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Thread: Correct Shot Size and Choke

  1. #1
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    Default Correct Shot Size and Choke

    I've posted before that I participate in a competition pheasant hunt at the Ringneck Festival in Huron, SD. Been doing it for 12 years. 6 guys on a team and each hunter gets 4 shells. I am in some disagreement with these guys as to the correct shot size and choke to use in this competition. Most of the shots taken are 30-35 yards or less. Generally going away shots over a pointing dog. For this event I elect to shoot #6 shot through an IC choke. We all shoot Benelli autos. Everyone else insists on shooting #4's with a Mod choke. I realized that in most cases and if you are on the bird it isn't going to matter, BUT we seem to be having more misses and more crippled birds with the 4's and Mod. My thinking is that you want a more open choke and more pellets. Here's an example: comparing 1 1/4 oz. 12 ga. loads there are 65% more pellets in loads with 6 shot than those with 4 shot. I never use 7 1/2 shot for wild pheasants but for this competition I'm not so sure they might not be a good choice. Now I realize every gun patterns differently and until we pattern each guy's gun we won't know which load is best. Next year I plan to get everyone together and have them pattern their guns with #4's and Mod. Then I'll have them switch to 6's and IC to compare.

    I thought this was an interesting issue that might get some good discussion on this site. So let me know what you think. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Zeb, Sounds like you have a plan. I like your IC and #6 Plan. Your logic on the amount of pellets, makes sense to me, at those ranges. Four shells, better load those autos as single shots. Best of luck, and let us know the results.

  3. #3
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    Zeb, Have you ever tried 7 shot. You can buy factory 7 shot that is made in England. The shot size is actually 6.66 in the English measure system. I reload them with true 7 shot and for a first shot over a pointing dog like Elle, They are deadly on Wild Pheasant. I then follow them with a 6 shot in my O/U. For Chokes I use an IC first barrel and a Light Mod/Skeet2 in the second barrel. When you are doing the pattern stuff give them a try. You may like what you see. I agree the 4 shot out of Mod. Choke at those ranges are going by the bird like a rifle shot. At 25-35 yards you are just beginning to get a decent pattern from them, that is thin due to shot size.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dakotazeb View Post
    I've posted before that I participate in a competition pheasant hunt at the Ringneck Festival in Huron, SD. Been doing it for 12 years. 6 guys on a team and each hunter gets 4 shells. I am in some disagreement with these guys as to the correct shot size and choke to use in this competition. Most of the shots taken are 30-35 yards or less. Generally going away shots over a pointing dog. For this event I elect to shoot #6 shot through an IC choke. We all shoot Benelli autos. Everyone else insists on shooting #4's with a Mod choke. I realized that in most cases and if you are on the bird it isn't going to matter, BUT we seem to be having more misses and more crippled birds with the 4's and Mod. My thinking is that you want a more open choke and more pellets. Here's an example: comparing 1 1/4 oz. 12 ga. loads there are 65% more pellets in loads with 6 shot than those with 4 shot. I never use 7 1/2 shot for wild pheasants but for this competition I'm not so sure they might not be a good choice. Now I realize every gun patterns differently and until we pattern each guy's gun we won't know which load is best. Next year I plan to get everyone together and have them pattern their guns with #4's and Mod. Then I'll have them switch to 6's and IC to compare.

    I thought this was an interesting issue that might get some good discussion on this site. So let me know what you think. Thanks!
    I would shoot your combo for your reasons.

  5. #5
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    I agree with your # 6s through an IC choke for those ranges. Iíve read that # 6s traveling at moderate velocities can penetrate to the vitals of a pheasant out to about 45 yds. My own observations back that theory up pretty well.

    If you were going to limit your range to 35 yds, #7.5s would work but a good gunner can kill birds at twice that range so itís pretty limiting.

    I shoot a lot of pen raised pheasants in training and for spaniel field trials, the majority of shots taken are well over 40 yds in order to provide a meaningful retrieve for the dogs & I sometimes take shots well beyond what Iíd consider ethical for wild birds. Iíve learned that I can kill pheasants as far away as I can hit them w/ 1 ľ oz of # 5s but I sometimes put # 4s in my top barrel reserved for an anchor shot on a cripple.

  6. #6
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    I realize the proof will come in patterning the guns with various loads, size shot and chokes. I thought maybe someone had done some pattern work along these lines and could give some good hands on experience.

    I know that more shot does not necessarily mean more pellets in the kill zone. In the mid 80's before I had a 3" 12 ga. I did some pattern work for turkey hunting using both 1 1/4 oz. and 1 1/2 oz loads. Using a Remington 870 with a full choke I would consistantly put more pellets in the kill zone with the 1 1/4 oz. loads. It's been said for many years that the 1 1/4 oz. loads in a 12 ga. is the optimum load. I think sometimes trying to stuff too much shot down the barrel results in blown patterns. But each gun is different and that's why we need to pattern them to see what works best.

  7. #7
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    Default Chokes, shells and pheasants...

    What shell and choke to use?? Seems to be a universal question and...it depends.

    I shoot a 20ga, Gold, Auto. And I seem to be more consistent with 7.5's and Imp. Cyl. However, without my dog (blind) I used 3"-6's and was successful. One hunter used #5 and seemed to have fewer cripples. His gun was 12 ga, mod.coke, Remington 1100.

    I recently reviewed the number of pellets in various shells - very interesting...

    Lead shell: 1.25-7.5's have 437 pellets; #6 - 281 and #4 - 169. What a difference. I guess if you are a crack shot , 4's work. I seem to need all the pellets possible and still kill the bird vs cripple.

    Hope this helps with this persistent question.

    jon

  8. #8
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    I would support the use of imp cyl. in single barrel guns with #6 or even #71/2 shot, for avg. shooters at reasonable ranges of 35-40 yards. I'd use a 11/4ths to 13/8ths ounce of high antimony shot, or nickle plated since the demise of copper plating, ( now copper washed nonsense). English #7's an excellent choice in whats called a "high pheasant" load. British seem to value pattern as opposed to powder and throw weight, lots of short chambered 12's with 1 ounce loads killing lighter feathered semi wild pheasants. Their shooters by our standards are very experienced, shoot long range driven birds regularly at ranges we would view as extreme. Unfortunately few of us get the chance to learn to shoot at these ranges, so probably better to restrict range and use pattern density to increase number of leathal hits in general, but the gun will tell you with a pattern test.

  9. #9
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    Please re-read my original post or keep in mind that I'm not talking about normal pheasant hunting here. It's during a hunting competition with each shooter limited to 4 shells in which to harvest 3 birds. So shots are very selective. In addition you are talking about 6 seasoned hunters with above average shooting skills.

  10. #10
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    As long as everyone is giving their opinion I might as well give mine.

    If you truly are holding your distances to 35 yards and under, IC and #6 should be fine as you have dogs for recovering the birds.

    However, for normal hunting I would not rule out #4 shot as a very useful shot size, especially in windy conditions or late season. My own personal experiences are that I have had very few birds that were shot with #4's that were still alive when picked up. I can't say that about #6 shot. I started using #4 shot for the majority of my hunting probably 5 years ago and it has drastically reduced the amount of cripples or unrecoverable birds from my observations.

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