Joined: 09 Dec 2005
Location: Las Vegas
I know you can buy "spreader" wads to open up your pattern on any given choke. Can you change components (wads) to tighten up a choke? I would have an interest in doing this on my older English double.
There are several things you can do to thighten your shot pattern. They will not provide the same dramatic effect that spreader loads do on opening a pattern but they can help. First and foremost slow the shot charge down. If you are regularly shooting a 1250 fps load drop the velocity down to 1100 or even 1050 fps. Second use the hardest shot you can find. My preference is West Coast Magnum shot. Thirdly if you are not already using a wad that fully incases the shot charge switch to a Remington SP 16 for 1 1/8th ounce loads and R 16s for one ounce loads. Some folks tape the wad petals togeather. I don't know if this will help but I don't suppose it would hurt anything.
Oh I almost forgot use a buffer material like granulated polyethelene
Buffering the shot tightens the pattern. (Put flour in after the shot and tap the shell untill it disperses among the pellets, then crimp). Buffering changes the charge weight and pressures also - both go up.
Not to blow any of the wind out of anyones sails but here are some myths about tightening patterns that have been proven not to work.
1) Buffering- one of the biggest myths out there is adding buffer to a load will tighten up patterns. Has anyone noticed most factory loads don't come buffered anymore? The reason for this is buffer does not really do much for patterns, it only adds a bit to the fluidity of the shot column and protects soft shot from being deformed. What many have found is buffer adds greatly to load pressure and is extremely hard to get consistant load pressures from.............don't use buffer unless you have good load data from a reputable source.
2) Use a slower burning powder -- again another myth. Certain powders will help tighten up pattern in some instances just by their burn characteristics, just because a powder is slower burning will not do it. Green dot will give better patterns than many other target powders, however moving to even slower powders such as Herco or Blue Dot with the same given load combination has not shown to be a better move, in some instances patterns get much more blotchy. Hodgdon Longshot is the other end of the spectrum for the slower burning powders, we have patterned Longshot loads from 1300 fps to 1600 fps and pattern integrity stays very good.
3) Slow your loads down - In many instances this is true, however with modern powders this has also been proven a myth...read above.
WHAT HAS PROVEN TO WORK IN TIGHTENING UP PATTERNS??
1) In my book and the few thousand loads we have patterned, we have found the #1 thing that tightens up any pattern is the wad used. No matter what kind of shot, shot type or the type of load, wads are the key to making a pattern tighter or more even. We have also found that to stiff a wad does not mean you will get tighter patterns, however for the 16 ga the Ballistic Products Mutli Metal wads have proven very good for Steel, Hevi shot and lead loads. The Remington Sp-16 is ok, however as was stated try to keep the entire shot column encased in the wad. With the Sp-16 wads try and buy the ones that are are slit a bit more than half way down, they will give very good patterns.
2) Shot size and type- This has also proven to be a big factor, the problem here being every gun is different and will pattern differently. We have found that in many instances going up a size or two in your shot makes a big difference in patterns. Most of my 16 ga guns love #6 magnum shot, I have gone up to #5 and patterns have improved a bit however #4 works in some guns and blows patterns apart in others......another trial and error thing we all have to find out for our own guns.
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