In this blog I am going to go over the common types of loads, their shot sizes, what they are used for, and suggest powders. Now all this information is for the 12 Gauge 2 3/4" Winchester AA, Federal Gold Medal plastic, and Remington Nitro/STS/Gunclub  hulls with lead shot. Most powders listed are Hodgdon, IMR, or Winchester as it is what I mainly use so I have lot of experience with them. If you are not sure what shot type to use (chilled, drop shot, or magnum shot) please see the previous blog entry.

Trap: Trap loads shot weight ranges from 7/8oz to 1 1/8oz. On leagues I have shot 1oz, and 1 1/8oz. The normal shot size is either #8 or #7 1/2 which I myself have always used #8. All leagues I know of restrict the largest shot you can use to #7 1/2 also any league I have shot in had a velocity limit of 1,290fps for 1 1/8oz, and 1,350fps for a 7/8oz to 1oz load. I myself shoot at 1,200fps to 1,250fps. Which myself, and others consider to be the sweet spot. I do know some people who shoot as low as 1,150fps.

Great powders for 7/8oz are Hodgdon Titewad, and Alliant Red Dot, I prefer Titewad, as Red Dot seems to burn pretty dirty.

For 1oz loads good powders are IMR/Hodgdon 700X (Hodgdon recently stopped selling IMR 700X under that name, and changed it to Hodgdon Hi-Skor 700X), Hodgdon Titewad, and Alliannt Red Dot. I myself prefer 700X as it is a clean burning powder with low charge weights, can be used in a lot of other shotgun loads, is low pressure, and is a great powder for using in 9mm handgun cartridges.

For 1 1/8oz loads IMR/Hodgdon 700X, IMR Hodgdon 800X, and Titewad are great choices. I myself use 800X as it provides a very low pressure, is clean burning, and can be used in all kinds of loads for 12 gauge, and is a great handgun powder for 45 Auto lead bullets load 44 Magnum.

Handicap Trap & Sporting Clays: For Handicap Trap the common load is either 1oz or 1 1/8oz. Some people will use 1oz until they get to the 24 yard line, then bump up to 1 1/8oz from the 24 yard to 27 yard line. I myself use 1 1/8oz across the board, but I am still working to where I can just used 1oz, and my score not suffer. For Sporting Clays the standard load is 1 1/8oz. The common shot sizes are #8, and #7 1/2. I myself use #8 across the board on these loads as well. Now again these loads in leagues I have shot in were limited to no more then 1,290fps.

For 1 oz loads your best powders are going to be IMR/Hodgdon 700X, and Hodgdon Titewad. I use 700X as my main powder in these 1oz loads as I do for standard trap.

For 1 1/8oz loads if you are wanting a slower velocity IMR/Hodgdon 700X is the way to go. If you are wanting the standard velocity or a little higher IMR/Hodgdon 800X, and Winchester WSF are some of the best powders. I use 800X as my main powder, and WSF as my backup just in case I run out of 800X before a match, and when Obama was president the only shotgun powder I could easily get was WSF.

Light Field: Light field loads are lower recoil, lighter weight hunting loads for small game. They are normally used for small birds such as Dove, Quail and Snipe. They are also used for Jack Rabbit, Cotton Tail Rabbit, Snowshoe Hare, Squirrel when there is not heavy cover, and Grouse when cover is not extremely tight. Shot size ranges from #6 to #8 with shot weights being 1 1/8oz (sometimes you will find 1oz loads, but for hunting purposes I think that is to little shot for consistent ethical kills). These light loads are used on smaller animals when cover is not abundant so you don't need heavy shot or extreme velocity. I personally use the same load I use for Handicap Trap, and Sporting Clays, but instead of #8 shot I bump up to #6 shot.

Now the best powders for these loads I will say hands down is IMR/Hodgdon 800X, and Winchester WSF. I myself use strictly 800X for these loads. Again it is clean burning, has a wide range of uses in a 12 gauge, and can be used in a lot of different handgun calibers.

Standard Field: Standard field loads are 1 1/4oz, with shot sizes from #4 to #6, and a velocity right around 1,330fps. I myself personally use #4. These loads are used on Rabbits, and Grouse in heavy cover or that are a ways off, Crow, Pheasant, Quail, Raccoon, and Squirrel.

The best powders I have found for Standard Field Loads are Winchester WSF, IMR/Hodgdon 800X, Hodgdon HS-6, and Hodgdon Longshot. My main powders are WSF, Longshot, and 800x. HS-6 runs at a higher pressure so I use that as a backup. With WSF you can duplicate that exact loads as the Winchester SuperX 1 1/4oz #4 & #6 1,330fps loads. Longshot, and WSF are tied for my main powders as they are both clean burning, and are great for the 45 Auto too.

Heavy Field: Heavy field loads also called Magnum or Magnum Field loads (note with shotgun Magnum does not relate to velocity like in metallic cartridges, but in the amount of shot in the shell) run from 1 3/8oz to 1 1/2oz shot weights, and are typically #4 or #5 shot. I myself again use #4 shot across the board.

The two powders you can use for this are Hodgdon Longshot, and IMR/Hodgdon 800X. I myself use strictly Longshot. It does require heavy charge weights, but runs lower pressure, and provides higher velocity then loads with 800X.

High Velocity: High velocity loads are what the name is. High velocity, but with high velocity like anything else comes with heavier recoil, and a larger muzzle blast. High Velocity lead loads can be 1 1/8oz to 1 1/4oz. Which after years of developing my high velocity hunting load I have found that even with buffer the speeds at which a 1 1/8oz load is moving causes the pattern to be wide spread very quickly even with tighter chokes. Now out of all shot sizes that I have tested #4 has been the only one to consistently pattern great. Other shot sizes it was not consistent. One thing to take into consideration is that high velocity lead loads need shot buffer powder in them. BPI original buffer is what I use with a 2.5cc scope in each shell. The buffer prevents the shot from setting back in the cup, or deforming from the force at ignition, and when traveling down the barrel.

There is only one powder for High Velocity loads, and that is Longshot. It is clean burning, and shockingly for the velocity that these rounds are pushing the recoil is tamer then steel shot loads of the same velocity. The velocities Longshot can produce in a 12 gauge 2 3/4" Federal Gold Medal shell is a max of 1,585fps for 1 1/8oz, and 1,495fps for a 1 1/4oz load

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