Goose shooting cartridges.
We can take our pick from countless 12 bore wildfowling loads in 2½ and 2¾in cases, but what’s available by way of 3 and 3½in cartridges?
At the bottom of the scale in terms of performance and price is steel which has the only benefit of being freely available in a wide variety of different loads.
Although it doesn’t work perfectly it is, at least, affordable compared with the other non-lead alternatives out there.
Gamebore are the real innovators when it comes to steel loads and to prove it they load a big range covering just about every eventuality.
Their standard 36gm (1 1/4oz) three-inch steel load comes in shot sizes 1 to 5 at £8.95 for a box of 25 and Lyalvale Express load a similar cartridge for the same sort of money.
Use the 3,4 and 5 for duck – only the 1 will do for geese.
Hull’s three-inch Solway Steel carries a slightly reduced payload of 34gms in shot sizes 1-4 at £9.10 per box.
Gamebore are also the only British manufacturer to make a useful 3½in steel cartridge comprising a 42gm load of BB’s, 1’s or 3’s.
This is a proper foreshore fowling load with the only real alternative coming from America in the shape of Winchester’s Drylok or Remington Hi-Speed steel – if you can afford them!
They cost as much, if not more, than Bismuth, ITM or Hevi- Shot and they’re nowhere near as good.
On the other hand Gamebore’s Mammoth Steel 42gm will only cost you a meagre £7 for a box of 10 shells.
Okay, that’s the cheap stuff out of the way, next up is Bismuth from Eley Hawk with a three-incher carrying 46gm of shot in sizes 3 and BB.
Bismuth was looking pretty reasonable price wise (in the grand scheme of things) until recently when a massive increase in the cost of raw materials pushed prices up significantly.
Whatever anyone says, Bismuth does work (being only slightly lighter in mass than lead) and it is also kind to guns.
As for cost, you can expect to pay £55 for a box of 25 No. 3s while those loaded with BBs will set you back a staggering £67.
They can therefore no longer be considered a reasonable alternative in terms of your hard earned money, but they are entirely suitable in these sizes for geese anywhere.
Top of my favourites’ list in non-toxic loads is Hevi-Shot from Express simply because it out performs lead. If you can hit stuff at the ranges Hevi-Shot is capable of killing, you will have more birds in the bag at the end of a flight than any of your mates using the other stuff, including lead.
If Hevi-Shot was the same money as lead I would use it all the time.
You can’t argue with the laws of physics and anybody who says otherwise is talking rubbish.
Lyalvale’s three-inch 34gm load is ideal for geese and although it sounds light, just remember it works better than lead.
Sadly it’s not cheap and costs about £25 for a box of ten.
Gamebore’s Impact Tungsten Matrix (ITM) is also very versatile, but as I said last month, it’s in very short supply this season.
Their 3 inch load is packed with 42gms of 1 or 3 shot and while it is not cheap at £23 for a box of ten, they do kill geese.
ITM is exceptionally good as a non-toxic load, it won’t damage your gun in any way and comes in sensible lead-like loads.
There is also a 3½in heavy load for real men comprising 56gm of shot (2oz in old money) in 1s or 3s.
These are real goose-getters and if you can find any, you will need a small mortgage costing as they do, £3 a pop!
There are still some great lead loads out there for use in Scotland.
You can take your choice from any number of three-inch 50 gm loads in relevant shot sizes, but in my view, the Continentals are best, and the most reasonably priced, too.
Fiocchi’s 52gm Magnum in BB or 3s costs about £5.60 for ten, but my personal choice would be the RC 50gm Magnum – it comes in a huge variety of shot sizes from BB to 5 at less money!
Expect to pay about £5.50 for ten.
If you really want to get a ton of lead into the air there are a couple of 3½in lead loads available boasting a whopping 63gm payload.
My choice – purely on price – would be Fiocchi’s Ultra Magnum.
It’s available in BB and 2s and costs a shade over £8 per box of ten.
Gamebore keeps the home fire burning with the same load in BB or 1s at £12 for that same box of ten.