With the clay shooting season in full swing, it’s an extremely competitive time for cartridge manufacturers. Recent warnings of further price rises (as published in Clay Shooting last month) ensured clay shooters have been searching for deals before the next unwelcome price hike hits.
Already a favourite brand with clay shooters, Gamebore has some very high profile users such as Ben Husthwaite, Kate Brown and Brett Winstanley, plus, of course the ‘king of Sporting clays’, George Digweed. However, Gamebore still saw the need for a cartridge at the economy end, which still provides a lot of performance, as well as offering a matching fibre wad product for use at the many Sporting grounds where plastic wads are now forbidden.
Kent is actually a brand name of the American parent company of the British Gamebore company. In the USA Kent Velocity is a premium brand specifically for competition use and is loaded up to satisfy a market where some competition loads now reach muzzle velocities around 1,500 feet per second. Although the very smartly printed box design follows the American format, also carrying the ‘Competition Target Load’ legend, the cartridges have a slightly different sector of the UK market in mind. Kent Velocity cartridges are primarily intended to appeal to club shooters looking for a brisk performing but economical practice load that is also capable of being used at higher level. Gamebore informed us they are also gaining a following among pigeon shooters “because they hit hard and cycle semi-autos reliably”.
Kent Velocity are loaded into 70mm long, low metal head, semi-transparent red plastic tube cases that allow the contents to be readily seen; handy if using both fibre wad and plastic wad loads together with each easy to identify. The fibre wad used is a typical one-piece Diana-style wad with plastic laminate sealing each end, which helps resist shot embedding in the wad material. This is used in conjunction with a thick, over powder card for good obturation and also prevents any grease applied to the wads from leaching into the powder.
The lightweight plastic wad used has three cushioning sections below the shot cup, two with a pair of V-shaped collapsing legs and one with a shallower ‘box-section’ to provide stability. The shot pouch is novel in that, although it has four ‘petals’, lightly joined at the open end (to prevent wads jamming in the loading machines), the pouch diameter is such that upon loading at least one set of petals will be separated when the crimp is applied, ensuring some opening of the wad must always happen. Each ‘petal’ (sometimes referred to as ‘leaves’) has a central raised rib running longitudinally from the cup mouth and extending about two-thirds of the way down each petal, like shallow fins that make maximum contact with the barrel bore.
Both types are loaded with a square flake single-base propellant powder with quite fast burning characteristics; they both worked well for me on the clays and cycled my semi-auto pattern test gun perfectly.
Following our regular procedure, samples were sent to the Birmingham Proof Laboratory for testing to CIP standards and others were analysed for contents and component specification, plus pattern testing through the usual Imp Mod test barrel.
They clearly live up to their ‘Velocity’ name as this is a high CIP V2.5 figure. Note that Muzzle Velocity (or MV) as used by some companies would produce a higher reading due to the shorter measuring distance. Pressures were nearer to the maximum than often found, though still averaged below the mean of 740 bar for service pressure. This may be indicative of using faster burning powders with high energy content, so fairly light charge weights will prove both clean-burning and economical.
Do not confuse higher breech pressure with higher recoil; your shoulder only feels energy, not the breech pressure in your gun. Indeed for many shooters a faster burn, with its quicker pressure rise to its peak and faster decay than a more progressive powder, can actually feel smoother to shoot. The Momentum figure under the ‘Recoil’ heading quantifies the actual recoil.
The shot loads in both types were on the generous side, slightly more so in the fibre wad load than the plastic wad. I mentioned this to Gamebore and they may look into dropping it back a few pellets per load to be nearer the stated 28 gram load, which would reduce both pressure and recoil slightly. Shot size is virtually spot on UK size 7 (nominally 340 pellets/ounce), not the 7.5 stated on the box. This is because Kent Velocity are loaded to the Continental shot size, which also explains why pigeon shooters successfully use them (true UK size 7.5 being a bit marginal for live bird shooting). Unlike their ‘premium’ brands, this is not Gamebore’s Diamond shot.
The pellets in the fibre wad loads were actually very slightly larger than the plastic (as the count per ounce figure shows) and also slightly harder (as the smaller percentage Crush Value indicates). On the pattern plate results were similar with the fibre wad load just averaging a marginally higher percentage in each pattern than the plastic wad: this is likely to be explained by the plastic wad loads’ higher velocity combined with the fibre wad loads’ slightly harder shot pellets. When working at these performance levels small differences can begin to show up. In practice, it would be difficult to tell them apart, both performing close to the nominal test barrel boring and they sound ‘crisp’, too.
I found both worked well and used the fibre load at a local club Sporting shoot when testing a new Browning Sporting shotgun, managing a 41ex-50 on a tricky day, so the Kent Velocity loads did all I could ask and more. The price may well be keen but they still showed themselves capable of getting the job done, proving totally reliable, clean-burning and producing positive kills.