The Gamebore name has been with us since 1973 when the company was first formed; importing the popular Gevelot brand of French cartridges into the UK. A decade later the company moved to new larger premises and installed their own shot tower, enabling the brand to produce all of their shot in house. They have also been a driving force in the steel cartridge market since 1990 when they began exporting to Scandinavia, which in turn helped them to win the Queens Award for Export in 1994.
Four years later though things changed when the business was sold to the Kent Cartridge company who themselves had only been founded in 1996. Kent Cartridge was in a period of rapid expansion and the acquisition led to the creation of the Kent Gamebore Corporation and the start of the business we know today.
The marque boasts an impressive record when it comes to both domestic and International competition, currently sponsoring two of the top two shooters in the world namely Ben Husthwaite and George Digweed. Between them Digweed and Husthwaite have over 35 years of experience with Gamebore products and have used them to win 22 World titles. Non toxic shot has long played an important part of the brands portfolio in both live quarry and competition loads, but the target market is what most people associate the name with.
There are four main pillars to the Gamebore clay range, the budget Kent Velocity shell, Blue Diamond, and the premium loads White Gold and Black gold.
28 Gram Plastic wad 7 ½ shot Cost : Around £170 per thousand
Kent Velocity has been on the UK market since the late 90’s, and has remained a consistently strong seller aimed at the budget priced shooter. The load is also considered by many to be a good all round shell with more than a few doing service in pigeon hides where its quite punchy nature ensures faultless performance when it comes to cycling through semi auto’s. Although they come in an attractive box, you can see that this is the cheaper of the shells on test – the 8mm head and semi-transparent red 70mm Cheddite case making it clear that this is a no frills package.
None of the Gamebore range are what you might define as low recoil but it was perfectly adequate in this respect and I certainly didn’t find it wanting, on even the longest of targets. Consequently the muzzle velocity of 1394 fps was no surprise, the Noble Sport Lovex powder working in combination with the CX2000 primer giving it plenty of poke.
On the pattern plate the distribution was very even across the 30 inch kill zone, the Gamebore designed and made wad guiding an average of 72 per cent of its payload to within the circle through ¼ choke at 30 yards. Although this is the cheapest offering in the range the 3 per cent antimony pellets looked to be of a good quality with uniform appearance which, considering that Gamebore produce all their shot in house, shouldn’t be a big surprise.
28 Gram Plastic wad 7 ½ shot Cost: Around £200 per thousand
Another part of the family that’s been with us since the 90s, the Blue Diamond is a shell that most have tried at one time or another. It is instantly recognisable being loaded in the distinctive 8mm headed B & P Gordon Recoil System 70mm case and is aimed at the more competitive shooter. It certainly looks the part of a serious shell and although the packaging may be starting to date a little (more on this later) it has the appearance of a quality product throughout.
Once again, the Blue Diamond uses the Lovex powder, Gamebore wad, CX2000 primer combination though the charge has been tweaked to deliver just a fraction under 1425fps at the muzzle and that can be felt in the shoulder – some of our testers finding it to be the heaviest recoiling of the range. The performance at the target end was highly effective though, and the pattern was also impressively consistent.
Gamebore claims that the highly polished 3 per cent antimony Diamond Shot which goes through seven grading processes improves long range performance as it is less prone to pellet deformation in the barrel, and using them at Wylye Valley on the grounds long range targets they produced good consistent breaks even when using relatively small degrees of constriction. Patterns were again very uniform with 74 per cent within the target circle.
28 Gram Plastic wad 7 ½ shot Cost: Around £206 per thousand
Possibly the most widely known of the range the White Gold is as Gamebore claim “The Champions Choice”, at least in the opinion of George Digweed who has been shooting the brand for more than 20 years and was involved in its development. There will be few long term shooters who wont have been aware of the hugely popular White Gold Cup competitions spawned by the shell which were held in the 90’s, TV coverage of which can still be found on the internet today.
A quick glance at the packaging and you might be thinking it’s quite a subtly marketed product and you would be right, as with Digweed himself it doesn’t tend to shout too loudly about its performance, nor does it need to having been well proven.
It’s cased in a 12mm headed white (the clue is in the name!) Cheddite case and again uses Lovex, 3 per cent antimony Diamond Shot. The CX2000 primer and the in-house designed wad though this runs a little hotter than its more junior siblings averaging just short of 1450fps at the muzzle. Once again in use it got the job done, and although being a little faster actually felt softer on the shoulder than the Blue Diamonds. As you’d expect from a major manufacturer it felt totally consistent shot to shot, producing the highest pattern percentage of the four at 76 per cent – probably one of the reasons George has stuck with it for all these years despite the company having introduced the Black Gold.
28 Gram Plastic wad 7 ½ shot Cost: Around £230 per thousand
It’s the firecracker of the range, with a fearsome reputation for being super fast and is the preferred load of Ben Husthwaite who has used it to great effect to win three World titles. Introduced in 2008, it has established a strong following among those looking for uncompromising performance though, as it screams out of the barrel at 1500 fps, there is a trade-off in terms of felt recoil that make it a love it or hate shell to some.
From a components point of view it carries over the same wad and primers as the others in the range while B&P’s F2 powder provides the propulsion. The 70mm case, once again using the Gordon system, is fitted with a purposeful 200mm head. At the pattern plate this monster of a shell gave some surprising results in that much is said about high velocities resulting in blown patterns. However the paper was again punched in a very consistent manner with 74 per cent of the 3 per cent antimony Diamond Shot making it to the kill zone.
Having used Black Gold in the past I was familiar with the blistering performance and it took no prisoners on any target at any range though I was quite happy to be well insulated against the biting cold of February with several layers as it did soften the big beasts recoil somewhat.
Note: All patterns were shot using a Guerini Maxum 32 Inch Sporter through a Teague ¼ flush choke.
Overall there is little to complain about when it comes to these shells, all are good performers and have a phenomenal competition pedigree. Gamebore is quite honest and open about the fact that they buy in components from elsewhere, preferring to make it a selling point as Paul James explained: “We buy from 3 different powder manufacturers so we can tailor our shells to the wants of shooters and we ensure that the powders we order are blended to our specific needs, not just bought off the shelf. By being able to choose from several suppliers we can shop around to get the right product for each application.” They seem to be getting it right as everyone who tested them was very happy with the kills, even from the cut-price Kent.
In a market increasingly driven by price, the ever improving standards of budget loads is no surprise though the Blue Diamonds proved to have the widest variation in opinion, some thinking them the best and some the worst. Once again this makes it clear as I mentioned last month that the subtle differences between guns and chokes don’t always mean that the best performer for you and your gun always mirrors the performance steps that you might expect from a range of ammunition.
I too found the Blue Diamond to be a touch on the hard side but one that killed very well though for me I would spend the extra £6 a thousand and go for the White Gold with which I felt most confident and comfortable. The Black Gold may be super fast but until I manage a miracle and drag my scores upwards I don’t think that the extra expenditure would be warranted by my standard of marksmanship.