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High game shotgun cartridges review

In 2010 Charles Bull observed that British loaders had been watching the Continentals making inroads and at last decided to do something about it. Using British cartridges reduces the availability risk associated with imported cartridges, but the prices at the time were little steep!

Read the article as published in August 2010:

That’s all now changed, thanks to the growing availability of high bird shoots and the work of cartridge loaders in developing suitable ammunition.

Continental makers have dominated this market with the likes of RC’s SIPE in 32gm and JK6 and Oro in heavier 35 and 36gm shells. Then there’s Viri-FOB’s Super range in 32 and 36gm.

However, high bird heavy loads with fibre wads were extremely rare things but there has now been something of a sea change with British loaders spotting the demand.

Game shooting cartridges review

And for this season there are several new products that tick the required boxes.

GAMEBORE BLACK GOLD
Gamebore’s Black Gold Game range has always offered plenty of performance allied to comfort as they are loaded in the Gordon Recoil System (GRS) 70mm case.

High game shotgun cartridges review

Black Gold Game offer a broad range of loads to cope with any game shooting situation including a 35gm jobbie with plastic wad and 5 shot only.This season it’s joined by a fibre wad version. I can’t help but wonder though if this maker shouldn’t offer a shot size 4 as well – still the same spec, but in fibre wad.
You can expect to pay £286 for 1,000.

» Gambore Black Gold Game 35gm 70mm
» Shot size: 5 only

» Powder: Baschieri & Pellagri flake
» Muzzle velocity: 1400fps

» Wad: Plastic or Fibre

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RC’S SIPE
These have been a benchmark cartridge for some years and sales of these are Big with a capital B.

High game shotgun cartridges review

High performance, hard hitting and smooth shooting, the advent of a fibre load two or three years ago catered for the required demand.

The secret here is the hard hitting bit – why are they so good? This is purely down to European shot sizes being half a size bigger than English pellet sizes. Couple this with a bit of performance and you have the recipe for a fantastic game shell.

» RC SIPE
» 70mm yellow case (plastic wad) 67mm grey case (fibrewad)
» European shot sizes: 4, 5, 6 & 7
» Powder: SIPE
» Muzzle velocity: 1425fps
» Wad: Plastic or Fibre

ELEY HAWK VIP
The boys at Eley Hawk have also had their thinking caps on and they have decided to broaden the award-winning VIP Game range by hopping on to the fast moving high bird bandwagon with a heavier load.

High game shotgun cartridges review

However it still produces 1450fps at the muzzle ends. We have several new loads here available in shot sizes 4 and 5 only starting with 34 gm VIP Elite in a 67mm (2 1/2in) case with a choice of photodegradable plastic (PDP) or fibre wad. The existing VIP 36gm with PDP wad has now been joined by the VIP Extreme – the same load but carrying a fibre wad.

Eley has also revamped the packaging for this new range, in the form of black boxes and cartridges, very sexy! Eley has been fairly aggressive in marketing good value ammunition, so it comes as no surprise to discover that the VIP Elite (the 34gm version don’t forget) will be looking reasonable at £277 per 1,000. The heavier 36gm VIP Extreme is also good value at £295 – especially when you consider the performance you are getting for your money.

There has to be a cost for performance like this in a heavy load and in the 36gm fibre – that cost has to be a little punishment for pulling the trigger. If you want my advice, choose the Elite 34gm load – with performance like this, it is ample and looks like better value to me.

» Eley VIP Elite 34gm 67mm
» Shot sizes: 4 & 5
» Powder: Maxam
» Muzzle velocity: 1450fps
» Wad: Photo Degradable Plaswad or Fibre

» Eley VIP Extreme 36gm 70mm
» Shot sizes: 4 & 5
» Powder: Maxam
» Muzzle velocity: 1450fps
» Wad: Photo Degradable Plaswad or Fibre

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EXPRESS EUROPA
In response Express have launched the Europa Game in direct competition with the SIPE. It’s fitted in a 70mm (2.3/4in) case and is available in fibre wad only in European shot sizes 4 and 5, as a 32 or 34gm load.

High game shotgun cartridges review

Plenty of performance, allied to the European shot size, make this a formidable high bird cartridge. The really good thing about the Europa is that it is very smooth shooting, so you won’t feel beaten up at the end of a hard day’s shooting; no doubt down to the use of the progressive burn of my favourite Vectan powder.

Prices have not yet been published, but it is understood they will not be dissimilar to the ever popular Supreme range so expect to pay around £268 per 1,000 for the 32gm version and about £286 for the 34gm load.

» Express Europa Game 32gm /34gm 70mm
» European shot sizes: 4 & 5
» Powder: Vectan flake
» Muzzle Velocity: 1400fps
» Wad: Fibre only

IN SUMMARY
It’s clear that British loaders have watched the Continentals making inroads here and at last they’ve decided to do something about it.

However, European makers have got their foot firmly in the door with high bird loads so it will be interesting to see how UK manufacturers fare at pinching back sales. There’s always an availability risk with imported cartridges but this should not be a problem with the British offerings.

People should certainly give them a try – but for my money, when you see the RC SIPE starting at £235 for 1,000 cartridges?

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