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Choosing which shotgun shells to shoot can be challenging at times. I am hoping by the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be able to make the best decision possible.

The first thing we need to look at is what the ammunition is going to be used for. I have heard more times that I can count: ‘I want to hear the gun go bang.’  If blazing up the forest or desert is what you’re after, then your choices are wide open.  However, if you’re wanting to bust some clays… maybe all of them, then your choice should be based on clean burning, exceptional patterning, and less felt recoil.

To keep this as simple as possible, there are “promotional”, “good”, “better”, and “best” loads in my mind.  The promotional loads are those I see at the big box stores and are very inexpensive.  Fiocchi of America doesn’t have any shotgun ammunition in this category; sorry, we start at good and only get better.

Promotional loads use a variety of multi-piece shot cups, plastic sleeves to hold the shot, fiber wads (cardboard is the best way I can describe it) and what might not be the best powder, hence “dirty”.  Take a look down the barrel of your unloaded shotgun.  If you see “flakes” then all of the powder didn’t burn.  This could be the powder or shot cup / wad combination or even both.  So, what happened to the money you saved when all of the powder you bought didn’t ignite?

Fiocchi of America’s R & D Department painstakingly tests shot cup/wad and powder combinations in order to provide the cleanest burning result possible.  As for the wad, we use a single piece shot cup/wad that is designed for great patterns and less felt recoil.  There is that “r” word again.  How does recoil effect your shooting? Too much recoil can not only hurt, but will cause a shooter to lift his / her head off the stock of the shotgun.  In most cases, the result is a miss.  It is also fatiguing and you may want to shoot 100 targets with your buddies, yet your worn out after 50 or so.  Either way, performance of the load isn’t better with more recoil, it’s worse.

Besides judging performance by looking at the scorecard, most folks I know want to break as many clays as possible.  I’ve spent hours in the Ballistics Lab at the Fiocchi of America Plant in Ozark, Missouri testing our loads and our competitor's.  The ballisticians use very sophisticated equipment for their testing.  Being a simple person, I use my Browning Maxus Golden Sporting Clays 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun.  All of the shots go thru a Briley Plasma Modified Choke at 40 yards.

This was fascinating when I tested the promotional loads of our competitors.  Only 47% - 49% of the pellets were in the 30” circle used for pattern testing.  Now here’s another thought for you… you saved money on the promotional loads yet over one-half of the pellets you paid for weren’t in the pattern… you got shorted on the powder and pellets not being there to get the job done.

Let’s talk about the good, better, and best loads that get the job done.  In my testing as noted above, the Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics across the board averaged 65%.  I didn’t have to clean my barrel and wasn’t beat up by excessive recoil.  These loads are in the “good” category; bordering the better in performance.  A couple of the top Trap Shooters in the country, Richard Marshall Jr. and Stacy Rehor use the 12 gauge Shooting Dynamics 1 1/8 oz. 1165 fps loads with #8 shot (12SD18L8) for Trap Singles and Trap Doubles.  With around 40 All American First Teams combined, this says a lot about the Shooting Dynamics loads.

Now that I have your interest peaked, let’s get to the “better” loads.  Featured in our Exacta Line, these loads use even better components for even better patterning.  Change the chilled shot to high antimony, upgrade the single piece shot cup / wad, better powder and now we’re talking 72% - 74% tested as above.  So much of shooting is the mental side of the equation.  Shooters know that they have increased their chance at breaking all of the targets when using a better load.  In the clay target shooting world, loads like Little Rino, Crusher, and White Rino are synonymous with what the champions shoot.  Ask Sporting Clays National and World Champions Anthony Matarese Jr. and Diane Sorantino.

So, how can it get better than the Exacta Line?  Easy, put that great performance in a “paper” hull.  Fiocchi Papers have a smoother, softer recoil.  Add that to the performance, and you have the best shotgun ammunition on the market.  Ask Richard Marshall Jr. and Stacy Rehor about the Fiocchi Papers.  They both shoot the Paper White Rino for Trap Handicap from the 27 yard line.  These 12 gauge 1 1/8 oz. of #7 ½ high antimony shot (12FPWRN75) vaporize targets.

Now that you know the difference between promotional, good, better, and best loads, the choice is easy.  Choose the Choice of Champions in America… Fiocchi!

Adam Pinto

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