19 Best Budget Clay Loads

We often have to pull in our belts at this time of year so we’ve searched high and low to find quality cartridges at under £200 per thousand…

If you felt the squeeze over Christmas, you don’t need to pack up the gun just yet. Shoot guilt-free by swapping over to some of the shells we have found at penny-pinching prices!

1. Eley 1st Select


While both the 24g and 28g are within the £200 budget, for practice over the winter save your pennies and try the 24s. They are designed to be remarkably effective while lowering recoil and muzzle flip – perfect if you’re getting achy in the colder weather.
Buy from: Eley Hawk 01213 532 277

2. Hull Superfast


Hull have managed to slice the cost of these cartridges by sacrificing 1g of the shot and none of the quality. This is 27g of hard shot with good speeds that has been cleverly engineered to provide very similar results with the fibre wad as they get with the plastic.
Buy from: Hull Cartridge 01482 342 756

3. Cheddite Sporting


The Cheddite Sporting use a light charge of fast-burning powder, leaving very little residue. Some variation in shot size, but this can serve to elongate the shot string – helpful on short targets. Easy on the recoil and easy on the pocket.
Buy from: Malmo Guns 01524 793 007

4. Clever Mirage Supertarget


A good all-round sporting cartridge that will double as a competition trap load. Excellent pattern results with comparatively low recoil.
Buy from: Garlands 01827 383 300

5. RC Romagnola


Richard Atkins reviewed the 21g Romagnolas last month, finding them to be soft, shootable, quiet and enjoyable. Not for long targets or serious competition, but these light-load RCs are a great low recoil option at a great price.
Buy from: Shooting Star (contact: nick@shootingstarcc.co.uk) 01728 660 372

6. Eley Hawk Amber


Don’t be put off by the pink. Just like their namesake, these Ambers are small and girly, but they are real clay-busters. Available in 21g and 24g but with really hard shot, these shells produce an excellent pattern – in fact, the pellet count is higher than that found in some 28g cartridges.
Buy from: Eley Hawk 01213 532 277

7. Gamebore Evo


Not only do the Evos produce consistently dense patterns, but they are really smooth to shoot. Used for Skeet and close-to-medium Sporting targets, they enable a consistent rhythm to be built, and the reduced disturbance aids accurate second target acquisition. The hardness of the shot helps produce high pattern densities, which also ensures that these EVO Sporting 9s give positive kills out to 30 yards and more, and are great on high overhead targets. It’s an ideal shell to have in your bag for closer targets with less choke.
Buy from: Gamebore 01482 223 707

8. Hull Comp X


The Comp X comes in 21-gram and 28-gram, both plastic and fibre wad options, and in either 7.5 or 9 shot sizes. All are loaded into 65mm cases and are suitable for use in shorter (2.5”) chambered shotguns.
Buy from: Hull Cartridge 01482 342 756

9. Fiocchi Fblu


Hard shells that will partner up brilliantly with some of those short to mid-range cartridges. The Fblus keep a tight pattern for those long- distance birds. Sensibly quick, keeping that recoil low, low, low, just like the price.
Buy from: Fiocchi 01827 383466

10. Lyalvale Express Power Blue


Express’ mid-range load, currently at an excellent price with the 28g plastic wad just under budget and the fibre just over. They perform remarkably similarly, which is great if you have to chop and change going from ground to ground.
Buy from: Lyalvale Express 01543 434 400

11. Cheddite Universal Trap


Evenly distributed patterns with Cheddite’s unusually consistent performance under lab tests. A good, clean trap shell that will also take on close and mid-range sporting targets .
Buy from: Malmo Guns 01524 793 007

12. Jocker LA


The reclaimed shot in these Jockers make them not only a long way under budget but also eco-friendlier than standard loads. The shot is carefully treated before being loaded to get the very best from what appear to be premium grade pellets. A very pleasant surprise when tested.
Buy from: Shooting Star (contact: nick@shootingstarcc.co.uk) 01728 660 372

13. Eley Olympic Blues


These blue cartridges are one of Eley’s most recognisable shells and they are available in 24 or 28 gram versions, with all shot sizes from 7.5 to 9. They are typically straddling our price point at the moment, with the plastic wad just under £200 per thousand and the fibre coming in just over.
Buy from: Eley Hawk 01213 532 277

14. FOB Viper


These consistent cartridges straddle our £200 budget, with the plastic wad coming in just under and the fibre (which had excellent lab results) just over.
Buy from: Westcountry Guns 01984 623 829

15. Gamebore Velocity +


Gamebore’s budget load at sensible speeds, coming in just below the 400 metres per second high velocity standard. Low recoil, tight pattern — what more can you ask from
a cartridge at this price point?
Buy from: Gamebore 01482 223 707

16. Armusa Sporting


These Spanish cartidges are very good on a variety of targets and nice and easy on the shoulder. They house a relatively hard and chunky shot for those longer targets and are very comfortably within the £200 budget.
Buy from: Purbeck Shooting Supplies 01929 405 101

17. NSI Prima & Prima Light


NSI Prima and Prima Light (28g and 21g) are clean burning, really smooth to shoot with and well priced. While you might want to go up a choke with the 21g, that choice will be forgiven when you feel how soft they are on your shoulder.
Buy from: Edgar Brothers 01625 613 177

18. Rio Target Load


Made using their own single-based powder with a matched primer, Rio’s Target load in 28g and shot size 7.5 or 8 is a great choice for Down The Line.
Buy from: CCI International 01536 260 933

19. Lyalvale Express English Sporter


Fast, very consistent and with almost full choke patterns from the Imp/Mod test barrel. Matching chokes to target size and distance helps keep patterns appropriate to the target presentation, and these budget shells will deal with all but the most distant of testing targets.
Buy from: Lyalvale Express 01543 434 400


This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Clay Shooting magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk

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