I had a chance to experiment with a few different non-toxic loads while wildfowling over the weekend. As it turned out, I was seriously impressed with some of the cartridges I tried, particularly those loaded with Hevi-Shot which I splashed out on at considerable expense (£23.50 for ten of Lyalvale’s finest). Getting hold of non-toxic cartridges which can be fired through my favourite 1938 BSA shotgun is not an easy task, and these Hevi-Shots were actually the first 2 1/2″ non-toxic cartridges I’ve ever been able to get my hands on.
Shooting wildfowl normally means that I have to use my 3″ Savage pump action, which is a trusty piece of kit but totally lacks any refinement or class. The Savage spits out any non-toxic cartridge I choose to load it with, but it made a very pleasant change to let loose some Hevi-Shot at a spring of teal with my BSA – a fitting weapon for a fine quarry. Down they came, and how much more pleasing to break the side by side and plop more cartridges in than work the rattly pump in the aftermath. It is difficult to convey the significance of one gun over another to someone who has no interest in shooting, particularly when the popular perception of the sport regards it as the straightforward process of blasting birds out of the sky. As I understand it, some types of car are considered to be better than others, but they’re all just ways of getting from A to B as far as I’m concerned.
I don’t shoot nearly enough wildfowl to hold a qualified opinion on which shot is best, but I will say that I was very impressed with Gamebore’s 3″ Mammoth steel shot cartridges, which clattered into a skein of greylags with delight. There was no arguing with the hearty crack of shot on feather, and as the dark shapes fell out of the blue dusk more than forty yards away, I would have struggled to have told the difference between steel and any other metal.