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Lighter 12-Gauge Loads

Lighter 12-Gauge Loads

Sometimes less power is just as useful

Right now American shotgunning is caught between two opposing trends, the aging of the shooting population, and hyper-velocity in shotshells.

Older shooters tend to prefer lighter shotguns, especially for hunting, a marketing trend that’s gathered momentum over the past decade. Lighter shotguns kick more.
At the same time many modern shotshells also kick more, due to the great velocity race. This trend started with the outlawing of “toxic” lead shot for waterfowling. The cheapest non-toxic shot material proved to be iron, usually called steel. The problem with steel shot is it’s a lot lighter than lead, so slows down much more rapidly than lead shot. The solution turned out to be larger shot, driven at much faster velocity.

Eventually the speed race spilled over into lead-shot ammunition as well. This was at least partly due to the insistence of many gun writers that ammunition companies drop the absurd “drams equivalent” method of expressing shotshell velocity. This had its origins over a century ago, in the transition between black and smokeless powder.

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  1. Harvey Balcer says:

    Thanks for the great ‘commonsense’ article. Now, for a non-handloading type like me, what would you suggest I use for my 1960′s vintage AYA side-by-side. When I was stationed in England, we would shoot Estate paper case 7/8 oz. loads. We could shoot all day, without bruising or headache’s and still have the energy left a the end of a shooting day for socializing over a ‘pint’. My ‘hunting’ what really driven hunts…hence, we really didn’t hunt, but shot all day. But now in the States, to find light loads is practically impossible. I now hunt dove, quail and pheasant. I don’t want to buy another gun, as I’m very comfortable with my 5 1/2 lb. gun. Could you please advise? I also now that tungsten shotshell is available, but I’m not willing to spend that kind of cash for a box of shells, when I used to purchase a case for practically the same price. Awaiting your reply…and thanks again for your commonsense article. HB

  2. Very helpful post man, thanks for the info.

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