The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Which are the best cartridges for rabbits?

You want to make a clean kill. So what should you use?

Rabbiting with a shotgun

Rabbits can be destructive — they cost British farmers £50 to £100 million each year. They kill saplings, ruin vegetable patches and damage gardens. (Read Bruce Potts on the best time of day for shooting rabbits.) Keeping the rabbit population under control is essential, so here are some of the best shotgun cartridges for rabbits around.

Best cartridges for rabbits

1. Despite their name, the Lyalvale Express Pigeon Specials, loaded with No 6 shot, are a solid all-rounder that perform well at long distances and make for clean kills without smashing the quarry.

2. Hull’s Steel Game Extra HP (high performance), in 28g No 5 shot, is an affordable nonlead alternative. The steel offers a tight pattern and they are a very soft cartridge on the shoulder.

3. Eley Hawk’s Fourlong cartridge is a 2½in .410 load with amazing knock-down power. Loaded with a special SSB+ 150 powder, it is ideal for use on rabbits — make sure you’re accurate though.

Rimfire ammunition for rabbits

Q: I have acquired a.22 rimfire rifle for rabbit control on a farm. What is the most effective ammo?

A: (Bruce Potts) On the basis that tens of thousands of rabbit shooters can’t be wrong, the .22 short subsonic hollow point seems to be the one.

The .22 short is one of the oldest rimfire rounds still in production, and was originally developed for small ‘pocket pistols’ back in the black powder days.

A modern .22 short, powered by nitro-cellulose, is typically loaded with a 29 grain lubricated lead bullet, and most develop around 1,050 feet per second at the muzzle. That provides about 70 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, which is quite enough for the job providing the range is not too great.

Being subsonic, the round is relatively quiet, even without a sound moderator, while the hollow point ensures that the bullet releases all its energy within the animal.

Use an air rifle? Read our piece on the best air rifles for rabbiting.

Mat Manning also has some advice on stalking rabbits with an air rifle.