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 Post subject: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:35 pm 
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This is probably a really stupid question, but I'm a noob when it comes to shotguns. What is the difference between light loads and heavy loads? Also, would one be better for trap/skeet? I'm by no means a pro, I just enjoy going out and having some fun shooting with friends so I don't need any top of the line ammo, but I also don't want to be handicapped using the wrong ammo. Thanks!




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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:43 pm 
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Light loads would be from the range 7 1/2 to 9. These loads are the ones used for clay sports. As you go lower in number the loads get heavier. The heavier a load is, the bigger each individual pellet is. So a number 9 load will have a couple hundred very little pellets, and the heavy loads like buckshot will have 8 - 16 very big pellets.

For skeet you usually want to use #9 as most of your targets are very close.

The farther your target gets from you the heavier the load you want.

Most trap shooters prefer #8 or #7 and 1/2.

Just remember when shooting clays it is usually against club rules to shoot anything heavier than a 7 and 1/2


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:48 pm 
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Thanks for the quick reply. I was at BassPro today and I saw both but I wasn't sure the difference. I didn't realize it was the size of the shot, I thought it might have something to do with the amount of powder or something else. So thanks for clearing that up!


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:53 pm 
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you can get both light and heavy target loads for clay targets, in the same size shot.....light loads are 2-3/4 dram equivalent, heavy ones are 3 or 3-1/4 dram equivalent.....the boxes will usually say


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 Post subject: Re: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:58 pm 
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danfri81 wrote:
I thought it might have something to do with the amount of powder or something else.


Well, shot size is only part of the story. There is also the weight of the shot and the velocity they are loaded to. For example, factory 12 gauge loads range from 7/8 oz to about 2 oz. Generally the lighter weights are with fine shot (8 or 9) for clay targets or small birds, and tend to have smaller shot. The heavy loads generally have larger shot sizes for bigger birds such as turkey and geese.

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:03 pm 
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Ok, I'm still a little confused. I was looking on Winchester's website and comparing shells. They have light and heavy target loads that are both 7-1/2 shot, 1-1/8 oz. The velocity of the heavy load is a little higher. What is the difference between these shells, if the size and weight of the shot are the same?


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 Post subject: Re: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:04 pm 
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oneounceload wrote:
you can get both light and heavy target loads for clay targets, in the same size shot.....light loads are 2-3/4 dram equivalent, heavy ones are 3 or 3-1/4 dram equivalent.....the boxes will usually say


And dram equivalent is an antiquated term still used by manufacturers to indicate the velocity of a load, in terms of the amount of black powder used to achieve a certain velocity. In 12 gauge 1 1/8 oz loads, 2 3/4 dr eq = about 1145 fps, 3 dr eq = about 1200 fps, etc.

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:06 pm 
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Oh OK, I get it. I see what you're saying. I mis-read the original answer. Thanks for the help!


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:19 pm 
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The standard 12ga clays load is 1 1/8oz at 1200fps. Faster like a Winchester Super Sport or a Remington Nitro's are considered heavy target. Sub 1200fps is light target. Weight and velocity is what is what is guaged by light and heavy. You can have a 1oz screamer at 1350fps that is considered a heavy target, but slow it down to 1150fps and you have a nice lighter skeet load. ??Follow??

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:23 pm 
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Also Danfri81, don't be deceived by the difference in velocities! The amount of target lead required in a 1150fps load versus a 1200fps load is only about 3 inchs on a skeet target at say station 4. In other words, you would have to lead the target about 3 inchs more with a 1150fps load than you would with a 1200fps load, in order to have your shot pattern in the same place, all things considered. A normal human being can't tell the difference, so if you can buy the 2 3/4 dram load cheaper than you can the 3 dram load spend your money wisely. :D

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:53 pm 
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Heavy would be a 3" Magnum, 12 gauge, 1-5/8 oz. of non-tox shot at 1450 feet per second. Light would be 1 ounce of lead shot at 1180 feet per second. Those are about the ends of the spectrum, but you see the point. Light and heavy are used with little discretion, and are quite inexact.


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:57 pm 
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"would one be better for trap/skeet?"

Many would agree a light load for skeet, sporting clays and 16 yard trap is the ticket. 2 3/4 dram equivalent with an 1oz of shot will get the job done with no penalty. Often they are loaded with no 8 or 7 1/2 shot. Reo or Estate shells with will get the nod from many shooters. Lots of other good brands....

If you are shooting lots of shells the light loads with contribute to faster recovery for doubles and less fatigue for the shooter.


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 Post subject: Re: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:23 am 
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arvo11 wrote:
Also Danfri81, don't be deceived by the difference in velocities! The amount of target lead required in a 1150fps load versus a 1200fps load is only about 3 inchs on a skeet target at say station 4. In other words, you would have to lead the target about 3 inchs more with a 1150fps load than you would with a 1200fps load, in order to have your shot pattern in the same place, all things considered. A normal human being can't tell the difference, so if you can buy the 2 3/4 dram load cheaper than you can the 3 dram load spend your money wisely. :D

You don't need to adjust lead and attempting to consciously do so would most likely lead to poor shooting. There are two factors not being considered. Fifty feet per second at the muzzle equates to next to nothing at the target. From a practical standpoint it is unmeasurable within a shotgun pattern. Second is variation from shot to shot, even if such a minor difference in velocity did matter. If you chronographed a box of each you would find that some from the box that was supposed to yield less velocity was actually faster than those from the other box. Minor advertised velocity differences are meaningless, even if every payload left the barrel at the advertised muzzle velocity.

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:19 pm 
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I go with 1 oz, standard speed loads for skeet, 16-yard trap and 5-stand. Ditto re recovery time and less wear on the shooter. Heaviest thing I shoot at claybirds is standard-speed 1 1/8 oz load.

Shot the spicier handicap and sport loads when I was younger. These days, as I near 45, I just don't need the wear and tear.


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:37 pm 
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My point exactly! Shoot the cheapest loads available for practice. All the hype about high velocity/low velocity is meaningless. Almost as bad as all the choke changeing. There are very few targets on most sporting clays ranges that require anything tighter than light mod imho. But......shoot what you got, if you have a fixed choke mod shotgun, shoot it and have fun, after all, thats the point ain't it? :D

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:08 pm 
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Absolutely......fun is the name of the game...........

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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:21 pm 
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I agree. Give me an IC and an LM, I'd be comfortable on most clays courses. I'd throw an ounce of 8s in the bottom and 1 1/8s of 7.5s in the top and have at it. I'm certain I'll miss more birds for lack of skill than for lack of proper equipment.

The thing that sometimes amazes me about pure sporting clays shooters is their obsession with long, tricky shots you'd never take in the field...at least not on a tough bird like a cock pheasant.

But, hey, it's become it's own sport. And the master blasters are great gunners. Me, I'm just a goof waiting for the colder months and makin' empties. One thing I can say: The clay games, as long as you mix in some low-gun and swing-through, will definitely help you in the field.


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:41 pm 
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My unscientific view is heavy loads have heavy recoil and light loads have light recoil. You can get light loads in any shot size. In general, light loads have lower feet per second speeds than heavy loads. Very light loads might not cycle an autoloader.

Whatever shell you settle on, don't change. It's hard to believe, but differences in feet per second can mess with your head on skeet and trap. The lead does change.


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 Post subject: re: Light Loads vs. Heavy Loads
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:47 am 
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In target loads, light can mean less shot and /or less velocity than the heavy or handicap loads.

I try to keep my target loads within 60fps and I find that I only rarely use handicap or heavy loads. My advice for shooting clay targets is to use lighter loads as much as you can. I use a lot of one ounce #8 and #8.5 shot on close targets. I only go to heavier loadson longer shots. A steady diet of heavy loads for a serious shooter will eventually show up as a flinching problem. Why risk that if a standard or light load will do the job?

Buying cheap is not always the answer as the super cheap promo loads vary in their components and they do not always have hard shot.

For hunting, I use 1 1/8 oz on doves and quail (#7.5 shot hard shot) at 1250 fps; this would be called a heavy target load and a fast 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 oz hard lead 5s for pheasants.

I hope that helps.



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