Remington Makes the Ultimate Dove Shotshell Load
Bob McNally 08.17.15
In over four decades of dove hunting, I’ve finally determined the most important key to effective gunning is the shotshell load and gun choke employed.
Doves are small and lightly-feathered bird, so it doesn’t take much to knock them down. That, plus the fact that doves are fast fliers and difficult to hit, demand refinements in shotgun choke and shotshells uses.
After years of toying with chokes and hand-load shotshells, for me, an improved-cylinder or skeet bore gun and number or 8 or 9 size shot used in high-velocity shells are the perfect combination for dove hunting.
I prefer number 9 shot for most of the season. High-velocity makes fine size shot hit hard at long range, without pattern distoration in the right load. For years I hand-loaded these shells because they weren’t available commercially, though that has now changed with the Remington producing their outstanding Express Extra Long Range 12-gauge load (Index #SP129). They’re not cheap, but in the long run they’re wise money spent because the number of birds taken per shot fired increases dramatically.
My pet 12-gauge dove loads (and Remington’s SP129) hold 1 1/4-ounces of shot (731 pellets), with a muzzle velocity of 1,330 feet per second. That’s not a common factory dove load found in department stores. This heavier load is much more effective than an average dove shotshell that typically is 1-ounce load of 8s (410 pellets with a muzzle velocity of only 1,220 feet per second). Many dove hunters also shoot this slow, light load from a modified or full-choke gun, which makes it even more difficult to hit a passing bird, since the pattern is tighter.
A 1 1/4-ounce shell that throws number nine shot at high velocity is unbelievably deadly on doves when fired from an improved-cylinder or skeet bore shotgun. Such a shotshell load has almost twice as many pellets at higher muzzle velocity than the typical 1-ounce load of 8s used by average dove hunters at slower speed.
The same “hot” load also is available in a 1 3/8-ounce shell, which holds even more pellets but is only available by hand-loading.
High-velocity, fine-size shot produces such a wide, dense pattern with an improved-cylinder gun that a gnat has difficulty flying through it even at 50 yards. Some handloaders tell me that such a shell will not work well because light-shot 9s “blows out the pattern” when fired at high velocity, but this combination of shotshell and choke has brought my dove hit percentage per shot fired way up. Wing-tipped birds are minimized, too.