Harrell Tests the Buckshot ‘Ninth Pellet Flyer Phenomenon’

   10.15.20

Harrell Tests the Buckshot ‘Ninth Pellet Flyer Phenomenon’

(Image: Screenshot from video)

Apparently, there’s a thing called “the ninth pellet flyer phenomenon,” meaning that when shooting 00 buckshot shotshells with 9 pellets, there’s a tendency for 8 of the pellets to make a nice pattern while the ninth pellet will hit somewhere off to one side. I’d never heard of this, so I figured I’d watch Paul’s video and see what I could learn.

He cites a recent video by Lucky Gunner which showed this “phenomenon” and after watching that, some folks contacted Paul to ask if he’s ever experienced such a thing. And as Paul says, “Good science is verifiable, falsifiable, and repeatable; I’ve got some shotguns, I’ve got some buckshot, let’s shoot some targets and see what kinda results I get.”

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to abbreviate “ninth pellet flyer” as “9PF.”

His first volley of 4 shots produced 2 possible 9PFs (key word: “possible”). He changed brands of buckshot and got zero flyers — and an odd happenstance in which some of the pellets in all 4 shells remained stuck to the shot cup rather than dispersing. At 15 yards with cylinder bore choke, that’s quite unexpected.

Switching brands again, he got all kinds of flyers and odd patterns, but nothing I would call a 9PF… although he does so.

Paul strongly suggests this Suprema ammo is sub-par and agrees with Lucky Gunner’s assertion that “not all shotgun ammo is created equal” — but what he doesn’t note is that certain shotguns will do better with certain brands & loads. This is why one should shoot a scattergun to find out how any given load will pattern from that particular barrel.┬áThat Suprema stuff might do just fine in your shotgun.

Switching to a Mossberg 500 with improved cylinder choke, he again gets some varied patterns. Would I call any of the stray pellets a 9PF? Nope.

In his conclusion, Paul states, “that 9th pellet flyer thing is very real.” I can’t say I agree.

Do some pellets sometimes go astray? Yes. This may be due to irregular pellet shape, the way the pellets are arranged in the wad when the shell is loaded, pellet deformation at time of shot due to uneven distribution (or complete lack of) of shot buffer material, or for other reasons. But I see nothing here proving there’s any validity to a 9PF “rule” or even a “rule of thumb;” just that some patterns will sometimes experience flyers. The same will always be true, no matter how many pellets are in your shotshells.

But as Harrell is fond of saying: You be the judge.

Here’s the video.

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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