Best clay shooting shells – our expert selections

John Robinson – top-level shooting coach, elite triathlete and Mountain Rescue leader – gives us his top picks on the best clay shooting shells

John is one of those people who has somehow managed to fit at three lifetimes of achievement into one – and he’s still got many years left in him. A veterinary surgeon, a Nuffield Scholar, an athlete who’s represented Great Britain in three different disciplines, a coach in demand at the highest level, a Mountain Rescue leader saving lives – the list of accomplishments goes on.

“I started game and rough shooting at the age of 11,” says John, “so I’ve been at it for 50 years! Mensa members will work out very quickly that I’m old!”

John looks ten years younger and is fitter than most men half his age. He shot his first clay in 1986 and, astonishingly, went on to represent England and Great Britain at Olympic Skeet just three years later – a habit that lasted 20 years. 

That success would leave most of us exhausted, but while John collected Commonwealth, European Commonwealth and British Grand Prix Gold Medals in Olympic Skeet, he was competing for Great Britain at Triathlon and Duathlon. 

“It made training interesting, and helped my shooting enormously,” says John. “The legacy of that period is the amazing people I met and the incredible places I was fortunate to visit.”

He spent 12 years as a ‘B’ licence ISSF coach, was a Senior CPSA Coach, Tutor and Assessor for 10 years, and Head Coach for the England Clay Shooting Team at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The CPSA honoured him as Coach of the Year 2013, and presented him with a CPSA Special Contribution Award in 2015 for his work at Commonwealth Games Glasgow. 

John now coaches full time in The North York Moors, focusing on everyone from novice to experienced international competitors and game shooters.

As it that weren’t enough, he’s also on call with The Mountain Rescue Team 365 days a year as a Party Leader. 

“During the lockdown the hardworking medics and helicopter crews I served alongside went beyond the call of duty. So, when you get out to play again, put the sport in perspective and enjoy it, because at the end of the day, it is ‘just a sport’!

John’s recommendations

Remember that three key elements should take priority before choice of shells – good gun fit, good technique and consistent, correct gun mounting. So, before you start blaming a cartridge for your misses, make sure those three fundamentals are in place. 

It’s worth mentioning that manufacturers now produce consistent products, so there are no bad cartridges.

Nevertheless, recoil is a serious problem in clay shooting so my recommendations aim to minimise it. The cartridges below have been chosen on the basis of their capacity to give shots confidence in their ability and that of their equipment.

Hull Comp X  

Hull Comp X  

I use this cartridge for most of my clients, either game or clay. It’s a great training cartridge that allows you to focus on technique without worrying about recoil or performance. This will inspire confidence in any user.

Gauge: 12
Case: 65mm
Head: 8mm
Load: 21g, 28g
Shot size 21g: 7.5, 9
Shot size 21g Fibre: 7.5
Shot size 28g: 7.5, 9
Shot size 28g Fibre: 7.5
Muzzle Velocity 21g: 434mps, 1425fps
Muzzle Velocity 28g: 419mps, 1375fps
Material: Lead shot, 2% antimony

Sellier & Bellot Skeet 24 Super

Sellier & Bellot Skeet 24 Super

Used by some of the top International Olympic Skeet shooters, it produces a superb pattern of no. 9 shot. Recovery on that second target is outstanding.

For the Sporting and Skeet competitor, it breaks everything within sensible range. They have come a long way since the 1970s when we were using paper case game versions that were interesting to say the least! This is really worth a shout.

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 12.5mm
Load: 24g
Shot size: 9 (2mm)
Muzzle Velocity: 415mps, 1361fps
Material: Lead shot

Lyalvale Express Excel Olympian 

Lyalvale Express Excel Olympian 

Anumber of clients use this at International level in Olympic disciplines with great success. It shows what a 24g shell can do, both at Trap and Skeet. Competitors who increase the lead weight in their cartridges often end up with less control and more recoil. Patterning is superb and confidence follows.

Gauge: 12
Case: 70mm
Head: 20mm
Load: 24g
Shot size: 7, 7.5, 8, 9
Muzzle Velocity: 442mps, 1450fps
Material: Super tempered lead shot

Eley Superb 

Eley Superb 

Many of us look to 28g shells, but their advantages can be nullified by recoil. This cartridge gives performance without blowing your shoulder off.

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

Hull Pro-Twenty

Hull Pro-Twenty

I use this for clients who are on a 20 bore. It produces the same results as its bigger brother in 12 bore, the Comp X. The Pro-Twenty enables novices to concentrate on the target. I use the 21g version, which is all that is needed for beginners and progressing shooters. 

Gauge: 20
Case 21g: 65mm
Case 24g: 67mm
Case 28g: 70mm
Load: 21g, 24g, 28g
Shot size 21g fibre: 7.5
Shot size 24g: 6.5, 7.5
Shot size 24g fibre: 7.5
Shot size 28g fibre: 7.5
Material: Lead shot, 2 – 5% antimony

Gamebore Super Competition

Gambore Super Competition

This is a competitor to the Hull Pro-Twenty, and I include it in my list as a true performer. I cannot split the two apart in performance and use it just as much. It allows you to coach technique while not worrying about recoil. 

Gauge: 20
Case 24g, 28g: 70mm 
Case 21g Fibre, 24g Fibre, 28g Fibre: 65mm
Load: 21g, 24g, 28g
Shot size 21g Fibre: 7.5
Shot size 24g: 7.5, 8, 9
Shot size 24g Fibre: 8
Shot size 28g: 8
Shot size 28g: Fibre: 8
Material: Lead shot

Eley CT

Eley CT

My pick for a progression from a 21g shell. It is available in other load sizes but in Olympic disciplines we are only allowed 24g as a maximum Even on the very hardest and fastest of targets it is more than good enough for the 20 bore user.

Recoil is minimal and gives all the attributes and advantages required by the shooter to perform. Very smooth to use and very effective in giving complete control of both of your shots.

Gauge: 20
Case 21g: 67mm
Case 24g, 28g: 70mm
Load: 21g, 24g, 28g
Shot size 21g: 7.5, 8
Shot size 24g: 7.5, 8
Shot size 28g: 7.5
Shot size 28g: Fibre: 7.5, 8
Material: Lead shot

Lyalvale Express Supreme Game  

Lyalvale Express Supreme Game  

The 28 bore is a great calibre that gives confidence to novices. Again you are putting in the air the same amount of lead as some of the above mentioned 12 and 20 bore calibres.

Stick to the three basic elements required for any good shooting. Soft in the shoulder, patterning that gives you confidence and results that will encourage users to continue with the sport.

Gauge: 28
Case: 65mm
Head: 8mm
Load: 21g
Shot size: 6, 7
Muzzle Velocity: 411mps, 1350fps
Material: Super tempered lead shot

More cartridge round-ups from Clay Shooting Magazine


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One comment on “Best clay shooting shells – our expert selections
  1. roger miller says:

    I use Sellior & Bellot super trap excellent shell get mid 90’s with these regular good price to.

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