50 Yard Patterns...
It's a long way out there fellows... Target 13 is my old standby, the Turkey/.660" with Fed No. 4BK. 7 centered hits in the black and 10 overall makes it a killer out there at the mid-field mark. NOTE: I only had one last shell to pop with this combo at 50 yards. I hesitate to say this, however, past testing tells me this combo usually patterns better than this particular target would indicate.
Byron South and I have discussed this, we both feel you need at least five solid hits for reliable kills. I don't believe in the "magic pellet" and hoping for one or two lucky pellet strikes. Many of these new fangled hi-tech loads have the pellet energy for five good hits to reliably kill coyotes at long range. But can you get the pattern out there... Here's Target 13:
Target 14 is the Tactical/.680" and Dead Coyote combo. This one scored 6 in the black and 9 overall.
Target 15 is the Tactical/.680" and Rem HD-T load. Only 4 in the black and 10 overall.
Target 16 is the exact same as above - another try. 4 hits in the black and 8 overall.
Target 17 is the Tactical/.680" and Rem HD-BB. Scored 5 hits in the black and 9 overall.
Target 18 is the same as above - another try. 6 in the black and 7 overall.
Without a doubt there is a lot of work left to be done. Nothing here really blew me away! I honestly thought I was going to find a wiz-bang long distance load that would really strut its stuff. I did not find such a load and choke combo on this day... I only wish I had more chokes, loads, and time to work with. I really wanted to chronograph the loads to see if the 5 1/2" inches in barrel length made much difference in velocity. Unfortunately after taking the time to setup my CED chronograph for this test - it didn't work. I had two fresh batteries along, nothing, it wouldn't turn on. That was a set back. Guess it'll be making a trip back to the factory for repair.
I did not test penetration of the individual loads. That would be interesting and useful information. I just had too much on the plate on this day for that extra testing.
I also wanted to dissect the various loads, count pellets, and weight them. I started shooting and simply lost track of the number of shells I was gunning donwrange.
It did seem
as if the longer barrel of the Turkey Model with its 24" inch tube out patterned the shorter 18 1/2" Tactical Model. That would need some more testing to ensure that the difference simply wasn't between individual shells. There can be a marked difference between identical shells from the same box. Maybe that explains why sometimes we have to add an additional shot when other coyotes have dropped on the spot under similar shot conditions. I have that planned for a future range session.
In my guns the .660" definately outshot the .680" with the Fed No. 4BK. I did try No. 4BK through the Turkey gun with both chokes and the .660" simply outshot the more open choke. I ran out of the Federal load before I was completely through with what I wanted to do. All these loads were older shells and this will give me a chance to buy some fresh shells. I noticed that Federal is making a big deal about "spiral loading" the shot and this is supposed to contribute to tighter patterns. We'll see... And, the .680" performed much, much, better with the Rem HD-BB load. It pays to pattern with various chokes.
That range work is also important for point of aim issues. I'm pretty lucky with my Benelli's. They both seemed to shoot everything pretty well right to point of aim with the exception of the Tactical shooting slightly high with the Rem HD stuff at longer distances. Not a biggie for me, but absolutely worth noting if those were going to be my "go-to" hunting loads. I've seen other shotguns shoot much further off point of aim. Gotta see what they'll do on paper - no excuses.
The same thing applies to some of those 70+ yard claims for choke or load effectivness. No doubt some loads have the energy - if you can hold a pattern together out there. Obviously, nothing shot that well for me and my combo's.
Again, there is more work to do. I love this stuff, just finding the resources and time to "git er' done" is sometimes problematic. We'll probably draw some varying conclusions from this testing. Of course this particualr testing is all conditional upon my guns, chokes, and these particular loads. However, hopefully this will be useful...
I have edited this post to bring my latest batch of testing to the front of this very complete and lengthy thread...
A update is in order. I now have a Kick's Gobblin' Thunder in .670" thanks to Chuck from Kick's Chokes. Can't say enough about how well I have been treated by the Kick's company - superb product and better service! Anyway, I grabbed a chance to head to the range today with some Remington HD-BB's, 3" .12 gauge.
I shot both Benelli's with the same .670" GT at 25, 40, and 50 yards and the HD-BB's. This load has been extremely consistent in patterning and I've shot a bunch of it at paper this year! Unfortunately, the target backers were soaked and as soon as I placed the same Outers targets on and stapled them, they soaked right through with water. I made my counts while the targets were stapled flat to the backer and when I pulled them off to bring home for pic's they pretty much shredded. Bummer because this time I had some pretty fair patterns to show off!
Using the same procedure as in my original post, the Outers target has a black inner circle of 8" and scoring rings the largest of which reaches out to 12". At 25 yards (and all the ranges) I shot 5 targets with the Tactical/.670" HD-BB and 5 with the Turkey Model/.670" HD-BB combo. In the other testing I felt the 24" barrel of the Turkey Model Benelli slightly outshot the shorter 18 1/2" Tactical Benelli. Not this time, the Tac Model outshot the longer barreled Turkey brother with the .670" GT.
25 yard patterns gave me a saturated 8" circle with from 37 - 40 hits. The outer 12" rings all contained 55 - 62 strikes. It was obvious the Gobblin' Thunder .670" was shooting a very center dense pattern. Both guns shot right to point of aim with the choke and HD-BB load. It was a pretty impressive looking 25 yard performance.
40 yard performance went like this. The inner 8" took 25 - 30 hits. The 12" total count average 35 strikes.
The long range 50 yard patterns still held 10 - 12 pellet strikes in the inner black 8" circle. The outer 12" scoring rings contained 18 - 20 strikes. Now we're talking a pattern and load that can easily get it done at the half field mark. Ok, I'm broke... Now I need to shoot some fur! And boy am I ready...
At this point I think the very best of the best would be the Remington HD-BB load and a choke of .670" constriction. My testing would seem to indicate that this combination will give the max number of appropriately sized pellets (BB), harder and heavier than plated lead, fast at 1,300 fps, with considerably better penetration, this load has patterned very consistently throughout my shooting from two shotguns and two differing choke diameters. A new shooter, or, an older one that wants to try something new would do well to begin with the HD-BB/.670" combination. This compares to the newest cutting edge magnum type rifle cartridge/bullet combo in the hunting world. The downside? They are expensive...
For an inexpensive alternative, I have to look back at my old standard, No. Four Buck with a .660" choke. Much less expensive than the new fangled hi-tech loads and effective enough for most shotgunning of called predators. IMHO, the No. 4BK/.660" combo is sorta like the .30-06 of the hunting world, a proven standard by which all others will be judged by.
An observation, with all the testing I have done here and in the past, and all the results I have seen posted by reliable and honest shotgunners, not one of us has yet to discover the mythical "70+ yard shotgun, choke, or load." Maybe there is one floating around out there, but please excuse me if I seem skeptical when some of those wounderous claims of longrange shotgunning of 70 - 100 yard kills surface in a post or an advertisement from a company.
Another thing, this testing also drives home the point that patterning is so very important BEFORE you go hunting. One thing is for sure when talking shotguns, chokes, and loads... they are as finicky as any rifle can be. Change any one variable and the test shooting must begin again. I think I'm ready to go hunting...