What are the best premium clay competition cartridges?

As far as Richard Atkins is concerned, it’s not just a pretty case. Here, he runs through the best premium clay competition cartridges that he saw last year.

We have all been there when selecting our next batch of cartridges, thinking: “shall I stick with my usual choice from the budget end of the range, or should I invest a few more pounds in something from further up the range?”

There is no denying that premium cartridges usually look quite impressive, but do they help your scores? The answer will depend upon what type of shooting you are doing. The simple fact is that for a great deal of the targets commonly shot on Sunday morning clay shoots, today’s budget cartridges will deal with them surprisingly well.


The Clever Mirage Pro Evo Extra (above) for example, has an excellent Olympic pedigree from 1960 to 2016, and as such finds itself in the top division

Premium cartridges have smartly printed, tightly crimped cases as well as tall metal heads (also termed ‘high brass’ from the days when the heads really were made from brass).

These will be top quality, with strong plastic tubes that improve ballistics and consistency. The insides are different too. The primers, powder and wads are carefully selected and matched.

Finally, the lead shot used will have a great effect on the cartridges’ patterns and consistency, especially at extended ranges. As such it will be graded more than once to achieve tight size tolerances.

More importantly, it will contain more antimony than in any budget cartridge. Some brands, especially top Italian makes, print the antimony content on the carton; sometimes this is further explained by the words ‘Extra hard shot’.

So with the basics covered, here are some of the best premium clay competition cartridges on offer, according to Richard Atkins!



Bornaghi Star

Bornaghi is less well-known than some Italian brands, but it’s successful on the continent; with Ladds of Credition distributing them and Martin Elworthy making a meteoric come-back using Bornaghi Star cartridges, we’ll no doubt be seeing more of them.

Now part of the Cheddite empire, they naturally use Cheddite cases, primers and other components. The shot used is well graded for size, contains 5% antimony and has a polished coating that gives a nickel-like, bright finish similar to Gamebore’s Diamond shot. This replaces the traditional black graphite coating and serves the same purpose: helping shot flow freely during loading and preventing pellets from sticking together when compressed by acceleration upon firing.

Both the felt wad and plastic wad versions are fast, but despite this speed, they exceeded the nominal pattern percentages for the Imp Mod (65%) test barrel. The pattern results are similar with both wad types, which shows that fibre wads need not be a serious handicap.


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Posted in Advice and tips, Ask the Experts, Features, Products, Reviews, Technical
One comment on “What are the best premium clay competition cartridges?
  1. Ian Westlake says:

    They all seem excellent cartridges, but no prices.. As a regular clay shooter and pensioner, surely there must be very good clean shot out there at an affordable price!

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