Vic Harker presents 10 of the best cartridges for clay shooting - get down the clay ground and have some fun this summer!

As the evenings grow lighter, the all-round shooter’s thoughts turn to clay pigeons. For him, his shotgun will not be gathering dust in the spring and summer months. Instead, he will be honing his skills on some high pheasant, springing teal, and the bolting rabbit, all launched from a clay pigeon trap. This is not to mention the Trap and Skeet disciplines; they will also be receiving his attention. As I was testing some of this year’s cartridge offerings from the UK’s leading manufacturers, it occurred to me that the great British cartridge just keeps getting better and better, so I would highly recommend trying some of the latest loads from their spring collections.

1. Eley Hawk Olympic Blues

This company has been making clay target cartridges for the British shooter since the beginnings of the sport in the UK. That’s more than a century ago and so it has a firm grasp of shooters’ requirements.

Olympic Blues were a Trap shooting winner in the 1970s and are still going strong. An early-season outing with some of these cartridges reminded me how clean burning and hard-hitting these loads are, and they are to be recommended for competition at any level. There has been more than one shooter who began as a clubman and eventually found himself at the Olympics. Eley Olympic Blues share this pedigree, developed for the most testing form of clay target shooting at a very affordable price. Available in plastic and fibre wads 24g and 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £174.50-£188 per 1,000.

2. Eley Hawk DTL Gold

A fine Trap load but its qualities can be utilised for any kind of clay target competition; both on the pattern plate and at the shooting ground this smooth, fast cartridge excels. This year expect to see DTL Gold shooters in the prize money at numerous competitions. A dedicated Trap load this cartridge may be, but it’s equally effective for any kind of clay target competition, just what the clubman ordered then: versatility with the qualities required for a game where you just can’t afford to miss. Available in plastic wad 28g 7, 7.5 and 8, £210 per 1,000.

3. Fiocchi F3

This Italian cartridge provides performance combined with know-how from Italy’s longest established ammunition manufacturer. With a long history at the highest levels of clay target shooting, the F3 utilises components incorporated into cartridges used by the Italian national team. The F3 performs and is price competitive, so why not introduce some Latin exotica into your club, after all the warm days will soon be back. Available in plastic wad 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £194 per 1,000.

4. Fiocchi TT One

Although the TT is an entry-level clay target load, it has been designed expressly for newcomers to the Olympic disciplines, and doesn’t lack performance. You may not have an Olympic Trap layout at your club yet, but in the meantime the TT will make mincemeat of DTL targets and they are a real eye-opener on Sporting targets too. Available in plastic and fibre wads 24g and 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £156-£169.75 per 1,000.

5. Gamebore Velocity Plus

This is a cartridge with a price/quality equation few can equal. Top-quality components combine Vectan AS powder and Gamebore precision-made shot. The pattern plate revealed a well-distributed shot load that translated into very convincing breaks on a variety of Sporting targets and were equally effective on the Trap range. Available in plastic and fibre wads 28g 7.5, £177-£191 per 1,000.

6. Gamebore Evo

The Evo is a cartridge with a performance that can hold its own in any company, but which still represents great value for money. Available with plastic and fibre wads, ballistic consistency with either is impressive, as is the value for money this cartridge represents. Available in plastic and fibre wads 21g, 24g and 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £173-£201 per 1,000.

7. Hull Cartridge Pro One

A cartridge chosen to train the UK’s Olympic clay target shooters, Pro One combines technical excellence with an unbeatable price. Like the best of shooters it is both smooth and quick, and for the clubman with the ambition to shine at the highest level of competition, he could hardly do better than this cartridge. Available in plastic and fibre wads 24g and 28g 7, 7.5, 8 and 9, £224-£243 per 1,000.

8. Hull Cartridge Super Fast

As a 27g load this is a cartridge that punches above its weight. As its name suggests, it’s fast and this extra speed works very well in semi-autos too. For the clubman who has no time or money to waste, Super Fast is the perfect option. Available in plastic and fibre wads 27g 7.5, £179.75-£191.50 per 1,000.

9. Lyalvale Express Power Gold

This Midlands ammunition manufacturer with a history of success in the Olympic Games puts gold in the hands of the clubman. Its Power Gold cartridge with a 70mm case and Vectan powder provides a velocity of 1,425fps and is more than fast enough to catch any target. So, if you want to make the podium at your local gun club, go for Power Gold! Available in plastic and fibre wads 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £202-£211.25 per 1,000.

10 Lyalvale Express Power Blue

Expressly designed for the clubman with a fibre or plastic wad, Power Blue provides performance at a modest cost. Combining the latest Nobel powder, the lead shot is manufactured to the company’s unique specification. Delivering performance with consistency, with this cartridge you can win at clubman level and well beyond. Available in plastic and fibre wads 28g 7.5, 8 and 9, £179-£189 per 1,000.