EDWARD COOK says: I’m not the most scientific of shooters but I do understand the requirements needed to make clean kills.
Before starting rabbit control commercially, I worked for David Olive (one of the country’s leading game shots and shooting instructors).
One of the many things I learned from him was that if you don’t point the gun in the right direction, you won’t kill it.
That may sound obvious, but at the end of the day both shot sizes you’ve mentioned will kill. Fives are fine for fairly long shots out to about 45 yards but, in my mind, they are a bit overkill on closer range bunnies which you are hoping to sell later at market.
I use Lyavale Express pigeon Specials loaded with No.6 shot for all my shooting. The pellet size is a good all round compromise which doesn’t smash the quarry, but makes for clean, humane, kills.
I tend to use 30g cartridges through my 12-bore. Having said that, my .410 shells are a lot lighter but, being sixes they still kill with ease out to 35 yards.
The secret, of course, is to place the gun and shot pattern in the right direction. There’s little point being dogmatic about guns and cartridges when bolting rabbits: use what you feel is best for yourself at a distance you’re confident of making a clean kill.