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Stan, regarding downrange energy and depth of penetration with 9's...

I used to shoot Skeet with both 8's an d 9's but in the colder months the 9's just didn't have it every time I hit a clay. I don't know if the clay targets get harder in the cold or if the powder didn't have enough oomph because of the cold, but I never had that problem with 8's.

I've never used 9's for hunting and I gave up shooting it entirely back then when I had poor results at Skeet.

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Finding the occasional lead pellet in a dove, quail or pheasant has never really bothered me. I was once in London many years ago on business with a bunch of guys and we went out after work to a pretty fancy restaurant. I ordered pheasant and found a piece of lead shot in it. No big deal. Now steel and tungsten are a whole different matter. Those will really do some damage to your dental work.


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This discussion on shot size made me remember something I had read in an old book titled "Hitting vs Missing With the Shotgun" Written by a Ruffed grouse hunter in 1898, S.T. Hammond.
In the book he says,

"The charges that I have used for many years in a 12-gauge seven pound cylinder bored gun, with entirely satisfactory results, are, for the right barrel- which I nearly always use first- three drams of good black powder with five-eights of an ounce of No 10 shot, and for the left barrel the same amount of powder with seven-eighths of an ounce of No. 8 shot. These charges give good penetration and pattern, while the recoil is scarcely noticeable. I do not give these particulars as a guide for anyone to follow until it has been shown by actual experiment that these charges are the best that can be found for the gun in use. Many cylinder bored guns will do good work with these
charges, while with others the performance is not at all satisfactory."

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Eightbore,
You have more confidence in my shooting than I deserve. Also, the bag limit must have gone up since I was able to go to a dove field, in those days it was only 12.
Mike

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9 shot is useful in the .410, particularly in the 2 1/2 “ and 2”” cartridges where the small (or in the 2” tiny) payload means that pattern density is likely to fail before pellet energy.

For some reason in British loaded cartridges the 2”” seems only to be found with 6 shot, although I have ( but won’t use as they are undoubtedly corrosive) a part box of Eley pre WW2 2” loaded with 8 that were probably intended for snipe.

I agree that in the 3” .410 7, 7.5 or 8 are more sensible choices.

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"For some reason in British loaded cartridges the 2”” seems only to be found with 6 shot"

Several years ago I came across some 2" .410 Italian made shells loaded with 3/8 ounce #4 shot; these things were tiny and I purchased a box specifically for my B-I-L to use in his Stevens double. We chased bunnies with beagle packs at that time; and since he never missed, I was thinking these tiny shells might level the playing field. They didn't, he used those shells to go 5 for 5 on our next hunt; and I found it impossible to believe those shells could be that effective. So when we returned home I stepped off about 20 yards and placed a "target", a 20" x 24" cardboard box with marked center. My B-I-L then shot the box using one of those tiny shells, after which we counted the pellet strikes produced; the total was three. So I was right, technically those shells weren't worth a crap; but they sure were effective for him that day. Sometimes simply being lucky works better than being good.

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At home, we've always prided ourselves on being able to detect shot pellets in our game while eating. I always make a show of dropping the offending shot onto the edge of my plate where if dropped from just the right height onto a proper plate, makes a distinct 'ding' we all recognize...Geo

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Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
I've no doubt that 9s work perfectly for any small game birds at 25 yards or less. It decks 'em. I've done so many times in the past, and seen my buddy do it. But, when you hit a going away quail, or woodcock, or dove, in the rear at 20 yards and you don't have him in the core of the pattern, and see him drop a leg but keep barreling away, then what have you got? You've got another load of 9s to now attempt to knock down a wounded bird at 35 yards? Not suitable at all to me.

Anytime we use anything other than a single shot gun on birds we should be considering what that second shot may be like, and giving it just as much weighty consideration as the first. We talk about hunting over dogs as if it guarantees close shots. Well, it does often close the distances to a degree on the first shot, at the flush. But, what then? How about second shots at a wounded bird, or even an opportunity to double, but the second bird is out of range of the 9s? How many will, or are happy to, say to themselves "Nope, can't take that shot with 9s"?

Stan, I'd guess that's why many hunters have a tighter choke in their 2nd barrel, and go with larger shot. That's what I do. Easy enough solution to the 2nd shot issue. But more often, I either put the woodcock on the ground with my first shot, or he's out of sight for a 2nd attempt. Two pockets in my vest: R for R barrel loads; L for L barrel loads. I do that with pretty much all the birds I hunt. Pheasants . . . if it's Brit 6's in the R barrel, then US 6 or 5's in the L. If US 6 in the R, then 5's in the L. The beauty of a double is that it's like having two single shots, each one set up for a different purpose. But in all the years I've hunted woodcock, usually with 9's or 8 1/2's in the R barrel, I can't recall ever intentionally going to the rear trigger for my first shot. But still, nice to have for a 2nd shot you have one.

Pellets in the meat . . . I guess I've never noticed they're that much of an issue. I definitely did notice that on a shot I had at a crossing woodcock with 10's . . . along with the problem I mentioned before about knocking down birds and having them fly off again.

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Originally Posted by Tom Findrick
Early season pheasants got a 12 gauge with 6s in the open and 4 or 5 ( when available ) for follow-up.
Late season winter pheasants got 4 all around , as they flush earlier and have thicker plumage.
I anchored more than one bird with heavy 4s that were wounded by a companion.

Good comments about pheasants . . . although they don't really grow a thicker coat for the winter like some critters do. But when the season opens, especially if there have been a lot of late hatch birds, there will be plenty of immature roosters that don't have their full plumage yet. And some may survive the early season because it's hard to distinguish them as roosters. But usually, by the time it gets really cold, they've pretty much caught up to the old survivors as far as feathers go.

But there are a couple of other very good reasons to consider going to larger shot on pheasants later in the season. For one thing, cold weather causes them to eat more in order to put on additional fat to get them through the cold winter months (mostly after the season is over). And cold weather also has a negative impact on the velocity of your ammo, which means reduced energy and penetration. For which you can compensate by switching to larger shot.

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Stan,
I used a few boxes of 9s on scales, in California, I found more shot in the birds taken with nines than 8 or 7.5 shot. I mainly use 8s or 7.5 shot for grouse, woodcock, and registered targets. I used 9s during one of our AF skeet shoots and found a lot of pellet bounce back with nines. Never bounce back with 8s.

I killed a few doves last year with some RST 9s in 3/4oz out of my 28. From the limit of 15 birds I had a few hit the ground and took to cover till I ran them. No nines in any of the birds when I cooked them. Maybe RST 9s could be harder than others on the market or most likely just got lucky

Rich

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