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 Post subject: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:38 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:40 pm
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Location: MO
What is the best size shot for squirilles? Rabbits?


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 3:14 am 
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For tree rats I like #6. For bunnies in the wooly boogers I go to #4.

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:31 pm 
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Location: virginia
If you are asking what single load would be best, for those two I would choose #5 shot. However, if I can choose a different load for each animal then as stated above I would use #4 and #6's, however in reverse order. Squirrel I use #4 shot and rabbits I use #6's. I just don't understand the question, singular or multiple loads for different game, hope this helps, happy hunting, Phil.......


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:06 am
Posts: 765
Location: WI
I would use #5 shot; has more punch than #6 and better pattern density than #4. I would love to get a 1 1/8 oz load of #5 for a 12 gauge, as 1oz dosn't seem to do the job well enough, plus I use the same shells for long range crows. 1 1/4oz is a little heavy for squirrles I admit, but cant find the 1 1/8 loads at the stores and mail ordering costs too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:12 am
Posts: 98
Location: Kent Ohio
I reload my own 12ga ammo and i generally use 1 1/8 oz. to 1 1/4oz. of #6 for both squirrel and rabbit. Seems to do the job. I use modified choke for most of my hunting. My reloads also pattern great out of my turkey choke. My ten yard pattern with my turkey choke covers about 5-6 inches. easy to miss at that range.

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:03 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
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Location: BRANCHVILLE, s.c.
I usually use 7/8 oz. #6 in a 20 ga. I reload & now use magnum (hard shot). I am hunting gray squrrels & the range is not too far. I would think that using 5's or 4's would call for a heavier load to get good pattern density for bigger squrrels at longer range. Rabbits are pretty easy to kill but bigger shot makes less holes and doesn't mess up the meat as much. I like 1 1/4 oz. #5's for the longer shots at pheasants but usually use 1 1/8 oz. #6 in the first barrel. I never had a problem killing gray squrrels with 7/8 oz. #6's as long as I don't try to stretch my barrel too much.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 9:35 am
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Location: Alabama
I like to use #4 (.13") shot. A 1.25 ounce load has about 170 pellets to fill out the pattern. The large shot completely penetrates small game game animals, preventing the possibility of biting down on a pellet at the dinner table!

Oh, did I mention I load these in Paper hull 12 ga. with card wads and FFFg black powder!


Last edited by RMc on Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
Posts: 3657
Location: BRANCHVILLE, s.c.
There is no one load that is best for all situations. Hunting conditions vary greatly in different parts of the country. What if old betsy doesn't pattern the size shot that is supposed to be ideal worth a flip? My usual load of 7/8 oz. of #6's works great where I usually hunt & any shot left in the animal, usually comes off with the hide. I have hunted in tall timber where more firepower was desirable. Field experience is the best guide, but personally, I have rarely used anything but #6's or a .22 loaded with lr ammo. Obviously, heavier loads than 7/8 oz. are required to maintain adequate pattern density at the longer ranges & using larger shot. My youthful experiments with #4 shot in a 2.75" 20 ga. indicated to me that a 20 ga. didn't have enough pattern density with #4 lead for squrrels or ducks, except at close range where shot that big wasn't needed. The few squrrels I have shot with #5's (one was this week) had all the shot pass completely through the animal. Since I mostly shoot birds, shot in the game just comes with the territory anyway. It has never bothered me.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:03 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 12:39 pm
Posts: 72
Location: NORCal
i like the cheep bulk stuff at walmart.
but if not that the winchester game loads 1oz of hard lead or something like that i like these ver much


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:48 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:47 pm
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Location: SC
I've been hunting squirrels and rabbits for over 50 years and with a shotgun, I consider #6 lead the best shot size for both. :) Game loads are ample, for example in 20 ga, 7/8oz of shot is fine and 2 1/2" 410s pattern better than 3" in my gun.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:01 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:45 am
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Location: louisiana
I use 6s and 7.5s


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:53 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:47 am
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A decent "game load" per gauge of lead #6's works fine if you know your patterns and ranges and put the pattern where it will do the most good.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 3:39 pm
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Location: Arkansas
Ditto what LCSmith26 said. I am almost at the 50 year mark of squirrel hunting myself, and I use #6's in my 410 pump.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:26 am 
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I use a 20ga with #6 for both animals. #5 or #4 just will not pattern well in my fixed choke (Mod.) in my Browning A5. I have noticed that #5 shot and larger will not pattern well in many smaller gauge gauge guns like the 28,20 & 24ga.

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:47 pm
Posts: 43
Location: Blacksburg, VA
What's the advantage to using smaller shot? I've always thought larger shot would be better because there are fewer pellets to remove from the meat, but I'm not as experienced as many of you.

I shot my first squirrel last fall with BB shot and found this to be nearly ideal, I just aimed off to the side and landed most of the pellets in the head region. I only had to remove 2 pellets from the meat, and many went right through. But that was with a 12 gauge, which isn't my primary gun for small game.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:32 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:45 am
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Location: louisiana
The smaller shot doesn't tear the meat up as bad IMO.And my guns patterns better with the small stuff better then the #4s and #5s.Most of the small shot for me is in the hide and falls right out when I skin.


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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 7:41 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 4:34 pm
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I would use 7.5 or 6 but i wouldnt go any bigger than 6 if you dont want to tear the meat up and 7.5 are just right

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:34 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
20ga wrote:
The smaller shot doesn't tear the meat up as bad IMO.And my guns patterns better with the small stuff better then the #4s and #5s.Most of the small shot for me is in the hide and falls right out when I skin.

Same here, 7/8 oz of 6's in the 20ga for rabbits, 1 1/4 oz of 5's in the 12ga for squirrells. I like the 5's for squirrells because of the fact that I have had a few times where only one or two pellets have hit them thru the folliage, and they for the most part are dead when they hit the ground, or expire quick, 12 ga due to hunting pressure on public land and pattern density on a small target at my typical ranges.

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:13 pm 
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Whatever Walmart has on sale in 6s for all upland game except birds. For those, I use 7 1/2. I quit using 8s for anything due to cripples. 6s for squirrels and rabbits work fine for me. I've been hunting them for 60 years.

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 Post subject: Re: Proper small game loads
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 8:14 am 
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Location: Kentucky
I'm with Mr. Butler. I don't want less than 6 shot for tree rats and rabbits. I've cleaned rabbits shot with 7.5's. Some of the pellets wouldn't penetrate the meat and those that did stayed in the meat and left all kinds of hair in it. I wound up having to throw most of it away.


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