Best clay cartridges – the right kind for every discipline

Ian Coley’s gun shop manager Matt Panter explains which are the best cartridges for every discipline.

Matt has an encyclopaedic knowledge of clay shooting, is a key part of Ian Coley’s retail operation for the past 15 years and an active shooter who has competed at the highest level. 

He first shot for England in 2012 at European Level DTL. Matt moved to shooting Olympic Trap and ABT, where in 2016 he won the English Open and British Open ABT, and a bronze in the English Open Olympic Trap. He capped it off as part of the winning England Olympic Trap and ABT teams, securing a place in the Great Britain Olympic Trap team for 2017. 

“I often see two kinds of shooters in our shop,” says Matt. “There’s the dismissive sort, who always shoots the same cartridge whatever the objective. Or, the over-thinker, who is obsessed with the specs. Try to find some healthy ground between the two, and don’t be afraid to experiment with something new from time-to-time.”

Best cartridge for Sporting: Clever T4 Pro Sporting

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 22mm
Shot size: 7.5, 8.5, 9.5
Muzzle Velocity: 430mps, 1411fps
Material: Lead shot, 6% antimony

The T4 Pro Sporting is a dedicated Sporting cartridge that really comes into its own for medium to long distances. It features a unique wad with irregularly cut petals that initially opens up quickly and evenly, but maintains its structure for a high quality pattern.

I find it really excellent for those longer, tricky sporting targets. It is a 12-bore cartridge, only available in 28g load and with extra-hardened No. 7.5, 8.5 or 9.5 shot. So, limited options but it does exactly what it is designed to do – excel at Sporting targets.

Best cartridges for Trap: Clever T3 Grand Italia

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 16mm
Grams: 24, 28
Shot size: 7.5, 8, 9.5
Muzzle Velocity: 412mps, 1352fps
Material: Lead shot, 6% antimony

The T3 Grand Italia is a cartridge that has won everything from European Championships to Olympic medals. Developed for Olympic Trap, it serves in other trap disciplines as well as Skeet and Sporting. 

I favour a 24g or 28g load with shot No. 7.5, but it is available in 8 and 9.5 too, giving you the opportunity to mix it up for closer and more distant targets. Shot is hardened and the Grand Italia is advertised as Low Sonic, which makes it useful for areas where noise is an issue. Plastic or fibre wads are available.

Best cartridge for all-round claybusting: Eley Superb

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 16mm
Load: 24, 28
Shot size 24: 7
Shot size 28: 7, 7.5, 8, 9
Shot size 28 Fibre: 7.5, 8, 9
Muzzle Velocity 24: 419mps, 1375fps
Muzzle Velocity 28: 411mps, 1350fps
Muzzle Velocity 28 Fibre: 411mps, 1350fps
Material: Lead shot, high antimony

The Superb is a line of cartridges perfect for the shooter who shoots a range of disciplines. Eley claim that its blend of powders and slow burning primers allows the barrel time to be regulated so it achieves a smooth, powerful performance. 

The Superb comes in a variety of specs, so I vary the load and shot size depending on the discipline. The colour coding for different sizes keeps track of them, especially when using different first and second barrel combinations. They are also available with a fibre wad.

Best cartridge for novices: Eley Select

Gauge: 12
Case: 67mm
Head: 12mm
Load: 21, 24, 28
Shot size 21: 7.5, 8
Shot size 24: 7.5, 8, 9
Shot size 24 Fibre: 7.5, 8, 9
Muzzle Velocity 21: 413mps, 1355fps
Muzzle Velocity 21 Fibre: 405mps, 1330fps
Muzzle Velocity 24: 404mps, 1325fps
Muzzle Velocity 24 Fibre: 401mps, 1315fps
Muzzle Velocity 28: 389mps, 1275fps
Muzzle Velocity 28 Fibre: 389mps, 1275fps
Material: Lead shot

The Select is an entry-level cartridge, a great all-rounder and popular with our regular shooters like its stable-mate, the Superb. The 21g load is great for beginners because it’s kind on the shoulder, enabling them to focus on enjoying the sport rather than discomfort. It’s also available in a wide variety of specs including a fibre wad option across all loads.

For cartridges for consistent, dense patterns: Fiocchi FBLU

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 16mm
Load: 24, 28
Shot size: 7.5
Muzzle Velocity 24: 395mps, 1295fps
Muzzle Velocity 28: 410mps, 1345fps
Material: Lead shot, 5% antimony

When Fiocchi’s F line of cartridges was unveiled almost ten years ago it met with universal acclaim because it boasted premium details at less than premium price-points.

FBLU features an intricate honeycomb style wad that was developed for Fiocchi’s more expensive Official line, hardened shot and specially formulated double-base ‘F Series’ propellant powders.

These double-base propellants allow slightly smaller charges to be used, and they remain more stable in fluctuating temperatures. Patterns are dense, which is great for long range, but can be fine-tuned by fitting more open chokes. 20 gauge and steel variants are available.

Best cartridge for an ‘affordable’ premium option: Gamebore White Gold

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 16mm
Load: 28
Shot size: 7.5, 8
Muzzle Velocity 28: 422mps, 1450fps
Material: Diamond shot

This cartridge is a favourite of champion of champions George Digweed MBE. I guess if it’s good enough for George, it should be good enough for anyone! Like the Fiocchi F range, the White Gold is a premium cartridge with a lower than expected price-point.

It offers much of the tech that can be found in Gamebore’s most expensive shells – including their diamond shot process – but it won’t hit you in the wallet or purse quite so hard.

I recommend it for shooters who are ready to move up from the more basic cartridges but don’t want to shell out a fortune for the privilege. Plastic or fibre wad variants are available.

Best cartridge for long range: Hull Pro One

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 12mm
Load: 24, 28
Shot size 24: 7, 7.5, 9
Shot size 28: 7, 7.5, 8, 9
Muzzle Velocity: 457mps, 1500fps
Material: Lead shot, 5% antimony

The Pro One from Hull is another well-established cartridge, and a proven good all-rounder at a mid-price point. Its high velocity and hardened shot bless it with great pellet energy and dense patterns, which make it ideal for long-range targets. Shooting is characteristically fast and smooth, and the recoil is surprisingly subdued. 

The Pro One is available in 24 and 28g loads with a range of shot sizes. A fibre version is available, as are variants aimed at specific disciplines or purposes such as the Pro One DTL 300 and the non-toxic Pro Steel.

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