A selection of 21gm practice clay loads

Cartridges with 21gm loads have boomed in popularity since their introduction in 2007 and are ideal for practice, simulated days and as a way of reducing recoil.

Between 2006 and 2007 the price of lead more than doubled, hitting an all time high of around $4,000 per tonne in October 2007. And as the price of lead soared, so too did the price of cartridges.

Against this background of spiralling prices, the 21gm load was first introduced by Hull Cartridge as a money-saving idea. Since then, the advantages of 21gm loads have led to them becoming desirable products in their own right. All manufacturers now make such loads, including those on the Continent.

Ballistically similar to their weightier 24 and 28gm cousins, these cartridges have the added advantages of reducing recoil and giving excellent patterns, so you should never feel undergunned by using them – they will still smash long-range birds.

Although it’s true you will be firing about 25 per cent fewer pellets compared to a 28gm load, these loads are ideal for practice, large volume shooting and reducing recoil.

Available in fibre or plastic wad, they are particularly good for Skeet, as in a 9 shot you still have about 430 pellets, which is actually more than you get in a 28gm cartridge loaded with 7½ shot.

A large selection available in 12 and 20 gauge, you can shoot these all day long and not feel like you’ve gone 12 rounds with Anthony Joshua. Great for sim days or practice, smashing clays and you won’t feel a thing!

Hull Comp X

Load: 21gm Fibre 7.5 shot; Plastic 7.5 or 9 shot
Case Length: 65mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1425fps
Price: £185 / 1,000 Plastic; £189.75 / 1,000 Fibre

This appears first in the list because Hull Cartridge were essentially the inventor of this load. Slightly faster than the Comp X 28gm and available in 9 shot in the plastic wad, the Comp X is ideal for Skeet practice. The first of it’s kind, it’s still the most popular and deservedly so. Also available in 20 gauge at £237.

Just Cartridges CSP Lite

Load: 21gm Fibre 8 shot
Case Length: 65mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1420fps
Price: £179 / 1,000

Originally designed as a simulated day cartridge, these are ideal for any sporting clay situation. Their huge popularity is partly because they’re the cheapest mainstream 21gm load out there.

They are also available in 20-gauge with fibre wads and 7.5 shot at £219 per 1,000 – again over £10 cheaper than the best of the rest.

Eley Amber

Load: 21gm Fibre or Plastic 8 shot
Case Length: 67mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1350fps
Price: £191 / 1,000 Plastic; £196 / 1,000 Fibre

Moving from the cheapest to the most expensive, we have Eley’s cartridges named after Amber Hill. These come in a sexy pink case and are not just for girls! Eley also make a Select 21gm which are a comparable price to the competition at £184 in plastic wad and £189 in fibre. Be seen and make a statement…

Gamebore Evo

Load: 21gm Fibre 7.5 or 8 shot; Plastic 7.5 shot
Case Length: 65mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1420fps
Price: £184 / 1,000 Plastic; £189 / 1,000 fibre

The entry level of Gamebore’s expansive Evo range, this reflects the Evo family’s commitment to performance and value. Gamebore also make a 20-gauge competition load, in fibre wad with 7.5 shot only at £231 per 1,000. Like the Evo, this load comes in a genuine 65mm case.

Gamebore Super Steel Lite

Load: 21gm Plastic 7.5 Steel shot
Case Length: 65mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1300fps
Price: £152 / 1,000

The only steel load of this month’s lot comes with the added advantage. Steel is about 20 per cent less dense than lead, meaning you get about 360 pellets in 21gms. It’s also harder, so you will get less pellet deformation and therefore more consistent patterns. The only thing not to love about it is that it’s only available in a plastic wad.

Lyalvale Express Super Light

Load: 21gm Fibre or Plastic 7.5 shot only
Case Length: 65mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1400fps
Price: £184 / 1,000 Plastic or £189 / 1,000 Fibre

The revamped Super Light range from Lyalvale Express also encompasses a 24gm load and is spot on the money in terms of performance. They also make a 20-gauge version in a 67mm case at £254 per 1,000 in plastic wad and £260 in fibre. Smooth shooting and clean breaks make this one a winner.

RC Romagnola

Load: 21gm Fibre 7.5 shot
Case Length: 67mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1425fps
Price: £189 / 1,000

RC make very good quality products and the budget Romagnola range are no exception. This is a no frills cartridge, but it still offers excellent performance and impressively soft recoil.

It’s the fastest of this month’s offerings and while it’s essentially a practice cartridge, it still manages to give a comparable speed to many heavier competition loads.

Eley CT 20 gauge

Load: 21gm Fibre 7.5 or 8 shot or Plastic 7.5 or 8 shot
Case Length: 67mm
Muzzle Velocity: 1400fps
Price: £232 / 1,000 Plastic; £236 / 1,000 Fibre

Users of 20-bores are well catered for with 21gm versions of most of the above loads, and that includes Eley Hawk’s offerings. The company makes both Amber and Select in 21gm 12 gauge and likewise Amber and CT in 20 bore. The CT are slightly faster in the smaller gauge than the 12 bore sister load. The choice is yours!

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