I’ve noticed that some sporting clays shooters use expensive ammunition with heavier loads like 1-1/8 and 1¼ ounce. Is there a real advantage?
The 1¼-ounce load is better saved for duck or turkey season. Most courses and clubs don’t allow them, and in competition, the rules require that 12-gauge shells have no more than 1-1/8 ounces of shot. For choosing between a 1-1/8-ounce and a 1-ounce load, I’ll give you both sides of the argument and then my preference.
Some shooters prefer 1-1/8 ounces of shot because they believe they are more likely to break a target with more lead in the air. A 1-1/8-ounce shell puts 12.5 percent more shot (44 more pellets) in the air than a 1-ounce shell; however, you have to pack more powder (and more recoil) into the 1-1/8-ounce shell to yield the same muzzle velocity as the 1-ounce load. Shooters who prefer automatic shotguns will often shoot 1-1/8 ounce because the additional recoil isn’t a big factor, and the added recoil actually helps engage the action more reliably.
Those who swear by a 1-ounce load usually do so because they can achieve greater speed with less felt recoil and experience slightly better pattern integrity over distance. Personally, I use only 1-ounce loads, for two reasons: 1) Since I shoot FITASC, I have to use a 1-ounce shell anyway and really don’t want to change back and forth between 1-ounce and 1-1/8-ounce loads; and 2) I can have the advantage of a faster shell with less felt recoil.
Keep in mind that felt recoil can vary considerably from one brand of shell to another.
Whatever camp you’re in, pick your shell and stick with it. The fewer variables you have to manage, the more consistent you will be.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.