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  • 2 weeks later...

In general most shoot 3" steel #4, #3, #2, #1 for ducks. With #2 being most common.


And #1, BB, BBB for geese 3" or 3.5"


The hevishot #4, or #2 are great all around it you can afford to shoot them. But $18-25 for 10 most can't afford to shoot them too much.


You really should pattern your gun with the load you intend to use. shoot at a large piece of paper at 40 yards and draw a 30" circle around the center of the pattern, count the # of holes The one with the most holes that is the most uniformly spread is the one YOU should use.


I use 3" win drylox #4 for ducks, 3.5" win drylox BB for decoying geese and Remington 3" #4 hevi shot for pass shooting geese. These are what works best in my gun/choke tube.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have found 3 1/2" #1's work for everything from ducks to geese. I don't buy into the whole, you need to pattern your gun with different loads, etc. What the **** did all of our ancestors do when they hunted. They didn't pattern their guns. I shoot Winchester Dry-Locks so I don't just shoot whatever is on sale either. Hevi-Shot is overated and overpriced.

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  • 1 month later...

I completely disagree with the pattering you gun with diffrent loads. It makes a huge diffrence our ancestors didnt have the technologic advances that we have today if they would have patterned their guns with the hundreds of loads and chokes we have they would have killed more birds. I shoot 3 1/2's at everything in sizes 4-BBB the bigger the bird the bigger the shot. Get out there and pattern your guns, its fun and I promise you will shoot more birds.

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I'm with the Big Bird, pattern pattern pattern. I've found better patterns with ElCheapo Xpert shot than the Drylok stuff. Remington's pattern terribly for me, but not as bad as Federal. Every gun will have it's favorite. Every gun will have a load that it just doesn't throw worth a dang.

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Sorry Berreta4Life, patterning will tell you a lot. Can't say that I bought into it myself until I did some serious patterning recently and it was eye opening. Here are my results.


Firearm and patterning setup:

Benelli M2, Crio Modified choke, 3 shots for each Mfg/Line/Load at 40 yds. Average % hits (relative to the shell shot count per standard tables) in 30" circle drawn around the majority of the shot hits is included.



76% - Winchester Xpert HiV (3”x1-1/8 oz)

85% - Kent Faststeel (3”x1-1/4 oz)

88% - Federal Ultra Shok Heavy HiV (3”x1-1/4 oz)



61% - Winchester Xpert HiV (3”x1-1/8 oz)

78% - Kent Faststeel (3”x1-1/4 oz)

76% - Federal Ultra Shok Heavy HiV (3”x1-1/4 oz)



70% - Winchester Xpert HiV (3”x1-1/8 oz)

67% - Winchester Xpert HiV (3”x1-1/4 oz)

69% - Kent Faststeel (3”x1-1/4 oz)



65% - Winchester Xpert HiV (3”x1-1/8 oz)

72% - Winchester Xpert HiV (3”x1-1/4 oz)

80% - Kent Faststeel (3”x1-1/4 oz)

72% - Federal Ultra Shok Heavy HiV (3”x1-1/4 oz)


Several of these groups are missing one or more of the Mfr/Line/Load entries because they were unavailable to me locally. There is enough here though to make the point.


Granted pattern density alone does not tell the whole story, consistency and pattern distribution make a big difference also. That shows up in my tests as well. The point with the data shown is that changing manufacturer, shot load weight, muzzle velocity, or shot size can make a big difference in density of the overall shot pattern. I am a believer. As I have time, I plan to do the same kind of patterning with my Benelli Crio IC choke.


Anyone else out there have data to share for the standard Benelli chokes?

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I once had a Winchester SX2 and I couldn't hit squat with it. So, I decided to pattern it with my ammo of choice, Drylock 3 1/2 #2s with the factory chokes. I found out that it was throwing the pattern way to the right and blowing it out. So, I put a none factory choke tube in(duck commander), problem solved. Yes, pattern your guns!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's some recent testing results I found with my nova.


I was using a 12 GA nova with a 26" barrel and a modified choke(factory choke) for most of the testing. Most of the shot distances where from 30 yards and the paper measured approximately 30" by 30". Some of the loads I shot three times and some where only shot once because I ran out of sheets.


#4 shot size

Winchester xpert Hi velocity(3", 1.25oz) at 30 yards

186 out of 240 pellets hit the paper


Remington Sportman hi speed steel(3",1.25oz)

195 out of 240 pellets (one of the most formed patterns I tested)


#3 shot size

Winchester xpert Hi velocity(3", 1.25oz)

176 and 152 out of 190 pellets hit the paper (pattern was not very evenly distributed)


#2 shot size

Winchester xpert Hi velocity(3", 1.25oz)

137 and 138 out of 150 pellets(my gun likes this load)


Remington Nitro steel magnum (3", 1.25oz)

123,120 and 136 out of 150 pellets (my gun hates this load)


BB shot size


Winchester xpert Hi velocity (3.5",1 3/8 oz)

73 out of 99 pellets (this load shot low and was very tight)


I found that out of the six loads I tested only two shot a evenly distributed pattern.(this was the Remington Sportman Hi speed in #4 shot and the Winchester hi velocity in 3" #2 shot) I hope soon that I can do this test with my IC choke for birds closer in then 30 yards or so.


[ 09-22-2006, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Novaduckhunter ]

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  • 3 weeks later...

2.75 #4 federal steel normal loads open choke/imp cylinder


i hunt timber so if you can shoot a duck you can count it's feathers.


ducks in a field blind or on the lake when i go i step up to #2 3" max payload winchester steel


i would up to bismuth or matrix but i can burn 50 shells on a good day. I end up pulling the trigger in the excitement on birds i shouldn't. heck one time i watched my pellets hit 5 foot behind a water skimmer skirting the decoys CB's may be fast but i swear that woody was doing 90.


i only started shooting 2.75 was because 1 1/8oz 2.75 bb,2,4 were a buck less then 3" 1 1/8oz bb, 2,4 and i was like $1 for bigger wads???

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For my own testing purposes what do you use for a target when patterning your shotgun. My guess would be a sheet of cardboard with a pattern of a duck or goose or even just a circle. I often see quite a price difference between 1 1/8 ounce loads and 1 1/4 or 1 3/8 with the cheapest being the lightest load. I killed a lot of ducks with 3" #2 1 1/8 ounce Winchester Xperts, and wonder if stepping would give better results.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use #2, 3 and 4, 3 1/2" winchester high velocity for everything from teal to geese. If I am mainly duck hunting I put 2 #4 shot 3" shells and a #3, 3 1/2". I get two passing shots and a flying away shot. Patterning is definately nessecary. I made the mistake of not patterning my new nova before I took it hunting, ended up with no ducks. I patterned it with different chokes, saw how it hit, now I am dropping plenty of ducks.

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