What’s the most important feature of a competition shell? A good question, that isn’t easy to answer, at least with just one answer that’ll satisfy everyone.
How can you choose between velocity, just a little soft recoil, the quality of the components, perfect clay-breaking power, aesthetic qualities and many more features?
What we’ve done is ask over 200 Baschieri & Pellagri shooters the same question, and if you’re reading this article there’s a good chance you gave us your opinion too, precious help to find an answer that may not be the best or only answer, but is perhaps the wisest.
So let’s cut to the chase; here are the most popular answers, and the winning one too!
At first we were surprised by the result, but after careful consideration we appreciated the value and above all the certain validity and reasonableness of the answer.
But why is consistent performance such an important factor in a competition shell?
It’s because consistent performance means vitally important uniformity when seeing the lead on the clay, giving all shooters a more fluid and regular sequence of shots on target.
All of us, regardless of our level of experience, shoot with our own rhythm, shooting times and reaction times, that are absolutely subjective. Once this sequential chain of events is perfectly adapted to one particular shell, it’s essential that the shell’s performance is perfectly consistent, as otherwise this will mean significant variations in results.
Constant ammo performance also has an important impact on recoil and muzzle rise. When we fire in fact, we tend to adapt to the reactions of the gun, so we want it to move in the same way, as far as possible, for every target.
If this is the case, it does a lot for your peace of mind, so you can concentrate more intensely on the target.
What’s more, any ammunition manufacturer, even a home loader, can load a cartridge to produce specific performance that’s optimal for competition shells, choose the components, and assemble it.
But to make the performance of the selected shell as constant as possible in all conditions, clay after clay, isn’t as simple and requires accuracy in the choice of components, meticulous attention to detail when specifying the ballistic parameters and the greatest precision when loading the shells, along with solid experience.
Only major ammo manufacturers can guarantee these factors.
Let’s consider a practical example.
It’s relatively easy to produce a high-velocity competition shell with an excellent shot pattern, but if the atmospheric conditions change, or a different shotgun is used, or the shooting conditions change, the shell won’t be able to produce the same velocity, it’ll change considerably, and also the shot pattern will suffer.
The final result?
An enthusiastic home loader will have a good shell that works well sometimes and at others doesn’t.
This doesn’t always mean the shell isn’t good quality, but depending on the gun it’s being fired out of, and who’s firing it, it can produce very different objective results that are perceived in different ways.
A professional loader, thanks to the experience gained and technical skills learnt, and also thanks to the possibility of being able to perform continuous controls on production, will make a shell that gives you consistent values and top ballistic performance, always.
That’s why we were pleasantly surprised by the answers given by the shooters we interviewed, and we’d like to take the chance to explain just how we make the ballistic performance of the Baschieri & Pellagri competition shells currently on the market, so consistent.
We always establish a specific and optimal level of performance for our competition shells
By level of performance we mean quite a complex mix of the best values in terms of shell velocity, pressure, spread and clay-breaking power.
These values are pre-selected on the basis of the final use the shell in designed for, therefore the type of targets being shot, ranges, the type of guns most often used and in some cases even shooters’ specific requirements.
Maintaining top quality and repetitiveness in all the components of a competition shell
Emphasising once again how important it is for a competition shell to produce consistent performance, especially in tournaments, we obtain this uniformity essentially by using components of the very best quality that can guarantee repetitiveness and uniform performance.
Competition shell cases
The quality of this plastic tube is of primary importance, as is strict observance of dimensional parameters.
These aspects guarantee a uniform wad seal and the necessary force to open the shell crimp. In fact, the uniformity bench test values depends a lot on these factors, closely related also to the most homogeneous primer performance.
The propellants we use in our competition shells
The propellants used in B&P competition shells are a sure guarantee of absolute uniformity in terms of thrust on the pellet stack, producing very constant velocities and uniform spreads, shot after shot
This is only possible with propellants that have a precise and constant thermodynamic performance, so we can guarantee identical pressure and velocity figures from one batch to the next.
Last but not least, it’s also important to consider the volumetric dosing properties of the powders to guarantee the greatest precision and constancy in the automatic shell loading process.
Choosing the right pellets for target shells
The pellets are of primary importance if the shell is to produce excellent shot patterns. The quality of the shot patterns produced by competition shells depends mainly, leaving constant velocity and pressure aside for now, on the perfect roundness, hardness and dimensional regularity of those sub-projectiles that create our spread, in other words the net we throw out to catch our target.
Special nickel-plated lead is a plus due to the greater surface hardness of the galvanic coating, and certain physical properties (Specific Weight and Uniform Nickel plating).
Shot hardness is of fundamental importance to preserve pellet roundness and guarantee effective clay-breaking power when the shot hits the target. In fact, the best competition shell pellets are made of special alloy with 5% antimony strictly selected for their roundness and dimensional regularity.
The wad in competition shells
This, without a doubt, is another of the most important factors when creating perfect ballistic performance in B&P competition shells.
The shot cup separates the shot from the powder, and acts as a seal between the propulsive gases and the shot stack, preventing direct contact between the hot gases and the delicate lead pellets, which could melt or distort them.
Another important task of the wad is to absorb the violent thrust produced by the gases and distribute it onto the straight section of the barrel to push the pellets along it in a uniform, geometrically perfect and progressive way.
When it leaves the barrel the shot cup protects the pellet swarm from “pressure gusts” that could affect or even damage the quality of the spread and as the petals open in a symmetrical way, this lets the swarm maintain a perfectly regular and symmetrical shape, essential for the quality of the spread.
To do all of this, the physical properties of shot cups must by optimized in morphological terms to act as a damper while providing a dimensionally constant structure that guarantees a uniform seal and regular opening of the petals.
Top-of-the-range B&P shells in fact use pre-cut wads to make this important feature a certainty.
Uniformity from one batch of shells to the next
We don’t just simply load and close out competition shells.
At the end of every single batch we test a sample to make sure the ballistic values are fully compliant with design specifications, and above all that recoil and muzzle rise are within the pre-set parameters of the shell, so they’re known and have been assimilated by the shooters using it.
Finally, the constant performance of a competition shell is guaranteed, not only by the quality of the components, but also by meticulous controls done on the test bench to check the values of the ammo in various different production batches. In particular the following are checked:
- Barrel time
The shot patterns produced, by taking pattern plate shots using competition shotguns.
The final result? Competition shells that give you perfectly constant performance!
Hard work always pays off, and this goes for our competition shells too!
As you’ve seen, it’s more than just a simple question of assembling shells, and every day in the company we monitor and control production so all the shells behave in exactly the same way and the shooter has the same feeling when using them.
This is the case for all Baschieri & Pellagri competition shells, but if you want to know which are the best in terms of constant ballistic performance, we’ll let you know which are "our favourites" for USA clay shooters.
Line F2 Mach Professional Handicap
This line provides three different loads for 12-gauge shells dedicated to Trap Shooting but it could be also used for other clay shooting disciplines, as Sporting Clays.
All the shells are loaded with the glorious F2 powder, developed for B&P clay shooting ammo, that has won an unmatched number of international medals. The highly consistent performance and burning rate of this powder makes these shells extremely reliable in all weather conditions and shooting contexts.
The pellets in white lead are selected to be as spherical as possible in a double sieving process that rejects any pellets that aren’t perfectly round. Moreover their hardness is increased adding the 5% of antimony to the alloy.
Then a final surface treatment makes the pellets very slippery improving three critical moments of the ballistics of these shells: the compression the pellets are subjected to before the star crimp begins to open, when they pass through the core cone and then through the choke.
A special pre-cut six petal plastic wad is the final ingredient to have shot patterns always consistent, homogeneous and dense enough to break any clay target, even the most difficult ones.
Line Sporting Clays HV
The target shells in the B&P Sporting Clays line are designed specifically for Sporting Clay shooting. There are six different loads in the range, featuring different velocities, load weights and pellet sizes.
The most performing and consistent shells of this line are the two HV versions, with velocities reaching 1300 FPS and loaded with specially hardened 5% antimony lead white pellets.
Also in this case all the components are precisely selected to have the maximum consistency and the best patterns density for all the different targets and ranges typical of Sporting Clays.
The powder is again the F2, which is employed in both HV shells, and it always guarantees consistent and uniform performance in all weather conditions and shooting situations.
Finally the special Baschieri & Pellagri Gordon case reduces the felt recoil on shooters' shoulder, without sacrificing the velocity and the clay-breaking power of these performing shells for Sporting Clays.