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 Post subject: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:19 pm 
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I mean the 1 1/4 oz, 3 3/4 dram eq., 1330 fps load with size 6, 5, or 4 lead shot. I'm new to pheasant hunting, so haven't formed any strong opinions yet -- just trying to understand if there is a good ballistic (not just marketing/psychological) reason why this load has been the standard in North America for so many years. To remain popular it must have worked well for a lot of people, but is there any real advantage of the high velocity compared to 1 1/4 oz loads around 1200-1250 fps, particularly with #4-5 shot that should have more than enough pheasant killing power at any reasonable velocity and shooting distance? Some people seem to think it's easier to hit with the higher velocity. However, if I am interpreting the ballistic tables in the Lyman 5th edition correctly, it looks like the difference in correct leads between the standard-velocity and high-velocity loads is no more than a few inches on a crossing pheasant at 40 yards, which doesn't seem like enough to matter to most hunters most of the time. Please educate me!



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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:17 pm 
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There isn't any such thing as the "best" of course. It wouldn't be the best for anyone if it patterned poorly. The "1330 fps" on the box may well vary 75 fps and is not likely what you are likely getting out of your gun. Downrange, a slower #4 shot or #5 shot load may hit your bird with more velocity than a "faster" #6 shot load, so muzzle velocities don't matter as much as actual impact velocities.

It is a standard load, just like 1-1/8 oz. 1200 fps has long been the standard 12 gauge target load. I wouldn't assume any more than what it is, just "standard and common." The higher velocity is just an assumption. You'll get higher velocity MV out of a higher constriction choke as well, but that isn't the reason for setting on a particular choke. The "1250 fps 1-3/8 oz." load is just as popular, or more popular than the 1-1/4 oz. load ... perhaps it depends on the area. There are huge differences between brands of shells and the choke you use. The box might have the same stuff printed on it, but what it does at the patterning board shows they aren't always even close.

As for the best "ballistic" performance, ballistically the largest shot size at the highest possible velocity is the best. You won't see 1500 fps loads of #2 lead being used on pheasants any time soon, though, but they are superior ballistically. A heavier pellet launched at a higher velocity has less wind drift, less drop, and higher impact velocity at range. Regardless of the ballistic superiority, the pellet count suffers far too much to make it a desirable load.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:59 pm 
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I shoot 1 1/4 #5 at 1250 and it knocks the crap out of them.


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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:06 pm 
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I shoot basically what BBK shoots , We started calling the ''Bone Crushers''because the birds always had more broken bones than the birds that we shhot with #6's , Pheasant only shooting I think it is hard to be 1 1/4 #5 hard shot at 1200 to 1275 FPs

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 5:37 pm 
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Steve -- When shooting a 12ga at pheasants, I've always prefered the 1 1/4 oz at 1,225 fps load in my O/U.

I try and set up my O/U chokes so one barrel/choke is giving good 30 yard patterns and the other barrel/choke is good out to 40 yards. In my gun, that usually translates into a SK/M choke combo. I do sometimes choke down a little tighter by going to an IC/IM combo for wild flushing pheasant hunting where shots can be a little longer.

Here are some pattern numbers from a 1 1/4 oz reload with hard #5 lead in my 12-gauge Browning Citori w/ 28" Invector-plus barrels using Briley flush chokes (patterns average of five, 30" post-shot scribed circle, yardage taped muzzle to target, and in-shell pellet count average of five).

12 GA 2 3/4" RELOAD (WAACF, W209, UNIQUE, WAA12F114)
1 1/4 OZ #5 LEAD (210 PELLETS) @ 1,220 FPS

30 YDS -- SK / 145 (69%)
30 YDS -- IC / 177 (84%)

40 YDS -- M / 155 (74%)
40 YDS -- IM / 174 (83%)

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:57 pm 
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Thanks for the replies so far. Maybe a better subject line would have been, "Is there anything special about the traditional 12 ga pheasant load." I think that question has pretty much been answered already unless someone chimes in that there's nothing like 1 1/4 oz at 1330 fps.

Does everyone agree that the 1330 fps loads are not significantly easier to hit with at normal pheasant shooting distances than loads in the 1200-1250 fps range?

For what it's worth I was in Wal-Mart this evening, and just out of curiosity I looked to see what they had in 12 ga lead hunting loads. Sure enough, other than the 1 oz "game loads," all they had were either Remington or Federal 1 1/4 oz, 1330 fps loads. I suppose historically, those are the only options most hunters ever had at their local hardware store. I wonder if the 1330 fps standard came about because 50 or more years ago most pheasant hunters only used #6 shot, which needed the higher velocity to kill beyond 35-40 yards?

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:26 pm 
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When I was a young boy, I got to buy the shotgun shells at the local hardware store. I was hunting with Dad and Grandpa. It was either Peters 1-1/4 oz. #6 or Super-X 1-1/4 #6. That's all there was locally. No one at the time cared about velocity, velocities weren't published . . . and no one owned a chronograph, either. A box of either and a standardweight A-5, you were living large.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:15 pm 
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The old "High Brass" 12 bore load has served us faithfully for years. A very good load when the roosters are setting closer is a 1 1/4 oz load at 1220. I loaded mine with Unique and found that they filled the outer rings of the pattern better than some high brass that uses a slower more progressive powder that tends to throw more to the center, which is the real difference in the high brass loading. Brister one time wrote that one of the "mysteries" in shotgunning was how a 28 ga could be so effective and how a 1 1/4 oz 12 field load (1220) could pattern so well. The field load works great out of open chokes like SK1 and IC. If the shots are longer the high brass has a proven track record. As to whether the velocities are as climed that depends on so many things, so as stated velocites are something printed on a box. One of the tightest loads I have seen was a reduced load of 540 at a published 1250 (I think). Personally I thought it was too much of a good thing and used the field loading in my open barrel and a high brass in my tighter barrel on my doubles.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:17 am 
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Quote:
Steve 1717 quote
just trying to understand if there is a good ballistic (not just marketing/psychological) reason why this load has been the standard in North America for so many years.

The reason being it tends to work. I think common sense will tell you that there is more delivered energy to the target with heavier loads than with light loads. How much energy you need depends on what you are doing, imo. I think most people over the years have found a need for what energy they can come by for ducks and pheasants.

A beautiful pattern will break a clay target but might be deficient for killing a large bird.

The problem with a shotgun is that the pattern changes in size dramatically over a short distance. Every choke and shot size is a compromise. The problem I have with pheasants is that they want behave the way I want them to. If I could get them to behave consistently then I could choose the perfect choke and shot size. If I could change my shooting style on demand, that would help too. Last week it was like the pheasants where on meth, or something. A straight away shot was a rare thing and they got up anywhere from 10 yd to 75 yards. 90 % of the time I couldn’t even see the dog. What load and choke should I have used?


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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:31 am 
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Mnshooter wrote:
Brister one time wrote that one of the "mysteries" in shotgunning was how a 28 ga could be so effective and how a 1 1/4 oz 12 field load (1220) could pattern so well.


While Bob Brister commented on it, it was just hearsay. The comments were attributed to Neil Oldridge of Remington, who didn't say that the 28 gauge was so effective, but qualified it as "so highly efficient for the shot load it throws" and it wasn't that the 12 gauge load could pattern so well. It was that a 3-1/4 dram 1-1/4 oz. pigeon load "will pattern beautifully in almost any barrel."

What "highly efficient" and "pattern beautifully" actually might mean is anyone's guess, but it makes for a good story.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:22 am 
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Any opinions on the merits of 1 1/4 oz at 1330 fps relative to 1 3/8 oz at 1250 fps?

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:49 am 
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Steve1717 wrote:
Any opinions on the merits of 1 1/4 oz at 1330 fps relative to 1 3/8 oz at 1250 fps?


I have never used 1 3/8 oz at 1250, but can vouch for 1 3/8 oz copper plated at 1500 fps. Of course "good" shots with lots of predictable pheasants in easy cover with good dogs never need that much. I wish I had some of that. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:12 pm 
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I dont like to shoot 1300fps+ as it usually means more flyers and screws with my pattern. I dont take long shots anyways, so 1200-1250 is PLENTY.


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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:14 pm 
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Steve1717 wrote:
Any opinions on the merits of 1 1/4 oz at 1330 fps relative to 1 3/8 oz at 1250 fps?


It doesn't work quite that way. If you want to know, you have to pattern. Different brands of shells and different choke tubes can produce dramatically different patterns. This is a brief look at 20 gauge pheasant loads: http://randywakeman.com/20_Gauge_Pheasant_Loads_Compared.htm. Illinois pheasant opener is Saturday, so it was time to slip in some patterning. Some might say that 20 gauge 3 inch loads can be a bit more fussy than 12 gauge . . . they're probably right, though there is no hard data either way.

The change of a shotshell or the change of a choke tube can be far more meaningful than what is just printed on a cardboard box. Several 1-3/8 oz. shells do not do as well as the better 1-1/4 oz. loads-- the B&P MB Long Range, for example. If you are looking for recoil, then the 1500 fps 1-1/4 oz. Federal Prairie Storm shells can help you with that, but not in the better patterning department. The Winchester Super Pheasant 1-3/8 oz. shells have been just average, the Fiocchi 1/3/8 oz. (1250, NOT the 1485fps) have been excellent.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:59 pm 
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I found the 1 1/4 oz load to be about as much as I needed. There has been more than one claim in print about how efective the baby mag at 1 1/2 oz is in a skeet choke. I tried the 1 3/8 in open chokes and with 6's tended to spit out more shot than I liked. I did have a good 1 3/8 load of copper 4's I used in late season, but again I really did not think it was a good improvement over a good 1 1/4 load. They had experimented with fast loads in lead many years ago, and generally found that lead did not pattern as well. It is very possible that the set back forces tend to damage too many pellets. I would bet the Fiocchi load Randy mentioned would be excellent.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:51 pm 
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I was experimenting with the 1 oz. Tachyon clipped to the brim of my hat, so above are a couple of frame grabs from earlier today.

If your gun fits you, comes up well, shoots to point of aim, etc., there are very good loads from 1-1/8 oz. to 1-1/4 oz. that are more than adequate. Some are markedly better than others, but picking a good pheasant shotshell / choke combination is a one-time process.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:41 pm 
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The ability to put the center of the shot swarm where the pheasant will be is more important than the load or gauge.
The best load is a compromise as pheasants will give entirely different presentations from bird to bird and day to day.
My favorite loads for different gauges is simply what worked for me on one day and worked again on a different day, must be a pheasant killing load therefore.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:37 pm 
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McIntosh was also a big fan of the "pigeon load" (1220 fps) of No. 6s or any off the shelf loads that would approximate it.

Me, too, actually. I tend to stay away from the 1330 to 1400+ fps loads (yes, I've seen some oddly heavy and amped up loads on the shelf these days) , unless I'm short on shells and they're all that's available. (That's rare, though...I keep a good stock of what I like.) Nothing horrible about 'em ... but a little more speed than I need, IMO.

I generally gun No. 6 from my O/Us, and I carry about four or five No. 5s, as well, it case it's a day when they're really spooky and getting legs and/or flushing long. I find anything in the 1200 fps range, perhaps up to 1300 fps) seems to do just fine. In fact, a standard Win 1 oz. GL is my favorite first (bottom barrel) shell from either of my 16s, which are the guns I carry most for pheasant. I've found even through the IC choke, it can be quite a hitter out to about 35.

As Randy noted, best pre-hunt answer can be found on the patterning board.

Personally, we like to get good points, shoot fairly short, carry double guns and pass on the long flushes and try to walk 'em again. We use two setters, two guys and aren't shy about running one of the pair out long to do an improvised drive and block. Under those conditions, load is less important than is being solidly on the the bird and using both barrels well if it comes to it. We even used fast No. 7.5 trap or clays loads for quite a while. Eventually, we found No. 6 was getting much better penetration and also meant removing spitting fewer pellets from the bird during the cleaning and eating.

I'd guess the best two practices with any good shell would be (a) put 'em on the board and (b) see how they work for you during a few hunts with your favorite pheasant gun.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:40 pm 
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From Randy: "but picking a good pheasant shotshell / choke combination is a one-time process."

I'd generally agree. I have my favorite bottom barrel/top barrel combos for my 28s through 12s and haven't varied much for years. They're dropping pretty well.

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 Post subject: Re: Is the traditional 12 ga "pheasant load" the best?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:56 pm 
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At least, a one time process per gun. A few of my friends in the U.K., when asked about the weather, always say "It is a bit variable." That would apply to pheasants in Northern Illinois, only "highly extremely variable" would be more like it. Particularly when they jump up into a 25 mph wind . . . your 35 mph pheasant just became a 70 mph Mongolian rocket.



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