RC cartridges is well known among the top echelons of clay target competitors and in many countries around the world, with an enviable record of successes over the years. In the Olympic disciplines, RC Cartridges achieved its 15th anniversary of consecutive victories this year, including Michael Diamond’s Olympic gold in Olympic Trap in 2000.
London 2012 showed that RC remains the choice of many champions with Giovanni Cernogoraz of Croatia taking the Olympic Trap gold medal, and our own Peter Wilson in Double Trap. RC shooters also took three other medals during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The credentials of RC are impeccable and as we have seen in previous reviews in Clay Shooting, the cartridges deliver great performance. It’s no surprise that those seeking to reach their personal best often choose ammunition proven to enable that.
Eliminating ammunition quality concerns allows full concentration to be given to other aspects that must all be perfected for consistent top-level performance. However, premium products involve using premium components, and employing extra measures to ensure ultimate performance is expensive. For those shooting regularly at prestigious events, ammunition cost is less significant, but for many shooting at a lower level or different discipline the price of cartridges can add up. Fortunately, if you are not seeking to win Olympic medals then requirements for ultimate performance are less acute.
For a long time shooters have been interested in trying RC ammunition but some have been put off by the price. Aware of this, and operating in the highly competitive UK market, RC Cartridges distributor Shooting Star has worked with the manufacturer to encourage the introduction of a budget shell. This may seem at odds with the RC philosophy but it is a means of shooters trying the brand and provides a choice for the less demanding applications.
The new RC loads are called Romagnola and are available in 21, 24 and 28-gram shot with plastic and fibre wad options. We received 21-gram fibre 8s and 28-gram plastic wad 7.5 shot samples to test. The boxes are unmistakable, in the colours of the Italian flag with Romagnola printed clearly on the central diagonal white band separating red from green. Though carton quality is not quite so up-market as the premium types, they are strong and survived transit without splitting.
Cartridge cases are 67mm long and lightly ribbed, green parallel plastic tubes with low brass plated steel head, setting them apart from the higher brass of most other RC clay loads. The cases took a tight crimp and were evenly closed with a six-point star closure leaving no central gaps – the same quality as the company’s premium load.
The plastic wads have a substantial cushioning centre and the fibre wads are the Diana-style, single-unit type with laminated top and bottom surfaces loaded in conjunction with a thick over-powder card. With antimony being expensive, it’s usual for budget loads to use less of it than premium loads as the CV figures show. Powder is a clean burning single-base disc flake type. Our key aim is to establish what they offer and how they perform to make best use of their capabilities. To discover this we employed our long-established testing regime.
The new RC Romagnola loads were submitted to the Birmingham Proof Laboratory for pressure, velocity and momentum testing to CIP standards. Pattern tests were fired over a 40-yard distance so longer range patterning qualities can be assessed. The same Trap barrel bored Imp/Mod (65 per cent) as used for all Sporting and Trap cartridge tests to date was used for the Romagnola pattern testing.
Romagnola – Fibre 8/Plastic 7.5
Cartridge Shot load (gn) – 329/431
Pellet (count/oz) – 414/376
UK shot (size / CV) – <7.5 32%/7.5> 34%
Pellets in 30in diameter – 193/220
Pattern % – 62/59
CD – 56%/54%
Romagnola – Fibre 8/Plastic 7.5
Velocity m/s (fps) – 393 (1289)/394(1293)
SD – 4/2
Recoil (M) (unit=Ns) – 8.25/11
Pressure (Bar) – 552/580
Top competitors demand consistency as one below par shot could spell the difference between being in the medals or missing out. Those choosing budget loads can’t expect the same degree of detail required to achieve remarkable consistency, but with RC they will get it anyway. The SD figures for both types tested here show consistency that just a few years ago would be hard to find even among premium ammunition.
Standard deviations in the single-figure range show that components are good, well matched and supremely assembled. Even the fibre wad loads, which are notoriously difficult to maintain the tightest consistency levels, achieved an SD of four. This equates to a spread of around 13m/sec over 10 shots – a good result even with plastic wads.
Velocity of both types is close, so they could be used in a mixed Sporting round without affecting timing/target lead requirements. As anticipated, the shot crushed a little more due to lower antimony levels resulting in slightly lower pattern densities. One should consider what this means and look to the strengths, not just see a lower pattern percentage. There are hosts of occasions when a little more open spread can bring in an extra target or two, especially at the closer to mid-range Sporting clay targets and first barrel DTL. I certainly found that the 28-gram Romagnola were well up to first barrel DTL, likewise the 21-gram fibre wad shells during the first Sporting stand I managed to straight. Recoil is well managed in both and the 21-gram loads are especially sweet to shoot.
Velocity levels are quick without being ultra fast, which is ideal to make the best of the shot load and recoil and it helps achieve the CD figures. These show a more even spread across the plate than premium Trap loads tend to give and help strengthen the outer edge of the patterns, which can be useful. This is a tactic used by some other makers and now that option, including the ability to open up patterns thrown by a tightly choked gun for moderate distance targets, is available from RC.
Using the cartridge most appropriate to the target type, distance and choke can be a route to improved score averages. These Romagnola are currently listed on the Just Cartridges website at £157.50 for the 21-gram fibre and £169 for the 28 gram plastic. This is over £60/1000 less than the RC4 Competition loads. If you try some of Romagnola loads, you will find that budget cartridges have a lot to offer, perhaps more than you might expect.