NSI cartridges are distributed in the UK by Ladds Guns, Devon, and have established quite a name for themselves. NSI stands for Nobel Sport Italia and is a cartridge manufacturing group that now embraces companies producing all the components necessary to manufacture cartridges – cartridge cases, primers, plastic wads, propellant powders and even the lead shot with their more recent acquisition of Team Italia. Producing all components within the group provides great ability to control specifications, quality and availability that few other manufacturers can match. It also helps with economies of scale.
NSI is a very large company and makes an extremely comprehensive range of shotgun ammunition including a huge range of clay target loads. We have tested some before with impressive results and so were interested to see how other offerings perform. Both of those tested here are for competition use, though not at the top of the price range, so are ideal for practice use too. Being 24-gram loads they may also interest anyone seeking lower recoil by choosing a lower shot load weight; not all lighter loads produce noticeably lower recoil though, so that is something we will check for.
To list the international successes achieved with NSI cartridges would take best part of a page so we will leave you to look that up for yourself. Closer to home we mentioned that well known Sporting shooter Andy Moon had been using NSI Prima cartridges for a while and at the time Andy topped the CPSA (2010) average score for FITASC Sporting. And that was with the budget shells.
If you watched the recent London Olympics you may have spotted that the silver medal in men’s Olympic Trap went to Massimo Fabbrizi of Italy after he tied with the eventual gold medal winner on an Olympic Record score. So, if you should see Internet forums (as I have) asking; “have you heard of NSI?” and “Are they any good?”, well now you know!
So what are these loads and how did they perform? Both are 24-gram plastic wad loads so are eligible for Olympic Trap and Olympic Skeet disciplines, plus any of those where 24-gram can be used if you prefer a lighter load. They are loaded with a ‘GT’ plastic cup wad similar to that developed by SNIA Viscose, a company also now part of the NSI stable. Some of their powders (such as GM3 and Prima) are used in other NSI loads, while these two mid-range competition loads use single base flake Vectan ‘A’ powders, a slightly faster burning grade in the Skeet than the Trap load. Vectan are originally French SNPE powders and are also now manufactured within the NSI group. Both cartridges aptly use a gold-coloured 70mm long plastic case with nickel-plated 15mm metal head and closed with a neat six star crimp.
It may seem boring having to summarise these in very similar terms as the previous NSI cartridges tested, but the facts are there to see. Yet again it is consistency that exudes from these cartridges: pressure, velocities and patterns all came out remarkably consistent. And boring though precise repetition might be, it’s the prime quality required in obtaining top results where both shooter and ammunition must perform very consistently.
Shot size was the only small anomaly here. The Trap Gold tested were marked as No 8 (and 2.3 diameter). Typically, Italian shot is half a size out of step with our UK shot grading system, so if you want UK No 7.5 you ask for Italian No 8 shot in cartridges marked with Italian sizes. Not everyone remembers whether the actual diameter of 2.3 mm is UK 7.7 or not, so often choice is made by stated size. (Do note though that some makers do make the extra effort to mark their Italian made cartridges for the UK market with UK sizes!)
As the pellet count shows, the shot in the Trap cartridge was nearer to UK shot size No 7 than 7.5, so are larger (with fewer in each cartridge as a consequence). They patterned extremely well as the results show and put 10 per cent more pellets in the circle at 40-yards than the Imp Mod barrel might be expected to manage. Its only if you chose very little choke that it would make a major difference as the pattern would be less dense than you anticipated. I do suspect that this was an absolute anomaly and unlikely to be the norm. All the other NSI Trap cartridges tested have been accurate to their marked Italian size and so are those now in the shops likely to be. The shot in the Trap Gold was quite hard at 28.8 per cent crush value and with quick, but not excessively so, velocities that all helped produce very effective patterns. They seemed smooth to shoot too.
The Skeet loads were also nice. Shot has less antimony than the Trap but the percentage crush appears higher than it is because smaller shot always crushes more. The softer shot helps push the patter spread out at the shorter range involved at Skeet and close Sporting shots; they proved very effective and also proved smooth to shoot. NSI Skeet loads have been used to win many major international tournaments too. We may not shoot for Olympic medals but it’s nice to know the loads you use have that kind of pedigree.