10 great cartridges at affordable prices - break clays, not your bank balance!

For some people, shooting is their life, but for the majority it’s an enjoyable part of it. In any form, clay target shooting is a relatively expensive pastime, but still a great number of shooters manage to enjoy their sport within reasonable bounds of cost. The price of ammunition is an important factor and, fortunately, our British ammunition manufacturers appreciate this and respond accordingly, with budget-priced ammunition that doesn’t break the bank, but still busts clays effectively. So, here is a selection of cartridges that provide much more than a bang for your buck, all with top-quality components, carefully matched to deliver consistent and highly effective ballistics.

1. Hull cartridge Sporting 100

From this redoubtable Yorkshire manufacturer, a load that doesn’t look like a budget cartridge and does not perform like one. With a residual velocity at 40m of 160.8m/s, this cartridge also patterns brilliantly at that range. With a 70mm case and a high metal head, it looks the business and does the business. This moderately priced 28g load really does inspire confidence.

Available in plastic wad 7.5 and 8, £199 per 1,000.

2. Hull cartridge Superfast

A 27g load in 7.5 shot (fibre and plastic wad) in a 70mm case. Average pellet count is 365, so more than enough pellets to break the target and, as its name suggests, this load gets to it quickly. This was demonstrated when I used some on Universal Trap targets. It’s a natural choice for the clubman shooter who wants a load for every discipline, and one that will do the job effectively. ‘Superfast’ is just that, and at a super price.

Available in plastic and fibre wad 7.5, £166.50-£178.50 per 1,000.

3. Eley First Select

‘The great British cartridge’ presented at an affordable price that belies its quality. In 24g and 28g loads (plastic or fibre wad), I sampled them both and was suitably impressed, particularly at long-range Trap targets and high-tower birds. The 24g load exceeded all expectations and I would be quite happy using it in any circumstance. Again, extraordinary value for money for the shooter on a budget, and you can use the fibre load anywhere.

Available in 7.5, 8 and 9, £178.25-£192.25.

4. Eley Olympic Blues

Originally introduced in the 1970s as a high-quality 32g Trap load, it now represents a modestly priced cartridge for every kind of clay target shooting. With a nod to the Blues’ illustrious history as an international Trap load, it’s produced in 24g, and for those who wish to emulate the great shooters of the past who used them, they will not be disappointed. Now, however, this cartridge is more likely to be seen as a very effective 28g Sporting load, which it certainly is.

Available in 28g and 28g plastic and fibre wad 7.5, 8 and 9, £178.25-£192.25.

5. Eley CT twenty

It should not be forgotten that the 20-bore shotgun plays an increasingly prominent role on the clay target scene at club level. Eley CT Twenty cartridges could, however, hold their own at any level. Beautifully made and presented, this 24g load in a 2¾ high metal case is outstanding. For the shooter who wants to explore the 20-bore cartridge’s potential at any level of competition, Eley CT Twenty is the natural choice.

Available in plastic and fibre wad 7.5, 8 and 9, £233.75-£240 per 1,000.

6. Lyalvale Express English Sporter

No discipline is more popular in the UK than English Sporting; it’s available at almost every shooting ground and it draws the clubman like a magnet. This new cartridge from Express for the Sporting shooter is likely to be equally in demand. This 28g load with plastic or fibre wad, both at the pattern plate and the high tower at North Cotswold Shooting School, produced impressive results. The powder represents the latest development from Nobel Sport Italia, and ensures the shot charge is delivered quickly which, together with the plastic wad, provides excellent pellet distribution. Another value-for-money cartridge from Express, it delivers far more than its modest price would suggest.

Available in 7.5, 8 and 9, £163.75-£177 per 1,000.

7. Lyalvale Express Super Light

Have cartridge manufacturers pushed the envelope to the limit with ever lighter shot loads? So far as the Super Light 21g load is concerned, they are still within it, and breaking clays effectively. There is a limit, of course, and Super Light may be it. But again, on the pattern plate and in practical terms, it’s not there yet.

Available in plastic and fibre wad 7.5, £225.75-£229.75.

8. Fiocchi TT One

More than 140 years of manufacturing ammunition of every kind has established Italian company, Fiocchi at the forefront of the industry. While their shotgun cartridges have placed Italians on the podium at every clay target championship in the world, tens of thousands of Italian club shooters are also shooting Fiocchi TT One every weekend. Its consistent ballistics are taken for granted, and since Olympic Trap is a most demanding discipline and is shot at club level, TT One has to deliver – and it does. To better your chance of reaching the podium at your local club, Fiocchi carttridges are well worth a try; their 28g load in a 67mm case is available with plastic or fibre wad and, on the pattern plate, results are impressive (and equally so with clay targets).

Available in 21g, 24g and 28g, 7.5, 8 and 9, £156 per 1,000.

9. Gamebore Evo

From a manufacturer who is constantly pushing the technical boundaries in terms of shotgun ammunition design, their Evo competition load is an example of their ability to produce a quite outstanding cartridge, at an affordable price. With a choice of shot load from 21g to 28g, and a choice of fibre or plastic wad, the Evo competition 21g load develops a muzzle velocity of 1,395fps, and the 24g and 28g, a velocity of 1,420fps. Over some exceptionally fast Ball Trap targets at my local club, clays were broken convincingly, which left me thinking, ‘Why pay more?’

Available in 21g, 24g and 28g plastic and fibre wad 7.5, 8 and 9, £161-£192.75 per 1,000.

10. Gamebore Velocity

For a no-option cartridge in terms of specification, but a very high VP (value performance) quotient, this Gamebore target load takes some beating. Comprising a 28g shot load in a 70mm case with a plastic wad, it consistently delivers well-distributed target-busting patterns.

Available in 28g plastic and fibre wad 7.5, £163.75-£177 per 1,000.

Gamebore Velocity is the bargain of the month, perhaps. But every cartridge included in these pages is more than worthy of consideration by the most discerning shooters, and, please note, nine out of 10 of them are manufactured in the UK. The other one is from the largest and longest established maker in Europe, all of which suggests the British shooter on a budget is spoiled for choice.