comp X which has two big advantages: first, it has a 65mm case across the limited range and secondly it is very soft on recoil, particularly the ever popular 21gm load.

There are however a couple of others worth mentioning, so new that there is currently little detail and no pretty pictures of the product yet. First, Gamebore is revamping its Velocity range which will be called Velocity Plus. This will feature improved performance which is currently 1,400fps, so no slouch for the budget end. It will retain a 70mm case and I am reliably informed that there will be no increase in price. So the plastic wad will still be £161 and the fibre £170 per 1,000. Also expect the cutting- edge packaging that Gamebore excels in. I also have it on good authority that Eley is rebranding and improving its First range, which will have the moniker First Select. Again, no indications of the packaging or case design yet, and I gather Eley is still undecided whetherto retain a 67mm case or change to a 70mm. The new First Select will feature the current wide range of loads and shot sizes and will be available in plastic or fibre wad, so again, another product range entirely suitable for any discipline you are likely to come across. Prices are not yet available, but I would guess will not be dissimilar to the current First range.

So there are plenty of new and nearly new products on the clay circuit for you to try. Big price range and big performance range suitable for any target you are likely to come across. Happy shooting!