This last year or so has seen a resurgence in 16-bore interest as witnessed by the choice of guns now becoming available, and the number of cartridges being sold.
My only complaint is that cartridges for this gun are not available in a wider range of shot sizes – a common complaint amongst users of smaller bore guns.
That said, there’s a reasonable range of loads available in the 5 to 7 shot size rating which will keep game and pigeon shooters happy. However, clay shooters who might fancy a crack with a 16 will quickly find that their favoured sizes are virtually non-existent.
As I said earlier, more new guns are now coming onto the market, but you will tend to find the majority are still traditional side-by-side game guns carrying 2.1/2in chambers, so always check before buying your cartridges.
Considering we are not a nation of 16-bore lovers our main cartridge loaders offer us a reasonable choice. Eley provide a good range starting with a 26.5gm Grand Prix load in shot sizes 6 and 7 followed by the VIP in 28gm, 6 or 7 shot. Both these are loaded in a 65mm case suitable for 2.1/2in chambers.
Next up is the heavier Alphamax in 32gm in 4.5 or 6 shot loaded in a 70mm case for 2.3/4in guns. All three carry a fibre wad with the range starting at around £205 per 1,000 – providing something for everyone, except clay shooters of course.
Hull also offer traditional fare in a fibre wad starting with the Three Crowns – the 26gm pay load proving ideal for the 16-bore enthusiast. This load is also available in a paper case (shot size 6 only) and is the only paper case 16-bore cartridge that I know of. It retails for about £233 per 1,000. Top of the range performance comes in the shape of the Three Crowns HP in a 28gm load in 5s and 6s at £207 per 1,000. All the above do not exceed 67mm, so should be fine in a 2½in chamber.
Lyalvale Express offer an even lighter load at 25gms in fibre wad 6 shot only at £203 with a 28gm load in plastic or fibre wad starting at around £202 for 1,000. Both products are contained in a genuine 65mm case.
Gamebore only provide a 28gm load – both in the fibre wadded Traditional Game (65mm case) at £206 or the higher performance Pure Gold in a 70mm case plastic wad 5 or 6 at £222 which in my view is a little pricey for this sort of stuff. Talking about price, Eley offer non-toxic loads in the shape of Bismuth, with Gamebore offering Impact Tungsten Matrix. I won’t even bother to tell you the prices.
As expected, most manufacturers offer a 16-bore product, but often in a limited range of loads and still no clay sizes imported. Cheap as chips is Saga’s Gold in a 28gm plastic wad only 5, 6, or 7 at £167 per 1,000 if you can get hold of them. Rio’s Field 16 in a 28gm plastic wad 6 only is not far behind at £182. RC offer a great product in 28gm plastic wad only in 5,6 or 7 which offers blistering performance at a reasonable price in my view. Expect them to retail for about £193 for 1,000.
Rottweil produce a wide range of products starting with their Special 16 in a 27gm load, fibre wad 5 or 6.5 shot at £187, moving up to Tigers in a 28gm plastic 6.5 only which is expensive at £284. Top of the tree is the famous Waidmannsheil in 32gm spec, 70mm case, 32gm in shot sizes BB, 4,5 and 6.5. Outstanding performance but at an eye watering £372 per 1,000. Ouch!
None of these continental products are in a genuine 65mm case, some are 67mm and some are 70, so make sure you know what you are buying before stuffing ’em into your gun.
With the current discussions about cartridge colour, bore size and safety, 16-bore ammo was traditionally loaded in blue cases.
As you can see from the pics, this is no longer the case (no pun intended) as all colours under the sun seem to be used, but more of this later.
Be safe, and have fun!