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Size 6½ shot cartridges review

Shotgun cartridges.

Given that it’s a grousey, partridgey time of year, I thought it might be worth looking at cartridges that come in fractions of a shot size. Fractions?

What’s the point, you ask? Well, in my view (and I’m sure someone will disagree!) fractions are jolly useful things.

Over the years I’ve proved to myself there are a number of advantages to picking a cartridge that comes in half sizes.

For a start you get a little more killing power and slightly more pellets in the pattern – both of which go to create a more suitable all-round load for smaller game birds.

For early season grouse and partridge, light loads in shot size 7 are common, but in my book this is just a little too small to deliver effective killing power at all sporting ranges.

On the other hand, a 6½ gives the advantage of greater penetration at slightly longer ranges when it’s needed.

English shot size 6½ measures 2.5mm and it just so happens that Italian shot size 7 runs out at 2.5mm as well. In other words, if you buy a cartridge imported from Italy with 7 stamped on the box you’re actually getting a true English 6½.

Unfortunately, a genuine English 6½ is not that easy to come by.

LYALVALE EXPRESS

This load deliver the goods with their proven Supreme Game.

Lyavale Express - Supreme game cartridge

You can take your pick of 1oz (28gm) 6½s in plastic or fibre wad starting at £229 per 1,000.

The Supreme is a top of the range cartridge with performance to match and needs no further introduction.

» Express Supreme Game 28gm 6½

» Case Length: 65mm

» Wad: Fibre or Plastic

» Powder: Vectan

» Muzzle Velocity: 1400fps

ELEY HAWK

The only other home-based loader to produce a game 6½ 30 and 32gm ‘Pigeon’ loads available in both plastic and fibre wad starting at £189 per 1,000.

Eley - HB pigeon cartridge.

The 32gm load (1 1/8oz) is all well and good but I consider this slightly heavier load to be unnecessary in this particular shot size.

The use of a heavier load usually assumes we are after higher and larger birds, and if that’s the case then a cartridge carrying larger shot would be far more suitable for the job in hand.

» Eley Pigeon 30/32gm 6½

» Case Length: 67mm

» Wad: Fibre or Plastic

» Powder: Maxam

» Muzzle Velocity: 1375fps

GAMEBORE

The award winning Black Gold competition cartridge is available in 6 ½ shot, and here at Just Cartridges we produce the CSP in 28gm format with 6½ shot and fibre wad for just these sorts of eventualities.

Gamebore - Black Gold competition cartridge

The CSP is specifically loaded as a high performance clay shell but costs just £173.50 per 1,000.

» Just Cartridges CSP 28gm 6½

» Case Length: 70mm

» Wad: Fibre

» Powder: B & P

» Muzzle Velocity: 1450fps

RC

One of the best from overseas is Professional Game loads.

RC - Professional game cartridge

This top quality fibre wadded cartridge delivers great performance and comes in a genuine 65mm case suitable for 2 1/2in chambered game guns.

Professional Game is an ideal early season cartridge at around £222 for a 1,000.

» RC Professional Game 28gm 7

» Case Length: 65mm

» Wad: Fibre

» Powder: Nobel 206

» Muzzle Velocity: 1425fps

FIOCCHI

Import their PL 28 in fibre in a 7 shot at £189.

Fiocchi - PL28 cartridge

Not quite as good as the RC in my view but it comes in a 67mm case and represents great value for money.

» Fiocchi PL28 28gm 7

» Case Length: 67mm

» Wad: Fibre

» Powder: NS

» Muzzle Velocity: 1350fps

DID YOU KNOW?

Give or take one or two there are 270 pellets in a 1oz load of English No.6 shot and 340 in one of No. 7.

In a 6½ cartridge you get 310 pellets. And that’s the same with loads from Italy.

Other Continental sizes are not quite the same however. Spanish and French 6s measure out at a larger 2.75mm and if you buy American you’ll find the pellets are even bigger still at 2.79mm.

Saying that, American-loaded shells are now so eye wateringly expensive that no one can afford to use them!

  • Simon Mansell

    CSP are underated and I think part of this is because Charles Bull has reluctance to self promote and blow his own trumpet i.e. Charles conducts many of the cartridge reviews himself and leaves out his own brand. Try them you won’t be disappointed!

  • Peter Airlie

    This article was good information, and as I was reading it I thought I would give the Gamebore Black and Gold a try out.