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Eley Grand Prix Steel cartridges: what did Geoff Garrod make of them?

Geoff Garrod heads out with Eley’s Grand Prix steel cartridges and is impressed with the results

Eley GRand Prix steel cartridges

Eley Grand Prix Steel

Manufacturer: Eley

I have written about the Eley Pro Eco Wad steel cartridges before and how effective they are, but I’ve now got some Eley Grand Prix steel cartridges, which are specifically designed for lighter game guns with a 65mm (2½in) case. The main reason to spend a few hours in the hide was to have another play with steel shot cartridges in the new Browning Maxus 2.

Reviewing Eley Grand Prix Steel cartridges

These are standard steel cartridges rather than superior and will go through nitro-proofed guns with half choke or wider. As always, if you’re in any doubt about your gun’s suitability for shooting steel, get it checked by your gunsmith before you try putting these through your gun. (Read will my gun be suitable for steel shot?)

These cartridges are designed to keep the gun owners supplied with a usable alternative to lead with their short chamber length and eco wad to protect the barrels. They are 30g with No 4 shot.

Another reason I wanted to test steel again was because I had just seen on TV a study from Cambridge University about the effect of lead and how it’s a health risk, especially for pregnant women. The word toxic was mentioned a few times. Whatever your views on lead shot being phased out, it’s hard not to see an eventual ban is all but inevitable.

Pigeon shooting

Performance of steel shot on pigeons seems just as good as lead

The end of the days of lead is on the horizon, hastened by public opinion and the lack of saleability of gamebirds shot with lead.

I’ve used Eley’s VIP 32g No 5 shot many times and they are very impressive, so I thought I’d compare them with the Grand Prix 30g No 4s (obviously not through a light game gun, but as a straight comparison through the Maxus). The plan went slightly awry because I managed to pick up some 32g No 3s in the VIP rather than the No 5s, but it was still interesting to compare their performance and to try to work out if I felt at any disadvantage through using steel rather than my traditional lead loads.

Arid farmland

Late summer shooting over arid farmland is a good test of steel shot

Give it time

This wasn’t a scientific experiment, but, as we all know, if you have confidence in your gun, choke and cartridge combination, you tend to shoot better regardless of any other factors. It’s worth finding time to practise and experiment with the many steel loads now on the market – I see on social media forums that more and more people are changing over to steel and I think it would paint our sport in a good light if we were seen to be proactive and ahead of the game rather than digging in over a battle we are very likely to lose. (Read Alasdair Mitchell on why it’s likely to be a lead-free future.)

Eley Pro Eco

Try various steel options, like the Eley Pro Eco

From the couple of hours I spent in the hide with the two steel loads, I can say hand-on-heart that I really didn’t feel that the steel held me back in any way. The kills were clean and effective. Richard (the photographer) asked me if I could tell the difference compared with lead and the answer was no. Perhaps you need a little extra lead with the steel cartridges at longer ranges, but you’ll soon adjust if you shoot these cartridges regularly. The Eley Grand Prix Steel cartridges were every bit as good as the VIPs and considering their lighter load and shot size, the kills were incredibly impressive.

I hit one pigeon that was quartering away from me and we estimated that it was hit in the air at over 40 yards. It was killed instantly and picked up at 60 paces from the hide. Who could ask for more than that?

Try steel

Why not pop down to your local gunshop this weekend and see which steel cartridges they have in stock? Then get your gun checked over for condition and suitability for steel, head off to your clay ground and put some different loads through your gun.

Eley GRand Prix steel cartridges

Before trying out steel shot it’s worth having your gun checked first

When you find a cartridge you’re happy with, try it on some pigeons or game. My hunch is you won’t be too unhappy with the results, and you will be reducing the amount of lead we put into the environment.

Remember that many game dealers are not going to be taking lead shot game soon, so why not get ahead of the curve on this one and do some of the groundwork before we are forced to?