Q: I’ve noticed that some sporting clays shooters use expensive ammunition with much heavier shells, like 1-1/8 and 1-¼ oz. Is there a real advantage? Please explain.
A: The 1-1/4 oz. shell 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 oz. shot. If the choice is between a 1-1/8 oz. and a 1 oz. …. I’ll give you both sides of the argument and then my preference. Some shooters prefer 1-1/8 oz. of shot because they believe that they are more likely to break a target with more lead in the air. A 1-1/8 oz. shell puts 12.5% more shot (44 more pellets) in the air than a 1 oz. shell, however you have to pack more powder (and more recoil), into the 1-1/8 shell to yield the same muzzle velocity as the 1 oz. load. Shooters who prefer automatic shotgun will often shoot 1-1/8 because the additional recoil isn’t a big factor and the added recoil actually helps engage the action more reliably. Those that swear by a 1 oz. load usually do so because they can achieve greater speed with less felt recoil and experience slightly better pattern integrity over distance. Personally, I only use 1 oz. loads for two reasons: 1) Since I shoot FITASC, I have to use a 1 oz. shell anyway and really don’t want to change back and forth between 1 oz. and 1-1/8 oz. loads, 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. I can show you a 1 oz. shell with greater felt recoil than another brand’s 1-1/8 oz. shell…and yes; you usually get what you pay for. Whatever camp you are in, you should pick your shell and stick with it. The fewer variables you have to manage, the more consistent you will be.