Does steel shot cut the mustard, wonders Richard Negus?
Last week I shot on a friend’s syndicate.
I took my AYA No 3, its woodwork now repaired and resplendent.
What about the cartridges?
My cartridge belt held Jocker Bio 34g No6s, my pockets stuffed with Eley VIP Pro Eco Wad 32g No5s.
Conditions were sunny and clear
The birds sat tight in the bright sun, but once diligent dogs and beaters roused them from their couch, they flew well. I had Jocker in my left barrel and Eley in my right. A good hen bird caught me napping, resulting in a difficult going-away shot. However the Jocker brought her down, clean killed at a good 45 yards.
Later I fluffed an easy cock bird with my first barrel. Flaring, it became a more challenging target but this time the Eley worked well, killing the bird at range.
So what did I make of the steel shot cartridges I tried?
My first findings: both cartridges do what you expect them to do, killing a bird if you aim straight.
The main difference was the kick. The Jocker felt no different to my usual game cartridge, an RC Sipe. However, the Eley did kick significantly more. Being a wildfowler I am used to a cartridge with a bit of ‘bite’ but I do wonder how jarring the Eley Eco Wad might become on a busy day.
At home, a Jocker and an Eley sit in a pint of water to assess their waterproofing. This is rigorous testing.
When choosing steel shot consider the species. Cartridge choice for different types of quarry is key. You want to have enough knock-down power to kill your quarry cleanly but you don’t want to shoot, say teal, with a 3½in magnum load.