On a topic earlier last week there were questions about shot size, chokes sizes etc.... and the importance of patterning was emphasized again by some very
knowledgeable (and long in the tooth
) members on here. There's a reason they say it! And there's a reason I refer to them as knowledgeable. I actually do know how important it is myself, but am still amazed at the different results some times, which is why I thought I would share the results so others can understand more clearly why it needs to be done.I should start by saying that we only tested one size choke on each. If you change chokes, be sure and test them all.
We (almost) always have and will use full choke, so that is the only choke we tested. I am not afraid to admit that we are slow to shoulder, so a more "open" choke does not serve us as well. With that being said, the first one to be checked was the 20ga 870. I have recently started reloading for shotgun so I wanted to try some heavier 1oz and 1-1/8oz loads for quail/chukar. The thought of course is, more pellets should mean more chance of one to hit the bird with. NOT ALWAYS SO!
I learned that pushing a 7/8oz load at speeds much faster than I can buy it (1300-1475fps vs the 1200fps factory stuff) would actually have more pellets hit total and a greater shot density than the load with more pellets. I also learned that my 20ga LOVES anything over 1300fps, and had one of the best shotgunning days of my life. It is a totally different beast with faster moving shot and I could never have known that had I not tested it.As if that wasn't enough, we had to recheck my buddy's O/U. He hadn't shot it in quite a while (he did not use it for dove) so he wanted to practice a little. This is his usual "go-to' gun, but he was having some difficulty. So we put it on paper and could not believe what we saw. The top barrel was hitting a foot or better low at 40 yards. And the bottom barrel was hitting closer to 2 feet low at 40 yards
. Now realizing what it was doing, he simply covered the clay with the barrel and was instantly a clay-breaking machine again.Moral of the story? By the end of the day, after doing what everyone should do when they change ammo brands, choke sizes, shot size, or shot weight, my buddy, myself, and even the 14 year old "prospect" we broke in during dove season were all consistently
breaking clays at upwards of 50 yards. Proving once again that it pays to listen to people with experience. And it pays to "know" your gun. I promise you, only good
can come out of it.Best of luck again to all in just under two weeks!