Skeet double

Richard Atkins reviews two 24g Skeet shells from Fiocchi, the Official Competition and TT Two

“Mitchell Brooker-Smith shot 97 ex-100 with TT Two, winning the area championship.”

It has been a while since we last looked at Skeet cartridges, so it was interesting to receive a pair of 24 gram 9.5 shot cartridges made with Skeet targets in mind.

Being Italian, the stated shot size equates to UK no.9. When in doubt the size is usually given in millimetres too, being 2.0 mm in this case. We have reviewed many types of Fiocchi ammunition over the years, and the company’s range of shotgun cartridges is vast, including a very broad range of clay target ammunition.

The Fiocchi company began with humble beginnings back in 1876, and rapidly built a fine reputation for quality products. Now, five generations on, it has become one of the leading cartridge producers in the world and has worked diligently to ensure that Fiocchi products are available worldwide.

Founded by Giulio Fiocchi, the company only recently went into commercial partnership with Charme Funds, with the Fiocchi family retaining a 40% share and Stefano Fiocchi in place as Chairman and CEO. Based in Lecco, Italy,  the company now has 600 employees, and also has a successful manufacturing plant in the USA which was set up 35 years ago.

Fiocchi is rightly proud of the successes its products have helped top shooters achieve, and that includes Olympic, World and European competition. One of the best known trap shooters, Giovanni Pellielo, is a Fiocchi user and won medals at the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2016 Olympics.

Jessica Rossi won a gold medal at London 2012 Olympic Games, and Gabriele Rossetti also won gold in the Rio Olympic Games.

While Fiocchi make cartridges for the most demanding international level competitions, they also realise that there are a great many club shooters who prefer something a little easier on their pocket, so the Fiocchi clay range includes everything from budget to premium types, with plenty in the mid-range too.

The two cartridge types featured here are from either end of the spectrum; the TT Two are presented as a cost-effective option for the entry level and improving shooter while the Official Competition is from the premium end for serious competitors. Both types are available in a range of shot sizes and 24 and 28 gram shot load options.

Fiocchi Official Competition 24 gram 9.5 shot plastic wad

Fiocchi TT Two 24 gram 9.5 shot plastic wad

Official Competition

The packaging sets the ‘premium’ scene with the very smart, gloss coated dark blue carton of 25 clearly printed in gold, red and white. The cartons are sturdy (so they don’t spill their contents easily) and are readily identified. Full details of calibre, case length, wad type, shot load weight and shot size are clearly printed on the front and top flap.

The cartridge cases are smart too, being Fiocchi-made 70mm long, dark blue, parallel plastic tube cases with Fiocchi 616 primers. They have a 20mm tall, brass plated steel head, with a line of the Fiocchi stylised shooter profile impressed around the metal head. The cartridges are closed with a very neat six star crimp closure with tightly spun turnover.

The patented design one-piece plastic cup wad has a long and quite complex centre section. This comprises two ‘zig-zag’ form central compression sections with a bridge section above and below.

The shot cup has four pre-formed petals, and these are very lightly joined at the cup mouth, centre and base. Designed for a 24 gram shot load in a 70mm case ensures the wad’s long centre section provides maximum cushioning facility.

The propellant powder used is from specialist powder producer Kemira. This is of short rod-like extruded grains rather than the more usual flake or disc form more usually found in clay target shotgun cartridges. Kemira powders are noted for maintaining ballistic performance, with moderate pressure levels and under a variety of climatic conditions while leaving minimal residues.

Shot load weights were incredibly consistent, with average weights of three random loads within a pellet or two of 24 grams (370.3 grains); remarkable with Skeet size shot! Pellets are quite hard for Italian 9.5 (UK No.9) shot size with a Crush Value of 36%, indicating a moderate amount of antimony content.

Pellets were well polished with graphite for a bright black appearance, and were closely graded for shot size with the majority of pellets with 0.002” of the nominal 0.080” diameter. The pellet count per ounce averaged close to the nominal 580 / ounce for this size of shot.

TT Two

Created with newcomers and club level shooters in mind, TT Two can also appeal to more experienced shooters seeking a less expensive but effective cartridge. The mid blue cartons of 25 are sturdy and easily identified and, as with the Official, full details of calibre, case length, wad type, etc. are clearly presented.

TT Two are loaded into a 70mm long Fiocchi case, having a 12mm tall brass plated steel head and Fiocchi 616 primer with paper covered flash hole. The cases are closed with a well formed six point star crimp.

The plastic one-piece cup wad is 40mm long and weighs just 41 grains. Loaded into a 70mm case, this provides for a 20mm ‘honeycomb’ centre section. This long compressible section provides excellent shock protection for the shot load and may help reduce felt recoil. An effective gas seal cup sits at the wad base. The shot cup follows the same design as the Official Competition wad.

The powder used is a reddish pink square cut, single base flake type very similar to NSI A24. It proved efficient and consistent, producing regular velocities from a relatively light charge of just 21 grains and leaving little visible residues beyond very light ‘dust’ in the bore.

The shot load proved a little softer than in the Official Competition, as indicated by the greater percentage crush value figure, hence a little less antimony content.

The CV figure would also be slightly greater due to the average pellet size in the TT Two being slightly smaller than the stated 2mm (0.080”) . The shot size varied a little more than that found in the Official loads, which resulted in a higher pellet count per load.

Performance

The velocity results show both the loads are quite brisk, being nominally 400 metres per second. Although it won’t actually alter forward allowance (‘lead’), it can give a very positive, almost ‘instant’ feel for some shooters, and being 24 gram loads, the recoil associated with fast 28 gram loads is not there.

Indeed, one experienced lady shooter who tried them (Pat Smith, Hereford & Worcester CPSA secretary and champion veteran Skeet shooter) found recoil modest compared with her usual 28 gram cartridge. Although TT Two gave a fractionally faster result, this was imperceptible in use.

Skeet is a much closer range discipline than Trap, and many Sporting targets (and so more open chokes) are the order of the day. That is why the results show a standard plain (not interchangeable) Skeet bored barrel and a test distance of 20 yards. The maximum target distance on the Skeet layout is about 22 yards, and a good many are considerably closer.

Since the maximum shot load for International/ISSF skeet was reduced
to 24 grams, some Skeet shooters have used slightly more choke. But, as you can see from the pattern results in figures and photos, there are still plenty of pellets in the patterns.

Remember that smaller shot loses both velocity and energy faster than larger shot, which means that the distance at which they will break clays is limited. While Skeet cartridges can and do break plenty of Sporting clay targets more than 20 yards distant, they will run out of puff faster than larger shot.

They could struggle to break a distant rabbit clay but will, however, work surprisingly well on high overhead clays, where the full profile of the standard clay is visible.

Field testing

Pat Smith and husband Brian tried both these shells on Skeet at Park Farm. They got on well with both types, being very happy with the kills and smooth recoil. Both decided they liked the Official Competition marginally better, as their kills seemed just a bit more positive; the slightly larger pellets could explain this.

Trying some out on Sporting clays, both types handled closer targets well but, as the Skeet results suggested, the Officials stayed positive a little further out. I tested a couple of patterns with Imp Mod Browning DS chokes at 30 yards, and both gave similar pellet counts.

For TT Two, the figures were 246 /169 in the 20” inner circle and 20-30” outer sector respectively, and 242 / 171 for the Official. The slightly harder and larger pellets allowed the Official to keep more of its pellets in the 30-yard pattern, and the extra energy no doubt assisted in the more positive breaks. So, it can pay to check how the cartridge you choose performs for the targets you intend using them for.

That the TT Two Skeet can perform at top level in competition was proven by the excellent West Midlands Junior shooter, Mitchell Brooker-Smith. Fresh from a successful trip to Suhl for the Junior World Cup, Mitchell competed in the West Midlands Area Skeet Championships in late July.

Using Fiocchi TT Two Skeet he shot the first 50 targets straight and ended up on a 97 for a clear cut win, making him WM Area Champion for the second year running!

Clearly you do not need to choose the premium option to shoot a great score in serious competition, but the option is there and both produced very dense patterns with plenty of pellets right out to the 30-inch mark for a bit of leeway on the shot placement – handy when the wind moves the targets about!

As mentioned, Fiocchi produce a comprehensive range of clay ammunition, to suit all disciplines and in a range of prices. Some have been specially developed for the UK market and, as you can see, they win competitions.

Understanding the test results

  • Velocity is measured at 2.5 metres from the muzzle.
  • Pressure is the mean breech figure in Bar (as per CIP).
  • SD is Standard Deviation (consistency).
  • CD is the Central Density rating. This records the percentage of pellets landing in the 30-inch circle that were also within the inner 20-inch circle.
  • Shot size is derived from actual pellet count per ounce and is listed to the nearest UK size, with < and > symbols used where the shot is slightly smaller than or larger than listed size. UK No. 7 = 340 pellets/oz; UK No. 7.5 = 400 pellets/oz; UK No. 8 = 450/oz; UK No. 9 = 580/oz.
  • Shot weight is the average actual shot load, measured in grains. 1 Grain = 0.065 Grams = 0.0023 Ounces.
  • CV is Crush Value. This is the amount by which the shot is reduced in size when subjected to the standard crush test. A smaller value means harder lead, so a CV of 20 per cent indicates harder shot than a CV of 30 per cent in pellets of similar size. Smaller shot crushes proportionately more than larger shot.

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