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GUNS Magazine February 2010 - Page 8
HANDLOADING • John Barsness • AN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE BOOST Handloading the 28-gauge. he poor 28-gauge suffers T from more myths than any other shotshell. Its detractors call it another .410, inadequate for all but tiny birds up close— and even then full choke must be used to ensure an adequate pattern. Its extreme fans see it as another 12-gauge, the all-around shotshell, though traditionalists insist loading more than 3/4 ounce of shot somehow “handicaps” the 28. As usual, the truth meanders somewhere in the middle of this mess. First, small birds do require denser patterns, but the 28 patterns so evenly a full choke isn’t required. As with most gauges, full is more often a handicap to clean kills. The 28 patterns very well with small shot sizes and improved cylinder or modified choke. Size Limit Bigger birds are, well, bigger. This means more shot are likely to hit them, so they don’t require dense patterns. The reality is the 28 works quite well on even the biggest upland birds about as far as most of us can consistently hit flying objects. I’ve killed many wild rooster pheasants cleanly out to 40 yards with the 28, and 5-pound sage grouse even further. The 28 isn’t a 12-gauge, however, or even a 20-gauge. Any of the common gauges above 28 can be loaded with 1-1/4 ounces of shot, 20 percent more than the heaviest factory 28-gauge load. This extra shot provides an adequately dense pattern at longer ranges, and some hunters can make use of that extra range. The notion that somehow the 28 patterns miserably with anything more than 3/4 ounce of shot apparently started with the century-old book by W.W. Greener, the British gunsmith, entitled The Gun and Its Development, still one of the standard references. Things have changed in the past 100 years, however, EileenClarketookthiswildroosterpheasantineasternMontanawithher28-gaugeHatfieldsideby-side.Yes,the28worksonbiggerbirds. 8 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • FEBRUARY 2010