28-bore shotgun cartridges:
And so to my favourite little story.
Once upon a time, I was a dyed in the wool 12-bore user and then one day my eldest son celebrated his tenth birthday. I felt it was time he had a proper gun, so I bought him a 28-bore which I thought would be a bit more useful than a .410.
True, I ended up paying a little more for this than I meant to, but it had a nice bit of wood and, before I handed it over, I thought I would just test it out.
Thinking I had got him little more than a toy, I was staggered to find that I could shoot really well with it. Needless to say, I didn’t have it cut down and he never got hold of it. Instead I gave him an already shortened 20-bore, neatly gift wrapped.
Anyway, my education continued and I discovered that whilst you need to be more accurate, the ballistics are similar to any other shotgun cartridge, and the patterns are better than most.
“I really have shot some memorable birds with this little gun, but what ammunition is available?”
Sales of 28-bore cartridges are ever increasing and there seems to be a move towards heavier loads, right up to 28gms. This is too much for me. Why use a small bore and then shove a 12-bore load up it? The whole point of a
small bore is to reduce recoil and be able to put more cartridges in your pocket, and have a bit more fun in the process.
A heavy load through a light weapon will always increase felt recoil.
Anyway, dealing with the popular heavier loads first, the ever-present Winchester product in Super X form, is top of the tree, with a price tag to match, of £503 per 1,000. Imported from the US and loaded in Winchester’s famed compression formed case with high brass, this is the benchmark load for the serious 28-bore user.
Nobel Sport’s Hunting is a similar load from the Italians, but priced far more sensibly at £238 per 1,000.
Express are the only English manufacturer to produce a 28gm 28-bore load, and last year won Best Field Cartridge in last year’s Industry Trade Awards for this product. Coming in a no frills box and case, it is currently running out at about £251.50.
More popular and far more user friendly, in my opinion, are the 21gm loads, which suddenly widens your field of choice.
Available from most manufacturers, the ones of note are:
– Nobel Sport at £156.50
– Eley Grand Prix (who thoughtfully provide a fibre or plastic wad option).
– Saga are very well made, with a crimp closure and come in a variety of shot sizes, they also represent extremely good value at £159 per 1,000.
– Federal – who effectively price themselves out of this market with the 21gm Wing-Shok coming in at £505. Only for the most discerning buyer me thinks!
It has to be the RC28 21gm load which is odd, as it is the only one here with a rolled turnover which I was always wary of in terms of pattern quality. No problems here though it seems and it too represents good value at £159.
And now for something completely different…
Eley’s VIP is a quirky 24gm load, available in true Eley style with a plastic or fibre wad, shot size 5 or 6 with a crimp closure. A lot of thought has gone into this and it sits squarely in between the lighter 21gm loads and the heavier 28gm ones. We therefore get more pellets in the pattern, (a useful 228 in shot size 6) without the unacceptable recoil of the heavier load.
The fibre option is also a real boon and gives flexibility to all users. Expect to pay in the region of £208 for 1,000.
So there we have it, a quick delve into the world of the 28 bore user. Don’t forget that the longer shot strings of these narrower cartridges throw some stonkingly good patterns so you will find yourself killing stuff at some pretty extreme ranges.
They are fun to use because they mean you have to be significantly more accurate, they have less recoil and they are lighter to carry in the field.
You can probably tell by now that I am a true convert, but don’t knock it until you try it I say!